Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Name Picker Ninja - A Random Name Picker for Your Classroom

Name Picker Ninja is free tool for quickly choosing names at random. Using Name Picker Ninja is a simple matter of pasting or typing a list of names into the "add names" field in Name Picker Ninja and then clicking "go!" The names in your list will scroll and stop on a randomly selected name. Once a name has been selected you can remove it from the list or keep it in the rotation.

You do not need to register on the site in order to use Name Picker Ninja.

Applications for Education
"Random name selector" is one of the most frequently searched terms on this blog. That indicates to me, that many teachers agree with me that a random name picker like Name Picker Ninja is useful for choosing students for all kinds of classroom activities. In elementary school you might use it to pick your line leaders for the day. In middle school or high school you might use it to choose the order in which students make presentations to their classmates.

If you want to put a random name selector in your blog or website, watch the video here to learn how to do that.

Upload Files As Responses To Google Forms - Coming Soon

Earlier today Google announced a handful of new features that are coming soon to G Suite for Education (formerly called Google Apps for Education). The most exciting of those new features is found in Google Forms.

The latest update to Google Forms includes two new features. First, now when you begin to write quiz questions in Google Forms, Forms will attempt to predict the type of question that you are writing and it will suggest possible answer choices. Of course, it's not fool-proof and in my initial testing of the feature Forms was not able to predict the answer type or choices for my question, "what is the tallest mountain in the world?"

The second feature added to Google Forms is the option to have students respond by uploading a file. When students upload a file it will be stored in your Google Drive account for review. This feature will only work for Forms that are restricted to members of your G Suite for Education domain. The file upload feature could provide you with a great way to collect visual artifacts of your students' work. It could also provide you with a way to collect responses to longer open-response questions that have paragraph formatting unlike the present mess of paragraphs that you get when collecting long open-responses through Google Forms.
Image courtesy of Brooks Hocog,
Global Communications, Google Apps & G Suite.

When can I expect to see these features?
Google announced a release track for these new features. The suggested responses feature should begin to appear in the week of November 2nd. The file upload feature in should begin to appear in the week of November 9th.

Jellymetrics Readability Grader - Quickly Determine Readability

Jellymetrics is a company that primarily offers email marketing services. They do offer one service that teachers could find handy. That service is the free Jellymetrics Readability Grader.

The Jellymetrics Readability Grader lets you quickly determine the readability of an article. To use the Jellymetrics Readability Grader simply copy text and paste it into the Readability Grader. The free tool then quickly analyzes the text and gives you a listing of the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease and grade level according to a handful of scales.

Applications for Education
The Jellymetrics Readability Grader could be a convenient tool to use when you're selecting web articles to share with your students. The tool is good for typical web articles, but I think that it could be a bit cumbersome to try to copy and paste longer articles into the Jellymetrics Readability Grader.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

5 out of 5 of These Resources Can Help You Teach Fractions Lessons

In an earlier post I highlighted the Thinking Blocks tools included in Math Playground. Thinking Blocks offers a good way to introduce your students to fractions. Here are some other good resources for teaching fractions.

Who Wants Pizza? is a fun online activity for learning about fractions. Who Wants Pizza was developed by Cynthia Lanius at Rice University. The activity has five parts plus practice activities for students to explore. Teachers will find notes about using this activities in the classroom.

Visual Fractions has eight categories of visualizations, lessons, and games for students to explore and learn the functions of fractions.

Pizza Fractions 1 is a simple iPad game in which students are shown a pizza with slices missing. Students have to select the fraction that represents the number of slices left on the pizza plate. Students shake their iPads to generate new problems. Pizza Fractions 1 is the first of five apps in the Pizza Fractions series.

Zap Zap Fractions is a fun and free iPad app designed to help elementary school students learn about fractions. The app contains clear narrated visual lessons about the basics of fractions. After completing the lessons students can test their skills in recognizing fractions by playing the Zap Zap games. The games present students with a series of visuals that represent a fraction. Students have to select the correct fraction to “zap” the oncoming obstacles in the game.

Conceptua Math is a provider of interactive visual mathematics lessons. One of Conceptua Math's primary focuses is on the development of tools to aid teachers in the instruction of lessons on fractions. Conceptua Math's offerings are a mix of free and premium (paid) tools. There are a total of fifteen free interactive tools for teachers and students. Each of the free tools has an introductory video and a sample lesson plan.

Watch & Share Reactions to Presidential Debates Since 1960

Watch the Debates is a PBS NewsHour website that offers videos of the Presidential debate of 1960 and every debate from 1976 forward. The site also includes videos of some debates between candidates for Vice President including the 1988 debate in which Lloyd Bentson famously quipped to Dan Quayle, "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Watch the Debates lets you find debate videos according to year and or issue. Once you have found a video you can register your reactions to the arguments candidates make in the videos. You register your reaction by using thumbs-up and thumbs-down icons. You can register a reaction as often as every five seconds in a video. When you register your reaction you will be shown graph of how other viewers responded at the same point in the video.

Applications for Education
Watch the Debates could be a great resource for high school and middle school social studies teachers. Through the issue filter on Watch the Debates students can see which issues were most pressing at various points in the last forty years. Students could also see how responses to those issues have changed over the years. Finally, students can see that there was a time when a debate between politicians was about the issues important to the people and didn't devolve into name-calling.

One way that you could use Watch the Debates in your classroom is to have students pick an issue then work in groups to trace when that issue first appeared in a debate and how candidates' responses to that issue vary over time. For example, I might have my students choose the issue of economy then break-up the class into small groups with each group watching and taking notes on a different debate. Then I'd bring the class back together to compare notes on what candidates have said about the economy through the years.

On a related note, check out The Living Room Candidate to see the evolution of Presidential campaign commercials since 1960.

H/T to Open Culture for the Watch the Debates link.