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A Window on Android

DuosWhy decide if you want to get Windows or Android tablets when you can get both at once. American MegaTrends has come out with a great Android software emulator that lets any recent Windows system run Android apps. Called AMIDuOS, the software can run on just about any Windows 7 or 8 system and works with Android 4.4 or earlier programs. It not only includes touch support for those systems with a touch-screen, but you can even move files from Android to Windows apps and back again. The program can be had directly from AMI on a 30-day trial or pay $10 for full use of this unique app.

Office on Deck

Office 2016If your school’s computers use Office, then you need to look at and try out the Office 2016 preview. It’s still beta level software, but it has most of the components in place and it’s reasonably stable. The Office rpreview page is now up and ready to download the software in 32- or 64-bit format. The preview will work until the final software is released, likely later this year. There’s a preview tour, but you’ll have to get rid of your present version of Office. Be sure to write down or copy and paste the product key on the page or you won’t be able to get started.

Freebee Friday: Principal Videos

Principal videos leadershipBeing a good principal involves a lot more than being a good teacher, although it helps. WNET and the Wallace Foundation have teamed up with videos that show what it takes to be a good principal. Called “School Leadership in Action: Principal Profiles,” the clips cover everything from creating the right learning environment to cultivating the leadership skills in others. These mini-movies are about 12-minutes long, show real world situations and can be invaluable to every principal. 

Freebee Friday: Earth Action

CooltheearthEverybody talks about global warming, but your students can now do something about it. In addition to the lessons about the earth and its climate and a nice game for iPads and Android tablets, Cool The Earth has Action Coupons. There are 90 activities which emphasize the choices we make every day and their effects on the environment. For instance, there’s a coupon that explains how much climate-changing carbon can be kept out of the atmosphere by planting one tree. The effects on the environment are toted up on the site’s board in terms of actions and tons of carbon saved. At the moment there are more than 190,000 students at 516 schools taking part.


Freebee Friday: Foot Noted

Zotero duplicationTeaching how to properly cite a source and following through with a well-footnoted paper is a skill being lost to the digital era. Still, it’s important and Zotero has it covered with a cool app for Macs, PCs and Chromebooks. Rather than letting your students do the research on their own, Zotero is there with them to collect and organize every source as a paper evolves. All they need to do is click on the file cabinet icon that has been added to the browser window and all the citation's details are saved. It works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera Web browsers or on its own. The best part is that it can get rid of duplicate sources. Then, when it’s time to write and cite, the software can create the right citation. Groups can use Zotero for collaborative papers. Just register for a free account, which includes an adequate 300MB of storage space. If that’s not enough, you can get 2GB for $20, 6GB for $60 or unlimited storage for $120 a year.

News to Me

Text setsTeachers who ignore the daily newspapers, sites and feeds are missing out on a great resource to help kids master reading and critical thinking. Newsela’s Text Sets can help organize and distribute articles of interest by bringing them together into a collection, ready for kids to consume. There are prepackaged sets on everything from the upcoming presidential campaign to 3-D printing, but teachers can now compile their own sets. Just register for the free version or upgrade to the Pro service, which adds the ability to annotate and add notes or encouragement.

Freebee Friday: Write on PDFs

Notable pdfPDFs are static pages that you can only view or print, right? Wrong, with Notable PDF can not only open Adobe Acrobat files, but highlight items, type notes and do things like crossing out and underlining text. You can do all this in a variety of colors so several kids can mark up or annotate a document. In addition to making changes, Notable lets you print the document. It’s free but if you pay $2 a month for the premium plan you can save items to your GoogleDrive, work offline and add drawings when the software is finished.

Freebee Week: Classroom Stress Control

DestressifyIt’s sadly a truism today that teaching can be one of the most stressful occupations, but the DeStressify app can manage and lesson its impact. The software, which runs on Android phones and tablets as well as iPhones and iPads, can help with a 5- to 10-minute relaxation period to sooth and free the teacher’s mind. The activities are described and shown and include relaxation techniques like visualization, breathing and physical movement. If they do it once a day, the activities can lower stress levels by as much as 20-percent, based on a recent study. The free version does a lot, but the $6 Pro software adds reminders and the ability to invite other teachers to join you.

Freebee Week: Instant Video for the Classroom

Youtube eduLooking for that perfect video on the life of James Clerk Maxwell, an explanation of what a virus is or a critique of Plato’s Crito? Youtube.edu/edu is an amazingly deep resource with all that and much more for building lesson plans around. With a library holding 850,000 streaming videos on every facet of education, the items are organized by subject and range from a few minutes to more than an hour long. It deserves to be bookmarked on your class computer.

Freebee Week: Freedom of Presentations

Prezi bIf you spend an hour creating classroom presentations for every hour spent teaching, you will quickly run out of hours. Prezi can help with a simple and innovative way to use your tablet to quickly build and display lessons. There are free versions for iPads and Android that have a variety of backgrounds, lots of special effects and can be shared. The free version includes 100MB of online storage space and all presentations are visible to anyone. There are optional plans for $10 and $20 a month that lets you keep your lessons private and raise the storage level.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.