Tech Tool Tuesdays!

Each week, we review a new tech tool that can help enhance student engagement and support overall learning. See below for the tools we have already reviewed, and check back weekly for new tools to try!

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littleBits

by Jennifer Robb

Circuits and electricity can be tricky concepts, especially once you start getting into wiring directions, issues of polarity, and so on. In the lab, we often use papertronics or Lilypad for hands-on circuitry projects, but littleBits can help take your electronics to the next level!

The littleBits system uses magneticmodularcolour-coded blocks (called Bits) that allow the user to bypass the need for wiring altogether! The most basic inventions use only three Bits — power, input, and output — but depending on your project, you can include many different Bits in countless combinations. In these basic configurations, students can explore electrical concepts, including how different kinds of input systems moderate the flow of electricity to the user’s chosen outputs.

There are several littleBits kits available for purchase on their online store, each containing different Bits to support the kit’s various projects. Because the kits are modular, you can also purchase individual bits if you have a specific project in mind. Even better still, the company promotes STEAM over STEM, so all of the kits have a creative, hands-on component, with no coding required to make your inventions work!

We have a couple of different kits in the lab, but have gotten the most mileage out of the littleBits Rule Your Room kit. In addition to electronics and circuitry, this bundle is amazing for introducing students to the Internet of Things (IoT) which, while not explicitly addressed in the curriculum, is important for students to understand given its role in our society. This kit encourages users to connect furniture and objects to sensors and actuators to prank their family or protect their prized possessions. But the real star of this kit is the Makey Makey bit! Combine this bit with aluminum foil and alligator clips to turn anything into a sensor. Want to take it even further? Hook up the USB connector to a laptop and create Scratch programs that will run alongside your invention!

littleBits are so much fun to tinker with at home, but they also have a thriving maker community that supports educators! Their littleBits Learning Lab has lesson plans, links to curriculum, and an inventions database with awesome ideas to remix. They are currently expanding the Learning Lab into the littleBits Classroom, featuring all of their best resources for teachers.

While this is one of the pricier tools we’ve reviewed on our blog, we would highly recommend checking it out if you’ve got some extra funding! The littleBits kits start as low as $79 (lower, if you can catch a good sale), and are sold at many different retailers.

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Google Tour Creator

by Jennifer Robb 

Although it may have once seemed too good to be true, virtual reality (VR) has exploded in recent years, becoming a common fixture in entertainment, industry, and education. VR systems from Oculus, HTC, Sony, and more can often be found in students’ homes as video game developers release increasingly sophisticated and immersive versions of their games. Various industries have also taken to using VR as a training tool, enabling companies to acquaint employees with situations or environments that may be difficult to access or recreate. These, along with similar applications in education, are fantastic multimodal experiences that can promote engagement and learning through immersion into (and in more complex systems, interaction with) digital environments. However, most of our current interactions with VR involve consumption — we, and our students, partake in VR experiences that have been created by someone else. How much more powerful could our learning be if we could actually create with virtual reality?

Google Tour Creator is one of several tools allowing users to do just that, and better yet — it’s easier to use than you’d think! All you need to do to create your own Tour is to take a 360º photo (easily done using the Google Street View application – iOS, Android – on your smartphone), upload it into Tour Creator, and add as many annotations as you’d like. These annotations (or “points of interest”, as Google calls them) can be presented in text, image, or sound, and users can even add background music to set the mood!

Once your Tour is complete, simply click publish, set your visibility (unlisted Tours can help reduce the number of unwanted viewers), and share the link with whoever you’d like to be able to view the VR experience you’ve created. For the most immersive experience, open the Tour on a smartphone and insert it into your VR headset of choice (Cardboard, Viewmaster, etc.). Don’t have a VR headset? No problem! Just open the link in your web browser, and view it as you would any other 360º photograph.

