This was originally part of the District 75 Tech Connect Newsletter.
Along with all new boards coming with SMART Kapp IQ which includes automatic Airplay and Chromecast, SMART has also introduced the new SMART Notebook 17. The new version has a helpful welcome screen, sign-in with Google or Microsoft, new SMART LABs, improved LAB capabilities and features, and SMART Response 2 updates. Our favorite new feature though is the new share to board feature which allows you to push content to your SMARTBoard from any computer. For those without up to date subscriptions or who prefer the flash based version you can still use the free Notebook Express.
PBS LEARNING MEDIA
PBS Learning Media has upgraded and a number of educational tools and content on their platform lately including a Quiz Maker, Storyboard, Puzzle Builder, and a Lesson Builder. As for content we are loving SciTech Now and its exploration of scientific discoveries that impact our lives and drive our future and their Summer Reading Colection. We also love playing the 5th and latest installment of the Mission U.S. game, Up From the Dust. In the latest game, players step into the roles of Ginny and Frank Dunn, 13 year-old twins looking to support their family during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. This Emmy-nominated mission is the first game in the series to be available both online for free and on iTunes to make it easy for teachers to utilize the game.
Nearpod has added a number of new features over the past year that should get educators excited. You can download the latest app for Windows, iOS, or Android. Amongst the small upgrades are folder sharing, improved integration with online storage and Twitter, easier admin searching, PDF adaptation, integrating .gifs, and more video and background image controls. Some of the major upgrades include a school library of lessons, student notes, and the convert to draw feature. Some of the great new content upgrades include Sway, Twitter streams, VR field trips, 3D images and the Collaborate activity. Follow the latest on their blog.
Sphero is expanding it’s efforts in computer science instruction with the launch of the new Sphero EDU. It provides a toolset that goes beyond code by incorporating robotics with collaborative STEAM activities. This includes a new educational app, an updated, SPRK+, new educational accessories like maze tape, and the Sphero learning hub. Keep up to date with the Sphero Edu Blog.
Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational. – George Couros
The District 75 STEM team’s own Elizabeth Tierney had a hand in helping littleBits play-test and create their latest, the Code Kit. It allows students to make their own games and robotic creations and bring them to life through coding. The kit comes with 16 bits and 30 accessories along with some pre-programmed codes so students and teachers can begin building right away. See it in action.
Classcraft has brought a number of new updates to its site including a new intuitive design and a new suite of class tools including volume meters and grade converters. You can celebrate the end of the year with Classcraft certificates.
Also, though it’s currently still in development mode, Classcraft will soon begin offering quests. This means you can pull content from a number of content providers (Khan, Google Classroom, etc.) or create your own and have students progress through a variety of challenges with adventures and backstory to earn rewards. It should be exciting and we’re looking to pilot it with some schools next year, so let us know if you’re interested.
We’ve enjoyed using Voki for years to create customizable avatars for jazzing up presentations both because it’s easy to use and it allows for so many languages and historical figures. They also now have an app for both iOS and Android.
Now there are many more options available including Tellegami Edu which combines photos, voice, 3D character customization, and personality on a mobile platform. If you’re looking to animate some more complex animated videos try try Powtoon or GoAnimate.