Resources for Lent 2016

It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us so quickly this year. Next year, Ash Wednesday will be nearly three weeks later – March 1, 2017! How will you Fast, Pray & Give this year.

Here’s a few resources I’m looking at this year:

USCCB – “Lent 2016: 40 Days of Mercy

Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl – I especially like their weekly, meatless recipes from around the world. Hopefully they will again have videos of Fr. Leo demonstrating each one.

Loyola Press Lenten Resources especially their Online Lenten Retreats & Prayers

Creighton University On-Line Ministries: Praying Lent – I highly recommend this audio retreat presented by the wise Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.

Other Jesuit Lenten resources can be found at Thinking Faith and the audio-focused Pray As You Go – both from the U.K.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Lenten Resources  (includes a link to sign up for his daily Lenten reflection emails.)

As of today (Monday), Busted Halo hasn’t posted their popular Lent calendar yet. They have a few Lenten themed articles as well as this excellent Ash Wednesday in Two Minutes video:

Last year for both Lent and Advent I found the resources offered by the Society of St. John the Evangelist to be faith and thought provoking.  This year’s theme, which encompasses daily videos, emails and a workbook is entitled: Growing a Rule of Life. It begins with this introductory video by one of the wise brothers:

And it even has a component for use with youth.

In light of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking celebration of God’s Creation, “Laudato Si” how about connecting your Lenten fasting to activities which care for creation. A number of faith organizations offer Lenten calendars with suggestions for each day:

Sisters of St. Joseph Carbon Fast

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light

Carbon Fast – Anglican Communion

St. Francis Cabrini Community

More extensive “carbon fast” programs, including daily emails and message boards, are offered by MACUCC and EcoChurch Southwest (U.K.)

Shifting gears to focus on apps, Give Us This Day is offering a free trial of their app featuring the day’s morning & evening prayers as well as the daily mass.

Finally, props to a great blog site – Catholic Apptitude and their listing of apps and related resources for Lent.

 

 

Friday FunLink – Hilarious “Darth Trump” Star Wars Parody

Unlike last Friday, my midterms are finally at the copy machine, so I have a moment to share a truly astounding Friday FunLink video.

As I’ve posted previously, I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’m counting down the days until a week from today when finally, finally, finally I can see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.”

Until then, I need to settle for this extremely well-done video which combines something I really like with someone I really don’t. So, thanks to Slate, take a 7 minute break to refresh your memory about Star Wars IV, V, and VI and also about some of the always interesting things The Donald has said. Be sure to watch while in a place where you can laugh out loud!

 

And be sure to watch until the end (or just forward to there) as the Trumpization of the final scene of Return of the Jedi is priceless – and it showcases the last sequential image we saw in the Star Wars universe.

Stuff You Should Know: An App Allowing Millions of Teens to Post Anonymously

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t use the “Stuff You Should Know” feature lightly.

I use it for this link because it’s a pretty dramatic article about an app which sounds quite problematic.

The feature article, published the other day by the Washington Post, details this app – The After School App – which offers a location where students from more than 22,000 U.S. high schools are posting all kinds of things – all anonymously. The creators of the app are quoted in the article:

 Cory Levy, 24, one of the app’s founders, said After School gives teens a chance to “express themselves without worrying about any backlash or any repercussions.” He said the app is a new way for teens to ask difficult, uncomfortable questions anonymously and to more directly address issues such as depression, how to come out as gay to one’s parents or how to navigate the daily challenges of teen life.

Levy said the product creates a much-needed alternative to Facebook and Instagram, where teens have grown up carefully curating digital identities that might not reflect their true struggles and anxieties. After School allows them to be themselves without worrying so much about what other people will think, he said.

Not surprisingly the forum has morphed into a place where cyber-bulling, suicidal pleas, and threats of violence have been posted. While these negative and even dangerous exchanges are surely done via other, conventional social media, the issue with this platform – The After School app – is that it is difficult, if not impossible for non-student adults to gain access:

After School limits its audience to teens by requiring users to verify that they attend high school through their Facebook pages and by creating restricted message boards for each high school campus. Parents and others who want to access the app would have to lie to do so, saying on Facebook that they attend the high school. Even then, parents could be stopped by an algorithm that aims to block people from posing as high school students.

Therein lies my biggest concern about this app – parents and school officials are obstructed from seeing not only what individuals are saying, but whether a school or district has active (and perhaps negative or dangerous) activity. Again, there’s many other sites where a student can complain about teachers or others at their school. But with these, there’s a transparency which permits observation and monitoring by adults. With After School, this appears to be deliberately blocked.

There’s more to this article of value and importance, so I urge you to make it a “long read” this weekend.

 

Apps You Should Know: Ten Ambient Sound-Makers and Other Meditation Aids

Readers of this blog will recall that I am a passionate proponent for teaching mindfulness and meditation to students. I’ve blogged about it here a number of times. And I have many more links describing the benefits of it as well as how to teach it. Someday, I plan to post these too.

For now, I’d like to show and tell about a number of iOS apps which can be effectively used to support meditative practices in you or your students. While I provide links to more info about each (as available), you’ll need to go to the App Store to search for and download them yourself.

Even though I use an Android smartphone, I have the apps featured here on my iPad only and not my phone. Therefore, I cannot speak to whether there are corresponding Android apps for any of these.

I’ve selected apps which are easy and effective to use, free of charge, and have either zero or minimal/unobtrusive opportunities for “In-App Purchases” (NOTE: This is accurate as what I’ve seen in the apps and also only at the time of publishing this). I hope you enjoy exploring these apps too:

Peace_Ambient Sounds

Peace – Ambient Sounds   – Free and without In-App Purchases

This is a pretty bare-bones app with only a handful of sounds. As it is free, clear of ads and w/o in-app purchases, it’s a good, basic, “starter app” to produce background sounds for meditation.

 

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WO.Audio-2

WO.Audio (Red icon version) – Free and without In-App Purchases. NOTE: Search iTunes App Store with the “iPhone only” option selected.

For a free app, this one is surprisingly robust. It has both sounds and music along with options for users to create their own combinations which can be saved to the app.

 

AmbiScience-1

AmbiScience-2

AmbiScience 300 Lite – Free and without In-App Purchases.

The free version of this is pretty slim on options as it functions mostly as an enticement to download their fuller versions. Yet, this app is one of the few I’ve found which also has the option to blend binaural sound waves into the mix of music and ambient sounds.

 

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White Noise Market – Free and without In-App Purchases

I’ve not used this app as much as some of the others, so I cannot speak to the depth of its functionality. That being said, at first glance it clearly has a range of sounds and functions which surpass many of the other free apps on this list. And it has this interesting map of the sources of the sounds offered by the app:

White Noise Market-2

 

 

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Naturely-Nature Clockstand-2

Naturely, aka Nature Clockstand – Free without In-App Purchases.

Offering a range of sounds, an attractive image representing each sound, and a built-in timer, this app is another one with a high level of usability. I like the natural images which correlate to the audio as sometimes I’ll meditate with my eyes open and gaze at art or an image.

 

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Stop, Breathe and Think – Free with minimal, unobtrusive In-App Purchases

We’re now into a slightly different category of apps. Many of the remaining ones include audio, guided meditations, timers, record keeping of time/date meditating, and other features geared especially for novices to meditative practice. This app has a friendly, light-hearted interface. The user may “check-in” by answering a few questions and then receive a guided meditation tailored to their current need. Or, as this shot shows, the user can bypass the questions and simply select a style and length of meditation:

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Breathe2Relax – Free, no In-App Purchases

This app, while not strictly geared towards mindful meditation is designed with relaxation in mind. Designed with scientific research, this app is better to experience than to describe. So, if the screen shots above interest you, download the free app and try it out. If breathing is important to you, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in it.

 

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Smiling Mind-2

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Smiling Mind – Free without In-App Purchases

Not only does this app have the best name of the bunch, but it includes a number of other unique features. While the mediation counter and resulting badges are similar to what is found on “Stop, Breathe and Think,” Smiling Mind is the only app I’ve found with meditations specifically geared to different age levels (see the 2nd shot above). Within each older age group is a “course list” of downloadable, guided meditations designed to teach and encourage a meditative practice. It also includes a “social media” function so your friends can observe and encourage your meditation.

And the voices are Aussies, reminiscent of Andy Puddicombe, creator and founder of Headspace.

