Improve Your Grammar While Writing Emails! Mini Edtech Function Review on Grammarly

Grammarly

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What this Resource Includes:
Writing Platform, Grammar Check, Plagiarism Checker, Citation Generator

Bonus Points:
Grammar Learning Material, Online Thesaurus, Online Forum for Grammar Questions

Subjects:
Grammar

Grade Level:
3-12+

Audience:
Learners

Platform:
Google Chrome Extension

Price:
Freemium-Monthly Subscription

What it does well:
Grammarly is a Google chrome extension that can check your grammar while performing daily internet tasks like writing an email or a blog. Downloading the Grammarly Google Chrome extension will allow the program to check a user’s grammar for any website that has a writing field. Users can also open up a word processing document in Chrome and write freely while Grammarly suggests corrections automatically. This writing platform is able to catch more grammar mistakes than most word processors. For example, it does a really good job of informing writers when to use commas. In addition to every grammar suggestion is a small explanation for why a word or phrase is grammatically incorrect. Writers can learn from their mistakes as they are writing. Grammarly also provides an online grammar handbook for writers who want to learn more about how to improve their grammar.
Link:
https://www.grammarly.com/

Learning Math and Science through Simulations. Mini Edtech Function Review on PhET Interactive Simulations

PhET Interactive Simulations
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What this Resource Includes:
Science and Math Simulations, Suggested List of Learning Goals, Lesson Ideas & Activities

Subjects:
Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Math

Grade Level:
K-12+

Audience:
Learners & Teachers

Platform:
Web-based

Price:
Free

Bonus Points:
Each Simulation can be downloaded and used offline, Simulations are designed through educational research

What it does well:
PhET Interactive Simulations is a learning resource from the University of Colorado that has a library of science and math simulations. These simulations allows anyone to learn about specific science or math concepts through direct interaction. Some of these concepts include: sound and waves, quantum phenomena, balloons and static electricity, and density. Users can experiment in the simulation environment and observe the reactions produced. The PhET simulations are accompanied by useful teacher resources such as a list of topics the simulation covers, sample learning goals, teaching ideas and activities. Teachers can submit their own teaching ideas and activities for each simulation which can be added to the website. One interesting aspect of the site is how every simulation can be downloaded to a computer, CD, or USB. Making it convenient for teachers, who can use them in classrooms that do not have an internet connection. These simulations were designed to be used in the classroom and have been tested for educational effectiveness. The testing process include student interviews and observation of simulation use in the classroom.  All simulations are free to use and the website even includes the source code for each simulation.
Link:
http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/new

Learn Programming Logic with this Lego Mindstorms Game. Mini Edtech Function Review on Fix the Factory

Fix the Factory

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What this Resource Includes: 24 Game Levels
Subjects: Programming
Grade Level: 3-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based, Android, iPhone & iPad
Price: Free
Bonus Points: Excellent Graphics, Builds problem-solving skills, Game challenges players to complete levels in less moves and time
What it does well: Fix the Factory is a game that teaches players the basics of programming logic. The game is completely free and available on most devices. Players are able to give commands to a robot called EV3RSTORM from Lego Mindstorms to help it navigate each stage. These commands include moving in different directions, turning around, and picking up objects. The goal of each stage is to pick up a battery pack and bring it to a specific area. There are 24 stages total that become more difficult to navigate and complete. As players advance into the game, they gain access to more commands for EV3RSTORM. Players can receive higher scores for each stage based on how few moves, time, attempts, and errors it takes to complete a stage.

Fix the Factory is a great way to introduce kids to basic programming logic. It also encourages kids to think logically and build problem-solving skills in order to complete each stage. Additionally, the game’s graphics look excellent and does a great job of drawing the player into the game.
Link: http://www.lego.com/en-us/mindstorms/games

An Online Library of Educational Videos & Smart Memes. Mini Edtech Function Review on Curiosity

