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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

AppAdvice.com


Follow AppAdvice on Twitter
With so many apps out there, it can be difficult to know what to pick or, sometimes, what is even available. There is help out there, and the newest find for me is AppAdvice.com. This site caught my attention today when Dr. Solis tweeted about something near and dear to my heart: COFFEE!! Actually, coffee apps, but it sent me off to look at this great web site.

AppAdvice.com is an easy to navigate site that has organized apps in a variety of ways. The home page has the latest news on apps. This morning I found out that Garmin is going to be using Google street view in its new Navigon Mobile Navigator App. I really could use that!  It also has AppReviews. After looking at some of the reviews tonight, I added a new word game to my collection by downloading Word Crasher Blitz--slightly addicted to those word games!

In AppGuides  apps have been organized into "highly detailed sub-groups" to help you find the best of everything.Need a drum sequencer app? Of course you do, and there are actually twelve listed in a group and they are ranked as "essential" , "notable", "decent", and "other".


AppCharts lists the top 100 apps for both iPad and iPhone, free and paid, and AppBase quickly finds what is new out there.

AppAdvice also has something called AppLists, "handpicked bundles of apps" related to your interests, hobbies, or habits....which brings me back to what started this whole thing: coffee! The tweet this morning simply mentioned a collection of apps for coffee lovers like me. Perhaps a visit to AppAdvice.com will feed your habit or hobby as well!





Monday, February 20, 2012

Socrative Student Response System


My laptop was totally fried all last week, so I was spending the weekend playing catch-up when, as luck would have it,  Amy Mayer of Fried Technology tweeted the most amazing tool ever: Socrative, a student response system. I quickly set up a "room" and ran through all of the quick response options. Awesome!

Since it was such a great tool,  I wanted to try the quiz option in Socrative at school. The quiz creator was easy to use and all I had to do was share my ""room" with the teachers. Only 50 people can participate in an activity, but I hoped to snag as many interested teachers as possible!

Socrative is ideal for quick student responses from ANY device with a web browser. This means students can use a computer, iPod touch, or cell phone...on wi-fi of course! They can even share devices, passing to another student after responding!

The first three response activities rely on the teacher  asking an oral question and students answering by:
Multiple Choice, True/False, or Short Answer.

The Multiple Choice here has 5 choices, listed A through E, and this can't can't be changed. Still, this is a fast and efficient way to collect information from the class, and when one class is over, you "clear the class" with a simple push of a button and start over!

Need more? You can also create simple quizzes ahead of time that include short answer and/or multiple choice. Student results can be downloaded or e-mailed and are in EXCEL format. It will actually score any questions that were given in multiple choice form if a correct answer is pre-selected. On top of that, the quiz can be given in a "space race" game format with students in teams--and results are still available in that nice EXCEL spreadsheet.

There is also an "exit ticket" that asks students to rate how well they understood lesson information, to answer the question on the board and to tell in their own words what was learned.

This is an amazing tool, and I can't believe it is free for now--while it is in its "alpha mode!! To see a Socrative in action, there is a nice little video available on their site. There is also an Android app available and one on the way for Apple.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I AM QR Crazy!!



Many thanks to the teachers and students on my campus for putting up with me this week. Fresh from TCEA and full of fun, new ideas, I got hooked on QR codes after attending a class by the Digital Goonies and just couldn't help myself! I put QR activities in the teachers' lounges,  hung QR codes in the hallways and placed little QR codes on the tables in the cafeteria for students to read. Students were actually asking me for more codes to read! It was really, really fun!


When I first heard about QR codes, I did't know why substituting one object for another would even matter,  but it is absolutely fun! It brings the "game" concept and the mystery of the "secret code" right into the classroom.

For those that missed the excitement this week at school, a QR code is a quick responds code that can be scanned, like a bar code. To read them, you need a reader on your device--smart phone or iPod Touch (needs a camera!). Digital Goonies recommended i-nigma, which can be downloaded from iTunes and from the Android Market . After trying several other readers, I agree that this is the fastest and easiest to use.

Once you can read QR codes, you are going to want to create them as well. Digital Goonies provided three great sites to get started with: QRstuff.comQRjuice.com, and QRhacker.com

QRstuff has more output options (download, print and e-mail), but you can't change the background color.

QRhacker allows you to change the color of the background and foreground and add pictures into the code right on the site, though I struggled to find a suitable graphic that would work.The only output option is to download or screenshot. Also, when renaming a saved code, make sure you include the .jpeg extension or it won't open!

If you want to add text above or below the code, for creating flashcards or other labeled  codes, QRjuice is the fastest option. You can also change both foreground and background colors, but you have to e-mail it to yourself or take a screenshot of the code.



If you want to play with the colors of the QR code, you will need the 6-digit hexadecimal code. I just "Googled" that and quickly found a site by Visibone that has a wonderful cheatsheet listing all the different colors. Once again...fun and easy to use!


Since 30% of the QR code can be "destroyed" and still be legible, QR codes can be manipulate in any photo software---or even in Word--in order to add pictures, shapes, or cool designs. I am still messing with this, so the fun just keeps on coming!




If you still can't believe that these codes would add new energy and an element of excitement to your classroom, check out these websites for QR code ideas. If you need any help, just let me know!

The Best of QRCode
Free Technology For Teachers: Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes


Sunday, February 12, 2012

STAAR Resources



Teachers are working hard this year to prepare students for the upcoming STAAR and end-of-course exams, and this means they also need new, fun-filled, up-to-date resources to compliment classroom instruction as well. DynaNotes, a company that creates and sells instructional materials, has made some valuable tools available for FREE online!

The DynaNotes workroom currently has online tools available for 5th grade Science, 8th grade Science, and Biology end-of-course. However, the site also lists all other STAAR tests and states that free downloads and content are coming soon! So, keep an eye on DynaNotes in the future, and I will get back to you as they continue to add to their list of resources.

By the way, this great STAAR resources was given to our 8th grade Science teacher through her PLN. Get involved with your Professional Learning Network to learn and  share what you know.