 

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Meditation Timer-2

Mediation Timer Free for iPad – No In-App Purchases, ad supported

This simple, yet elegant app does one thing well. Although it doesn’t offer guided mediations or ambient sounds, it’s an excellent free timer. I use it every day to measure my 10 minutes of mindfulness. The free version is ad supported and has a couple fewer minor features than the inexpensive full version (which I purchased). I like how the user can set the time as well as sounds to mark intervals within the meditation. I use a deep chime sound for each 2:30 and then a specific bell at the end of the full 10 minutes. The app keeps track of my time and provides a number of key data points upon request. And I particularly like the option to easily post my meditation time on Twitter or facebook.

 

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Calm in the Storm (Stress Management) – Free, without In-App Purchases

This app is also different then the others listed here as it is designed specifically for people who suffer from high levels of stress and/or anxiety disorders. As you’ll see in the third shot above, there are guided meditations and relaxations within this app. These are set within the context of anxiety management and development of a plan to address anxiety and stress as they arise. For some, this app may literally function as a life-saver.

Do you have experience with any of these apps?

What additional apps have you used for ambient sounds and/or meditation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gaggle of Google, Part II

A few months ago, I posted a list of links related to the Google universe.  It happened to be the 100th post.  Now, we’re approaching 150 posts and I thought it was time to send out another, updated list of Google items.

A couple of notes.  First, I did not renew my Office 365 account when it expired a month ago.  The $70 or so they wanted for another year wasn’t worth it to me.  So, I’m planning on migrating all of my files over to the Google trio exclusively.  I mention this as I’m keeping an eye out for useful posts on Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Next, my school does not use Google Classroom as our LMS is Buzz, built on the platform of BrainHoney.  I note this as I generally don’t look out for Classroom postings.  You may see one or two in this list, but it’s not a focus for me.

Without further ado, here’s good stuff I’ve seen recently on Google:

10 Reasons to Love Google Docs

A Collection of Some of the Best Chromebook Apps for Teachers

Must Have Chrome Apps for the New School Year

14 Essential Google Search Tips for Students

10 Back to School Tips for Teachers Using Google Docs

5 Important Chrome Tips for Teachers

PDF My Google Drive Folder

Back to School With Google Chrome: The Complete Guide

Launch Desktop Application from Google Drive Preview in Chrome

Explain Everything – On Chromebooks!

6 Google Tips – Infographic

Two Important Google Slides Updates Teachers Should Know About

5 Under Appreciated Google Tools for Teaching Social Studies

72 Google Drive Shortcuts You Should Know About

Some Great Educational Resources From Google

Google Classroom: Sharing or Submitting a Google Drive Folder

Excellent Google Sheets Tools for Assessment and Grading

12 Ways to Use Google Classroom’s Newest Features

Some Teacher Tested Notable Chromebook Apps to Use with Students

Top 90 Educational Apps for Android

Google Brings It’s 360 Degree Storytelling App to the iPhone and iPad

Here is a Great Alternative to Google Forms

A New Look for the Google Docs, Slides and Sheets Viewer on the Mobile Web

Google Apps and the Brain Friendly Classroom – Collaborative Learning

Treasure Trove of Historical Footage Now Available on YouTube

6 Most Popular Google Docs Templates for Teachers

Teacher’s Top Educational Chrome Apps for 2015-2016

3 Important Google Drive Updates Teachers Should Know About

100 Ways to Use Google Drive in the Classroom

411 on Google’s Educator Certificates

Google Forms: Using Summary of Responses Repeatedly

3 Excellent Google Sheets Tools to Enhance Workflow

A Handy Google Drive Tool for Annotating PDF’s

24 Google Docs Templates Which Will Make Your Life Easier

Top 5 Android New Aggregator Apps for Teacher

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Enjoy the wide ranging list!

 

 

Lists and More Lists of Apps and Tools for Teachers and Students

As promised, here’s the big post with lots and lots of lists.  I know that during this busy time of year, neither you nor I will be able to play around with more than a few of the resources accessed through these links.  Heck, you might not even be able to do more now than just read this introduction!

Please bookmark this post (and this blog in general) and return here again and again to explore a list or two.  If I can discover one or two blockbuster (or even just pretty good) apps or sites (Kahoot is an awesome one that I discovered via a list) every month or so, than I feel like perusing lists a few minutes a week is time well spent!