Curiosity

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What this Resource Includes: Educational Videos, Smart Memes
Subjects: Art, Business, DIY, Education, Physical Education, Math, Medicine, Music, Science, Social Studies
Grade Level: 6-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
Bonus Points: Easy to share Smart Memes, Create and customize educational video playlists, Ideal resource for flipped or blended classrooms
What it does well: Curiosity
is a great resource for finding educational videos on a variety of subjects. These videos are hand-selected from a wide variety of educational websites, YouTube channels, and other resources. What it does really well is organize educational videos into playlists with specific learning goals. The most interesting aspect of the Curiosity library is their collection of Smart Memes. These Smart Memes are images embed with interesting facts that, when clicked on, leads to an educational video  where users can learn more about the topic. Curiosity would be ideal for teachers who flip or blend their classrooms. They can find the educational videos they need from reliable resources. Teachers can also create their own playlists to share with their students. The site provides a safe learning environment. Teachers can allow their students to explore the site without fearing that they will find inappropriate content.

Link: https://curiosity.com/

An Academic Writing Platform That Helps You Research, Write, and Format Academic Papers. Mini Edtech Function on ComWriter

Comwriter

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What this Resource Includes: Writing Templates, Research Material, Writer Dashboard, Citation Creator, Bibliography Creator
Subjects: Academic Writing
Grade Level: 12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Freemium
What it does well: ComWriter is a very handy online tool for anyone who needs help in writing academic papers like dissertations, a thesis, or research papers. What it does best is help the writer structure their thoughts with writing outlines. The outlines separate the different parts of a research paper like cover, preliminaries, body, and addenda. Each part is collapsible enabling writers to focus on one part at a time. Within each part writers can add in sections like headings, paragraphs, long quotes, lists, and images. Writing academic papers involve research other literature and referencing these other resources. ComWriter helps writers find academic resources for their paper through their Public Library. It can also easy create bibliographies and cite any resources that writers may use in their academic papers. Finally this writing platform allows users to format their paper using predefined or user customized writing styles. The predefined writing styles include APA, Harvard, and MLA.
Bonus Points: Writer’s Dashboard with printing options, due date tracker, and word count progress bar.
Link: http://comwriter.com

5 Tools to Make Any Library Maker Space Awesome!

5 Tools to make any library maker space

Libraries were always seen as a warehouse for information, filled with books, magazines, and videos. Recently however libraries across the country have started to incorporate maker spaces and provide maker classes for their patrons. Some say that this is part of the library’s natural evolution. Does it make sense for libraries to start offering maker classes? As someone who frequents the library, I believe so!

I used to visit the library with the sole purpose of using it as a maker space. During middle school, I would head to the library with a few of my classmates to create physical projects like environment dioramas or the skeletal structure of the human hand. As inner city kids, the library was a great space to work on these maker type of school project since we didn’t have much room to do it at home. The library not only provided the necessary space, but also access to information that would help us school kids create a rain forest diorama or a skeletal human hand.

So to me it makes perfect sense for libraries to incorporate make spaces. Libraries are not only a place to find information, it is also a place to learn with your peers and even through classes. Currently, they already host classes for learning English, creating a resume, or how to use a computer. Why not have some classes where kids can learn to create projects with new technology? Speaking of technology…

What tools can be used for a maker space?

Every maker space needs some cool tools and technology that students can use to create cool projects. Here are just a few gadgets that would make a great addition to any maker space arsenal:

3-D printer

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You can’t talk about maker spaces without at least mentioning 3D printers. These printers are able to take digital 3D designs and create the objects in real life. The digital designs are created through 3D modeling programs, like Tinkercad. There are also repositories of digital 3D designs that are available for anyone to use like Thingiverse. A popular 3D printer that would be worth checking out is MakerBot.

Little bits

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Little bits are little electrical circuit modules that magnetically snap together. This makes it easy to experiment with different parts without damaging any of the circuit parts. Also, each circuit part is color coded so kids will have an idea of each part’s function. Little bits are a great way to introduce to building electrical circuits to kids and challenge them to create fully functional devices. Check out their library of Little bits lessons.

Video Recording Studio

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The video studio setup pictured is from the Cincinnati Public Library. This setup allows patrons to create videos using a green screen and a video camera. Kids can learn how videos are created, the editing process, and how to use a green screen. It’s a great way for kids to be creative and learn how to use video technology and software.

