Sunday, April 28, 2013

Resource for Philanthropy Unit: Google's One Today

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Google has introduced an app that let's you donate $1 a day to non-profit organizations from your Android phone. According to the Huffington Post, a non-profit organization is featured every day with a description of how the organization will use its donations. As the app gradually learns your philanthropy preferences, it will start to feature non-profit organizations that you are more interested in. However, since One Today is still a pilot program, the app is only available in the U.S. and you must "Request an Invite" to receive the app. 

How One Today Can Enhance Your Philanthropy Unit

Our school's 5th grade curriculum contains a philanthropy unit that requires students to research and identify examples of philanthropy. Unfortunately, students often research wealthy philanthropists who donate millions of dollars to non-profit organizations. They have a hard time grasping the idea that donating smaller amounts of money is still considered philanthropy. One Today can help students understand this popular form of charitable donating. The 'Project Gallery' of the One Today website showcases a number of non-profit organizations, and includes short descriptions of how the micro-donations will support humanitarian efforts. 

The image above is a screenshot of the One Today webpage

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3D Interactive Pop-up Fairytale Book Apps (for Free!)

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StoryToys Entertainment Limited has released a series of 3D interactive pop-up books based on classic fairytales. As you can see in the image below, these book apps provide gorgeous design and illustrations, as well as interactive and engaging activities that  bring the stories to life.  Most importantly, students can practice their reading skills in "Read it Myself" mode.  
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Here are the StoryToys book apps that are currently free (as of 4/24/13):


Sleeping Beauty

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Snow White

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Read Riding Hood 

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Hansel & Gretel

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Little Mermaid

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Puss in Boots

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Apps Status Dashboard For Google Apps Outages

Google reported that there were some issues with their Google Apps services for a small population of their users on April 17th. I did not notice the outage at all, but I am sure that there were some teachers who were trying hysterically to access their online content. If this ever happens to you, don't flood your tech coordinator, edtech specialist, or IT team with phone calls about how you can't access your Google apps. First, simply go to Apps Status Dashboard to check whether or not it is an internal school issue or a disruption to all Google users. 
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The colored circles indicate when the disruptions happened (yellow: No Issues, orange: Service Disruption, red: Service Outage). You can also click on the circles to find out the full details.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Game-Based Learning Used to Improve Literacy Among Teenage Boys (Edutopia)

In this Edutopia video, Constance Steinkuehler explains how video games do an amazing job in capturing the interest and motivation of students, mostly teenage boys. She has found a way to use video games to help resolve the literacy crisis among teenage boys. Watch the video to see how she replaced her structured, lecture-based lessons to a more effective "resource" method. This method provides students with activities that are based on their interests, and includes teachers supplying them with the resources they need to learn.  Interest-driven learning results in students self-correcting their own mistakes. 

Connecting Your Google+ Page to Your Class YouTube Channel

If you are a teacher who wants to connect your Google+ Page to the your class YouTube channel, then this blog post is for you. This option gives me another way to separate my personal life and my work life. I always felt uncomfortable having my personal Google+ account connected to my YouTube channel. According to the Official YouTube Partners & Creators Blog, this option also allows you to add multiple managers to your channel, choose a name for your channel, and improve video sharing capabilities. 

Steps you will need to take (via YouTube Blog): 

1. Go to the YouTube advanced account settings and click on "Connect with a Google+ page (beta)." If you do not have this button, click here to see why you might not have this link. 
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2. Select your existing Google+ page, and then click "Next."


2. Click "OK." This will let your YouTube channel display the same name and photo of you Google+ page.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Create a Chrome App for Your Class/School Site

This post features all the resources I used to create my Chrome App (The app is actually only a link to my website.). You can download the app at the Chrome Web Store.

Resources I used to create my Chrome App:

1. First, I created my Chrome app image with Google Drawing.
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2. Second, I converted my image to a Chrome icon with IconJ. You must have specific dimensions for your PNG icon.
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3. Then I used the Chrome tutorial, "Create a Chrome app," to build, text, and pack my app.  Here is the example Google provides you with for your manifest.json .txt file.
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4. Next, I used the Google Developers tutorial to publish my app.  This process included registering to Google Checkout Merchant, paying the developer signup fee, and verifying that I was the owner of the website. Since my website domain,, is under Networks Solutions, I had to complete a specific process to verify my website. After verifying my website, I published my app at Google's Webmaster Tools. 
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It is also important to note that it took about 2 hours for my app to appear in the Chrome Web Store. 

