Tuesday, December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777
The Technology: audioBoom
AudioBoom is a free iOS app that enables you to record, publish and share podcasts. It’s very easy to use, and while it lacks GarageBand-type editing tools, it’s great for simple recording and hosting online.
Once you install audioBoom on your iPad, you can use the iPad’s built in microphone to record. After you have completed the recording, upload it to the aurdiBoom website, and add a title, category, description and photo to it. Once it is posted to the site, you can share the podcast via social media, and generate a QR code that links to it.
Sign up for a free account at the website, and your iPad recordings will be uploaded to your account. A free account enables you to record podcasts of up to ten minutes in duration.(If you’d like to create longer podcasts, you’ll need to purchase a premium account at $90/year.)
In Your Classroom
December is Human Rights month. Teaching Tolerance’s Perspectives for a Diverse America has some nice resources, which you’ll have to register for a free account in order to access. You’ll find the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1929 poem, On Liberty and Slavery, resources for lesson planning and more.
Simple Machines is a charming website developed by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Students can help Twitch build simple machines by using inclined planes, levers and more.
Intrigued by 3D printing? Check out Tinkercad. You can create a free account and view their tutorials to learn more about the tool. We’ve found this to be the easiest 3D modeling application for beginners.
You probably know that Google and Facebook are under fire because of fake news sites and the influence they may have had on the recent election. From a tech educator’s standpoint, this is really frightening, and I think we need to carefully consider if we’re doing enough to teach our students how to discern what’s legitimate on the web. Here are some resources regarding this troubling issue:
A great article from the New York Times about the issue.
Information about a free Chrome extension that you can install to let you know if you’ve arrived at a fake news site (including a link to download it).
Leave it to the kids! Three Princeton students tackled the problem during a recent “hackathon” and produced their own Chrome extension – read more about it here.
The Technology: Adobe
Adobe has updated several of their iOS apps and given them a new look and some new features:
The apps haven’t changed much. They work on the same simple premise: you choose a template, and add words, music, text and images to it. The app then takes that content, and uses it to create a final product. There are not many options for customization, and you are mostly locked in based on the template you choose. That may seem like it’s limiting (and, well, it is), but if you only have forty-five minutes for your students to create a product, it can also feel really liberating!
To check out Adobe’s iPad apps, visit the iTunes App store. All are free to download and use. The only premium feature that you may want to purchase is a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud storage plan, which provides additional storage.
Additionally, it’s notable (and a welcome change!) that you can now sign up for a free Adobe ID in order to use many of the apps or you can use your Facebook or Google account. This is very convenient for those of us who already use Google and don’t wish to have another account.
In Your Classroom
What is a word cloud? A word cloud is an image that is formed from typed words, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. Here is an example of one:
Tagul is a free site that can help you create your own word clouds. You simply import your words, either one at a time, or by pasting a body of text. And, you don’t have to limit yourself to English: Tagul will also work with Hebrew type, as long as you import a Hebrew font by going to “fonts” and then uploading your Hebrew font to it.
(Note: I had greater success with Tagul when I used Hebrew that had no vowels or cantellation marks.)
You can also customize your word cloud by choosing from a menu of possible shapes, colors, fonts and layouts. After you’re happy with the graphic, you can print it, download it, and share it with others.
To use Tagul, create a new account, or use your Google or social media account. There is no charge to sign up and it is free for personal use.
In Your Classroom
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