Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SMART Notebook Web

SMART has made available for free aspects of their Notebook software through SMART Notebook Express which allowed users to use SMART Notebook on the web without having the software installed on their computer.  Through this service users could start a new file or open an existing presentation.

It now appears that SMART is going to shift towards another option called SMART Notebook Web, which is currently in Beta and will allow users to do a lot of what Express did.  Since it is currently in beta, there are several features still not active...like the ability to save!  However, if you are an avid user of the Express version, it might be worth keeping an eye on the direction that SMART Notebook Web goes and if it adds features currently missing from Express.  Currently the services it provides are simple in terms of drawing, shapes, arrows, and erasing.  This might be a good version to introduce teachers into using a SMARTBoard since it only provides the simplest of features.

SMART Notebook Web is currently optimized for Google Chrome and Safari 6.  Soon, it will be optimized for iOS software, Android, and Firefox.  Also available (for $6.99) is SMART Notebook for the iPad.  As this new web version develops, users will be able to use SMART Notebook on their mobile devices and tablets.

If you want to help in the development of SMART Notebook Web, you can take a survey and let SMART know the devices and browsers you use, help develop a new name, explain how you have used it, what you liked and disliked, features you would add, and ranking your experiences.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Google Search Features You Might Have Missed

Google Search is a great tool.  Being able to use it appropriately is a whole other issue.  Luckily, Google has realized this and provided a great resource for Educating how to use Google Search.  Most of us that have done a Google search recently know about Google Instant which provides results as you type.  But, there are also several other Google Search features that you might not have been aware of.

Google Handwrite lets you write your search right on the Google homepage and it is available on a mobile device and is activated in your mobile search settings. I can't say it is accurate unless you are good and writing with your fingers or a stylus, but still an interesting feature.  See the video below.

Google Voice Search is an option for Android and iPhone devices which allows users to search using voice commands and then get the answer to a search question spoken back to you.  Also, have you noticed the microphone on the search window recently on your browser?  You can also doing a voice search if you have a microphone hooked to your computer.  See the video below for more information.

Related Search Previews is another search option that shows previews for related searches in the search results.  This can be helpful when looking for information that could be related to each other.  Just mouse over "Related Searches" for a preview of the new set of results and click through to see the full results for that search as well.  When I was conducting research I would always "right click" and "Open in a New Tab" these related searches so I would not lose them.

Search by Image is a great way to find copyrighted images or find when your photos or images have been used without permission.  This is a valuable tool for teachers and students looking for where other images are posted on the web and to see if they can be printed or copied without permission.  To search for an image users can "Drag and Drop," Upload an Image, Copy and Paste the URL for an image, or right click and image on the web with an extension for Chrome and Firefox.  See video below for more information.

Google Knowledge Graph is a way to discover answers to questions you never thought to ask and explore collections and lists.  The purpose is to help you research a topic faster and with more depth.  Knowledge Graph allows users to use the search on any type of device.  Depending on the search users can get an image based list that relates to the original search.  See video below for more information.

If looking for some other Google Search information, I highly recommend checking out their Tips and Tricks.  If wanting to get the latest information about Google Search, check out the Inside Search Blog.

The Super Bowl Across the Curriculum

The other day, this Super Bowl Interactive came across Twitter from Larry Ferlazzo and it got me thinking about ways teachers could use the Super Bowl as a "Teachable Moment" and make content relevant to students.  Below are some of the ideas I came up with.

Art: Take a look at the Super Bowl Interactive above and have students draw their own version of a Super Bowl Ticket for this years Super Bowl using previous versions as examples.

Practical Living - Make a comparison of the history of football uniforms and how they have changed over time.  Cooking classes could also have a Super Bowl Party and prepare food that is most commonly prepared for Super Bowl Parties.  A great place to start for recipes is Pinterest.

Economics/Math - An interesting take would be a comparison of the cost of tickets to the Super Bowl through the years and how it is adjusted for inflation.  Here is another link with Super Bowl Ticket Prices.  The same could be done for the cost of advertising during the Super Bowl.  Here is another resource about the cost of advertising.

