Friday FaithPost: Pray as You Go App/Website/Podcast

Another week rolls by. It’s hard to believe that a fortnight from today is Good Friday. March often drags by, but this year it and Lent are zipping by. The relative lack of winter here in Ohio surely helps!

Last weekend I posted about some podcasts that I like and an outstanding way to listen to them on an Android device (Pocket Cast).  Today, I share a Catholic daily podcast which helps my faith to grow and deepen. It has its own iOS and Android apps too (see below about Android.)

The site is “Pray as You Go” and it’s created by the Jesuits in Britain who also create the equally excellent “Thinking Faith”  and “Sacred Space”

I won’t spend time and space here trying to “sell” you on “Pray as You Go.” I will say that I get much from the short (12 min or less) combination of music, the day’s scripture (read twice in lectio divina style), brief commentary, reflection questions and an invitation for prayer.

I do recommend that you listen to it directly through the website or via a general podcasting app like Pocket Cast. “Pray As You Go” has an expanded presence on Soundcloud which has a pretty good Android app. It appears that there’s content there which isn’t elsewhere, such as this series of talks and poems by the great Gerard Manly Hopkins, S.J.

About the Android “Pray as You Go” app – I’d avoid it for now. It has an issue which doesn’t allow you to stream or download a day’s content until well after it has passed. I thought this might be just an issue on my device, so I emailed them. Turns, out they are aware of this universal problem and are working to fix it in a future release.

Until then, I hope you’ll use one of these many means listed above to pray as you go — to work, on a walk, to the store, wherever!

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.

 

 

250th Post! Visual Beauty for Your Device

I missed getting a Sun(Fun)day post out yesterday. Turns out that there are only so many hours in the day and yesterday they passed by way too quickly.

So, it’s Monday, sunny here in Ohio, we’re on the 250th post at this blog and it’s a good day for celebrating the miracle that is our eyes!

If you’re like me, you change your device’s wallpaper or background image frequently. I like to enjoy that moment of beauty before I get to whatever app or task I’m seeking.

So, for your viewing pleasure here’s a few of my favorite sites for downloading beautiful images and a recent example of each.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered the Bing Wallpaper Gallery. As a search engine, Microsoft’s Bing takes a lot of flack. But as a source for daily, seasonally themed, blow-your-mind images it’s the best. It also has a highly searchable archive to find any type of image perfectly sized to fit your desktop/homescreen:

Photo Bing

So after I stop at Bing’s site, I go over to my next favorite site for daily images as well as great, daily prayer resources. Hosted my the Jesuits of the Midwest Province, the location of the site is Jesuitprayer.org. Each day they offer a gripping image paired with a quote related to the liturgical reading and related reflection for the day. There’s also an iOS app available. The images aren’t always in the highest definition, so sometimes they are a bit fuzzy on my iPad lock screen. Still, the reflections included are worth pausing on for a moment before unlocking and moving forward.

Photo Jesuit

The last site is one that I just discovered the other day. I’ve known about the Three Minute Retreat site and app for a while. I get their daily email and for the first time I looked closely at the links within it. Not only is there one to Loyola PressLenten Resources, but there’s also a link to where you can download seasonal images which include a quote from the week’s scripture and the month’s calendar. The stunning one on my iPad lock screen today is above while this week’s is here:

Photo Loyola 1

One really good thing about the file (above) from Loyola is that it fits perfectly onto the iPad screen while the Three Minute Retreat one needs to be reduced.

As a bonus, if you’re looking for lock screen images and home screen organization on your Android device, may I recommend what I use – Picturesque and Aviate respectively.

Google Now and Google Search Tips

Scrolling back through recent posts, I see that it’s been awhile since I’ve shared about nuts and bolts technology which can make life better for educators – inside or outside of the classroom.

So, here’s a quick post about cool and useful ways to utilize Google tools.

First, how often do you use Google Now on your phone, tablet or Chromebook? I don’t look at the “cards” or use the voice activated search (the “OK Google”) as often as I could. But now, having discovered this amazing list of functions, I’ll surely use it with greater frequency.

If you don’t have time to click and view the list, you can take the shortcut the author suggests:

If you’re too lazy to scroll this list, you can also access a list of voice commands on your phone by tapping the mic and saying “show me what you got”.

And, thanks to Time magazine for this list of “11 Google Tricks Which Will Change the Way You Search”

BTW: The Google Image above is not from my Google Now, although I wish I was in San Francisco today!

50 Small Things to Make a Perfect Day w/#51- Use Interesting Weather Apps

What makes a perfect day for an educator like me (and you too?) – A SNOW DAY (sort of)!

Well, I went to bed last night suspecting the possibility and woke up at 5:30 am confirming it. Lately though, here in Central Ohio, we’ve had more “calamity days” the past couple of school years due to sub-zero temps with wind chill rather than because of the more traditional – ice/snow covering the streets in the early morning.

On a day such as this, I’d much rather be either creative or lazy rather than productive. In other words, I’d rather write or read instead of grade (the 50+ freshman mid-term essays from before Christmas Break). So, I’m going to create a few posts here and also over at my personal blog too. And I have until Tuesday of next week to get those essays graded!

What makes your perfect day? One thing high on my list is echoed in this great list from Lifehack at #11 – “Take a walk in nature.” I’m hoping to do this today – so that I can meet my Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps for today. But, my WeatherUnderground iPad app tells me that it’s currently 15 degrees, but it feels like 7 degrees. Ugh – I may have to go for a walk indoors at a nearby mall instead.