Bare Conductive

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I’ve talked about Bare Conductive before and I believe it would make a great addition to any maker space. The site includes a few project ideas to help libraries get started. Its online shop comes with conductive paint and several maker kits for various projects like flash cards and glowing houses.

Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry Pi is a credit-card size computer that can be plugged into a monitor and can be used with a mouse and keyboard like a normal computer. The huge benefit of using Raspberry Pi is that it is a low-cost computer ($25) which is great for any maker space on a budget. There are also many resources online for lessons or project ideas that focus on creating devices with Raspberry Pi. Some of these projects include creating a robo butler, a spinning flower wheel, and even a fart detector.

These are just a few tools that libraries can use in their maker spaces. What maker space tools does you library have? Comment below and share with the rest of the class!

Until next time, keep learning everyone

Learn New Languages by Reading News Articles. Mini Edtech Function Review on Lingua.ly

Lingua.ly

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What this Resource Includes: News Articles, Quizzes, Vocabulary Word Bank, International Dictionary
Subjects: English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish
Grade Level: 3-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based, iPhone & iPad, Android
Price: Free
What it does well: Lingua.ly is an app that uses the learner’s interests to tech then a new language. The learning materials are actual articles plucked from the internet. Users can read an article and touch words to receive their English translation. These words can also be added to a vocabulary bank to practice learning in the future. There are many articles to choose from and users can select the topic of their choice (business, education, etc.). The articles are a short reading perfect for learning on the go. Also included are vocabulary quizzes for additional language learning.
Bonus Points: Personal Learning, Interest-driven Learning, Adaptive Learning, Mobile Learning
Link: http://lingua.ly/m/

The S.T.E.A.M. Train Rides Again! Learning through Design and Creativity.

STEAM Creativity

Image courtesy of Terry Williams and Thomine Wilson

Once again, I share with you all a science, a technology, an engineering, an art, and a math digital learning resources in honor of S.T.E.A.M. learning! Check out the first S.T.E.A.M. Train article to learn more about STEAM learning.

Most of the resources listed below cover the “create” section of Bloom’s Taxonomy. With these edtech tools learners will practice planning (designing) and constructing, which according to Bloom’s Taxonomy promotes higher order thinking skills. They are ideal for infusing art learning concepts into the STEM subjects. 

Without further ado, here are some edtech resources to help build your creative skills:

Science

Molecules
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What this Resource Includes: Touch-Interactive Molecular Dynamics Simulation, 348 Molecules to Interact with, Molecules Book, Video Lessons
Subjects: Chemistry
Grade Level: 6-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Price: $13.99
What it does well: Molecules includes 14 chapters and thousands of video lessons about the many different kinds of molecules in the universe. Using this interactive app, users touch molecules and observe how they move. You can also adjust the temperature and see how the molecules react. It balances interactivity with informative video and text very well.

Technology

Trinket
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What this Resource Includes: Text Code Editor, Block Code Editor, Online Sharing Options, Teacher Lesson Resources, Blog
Subjects: Programming, Music
Grade Level: 3-12
Audience: Learners & Teachers
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: Trinket allows users to write and run code on any internet browser. Students can learn about Python, HTML5, and even how to write music! There is also the option to write and run code using the coding blocks that were prominent in Scratch, great for the younger learners. Teacher resources include a few “How-to” lesson ideas that can be implemented in the classroom. The social sharing and embedding features are unique for a coding platform and can enhance learning. They can encourage students to show off their work or enable teachers to embed code snippets onto their own websites for their students to see.

Engineering

Tinkercad

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What this Resource Includes: 3-D Creation Platform, Step-by-Step Lessons
Subjects: Geometry
Grade Level: 3-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: Tinkercad lets users design and create 3-D objects online. Users can then take their creations to a 3-D printer and bring them to life! The site also provides learning materials to help users become experts in 3-D designers in no time! Tinkercad would be great to use in maker spaces with 3-D printers.

Art

Paper
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What this Resource Includes: Art Project Templates
Subjects: Art, Design
Grade Level: K-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Price: Free
What it does well: Paper provides its users with a blank canvas and various art tools for creating personalized designs. The app also includes several collaborative features so users can share their work and receive feedback from other artists.