Note: Image above is from this link: Two Great Periodic Tables on Educational iPad Apps

6 New Ed Tech Tools for Teachers

Free Digital Formative Assessment Tools

50 Web Tools and Mobile Apps for Showcasing Student Work

21 Grab and Go Teaching Tools for Your Classroom

Free Teacher Tested Tools to Try in Your Classroom

Four Top Websites for Teaching and Learning (Tackk; PearDeck; SoundTrap; Appsbar)

Twenty Popular Apps and Web Tools Made by Students

20 Cool Tools for Creating Info Graphics

Another Great Tool for Creating Buzzfeed Style Quizzes

Literacy in the Digital Age: 5 Effective Writing Tools

Two Useful Game-Based Learning Tools for Teachers (Brainrush; ClassXP)

Some of the Best Web Tools and Mobile Apps for Taking Students on Virtual Field Trips

A List of Useful Resources on Teaching Information and Digital Literacy

A Collection of the Best Web Tools and Apps for Creating Educational Screencasts

Eleven Great Digital Homework Helpers for Your Kids

Six Must-Have Apps for Teachers’ Back to School Tool Kits

Here is a Collection of New Web Tools and Apps for Teachers

Excellent Story Writing Apps for Students

15 Free Apps for Classroom Management

Four Useful Tools for Creating Non-Traditional Quizzes

Teacher Recommended: 50 Favorite Classroom Apps

Excellent Strategy Games to Teach Kids Logical Thinking

A Collection of the Some of the Essential Web Tools for Teachers

(Part 1): Forty Educational Websites for Your Summer 2015 Toolkit

(Part 2): Forty Educational Websites for Your Summer 2015 Toolkit

(Part 3): Forty Educational Websites for Your Summer 2015 Toolkit

(Part 4): Forty Educational Websites for Your Summer 2015 Toolkit

9 Ways to Get Your Grammar Game On – A Playlist

July’s “Best Lists” – There are 1,459 of Them!

4 Good iPad Apps for Seamlessly Managing Students’ Assignments

The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New

55 Best Free Educational Apps for the iPad

A New Collection of Educational Web Tools for Teachers

Two More Tools for Making On-line Learning Games (eQuiz Show, Teachers-Direct)

Top 25 Tech Tools for Teachers 2015

23 Tools for Students to Publish What They Learn

Lets Present! 21 Digital Poster Tools and Tips

15 Apps to Change Your Brain

Safe, Student Tested Tools to Use in Class

Best Note-Taking Apps

Educator Recommended Tools to Enhance Your Visuals

These 44 Apps Will Make You More Productive

11 Apps That Will Make You Smarter

Some Great Educational Resources From National Geographic

4 Important Apps for a Paperless Classroom (Showbie, Teacher Toolkit, Socrative Teacher, NearPod)

Top 4 Presentation Tools for Teachers (Prezi, Haiku Deck, ThinkLink, Glogster)

10 On-line Tools to Engage Students in the Studying Process

7 Free Tools for Anyone Who Wants to Become a Better Writer

10 New Educational Web Tools for Teachers and Educators

10 On-Line Tools to Upgrade Students’ Writing Skills

21 Essential Data Visualization Tools

Some Good Educational Web Tools Recommended by Teachers for Teachers

5 Great Apps Students Can Use to Display Their Learning

10 Great Classroom Management Apps for Teachers

6 of the Best iPad Apps for Digital Storytelling

7 Great iPad Apps for Digital Whiteboarding

Special thanks to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning as many of these links were from that excellent site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Must Have Back to School Apps

You’ve likely noticed that I like sharing lists of educational apps and websites.  There’s been these types of lists from the early days of this blog and I’ll be posting some new ones soon.  Most of these come from blogs and publications geared specifically to educators.

When general publications, such as the venerable Time Magazine, list “must have” educational apps, I’m especially interested.  Lists like this one give valuable insight into what the “media taste makers” deem as important.

Here’s what Time thinks American parents and students need for Back to School 2015:

Brainscape

DuoLingo

EasyBib

iHomework

Khan Academy

Here Comes the Bus

Note: I’ve not hyperlinked these apps as the Time article does this for iOS and Android versions.

The last app made my eyebrows rise as it sounds like a great pacifier for over anxious parents like me who wonder “where’s the bus?”

Here’s their promotional video:

100th Post! A Gaggle of Google

It’s the First of April and the 100th post on Ed Tech Emergent!  And no, this is not a clever April Fool’s Joke like the one put forth today by Redbox in their introduction of the companion Petbox with videos and games for dogs and cats.