English - Teachers could use images from the Super Bowl Interactive (page 2) as a writing prompt.  English teachers could also have students write a paper where they take a stance on whether spending money for Super Bowl advertisements is worth it or not.  Ask students to reflect on commercials they might remember and why.

Physical Education - Teach the Fundamentals of Football (Page 4 of the Super Bowl Interactive) on the days leading up to the Super Bowl and play flag football on the day of.

History - Check out the Super Bowl Quiz on page 3 of the Super Bowl Interactive for a quiz about the history of the Super Bowl.  Students could also do a "Day in History" for events that happened on and or around the dates of the Super Bowls.

Government - Part of government is teaching propaganda and the studying of Super Bowl Commercials (the cleaner ones by the way...no beer commercials) would be an interesting investigation into the impacts that super bowl commercials have.  Here is an interesting article about impact of Super Bowl Commercials

Science/Physics/Geometry - An interesting addition to a lesson would be the football related videos of Sports Science by ESPN.  Teachers could focus on videos related to football.  Ray Lewis is playing in the Super Bowl and they have a Sports Science video with him related to Force.

Foreign Language - Teachers could have students research articles about the Super Bowl and then have them translated into the language they are studying.  Students could also research the impact of the Super Bowl in the country of the language they are studying as well.

Agriculture - An examination of field turf and how it has changed might help understand how equipment has changed and how the game of football has changed.  Agriculture could do a project to try and get field turf on the schools football field if it does not already have it.

Music Education - Various artists have performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.  Have students do a "Then and Now" presentation about the performers.  The same could be done for the half time performances.

Anatomy/Health - Students could do a study on the impact of concussions on sports and how helmets have changed to help with concussions.  Students could also discuss the symptoms of concussions.  A simple Google Search will help teachers find information.

What other ways could you use the Super Bowl as a "Teachable Moment?"

After writing this post, Edutopia had a great article as well sharing Seven Super Bowl Lesson Plans.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MagPointer ($) - Interact with PowerPoint

PowerPoint, despite some negative reviews and thoughts about its use in the classroom, can still be a valuable tool for teachers to use to present information.  It's not really PowerPoint that is the issue, it is generally the creator of the presentation and presenter that is the problem.  Well, MagPointer hope to help with the presentation aspect of PowerPoint.  With MagPointer, which is a downloadable extension for PowerPoint, allows users to interact with the content on slides by framing, zooming, focusing, and enlarging aspects of a presentation.

MagPointer is currently in Beta and can be used for free for 60 days.  After that, it will be an introductory price of $9.95.  If you feel like this is something you would be interested in, here are some other features that could be used with your presentation.

  • Selecting and enlarging a specific slide object
  • Creating frames to focus on specific areas in a slide
  • Highlighting text paragraphs, table cells, rows or columns
  • High-quality picture enlargement
  • Dimming the screen outside of the selected object
  • Navigation through slide elements
  • Laser pointer
  • Easy-to-use powerful magnifier
  • Magnifier spots (“frozen” enlarged highlighted areas)

Even though there is a price, I think it is a reasonable one, and as much as PowerPoint is still the tool of choice for so many teachers, improving how it is used can be very beneficial.  MagPointer is easy-to-use and intuitive. Use the floating smart bar located at the right edge of the screen, or:
  • Left-click to select objects
  • Left-click and drag to create frames
  • Right-click and drag to activate magnifying glass

Two Bookmarking Tools

Clipular is a service that allows users to quickly and easily take a snippet of a website or take a complete screenshot and then save them as bookmarks so that user can annotate them.  Using Chrome there is an extension that will provide users with the ability to use the tools and access their "scrapbook."  Users can also "right click" their mouse to get the clip service as well.  There is also a keyboard shortcut as well.  The Magic Wand allows users to add effects, stickers, crop, draw, and add text to their capture.  Once created, users can search for the text inside the clips or by the tags given to the captures.  Users can also share their captures from within the app.  Worth taking a look for capturing information from the web.   For more information, see the video below. 

