Great Educational Web Tools for Paperless Classrooms

December 20, 2014 
Few classrooms are entirely digital or paperless, though more and more are striving towards a middle-ground that can replace some of the workflow tedium with technology while remaining focused on their students. If that sounds like you, here are some digital classroom resources to consider.
Engage your class using your tablet. Whiteboard, assessments, screen mirroring, collaboration, flipped classroom. Perfect for 1:1 or BYOD. Free signup!
 Assign, collect, review, and annotate of all your students' iPad-based work with this app.
 Create and explore interactive web-based timelines that include text, images, video, audio, and quiz questions.
Find CCSS-aligned research-based units, lessons, and leveled non-fiction & literary passages with this web tool.
 Engage your students with this web-based series of short, problem-solving, animated science mysteries.

Want more? Check out these collections of tools .

Digital Skills 
This is curated by pre-kindergarten aide Amy Loomis.
This one is curated by PE teacher Lori Galloway.

The 11 Most Important Google Drive Updates in 2014

December 20, 2014
Throughout this year Google Drive has been continuously releasing interesting updates to enhance the performance of its services namely Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. Below is a run-down of some of these updates that you need to be aware of :

1- Suggested Edits 

This new feature is great for collaborative work on Google Docs. Before, when you share a Google document with your collaborators and grant them the editing rights they can edit anything in it. But with "Suggested Edits" you, as the owner of the document, can control this editing process by allowing collaborators to make only suggestions which you can either accept or reject. This new feature is not available on Google Docs for mobile. Here is the tutorial

2-  Edit Office Files in Google Drive

Sometimes people send you files and you need to be able to open them, make some edits, and send them back. If they don’t use Docs, Sheets and Slides it can be a challenge. With the latest update from Google Drive, this is no longer an issue because both the web and mobile apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides let you edit Office files—without conversion—so you can now edit and send back files in their original format.

3- Widescreen Format

Google now allows a widescreen view of presentations. Now when you try to make a new presentation you will have a widescreen where you can get a ton of new space to fill with words, charts, tables or even a simple, beautiful image. You can also change the size of your slides using the pull down menu in the theme chooser, or by visiting Page setup in the File menu. Widescreen presentation are a good fit for TV or monitor.

4- Editable Master Slide

This functionality allows users to change customize the theme of their presentations as they like. can now easily tailor how content appears on every slide by selecting "Edit master" from the Slide menu. For example, you can set all of your header fonts to Alconica, make all of your first level bullets bold, and add a logo in the bottom right corner.

5- Edit, Crop, and Add Borders to Images in Slides

With this new feature, users can now customize and edit images they use in their Slides . Before this update, users were limited as to what they can do with images they upload to their slides,now Google makes it easier for anyone to crop, edit, apply shape masks, and add borders to their images from within the presentation.

6- Slide App is now available

Like Docs and Sheets, Google Slide has now a mobile app for both iOS and Android. Using this app, you will be able to create and edit slides on the go, even if you are offline.
7- The New Google Drive
Google has recently released a new updated version of Google Drive with a fresh and lively  look. The new Google Drive is the same as the old one except that it becomes "faster and works more like you re used to on your computer". I have spent sometime tinkering with it today and it seems way user friendlier than the older Drive.

8- Create Automated Lists in Google Docs
 This feature allows Google Docs users to easily  create automated lists. What this new feature does is that it detects the type of list you want to create and it automatically provides it for you. For instance, let's say you want to create a numbered list. If you type in number one for the first line, it automatically creates a numbered list for the rest of your data  and the same applies to other list genres.

9- Spell Check in Google Sheets
The Spell Check functionality Google added  to its Sheets is the latest improved version of spell check. It resembles in the way it works the spell check that exist on Google Slides and Google Docs. In this version, spelling is checked against the web (similar to Docs and Slides) so that the dictionary is always up-to-date. Also like in Docs and Slides, people can add words to their own dictionary so that the spell checker won't mark names or abbreviations as misspellings in the future

10- Google Plus Polls
Google+ Polls which allows users to easily create interactive polls and share them with others. Using this new feature , you can now poll your students or you followers right from your Google Plus page.

11- Enhance Google Presentations with these new features
Google Slides added some new cool features that allows users to easily adjust and edit images within Slides. With the new feature, users will not only be able to crop and add borders to their Slide images but will also edit and work on them without leaving the Slides.

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A Comprehensive List of Educational iPad Apps for Autistic Learners

December, 2014
Here is a very good resource of apps specifically curated for autistic learners. This is a spreadsheet created by a parent, an autistic adult and an SLP and features a very big collection of iPad apps for autism. The apps are arranged into different categories that include : art, books, communication, earliest learning, file sharing, games, general development, geography, history, language, math and pre-math, multiple activities, music, reading and spelling, puzzles, science, social skills, speech, and many more. Every app is supplemented with a short description, a video if available, review if available, and iTunes link.

Click here to access the iPad Apps for Autism Spreadsheet.

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The 20 Most Popular TED Talks in 2014

December 19, 2014
After releasing TED in Ideas a few days ago, TED shared today its selection of the most popular talks of 2014. Some of the talks featured here were also part of an earlier list I created yesterday entitled "Best 5 TED Talks for Educators". TED's list of this year contains 20 talks  covering a variety of topics from overcoming adversity to the latest in technology. Some of the talks I really enjoyed in this list are :

Check out the entire list of TED's most popular talks in 2014.

A Good Chart Featuring Over 50 Educational Encyclopedias

December 19, 2014
So what other online encyclopedias do you know besides the popular Wikipedia? Chances are some few titles are popping up in your mind right now. In fact there are dozens of very good free online encyclopedias you and your students can use to search and access information. As an educator, I use and recommend my students to use these resources as springboards to initiate a broadened research perspective. Also, before using any kind of open freeware platform that crowdsource knowledge from multiple sources, students need to know how to critically evaluate and  question the veracity of information and to never take anything for granted. That being said, I am sharing with you this excellent list which features a variety of online encyclopedias. For every encyclopedia in this chart is annexed a short description, its language and whether it is free or not.

Check out the original chart from this link. Below is just a snapshot of a part of it.

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TED Released It's Year In Ideas Compilation

December 18, 2014
Year in Ideas is a new release from TED that highlights some of the powerful ideas TED speakers covered in their talks during this year.The short 8-minutes video below contains clips from each of these talks. For each of the themes featured in this list is annexed a playlist of talks that best represent it. The themes included are : Space and Sea,  Medicine, Power, Inequality, the power of big data, the right to privacy, empathy with those who suffer, creativity, and language evolution. You can access  and watch these talks from this page. Enjoy

The 5 Best TED Talks for Teachers

December 18, 2014
TED talks are invaluable resources for teachers professional development. They cover a wide variety of education related topics and provide a very good source of inspiration for teachers and students. Throughout the year we have been sharing with you some interesting talks from renowned speakers and educators and today we have had a look back at those talks and picked out 5 of the most popular talks within the education community.

1- Every Kid Needs A Champion by Rita Pierson

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

2- How to Escape Education's Death Valley by Sir Ken Robinson 

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

3- The Key to Success ? Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth

"Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success."

4- How Great Leaders In spire Action by Simon Sinek 

"Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers..."
5- The Puzzle of Motivation by  Dan Pink

"Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward."