Friday, April 24, 2015

Guest Post - How to Create Stunning Visual Aids for your Lessons

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It is a challenge to seize children’s attention and not to let it go. Some teachers experience great difficulties in keeping students engaged and involved in the educational process due to objective reasons. Luckily, there exist some tricks to help resourceful teachers, one of them being visual aids. Looking at bright and colorful images, students are more likely to digest the material without boredom and remember it afterwards. But why are visual aids so effective and how to create them?
First of all, visual aids are helpful, because they show the data visually. Some facts, connections and outcomes are much easier to understand when they are represented as a picture. For example, some statistics, shown as a diagram will be much more winning than its detailed descriptions in words. Then, as visual images have the sense of modernity, they easily grab children’s attention for some time. Thus, they are useful for highlighting some essential points and setting true accents. And finally, visual aids and pictures boost children’s creativity. By looking at something beautiful and challenging, by perceiving the right way of data organization, students can get inspired and come up with new and outstanding ideas.
There are three most popular types of visual aids:
  1. Sheets to hand out. They are pieces of paper with different tasks for students: from simple word games to sophisticated and quizzes and puzzles. Usually you are welcome to print them at school, if the head teacher supports the idea of modern teaching.
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Such sheets look very winning if they contain bright images, doodles, cartoons, drawings and any other innovative ideas. They serve different purposes like encouraging students to think over some details or discuss them, check students’ knowledge or let them rest with the benefit for their brains. A lot of websites offers resourceful teachers the opportunities to download and print the material. Here are just some of them:

  1. Posters and pictures. If you want to explain new material with the help of some visual images, illustrate your words with bright and colorful pictures.
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Usually you use Photoshop to create a legible and eye-pleasing poster, but you can try its free and less sophisticated alternative Photoscape.

Remember that in creating posters bright shapes and arrows look especially great. As well as text elements, which must be precise, short and only about the core point.

  1. Video sequences. But sometimes even picture images are not enough to convey the idea. In this case you can turn to videos
    If you have some photos to illustrate your words, just make a slideshow of them and play in the background to illustrate your words. For this purpose, you can use a tool like Freemake Video Converter as it allows not only to make a slideshow in one click, but also convert it to any – even the most rare – format.
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Or make a cartoon with the help of online tools like GoAnimate. This approach requires much more mental efforts and time. But if you want to create a cartoon for preschool children, this visual tool will be very useful.

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Overall, the use of certain visual tools depends on your purpose, creative inner-sources and opportunities. Anyway you should call all your creativity and resourcefulness to make your lessons outstanding and interesting for students, even with the help of visual aids, because even in this case the educator’s personality is what is reflected in all the aids.

Author’s Bio
Terry Smith is a former IT teacher from Geneva. Now he is a freelance developer and blogger. Terry loves sharing his expertise on popular teaching software, IT trends, and digital technology. Follow Terry on Twitter.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tips for Troubleshooting Chromebooks and some typical issues

Here is some info about the Chromebooks and steps to take for issues/errors encountered.

NOTE: Java does not work on Chromebooks. Java is a major security hazard and Chromebooks are very secure. Most of the Java based sites are moving to HTML5 which works on Chromebooks.

1. Remember, if this is the first time you are using that Chromebook, you have to click "add user" and add your user account info.

2. In some cases, someone has changed the keyboard settings. Click SHIFT-ALT to set it back to US keyboard. Check to make sure the language wasn't changed:

3. If the image on the home screen is rotated:
Ctrl-shift-reload/refresh will rotate the entire screen by 90 degrees each time it is pressed.

4. If you need to remove a user from a Chromebook, do not login. At the login screen, click on the upper right corner of that user's login icon and remove the user.

5. If a Chromebook is having issues, turn it off and then on again. You can also perform a reset by pressing REFRESH + POWER  - this fixes a lot of issues, including screen not turning on, sluggish, locked up and more.

Refresh key   

6. No sound on headphones
1. Make sure headphones are plugged in properly and there is no dirt in the plug
2. Make sure the mute button isn't pushed

3. Clear the cache and then reboot

7. Updating Chrome OS
Chrome OS gets updates quite often and an updated only takes a minute to do.

If you see this up arrow in the lower right corner of the screen, near the time, click on it and click Upgrade.

To manually check for updates:

Click the status area in the lower-right corner, where your account picture appears.
Select Settings.
Click on Help on the left.
More info on updates:

8. Delete all browsing history (clears cache and cookies - great for fixing errors with website)

Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
Select Tools.
Select Clear browsing data.
In the dialog that appears, select the checkboxes for the types of information that you want to remove. (do all)
Use the menu at the top to select the amount of data that you want to delete. Select beginning of time to delete everything.
Click Clear browsing data.


More Resources and Tips for Google Apps and Chromebooks

The Chromebook Help App - built in support on your Chromebook


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Google Classroom gets some new features that we've been asking for

Google Classroom is Google's learning management system, allowing teachers and students to share assignments and communicate online.

It is easy to use and works great, but there were some features teachers were asking for. Well, Google listened!

Google has just announced some new features:

1. Invite another teacher to your class- teachers who co-teach, or want special ed teachers to have access to course work, etc can be invited to join the class as a teacher. Multiple teachers can now work together in the same class. The additional teacher(s) can create assignments and announcements, view and grade student submissions, participate in comments on the class stream, invite students to the class, and receive email notifications related to the class


2. Drafts of assignments and announcements - teachers can now create announcements and assignments as drafts and then post them when ready. This is very useful for future planning and for giving other teaches a chance to review the posting first.

When you start entering an announcement or assignment, you can click the arrow next to the "Post" button and select "Save Draft".

3. Grades now autosave as they are entered. Now you don't have to worry about losing a grade.
4. Notifications - teachers and students will now receive email notifications when private messages are left on assignments (great feature!)

One thing I've always liked about Google is how they are always improving their products, usually from user requests. 



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reflector2 - Wireless mirroring and streaming for iOS, Android and Chromebooks

Reflector2 is a wireless streaming product that works with iOS, Android and even Chromebooks that allows teachers and students to share their iPads, Android tablets and Chromebooks to the big screen wirelessly, from anywhere in the room. Recording with voice-over lets teachers record their lessons for future use, while multiple security features keep the classroom safe. With even more innovative features, Reflector 2 is an extremely cost-effective alternative to an Apple TV, utilizing the devices already found in most classrooms. It also works with Mac and PC. You can share your mobile device screens to a computer connected to a projector for a powerful presentation tool.

It's a great tool for teachers to use in their classroom. It's not free, but the pricing is very competitive. 

Wonder - new search tool with expert guidance for searching the web

Wonder is a new search tool that goes beyond just searching the internet. Wonder has built a research network of librarians and experienced researchers to help students search the web for high-quality sources, and to encourage curiosity in online learning.

You can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, or email and it's free to use.

When you search in Wonder, the results are contributed by librarians and other experts, filtering out a lot of the garbage that is online.

When you do a search, you get some results, a box to enter more information about what you are searching for, and a list of experts that you can choose to get results from.

This is a great resource for students and teachers, filtering out some of the chaff for search results and giving better results.

Below is an example search I did for "aircraft design":



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