The Technology: Booktrack
The Booktrack website gives users the ability to add soundtracks and sound effects to written text, creating a unique reading, listening and immersive experience.
Creating a new booktrack is simple. Just click on, “Create new booktrack” and choose:
Then, enter your text. It can even be a Hebrew text! (When I tried, I was successful copying a Hebrew text from an existing file and pasting it into Booktrack).
Once your text is in, choose music clips and sound effects from the Booktrack library and connect them to different pieces of the text, so that when readers come to that portion of your story, they will hear that music.
Once your booktrack is complete, select a title, category and rating and publish it. You can choose to have your story available publicly in the Booktrack library or you can choose to keep it private.
To read a booktrack, simply click on the book and read it in the browser window. (If you are having several students read booktracks in your classroom, I highly recommend you ask that they use headphones!)
To start making your own booktracks, visit the website and create a free account. Teachers can create a class, and add students manually or by class code to it. Students can create an account and then join the class to view or submit books to the class’s bookshelf.
In Your Classroom
Many of us rely on using videos in class. Why not? They’re engaging and open explain concepts much more efficiently than we can. Commonsense Media has some great strategies teachers can use to help students think critically about videos, including backchanneling, integrating videos into your curriculum and using tech to customize videos.
Just when I think that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t have to explain what “GAFE” is any more, Google goes and changes the name! Google just announced that GAFE will now be known as G Suite. We’re not sure what that means long term (paid model, maybe?), but if you want to read about what it means now, check out the Google Cloud blog post here.
Want to give your students a brain break? Edutopia has some nice ideas here.
The Technology: ClassTag
ClassTag is a free website that allows you to easily email all your student’s parents at one time. You can use it to send announcements, event information (along with an RSVP link), requests for volunteers, or parent/teacher conference details. ClassTag also makes it possible for you to quickly email photos and weekly updates.
You can also use ClassTag to organize volunteers. Simply send parents an invitation to volunteer. Then, once they receive it, they can choose to click to sign up, and their commitment will appear on both their dashboard and yours.
Begin by signing up for a free ClassTag account. Then, create a class and populate it with your students’ names and their parents’ email addresses.
In Your Classroom
Choosing An App
Edited by Ann D. Koffsky
It’s so enticing: a new (free!) app comes along and sounds great. But how do you decide if it’s worth using in your classroom?
There are good reasons to be very picky about what tools you provide your students. IPads have limited storage space and can fill up very quickly. You want to make sure your apps are filling the right need and will be a good match for your students.
Decide: What is your goal?
What are you trying to accomplish? Think about how you would complete sentences like, “I want my students to be able to create a presentation/game/slide show that shows…” and, “My students will use this app to learn more about…”
Remember, just because technology looks inviting, doesn’t mean it will help you achieve your goals.
Preview the content
If you’re choosing an app that is designed to share information and teach content, (as opposed to an app that helps students create their own content) you’ll want to make sure to preview it from start to finish to verify:
A cautionary tale:When Tablet Magazine reported on several apps that were designed to teach about the Holocaust, it noted that the playful game experience might not be the most appropriate choice of tool for teaching about something so serious.
What is a meme? A meme is any symbol or concept that is copied, imitated and easily shared via social media. Often, it is a photo with a unique quote laid on top of it. A classic example would be a photo of a “grumpy” cat, with a quote complaining about well, anything, such as Mondays, annoying co-workers or lack of coffee. Memes can be a terrific tool to engage students and help them think about a subject in a new way.
For a more complete explanation of memes, and how they work, check out this video.
Three websites that can help you create your own memes are:
All three provide multiple, free-use photographs, and will place any quote that you type in along the top and bottom of it. (If you use social media, you’ll recognize many of the images offered).
To make your own meme, just click on “create” at the top of these sites, enter your text, and click on “generate.” The sites will then offer you the options of sharing it on various social media sites, or, downloading it to your own computer.
Be aware that if you choose to generate memes in your classroom, that memes created by other users are visible on these site. (Some are not the most appropriate.)
In Your Classroom
“I’m working on a design for the Apple Pencil holder.”
“I need to print a poster that I designed.”
“We’re designing logos for the Israel Experience trip.”
This is what I hear as my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students gather in our new Innovation Studio for their innovation exploration specials. They can’t wait to spend time learning how to use the new iPad Pros with Apple Pencils, GoPro cameras and green screen, poster printer and electronic paper cutter, and especially the 3D printer.
While the tech staff had experimented quite a bit with 3D printing over the summer, we had only worked with designs that were sourced ready-to-print. When I created “Innovation Go,” a game designed to teach my colleagues about the new innovation studio during faculty planning week, my tech colleagues assisted by finding and printing various Pokémon Go characters for prizes. That was easy—designing and printing our first “from scratch” project has certainly proven to be much more of an interesting challenge.
Our first student-designed project is most definitely an ambitious one. We discovered right away that the Apple Pencil styluses are really cool but cumbersome to store when being charged. They kind of look like an electronic octopus, and it’s been difficult to keep them organized. So my Innovation Studio co-teacher and I posed the challenge to our 7th and 8th grade students: could they design and print an attractive, functional holder?
One of my 8th graders rose to the challenge. He began by using 123D Print to design a holder. After spending a couple days (and evenings) working on his design, we were ready to print our first project. We were shocked at the length of time that it took to print! 7th and 8th graders regularly popped into the Innovation Studio on their way to other classes to check on the progress, peering into the 3D printer to watch the tiny thread of filament build the object.
Three days later, when we returned from the Labor Day weekend, we found a beautiful, structurally sound, perfectly printed Apple Pencil holder. It was everything we hoped it would be…except it was too tight for the Apple Pencils to fit properly!
My students aren’t daunted in the least. We explained to the class that this is simply the first step in learning how to engineer. One 8th grader led the class in a spirited discussion of the process, including what worked and how we can improve on our design and building skills. The students debated important questions like how we can better test designs before committing hours of printing time and how we can avoid the 3D printer having to create wasteful supporting structures. Having seen a design go from an iPad Pro screen to an actual item that you could hold was powerful, and we could not have had the discussion before we had actually gone through that process.
We explained to the students what going “back to the drawing board” really means, – and off they went!
In the meantime, these 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are learning how to use the iPad Pros to design for the 3D printer, and we’re excited to see their ideas coming to fruition. We’re carefully planning how to test, test and test before printing, and how to continue to build on what we’ve learned to ensure future successes. Stay tuned for updates on our design and manufacturing processes as we continue to collaborate and innovate our way to 3D printing success.
Cross-posted from Solomon Schechter of Metropolitan Chicago
The Technology: The New York Public Library’s Collections
The New York Public Library’s digital collections site gives you free access to their prints, streaming media, maps, photographs and more. And, there’s no account to create, no password to remember, and no subscription to maintain. You don’t even need a library card!
You can explore their images by clicking on the featured collections icons, or you can choose to search by keyword. (When I searched by the term, “Jewish” the site returned over 4,000 results, including images of sisterhood cookbooks, an oral history of Milton Berle, and photos of fifth and sixth century amulets found in Jewish tombs in Jordan.)
Photos can be easily downloaded, and cut and pasted into documents. The library provides the credit and citation information for you to include in any materials you use their images in.
Keep in mind that the site does not provide an option for you to save your searches. If you want to retain an image to refer to later, you need to download it onto your computer, or do another search for it later.
In Your Classroom