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/

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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