BTW: Now that it may or may not feel like winter in your neck of the woods, you might want to update your weather apps. In addition to the aforementioned WeatherUnderground app, I’ve also begun enjoying on my Android phone – 1Weather (which has great widgets with it), Weather Timeline and the social-media inspired Sunnycomb 

Oh yeah, here’s the list from Lifehack:

1. Once you wake up, just stay in bed for a couple of minutes and relax.

2. Always have a book with you, we never know when boredom might decide to appear.

3. Set mood playlists on your device of choice.

4. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

5. Smile to a stranger and see what happens!

6. Have a quick fresh shower first thing in the morning.

7. Show your love to someone else.

8. Before you go to bed, say thanks for everything you have and don’t have.

9. Connect to yourself, by using a journal: write, draw, make collages, let your mind wander.

10. On your nightstand, put something that makes you smile.

11. Take a walk in nature.

12. Do yoga.

13. Make a to-do list to help you achieve your main goal for the day. And stick to it.

14. Eat healthily and accordingly to your own taste.

15. Take an hour and do as you please.

16. Write 3 good things that happened to you and what you can do to see it happen again.

17. Put some fresh flowers in the room you spend time in the most.

18. Take a long and warm shower before going to bed.

19. Get out of the house and explore your neighborhood.

20. Sleep naked to feel sexier.

21. Boost your confidence by engaging in your favorite hobby.

22. Act crazy, put the music on loud and start dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

23. Take a 30 minute nap after lunch; as an alternative, engage in a different relaxing activity.

24. Giggle with your friends– make time for them in your day.

25. Read an inspiring quote and incorporate it into your day.

26. Declutter you life by asking “Do I really need this? Why?”.

27. Be kind anytime you can and don’t expect anything back.

28. Meditate and write down everything you’ve found out.

29. Learn something new, even if it’s just a different way of doing stuff.

30. Have some sweat and exercise. Do it mindfully by choosing an activity you enjoy.

31. Sleep a bit more if you feel tired or you’re in the middle of a situation that you can’t solve.

32. Smile. Smile. Smile. And smile some more.

33. Walk barefoot.

34. Experience flow by working at something you’re passionate about.

35. Make your surroundings a little bit better: declutter, reuse and recycle.

36. Plan a trip, even if you can’t travel right now.

37. Be aware of your emotions, but don’t control them: understand them.

38. Remember your accomplishments every time you feel like a failure.

39. Lower your expectations, little by little — most of them are unrealistic.

40. Be offline for as long as you can.

41. Enjoy the now.

42. Challenge yourself!

43. Don’t worry about your problems, but work toward a solution.

44. See everything as an opportunity to learn and grow.

45. Forgive yourself and forgive others.

46. Don’t quit: make baby steps.

47. Do your best.

48. Slow down.

49. Put everything you are into everything you do.

50. Follow your heart.

Advent Prayer Resources and Calendars

It’s the second day of Advent 2016 (yes, it is now The Year of Grace 2016) and here’s some resources that I’m using with my students and in my own personal prayer:

Advent in Two Minutes:

Busted Halo Advent Calendar (pictured above)

USCCB Resources

#adventword – A Global Advent Calendar – This is a cool site leveraging social media to gather images of an Advent “word of the day.”

Sign-up for Bishop Robert Barron’s  daily Advent reflections

And a video from him as well:

Loyola Press has an engaging Arts & Faith set of Advent Resources while the home page for all of their Advent resources is here.

How about iOS and Android Apps to either create or access Advent calendars and other resources? Learn about these here and here.

Finally, for videos and other resources, from a more general Christian perspective, check out Advent Conspiracy

Have a blessed and meaningful Advent season!

 

 

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.

 

WO.Audio-1

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.

 

White Noise Market-1

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

 

 

Naturely-Nature Clockstand-1

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_Think_4

Stop_Breath_Think_3

Stop_Breathe_Think-5

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:

Stop_Breath_Think_2

 

 

Breath2Relax-1

Breathe2Relax-2

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.

 

Smiling Mind-1

Smiling Mind-2

Smiling Mind_3

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.

 

Meditation Timer-1

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.

 

Calm in the Storm-1

Calm in the Storm-2

Calm in the Storm-3

Calm in the Storm-4

Calm in the Storm-5

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An App to Know: 365 Days to Mercy App

Just a quick post to share an interesting, free app I discovered this evening. The good people at the venerable Our Sunday Visitor present the 365 Days to Mercy app. It’s available for both iOS and Android. If you have an iPad and you search the App Store for it, you’ll need to search for “iPod Only” to see it and download it.

I’m excited what will hopefully be a transformative Jubilee Year of Mercy. This app looks like a good way to celebrate it.

And, you’ll note that I’ve added a count-down timer to the left column so we can see how many days until the Jubilee begins!

15 Essential Apps for the Organized Teacher

After the general list of the previous post, here’s a list targeted specifically for teachers who want to be better organized (and that’s really all of us isn’t it?)

Here’s a list of the suggested apps.  For links to the various versions of them, be sure to visit the Te@chThought link above:

  1. SimplyCircle – Group Communication
  2. Google Drive
  3. YouTube
  4. Evernote Scannable
  5. Dropbox
  6. Paperless Assignments with Dropbox or Google Drive
  7. Pocket
  8. Newsify
  9. Allcal – Social planning app
  10. Remind: Safe Classroom
  11. Microsoft One Note
  12. TeacherKit
  13. Seesaw: The Learning Journal
  14. Nearpod
  15. Socrative Teacher

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.