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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apricot - Easily Deliver Writing Prompts to Students (andParents) #edtech #ipaded #writing @justapricot

Apricot is a neat tool I read about today on that allows teachers to quickly and easily deliver writing prompts to students.  There are a few things about this free service that I really like, the first being that it's free.  Actually, the first should be that there is a website that wants to help students become better writers, but free comes a close second.  The second is that it's very simple for students and parents to become a part of a teacher's class.  Websites that make signing up for their service tedious and difficult need to learn from sites like Apricot.  Give the students a code to sign up, don't put the onus upon the teacher to do all of the work.

Yet another thing is Apricot's interface.  It's very simple to use and the writing platform is just geared for writing, not a lot of bells and whistles, which can often get in the way of student's expression.  I don't care that you know how to use the Olde English Font in pink and size 72.  Finally, I love that it makes parents a part of the equation.  In today's digital world, having a teacher or a service send work directly to a parent's phone or laptop is priceless stuff.

In a nutshell, a teacher adds a prompt and the students are prompted to respond.  They click on the link, write away and turn in their work.  The teacher then gets a copy of each response on the Apricot site and then has the option to send that work out to parents.  Parents will get a copy of their own students work as well as the option to see three other students' work without the names provided.

Overall Apricot seems to have a nice niche in the writing delivery and collection department.  How is this different from using Google Classroom?  I think the nice feature of inviting parents into the environment is useful as well as the fact that all of the work stays right in the tool, it doesn't open up anything else to get the job done.

Image result for justapricot

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Easy website for mobile.

Tonight is our 3rd annual Technology and STEM showcase at Wenatchee High School.

In the process of prepping for the event we wanted a "mobile" app for the attendees to register, get maps, bios, etc.  without any knowledge of programming a real app, Ray created a Google Site and optimized it for mobile.  If you keep mobile in mind and use 100% widths on your items, Google sites make a super simple great mobile site.  

The site even has the live stream from YouTube that some of our students are presenting from the event.

If you are a Google apps school or non-profit it makes sense to use the tools within Google sites to create these unique event sites.  The beauty of them is that you can so easily collaborate on the site.  Ray started the site and we both edited to get it ready for our event.

Google on!

Ron Brown

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Create Rubrics in Google Sheets - Grade & Email Results #edtech #gafe #ipaded

Many times Google Drive add-ons that I find do fun things, other times it's useful things.  File this one under useful (and helpful and wonderful).  Online Rubric is a Google Sheets add-on that allows you to create a rubric, enter scores for your students and then the results get emailed to them.  This is an ideal tool for teachers in a 1:1 setting or for a teacher who has students who have email addresses.

Like most Google add-ons, there is a wizard that walks you through the process of adding your students, adding your rubric with the number of points, categories, and descriptors.  Then you simply go to the Score tab, enter each student's score and then email the results.  In their email, the recipient gets the title of the rubric, the descriptors and their scores, nice and net.

This is a great tool.  One final feature is the ability to export/import a rubric, which makes it easy to share.  And sharing is caring.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Recently I read a great article from dangerously ! irrelevant and it inspired me to participate and give back my 2 cents.  Scott was challenging those in educational leadership to post a response to the following:  When it comes to education, what are 5 things that we have to stop pretending?

Here is my response:

When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…

  • that we need to be "trained" in person to learn the technology
  • that we know what students are passionate about the same things we are teaching
  • that teachers need the technology first
  • that students don't have a voice and choice in their learning
  • that replacing paper worksheets with digital ones will be any more engaging.
Opinion of Ron Brown

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Google Drive OCR Feature Reads Text on Images and PDFs #edtech #gafe

I learned today about a feature in Google Drive that allows you to take an image or a PDF and use the OCR (optical character recognition) to access the text.  Once you have the text you can edit, change, or copy it.  To use the feature, find a PDF or an image in your Google Drive and right-click (control-click) on it and choose "Open with... > Google Drive".  You'll see your image or PDF on the top and the text from it down below.  That'a a very useful feature, especially for teachers and students who have not had access to edit PDFs in the past.  Oh, and it works with 200 languages

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

iPad Peek - See How a Website Looks on an iOS Device #edtech

I saw while watching a tutorial and I liked it immediately.  It allows you to see how a website is going to render on an iOS device so you can see if it's going to look good or not.  Just enter the URL into the address bar and press 'Enter' and take a peek.  It also got me thinking that there are probably a lot of those type of sites out there, and there are.

Image result for ipad

GoFormative - Excellent Tool for Formative Assessments & Student Response #edtech @goformative

On Twitter today I came across a new (to me) tool called and after only about 10 minutes of playing around with it and watching some of their help videos I was hooked.  The tool is very deep, but here are the basics.  Teachers can create assessments from images, documents, PDFs, Google Drive, amongst others, and within that assessment they can add multiple choice, text boxes, and places for students to draw their answers.