Mathematics

Geoboard
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What this Resource Includes: Interactive Peg Board, Drawing Tool
Subjects: Geometry
Grade Level: K-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based, iPhone & iPad
Price: Free
What it does well: Geoboard allows learners to create geometric shapes through rubber bands and a peg board. This is a very creative way for users to learn about geometry through exploration and experimenting. The rubber bands can be manipulated on the peg board to form a line, segments, angles, and shapes. This can be a great teaching tool for explaining geometric concepts like calculating the area of a shape, symmetry, or fractions.

Do you know of any other Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math edtech resources? Share it with the rest of the class by commenting below!

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

What’s Better than an Infographic? How About 5 Interactive Infographics!

5 Interactive Infographics

As someone who deals with data on a daily basis, I can appreciate a great looking infographic. Most people love to learn from infographics. Check out this infographic, Why Your Brain Craves Infographics, to see why. Usually infographics are static images, but lately I have found a few that are interactive.

Here’re a few examples of these types of infographics:

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The Journey to the Centre of the Earth infographic from BBC explores the deep reaches of the earth and ocean. As you scroll down the infographic displays fun pieces of information such as the ocean depth where whale sharks live or the deepest bat colony. As you scroll down the info changes depending on how far down you scroll. The infographic simulates digging deep down into the Earth which provides a very interactive experience.

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BBC has another similar infographic, How Big is Space, where you can scroll down to explore the sky and space!

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Google also has a scroll down interactive infographic about How Search Works. Scrolling down each page reveals more information. Clicking on the different icons reveals more information or directs to external learning resources. What’s interesting about this infographic is how hovering the mouse pointer over some icons can initiate an animation.

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Beneath the Thinking Cap allows you to explore the different parts of the brain. Clicking on the different parts reveals information about the functions of the specific part. This type of infographic does not overwhelm viewers with a barrage of information. Instead, they can focus on learning about each part of the brain separately.

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Some interactive infographics can include multiple pages which usually tell a story. A great example of this would be the How Data Travel Around the Globe infographic.

Do you know of any interactive infographics that are not listed here? If so then share with the rest of the class through the comments below.

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

Happy Pi Day! Mmmm Delicious Pi Edtech Resources

Wikipedia_Pi_pie2

What is Pi Day?

Happy Pi Day! On March 14th (3/14), math nerds all over the world will be celebrating one of the most famous irrational numbers (sorry tau)! I believe this year’s Pi Day is very special because the date (at least the American date) is 3/14/15 which represents the first five digits of pi. Even better this year the date and time, 3/14/15 9:26:53 am, will represent the first ten digits of Pi (3.141592653)! The greek letter π represents pi and it was first used by William Jones in 1706. Its value is usually rounded out to 3.14 for everyday calculations. If I were to write every single digit of pi it would probably take me years upon years to write out. Currently pi clocks in to be about 10 trillion digits!

So what’s so special about the number pi? Well it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter what the size of a circle may be, this ratio will always remain the same. It will always be equal to about 3.14 or pi! When it comes to measuring the area or volume of geometric shapes, like circles or cylinders, pi makes this calculation much easier!

Interesting Pi Learning Resources

These two interesting gifs can give you a visualization explanation of pi:

Check out this progressive rock music video in honor of the number pi from the Numberphile Youtube channel:

Here is a great Math Edtech Resource where you can learn more about Pi!

Geogebra

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What this Resource Includes: Subjects: Geometry, Algebra
Subjects: Geometry, Algebra, Statistics, and Calculus
Grade Level: 6-12
Audience: Learners, Teachers
Platform: iPhone & iPad, Android, Chrome, Windows

Price: Free
What it does well: Geogebra gives learners the space to freely interact with shapes and learn about their properties. Users can learn through exploration and experimentation. Learners will have a deeper understanding of geometric shapes by creating their own shapes, angles, and graphs. The site also includes a nice library of learning materials and worksheets, which were created by the users. Teachers can also use Geogebra to create their own lessons and easily share them with their students.

How will you celebrate Pi Day? Do you have any other delicious Pi learning resources? Comment below and share with the rest of the class.

Until next time, keep learning everyone.