Thursday, September 27, 2012

Haiku is Not Just a Poem! It's an App!

There aren't many options when making presentations on iPads. One free option is called Haiku Deck, which allows you to create dynamic presentations in an easy-to-use format. It allows you to "pitch an idea" in a fast and simple way.You can save / share your presentations on a computer by simply logging in, very much like Prezi. It also gives you the ability to share via Twitter or Facebook. 

Haiku Deck is very similar to PowerPoint and Prezi because it allows users to manipulate the themes and layout of slides. The only thing that I didn't like was that the free version only contained five free themes. If you like a certain theme, then you have to purchase it. Most of the themes that I saw were $1.99. 

If this seems discouraging, you can still add pictures by using the built in Internet search or taking your own picture on your iPad. When it is time to present, you simply hit a play button and slide your screen! It's a very user-friendly and easy way to make a presentation without spending a ton of money! It would be perfect for your students to create small collaborative projects and create an interactive activity, where they have to briefly research a topic. 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do Games Really Have a Purpose?

Some educators still cringe when they hear the word "games." It conjures up memories of when they were in school and their teachers berated classes with axioms like  "school and fun are not synonymous." Some educators feel that many games do not have a purpose. I agree. Do games have a purpose in education? In my opinion, absolutely. They have to be designed with for a purpose to have a purpose.

Fast forward to the 21st century and many educators think games are the equivalent of a Jeopardy PowerPoint template. I hate to break it to you, but our kids are past that! Many of our students feel that PowerPoint Jeopardy is the equivalent of trading in their iPod for a Walkman. It's old school!

Purpose Games is a site that allows you to create your own custom games or play existing games. It's free and all you need is a username and password. Do you want to create your own Geography game where students identify African countries? Do you want your students to identify the different parts of the human scull

The site gives you different options when creating a game. You can create a multiple choice game, a quiz where you have to identify different parts of graphic using dots, or a game using shapes. You can compete against other people and even participate in a tournament. Purpose Games has purpose and the ability to customize the learning experience for all students. I strongly recommend that you give it a try! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

NOTE TO SELF: Try Evernote

I've been hearing about Evernote for awhile now, but never had much of a use for it. The other day I downloaded the Evernot App, because I thought that I would see what all of the "hype" was all about. After spending about 15 minutes playing around with it, I was thoroughly impressed with its capabilities. Don't have an iPad? No problem! You can use the web-based program, download it to your iPhone, Android, or PC.

Have you ever had a good idea and didn't have a piece of paper to write it down? Evernote gives you the ability to type it and save it. Did you ever have a good idea, but didn't have the time to write it or type it down? It allows you to speak your ideas and saves it as an audio file. Have you ever wanted to take a picture or video and save it for another day? Evernote allows you to record or take a picture and store it online. Evernote allows you to create and share notes, pictures, or videos and share them through Facebook, Twitter, Email, and printing!

Take a look at the Evernote "Trunk" and you will be able to find apps and products that help enhance the experience. There are productivity, drawing, and handwriting apps that make it completely possible to go paperless! After taking a whirlwind tour of this App and its capabilities, I've decided to make a note to self: "Try Evernote!"

Have an idea for a story or would you like to be a guest blogger? Please email me!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jot! Down Your Ideas on Your iPad

Just this past month, I read an article stating that schools are starting to buy more iPads than PC's. This isn't surprising. In fact, if you have been following Web 2.0 experts on Twitter, blogs, and other means of social media, you probably realize that this trend has been a long time coming. 

I have been a little hesitant to discuss specific Apps on my blog because many schools are still holding out from buying iPads; however, like many of those other Web 2.0 experts, I am going to begin sharing different Apps than can be used in the classroom. As I begin to implement iPads in my classroom, I am going to try to share with you different Apps that might help. Hopefully we can learn together!

Jot! is an iPad whiteboard that allows students to draw, diagram and collaborate on concepts on a whiteboard feature on their iPads. Students can share their diagrams and pictures with other students by clicking on "Live Sharing." It will prompt you to give it a "session name." Once you give it a "session name," anyone can go to jotwithme.com to view it. If you have the free version, you can view the diagram as a read-only file. If you have the paid version, it will allow you to collaborate with others. 

Even with the free version, it is a great way to review for a test or diagram a concept. Even if you don't want to have students share their sessions via the Internet, they can email their diagram as an image or save as a picture to their iPad. 

I like this App because it is very easy to use. It's simplistic user-face can be understood and used by students of all grades. Elementary school students would benefit from clicking on the Camera Icon, to change the blank page to a lined page. They can practice their handwriting on it. Algebra students could changed their blank page to graph paper, diagramming slops and equations. It even allows you the ability to insert pictures from your camera or saved photos. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The World of Assistive Technologies


I am currently going back to school again to learn more about Educational Technology and its impact on student learning. This past week, I explored the topic Assistive Technology and had an assignment to write for my class. I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone and share what I wrote with you.

