Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Vysor - Mirror Your Android Device to Your Computer's Screen

Vysor is a program that makes it easy to mirror your Android phone or tablet to your Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS computer. To mirror your Android device to your computer you do have to install the Vysor software. After installing Vysor you can mirror your phone to your computer by simply connecting the two with a USB cable.

Vysor is offered in a free version and in a premium version. The free version mirrors via USB cable. The free version will also display an advertisement from time to time. I used the free version this afternoon during an hour long webinar and the advertisement only appeared twice. The premium version of Vysor offers wireless mirroring, no advertisements, and a drag-and-drop file transfer between your phone and computer.

Applications for Education
Vysor is a convenient tool to have at your disposal when you want to demonstrate an Android app during a webinar as I did this afternoon. Vysor is also useful if you don't have another way to project your phone's or tablet's screen to an LCD projector. You can do that by mirroring your phone to your computer that is connected to a projector.

PrepFactory Introduces New PARCC and SBAC Review Content

PrepFactory is a free service that has offered great ACT and SAT prep materials. Last year they started to branch out into guided math and language arts review lessons for middle school students. This year the folks at PrepFactory released PARCC and SBAC content for students in sixth through tenth grade.

Just like their ACT and SAT study guides, PrepFactory's PARCC and SBAC content consists of interactive lessons, practice, personalized study paths, and teacher tools. One of the core elements of PrepFactory's programs is continuous diagnostics that are used to identify the content and the activities that students should spend the most time reviewing. In other words, PrepFactory directs students to work on the concepts they are having the most difficulty mastering.

Beyond the content, PrepFactory helps students familiarize themselves with computer-enhanced question formats. Technology enhanced questions present on the PARCC and SBAC are mirrored in PrepFactory's program, giving students and teachers an extra level of comfort on test day.

Applications for Education
Teachers can also easily set up classrooms on PrepFactory to monitor and guide students through the site's curricula. This can be done whether you have your students use PrepFactory for PARCC and SBAC content or you have them use the site for ACT or SAT content.

Currently, they are only releasing content for grades 6-10. Darin Singh, PrepFactory's CEO did tell me that they have plans to release content for all PARCC and SBAC grades in the near future.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

ClassHook Adds a New Feature for Using Videos in Your Classroom

ClassHook is a free service that helps you locate video clips to use in your classroom. ClassHook's best feature is being able to search for video clips according to subject and topic. Most of the video clips that you'll find on ClassHook come from well-known television shows and movies.

Over the weekend ClassHook introduced a new feature that filters profanity from videos. ClassHook calls the feature "profanity skipping" and it does what the name implies. As a video plays back, any profanity in the clip is skipped. ClassHook developed this feature in response to teachers who said they had found a clip that would be useful in a lesson except for one two swear words. ClassHook's profanity skipping feature will let those teachers use those clips.

Applications for Education
ClassHook can save you time the next time that you're searching for a video clip to support a point in your lesson plan. It can also be helpful in finding a video to build a flipped lesson upon.

ClassHook uses YouTube as its source of videos. Create a YouTube playlist to organize the clips that you find through ClassHook.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Free Hands-on STEM Lesson Plans and Projects

"Hacking STEM" was one of the initiatives that Microsoft was heavily promoting at the BETT Show last month. I asked a few Microsoft employees what "hacking STEM" meant. They all replied with explanations that centered on the idea of providing teachers with hands-on STEM lessons and projects that can be done without having to spend much money, if any, on physical materials. One of the many examples that Microsoft had on display to represent their hacking STEM projects was the homemade wave machine pictured in this blog post. You can find directions for that project here (link opens PDF).

Microsoft's Hacking STEM Library is divided into activities that take multiple days to complete and activities that can be completed in one day. All of the activities in the Hacking STEM Library include detailed directions, materials lists including places to acquire materials, and lesson objectives. The homemade wave machine project is an example of a one-day project. This lesson on harnessing electricity to communicate is an example of a multiple day project.

Try the Redesigned Make Beliefs Comix

Make Beliefs Comix has long been one of my favorite tools for creating comics. In fact, I recently featured it in this post about using comics in social studies lessons. Over the weekend the founder of Make Beliefs Comix sent me a note about the redesign of his free comic creation tool.

The new version of Make Beliefs Comix offers a streamlined homepage. Streamlining the homepage made it easier to find the comic creation tools and other resources that the site offers. The new version has been optimized to run efficiently on iOS and Android phones and tablets. Another new feature of Make Beliefs Comix is a capacity for creating comics containing up to nine frames.

The thing that Make Beliefs Comix has been known for is its support for multiple languages. Previously, that feature was limited to six languages. That feature has been expanded to support any language that you can type on your keyboard.

Applications for Education
Make Beliefs Comix doesn't require students to register on the site in order to create, share, and print their comics. In addition to excellent comic creation tools, Make Beliefs Comix provides dozens of free ebooks that contain writing prompts and story starters that you can access for free.