What Teachers Need to Know about iOS 8

September 19, 2014
iOS 8 is making the news these days. This is Apple's latest software update and one of the major overhaul to its operating system. The launch of this update coincides with the release of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus which are the recent versions of iPhone. Anyway, as is the case with anything making the buzz, you probably are wondering what is it that make iOS 8 causing all this media uproar . Well, wonder no more here is what you need to know about iOS 8.

Image source: http://goo.gl/sjbGGj

First to learn whether iOS 8 is available on your device, just head over to Settings, click on General and select Software Update. If it doesn't show up there, you need to check back later.

To download iOS 8 on your iPhone or iPad you need to have 5.7GB of free storage which is huge (iOS 7 only required 2.9GB). Instead of deleting files, music, and pictures to make room for this download, here is a good hack from Mashable that shows you how to download iOS 8 without deleting your stuff. just sync your iPhone or iPad to your computer and download iOS 8 directly from there. Read the full post to learn more about this hack.

Before you download iOS 8 you need to back up your  data to iCloud lest you lose it due to a potential glitch that might occur in the download process. Check out this guide to learn how to back up your data via iCloud.

iOS 8 has come with some amazing features (like third party keyboards and extensions). This article feature 18 of the most important features in iOS 8. Check it out to learn more about them.

The last and most important thing I want to share with you about iOS 8 is this wonderful video from  Tony Vincent in which he talks about some of the features of iOS 8 that are relevant for us as teachers and educators. To learn more, Watch the video below and  read this great post.

Connected Classrooms Provides Wonderful Virtual Field Trips for Your Students

September 18, 2014
Connected Classrooms is a fantastic program that makes use of Google Plus Hangouts to provide virtual field trips to teachers and students. Using the Hangout On Air, students will be able to virtually visit different zoos and museums all around the globe. The learning experience these virtual field trips provide are amazing. Students will not only take virtual tours but will also be able to pose questions to experts and even collaborate with other classrooms from all around the world. Here is a handy guide that shows you how to use Connected Classrooms to take students on virtual field trips.

Connected Classroom also features a wide variety of past and upcoming field trips. For the past trips, you can  search the archive using subject area. 'For upcoming field trips you can RSVP to get notified when the field trip goes live. At the start time of the event, you can tune-in to live Hangouts on the the field trip’s Google+ event page, which will always been linked from the Connected
Classrooms website.'

Watch the video below  to learn more about Connected Classrooms.

3 Useful Resources for Science Activities and Lesson Plans

September 18, 2014
Today's post features two practical resources for science teachers. These are websites that  provide a wide variety of science activities and presentations that you can try out with your students in class. For more science resources and websites, check out the following page.

1- Science is Fun

Science Is Fun is a platform that provides various hands-on science activities and experiments. Most of these activities can be done at home. The purpose behind these experiments is to introduce and teach students about basic science concepts through fun activities.

2- Online Science

Museum of Science + Industry Chicago features an entire section on science called "Online Science". The page contains multiple resources for science teachers such as science games and apps, videos explaining different scientific phenomena, and fun activities for learning about science. Online Science also has a podcast service that teachers can use to  listen to discussions and talks around different science concepts.

3- Science Friday

Science Friday is another excellent resource for science teachers. It offers lesson plans, videos, readings, hands-on activities and several other materials ideal for classroom use.

Excellent Free Podcasts for Teachers and Educators

September, 2014
Yesterday after I finished reading the wonderful book"The Power of Habits" I went ahead to YouTube and did a quick search on its author Charles Duhigg. I stumbled upon this interview hosted by Jonathan Fields ( see it below) in which Duhigg answered some of the questions about his book. Digging a title bit down I discovered that the show host Jonathan Fields has a wonderful YouTube channel and a free podcasting app under the same name. Both of the youtube Channel and the podcast app feature some great interviews with thought leaders, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

Google Life Project could be a great resource for teachers and educators seeking an effective way to grow professionally. The videos you will find there cover a wide gamut f topics such as self-development, motivation, inspiration, innovation, design and many more. I have just downloaded the Good Life Project podcasting app and I can see it it has over 100 podcasts. Some of these podcasts are only 5 minutes long which you can listen to while commuting between work and home.

Don't just build a living, build a life! Weekly interviews feature in-depth conversations with purpose-led entrepreneurs and movement-founders, visionary artists and thought-leaders. Each episode explores the inspiring journey of a single guest, getting-real and diving deep into their personal quest, challenges, revelations and experiences. Insights and inspiration abound and each show wraps with the guest's definition of a good life.

