Category Archives: Apps

Phodable Phun

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I bring you three examples of the impact the ancient art of origami continues to have in the modern world.

Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.
Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.  The video is amazing!

 

Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself - starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail!
Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself – starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail! Back this Kickstarter project, Poligon, if you love this idea! (You’ve got to watch the video to see this awesome concept!)

 

Richard Byrne just published a post about an app and a website that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations.
Richard Byrne just published a post here about an app (Foldify) and a website (Paper Toys) that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations. Read his post for a cool idea for what to do with your finished products!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

As I established yesterday, I don’t like bulletin boards and I do like stealing ideas from other people.  It’s ironic that I have posted two bulletin board pictures on this blog from my classroom in the last month since it is my least favorite part of setting up my classroom – but it makes more sense when you realize that I’m just building on the ideas of others.

I’m really emphasizing Growth Mindset in a big way this year, so both of my bulletin boards are aimed at that while I wait for my classes to start so I can hang up student work.  (I am currently testing students for the Gifted and Talented program.  Stapling their tests to the board would probably be frowned upon…)  A few weeks ago, I mentioned my “Courage Zone” bulletin board.  Today’s post is about a board I did that integrates a programming theme with thinking about mindsets.

All of my students from last year are familiar with Kodable, a great iPad game for learning the basics of programming.  So, I “stole”  one of Kodable’s beloved characters, Blue Fuzz, as well as a screen shot of the programming blocks and arrows.  I made a little path of blue squares and added some gold coins to make it look more like the game.  My twist was adding words to each path that represent Fixed and Growth Mindsets.  To top it off, I have a list of questions for the students to consider in preparation for a discussion about the board.

I’m not very artistic, so the board isn’t as “pretty” as I would like it. However, I’ve noticed all of the students I’m testing have looked at it with interest, so I’m hoping it is sending the message I intended.

I’m also a terrible photographer (but I keep trying because I have a Growth Mindset!) so forgive me for the low-quality pictures! You might want to click on the top one to get a better view of my blurry photo ;)

For more mindset resources, check out my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board here!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!
Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

programgrowthquestions

 

 

Simultaneous Back Channel/Polling App

If you are reading this post because the title excited you, I am sorry to say that I do not know of a simultaneous back channel/polling app. This post is to request your help in finding one!  I recently got a great comment on my post about using Socrative as a Back Channel.  The commenter, a professor named Lisa Halverson, asked if I knew of any way to allow students to use Socrative or any app as a back channel while also having the ability to answer polls so the teacher could get a feel for understanding.  It appears that Socrative only allows for a teacher to have one room/quiz going at a time.  I can certainly think of some roundabout ways to achieve this (see below), but does anyone know of a tool that does this with less preparation required?  If so, both Lisa and I would love to hear about it!  If not, then one of you smart developer-types needs to get right on that!

By the way, Richard Byrne just did a great post on 12 great student feedback tools that you should definitely read if you haven’t tried one or if you aren’t happy with one that you use.  As far as I can tell, though, none of these do the specific job Lisa and I require.

My roundabout solution?  (Bear with me because I am an Apple girl – not sure how Android devices would work other than that I’m pretty sure they have browsers!) I would have all students use the browser to access Socrative for real-time quick feedback questions from the teacher.  I would also have them add a second tab that has a Padlet (or even a shared Google Doc) to use as a back channel for timid students to ask questions or make comments.  If you want to get really fancy schmancy, there are several apps out there, such as this one, that will split your browser (but the free ones do have ads). Rumor has it that the next iOS might allow you to split your screen so you can use 2 different apps at the same time – but we’d still like to have it all in one!

Example of using a split screen app on the iPad.  Good news - it's free.  Bad news - it has ads.  If you are teaching college students, that's probably no biggie, though.
Example of using a split screen app on the iPad. A Socrative quiz is going on the left.  A Padlet (set to the stream layout) is on the right for a backchannel option.  Good news – this app is free and you can create bookmarks so students don’t have to type in a URL every time. Bad news – it has ads. If you are teaching college students, that’s probably no biggie, though.

Let’s Move It, Move It!

It may seem a bit paradoxical to be staring at a screen while you are trying to get fit, but there are more and more tools available out there to allow you to do just that.  As you begin planning for the new school year, you might want to check out some of these tech resources for encouraging kids (and adults) to take brain breaks.  Multiple studies have shown that these are valuable for both the mind and body.

  • I’ve mentioned GoNoodle on this blog before.  I highly recommend this free online tool for an awesome way to motivate your students as well as track how many minutes they are spending on “moving it.” Erin Klein just did a great post on GoNoodle on her blog, and is offering a t-shirt giveaway, so head on over there if you want more details!
  • This summer, I found out about an extension for the Chrome browser called, appropriately, “Move-It.”  You can set it to remind you at certain intervals to take a little exercise break.  To use the extension, you need to be in the Chrome browser.  Click on this link, the “free” button, and “add.”  A small icon will appear in the top right of your browser.  You can click on that icon to set the time periods for intervals.  At the set time, your browser will open a new tab, and give you instructions for a short exercise.  It’s a nice little reminder – though some teachers may find it annoying to have the pop-ups. (You can easily disable it by getting rid of the checkmark in the window or right-clicking on the icon to manage your extensions.)  I did notice a couple of grammar errors in the pop-ups that might make for a fun editing lesson while you are “moving it.”

