Your Library Card = Goldmine!

library-cardAn often over looked resource is your local library. Be sure to check out your local library’s resources page for subscriptions to online databases that often charge a subscription fee. Entrance to these sites is through your local library’s website using your library card credentials.

The following is a list of student related resources available through the Brooklyn Public Library Website (a complete list of available resources can be found HERE):

Fiction

  • BookFlix– (Requires card)- Video based books for young readers with read along text. Site uses Flash for content and may not be accessible on iOS devices unless using Flash friendly browser apps.
  • Flipster– (Requires card)- Provides access to popular magazines either through a web browser, Android, Kindle and iOS apps. Kids resources include Ask (teacher companion), Ranger Rick Jr, Discovery Girls, and Highlights.
  • Tumblebooks– (Requires card)- Early readers video based books with a variety of topics. Books are also available in multiple languages with human narration and sentence highlighting.

History & Culture

  • American History– (Requires Card)- Comprehensive resource library and research tools related to American history broken up by periods. Detailed summaries are available for each period with text to speech and translation support.
  • CultureGrams– (Requires Card)- Learn about the culture and day to day life of people across the word. There are US states, the world, and kids editions available. Content is readily broken down by category (places, history, people, cultural notes, and fun facts).  Text to speech enabled.
  • FreedomFlix– (Requires card)- Video and text companion on topics related to US history and civics. The available text has human narration with word highlighting as it reads and two available speeds.
  • Global Voices– Curates and translates current events news from around the world.
  • Mango Languages– (Requires card)- Learn a new language with video and activity cards.
  • Opposing Viewpoints– Collection of articles, media, images, and statistics based on topic. Text to speech and translation supports available.

Science

General Research

  • Encyclopedia Britannica Online for Kids– (Requires card)
  • Kids InfoBits– (Requires card)- Easy to navigate picture based research for early grades. Text to speech and translation support.
  • Scholastic Go
  • SIRS Discover– (Requires card)- Materials have text to speech and translation supports. Content can also be filtered by Lexile reading level.
  • TrueFlix– (Requires card)- Video and accompanying text around a variety of topics (picture based category search). The text has human narration with word highlighting supports.

Instructional Resources

Why Doesn’t Starfall work on my iPad?

So you have your iPad and ready to use it in the classroom. Finally, your students will have the chance to practice their reading at their desks only to find that your favorite sites don’t work on the iPad!

Why? Many sites use Flash animations to work their games and interactive books. Popular iOS browsers such as Safari do support this type of program and there for the content will be viewable on your iPad. Some sites have started making apps that match the content on their web browsers but there is another way…

Try downloading Puffin. This is a free iOS web browser that will play Flash content.

Know any other browsers to recommend? Share in the comments section below!

Review: Adobe Voice

Adobe has recently release its own story telling app. Although there are many in the app store this one offers a few unique benefits for teachers and students. Following the Universal Design for Learning model, using Voice can help provide students with a means of expression.

Voice follows a familiar “slide” format however it has pre- made templates for the following: Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Explain Something, Follow a Hero’s Journey, Show and Tell, Share a Growth Moment, Teach a Lesson, Share an Invitation, or Make Up My Own. Each template comes with a range of slides (5-8) that asks the user to answer a particular question on that slide. This is great for students who just don’t know where to start and what to say.

Within each template, students may add icons (provided by The Noun Project), photos, and text (No video). They are then able to record audio narration that follows the visual support. Once all the slides are built, the presentation can be customized by themes and background music can be added to run throughout. The great benefit of this app is that it provides rich variety of content within it. When adding photos, a student may search and Voice will only provide images tagged as having a Creative Commons License.

Once you are ready to publish, the project can either be public or private and all attributions are inserted automatically. This is a great pro for this app in getting users to give credit where credit is due.

Vox- Understand the News

From the makers of The Verge and Curbed a new venture in news: Vox. The mission of this site is to provide background knowledge and explain current new and events. Could this become a great classroom tool to help students understand current events? Stay tuned for updates when the site launches.

Update: Vox is up and running with a variety of articles, timelines, and card stacks that explain the history and background information for some of the current events. Check out this stack on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Two more explanatory journalism sites were also recently released:

The New York Times launched The Upshot with emphasis on data analysis and infographics.

FiveThirtyEight brought to you by the all knowing Nate Silver is also heavy on answering your burning questions like: “Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?”- using data, data, data.

Free Weekly PD for Teachers via Lynda

In my quest to learn how to make wonderful infographics I finally joined the online learning community of Lynda.com. This site offers a large variety of professionally made training videos in a variety of mostly business and design related software and techniques.

In my browsing, I stumbled upon a wonderful resource: Teacher Tips with Aaron Quigley. He covers a variety of topics ranging from the flipped classroom, to web based programs, and how to best use Microsoft Office and Google Drive as a teacher. Although Lynda is a paid subscription, Aaron’s tips are available for free the week they are posted. Lessons are short and highly relevant. Well worth the time investment.

Air Server: Wireless Mirroring for Your iOS Device

What you Need:

  • iOS Device
  • Computer (PC- XP Not supported/Mac) Connect to projector
  • Install Air Server on your computer 
  • Internet connection to activate software
  • Wifi connection on computer and iOS devices

Want to show the class a great app or stream your lesson on your smartboard while walking around the classroom? AirServer is here to help… AirServer is desktop software that allows you to project your iOS device. You can mirror your iOS device as well as multiple iOS devices that are connected to the same network through the AirPlay support in the Control Center. They provide you with a 7 day trial version just to test it out and make sure it works with your system. To purchase, a standard license (3 computers) is $14.99 and educational license is $11.99. Bulk licenses are also available.

Screen Recording

On a Mac you can also screen record if you want to provide a reference for your students who may need to re-listen to your lesson. This is also a great resource for flipped classrooms. This feature is the works for PCs.

Solution to the Youtube Blocking Firewall

Ever wish you could just show that really great Youtube video about Martin Luther King but alas the school’s firewall blocks your good intentions? Clip Converter (http://www.clipconverter.cc/) to the rescue! This web based tools lets you quickly and easily enter the URL for the Youtube video, select the desired conversion format (usually MP4) and watch as it creates a downloadable file. Your video can then be viewed with any of your media playing software or added to your Notebook file or presentation.