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Friday, October 17, 2014

Introduce kids to robotics with ROMO: Your Personal Smartphone Robot!

One of the things I love the most about working in educational technology is coming across something neat, fun and educational to share with students.  While surfing on Niftyreads.com I came across a couple of things, but this one really caught my eye.




It's called Romo: the Smartphone Robot!  


While Romo was largely designed to entertain you, if you look at what it is and what it does there are a number of educational opportunities here.  Romo is a fully motorized, durable plastic base with tracks and gears that enable its movement.  The base is controlled by an app that runs on your iPhone (sorry Android, that support it supposed to be in the works).  The iPhone is connected via the headphone jack (which may be a little awkward given that they are on the bottom now - this picture is using an iPhone 3G) and delivers its commands through this interface.  Simple plug-and-play!   You can also control it via your iPad with your iPhone plugged in -- very cool stuff!

But the fun is in the missions that are included in the app.  The missions allow students an entry-level method to get into robotics and how robots work that is different from LEGO MindStorms.  The programming is simple, yet allows for a great deal of complexity in what you ask Romo to do.  I think that this product has direct implications for grades 4-8, and maybe even some introduction to robotics courses in high school that might move on into LEGO MindStorms.  Check it out!




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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

College Prep for Math and the SAT Online Course

Because I have spent so much time working one-on-one with students who have their eyes on the college prize, I know how important standardized tests are in their world.  A hundred points either way on the SAT can easily mean the difference between getting into the college they have their heart set on, and getting that thin rejection letter in the mail.  That is why taking prep courses can be so important to high school sophomores and juniors getting ready for the application season.  Heck, even I benefitted from such a program.  My scores improved 20% between my first SAT and second thanks to a college test prep course of study.

So today, I want to tell you about Caddell Prep Online.  Caddell Prep was founded by Glyn Caddell, who has been doing this since 2006.  Glyn's vision was to create an easily accessible course of study for students that would pinpoint the areas that they need to work on and enable them to improve those areas as they pertain to their math testing.  And with Caddell Prep Online he has created one of the top mathematics prep courses on the Internet.

The courses center around geometry and algebra skills and not only allow students to work through lessons based on specific skills, but record their sessions so they can go back over them at any time.  One of the great things about the way Caddell Prep Online works is that not only do they address the higher level skills, but they offer reinforcement of lower level skills such as fractions, percents and rational numbers if the student needs to review those.

Caddell Prep is a great resource for that student who needs some math help at just about any level.  And to help show you just how effective it can be, they offer free SAT flashcards and quizzes to help you get your feet on the ground.  Check them out!

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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sample Sunday from Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509 - Scary, Halloween Ghost Story!

This Halloween Version of Sample Sunday is one offrom my haunted, scary, paranormal novel, Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509. 

Towering Pines Volume One is available at:
Paperback
Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
Apple iPad/iBookstore