I was surprised by just how little time it took to master the Google Tour Creator platform, and can easily see students of all ages being able to create awesome VR experiences (with a bit of help to get started, for our primary friends). Want your first grade students to explore their local communities? Take a couple of 360º photos of notable spots and have them do the annotations! Learning about space? Have students grab the one of the Astronomy or Solar System templates (oh yeah, did I forget to mention the templates that come pre-built with amazing photos?!) and customize it with their own research!

There is so much you can do with this amazing application, and so many places it could integrate seamlessly with your curricular plan. I highly recommend checking this one out!

Posted in Android, app, Apple, free, geography, health, history, language, science, storytelling, Tech Tool Tuesdays, timelines, virtual reality, web-based | Leave a comment

NASA

by Amanda Trigiani

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses social media channels and mobile apps to tell the world about its findings, while also involving people in its activities. The app featured here is their main one, which invites users to explore and discover the latest that the agency is working on. The app includes 9 sections that cover all aspects of NASA activity: Missions, Images, Videos, Tweets, TV & Radio, News & Features, Centers, Featured, Programs. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

To foster learning about the solar system and beyond, the app features thousands of images in the Earth as Art collection that you can rate and save to the app or your device. Users can also tune into live streaming of NASA TV and the latest news and updates. The app can be used to view thousands of on-demand NASA Videos from around the agency, including 360° and 4K videos. NASA’s earliest missions and plans for future missions are featured. Everything can be easily shared on social media, which allows opportunity to connect content to other areas.

The app is brilliant for bringing space units to life for a range of grade levels, but it can also be connected to numeracy, literacy, geography, history, art and outdoor education, because let’s be honest: space is cool! Study colours in space, explore geography through volcanic activity, or practice literacy by reading or writing about current missions. Videos for celebrations like Women’s History Month and Black History Month feature the incredible role of women and people of colour in STEM, which can help make learning more culturally relevant and meaningful. The app also discusses the role of technology in advancing space exploration.

In case you are interested: NASA has almost 50 free applications in total including games and augmented reality. Some that may be of interest are: NASA Visualization Explorer, NASA selfies app, Space365, NASA’s Exoplanet Excursions Virtual Reality App, Spacecraft Augmented Reality, NASA Spinoff, NASA 3DV, and Rocket Science 101.

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Monster Math

by Amanda Trigiani

Take an adventure with a monster named Maxx in an exciting game that practices core math skills. Learners get to travel into 4 different worlds to save Maxx’s friend Dextra, battle enemies and find allies. The engaging and interactive storyline relies on the user’s ability to remember, understand, and apply their knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and geometry to travel through the levels.

Monster Math is an arcade-style game that works for iPhone, iPad, or Android users. It offers a free and paid version of the app. The game is adaptive to learners needs and scaffolds according to their skill level. The learner, parent, or educator can choose a grade level between grade K-5 as well as the types of skills to practice. The app also features personalized in-depth reporting about the performance of the learner, highlighting skills that they know well and those which skills still need to be practiced. There is also the option of having multiple profiles on the app for different learners to use it and receive their reports separately. The feedback is valuable and specific which helps to guide the learner towards more advanced math problems when they are ready.

Some additional features include 23 game characters, multiplayer mode, and practice mode. The app also has no third-party ads, which is a wonderful feature! Lastly, educators or parents can also explore the apps ‘Printables’ section, which features lesson plans organized by grade and unit. The developer of this app has a number of other math apps that you may want to check out, like Math Rescue 7-9 or Duel Math Fight!

Posted in Android, app, Apple, free, games, mathematics, Tech Tool Tuesdays | Leave a comment

Brain it On!

by Amanda Trigiani

I must admit, I am obsessed with this game! Brain it on! is a physics game that encourages you to problem-solve to complete unique tasks. Each puzzle has multiple solutions, so you can get creative designing solutions by drawing shapes and lines in search of the most practical and efficient solution. If you are stuck, there are helpful hints, but they do require watching an ad first.

The app is compatible with Android and Apple and includes 330 levels that can be unlocked for free by earning stars in previous levels. You can play independently or compete with friends and compare solutions (which is interesting to see!). There are advertisements in between levels, which at times can be lengthy… but the app is free! You also have the option to purchase a version to remove ads, unlock hints, unlock levels early, and unlock the level editor. On the community screen, there are dozens of additional player-created free levels created each day.

The app provides feedback to the user based on the solutions they designed. Up to three stars are provided based on the efficiency of the solution (as seen in the grid image); there are also 18 specific achievements to complete.

In the classroom, Brain it On! can introduce physics concepts using a games-based learning approach for various age groups. The website can be used on the SMART Board or tablets where students play in pairs or groups to encourage teamwork and communication during the problem-solving process. Afterwards, the students could document their thinking and describe their solutions using physics concepts – for example, they can create a procedural breakdown on an app like Canva!

Another great feature is that the app can be used in a number of languages! This is ideal for French schools or courses. The simple, short instructions are even beneficial for beginner French speakers. English language learners could also benefit as they can still practice science concepts and learn English, or play in their native language.

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Canva

by Amanda Trigiani

Canva is an exciting tool because of its infinite potential. It is an easy to use graphic design app and website that allows the maker to create original products or edit ready-made design templates.

The drag-and-drop format is used to design one of numerous product options including posters, infographics, logos, presentations, book covers, blog designs, comic strips, menus, and invoices… to name a few! The app offers thousands of free templates (as well as paid ones), 500+ font options, and a number of customizable features including sizes, spaces, positions, and colours. The designs can be web or print as well as easily shared on the app, or directly to Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, email or saved onto a device.

The interdisciplinary potential of this app is exciting! The Canva website offers suggestions for teachers, non-profits, students, designers, photographers, and businesses. Design tips are also provided @canva on Instagram and Facebook; I checked them out and they are incredibly useful and inspiring. Also, you (and/or your students, children, teammates, or employees) can share your designs with the hashtag #canvalove.

Educators! This app allows you to create resources for your classrooms, such as inspiring posters, class rules, or even a course calendar. More importantly, Canva is a powerful teaching and learning tool; the app provides opportunity for creative pedagogical approaches and assessment methods by emphasizing design thinking.

  • Students can synthesize and display their interdisciplinary knowledge when asked to:
  • Create an infographic about a research topic (e.g. stats on climate change)
  • Make a graph or mind map to organize ideas, sort data, or detail a process (e.g. food chain)
  • Develop a comic about a concept or figure (e.g. Marie Curie)
  • Design a book cover to a book they wrote about course concepts (e.g. space systems)
  • Create a poster detailing steps or statistics (e.g. steps of an experiment)
  • Produce an advertisement to ‘sell’ creations (even learning about and using ‘pseudoscience’)

Canva really puts the A in STEAM through the common thread of design, innovation, and the ability to make the world.

Posted in app, free, organization, Tech Tool Tuesdays, typography, web-based | Leave a comment

3D Brain

by Amanda Trigiani

Our brains are complex structures and can be challenging to learn and to teach. This app brings the brain to life through a colourful 3D structure that can be rotated 360° in space. The app is created by Vivid Apps and AXS Biomedical Animation Studio with the DNA Learning Center. It is free, has a very simple interface, and can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices. There is also an option to upgrade by in-app purchase to the 3D Brain HQ for $0.99. This version has higher resolution brain images and proceeds are donated towards the educational programs of the DNA Learning Center.

This app has incredible potential for learning and teaching! It has 29 interactive structures that can be isolated, so that you can rotate the brain in 3D to see that individual structure and learn about its particular function.

When a structure is selected, there is information provided about that part of the brain. The app offers information about a case study, describes associated functions, and explains related cognitive disorders to this part of the brain. In addition, the user can read what happens when this structure in the brain is injured and how it is involved in mental illness. Lastly, the app also provides a citation list and links for further research.

This app is an interesting and interactive way for students to learn and for educators to teach by allowing learners to experience the brain in a way that an image cannot afford. It has cross-disciplinary potential for science, health, psychology, and can even be used in art and technology classes to showcase a 3D educational image. This app would be a perfect way to include interactive and inquiry-based learning into the classroom.

Reviews of the app have been largely positive with a few people noting (and I would agree) that the app could be even more interactive. But perhaps we are just being demanding… I mean the 3D brain is quite amazing!

Posted in 3D modelling, Android, app, Apple, free, health, science | Leave a comment

Cubelets

Logo for Cubelets modular robot blocks.by Jennifer Robb 

During my most recent foray into our equipment room, looking for something new and innovative to use with our various student groups, I stumbled across these wonderful robotic cubes called Cubelets. We had used them a couple of times since obtaining them, but it had been awhile… so I took them for a spin to see what they could do!

An animated gif of a person opening the Cubelets Creative Constructors Pack.

Cubelets are these amazing, modular robots that epitomize the “low floor, high ceiling” priority of a makerspace. After charging up the power cube, you and your students can get started with these little bots right out of the box! There are three main types of Cubelets: sense (or input) blocks, action (or output) blocks, and think (or processing) blocks.

To get started building your first Cubelets robot, you only need one of each type (including the power cube which is considered a “think” block) – that’s it! Just connect three cubes and you’ve created your first Cubelets robot. And unlike other ‘construct your own’ robot kits, Cubelets are magnetic – meaning they easily snap together and apart, making them great for both younger and older students! Once you’ve tinkered with the basics, try adding additional processing cubes, like the passive (green) and inverter (red) blocks I used to create this awesome Cubelets lighthouse:

Animated gif of attaching a (magnetic) Cubelet block and activating the light-sensitive lighthouse bot.

Want to take your Cubelets to the next level and challenge your learners? They also offer a variety of apps that enable you to control and code (through Blockly or language-based coding) individual cubes. Check those apps out here, available for both iOS and Android! Their website also features an educator’s hub, packed full of free lessons, activities, and other helpful resources to seamlessly integrate Cubelets into your teaching.

Each kit comes with different types of sense, action, and think blocks – we have the Creative Constructors Pack which features brightness and distance sensors (input), wheels and lights (output), and various processing blocks (including Bluetooth), but check out the different packs to see what would be right for your context!

For more information on this modular robotics system, check out their main website here.

 

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GeoGebra AR

Logo for GeoGebra AR App by Jennifer Robb 

Augmented Reality continues to gain traction in classrooms for its ability to deeply immerse students into learning. By superimposing an image, video, or text onto the real world, students are able to explore events, places, and concepts in a more concrete way, leading to a deeper understanding.

I was introduced to GeoGebra AR by Ingrid, a Ph.D. student from Brazil who is working with us in the STEAM-3D Maker Lab until the end of the year. Designed for youth in secondary school and beyond, this amazing app enables you to view the results of various mathematical functions in 3D, projected on any surface in the world around you!

Screenshots of the GeoGebra AR app showing two different mathematical functions.

After generating a mathematical function, users can “anchor” the 3D object to any surface and explore it from various angles. GeoGebra AR also encourages users to take screenshots of the resultant object for studying purposes, which can help strengthen their understanding of the function itself.

Although GeoGebra AR is early in development, there are many different functions available to view. Having just learned about it today, I have as yet to explore all of its possibilities but can’t wait to do so! I highly encourage you to check it out as well.

At this time, GeoGebra AR is only available for Apple devices (for the low, low price of totally free). Check it out on the App Store here.

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AnswerGarden

by Jennifer Robb

Collaboration is an essential skill for students to learn and exercise, both in and out of the classroom. Activities that require students to work in partners or small groups are fantastic for strengthening collaborative problem-solving and communication skills, but what about when you want the entire class to work together? Some days, initiating whole-group discussions can be a challenge: students are tired, uncomfortable speaking in front of the class, or just don’t want to be the first to speak. Other days, students are so engaged in the task or excited to share that they end up talking over one another, and fantastic ideas get lost in the process. Either way, I recently stumbled across this awesome web-based tool that can help!

AnswerGarden is an online feedback platform that allows multiple users to simultaneously provide brief responses (20 – 40 characters) to a provided question or brainstorming prompt. With each entry, users can see their responses added to their group’s collectively-generated word cloud. Frequently-entered responses will grow in size, allowing teachers and students to spot trends in understanding. The resulting word cloud can then be used to spark further discussion, sparing students the anxiety with having to contribute the “first idea”. This tool can be used for brainstorming, to check students’ understanding, to identify key vocabulary, as a “word wall” for primary grades, polling, and many other applications!

AnswerGarden word cloud.

Even better than its versatility is the site’s ease of use. To create an AnswerGarden, simply go to the site and click on the plus sign (+) in the upper right-hand corner – no account needed! Just type in the topic or question you wish to ask students, tinker with the optional settings, and you’re good to go! Once your Garden is created, provide students with the link and they can contribute immediately. The website is entirely free, although the developers accept tips through PayPal if users wish to contribute.

Check out the twitter hashtag #answergarden to see how others have used the app, or to get started, head over to the website!

Posted in collaboration, free, mind-mapping, Tech Tool Tuesdays, web-based | Leave a comment

Move the Turtle

175x175bbby Maya Staresinic

Possessing the ability to code opens up so many doors and exposes our students to many opportunities. This is something we have said before, and something that we will continue to preach (because it’s true!). It has been estimated that more than 50% of future jobs will be found in the coding industry, or IT (information technology) sectors. For this reason, it only makes sense that we introduce our students to coding, and how to code, at an early age. Describing to a grade 1 class how to code using HTML, Python, or any of those advanced coding software’s is not an easy task, and chances are they are going to lose interest fast. Luckily for us, there are a number of novice coding apps that are helping pave the way for all students to love and enjoy coding.
Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 4.30.21 PM

Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids by Next is Great is a coding app designed for children as young as 5 years of age to become comfortable with coding. The app utilizes fun characters, such as a turtle, to allow children to practice their programming skills. Using intuitive graphing commands, children are set out with the goal of moving the turtle from point A to point B, all while taking into consideration any obstacles that they may need to account for while moving the turtle on its journey.

The colorScreen Shot 2017-06-27 at 4.29.57 PMful graphic environment gets children familiar with the notions of loops, procedures, variables and conditional instructions. Move the Turtle starts off quite basic, allowing the user to get comfortable with the traditional “move up, down, left and right” commands, before moving onto more complex commands that require them to put their sequential thinking skills to the test. Children are encouraged to continue on with more complex coding sequences, as they are given badges/trophies for completing tasks. Each new level is equipped with a different task, such as programming the turtle to reach a certain point, draw a line, make a sound and more.

Children will develop a sense of sequential thinking skills, problem solving skills, a growth mindset and numerous other 21st century competencies while using the Move the Turtle app.

Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids by Next is Great is compatible with iOS devices (iPod and iPad), and costs $2.99

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Duolingo

by Laura Dobos518480-duolingo-logo-2016

Having the ability to speak in more than one language has rapidly become a skill that is very appealing to many employers and in many disciplines. In education, having the ability to speak and teach French almost guarantees an LTO, immediately after an individual completes their bachelor of education. Being that Canada is a bilingual country, education is always going to require French teachers. Learning another language is something that I wish I had done growing up, and if I had the same technologies at my disposal, that today’s student does, maybe I would have been more motivated to learn it.
Image result for duolingo
Duolingo is an app that helps the user learn another language. There are a large number of languages that can be taught, including French and Spanish. Once downloaded, you can choose which language you want to learn, and the app takes you through the steps to set up your account. You first have to choose your goal – how long do you want to practice your language each day? You can do 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes. The goal can be changed later! Once you choose, the app gauges your ability in that language. You can either start as a beginner or you can do an aptitude test to ensure you are placed in the right stream. The test adapts to your level, by getting easier or harder depending on how you are doing.

Duolingo allows you the flexibility of learning at a time that works for you, and it does a great job of making you go over vocabulary, punctuation and word placement throughout each lesson.

If you’re looking to learn another language, and want to do it on your own time, at your own pace, Duilingo is definitely an app for you!!

Duolingo is free on the Apple Store.

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iHomework

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 4.34.17 PMby Maya Staresinic

Students and teachers have a lot on their plate. Teachers have to remember when report cards are due, when the school soccer team has practice and everything in between. Students on the other hand, ned to recall when their culminating assignments are due (for all of their classes) what evenings they work, have band practice and more. Needless to say, schools are extremely busy places filled with busy people!

iHomework is an app that helps you remember important dates during the busy time of the school year. The app not only helps the user keep up-to-date with schoolwork, it reminds students of the grades they are receiving in their classes, their non-school related to-do lists, their teachers information (because we all know that the course syllabus magically disappears by the end of the semester/year), and really anything else the student needs to stay on top of during the school year.screen696x696

With its clean and simplistic organization and layout, you will never forget when that Math Unit test is. iHomework has the ability to sync to the users iCal, which allows the user to receive notifications when things are due. When it comes to uploading dates for assignments that are due, the user has the ability to add as much detail about the assignment in iHomework’s notes. When reading an online book, iHomework offers the user to bookmark the page they left off at, right in the app. In addition, iHomework not only keeps track of your teacher’s information, it also keeps track of your course information. Forget what room your class was switched to? iHomework will
mark the location of your class so that you never forgot where you are meeting on any given day.

For those who need a little bit of help getting organized, the iHomework app is the app for you. iHomework is available through the iTunes App Store for $2.79

Posted in home communication, iTunes, organization, Tech Tool Tuesdays | Leave a comment

TimeGlider

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 9.23.52 AM

by Lauren Fridman

Timeglider is a web-based software that allows students to create timelines. Users can create, collaborate and publish interactive timelines where the readers have many ways to explore the information. The author can focus on time periods of his or her choosing ranging from hours to centuries, making the timeline as in-depth or broad as they desire.

This online tool has sharing capabilities as well for when the students are ready to make their timelines public. Timeglider’s site will create a URL that corresponds with the timeline that can be shared either through embedding it into a website or by simply sharing the URL. This provides some privacy for the student work because the reader will need to have access to the unique URL that is created. So, once a reader comes to your timeline page, they will be greeted by the introduction that was written about the timeline to give a foundational knowledge before the reader is able to explore the details of the full timeline. Once they complete the introduction they are sent to a user-created focus date for the exploration to begin.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 9.25.01 AM

There are different options for pricing of the tool ranging from a simple free option that could be good for the classroom environment. Each student will need to create his or her own user account and they are limited by what they could create. Other than that additional pricing options can be found on the Timeglider website: https://timeglider.com/signup.

Posted in history, Tech Tool Tuesdays, timelines | Leave a comment

MyScript Calculator

by Laura Dobos

WImage result for myscript calculatorith the growing epidemic that is technology in the classroom, it is becoming increasingly important for teachers to have the knowledge and know-how to combat the distractive nature of these technologies. Technology is something, that when used properly and propel our students forward to success, like never before. Students become more engaged, more passionate and more willing to learn concepts that they otherwise would have no interest in. MyScript Calculator is one of those amazing apps that can be utilized to increase understanding and engagement in the math classroom. Of course, like any piece of tech, it needs to be used after students have learned about responsible technology use. Now, onto the specs!

The capabilities of this calculator really blew my mind. I was amazed by the expressions that it was able to solve and the user-friendly nature of it. Using a tablet or phone, you open the app and the interface is graph paper that you write on. You use your finger, or a stylus to write the expression that needs to be solved and the program recognizes it, digitizes it, and solves it. It’s as simple as that. There are restraints of the app with regards to which functions can be completed (it tells you within the tutorial). Whether you’re teaching your class BEDMAS or the quadratic equation, this app gives your students the opportunity to check their work, based on how they have written the question. Of course, there is also the chance that students could use the app irresponsibly and obtain answers without completing the work, but that’s where the sequential marking comes in. The app does not give the user the steps that lead to the answer, so there is no opportunity to obtain that information this way.

