Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mentimeter Adds a New Way for Audiences to Respond to Your Slides

Mentimeter is a audience response tool that I've been using off and on for a few years now. Mentimeter's core product lets you create polls and quizzes for your audience to respond to during your presentations. Your audience members can respond from their phones, tablets, or laptops.

The latest feature added to Mentimeter is called Quick Slides. Quick Slides lets you quickly create slides within Mentimeter. The slides have audience response options built into them. All you have to do is click on the response options you want your audience to see. Your audience can use thumbs-up/down icons, heart icons, or question mark icons to respond to your slides. The nice thing about Quick Slides is that you can use it on one part of a presentation but turn it off for another part of the same presentation.

Applications for Education
In addition to the Quick Slides response options mentioned above, you can also create poll and quiz questions to add to your presentations in Mentimeter. All of these response mechanisms can be used by you as a simple form of formative assessment.

Check out my webinar, Fun Formative Assessments to learn about other tools and strategies for conducting formative assessments. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

PrepFactory Offers a New Option for Helping Students Prepare for the SAT

The next SAT testing date is a just a few days away. PrepFactory has free tools that can help you help your students review test-taking strategies. PrepFactory provides students with strategy tips before each section of review exercises. The strategy tips are available to students in video and text formats. Then throughout the review exercises students are given a rotating variety of question formats so that they aren't just trying to plow through a string a multiple choice questions. Each set of PrepFactory review exercises includes a mix of multiple choice, sorting, and fill-in-the-blank activities.

The latest update to PrepFactory gives teachers tools to keep track of the progress that their students are making. Teachers can create classrooms within their free PrepFactory accounts. Within their PrepFactory classrooms teachers can see where each of their students are in the progression of review activities. For example, a teacher can log-in to see how many students have completed a strategy session and which students have completed practice question sets.

Another recent update to PrepFactory provides students with a road map to improving their SAT and ACT test-taking skills. Now when students first sign into their accounts they are prompted to complete a short diagnostic exercise. The results of that diagnostic exercise will provide students with a road map of the next steps that they should take to improve their knowledge and test-taking skills.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Search Strategies and a Webinar FAQ

On Wednesday at 4pm Eastern Time I'm hosting a webinar called Search Strategies Students Need to Know. Over the weekend I had a few people ask me what the technical requirements are for joining the webinar. The webinars that I host only require you to have a modern web browser installed on your computer. I use the GoToTraining platform for my webinars. GoToTraining does offer iOS and Android apps for those who want to participate on their mobile devices. If you're joining from within your school, you may want to check with your IT department to make sure they don't block GoToTraining.

In Search Strategies Students Need to Know you will learn why informational searches are the hardest types of Internet searches for students to conduct. You will learn how to help students break-down complex search topics into manageable pieces then put the whole picture together. You’ll learn how to help your students save students tons of time by thinking before searching. And you’ll how to develop instructional search challenge activities to use with students of any age.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know will be held live on January 18th at 4pm EST. Your registration includes the live webinar, unlimited access to the recording, handouts, and a PD certificate. Register here. The webinar will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live session.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • The types of searches that give students the most trouble and why they are so difficult.
  • How to get students beyond the first pages of Google results.
  • The search tools students often overlook.
  • How to create your own search engine.
  • How to develop engaging search lessons for students of all ages.

Register here.

Chromebooks That Support Android Apps

I'm beginning to regret that I ever wrote anything about Toontastic 3D. Yesterday, I received an email from someone who upset that Toontastic 3D doesn't work on her Chromebook. This afternoon I received a phone call from a tech director who was upset that Toontastic 3D doesn't work on the Chromebooks in his school.

As I clarified yesterday, Toontastic 3D will run on Chromebooks provided that your Chromebook is a model that supports installing Android apps from the Google Play store. Not all Chromebooks have that capability at this time. Android Central has an updated list of the Chromebooks that currently support the installation of Android apps. The list is more current than the Chromium Project's list which clearly hasn't been updated for 2017.

Finally, while I try to account for as many variables as possible when writing my blog posts and creating video tutorials, I cannot account for every possible scenario.

Please Practice Good Digital Citizenship

I talked about this briefly on my Anchor podcast yesterday, but I need to elaborate a bit here. During the last year I have increasingly seen teachers sharing and or reacting to posts on social media without actually reading the full article. For example, see the screenshots below in which teachers have shared Facebook posts without actually reading the article or trying the tools mentioned in the article. How do I know they haven't? They say to the friends they've tagged, "I haven't read this, but I thought of you." See a few examples below (click the images to view them in full size).
What's funny about showing a video to your students that you haven't watched?





I don't know about you, but I don't want people making recommendations to me if they haven't actually tried the product or read the article.

I'm also concerned about this pattern because if a teacher is using this bad practice in his/ her social media accounts, what is he/she teaching to students about digital citizenship? In an era in which we are increasingly hearing about viral fake news stories, it's important to make sure we're not the ones contributing to the problem.

A similar problem reared its ugly head on Sunday on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page. I posted this article about gaining access to sites your school filters. Roughly half of the comments on the post were from people who clearly didn't read the article at all. In other words, they were responding to the headline. After 24 hours I took the post down because I was tired of moderating uninformed comments and spats between those commenting.

Please, use social media to share things that you think are helpful to your friends and colleagues. Just read before you share. Your colleagues, friends, and students will thank you.