I had never given much thought to how AT could be used to not only provide access to the curriculum for students with disabilities, but all students as well. A good example of this is a program called Wynn Read.

Wynn Read scans and reads text to students, highlighting the words it “reads” to help students follow along and increase readability. It can also be customized to meet student needs, such as changing the background to different colors, so that students to be able to concentrate and see better. All students can benefit from this program, particularly students with visual difficulties and reading difficulties.

Cowrighter is a word prediction word processing program, which helps students who may have a difficult time putting words on a screen. It “predicts” which word a student might use next by contributing a list of potential words. I like the fact that the program reads the text to them to help them hear the content of the sentence. This is a great tool for students who have difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling.  After watching the video, I began to recognize that this type of prediction software is built into my Droid. It predicts which words I might need to use when I am texting someone!

Finally, I never thought of Rosetta Stone as an Assistive Technology, but I can see the value in schools today. In one public school that I worked for, we had an influx of Russian students in our school. They didn’t know any English. Instead of paying for a translator, these students were asked to sit in my room and type English words from a first grade picture book.  Rosetta Stone’s potential could help ESL students who may be learning English, serve as a tutor for students struggling in Spanish 1, or provide a teacher for a student taking advanced Mandarin Chinese. I guess as a regular education teacher, we really don't give much thought to how AT can help not only students with disabilities, but all students learn better. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Newseum: A Tool for Current Events

During my senior year of high school, I took a course called Contemporary Studies, which discussed weekly current events and how they impacted the US government and legal system. I remember one of the most enjoyable parts of the class was coming in and tearing into the newspapers to search and read about current events. My teacher was a legend and was known for bombarding his students with current events through newspaper and we loved it!

I still have a fondness to the newspaper to this day. As I have moved into the classroom myself, I have always appreciated the value of a front page and the story that it tells to readers. Recently, I came across a site called Newseum, which allows you to browse the front pages of newspapers from around the country. Want to see what's the political climate in Alabama versus California? This site could help enhance your typical current event discussion and allow students to see firsthand the climate of the country.

A Math teacher could have students gather data and statistics, comparing topics from across the country. Science classrooms could explore environmental issues and how they are impacting different parts of the country. Newspapers aren't just for History or Social Studies. The best part is that this site is free to use and the possibilities are limitless. How can they be used in your classroom?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Presidential Debate Materials and Lesson Plans

As we enter the Presidential Election season of 2012, there are many issues to discuss and many decisions to debate. A perfect site to help lead the discussion in your classroom is from Lynn University (FL) called Debate2012.

The site offers a K-12 2012 debate curriculum options through its site. You can access all of this information on any Internet device, including your iPad. There are specific lesson plans available by grade, simply by clicking on this link.

I really like that the site gives you lessons, activities, and materials, that are "kid" friendly and easy to use. There are video clips from NBC Learn that are of high quality, which do a great job at explaining the particular topic. If you teach at any grade level with anything dealing with American history, government, or economics, then this site is a must!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Using Bubbl.us to Collaborate

Just this past week, I had the opportunity to work together with someone on a collaborative project using Bubbl.us. I've written about Bubbl.us in the past and have mentioned its capabilities as a brainstorming tool. No login or password is required. Simply go to the site, create, and export as a JPEG file.

I never had a reason to work on a collaborative project using the site. Just recently I was able to work with another person as we compared and contrasted two topics. It was very simple to use and very easy to collaborate.

What do you need to do this? Before you can begin collaborating, both people will need to have a Bubbl.us account. I show you how to set everything up in my latest installment of "What to Do in Just a Few"



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ChemCollective

When I was in school, I have to admit that I didn't take Chemistry very seriously. I was more concerned about lighting things on fire with a Bunsen burner than understanding the ins and outs of Chem 1. One of my colleagues (thanks Heather!) is an excellent Chemistry teacher, who gave me the link to a site called The ChemCollective, which was started by a group of staff and faculty from Carnegie Mellon University.

It is a very unique site, which allows you to conduct "virtual labs." This may be a great way of doing more labs without spending too much on chemicals or a great way to reinforce a lab you have already done. All you need is the most up-to-date version of Java on your computer and you are ready to delve into the realms of Chemistry. Click on "Find and Activity" and you can explore labs on Chemical Equilibrium, Acids and Bases, and Thermochemistry.

I noticed another section where you can watch video lectures and take online courses. Need a tutorial on Buffers? Just go to ChemCollective. This may have been the site that would have made me take Chemistry more seriously! Who knows?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Increase Your Gnowledge

A few months ago, one of the teachers that I worked with approached me about finding a website that gives online tests. We investigated a few different options, but always came up with the same problem: either it was free and you could only take a limited number of tests or you had to pay.

Gnowledge allows you to create tests online for your students to take. You can generate tests online with or without a timer feature. It gives you the opportunity to analyze test results or use tests already created. The website says that as of 2012, there are over 2,000 tests available for users. Creating a test is very simple and just requires a log-in. I haven't had the chance to explore it too much, but tell me what you think!