After creating the assignment teachers can assign the test to students with a unique code or to an entire class if the class has enrolled, which is also by a unique code.  Students can access the assessment on any device.  It gets better from here.  Teachers have a live look into any students assessment where they can comment, grade, or just view each students live work. You can even toggle the names so their is no teacher bias when looking at who's doing what.

And even better, the results can be graded automatically or graded very easily by the teacher as the student is taking the test.  The thing that I really appreciate about this tool is that it does a lot of things and all of the things it does are valuable to teachers.  It's not trying to do too much and make itself a do-it-all tool, which gets annoying.

I highly recommend you check out their site and the accompanying videos that explain what it does.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Whooo's Reading - Interactive Reading Community #edtech #learn2earn #whooosreading #readathon @Learn2EarnOrg

As a former ELA and 1:1 iPad teacher I'm always hooked by services that claim to engage students and help them read.  I read about Whooo's Reading from Learn2Earn and was intrigued to see what it offered.  What Whooo's Reading gives your students is a place to have an interactive reading community.  It's very much like a Facebook feed centered around the books your students are reading and questions you want them to address while reading.  Students can comment and encourage each other to build reading success.

The free services offered will get you going as a classroom teacher.  The premium services, which cost about $5/month, allow you to give kids coins they can spend in the virtual store to modify their avatar as well as give diagnostics to teachers.

Here's information from their website:

Motivate your child to read every night, encourage them to write for their audience of classmates from your phone, tablet, or computer.
  • Students read books and log them on their personalized online profile.
  •  Each book read prompts the student to respond to a question.
  •  Students earn Wisdom Points(WP) to customize their Owlvatars.
  •  Students can share their reading interests and interact with classmates in a secure online environment
  •  Students can comment on each other’s book reviews and responses, which encourages them to always write for an audience.
  •  The teacher can make private comments to her students, so that certain critiques can remain only between the student and his/her teacher.

More Than A Reading Log

In addition to bringing modern technology to classic paper reading logs, Whooo's Reading:

  • Keeps students accountable.
  • Provides teachers with an easy-to-use tool.
  • Involves family members in their child's education.
Students earn Wisdom Points (WP) by reading, writing good answers to critical thinking questions, and more. Then students use their WP at the Owl Shop to personalize their Owlvatars!

Piktochart - Create Great Infographics #edtech #ipaded @piktochart

Infographics aren't all the rage but they should be because they're a great way to present information quickly and easily.  I learned about a great tool on Twitter yesterday called Piktochart (website and iOS app) that guides you through the process of making an infographic.  You're presented with templates to choose from at the beginning which you can then customize to your heart's content.

The applications for infographics in education are great for almost any subject area.  In the classroom setting teachers could use Piktochart to present content in an engaging and students can use it show what they're learned.

ClassKick - Watch Students Work in Real Time #edtech @classkick #ipaded

I learned about an iOS app called ClassKick last week and have been playing around with it since then.  The beauty of this app is that a teacher can create an assignment from a picture, PDF, web link, video, or draw their own questions and even add a voice recording.  Once they're done creating the lesson each assignment is given a unique code to pass along to students.   Once students enter that code they are taken directly to the assignment and can start to use the tools provided to answer the question or view content.

The beauty of the app comes is on the teacher's screen where he/she can view the progress of each student who is currently in the assignment and jump into it to offer advice in real-time.  Students can also virtually raise their hand to notify the teacher they need help or ask for the teacher to check their work.  My initial thought was this would be good for Math but then as I started to share this with teachers we saw other opportunities in almost any subject, like map work or art.

The developers have said the app works best with an iPad Air but that they are working on making it accessible for more types of iPads.  The other drawback I see, and one I've been in contact with the developers about, is the desire to NOT have to send a class code for every single assignment.  I wish there was a way to have kids enroll via a class code and then whenever you added an assignment it would automatically push and notify students.  That helps out a teacher's workflow tremendously.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dictationary - Use Your Voice to Search Dictionary #edtech #ios #ipaded

Many times in the classroom setting a student either doesn't know how to spell a word and asks the teacher or they have corrections to make on a paper they've written.  But the trouble has always been that when a teacher asks a student to get a dictionary and look up the words the students still don't know how to spell it in order to look it up.  I've always encourage students to use the tools they have to do the task at hand and I know that if I didn't know how to spell a word the first place I would look is my phone or an online dictionary.

In the classroom one of the best tools we used for spelling words is Google's app because it has voice input.  Simply say the word and it spells it out for you.  Today I learned about an app that is free, that normally costs $1.99, called Dictationary which essentially does the same thing, but that's its only job.  Tap the search bar and instead of typing in your word use the microphone button and say it instead. If you are a WSD employee you can request that it be put on your iOS device by filling out this form.