You’ll never know unless you ask and a school wide survey is the best way to do it. Stopbullying.gov has the tools to see if bullying is isolated or a systemic problem at your institution by estimating the rate and figuring out if there are school hot spots. It also sets up a baseline for comparing assessments over time. The site not only has tips for uncovering a bullying problem but advice on how to set up your own survey as well as sample assessments.
If you’re overwhelmed by the plethora educational and administrative apps that schools have to choose from, GetApp can help. The Gartner company runs this curated site that lists every major piece of software for schools for tasks from scheduling and attendance to calendars and archiving records. You can filter those that require a one-time payment, subscriptions or are free as well as break out those supported by Android, iPad and Web based services.
With so many online resources available, it’s inevitable that some will cut and paste their way to a finished essay. The Plagiarism Checker in SEO Small Tools’s Web site can help by letting you point to a file or type in phrases or cut and paste entire sections. At the bottom, Plagiarism Checker tells you what percentage is original and what is out-sourced.There are annoying ads and the site needs for you to check that you’re not a robot but can handle only up to 2,000 words at a time.
Of the 80,000 educational apps for the iPad, the most gratifying ones are likely those aimed at special ed teachers and students. There are ones that focus on motor skill development, hearing, vision and literacy, each of which can get a child out of his or her shell. The latest ones use Apple’s Voice Over and Siri technology to describe what’s on the screen and respond to spoken questions.
While you’re there, I suggest you load a copy of the Autism & Beyond app. Developed with Apple’s ResearchKit, the software is the result of work by the Duke Medical Center and the Office of Naval Research to detect the early signs of autism in children. The pad’s camera watches a child’s face and looks for the telltale signs of emotions and behavior. It’s still in development and the subject needs to be between one and six years old for the app to work, but this tool could end up be a valuable resource in the classroom to help struggling students get the special classes they need.
Matific’s online educational games now include Name the Monster, a fun activity for kids to explore and practice their math skills. Four cute monsters appear in sequence from behind a theatrical curtain with a window below to type in a name in 11 characters or less. When the game is completed, the company will announce the most popular names. Personally, I rooting for “Pink Eye.”
The latest version of Apple’s OS X software for Macs is out and it’s a free download to upgrade. Called El Capitan, the system software works with all models that were introduced in 2009 and some older ones, provides a modest performance boost and lets you show two apps at once on a split screen. The list of new features include new Notes program that can accept phots, documents and other files as well as an improved Spotlight search engine that can check for things like weather, news and stock prices. You can now pin sites from the Safari browser and – happily for the noisy classroom – you can now instantly mute the audio.
What’s generally missing when inventorying or upgrading computers? For me, it’s the Windows Key Code that is required to finish the installation. Magical Jelly Bean’s Key Finder can not only lift it out of a system, but find the codes for roughly 300 common apps. It takes a few seconds to extract the code and you can print it with the free software, but if you shell out $30 for the Recover Keys version, it can be fed into a spreadsheet. What if you have a school full of Macs? You can use One Up’s Mac Product Key Finder, which – thankfully – is also free.
Need info on how to upgrade to Windows 10, some ideas on creatively using OneNote or the latest on Office 365’s Class Dashboard and School Information Sync? Your first stop should be the Microsoft in Education Blog. Although it’s not updated every day, it has a lot of good information, ideas and model transformation schools to see how others are changing the way we teach and learn.
The future of technology rests on a new generation of programmers and Google is trying to train an army of creative coders for free. The company’s Computer Science First program uses the free Scratch programming language to get kids to start exploring how to program by writing their own apps. All you need to create a CSF club or class is to have enough computers available as well as an adult to supervise. It can be done as an after-school activity, during lunchtime recess or as a class during the school day and all the resources you’ll need, including projects, code samples and videos, are on the CS First site.