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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

eDownloader - Download Files on iOS

One thing about the Apple ecosystem is the ability to move files to and from the device is somewhat tightly controlled.  Sometimes in class students want to be able to download a sound or video file to use in a presentation and they can't.  An app that is free today (and also available in the WSD App Portal in the future because I just noticed it's back to $1.99) called eDownloader does a pretty good job of allowing you to grab content.  These apps never have a very intuitive interface or try to do too much but this one is pretty easy, with a little bit of hunting around.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Talking Pictures App

An app that went free today called DMD Topic - Talking Pictures is a good one for students who have a picture they want to add voice comments to it.  After you take a picture you can zoom in on certain parts as you talk about them.  After you're done the app does all of the zooming for you and also blurs out the rest of the image and just focuses on what you've selected.  If you didn't get it downloaded today then you can request it from the App Portal.

9 Different Informal Assessment Tools Compared

Here's a great chart from that compares nine of the most popular student response tools in one place.  Of all the ones on the list, I've used just over half of them and with minimal effort they can be used to gauge where a class or group of attendees is at in response to what they're learning.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Keep Notes and Reminders in Google

Google has an often overlooked feature called Google Keep.  It allows you to make virtual sticky notes and reminders that you can access from all of your devices.  They just made them shareable too which has big implications for the classroom.  The interface is very easy to use and very simple, which helps sometimes to keep students focused on the task at hand.  You can add images, voice, and even set reminders.

There is not currently an iPad app (but there is an Android app) but there are a few apps that do what a Google app should.  The one I've tried is TurboNote and did a great job of immediately picking up the new note I created online and putting it on my iPad.

Instead of me listing all of the features I'll let Lifehacker

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Leveled Reading with News in Levels

A great website that's been around for a few years called NewsELA has current events in a leveled format.  That means that each story provides different Lexile reading levels so you can tailor what your students read to where they're at.  A site I just read about on called News in Levels aims to do the same thing, with a twist.  This site is geared toward English Language Learners or readers at a basic level, but also contains higher levels too.  The added bonus of this site is that each story and each level has an accompanying video that either shows the news story or reads the words to the reader.

Educational Benefit: If you are looking for leveled stories or stories for ELL students this is a good resource.  They also have a chat option to chat with students around the world and a Skype feature for video calling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Send Anywhere Updates

One of the best apps (and now computer application) that I've come across for transferring files to and from an iOS device is Send Anywhere.  It's free, simple to use, and moves big files easily over wifi.  Today they came out with a new iOS version and while I was looking at the release I noticed they also had a Chrome extension and a desktop version of the software.  Life just got a bit easier.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Google Drive App Updates

Today Google Drive updated their iOS app with some neat features.  One new thing you can do is open files from your Google Drive and save them back to your Drive from other apps on your device.  This may have the biggest impact for the classroom.  Any saved changes are automatically synced to your other devices.  Another cool one is the ability to unlock your Drive using your Touch ID.  You have to enable this in the Google Drive app settings.

And finally, the one I like best, is the ability to download a video from your Drive into your camera roll.  In the past you've been able to make a video available offline, but now by tapping File Info > Open In > Save Video if will go directly into your camera roll instead of somewhere else inside the Google Drive app.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hour of Code

Last year my students participated in's Hour of Code.  It's designed as a way to get students excited about learning how to code.  I highly recommend finding time for your students to participate this year.

Hour of Code

What is the Hour of Code?
The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Check out the tutorials, and look out for new ones coming for the Hour of Code 2014.

When is the Hour of Code?
Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime, but the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. Is it one specific hour? No. You can do the Hour of Code anytime during this week. (And if you can't do it during that week, do it the week before or after).

Why computer science?
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. See more stats on

How do I participate in the Hour of Code?
Sign up to host an Hour of Code event here and start planning. You can organize an Hour of Code event at your school or in your community — like in an extracurricular club, non-profit or at work. Or, just try it yourself when Dec. 8 arrives.\

Who is behind the Hour of Code?
The Hour of Code is organized by, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. An unprecedented coalition of partners have come together to support the Hour of Code, too — including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the College Board.

I don't know anything about coding. Can I still host an event?
Of course. Hour of Code activities are self-guided. All you have to do is try our current tutorials, pick the tutorial you want, and pick an hour — we take care of the rest. We also have options for every age and experience-level, from kindergarten and up. Start planning your event by reading our how to guide.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Google Communities

One place where I've been doing a lot of reading and researching is in the Google Communities.  In short it's loaded with forums on specific Google products.  For example, I'm keep tabs on the following Google services: Classroom, Docs and Drive, iPads in the Classroom, Apps for Educators, Google Docs Tips and Google Apps in Education.  Since many groups have the same name or content, one tip when looking to join a community is to see how many members are in the group which will give you a good idea of which ones are most popular and most active.

Unlimited Google Storage

You may or may not have noticed that your Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account now has unlimited storage.  When I first heard it was happening I was excited and amazed.  Oh, the possibilities!  Backup, and pictures, and documents galore.  On the bottom left of your Google Drive home screen it used to say the percentage of space you had left but not it just says how much you have used.  I looked a bit deeper and the top end of my account says 10Tb (never typed terabytes before) which is a TON of space.  There's one caveat.  The biggest file you can upload at one time is 5Tb (that's a lot).

Google Apps Customizer

If you've used Google tools at all you might have noticed the nine little squares on the top right of your Google environment.  Some call it the 'app switcher', others the 'selector', and others the 'waffle'.  Regardless of what you call it I've always bemoaned the fact that I couldn't adjust what was in there.  I couldn't move things around or get rid of things I didn't want.

But today I discovered a Google Chrome extension called App Launcher Customizer you can add to your Chrome settings which allows you to not only add/remove what you want but also to move things around in the order that you want.  Give it a try.  It put a smile on my face.