The Vault: Posts through August 2015
SPAM Bots took over the comments! But I am unhiding these temporarily.
David Jakes presented a lot of really interesting tools that can be used with Twitter to engage microblogging content in innovative ways. My favorites include auto-tweeting from PowerPoint and Prezi slides and aggregating tweets into a Twitter newspaper.
He also described Twiducate, an insulated Twitter-style platform where schools and teachers can introduce the technology and environment with more scaffolding than just diving into Twitter.
This morning participants at November Learning's BLC10 conference listened to Mitch Resnick speak about various programs made by young people in Scratch, a simple programming interface designed at MIT. He stressed the importance of creativity and collaboration and how the online environment that accompanies the Scratch software has fostered these two things.
This past year I had my 8th grade students work (in pairs or individually) on making programs in Scratch. The theme was their 8th grade play, The Mouse That Roared. They were pretty excited about doing this. I didn't know much about any advanced features of the programs, but some of the kids were able to figure out some pretty amazing things on their own and then share them with the class.
Based on Dr. Resnick's description of crowd-sourcing and task delegation, next year I may have the students work in larger teams, where some students who may be more artistically inclined can design the backgrounds and characters, some students who are into story telling can design the arc of the program, and the more programming oriented students can work on the nuts and bolts.
I have strong memories of playing Sierra adventure games in elementary and middle school. Games such as King's Quest, Space Quest, Hero's Quest, Police Quest, and yes, even Leisure Suit Larry, appealed to my problem solving sensibilities. They just don't make games like these any more. AGD Interactive has produced a couple of updated versions of these games: King's Quest I, King's Quest II, and Quest for Glory II (Hero's Quest II).
I used King's Quest I with my 6th grade class as an on-the -board puzzle solving activity that we would do every few weeks with the intention of completing the game by the end of the year. Next year I may try letting the kids work in pairs to try and complete the quest on their own.
The game is definitely age appropriate (and occasionally silly). It's a great and simple design that I think has lasting power. It's for PC only, but it should work fine on dual boot MAC systems, though I'm not sure about virtual PC/Window environments.
This week I will be attending and presenting at November Learning's Building Learning Communities conference in Boston, MA. It's a pretty impressive gathering of educators who are all interested in 21st century learning. Check out the program here: http://novemberlearning.com/blc/program/
I'll post information about interesting tools and projects that I come across right here.
Some colleagues introduced me to Prezi last fall and I have been hooked on it as a presentation tool ever since. It's a web-based flash program that allows you to use zooming and orientation to design a non-linear stage of ideas. You can still design an order of things you want to show, but visitors can also click around the elements freely.
Prezi has good (free) licensing options for educators and they are constantly improving the features of their application. One of the best features is the ability to copy shared templates from other users who have already put together cool presentations.
Below is a Prezi that I'll be using next week at a conference in Boston.
Kids Draw by neu.Pen LLC is a drawing program that allows users to record the drawings in progress (screencast) and save and email drawings. The interface is pretty simple and it makes good use of the iPad screen size. Best of all, it's completely free!
This is a really well designed application that requires logic, problem solving, hypothesizing, and testing in order to complete the puzzles. The demo version (free) gives you access to 5 puzzles, but I was instantly addicted and paid $6.99 for the full app which features 100 puzzles plus the ability to create and share your own puzzles.
The basic idea is that you arrange objects provided at each level so that a chain reaction causes the red button to be pressed. When you hit the play button, a marble drops out of the opening in the upper left and proceeds based along the path that the board provides. The design environment is really open-ended and the satisfaction of a completed puzzle is great!
So far I have found two pretty good Periodic Table of Elements (PTE) apps available for free for iPads, One is called 'Periodic Table of Elements' and is made by Kevin Neelands. It has your basic information including the oribitals, states, and a diagram of the electrons and protons. It also has a simple way of grouping the elements visually by metal, melting point, boiling point, and native state.
Another more elegantly designed PTE is EMD Chemicals 'EMD PTE.' It has a more refined color palette and navigation system. It also contains more detailed information per element. EMD PTE has a really nice classification system where you can choose different filters to apply to the table to see which elements fall under certain categories.
Both tables would be great for any middle school science class or high school chemistry class.
I'm still a little fuzzy on how Project Gutenberg works, both financially and legally, but they have made a ton of books including many classics, available for free as eBooks. These can be downloaded to the iBooks library. The iBooks application has some really nice features for books that have been setup as eBooks including table of content hyperlinks, highlight and copy text, highlight text with a marker, look up words in a dictionary, take notes in the text, and search for other instances of text within the book. I'm amazed at how powerful this standard app is and I am curious to how it might be used in addition to or as an alternative to the physical book.
I recently acquired an iPad and have been thoroughly enjoying it thus far. I've been spending hours on the App store looking for (free) resources that might have potential in schools. I started a list of my findings and asked some of my colleagues to contribute to it as well. Over the several weeks I'll add a bunch of posts that include my findings.
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan