Hello All! I apologize for not posting the past two Thursdays. Unfortunately, the demon stomach bug from you-know-where attacked my house and then we sold our house and went under contract on another one within three days. I’m back to the computer now, and hopefully no more interruptions!
This week, I’m going to introduce the iOS and Android app Stick Pick, a couple of text to speech Chrome extensions, and MoveNote. I have used all three of these, and I’m sure if you try them, they’ll prove to be invaluable to your classroom. Let’s dive in!
There are not many apps that I will actually pay for. There are just so many free ones out there that I can usually find one to do what I need to for free. However, I did pony up the $2.99 for this app because it is AWESOME! I’m not sure how many middle or high school teachers have the soup can with student names written on popsicle sticks, but I’m pretty sure all elementary teachers have had one at some point. That’s exactly what this app is, but it takes things a few steps further. You can choose to put the stick back in the can or leave it as “used”. The real value in the app, however, is in the fact that you can assign Bloom’s, Revised Bloom’s, or ESL question stems. So when you “pull” a student’s name, it will generate question stems based on the level you assign to them. You can then decide to assess using that question stem, or not. If you choose to count the student’s response as right or wrong, you can periodically see how the students are doing and decide to move them up a level, down a level, or leave them where they are. All the work is pretty much done for you! I’m telling you, if you’re a teacher and have an iOS or Android device, BUY THIS APP! (not an affiliate) I’ve included some screen shots for your viewing pleasure 🙂
Text to Speech Chrome Extensions
Unlike the site like newsela.com, the majority of sites on the Internet cannot be adjusted by reading level. This makes it very difficult for our struggling readers to get the full benefit of all of the amazing data and resources available online. This is why I love the text to speech extensions within Chrome. I’ve tried a couple of them, and the least intrusive and easiest to use (that I’ve found), is Select and Speak by iSpeech. Within the settings of the apps, you can control volume, speed, and voice. To convert text to speech, simply highlight the text and click the extension’s icon in your browser bar. It even has automatic language detection, or you can choose from other languages like German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian, just to name a few. This extension is great for Project Gutenburg and reading articles from sites like Time for Kids and The Learning Network from the New York Times.
If you are an Evernote Pro user, you can use the text to speech feature in their Chrome extension, Clearly. Other than converting text to speech, clearly allows users to annotate websites, as well as take away all of those annoying distractions like advertisements and moving pictures.
Do you have lots of PowerPoints or documents you’ve created over the years, but are now looking for a way to shake things up in your classroom? One way to do this is to “flip” your classroom. I’m planning a few posts on this in the near future, but for now I’ll just say that basically flipping your classroom means delivering instruction outside of class so that students can spend in-class time participating in meaningful learning experiences to help them fully understand the content. Movenote is a Chrome app (website) that allows you to record yourself explaining any kind of document saved either in your Google Drive or on your computer. It’s as easy as uploading your document and clicking record.
As always, please share your experiences with any of these great tools, or let us know how you plan to use these in your classroom in the comments below.