Thursday, December 3, 2020

Twelve Free Apps for Math Instruction

Math Learning Center is a resource that I've shared in the past. The last time I wrote about it was a couple of years ago. Back then it offered ten free apps containing virtual manipulatives for math lessons. Since then MLC has expanded to offer twelve free apps. Ten of them are available for iOS, Android, and Chrome while two are currently Chrome-only. 

Math Learning Center apps are designed for teaching elementary school mathematics lessons. With the exception of the flashcards app, all of the Math Learning Center's free apps are designed to provide you and your students with virtual manipulatives. By the way, the flashcard app is available in English and Spanish.

Geoboard is one of the oldest and most popular apps offered by Math Learning Center. It is a good example of how all of the apps are intended to be used. Geoboard is a free app on which students stretch virtual rubber bands over pegboards to create lines and shapes to learn about perimeter, area, and angles. 

Applications for Education 
It is important to note that except for the flashcard app all of the Math Learning Center apps are really just virtual manipulatives designed to be used as a part of lesson plan not as stand-alone practice apps. You will need to provide your students with feedback when they are using these apps.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Three G Suite/ Google Workspaces Updates to Note

In the last week Google has announced three new features for G Suite for Education/ Google Workspaces tools that are frequently used by teachers and students. Here's a quick overview of those new features.

More Text Style and Appearance Options in Google Sites
This is a welcome and long overdue update to Google Sites. You can now customize your font size, style, and color within the text boxes that you insert into the pages of your Google Sites. This means that you can mix and match font styles and colors on the same page. Previously, changes happened on a site-wide basis.


Improved Handling of PDFs
As announced on Monday, Google has made some updates to how PDFs are handled in Google Docs. Now when convert a PDF into Google Docs format you shouldn't see as many issues with image placement and table placement as before. My students are going to be pleased with this update as I do distribute a few PDFs per week in Google Classroom. 



Improved Originality Reports
Google Classroom Originality Reports will now check for special characters that students insert into documents to try to "trick" automated plagiarism detection programs like Originality Reports. According to the announcement from Google, students will sometimes use Greek or Cyrillic symbols in place of English letters in a plagiarized document. That was actually new to me as I had never thought of that as a way to circumvent automated plagiarism detectors. 

As is usually the case, these updates are rolling out over the course of a couple weeks. If you don't see the updates in your Google account today, check again in a few days. 

Dozens of Bell Ringers to Start Your Social Studies Lessons

C-SPAN Classroom has long been one of my go-to recommendations for social studies teachers. It's particularly good for those who are developing lessons about civics and government. Bell Ringers is one of the many good resources that C-SPAN Classroom provides for free to all teachers. 

C-SPAN Classroom Bell Ringers are short video clips accompanied by a few discussion questions and a list of key vocabulary terms. Bell Ringers are intended to be warm-up or introductory activities that you can complete with your students in five to ten minutes. 

It has been six years since I last wrote about C-SPAN's Bell Ringers. In that time the collection of activities has grown by leaps and bounds. There are now Bell Ringers about world history, branches of government, economics, education, Supreme Court cases, and more than two dozen other topics. Here's a recent Bell Ringer about identifying fake news stories. 

Applications for Education
Bell Ringers are equally suitable for in-person and online classrooms. In an online classroom I'd have students watch the videos and answer questions independently in Google Classroom then bring the group together in Zoom to discuss a few responses. Without making them write answers before discussion some students would probably avoid watching or participating as the videos themselves aren't terribly entertaining even though they are quite informative. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Free Webinar - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Every Thursday afternoon I join Rushton Hurley for our live webinar series titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. We took a break for Thanksgiving last week but we'll be back this week at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT and we'd love to have you join us. It's a fun and free half-hour webinar in which we answer all kinds of questions and share some neat things that we've found on the web. 


Three Ways to Create Online Forms to Collect Samples of Your Students' Work

This blog post originally appeared as in my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Subscribe to have my favorite tips sent to your inbox every Sunday evening

Teaching online classes and hybrid classes is a new challenge for many if not most of us. Collecting samples of work like math problems that students have traditionally done on physical paper is particularly challenging for some. One solution to that is to create online forms through which students or their parents acting on their behalf can submit pictures of their work. On a similar note, many teachers of world languages have reached out asking for advice on collecting audio recordings of their students speaking. Both of those challenges can be addressed by creating online forms to which students upload audio recordings. 

Here are three good options for creating online forms to which students can upload samples of their work as image, video, and or sound files. 

Google Forms has offered a file upload option for the last few years. Watch this video to see how it works.



JotForm is another good tool for creating online forms that accept file uploads. JotForm also lets you create forms that people can fill and sign online. Watch this video for an overview of some of JotForm's key features.



Microsoft Forms offers a file upload option. Students have to be signed into their school-issued Microsoft accounts in order to upload files. Here's a video overview of how this works.