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A Virtual Amusement Park About Molecules

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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The NanoSpace Molecularium is a virtual amusement park that students can click through to find videos, games, and other short lessons about atoms and molecules. The purpose of the site is to provide elementary school and middle school students with an introduction to the properties of atoms and molecules.

Students enter the NanoSpace Molecularium through the "Hall of Atoms & Molecules." From there students can choose which of the four parts of the amusement park they want to explore first. The four sections that students can explore are DNA Land, H20 Park, Sizes of Molecules, and Molecular Materials. One of the videos from the Materials section is here

Vectr: free vector graphics design software

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Vectr is a free vector image design and editing tool that you can use online or download to use on your Mac, Windows, or Linux desktop. Vectr provides some pre-made elements and templates that you can use in designing your own graphics. You don't have to use any pre-made elements as Vectr lets you design completely from scratch. You can also import existing graphics files to edit them. Completed projects can be exported in PNG, JPG, and SVG formats. Vectr offers an extensive collection of tutorials in print and video formats.

Grade items in G Suite with Otus Rubrics

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Otus is a fantastic learning management system that is steadily growing in popularity in large part because of its easy of use and flexibility. Proof of that flexibility can be found in a forthcoming update that will let you view, comment, and grade any G Suite item (Docs, Slides, Sheets) on the same screen that you view a rubric in Otus. A short video of this feature be watched here.

Be Internet Awesome

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Be Internet Awesome is Google's new Internet safety curriculum. I learned about it from Larry Ferlazzo and then spent some time exploring it myself. The Be Internet Awesome site features a game called Interland. The game is set in a virtual world that students navigate by correctly answering questions about Internet safety. The graphics of the game are great and there are some elements in which students navigate, but there is also a heavy reliance multiple choice questions in the game. Watch an overview of the game in this video.

There is a 48 page PDF containing lesson plans on each concept in the Be Internet Awesome curriculum that teachers can download for free. The Interland game featured in the video can be distributed through Google Classroom. G Suite administrators can push the game to the task bar on managed Chromebooks.

Quick and easy screencasting

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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ViewedIt is a free Chrome extension that makes it quick and easy to create and share screencast videos. With the extension installed you can record your entire screen or just one window tab. ViewedIt will let you record yourself with your webcam too. The best part of ViewedIt is that you can track who watches your video. To record on ViewedIt you simply have to click the extension icon then choose what you want to record. When you're done recording your video is automatically stored on ViewedIt. From ViewedIt you can share your video via email and social media. If you choose to share via email, you will be able to track who watched your video. The shortcomings of ViewedIt are that it doesn't let you download your videos and it doesn't let you upload your videos to YouTube.

A free platform for creating Jeopardy-style game boards to use in your classroom

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Factile is a free platform for creating Jeopardy-style game boards to use in your classroom. Factile lets you create games and save them in your account to use whenever you need them. When you create your game you can include images in the answer display. One of the new features is a gallery of templates for creating games. You can browse the template gallery and make copies of the ones that you want to use in your classroom. The Jeopardy games in Factile are designed to be played by teams in your classroom. You control the board and award points when students answer correctly.

Factile's newest feature provides an option for creating flashcards out of your game questions. To use the flashcard mode just select that option instead of "play" when you load a game. 

WriteReader and Sesame Street partner to help kids create multimedia stories

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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WriteReader, a fantastic multimedia writing platform, has just announced a partnership with Sesame Street. This partnership brings Sesame Street characters into WriteReader's bank of images for students to use in their own stories. Now when students create a story in WriteReader they can choose one or all of twenty Sesame Street characters to place into scenes in their stories.

In WriteReader students can craft entire stories featuring Sesame Street characters. For example, students can write a story that is a dialogue between Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. Or you might have a student write a story about Big Bird going on an adventure. 

Explore the world with your voice in virtual reality

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Speak to Go is a new Google WebVR experiment. Speak to Go lets you explore the world in virtual reality by just speaking the name of a place. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. For example, I spoke the word "Maine" and I was quickly taken to Acadia National Park in Maine. Had I been more specific and said "Portland, Maine" I would have seen imagery of Portland.

Speak to Go is designed to be used with phones inside of virtual reality headsets. However, it can also be used in the Chrome web browser if you allow access to your microphone. The imagery isn't as immersive in the web version as in the VR version, but it is still good. 

Loopy makes it easy to create animated simulations

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system.

To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor.

Tinycards. Learn with fun, free flashcards.

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Tinycards is a free service from Duolingo that provides quick review activities in your web browser or on your iPad. Tinycards are essentially multimedia flashcards with a few quiz questions interspersed between them. The idea being that students will flip through a few digital flashcards then answer a question or two to test their recall of the topic at hand.

In the geography section there is a collection of cards about the continents. Students flip a couple of cards that show students the name and relative location of a continent. After a couple of cards are flipped students are then asked a multiple choice question about the location of the continents. Then a few more cards are flipped and students have to answer a fill-in-the-blank question. 

Gianfranco D'Aversa

Mexico City // Rome // Foggia

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