I love this app and see a ton of different uses for it within the math classroom, the science classroom, the business classroom, even the tech classrooms – anywhere math is needed, this app can be used.

It’s FREE in the App store (Apple) and Google Play store.

Posted in Google Play, iTunes, mathematics, Tech Tool Tuesdays | Leave a comment

TouchCast

by Laura Dobos

Image result for touch cast green screenDuring the CONNECT conference this past April in Niagara Falls, we had the opportunity to connect and network with all kinds of professionals in the education field. While presenting the green screen content, some of these professionals brought my attention to an app called TouchCast. Having only ever used DoInk, I decided to give this free app a try – and I was not disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I love DoInk and the user-friendly nature of the app is fabulous for students, however TouchCast had all the same capabilities – and more!

Just like any green screen software, it has the capability to turn the green background into the landscape of your choosing. One of the preset settings is a newsroom, and it has users sitting at a reporting desk. TouchCast allows for the user to change the sensitivity to the green colour as well as de-green the setting and background stabilization. The capabilities of TouchCast blew me away, considering it’s a free app. There were a lot of settings and I had to really play around with the app for a while before I felt like I knew what I was doing, but after a few tutorials and YouTube searches, I had some awesome results.
Image result for touch cast green screen
This green screen app has so many capabilities and the results are incredible. The curriculum connections that can be made within the classroom are limitless. Imagine, during grade 8 science, the students can create a video tour of a human cell, and point out all of the organelles as they pass them in the animation behind them! How much more interactive is that, versus building a model with labels on it?

TouchCast is available for free in both the iTunes store Google Play store.

Posted in Google Play, green screen, iTunes, Tech Tool Tuesdays, video production | Leave a comment

Medley Music Maker

by Maya Staresinic
Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.49.53 PMLooking back to my experience in elementary school and high school, I always loved my music period. It was a time where I could experiment with different sounds and different instruments, to create a song that I was proud of. The fact that most of my friends were in the same music period as me helped too! As great as music class is, instruments are not cheap. Purchasing an instrument for everyone in the class, with enough variety that not everyone is playing the clarinet, can be quite costly. That is where the app Medly – Music Maker by Medly Labs Inc. comes into the picture.

Medley is an app that takes an entirely new approach to the way music is created. Whether you are a seasoned musician or someone who is entirely new to the music-making industry, Medley allows you to make one-of-a-kind sounds and songs by simply picking your desired instrument and drawing or clicking the notes on a specific string. Wscreen696x696ith Medley, there are over 128 instruments at the tip of your finger. When you first begin creating music, you are given the option of choosing between 16 instruments. You can unlock the other 112 instruments that can be found across of variety of genres in the Medley store.
When it comes to creating a unique sound, Medly has got you covered. The app allows you to apply different effects and filters to your tracks, which gives you the ultimate customized sound. So in reality, the 16 instruments that are unlocked as soon as you open the app can be remixed to create hundreds of different sounds. Tinker with volume, as well as add fades, automate volume and apply effects over the duration of your music/song to really create something that has never been heard.

screen696x696-2When you are happy with the song you have created, upload it to Soundcloud or share it as a video to let others enjoy your music. Medley songs can be saved as a video, audio, MIDI or Medley file. If you feel like adding to your preexisting song, no problem! Simply reopen the track and continue mixing

Medley provides learning to all and to those classrooms or schools that cannot afford expensive music instruments. Medley – Music Maker can be found on the iTunes App Store for free.