KeepOne is another option for storing bookmarks.  Users can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or through an email and password.  KeepOne is currently in Beta and easily allows users to organize photos, videos, texts, and other web information all in one place.  You can also share what you save with others that use the service.  Sign up now and new users will be rewarded with VIP privileges and services.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

eyeReport - PIP Videos for iDevices

eyeReport is currently an Apple Device App that allows users to use both of their cameras on their iDevices at the same time.  Through the software users can do a picture in picture video and capture facial expressions, thoughts, and ideas while making a video.  Once the videos have been created users can email them or upload to various social networks.  Teachers could use the software to add their voice and face to a lesson while filming the blackboard.  I could see this app increasing the video capabilities on mobile devices in the classroom.

The app will let users record a clip from the rear camera and then when you finish it will flip to the front camera and let users record from that camera.  eyeReport will then create a PIP box so users can see what was recorded from the front and rear camera.  If you already have a video on your camera, you can add the PIP feature to it.

Here are some of the features:
+ Overlays a second video captured by the front camera on a first video captured by the back camera, while the first video is being played.
+ Produces composite video from both front and back cameras of your iPhone.
+ Superimposes the user's face as picture-in-picture on your video.
+ Saves and stores your composite videos for future sharing.
+ Takes an old video stored in your iPhone and opens a window for overlaying as picture-in-picture a new recording of front camera.
+ One-click sharing of your composite video on facebook, Twitter, YouTube and mail.
+ Turns your old movies into composite videos featuring you as observer, commentator or participant.
+ A way to create dedicated communities for news reports, entertainment information or educational online networks. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Turn Google Search into an App Search

I think that I have finally made the change over to Google Chrome as my browser of choice.  I truly had not become aware of the ability to use the apps available within the browser and how easily it makes it to connect to outside apps that I find myself using all the time (Evernote, Reader, Blogger, etc).  While doing a Google Search I discovered/noticed an option for "Applications" within the options where you can select Images, Maps, Shopping, etc.

By clicking on the Application link users will be provided applications related to their search.  You will be able to find apps for iTunes, Google Play, and Google Chrome.  This could help if looking for tools for productivity or organization.  It could also help if looking for reference tools and other information.

My School Notebook

I recently did a post with 10 Apps for Students to Take Notes and after typing that came across My School Notebook which is a Google Chrome App and an independent app that students can use to help organize and keep their notes on the web.  Students can also use the service on both Android devices and Apple devices.  To use the service, students can log in by connecting to Facebook or create an account with an email and password.  What makes this service even better is the ability to use the service offline.

Like most tools, the collaboration and sharing options make it a usable tool for students who are absent or maybe need more assistance in learning how to take notes.  There is also a drawing feature that allows for notes in classes that require diagrams or other types of illustrations.  Students can create different notebooks for different subjects making organization easier.  To learn more about the functions of My School Notebook, CLICK HERE.

Formula Sheet - For Math Teachers

For math teachers and the growing use of technology it can often be hard to locate, create, save, edit, and use various math formulas on various web 2.0 tools and other software available to teachers.  Formula Sheet aims to make it easier for math teachers to find, share, store, and use math formulas.  Users can search the site and Wikipedia for formulas and then get an image or copy the formula to LaTeX or MS Word version greater than 2007.  Users can create an upload a LaTeX file with a single click or create formulas using an editor and then provide a title, description, and tags to each formula.  

All the formulas will live in the cloud and be accessible from any computer.  The formulas can be organized into lists or combined with texts and diagrams to create sheets.  Formulas can be shared with other users, the entire web, and with students and other educators.  Formulas can then be customized to various formats as well.  

