Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gapminder World - Minding the Gap

The web 2.0 tool, Gapminder World, was the brainchild of Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling.  Their mission was to create a more interesting way to view fact based statistical information about the world in which we live and view it over time using software they called Trendalyzer.  Google has now acquired the software and the developers who worked on the software initially are still hard at work creating new videos, pdf documents and flash animations to produce fascinating information on how the world has changed over time.  For example, you can look at how age expectancy and income level are related while viewing the changes over a hundred years.  There are plenty of tutorial videos and PDF files to show you how to do this on the teacher section of the site:  Gapminder for Teachers.  There is even a desktop version so that you do not have to be online to use Gapminder.  Gapminder has also included some teaching guides such as the one called 200 Years that Changed the World

This site is simply filled with factual information for use with your classes.  This site is not just just for math and geography teachers!  All students can benefit from learning to use this site to access statistics on all kinds of information on health, wealth, HIV, human development, money, reducing childhood mortality, income distributions, marriage, employment rates and the list goes on and on.  Teachers, check it out and Mind the Gap at www.gapminder.org today!

Tutorial Video

Friday, September 23, 2011

Popplet - Simple, Versatile Way to Present Information

Yesterday a colleague, Dave Herren, told me about Popplet.  I explored the web 2.0 tool and was very impressed by its' simplicity and versatility.  It can be used as a mind mapping tool, poster board, and presentation medium.  It allows users to share their creations and is therefore also collaborative. You can make your popplets public or just choose who you wish to have access.  You can change the colors of the bubbles and text, add Flickr pictures, YouTube videos, pictures from your computer or Facebook page, Google Maps with a specific address, and pictures of products from Amazon. 
You can add your own comments to each Popple too.  Looking over the features, I also saw where you can export your Popplets to PDF or Image formats in order to print it out and even link different Popplets together.

Teachers we have another amazingly simple, versatile,  efficient and colorful way for our students (or for ourselves) to present information.  Below is a link of an example of a Popplet definitely worth looking at and getting some ideas for the classroom. Napoleon:  History  http://popplet.com/app/#/489.

Here is the link to the main Popplet information page where you can sign up, watch a video on how it works and get other information such as how you can get the iPad App too!  This web 2.0 tool is in Beta now and I definitely recommend checking it out and introducing it to your students. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Flipping for Flipboard!!

Flipboard is a free app for the iPad and it is my favorite app of late!  Flipboard allows you to take all kinds of online information from Twitter, Facebook, News, RSS feeds, Flickr, and various other sources of information and lets you read it in a magazine like format.  All the pictures and links are spread before you like an informational smorgasbord!  You can check your news-feed on Facebook, or search Twitter for real-time information.   

Teachers and students can use Flipboard as a way of creating their own personal learning networks by subscribing to the sources of information that fire their imagination.  In the classroom, it can be used as a research tool for news, and articles as well as real-time information.  Just imagine searching for information about a current event using Facebook and Twitter to find posts from the people who are living through the event!  Students doing any kind of research can use the search feature to find topical information.  The information and pictures can be emailed, or printed out.  This app is really amazing!  I highly recommend it for personal and school use.  Here are some links to get more information!

A YouTube demonstration of the app:  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2vpvEDS00ohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2vpvEDS00o


How one teacher uses it:  http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/2011/02/flipboard.html

More information:  http://flipboard.com/ 

Monday, May 23, 2011

iHomework Gets Students Organized

While I was searching around for cool "apps" the other day (this has become a hobby of mine),  I came across iHomework for iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.  After downloading and playing with it a bit, it made me want to go back to school just so I could use it for my classes!  This app has it all.  No need to carry around paper and pencil to keep track of your assignments, homework, readings, and tasks.  It also allows you to enter your course schedules and teacher information for easy reference.  The app also lets you put in your assignment grades so that you can track your overall course progress.  Then it can sync all information to your computer whether it be a Mac or PC.  Students, Teachers, Parents and guardians will love this app!  Of course, not every student has an "i" device though many students do.  For the ones that do, this is an exceptional app and is rated overall as 4 out of 5 stars in the App Store. 

When students are organized with assignments, due dates and other resources, they are more likely to do well in school.  This app will keep all the those little pieces of paper where they have written their assignments off of the floor of their locker and into a device where they can easily find the information that they need. 

Here is an instructional video on how to use the iHomework app and you can follow them on Facebook as well.  They have a website where you can get more information.

If you currently use this app or are trying it now, please leave a comment and let everyone know how it has worked for you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dabbling with Dabbleboard!