Create a Favicon for Your Class Site with IconJ

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IconJ is a cool website that helps you to convert your pictures into icons. You can convert your pictures into  Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows, or website favicon icons. I used this tool to create my EdTech website favicon. This 16X16 pixels icon is the image you see on your web browser tab when you open a website. Here are the steps you will need to take. 

1. Click on the 'Upload' button and choose the image you want to convert.

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2. Select the dimensions, file type, cropping, and sharpening level options. Click on 'Continue.'

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3. If your icon has been successfully generated, click on the link to download the icon. 

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Created Minecraft Skin for My School Club with Skin Studio

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During Minecraft club, I observe my students cultivating their communities and developing their civic skills in the game (Click here to see the learning objectives of the club.). Last week, I noticed something that testifies that I am a newb to Minecraft; I was the only player with the default skin (Steve). In Minecraft, a skin is the textural surface area of a player. All my students were running around with custom skins that made them distinct. So over the weekend, I used Minecraft Skin Studio to create my character's skin. 
The app provides you with a menu. Tap on 'Create a Skin.'
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You have three options when creating your skin. You can choose from template skins (provides you with a head, but no clothes), community skins (skins created by other users), or start on your own blank skin. I chose the Hunter skin created by Andiman117, and edited the head to make it look somewhat like me. 
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Community Skins
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Template Skins
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Select what part of the skin you would like to edit. 
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Editing Box 
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After you have finished creating your skin, you will need to upload it to Tap on the 'Upload' button, 'Upload to,' and then 'Confirm & Start Upload.' 
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The app will send you to your web browser. Tap on 'Change' to change your default skin to the one you just created. 
Here is my skin for my  'MrEdTech' Minecraft character!

2 More Google Chrome Extensions!

In an article by Lifehack100 Chrome Extensions That You Should Install, I found two cool extensions (yes, only 2!) that I installed onto my Chrome browser. Here they are:

Smartr Inbox for Gmail

Smartr Inbox for Gmail
You can find your Facebook and Twitter contacts and updates in your Gmail page. However, you will need to sign up for a Xobni account. 

Search by Image (by Google)

Search by Image (Google)

You can find your do a Google search based on an image you find on the web. Right click an image and click on "Search Google with this image."

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Create a Classroom or School Google+ Community

Google+ Community

A Google+ community is a forum where people with common interests come together to interact on the Web. This would be an ideal tool for schools who use Google Apps in Education. Every student or teacher in your school can set up a Google+ account (Google's version of Facebook) and join your learning community.

Features of Your Class/School Google+ Community

  • Make your community private 
  • Invite your students and other teachers to your class/school community
  • You can start a Google Hangout with your students or colleagues
  • Edit your community information, provide a description, and include different classroom categories (ex. discussions, homework, projects, etc.)
  • Community Feed: Post discussion topics or share content with classmates
  • You can share any site that has a Google+ button onto your class's feed
Check out my EdTech Google+ community to see an example!

2nd Grade World's Deserts Graphs & Charts (Google Spreadsheet)

Incorporating Graphs/Charts (Math) with Biomes (Science)

My second grade class has been learning about biomes for the last month. I decided to have my students create a graph or chart that compares the number of deserts in each continent. I shared a Google document that stated two objectives: 
The Google document also had a link to the Survival World website that listed all the deserts in each continent. 

Steps in Creating Their Graphs or Charts:

  1. Open the Google document and visit the Survival World website to find out how many deserts there are in each continent
  2. Create a Google spreadsheet 
  3. Create a table that lists the continents and the number of deserts in the continent
  4. Go to 'Insert' then 'Chart'
  5. Open Google Earth and search for 5 deserts
  6. Take a screenshot of one desert (command+shift+4 for the Mac) and insert it into a cell on the spreadsheet
  7. Open Google Earth and find 

Example of Student Work 

Here is what one of my students created.