If you are a math teacher and users of technology, Formula Sheet is probably worth an examination and I would like to hear in a comment if you see this as a valuable tool in your classroom.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Share Your Classroom with Classroom Blueprint

Classroom Blueprint is a network and community for teachers to join and share images, layouts, and designs for their classrooms.  Through this community teachers can gather ideas for how other teachers have their classroom organized and set up.  There are currently not very many high school classrooms available, so I would definitely point elementary and middle school teachers to this site first and foremost.  However, if you are a high school teacher and feel that you have a classroom blueprint worthy of sharing with the world, why not get started.

I encourage you to take some pictures of your classroom and get started in sharing how your classroom is an educational playground and positive learning environment for your students.  On the main page are featured classrooms and would be a good starting point for teachers to see the classrooms recognized by the community.  

Turn Your Phone into a Presentation Remote

If you are a user of Chrome or Safari as your web browser and use presentation software such as SlideShare, Google Docs Presentation, or PowerPoint, then you have the ability, through a Chrome Web store App and a Phone App to turn your phone into a presentation remote.  You can see the presentation below and visit Presentation Remote for more information.

In order for the service to work you would need to download the free app de Modo for either Android devices or iPhone Devices.  What is cool is that this same app will work with Pandora Radio and with YouTube where you can turn your phone into a remote control for YouTube.  In another way through this app your phone can serve as a monitor extension as well and the ability to drag and drop from your phone to your computer, just as if you had a secondary monitor.

I am not quite an avid user of Google Chrome over Firefox, not really sure why, but it appears that the apps available for Chrome might make it worth a switch.  This is just one example.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mind Mapping Tools for Teachers and Students

I was contemplating this post and then across Twitter came 4 Ways to Enhance Your Teaching With Mind Mapping and figured that it was a sign to share several of the different Mind Mapping tools that are available for free on the web.  As teachers and all that we have to keep up with on a daily basis, mind mapping is a great way to stay organized.  For our students mind mapping provides students a way to show how aspects of content are connected.  Below are several options for mind mapping tools.

Bubbl.us is a simple option for creating mind maps that doesn't require any sign up to immediately be able to use.  Creating an account does allow you to save the mind maps that you create.  You can change colors, sizes, fonts and other features of your mind maps.  Worth checking out for a quick creation of things you are wanting to organize that are on your mind.

Exobrain a free mind mapping tool that assists users in visualizing thoughts and find connections.  Editing and changing the mind map is very simple and allows for easy organization.  You do have to create an account to use the service and all you need is a name, email, and password.  Your mind map is in the cloud and therefore always accessible. 

My Simple Surface provides users the ability to zoom in and out on your mind map or list.  The services allows users not only mind mapping ability but also the ability to create outline formats.  NO sign up is needed to use the service, but an account does allow the saving of work.

MindMeister is a simple mind mapping tool that allows users to try in a demo and create a free account to save and store mind maps.  MindMeister is also available as an app on Apple and Android devices.  Users can upload images and icons with multiple colors to help organize different categories. 

LucidChart is another option in providing diagramming and organization options for educators.  This is a pay service, but by using an education based email, teachers can get free accounts through the 2013-2014 school year.   LucidChart integrates instantly with Google Drive and with Google Apps.  There is nothing to install and work is stored in the cloud.  Any browser is compatible with LucidChart and there are also collaboration features as well. 

SpiderScribe is another option, although limited with a free account.  Users get unlimited public maps, but are limited to the amount of files and image space for those maps.  Users can upload images and other files to the mind map as well as share and collaborate.  Users can also embed them into a website or blog and an auto-align feature is nice for those of us that prefer neatly placed parts of a mind map.

Mind42 provides user a free, fast, and simple alternative for creating mind maps on the web and in the cloud.  Username, Email, and Password is all a user needs to access this service.  There are several options for users in creating their mind maps and many are universal to other apps.  Hyperlinks, images, icons, colors, etc are all available to use. 

Gliffy is an option as well that is available for Google Apps, in the cloud online for free (5 diagrams) and available as an add on for Microsoft Word.  No sign up is required to utilize the service, but an account is required to save.  Users can choose from various templates as starting points for creating a mind map.  There are several aspects to Gliffy for creating professional looking mind maps.  Definitely an app for an advanced user and someone who is willing to spend more time working on their diagram.

