Monday, April 17, 2017

Words of the World - Learn the Origin of Words

Words of the World is another excellent set of videos from the same people that brought us the popular Periodic Table of VideosWords of the World is a collection of videos featuring historians and linguists explaining the origins of and history of the use of words in the English language. The videos attempt to put the words into a somewhat modern context. For example this video about the word "guerrilla" makes reference to Che Guevara. The video I've embedded below explains the word "coup."


Applications for Education
Words of the World could be an instructive model for your own lesson combining history and language arts. Have your students pick a word or two that they think is common and research it. Then have them create their own short videos in which they explain the history of those words. You might even have them research the dialect of the areas in which they live. For example, where I live we have a Range Pond. Most people would pronounce that as range, like "home on the range" yet everyone around here pronounces it as rang as in "the bell rang."  I'm not sure why that is the case, but I would love to find out.

WriteReader and Sesame Street Partner to Help Kids Create Multimedia Stories

WriteReader, a fantastic multimedia writing platform, has just announced a partnership with Sesame Street. This partnership brings Sesame Street characters into WriteReader's bank of images for students to use in their own stories. Now when students create a story in WriteReader they can choose one or all of twenty Sesame Street characters to place into scenes in their stories.

In WriteReader students can craft entire stories featuring Sesame Street characters. For example, students can write a story that is a dialogue between Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. Or you might have a student write a story about Big Bird going on an adventure.
Applications for Education
The Sesame Street characters in WriteReader could be used to help your students develop new story ideas. In a way, it's kind of like fan fiction for elementary school students.

If you're an elementary school teacher who hasn't tried WriteReader, the most important thing for you to know is that the platform is designed for collaboration between you and your students. When your students write in their WriteReader accounts you can log-in and see what they have written and then make suggestions directly below what they have written in their stories. Watch my video below to see how it works.



Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Word Mover - A Great App for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. If you have students who need a little help crafting poems, have them try Word Mover. Word Mover from Read Write Think is a free app that helps students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Applications for Education 
Word Mover could be a great app for students to use to as a story or poem starter. The app reminds me a bit of those refrigerator magnets that were popular for a while. You know, the ones that had individual words on them that you dragged around to create funny sentences. The same idea can be applied to Word Mover.

Word Mover is available for iOS, Android, and Web use.

Explore NASA Spacecraft in 3D

Spacecraft 3D is a free iPad app produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model that your students can explore.

Applications for Education
Using Spacecraft 3D could be a great way for students to learn about the robotic spacecrafts that NASA is currently using to explore our solar system. I think that the app could be used by students of any age. That said, younger students may have trouble holding their iPad cameras on target while also manipulating the screen on their iPads. I say this only because I had that problem when I tried the app.

A Concise Explanation of Augmented Reality

On Friday I shared a post about an augmented reality app from PBS Kids. That app lets students take pictures of animated characters in outdoor settings. That post prompted a question from a reader who wanted an explanation of augmented reality. My recommendation was to take a look at Common Craft's video on the topic. The video is embedded below.


Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.