Use Minecraft to Teach Economics

Mike Rugnetta's video inspired me to think about how Minecraft can be used to teach economics. If you have played Minecraft (adventure mode) before, you would know that the 3D procedurally generated world contains limited resources for you to use to survive. This means that your tools, food and natural resources can be used up. This feature of the game can help illustrate the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. 

Content Standards

You might be asking, "What grade could I use Minecraft to teach economics?".  Well here are some grade-specific CA social studies standards for your Minecraft economics lessons. 

Grade 1: 1.6 Students understand basic economic concepts and the role of individual choice in a free-market economy.

1. Understand the concept of exchange and the use of money to purchase goods and services.
2. Identify the specialized work that people do to manufacture, transport, and market goods and services and the contributions of those who work in the home.

2nd Grade: 2.4 Students understand basic economic concepts and their individual roles in the economy and demonstrate basic economic reasoning skills.

1. Describe food production and consumption long ago and today, including the roles of farmers, processors, distributors, weather, and land and water resources.
2. Understand the role and interdependence of buyers (consumers) and sellers (produc­ers) of goods and services.
3. Understand how limits on resources affect production and consumption (what to produce and what to consume).

3rd Grade 3.5 Students demonstrate basic economic reasoning skills and an understanding of the economy of the local region.

1. Describe the ways in which local producers have used and are using natural resources, human resources, and capital resources to produce goods and services in the past and the present.
2. Understand that some goods are made locally, some elsewhere in the United States, and some abroad.
3. Understand that individual economic choices involve trade-offs and the evaluation of benefits and costs.
4. Discuss the relationship of students’ “work” in school and their personal human capital.

4th Grade: 4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s.

2. Explain how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the
types of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San
Francisco), and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people.

5th Grade: 5.4 Students understand the political, religious, social, and economic institutions that evolved in the colonial era.

5. Understand how the British colonial period created the basis for the development of
political self-government and a free-market economic system and the differences
between the British, Spanish, and French colonial systems.

Post-Scarcity Economy

You can also use Minecraft to teach about the post-scarcity economy, as Mike Rugnetta points out in the video. In Minecraft's creative mode, students can experience this theoretical economy because of the unlimited supply of natural resources and goods. 

STEM Lesson Plans from Discovery Education & The US Navy

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Discovery Education has partnered up with the US Navy to create STEM lesson plans for educators. This site gives teachers and students a great look at how the military service branch utilizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the career paths students can take with STEM education. Here is the list of STEM lesson plan topics:
  • Robotics and Future Technology
  • Sonar and Echolocation
  • Submarines and Aircraft Carriers: The Science of Nuclear Power
  • GPS and Navigation
  • Oceanography and Meteorology
  • The Science of Diving
  • Jets in Flight
  • Future Fleet

Video: 1st Grade Geography Lesson with Google Earth

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to compare the size of different geographical locations (ex. continent, country, state/province, city, etc.) with a 3D mapping tool (Google Earth).

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tech-Enhanced Student Art Exhibit at KIS w/ Kindergarten Flyers

QR Codes and Digital Art Statements

This week, the art department at Korea International School organized an amazing tech-enhanced exhibit that showcased beautiful student art. Almost every art piece had a QR code that linked visitors to the artist's statement. I walked around the exhibit reading and listening to artist statements on my smartphone. It was great  to learn about the context of each art piece. Many students provided their statements through ePortfolio sites (Wix and ViewBook), or online audio-sharing sites (Vocaroo and SoundCloud). 

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This exhibit was organized by KIS's Sara Arno, Brianna Bedessem, Angel Catholic, Sondra Mullenax, and Sallie  Inman. 

Kindergarten Art Exhibit Flyers

Since I was so amazed by the tech-enhanced art exhibit, I decided to integrate the exhibit into my kindergarten graphic design lesson. I armed my kindergarteners with iPads and walked them to the exhibit. Their mission was to take pictures of their favorite art pieces and create a digital poster using an app called Phoster. Here are some digital posters that were created:

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