Glinkr allows users to try it out in a "sandbox" mode prior to registering to user the product completely.  There is also a browse option for finding mind maps create for public examination.  Tags for each mind map can also be done, making organization of a users mind maps more beneficial.  What makes Glinkr different is for each part of a mind map, users can have a pop-up text box that provides more information. 

Text 2 Mind Map has no sign up required and a simple indented formula tool makes this the easiest mind mapping tool to use.  You type in the information, choose the color scheme and then it will draw your map which you can organize and share in a format that meets the needs of the viewer.  Locking allows users to easily keep parts organized as well.  If looking for a fast and simple mind map, this is your tool.  Easily share or download the mind map upon completion as well. 

If looking to browse for some mind maps, then the Mappio; The Mind Map Library allows users to find previously created maps that might meet your needs.  If looking for paper version of mind maps, then Exploratree is a valuable option as well for mind maps, graphic organizers, and other diagrams.  By creating an account users can customize and edit templates already created to meet the needs of the content being covered. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

10 QR Code Ideas

A QR Code or Quick Response Code is a method of easily sharing various information with people through the use of a QR Code Reader.  Using a Tablet or Phone camera, users scan a QR code and it will send users to a URL address that it is linked too.  There are several options for creating codes and reading codes.  I currently use the Kaywa Reader which has a QR Code Generator and a Reader App for both Apple devices and Android devices.  Below is an infographic that provides the history and statistics for QR Codes (Click to Enlarge)

Now that you have a Generator, Reader, and some background knowledge at your disposal, how can you use this service in your classroom?  When you create a QR Code you will need to copy and paste it to whatever you will be sharing with your students.  Below are some ideas.

1.) Create a "QR Code Corner" in your classroom and use this area to have QR Codes that lead to weekly or daily assignments that you post on the web or it could link to interesting facts, videos, stories, etc that you think students would be interested in.

2.) Place a QR Code on assignments that will lead students to websites that will provide further assistance or more information about a homework assignment that students will be working on.

3.) Place a QR Code on notes home to parents that will link to a webpage or classroom newsletter that will have more information for the parents.

4.) You can use a service like Tag My Doc that creates an add on for Microsoft products to automatically add a QR Code to your documents and make sharing those documents with students even easier.

5.) On an assignment, provide QR Codes that link to resources for students to confirm their answers.  Provide an amount of time for students to work on the assignment and then an amount of time to discover the answers.

6.) Print out QR codes for content related to information in a textbook, magazine, or book the students are reading.  Pass out the QR code and as students read the text, the QR code will take them to a supplemental video, article, picture that can be discussed.

7.) Gallery Walk is a teaching strategy that teachers can use to teach a desired content.  Use the strategy with QR codes for students to access the questions related to the activity. 

8.) When students are working on a project, require students to use QR Codes as a way to supplement the information in their presentation and then share the QR Codes with the classroom.  If students are using a web-based program to complete the project, create a "Project QR Code Handout" that has QR Codes for the students projects that can be handed out to the students.

9.) Create a QR Code Dictionary for critical vocabulary that students are doing in the classroom.  The QR Code will take students to the definition, examples, images, synonyms, etc.

10.) Place QR Codes all around a physical model (especially for science teachers) and each QR Code will take students to an explanation of the area.

For more information and ways to use QR Codes, check out the QR Codes in Education LiveBinder

Here is the QR Code for this Blog Post.

FREE SlideRocket EDU Accounts

If looking for an alternative presentation tool, Slide Rocket is an option.  Currently, as part of a "New Year's Resolution," the service is providing free full featured accounts for students, teachers, and other educators.  All you need to do is use your school email address and you can sign up HERE.

Slide Rocket has also partnered with Google Apps for Education and you can get the free account through them as well.  Google Chrome Web Store and Google Apps for Education are the two options.

