Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas! There won't be any new blog posts tomorrow. I'll be playing with daughters and their new toys.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

How Machines Learn - And What Facebook Knows About You

Machine learning is a hot topic in the ed tech start-up community. You may have heard of an ed tech start-up or two that is touting how machine learning and or artificial intelligence will help them help students. But what is machine learning? CGP Grey recently tackled that topic in a new video.

After you watch CGP Grey's video consider the information within it as you think about the screenshot I have posted below. It's one that I took on Friday morning while scrolling down the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page. You'll see that it tells me the demographic with which my video is most popular.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Why Should You Read Charles Dickens? - A TED-Ed Lesson

Why Should You Read Charles Dickens? is a new TED-Ed lesson released to coincide with Christmas. The lesson provides a bit of background on his life and the influences on his writing and the elements of his stories that made them popular at the time of their publication and continue to make his stories popular today.

I don't think the lesson will convince reluctant readers to immediately pick up a Dickens novel, but it will give them some understanding of why their teachers asked them to read a Dickens story.

Image Search, Science, and Math - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're going to have a white Christmas. Eight inches of snow fell last night and more is on the way. That means it's time for me to get to shoveling just as soon as I finish writing this week in review.

This week more people joined the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group. It's going to be a great group of teachers learning together! A few more people took advantage of the discounted offer for Teaching History With Technology and they're off and running.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Good Alternatives to Google Image Search
2. 5 Observations Students Can Record With Google's Science Journal App
3. Three Good Sources of Fun and Interesting Math Challenges
4. Four Things Students Need to Create Book Trailer Videos
5. Seven Ways to Create Screencasts on Chromebooks
6. How to Use Flipgrid - A Guide for Getting Started
7. Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Talking Animations

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Three Apps That Solve Math Problems Through a Picture

A few years ago when Photomath hit the App store there was all manner of debate about whether or not it was a good app for students. I fall into the side that argues that students are going to find apps like Photomath whether we tell them about it or not. Therefore, we need to think about the kind of math problems that are given as homework assignments. That is much like those of us in history classes who need to think about the kind of research assignments we give to students in the "Age of Google." David Wees and Scott McLeod had some good commentary on this back in 2014.

Here are three apps that your students might have installed on their phones to help them solve math problems given to them for homework.

Photomath was the first app that I remember having the capability to let students snap a picture to get the answer to a math problem. It will not only show students the answer it also shows the the steps required to solve a math problem. When I recently tested the app against the other two in this list, it was the most responsive of the three. It also felt the most intuitive of the three. Photomath is available for Android and iOS.

Mathpix offers similar functionality to Photomath. Mathpix claims to be the first app to support handwriting recognition (although the other apps in this list do the same). It did a fine job recognizing my handwritten examples. The problem I had was that it defaulted to trying to graph every problem that I scanned even though the problem didn't call for a graph. A quick tap of the "solver" tab in the app showed the correct answer. Mathpix is available for Android and iPhone.

Cymath is another free app that also lets students scan typed or handwritten math problems to see solutions and steps. Of the three apps on this list, this one had the largest field of view for the camera. It also has the cleanest user interface except for a banner ad that appears in the free version. Cymath is available for Android and iPhone.