Chirp for Chrome is Huge Convenience for Teachers

Chirp has proven itself to be incredibly helpful to teachers who want to send content or links to students using iPads or Android devices. Now with a free install, teachers can send content from their Chrome browser to devices running the app. This opens a whole world of convenience in that data doesn’t have to be moved to a teacher device before it can be sent to students.

Check out Chirp’s blog post below on this development and its plans to soon make Chirp be able to send data in the other direction, from mobile devices back to Chrome.

Chirp for Chrome is out!.

Turn all of the sensors in your Android devices into learning tools

I recently read a great article from Matt Miller’s Ditch That Textbook blog about utilizing all of the different sensors that are part of so many mobile devices and turning them into learning tools.

Matt, a fellow Google Certified Teacher, recently did a Hangout with Rebecca Vierya. Rebecca and Matt met at the Austin Google Teacher Academy and she shared some of the Android software she and her husband developed to tap into all of the power that phones and tablets possess but isn’t easily accessed for learning.

The Vierya’s free Suite of Tools at Google Play is simple to use and contains the following apps:

  • G-Force Meter – ratio of Fn/Fg
  • Linear Accelerometer – acceleration
  • Gyroscope – radial velocity
  • Barometer – atmospheric pressure
  • Roller Coaster – G-Force Meter, Linear Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Barometer
  • Proximeter – periodic motion and timer
  • Hygrometer – relative humidity
  • Thermometer – temperature
  • Magnetometer – magnetic field intensity
  • Light Meter – light intensity
  • Sound Meter – sound intensity
  • Tone Generator – frequency producer
  • Orientation – azimuth, roll, pitch
  • Stroboscope

According to the developers, “Useful for education, academia, and industry, this app uses device sensor inputs to collect, record, and export data. in comma separated value (csv) format through a .txt file sent via an e-mail or through Google Drive. All analog data is plotted against elapsed time (or clock time) on a graph. Users can export the data for further analysis in a spreadsheet or plotting tool. The app also allows for a tone generator output.”

Through the user interface a number of the sensors can be used together for all kinds of different explorations of math and physics concepts in the real world.

On her own site, Rebecca has compiled a ton of links where the tools have been referenced at all levels of academia from elementary schools to higher education.

5 Easy Tech Projects for Kids to Give Thanks

Here are five technology infused ways for kids to show their thankfulness as we head into Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Canadian friends can file this one away until next Fall.

The great thing about each of these activities is that thoughts and ideas are not only shared with the whole class but also an authentic audience across the web. Publish a link in a newsletter or on a class blog and invite the outside world into your classroom and the hard work of your students.

1. Blog Comments: One of the fastest ways for kids to give thanks is on a class blog. Create a post as a writing prompt and then open up the comments to your students. In Blogger and other platforms there are various settings to allow anonymous comments but have students sign each one with a first name. It is a good idea to watch each new addition closely to ward off any pre-holiday hi-jinx or silliness. It is neat to see all of the ideas in one group spot. Students can also comment on each other’s thoughts.

2. Build a Shared Class Slide Deck: If your students all have Google Apps for Education accounts, you can create a presentation that has a blank slide for every student. Just share the deck with the entire class and each student can work in his or her own little corner of the collaborative project. It is a proactive idea to designate each slide ahead of time with a student name or class number. This greatly reduces students interfering with one another. Each can create a slide that has textual and visual expressions of what makes them thankful. The finished deck can be embedded on a class webpage for everyone to easily view.

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Haiku Deck helps you makes stunning slides.

3. Get Artsy with Haiku Deck: Students will need an account in Haiku Deck, but they can do that with their Google Accounts as well. Haiku Deck is available free as an iOS app or on the web at HaikuDeck.com. There isn’t the option of all collaborating on the same deck of slides like in Google Apps, but there are a number of sharing options that easily let students email links or embed codes to a teacher so all of the work can get compiled in one publicly accessible spot. Students can upload their own background photos or select from the beautiful free collection that Haiku Deck offers.

4. Create a Pic Collage: This a great free app available on iPad and Android devices. It has an easy to use interface for dragging and dropping a number of pictures into a collage and accenting with text and borders. A number of frames are available that makes the maneuvering even easier. Non-linguistic representations of concepts are often the most powerful connections to really understanding something. A collage showing thankfulness really gets kids thinking about what they have special in their lives, but also how to effectively communicate that visually. Collages can be saved as images and then posted by the teacher.

5. Let Them Show it with ShowMe: ShowMe is a great whiteboard recording app for the iPad. Students can upload a picture or draw one and then create a voice over track telling for what they are thankful. One advantage that ShowMe has over some of the other whiteboard apps is that if logged into a teacher account, the quick movies generated can all be easily posted to webspace that ShowMe provides.

None of these techniques take a tremendous amount of tech skills and don’t require a lot of planning on the teacher’s part. Give one a spin this week and you are likely to wind up thankful you did.

Explain Everything + Google Drive = Awesome

I saw today via the Twitterverse that the whiteboard app Explain Everything  (iOS|Android) connects with Google Drive. I have primarily been a user of ShowMe when it comes to whiteboard apps but this might be the tipping point for me to move over to the EE side of the fence. Add in the fact that Explain Everything is also the only whiteboard app currently available on Android and it becomes even more attractive since I use devices on that platform as well.

When starting a new project, Explain Everything allows users to access photos from the device’s internal media storage but also makes materials and docs in iTunes, Dropbox, Box.com, Evernote, and OneDrive available in addition to what you have in your connected Google Drive account. With some of the other whiteboard apps, I would get frustrated because something I wanted to annotate in a video wasn’t in the camera roll on that one particular device.

Those multiple cloud-based options are also available when it comes to saving your project video with the additional benefit of exporting to Vimeo. On the iPad, there is even the option to open the project in other apps like iBooks as a .pdf or iMovie as a .mp4.

Here is a video I created from family pictures housed in Drive and then saved back to Drive. 

Here is a scenario where Explain Everything connected to Google Drive could be very handy for a teacher. A fourth grade teacher is trying to figure out why many of her students are struggling with long division so she has them each complete one long division problem on the tablet in the hallway while narrating their problem solving with Explain Everything. By having students save their videos to her Google Drive or a classroom Drive account, she can later watch those videos on her computer. She can analyze exactly where hangups are happening for each student and organize all of those pieces of formative assessment into one folder. She could conference the next day with each student as they watch the video together and address the specifics of the problem. She can also share that video with a child’s family very easily to help explain where the student needs work.

One drawback of Explain Everything is that the app does not provide users an online space to post their videos like ShowMe does. With all of these other options, that is quickly becoming a moot point.

The app costs $2.99 but is easily worth every cent.

 

Insanely Great Science Journals from 1:1 Android 1st Graders

The first graders in Kristi Zoerhof’s class at Bentheim Elementary each have their own Sony Android tablet.

This spring the class studied the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies. Kristi sent the students daily pictures via Chirp and then by using the Skitch app, each student annotated his or her observations. Students then built beautiful journals of the entire process in the Book Creator app.

By using real pictures and annotation tools, students were able to create truly scientific products as opposed to the old cartoonish drawings they used to make in their science journals. The depth of exploration and knowledge displayed is fascinating.

A year ago, Kristi tried this project as part of a pilot with Sony. That class organized findings in Pic Collage. Employing Book Creator has taken it to a completely new level as the app creates an ePub readable on many electronic devices.  To share it here I had to convert the .ePub in Zamzar to a PDF and upload it to Issuu.

 

Below is one student’s beautiful work. Original .ePub to download