10 Reasons to Love SlideRocket EDU in 2013

  1. SlideRocket is a fun, interactive way to create and share presentations
  2. Access your account from any computer, anywhere
  3. Post presentations on blogs and websites
  4. Share presentations with the world on Facebook and Twitter
  5. Groups and teams can work together on the same presentation
  6. Add videos, music and voice-overs to your presentation
  7. Create cool animations and transitions
  8. Store your photos and presentations in our library so others can use them too
  9. Add live Twitter feeds, polls and other interactive content to your slides
  10. View presentations with any browser, iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Doodle 4 Google Time

I have always been a big fan of the Doodle 4 Google contest because it helps bring Art to the digital landscape.  I share it with the Art teacher at my school every year and he has had some good entries in the past; I am hoping that can continue.  This years theme focuses on students dreaming big.  Google is asking students to draw a Doodle that would answer the question "My Best Day Ever."

The winner of the contest will see their Doodle appear on the Google homepage, receive a $30,000 scholarship, and help their school receive $50,000 for a technology grant.  There are smaller regional prizes as well.  You can learn more about the judging and prizes HERE.  Voting will open for the 50 state winners on May 1st.  All state winners will also have their artwork.  Here is a video about this years contest.

Google has provided some some resources for educators that can be used to provide information to your students and parents.  Also a poster to advertise the contest in your classroom and school.  The History of the Doodles is also an interesting read to learn about how this contest came about and the Doodles themselves and how the general public can submit Doodles outside of this contest.  There is even a way to see all the Doodles from the past

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wallwisher Gets Another Makeover

So just the other day I wrote a post about the upgrade and new look of Wallwisher.  Apparently I should have waited a few days because today, Wallwisher announced some awesome new features.  The first new features is a new formatting toolbar.  Users will now have the ability to make paragraphs, bold, italics, bullet, quote, etc.  See the new toolbar below.

However, that is not the most important improvement.  Wallwisher now offers LaTeX, which is a mathematical function for creating math text formatting.  This could be extremely useful for math teachers wanting to integrate Wallwisher into their classroom.  See sample below.

Other features include posts not restricting their size to a certain width, so typing can happen till you decide to go to the next line and then you can resize your text area.  The quotes also indent and italicize for users as well.  HTML can also be pasted and got some upgrades as well.

Worth checking out if you have not already.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Video Beyond the Box - Popcorn Maker

There is no shortage of video editing and video creation tools on the web.  Mozilla Popcorn Maker just might be the one that tops them all.  The video software makes it easy to integrate all types of media into a video.  You can take a clip from YouTube and enhance it with articles, graphics, text, audio, and even social media content from Twitter.  You can also include maps, pictures, and other live feeds into the video as well. It makes the video you create virtually interactive.  You can login using Persona so that you can save your video projects. 

On the main page, there are two options.  Users can either start a project or take a tutorial (highly recommend to see even more) to learn how to use the software.  To understand more, please see the video below to help you understand.  The video does a good job of showcasing the ability of this software. 

Wallwisher Got a Makeover

When I started this blog, Wallwisher was the very first post that I wrote about.  A little over 3 years later the first site I ever wrote about has a new look, some improved features, but still a great tool for teachers to use in the classroom.  Immediately, the first difference I noticed were "templates" for ideas on how to use wallwisher.  If users don't want to use the template, then users can build and create their own wall.

You can add your own photo as a small portrait, or use the one provided.  Each wall gets a title and description which is viewable when users visit the site.  There are several more options for wallpapers as well.  Like before you can choose the privacy levels and provide a custom URL.  A new feature is make your wall a custom domain.  Creating an account allows you to save your walls as well.

The actual process of typing onto the wall has changed a little bit as well.  No limit on amount of text anymore and with keyboard shortcuts, users can add rich text formatting as well.  It is easier to upload a file by dragging and dropping or by browsing.  Users can also link to a video, picture, or website.  You can also take a picture with a webcam as well. Sharing features also remain the same with the ability to share on social media, subscribe, embed, and now mobilize the wall using a custom QR Code. 