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“BOY! Who the hell are you and why the hell are you in my god damned boat?”
That was the sound of the alarm that woke Liam from his otherwise peaceful nights sleep. His eyes fluttered open and he stared up and a rather large man who looked to be in his early fifties and none-to-happy that Liam was there. He almost lost his tattered and stained green hat as he reached down and yanked Liam from the boat and onto the dock in one quick and powerful motion. Liam noticed his big black watch.
“What? What time is it?” The memory that Liam had to be at Mathias’ office at seven thirty returned.
“What time… what the hell you mean?” A bewildered and confused look took over the scruffy features of his weathered face.
Liam looked him straight in the eyes, “I mean what time is it? You have a watch on, don’t you?” The stranger eyed Liam suspiciously before taking a quick, guarded glance at his watch.
“It’s seven thirty, what’s it to you?” The man paused, as if reflecting on something he’d forgotten. Then he remembered, “and who the hell are you sleeping in my boat on my dock?” He practically shouted.
“Your dock? What, seven…” Liam blew past him and ran full speed up the dock. He didn’t give the road a second thought as he sprinted across Riverside without looking. He could hear the sounds of people on the other side of the building as he ran up the steps and saw the sign that read, Farragut Hall, hanging above the door. He burst in and and stopped breathlessly in the middle of the lobby. He saw a young boy, couldn’t have been more than twelve, in full dress blues sitting at a desk to his left. As soon as the boy saw him he shot out of his seat and yelled at the time of his voice:
“Sir, Cadet Wiley, Sir. How can I help you, sir?” Liam just stared at the boy who was standing as stiff as a yardstick with a shaved head and white gloves.
“Wiley, what is going on out there? Why are you yelling like a fool again?” came a voice from an office around the corner from the boy. A moment later a tall man in his forties emerged from the office dressed in navy dress blue uniform but without the jacket. Liam could see he had three gold bars on his shoulders as the man stood in the doorway.
“And you are?” the man queried Liam. A bit overwhelmed, Liam stared back at him frozen in place. The man took three steps out of the doorway closer to him.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me son, I asked you who you are.”
“Llll… Liam Rider.” A smile began to creep across the man’s face once he heard the name.
“Ah, yes our juvie case. Well Lllliam, why don’t you come into my office and have a seat? Let’s get acquainted a little bit.”
“Are you Captain Mathias?” The man didn’t answer he just walked into his office. Liam didn’t move right away, but when the man’s voice boomed, “And Wiley, sit the hell down,” Liam moved quickly towards his office before Wiley responded.
Liam walked into the office and was immediately struck by how much wood there was. He felt like he was lost in the middle of the Pine Barrens. The desk looked like it was cut right out of the bottom of a tree. The chairs were a dark wood with no cushions and short backs on them. The walls of the office were lined with light wood pillars every few feet. Liam stood still about five steps from the door with his mouth slightly open.
“Mr. Rider, please come and sit,” the uniformed man motioned to the very uncomfortable looking chair in front of his desk. “Now would be good,” he added forcefully when Liam didn’t move. When Liam looked up and saw the stormy expression on the man’s face, he moved. Liam found the chair was not as uncomfortable as it looked; it was about ten times as uncomfortable.
“Mr. Rider,” began the man, “I am Commander Dileta. I am the Admissions Officer here at Admiral Farragut Military Academy. I can tell you that normally we don’t take cadets in this late in the semester but you seem to be a special case. Captain Mathias has ordered your immediate admission to our program so we can dispense with the usual formalities. Usually, I would sit here and tell you how we have over a thousand applicants every year and that the competition for our few open slots is fierce. That AFMA doesn’t take just anyone. The cadets we accept are the best of the best academically and athletically.” He stood from behind his desk and walked toward the window that held a fantastic view of the river. He stood there for a moment quietly with his back to Liam before continuing, “I don’t really need to tell you that our college acceptance rate is one hundred percent. Period. We do not tolerate any cadet not going to college. And community college simply does not count.” Dileta spun on his heels and walked toward where Liam sat, “it just wouldn’t make any sense to try and make you feel the pressure that goes along with being at a distinguished institution with a long and storied history that includes historic figures such as Admirals, Generals, Hollywood actors and even an astronaut. Does it, son?”
Liam sat in the hard chair staring up at Dileta in awe. If the man didn’t mean to intimidate him, he did a crappy job. Liam was more nervous now then when he was while sitting in his jail cell. Dileta looked down at Liam with a small self-satisfied smirk knowing full well he was in control of the situation.
“For a celebrated athlete such as yourself, I don’t need to tell you how physically challenging our military program here at AFMA. How three out of every five cadets that we accept wash out every year or that our cadet officers are trained and empowered to make boys into young men.” The glare coming from Dileta’s face made Liam feel about two feet tall.
“Now, since I don’t have to tell you any of that, it seems to me that all I have to do is tell you that the only thing between you and five years in a state penitentiary is Admiral Farragut Military Academy. If you fail here, you will end up in jail. That’s not a euphemism; it’s actually what the court order says.” He held up an official looking piece of paper to emphasize his point.
“Here are your orders from Captain Mathias’ office, take them to the Central Watch Office in Reingold Hall immediately and the Cadet Officer of the Watch will make sure you get your uniforms and to your company’s deck. You’d better hurry, it’s 0800 now and classes have already begun for the day. Which makes you late.”
Liam took the paper from Dileta and stood slowly, trying to read the paper.
“Boy, I didn’t tell you to read it. I told you to take it to Reingold Hall, now move it!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Towering Pines Volume One is available at:
Paperback
Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
Apple iPad/iBookstore

~~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Interactive Touch Surface with Zmartframe Touchmax!

A recurring theme in classroom technology is being able to create a viewable and interactive screen for students and teachers to use.  Traditionally, this has been the interactive whiteboard.  As technology moves forward and prices come down, more and more we are seeing televisions enter into this marketplace as a viable alternative.  The ZmartframeTouchmax looks to change ALL your perceptions about viewable, touchable and interactive lessons in your classroom!




The Zmartframe Touchmax is an Indiegogo project that is a frame that goes around any surface and creates a touchable surface.  It could be wood, drywall, marker board, glass... anything!  It works with any existing projector, no matter the age or resolution.  And the projected cost of the Touchmax is a fraction of what interactive whiteboards -- plus no pens!  Just imagine being able to make anything in your classroom -- from a wall, to a board, to a table, to an existing monitor -- an interactive surface!  The implications are staggering!