I’ve been collecting interesting, education-related links for more than six months and I have far too many I’ve not posted yet.  To celebrate one hundred posts, I share many (31 actually) links to tips, tricks, and devices all from the world of Google. Here goes:

Google’s Art Project Chrome Extention – A beautiful way to customize the “new tab.” In the midst of the wide range of art that appears, buttons to key funtions can be accessed. Here’s a couple of the artworks which came up for me today:

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11 Handy Chrome Extensions You Should Try Today

Google Sheets: Click Here to Tweet

Here’s a Good Way to Annotate and Grade Google Drive Files

Make the Most of Your Gmail With These Excellent Apps

Google Puts Chrome OS on Your TV With Its Own HDMI Stick – I first saw this exciting announcement today, so hopefully it’s not an April Fool’s Joke.  What it appears to be is a gum-packaged sized stick, dubbed the Chromebit, priced at about $100, which will essentially turn your TV into the functionality of a Chromebox (by adding a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard).

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Five Myths About Google

A Guide to Google Tools: Tips and Tricks You Can’t Live Without

8 Good YouTube Channels for Teachers

 Withgoogle.com – A pretty amazing and mysterious portal which I learned about from this article.  Here’s the link to the site itself. 

6 Good Chrome Notetaking Apps That Run Offline

Two Good Google Drive Templates to Create Fake Facebook Pages

15 Amazing Features in Google Apps You Probably Don’t Know About

7 Great Chrome Apps to Help Students Become Better Googlers

Create an HD Fly-Through Video Tour in Google Earth Pro – This is one that I’m hoping to try out during Easter Break.  If you’ve not yet downloaded your free copy of Google Earth Pro, do it now!

7 Great Google Forms for Teachers

10 of the Best Chrome Apps for Math Teachers

How School Admins Can Harness the Power of Google Drive

Google Offers These Powerful Storytelling Apps for Free

10 Google Slides Activities to Add Awesome to Class

5 Things Every Teacher Should Be Able to Do on YouTube

Everything Teachers Need to Know About Google Scholar Library

Interactive Learning Menus Using Google Docs

Excellent Speech to Text Tool Integrated with Google Drive

Chrome Extension Turns YouTube into a Serious Music Player

Using Google Spreadsheet for Creating Flashcards

Teacher’s Easy Guide to Creating Quiz Shows on Google Drive

5 Great Google Plus Communities for Teachers

11 Steps to Create a Google Plus Community for Your Class

Create a Badge with Google Drawing

Excellent Tutorials to Create Presentations on Google Drive

 

 

 

 

March Madness at School, Eight Apps to Follow It & Other Brackets to Play

OK. I really, really enjoy March Madness.  The four days starting yesterday are some of the most exciting and intense sporting days on the entire calendar.  Numerous concurrent match-ups, close & thrilling games with surprise upsets, and a national mania about “bracketology” unmatched by any other event.

Yes, productivity plunges during this time as office workers and high school students alike sneak glances (or entire class periods) to view scores and find out how their personal bracket is holding up.  Yesterday afternoon, a student passed me in the hall and enthusiastically let me know “UAB is winning!”  I’m not so familiar with the tournament that I could immediately know that he meant Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham (14 seed) was on the verge of upsetting Iowa State ( 3 seed).

Do I think schools should do everything possible to keep students away from getting info on March Madness during these unique school days?  No, because even though we block ESPN.com on the students’ iPads, there are no shortage of other ways for them learn scores and even “live cast” games.  Nor do I take the other perspective and think teachers should incorporate it into their lesson planning.

I think it’s a diversionary, fleeting moment of fun which only comes around once a year.  And besides, it helps break up a long, still-chilly month about which Garrison Keillor once said: “March is the month that God designed to show those who don’t drink what a hangover is like.”

And yes, if you want to follow the Madness with your devices (instead of jumping on a browser), here’s the link to the list provided by Time.

OVERTIME: If you don’t like NCAA Men’s Basketball, but you do like brackets, here’s a couple of other options underway:

Saints Madness 2015

Build-a-Bear Bracket Challenge

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UPDATE: Here’s one more interesting bracket that I found in the Washington Post.  It takes common pairs, e.g. peanut butter and jelly and splits them up on either side of the bracket.  The idea is we’ll see which one makes it furthest and is therefore the most important of the two.