Move It

  • Finally, Collin Brooks has come up with a fun way for students to get moving at home by creating augmented reality fitness task cards using the free Daqri app.  I love this idea, and hope you will take a look at the short video on this post where he explains how it works.

Crystal Fireworks

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I am sharing a great creation by teamLab.  I saw an article about this on The Creators Project, and it really makes me want to go to Japan to participate in this interactive installation in Toyama.  With a touch of your finger on your smart phone, you can ignite simulated fireworks!  Head over to this site to see some amazing video and pics.

image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab
image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab

What Happened During Summer Vacation

 

image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reinvented/9397115956/
image from: https://www.flickr.com/

Not everyone is obsessed with reading education blogs or following Twitter as I am – especially over the summer.  I’ve noticed this blog’s stats have started growing since the beginning of August, which probably means educators are starting to return to work and might be looking for resources.  For today’s post I thought I would do a short round-up of some of the changes and updates that my readers may have missed over the summer.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list.  It’s just something I brainstormed in the doctor’s waiting room the other day ;)

Socrative – My favorite student response system has now switched completely over to the 2.0 version (and I like it). Here is info on the switch.

Tellagami – The free app is virtually useless now, as there is no longer customization of characters or Text-To-Speech.  For those, you need to purchase the Edu version for $4.99.  You can read more about my disappointment in this change here.

Google Drive – There is a new interface that might take a little getting used to.  Here is one article that points out some of the new features. Here is a Google Drive Cheat Sheet.

Google Classroom – I signed up, but still haven’t delved into it.  Here is a good introduction from Edudemic.  And, here is another resource from te@chthought.

Scratch Jr. – For those of you with classroom iPads who might want to teach programming to young students, this free app, released this summer, is a definite must-download.

Made with Code – Speaking of coding resources, Google launched Made with Code over the summer –  a site specifically directed at getting females interested in this field.

Thinglink Video – Sign up here to participate in the Beta version of interactive video creation with Thinglink. Here is a post on ways to use this great new feature in education.

Padlet – Formerly known as Wallwisher (that’s so last year!), this great online tool has now added a new grid option to better organize all of those notes.  Here’s the lowdown from Richard Byrne.  And it has a Chrome extension (I don’t know if that’s new, but I just found out about it).

PixelPress – I originally posted about PixelPress Floors, an app that allows you to draw your own video game, in June.  They now have lesson plans for educators based on the Design Thinking Process.

Kid President – In case you missed it, everyone’s favorite inspirational politician now has a TV show on Hulu! Find out more on this blog post.

Lego Research Institute - I was so excited about this, I tweeted it out last week!  This Lego set, featuring 3 female scientists, is now available for purchase ($19.99).  Unfortunately, they are currently sold-out online- and I can’t find any indication on the website if they intend to restock.

Voxer - This may just be the next new Twitter for educators.  I haven’t tried it yet, but there has been a lot of buzz about it over the summer. This post includes information about this “live messaging app.” According to Pernille Ripp, these are the reasons you should be voxing.  Here are some uses for Voxer in the educational setting.

DragonBox Elements

I don’t often recommend paid apps on this blog.  One reason is that they are difficult for many educators to obtain for their classroom, as I outlined in yesterday’s post.  Another reason is that I feel that many of the paid apps have features that can be found in other free apps. However, every once in awhile, I run across a paid app that I think is unique and worth sharing.

I was recently given a promotional code for DragonBox Elements, and decided to test it out.  Previously, I had reviewed another app by the same company, DragonBox Algebra 5+, for AppoLearning.  (DragonBox 12+ is also available for older students, but I have not tried that one.) I was very impressed by the app, and have recommended it to parents who have young students with a high interest in math.

DragonBox Elements, like the Algebra apps, is designed to teach math “secretly.”  The Elements version teaches Geometry (I think they should change the name, as “Elements” made me think that it was a science app), and is aimed at students from 9-11.

DragonBox Elements - a Geometry app for ages 9-11 available here
DragonBox Elements – a Geometry app for ages 9-11 available here

The app accommodates up to 4 different players (individually, not at the same time), and has three levels of difficulty.  As advertised, it slowly guides you through basic geometric concepts by playing a game.  After learning to identify different types of triangles and quadrilaterals, the player begins to “prove” geometric characters into existence. For example, if one is given a triangle that shows two congruent angles, then there must be two congruent sides – making it an isosceles triangle.

None of the concepts are explicitly taught.  My daughter, who is 11, had the main complaint that she didn’t feel that she was learning anything.  However, when I asked her to explain her actions on a level, she basically gave me the steps of a geometric proof.

Like DragonBox Algebra, DragonBox Elements is a good app to recommend to parents who want to give their children an entertaining, educational app.  I think it definitely helps if there is an adult who can ask some guiding questions to aid the child in verbalizing what he or she has learned.

All of the DragonBox games are available on all mobile platforms here.  You can also find teaching resources on the site.