Posted in iTunes, music production, Tech Tool Tuesdays | Leave a comment

Erase All Kittens

by Lauren FridmanScreen Shot 2017-05-09 at 5.22.53 PM

I don’t know about you, but when I started working for the STEAM Makerlab and the idea of learning to code came up, I was totally unsure about it. Not in the sense that coding isn’t important, because it is, but it was more that I would never be able to do it. I was never very tech-savvy, nor was I quick to pick up on tech-related endeavors, so how in the world was I going to learn how to code?

Introduce Erase All Kittens, an online story-driven game that encourages both computational thinking and acquisition of a variety of coding languages. In order to progress through the game, players need to code to build and fix levels as they play. Erase All Kittens focuses on Hyptertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Javascript coding. While the demo version only utilizes the HTML coding language, more is available through the paid option.

2277392Erase All Kittens lets you play as Arca (the child with the kitten ears) an outcast who finds solace in the explosion of kitten gifs on the Internet. It is your duty
to go and rescue all of the kitten gifs through the use of coding. This program encourages critical thinking and troubleshooting as you move forward to attempt to SAVE ALL OF THE KITTENS.

The game aims to attract both male and female users, focusing on students aged 8-14. It allows students to teach themselves to code through the very aspects of the game with minimal support needed on behalf of the teacher. So, whether you know how to code or not, your students will work their way through a deeper understanding of coding language. Gamification is a proven way to engage learners and with Erase All Kittens, students can develop knowledge of HTML while simply playing a game. I think this tool definitely could be beneficial as an introductory tool to coding. It is a fun and engaging way for students to try and problem solve their way through learning to code. It makes an otherwise potentially overwhelming subject very approachable and enjoyable.

Erase All Kittens is available as an online game, accessible via PC or Mac computers. There is a demo version available on their website.

For more information check out: https://eraseallkittens.com

Posted in coding, games, Tech Tool Tuesdays | Leave a comment

Fly

flylabs-googleby Maya Staresinic

We’ve all been there. Faced with that daunting task of creating a sleek movie/video through an online editor, but knowing that most of the software’s take a lot of time to even get comfortable with using. We’ve got a great solution for you! Fly by Google, Inc., (originally by Fly Labs) is a quick and light video editor that allows you to move seamlessly through the video editing process to create a final project that is pleasing to the eye.

Fly is aimed at helping people edit their videos in a way that does not make the user feel overwhelmed. The app’s goal is to allow people to make the most of their videos. Whether those videos are being used to create a school presentation or being used to keep memories from an exciting day, Fly gives the user the ability to share flawless videos with their audience.

When the app is downloaded, the user is immediately promoted to start creating. The user may import videos they have already captured, or, they may use the “built-in” capture
mode option to capture video while still in the app. Fly does prefer the user to capture videos in landscape mode, so this is something to keep in mind while using the app. The reason for this is because the platform in which videos are uploaded to is set in the landscape model, so your videos will appear truer to their original form in this view. Vertical videos are croScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 11.58.47 AMpped to fit.

Once all of the desired videos are uploaded, the user is then prompted to personalize their video! Fly features different ways of interacting with the screen to really enhance the visual components of the video. Transition from video to video include options such as; fade, variations of split screen, switch, turn, etc. All of the transitions are possible by tapping the screen with your finger(s) in different ways (demonstrated in the app). Once the user is satisfied with the way their video looks, the next step is to embed sound. Sounds can include real-time sounds from the video or songs that have been uploaded by the app itself.

The multi-cam feature allows the user to collaborate with friends who have the app, via Bluetooth, to coordinate on the same video together. This option is great if you have students working in either pairs or groups. Gone are the days where one partner is sitting beside the other partner who is working on the computer and can essentially only watch. This feature allows the users to shoot the same video from multiple angles, making the video even more appealing to the eye.

Fly by Google, Inc., presents the user with the concept of “edit on the fly”, hence the name! Fly is a free app that can be found on the app store. There are additional packs that can be purchased within the initial Fly app, which cost $2.99

Posted in Google Play, iTunes, Tech Tool Tuesdays, video production | Leave a comment