Still the same services, just better looking.  A positive move to a product many teachers have been utilizing since I first wrote about Wallwisher, Paper for the Web.

Rebel Mouse - Social Aggregator

RebelMouse, currently in beta, is a social aggregator that brings your Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter all into one place and presents it in Pintrest style wall.  You can also add various RSS feeds, Pinterest, and other services.  If you are using the social media services listed above as an educator and want a main page for students and parents to visit to get all the information shared in one place, RebelMouse would be worth a look.  By signing up you get your own page on RebelMouse that you can share with others.

There is also a bookmarklet tool that allows you to easily share new content to your RebelMouse front page.  You choose an image, make text edits, and then publish to your front page.  As you make any updates to your social profile they will automatically appear on your front page.  Last year when I was teaching I had a Twitter Feed, Facebook Page, and a blog for my classroom.  RebelMouse would have provided a homepage for students to visit.  I also could have easily linked videos and other stories pertinent to class that didn't necessarily require a blog post.

A feature that teachers might also enjoy is the ability to add a post/story directly from your front page.  You can add a headline or URL, add pictures, videos, or an album and then write the post.  You can also add tags to the story.  It turns your front page into a blog at the same time, but also a way to add a post without using the bookmarklet tool.

Sometimes you might have tweets or posts that you don't want to appear.  There is a draft section that contains those that RebelMouse is unsure of whether you want to post them or not.  You can visit there and add them as necessary.  You can also adjust the themes of your page and create your own.  There are already several videos on YouTube explaining how to create a theme. 

You can see my RebelMouse Front Page for a sample.  It is currently just my Twitter feed, but provides you with a sample of what a page would like look.  Also, here is a 60 second video with an introduction.

Monday, January 7, 2013

3 SMS Resources

KikuText is an additional method for teachers to engage in communication with parents.   With the free version, teachers get 60 messages a month and 2 classes for messages to 15 parents.  A pro version is just $10 a month and you get unlimited messages, up to 7 classes and 170 parents.  With the service, parents would get a text message with a comment about their child which they can respond too.  The conversation history with the parent would be saved so it can be viewed and know where the conversation left off.  An inbox allows for easy viewing and conversations remain safe and private.

Kikutext has messaging templates that make it easy to update parents about what the students are doing in class and they can be customizable as well.  Scheduling of the messages is also available.  To make it work, you provide a code to the parents that they text in and the information the parent provides is automatically captured.  If the cell phone number of the parent is available, you can text them directly as well.  See the SlideShare presentation for more information.

Understoodit is a audience response services that allows users to get simple feedback on whether a lecture/discussion/activity was understood or not.  With the creation of an account (Free or Paid...although free is limited) users can provide students with a simple URL to provide to students.  Using any device students can respond "understood" or "confused."  As students answer, data is provided in real time informing teachers on whether or not re-teaching is necessary.  See the video on their front page for more information.

ClassParrot is another option in the growing market for SMS messaging with students and parents.  Like Remind 101, this service provides many of the same features.  You provide students a code which gets them into the system.  You create messages on your computer, therefore keeping the students number private. (NOTE: Upon trying to update this post this site was experiencing an error)

As a bonus, if you are interested in texting while driving and you have children of the driving age, you might want to look into Detext.  It's a service that allows the parents to be the "Big Brother is Watching," over their child's cellphone.  From a web browser, users can review driving history, restrict certain settings, and set up alerts, when a child is speeding for example.  Receive alerts via text or email as they happen.

Mobento - Search for Spoken Word in Videos

I have always thought about a search engine for videos based on the content within the videos for when certain words were spoken as part of the dialogue.  I always thought it would be great for finding and logging quotes from movies.  Mobento, currently in beta, provides users the opportunity to do just that; search videos for words that were spoken.  Since it is currently in beta, the database of films is not a large one, but as the word gets out and popularity grows, I can see the popularity of Mobento growing.

