Friday, February 23, 2018

ClassTag Adds New Ways to Communicate With Parents

ClassTag is a free service for communicating with parents about what's going on in your classroom. ClassTag lets you send email, push, and SMS/text announcements to parents from one streamlined dashboard on your computer. ClassTag also provides teachers with free tools for scheduling conferences, events, and for coordinating parent volunteers. You can take a tour of the service in my video here.

Recently, ClassTag added two new features to its free service. First, there's a new feature called Child Stories. In Child Story you can post updates about individual students that only their parents can see. Second, videos that you post now appear inline as opposed to as attached files. Inline display is much like what you see in Facebook or Twitter.

Common Craft Explains Flipped Classrooms

The flipped classroom concept, in the right setting, can be an effective way to maximize classroom time. Perhaps you've tried it yourself and have been looking for a way to explain it to parents or colleagues. Common Craft recently released a good video that could help you do just that.

Flipped Classroom Explained by Common Craft teaches the fundamental ideas behind the flipped classroom model. Thankfully, the video also addresses why the flipped classroom model is not appropriate for all students.


Tools for Creating Flipped Classroom Lessons
If you're ready to try your hand at making flipped lessons, here are a few tools to get you started.

TESTeach (formerly known as Blendspace) makes it easy for teachers to organize and share educational materials in a visually pleasing format. On TESTeach you arrange videos, links, images, and files around any topic of your choosing. TESTeach has built-in search tools so that you do not have to leave your TESTeach account in order to locate resources. When you share a set of TESTeach materials with your students they can give you feedback to show that they understand the materials or they can ask questions about the materials. You can also see if your students actually looked at all of the materials that you have shared with them. Using TESTeach can be a good way to create and deliver flipped lessons.

EDPuzzle is a popular tool for adding your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons. Within EDPuzzle's editor you can select portions of videos for students to watch. EDPuzzle offers the option to share your videos to Google Classroom.

MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify. MoocNote could be a good tool for high school teachers who want to organize playlists of videos for their students and add some clarifying information to those videos. You could also have students use MoocNote to annotate videos to demonstrate an understanding of the topic at hand.

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

The Chemistry of Contrails

Earlier this week I was ice fishing on a lake in northern Maine that just happens to be under the flight path of many airplanes going to and returning from Europe. Being a bit of an aviation geek, I enjoyed guessing at the model of the planes overhead. I could quickly identify 747s, A380s, and A340s because they leave behind four contrails while twin engine jets leave behind only two contrails. I share that story because Reactions has a new video that explains how jet contrails are created.


Front Row Introduces New ELA Practice Activities

Front Row is an excellent service that provides differentiated reading materials and practice exercises in K-12 classrooms. Front Row offers articles and exercises on topics in math, science, social studies, and language arts. The latest update to Front Row features new ELA skills practice activities.

The new ELA skills practice activities on Front Row are designed to help students in third through eighth grade develop skills in six areas. Those areas are making connections, inferences, main ideas, word choice, text structure, and point of view. The activities feature short, nonfiction passages that students need to read and then answer questions about. The questions appear side-by-side with the text passage so that students can quickly refer to the passage for context. Just like other Front Row activities, the difficulty of the ELA passages and questions adjust depending upon how students answer the questions.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Anchor 3.0 Provides an Easy Way to Create Podcasts

Anchor is a free service for creating podcasts on your phone or on your laptop. When the service started it was just a simple app that let you record short (two minutes or less) episodes to publish on the Anchor network. Over the last couple of years the service has steadily added more features leading up to Anchor 3.0 that launched today.

The latest version of Anchor is packed with features that make it easy to record, edit, and publish podcasts. Perhaps the best feature of Anchor is the ease with which you can publish to all major podcast networks including iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts. To publish to those platforms all you have to do is select them when you tap or click publish on your Anchor podcast.


Anchor previously only let you record through your phone. The new version of Anchor includes a browser-based recording. The browser-based recording tool also includes free transition music that you can use within your recording. For those who prefer to record with another tool, can still use Anchor to publish their podcasts. The browser-based version of Anchor has an option to upload audio files for publication.

Applications for Education
If you have ever wanted to start a podcast with your students, but got deterred by the complexity of publishing, Anchor could be the solution that you need.