Having seen it in action, this is truly one of the most exciting potential products at this price point in this market that I've seen in some time!  You can watch a video of the product below.  Take a minute and get all the details on the Zmartfram Touchmax on their Indiegogo page and consider supporting this project to make it a reality!




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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Keep Your Class Going with MobileMunky

One of the biggest challenges that teachers face in a 1:1 classroom environment is the "My battery isn't charged!" problem.  Some schools have thought ahead a bit and put in charging stations in classrooms or common areas, but what happens when you are right in the middle of class and that iPad or Android tablet just dies...?

You pull out your MobileMunky!



MobileMunky is a small, light and easy to use device that allows you to charge your mobile devices on the fly -- and continue to use them at the same time!  Obviously, they will charge faster if you don't use them -- but the great thing about the MobileMunky (as opposed to other devices) is that it delivers just enough juice to use the device AND charge it.  Oh... and did I mention that it has *2* USB ports on it for charging more than one device at the same time! 

This small, yet powerful device, weighs in at about .5 a pound and is an easy to handle small brick form factor.  The device is small enough to pull put, put on a desk or table and allow your students to keep on working without missing a beat!  And then after you've used the MobileMunky, it is easily charged by plugging it into any power source -- and it charges up pretty quickly unlike some other mobile chargers.

If you are in need of a mobile charger for a trip or for your classroom, this is priced right and everyone can have readily available power at their finger tips!  Take a look on Amazon!



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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Google Chromebooks and SMARTboards Interactive White Boards


Schools that have been looking for a cost-effective technology platform to roll out to their students have been comparing the Apple iPad and the variety of Google Chromebooks that are on the market.  While there are many benefits for the students to move towards a Google Chromebook for their work, it has often been said that it is no platform for teachers because of the vast application restrictions that exist.  In short, if it doesn't exist in the Google Chrome Store -- it won't work on your Chromebook.

That issue has been getting smaller and smaller every day, including support for Adobe Photoshop - read more here.  And there will be follow up articles regarding some great apps for Chromebooks in education!

One of the things so many teachers love are their interactive white boards.  Until recently, if you had a Chromebook you were pretty much out of luck in relation to your interactive white board. But thanks to the folks at SMART, if you have a SMART branded interactive white board, you can actually open, edit and create your SMARTNotebook files on the Internet now with SmartNoteBook.Com!


SmartNoteBook.Com allows you to dear nearly everything you can do in your desktop application -- and runs smoothly on your Google Chromebook!  There still isn't anything out there that allows you to plug your interactive white board into your Chromebook and use it interactively like your Windows or Mac based computer, but hey... it could happen.

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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and hisFacebook!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Common Core Digital Curriculum Mapping with BYOC

Most experts will agree that a quality education within any school is rooted in its curriculum. Most schools continue to create, analyze, update and store their curriculum map in binders that are kept in various places... and each year they pull these out, review and make changes. Some schools do this by a creating a team that has to all come together and meet each time they want to review the information. Sometimes a school will have the key stakeholders review it independently and then get together on it, and others have built some sort of electronic method to store information that can be reviewed and then meet on it.

So how does a school minimize the time and maximize the return on the effort that is put into this all-important part of building the base of what is one of the most important parts of what happens in the classroom? The key to this is having all the information in the same place. That place should be accessible to anyone on the team at any time. And the team members should be able to collaborate and make changes to the curriculum map on the fly, and everyone should always have direct access to the same information.

Enter Build Your Own Curriculum by School Software Group. BYOC (as they call it) is a web-based Curriculum Mapping product that is delivered with State and National Standards pre-populated (if you wish) or not at all. This includes all the Common Core standards, too. And it allows you to build, store and access your curriculum map year-to-year very easily.

Using this approach, BYOC allows teachers and administrators to quickly locate and use resources that will help build and enhance your courses. The product allows you to easily see things like: how well the scope and sequence works, how the school is meeting (or not) the standards, how well the assessments are working within the curriculum and more. One of the greatest things about BYOC is that it allows each district/school to see what other member schools are doing. Need some inspiration? You can easily see how another school, anywhere in the country, is doing it! You can also create public views of your curriculum map for parents to view via the web.
BYOC is a great product for any school looking to move their curriculum mapping into the Internet and Cloud-based services era. On their website, you can get a preview of how it works on their Sample Curriculum pages with live, real schools who chose to share it. Check it out via SchoolSoftwareGroup.Com!

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Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!