When you search for a text you get a listing of all the videos that contain those words.  For each video you get a color coded time stamp of when those words appear and then you can play those sections of the video.  There is currently an Android App which contains over 600 videos which can be streamed or downloaded.  Below is a sample of what a search looks like:

Grant Wrangler

I recently wrote about Get Ed Funding, and after looking through my Google Reader I came across Grant Wrangler.  This is a free service that provides a list of grants and contest opportunities for educators and students.  With a decrease in funding consistently an issue in education, finding sources of money for projects, technology, and other resources is becoming another aspect of the education profession.  It is almost to a point where Grant Writing should be an elective course in university teacher education programs.

Through Grant Wrangler, users can search for grants and awards by content area and grade level.  There is a bulletin that you can subscribe to as well that will update you as new grants are available.  The main page also has featured grants that might be of interest.  You can search by key word and provide a deadline to ensure you don't get results for grants that have passed up already. 

If you are looking for free money, check out Grant Wrangler.

(h/t to Free Technology for Teachers)

10 Apps for Students to Take Notes

As schools and districts move towards "1 to 1" and to "Bring Your Own Devices," the process of taking notes will take on a new meaning.  It the past couple years, for me personally, it has gotten to a point where writing for very long makes my hand hurt because I don't use a pen or pencil very often anymore.  While attending Master's classes and Professional Development meetings, I have started using my laptop and iPad to take notes.  I have a feeling this will become the trend in future years in education.  As we move towards this, it will be important that students have a functioning way of categorizing and keeping notes organized.  Here is a list of ten possible tools.

Evernote - A staple among educators and almost a necessity for me these days; Evernote provides users the ability to take notes, save images, and other documents, as well as record audio to go along with your notes.  For a lecture, this would make a great tool for students in the classroom.  Evernote, like most of the apps I will share provides users the ability to share notes as well.  This could be handy for teachers and students working on a group project.  Evernote is available for desktops, mobile and tablet devices.

Google Docs - A lot of schools have gone to Google as their choice for spreadsheets, word documents, and presentation tools.  Google Docs provides great note taking opportunities and also makes is easy to share notes among other users.  It is also available for mobile and tablet devices and notes are stored in the cloud for access anywhere.

Fetchnotes - More of a to do App, but does allow users the ability to take longer notes as well.  One sets it apart is the ability to apply hashtags to your notes for organizing them.  This would be a helpful addition to labeling notes as you go and easily categorizing them as well.  Fetchnotes is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Jjot is another web app option that allows users to take notes in a post-it type format and makes the notes available from any computer.  The notes can easily be shared and printed.  It allows user to bold and bullet a list and each note can have a unique URL.

Listhings is a cork board type notebook app that allows users to create notes and share them with ease.  Not necessarily meant for longer note taking, but does provide the space if desired.  Notes are stored in the cloud and therefore area available from any computer.

Penzu - More like a journal, but when taking notes, organizing by date is very important.  Penzu is an app that users can use to take notes and then easily share them with other students or teachers.  You can also get Android and Apple version of the app for mobile devices.

Simplenote is an app that makes taking notes...well, simple.  Notes can be found on the web, desktop or on a mobile device.  Search tools and tagging make it easy to organize and find your notes.  Like other note taking apps, it also allows users to share their notes, making collaboration even easier.

 Quicklyst - A note taking app that helps users create outline style notes in a structure that helps with organization and understanding of those notes.  Available for use on all devices and requires email and a password to get started.  What sets it apart is the ability to include formatted mathematical equations.

Workflowy - Another option for creating an outline style of notes and also viewing those notes in an easy way.  Email and password are required for use and contains a lot of the other features note taking apps provide, but like Quicklyst, is an app for creating outline/list style notes. 

Notes.io is a simple, no sign-up required note taking app that allows users to easily type notes, then share them with a simple URL.  Currently, printing, attaching, and sending directly are in the works to improve this service even more.