Dabbleboard is a web 2.0 collaborative tool that allows you to draw, create mind maps, brainstorm, demonstrate concepts and so much more.  This is a fantastic tool to use with your interactive whiteboard!  It is so incredibly fun and easy to use that anyone can do it!  This is a wonderful teaching and learning tool.  I can envision teachers using it to illustrate concepts they are teaching and students using it to create mind maps, concept maps, organizational charts, mock ups, flow charts, diagrams, building plans, illustrations, and do demonstrations.  This tool is different because it allows you to work collaboratively, and draw both naturally and spontaneously as well as open a back channel on the site at the same time for even better collaboration!
According to the Dabbleboard site, here are the top ten reasons to use Dabbleboard.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons you should use Dabbleboard:
  1. Dabbleboard is easy and fun to use. Unlike other whiteboard applications, Dabbleboard feels as natural to use as a marker on a whiteboard, or a pencil on a sheet of paper.
  2. Dabbleboard is fast. Since you don't need to spend time constantly changing tools in the toolbar, you can draw much faster.
  3. Dabbleboard is flexible. Everything you draw can be moved, resized, deleted, and replicated.
  4. Dabbleboard produces pretty drawings. Okay, we admit you don't need your whiteboard drawings to look like works of art.
  5. Dabbleboard lets you easily reuse previously-made drawings. With drag-and-drop simplicity, you can add drawings to your personal library, and copy something from the library to your current drawing.
  6. Dabbleboard allows sharing and real-time collaboration with anyone anywhere in the world.
  7. Dabbleboard works with hardware you already have, including your favorite computer.
  8. Dabbleboard works with other software you already use.
  9. Dabbleboard is secure. Unless you make your drawing public, each drawing can only be viewed by those you've shared it with, and by no one else.
  10. Dabbleboard is free! We want to help the world think and communicate visually, and we won't let a little money get in our way. We also offer Pro accounts at reasonable prices.
Take a look at this video that demonstrates how easy Dabbleboard is to use.  http://dabbleboard.com/tour

Then, check out this link to learn more about Dabbleboard and sign-up if you would like to start using this cool tool:  http://dabbleboard.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Apps for Digital Storytelling: Easy and Awesome!

StoryKit
There are two apps that can be used for creating digital stories that I highly recommend.  They are easy to use and can be used for all age levels.  One is called StoryKit and the other one is StoryRobe.  They both work on an iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.  StoryKit is free and allows the user to use pictures, text and voice to create a story.  Students can use it to take pictures of their field trip with narrative notes, record their lab experiment with a narrative, do creative writing projects, conduct interviews, and create any other project where they would like to tell a story.  They can take their own pictures for the project, narrate their story verbally to go with the pictures and add text for emphasis.  When the story is completed it can be shared via the web! Viewers can have the story read to them or chose to read it on their own.   The web address is private so that teachers and students can share it with whomever they wish.  The story will also be on their mobile device for easy viewing. 
StoryRobe

StoryRobe works much the same way, except that the story is only told verbally and you have the options of uploading the story to YouTube or emailing it to someone.  StoryRobe costs only 99 cents. Even if you share your digital story, it will still remain on your mobile device for easy viewing just like StoryKit.

Both of these apps are wonderful for creating alternate means of assessments for students, recording important information, taking verbal notes with pictures, creating literature, and sharing information.  Any content area can use this technology.  Please check these apps out at the urls below.  I give both of these apps a 2 thumbs up!

StoryKit:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8
StoryRobe:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storyrobe/id337670615?mt=8

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Personalized Newspaper Created from Twitter? Really?

Paper.li is a tool that uses Twitter or Facebook to create a personalized digital newspaper based on your interests.  It is very easy to create and takes just a couple of minutes.  I tried it out and created a newspaper for myself using technology as the focus in less than 2 minutes!  Check it out:  http://paper.li/CRenfrow/1298570025


What makes this a wonderful educational tool is the fact that students and teachers can have a personalized newspaper to read based on their interests, or specific content being studied in the classroom. The newspaper automatically updates itself every 24 hours to get the newest information on your topic.  All you need is a Twitter or Facebook account to begin.  Because Facebook is usually filled more with personal socialization information, I believe that using Twitter to create the newspaper would be better for school use because you can get more newsworthy information, and the latest events happening in the world, etc.  Teachers, just imagine being able to have your students (and yourself) receive the very latest real-time information on any given topic that you are studying instantly and having it updated automatically every 24 hours! 

Please check out this tool at:  http://paper.li/ and create your own digital newspaper today.  This is one great tool for creating personal learning networks!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Study Bar is Just What the Teacher Ordered!

I am amazed by this tool.  It was designed originally for use with students with Dyslexia by a team at RSC Scotland North & Easthowever.  However, it has great applications for any student.  I can't say enough about the power of this tool.  This tool, once installed, stays on top of whatever you are doing on your computer so that it is easy to access whenever it is needed.  You can save it to your desktop or install it on a USB drive so that you will have all of your information from whatever computer you use.  Using the USB option is a great choice for students who don't use the same computer all the time. My study bar learns from you as you use it so it becomes personalized to your needs.

It has mind mapping options, calendars, sticky notes, reading assistance such as text to speech reading, a talking dictionary,  the ability to change font and background colors to make reading easier, vu Bars for assisting tracking issues, word prediction, spell checking, built in keyboarding lessons, text magnifier, a cursor locater and so much more.  This is the perfect tool to assist students with studying, reading and/or writing difficulties however severe or mild and it is free!  There are easy access video tutorials for every application.  

This is a MUST check out tool for Special Educators and an absolutely perfect tool for Universal Design for Learning methodology.

You can download this tool here at the top of the page:  http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps/mystudybar.php#tutorials

The update patch here for Windows XP or 7:  http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps/mystudybar_v3.php

Find tutorials here further down the page:  http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps/mystudybar.php#tutorials

For more information:  http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/index.php