Here is a sample of Fields' interviews. In this one he interviewed Charles Duhigg author of "The Power of Habits".

4 Great Visual Organizers for Teachers

September 16, 2014
Today I am sharing with you 4 of my favourite visual organizers. These are web-based  tools that you can use to visually organize digital content. I know there are several other web applications that can do the same thing but these are among the best ones you can find out there. I invite you to have a look and share with your colleagues.

ThingLink is an excellent web tool that allows you to create interactive images online. The images you create can come alive by adding to them text, video, music, and links. ThingLink has also recently rolled out a new feature, which is still in beta, that allows you to add interactive pinmarks to YouTube videos. These pin marks can be links to other videos or websites.

Check out this step by step guide on how to start using ThingLink.

2- Padlet

Padlet is a great platform for bookmarking and sharing digital content. Since in its launch a few years ago, Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) has undergone several great updates that make it an ideal tool to use with students in class.

Padlet features :
  • Padlet is very easy to use and has a user friendly interface
  • Padlet is web based and does not require any software installation
  • It allows you to easily add notes, text, images, videos, and drawings to your wall
  • You can also add word documents from computer to your Padlet wall
  • Padlet provides a wide variety of layouts to choose from
  • Padlet works across multiple devices including mobile phones
  • Any Padlet wall you create can be embedded into your blog or website.
  • It enhances collaborative work. Multiple people can post to the same wall at the same time.
  • Any Padlet wall can be exported in a variety of formats including, PDF, image,CSV, or Excel.
  • Padlet is completely free
Check out this guide to learn more about how to use Padlet with students.

Some call it the new Pinterest for educators, Educlipper is really a great and promising website where teachers get to curate and organize digital content. Educlipper has been designed specifically for educators and by an educator (Adam Bellow: founder). The process of setting up your Educlipper account is pretty easy and can be done in a few clicks and once logged in you can instantly start adding content . There is also a handy Educlipit button that you can install on your browser to bookmark digital content you come across while browsing the web.. Another good feature that Educlipper offers to its users is that users can work collaboratively on the content they curate from the web, they can also organize it into educlipboards and share it with others.

4- Scoop.it

Scoop.it is another of my favourite content curation tools. Scoop.it provides you with the possibility to create boards under different labels where you can host what you curate from the web. You can also follow what others curate and interact with their content.

The Best iPad Apps to Use with SAMR Model

September 16, 2014
SAMR model is a conceptual framework developed by  Dr. Ruben Puentedura to help you better integrate technology in your instruction. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. Each of these four levels correspond with a set of tech-based activities and learning tasks. The strength of SAMR model is that it provides teachers with a robust method to gauge and assess the efficacy of the technology they and their students use in class. Check out this section for more resources on  SAMR.

By Allan Currington
Based on a previous post I shared here on SAMR model, today I went ahead and created this chart that features a wide variety of iPad apps that correspond with each of SAMR's four levels. I hope you will it helpful.

Interesting Visual Featuring 27 Ways to Be An Effective Teacher

September 17, 2014
Here is a very good infographic I usually come back to when asked about tips for new teachers. In fact , these are also good refreshers for experienced teachers. Regardless of where you stand in your  teaching, you will always find yourself looking for some creative ways to enhance your teaching and increase your students engagement.These 27 nuggets of wisdom from An Ethical Island will definitely provide you with some inspiring techniques to render your classroom teaching much more effective.

27 Ways to be an effective classroom teacher:
  • Get plugged into the best teachers
  • Maintain contact with the family
  • Read up on the best teaching techniques
  • Investigate new discoveries with the class
  • Incorporate music into the classroom
  • Challenge your students just beyond their present reach
  • Incorporate social media
  • Reward a great attempt
  • Experiment in the classroom
  • Create a global perspective
  • Encourage lots of questioning
  • Don't band-aid or cover up student confusion
  • Give your students all the tools to succeed
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Maintain healthy eating
  • Don't raise your voice. Maintain your control
  • Don't pull teeth. encourage students along
  • Grow along with your class
  • Anchor your lesson in their world
  • Maintain your energy level
  • Find the key to each student's success and use it
  • Encourage out of the box thinking
  • Allow students to express themselves using the arts
  • Let the students erase yesterday and start with a clean slate each day
  • Stop the lecture and let students speak
  • Chat with your students
  • Reach out to struggling students and successful students.

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