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Apps for Summer

Happy Last Day!

I hope you enjoy this last day with students and look forward to some time to relax and rejuvenate.

Whether you’re headed out on vacation or heading out to the back yard, here are a few ideas to play with:


Mobile Learning I: Stories to Share

The inaugural Mobile Learning I group just finished the class before Spring Break.  We wanted to share some of the project ideas they tried.  They’re committed to playing, setting learning goals, and trying new things with students!  Mobile Learning I will again be offered in June and in the fall.  Mobile Learning II is also on its way this fall.

Chris Smith (HS Art) is determined to dig deeper with Twitter.  He also created QR codes for The Glenn that point to YouTube videos of his students talking about their process for creating the murals inspired by Glenn Olson’s garden.

Caryn Odgers (HS Science) and Kari Diederich (HS F/CE) collaborated using a mind-mapping app called Mindjet.  They are using their mind map to help students learn more about medical occupations.

Briana Gustafson (HS Special Ed) used Audioboo, CamScanner, and Barcode Scanner along with QR codes to cue her students in daily living skills so that they become more independent.  One of her students is most excited about is seeing his own picture next to each code.

Jen Vogel (Early Childhood) used Audioboo with a student who read an alphabet book.  He was so excited to hear himself speak, as were his parents and grandparents!

Margi Wachowiak (HS Library Media Specialist) is using QR codes on her Summer Reading posters that point to book trailers for each book.  And she’ll be trying the codes out for Freshman Orientation next year!

Jodi Acker (MS Math) is using Audioboo to enhance student’s portfolios.

Tammy Breitlow (MS Social Studies) is using iPod Touches with students to create and edit propaganda ads as they learn about WWII.

Anne Tredinnick (MS Science, MS Computer Literacy next year) will be trying todaysmeet.com for her 5th and 6th graders to “backchannel” while watching a video about internet safety and digital citizenship.  She’s also going to have her science students use Audioboo to describe the robots they build as part of their energy unit.

Cyndy Johnson (MS Special Ed) is going to have her 8th grade students record podcasts of their own poems as part of their scrapbook project for English.

Rebecca McDermid (HS Science) used Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student to capture quick formative assessment check-ins.

Natalie Slaby (3rd Grade, WES) will be creating a QR code scavenger hunt to kick off her Fractured Fairy Tales unit with 3rd graders.

Dana Ringhand (2nd Grade, WES) used a QR code to share a podcast created by her 2nd graders reading a story they wrote about an alien they created using Abby Monster.  When you scan the code, you’ll see the “alien” and hear the story!  Listen for the elements of a story…

Many of these apps are also web-based.  Android4schools is a nice site for Android device users.

Tuesday Tip: TED

Yesterday, the TED-Ed YouTube channel was launched.  Here’s the scoop.

Not only can you consume TED content, you can create it.  TED-Ed is an invitation to educators, including you!

The biannual TED conference was held a few weeks ago in Long Beach, CA.  TED was created in 1984 as a place for “Ideas Worth Spreading” in the areas of Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  It has since broadened its scope to include science, education, innovation, creativity, culture, and more.

Speakers are invited to give “the talk of their lives” in 18 minutes or less.  There are over 900 TEDtalks available for free and include speakers from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Al Gore to 12-year-old app developer Thomas Suarez and 10-year-old Adora Svitak talking about what adults can learn from kids.  Ken Robinson’s legendary talk about creativity in schools has been viewed 11 million times, with 10,000 views added each day.

TED Wish: Each year, $1,000,000 is granted to someone with “a wish to change the world” Watch Jamie Oliver and Dave Eggers’ talks about their wishes for kids.

It goes without saying, there’s a few TED apps out there as well.

Why not share some of these fascinating talks with students?  What sort of discussion might they have about these big ideas?

Why not share some of these fascinating talks with colleagues?  Add a comment here with a favorite TED talk of your own.  It’ll also enter you in this week’s prize drawing… you know the drill.  🙂


Geogebra is free open source award-winning software for teaching and learning.  It contains graphics for algebra, geometry and spreadsheet–along with lessons, tutorials, and support materials.

Here’s the Getting Started document which shows you what the tool can do.

Check the wiki for teaching materials, lessons, tutorials, and support.

There’s no need to download anything… just click the Applet Start on this page.  If you want to download the program to get the desktop icon, contact Christine.

Read Where You Want

Last week someone showed me a Christmas present he’d received . . . an iPod Touch. He had downloaded the Kindle Reader to it. Since we have two iPod Touches we’re examining, I hurried back to my office to download both the Kindle Reader and the new Barnes & Noble eReader to both. But there’s more! And you do not need an iPod!

First let’s look at the Barnes & Noble version:

  • B&N’s eReader is available for Windows, Mac, Blackberry, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
  • You’ll have access to plenty of books, but the big difference is annotation. B&N offers to look up a word with Google, Wikipedia, and a built-in dictionary. You may highlight a word and/or add a note.
  • Access your notes quickly from the contents.
  • Dog ear pages! Just touch the upper right corner of a page to turn it down. Access your bookmarks through the contents.
  • Adjust the font, color, line spacing and more to suit your needs or situation, like low light.
  • Connect to the bookstore and download more books with an account. (Even if you’re just downloading free books, you’ll still need to provide a credit card number.)

Kindle Reader:

  • Kindle’s reader is available for iPhone/iPod Touch and Windows. Mac version is coming soon.
  • You’ll have the ability to highlight and add notes.
  • Dog ear pages! Just touch the upper right corner of a page to turn it down. Access your bookmarks through the contents.
  • Adjust the font, color, line spacing and more to suit your needs or situation, like low light.
  • Connect to the bookstore and download more books with an account. (Even if you’re just downloading free books, you’ll still need to provide a credit card number.)

Since competition between Amazon and Barnes & Noble is pretty stiff, their prices on books are similar. If you’re not interested in investing in a new piece of technology, consider one of these options for your phone or computer.

A sampling of free books available at both stores (also on the DHS American Lit reading list):

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain)
  • Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain)
  • The Call of the Wild (Jack London)
  • White Fang (Jack London)
  • Maggie: Girl of the Streets (Stephen Crane)
  • The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
  • Washington Square (Henry James)
  • Iola Leroy (Francis Harper)
  • Little Men (Louisa May Alcott)
  • Bastard Out of Carolina (Dorothy Allison)

The other player in the eReader contest right now is Sony. You can check out their downloads for Mac or Windows here.

Audiobooks from Librivox:

  • You might also consider this sort of open source version of recorded books. Volunteers record public domain books and Librivox makes them available through their web site for direct download OR their iPhone app (requires Internet access). Check out their site to download directly or visit the Apps store for the download. *If you use the direct download, you can play those files on anything that plays mp3 or Ogg files!*

We don’t yet know where these devices or this software is going yet at DASD, but we’re working on figuring it out. Here’s a take on ereading from the NCTE.