NASA has a handy service so you can know ‘when to look up’ and see the International Space Station.
- Head on over to spotthestation.nasa.gov
- Clock the ‘Sign up for alerts’ button.
- Select your country, state / region and city. As a proud South Australian I was limited to four somewhat peculiar choices: Adelaide, Leigh Creek, Peterborough and Woomera. Hopefully your country’s selections aren’t quite so geographically puzzling!
- The next screen offers Email or SMS but the SMS services are restricted – I think – to the USA.
- Finally review your information, agree to two conditions and you’re almost done.
- NASA will send a confirmation email your way. Click the confirmation link, enter the info and you’ll now recieve a notification when the ISS is observable from your location.
Happy ISS viewing!
I’ve been using the Lego Movie Maker app with our students for a while now.
The app is free (yipee!) and although it’s a bit clunky in places it’s proven a real hit with children from ages 6-14.
If you do any stop motion animation on the iPad or iPhone give it a go. And feel free to download the manual I put together for our school.
Lego Moviemaker Manual
What it is: an iPad app for introducing programming concepts.
Who it’s for: F-2 students (or older students with no programming background)
Australian Curriculum link: “Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems.” (ACTDIP004)
- It’s aimed at absolute beginners.
- You can play in free-play mode or challenge mode.
- If students can read the words ‘move’, ‘turn’ or ‘grow’ they can program.
- Download from the app store onto your iPad.
- Jump into Challenge Mode.
- Complete the first challenge; use the ‘move’ command to make Daisy move across the screen to hit the star.
- Well done! You’ve made your first program!
There are only a few challenges but they do introduce sequencing and the use of a ‘repeat’ command. Back in free-play mode you have just seven (blue) commands to play with; limiting but not overwhelming.
- Move: select forward or backward.
There are are also two pink commands:
You can drag blue commands onto the pink ‘repeat 5’ command and it … repeats that command 5 times. Drag blue commands onto the pink ‘when’ command and they will only be executed when Daisy is tapped or the iPad is shaken.
That’s about it. You can’t save, add sprites, backgrounds or anything else. But it is easy to get into for JP students and a little imagination will soon have Daisy gyrating across the grassy stage. Brilliant! Daisy the Dinosaur on the App Store Daisy the Dinosaur programming tutorial iPad Apps: Daisy the Dino from LondonCLC on Vimeo.
My first attempts at creating an animated visual of a journey (some 15 years ago) were laborious and frustrating and involved taking multiple screenshots of a small plane graphic as I moved it across a blurry background map.
Now you can purchase dedicated map-journey software such as PriMap or use freebie (yay!) online tools such as Map My Trip or Tripomatic.
My favourite though was the easy-as to use Tripline.
The web interface is easy to navigate, and creating an animated map is straightforward:
- Create an account. (Facebook login is an option)
- Create a new map.
- Add waypoints and locations. (Click on the map, search by name or add by decimal point latitude / longitude)
- Add descriptions and photographs. (The photo upload is VERY well implemented)
- Share your map. (I’ve added Tripline to our school website and Facebook page).
The completed project is slick, thoughtfully designed and presented and a easy for the casual user to use.
I’d highly recommend this online resource for classroom use. With the only downside being the registration requirements, Triplien could easily find a place in Geography and History lessons mapping out migration patterns, historic journeys or imaginary trips. The diary interface also suggests use in literacy lessons, whilst the ability to export distances suggests use in numeracy work.
You probably won’t need much hand-holding, but there are some excellent resources available:
You can also download a Tripline app for the iPad but the functionality – particularly the animated map – appears to be missing at this time.
Google Alerts are “email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries”.
This is a very handy service if you have specific topics you like being kept up to date with.
Here’s the Google Alert form at www.google.com.au/alerts
Google Alert form
Setting it up
There’s a few options:
- Search query: Complete with your topic of choice. Be specific here, otherwise you may be overwhelmed!
- Result type: Are you after News? Blogs? Videos? Discussions? Books? You can also choose Everything to be sure!
- How often: Choose from “As it happens’, ‘Once a day’ or ‘Once a week’
- How many: Two choices here – ‘Only the best results or ‘All results’
- Deliver to: Your email address.
I’m currently writing a musical based on Rapa Nui (or Easter Island).
Here’s the alert I set up and a sample of the responses I received.
- Google Alert form example
I’ve found the system excellent. Just two days in, I received an alert about the final stages of an expedition that paddled a traditional outrigger around the Polynesian ‘triangle’ of New Zealand / Hawaii / Easter Island. Then I received an alert on an update to 360Cities with panoramic walk rounds of the Rano Raraku quarry where the stone heads were carved. Two very useful stories within one week!
Photostory 3 was released by Microsoft several years ago. It’s a painless way of creating videos from a selection of photographs.
Here’s a tutorial I wrote for our staff.
It’s also available from TES:
You can download the Microsoft software here:
Picasa’s been a permanent part of my PC since it first came out many years ago.
It’s easy to use, has plenty of tools for photo manipulation, a (relatively) easy to operate filing system and it’s free. So what’s not to like?
One of the gems of flash features which your students (and probably you too) will like is the picture pile function.
I wrote two sample pages on this feature for an unpublished book on utilising freeware in the classroom. Download and enjoy!
Picasa picture pile tutorial part 1 Picasa picture pile tutorial part 2