Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pow! Book Creator kicks it up a notch!

Just read this blog post from Book Creator about a whole new host of comic book features in Book Creator and tried them out for myself.  Here's a page of my efforts, which I made in less than 5 mnutes:
It was very easy and intuitive to use, especially after watching the introductory video.  I discovered that you can't mix a traditional book and a comic book - you need to choose the comic book feature when you first start a new book in order to have access to all the comic features.  The Book Creator app on your iPad should have updated to the new version - if not, see me or check in with Maggie.  Let me know if and how you use these new features - I think the students will love them!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Discoveries: Zing and Google voice

Can it be a month since I last posted?  School must have started!  I wanted to alert you to two recent finds from my blog reading and also our colleague Eric MacDonald:

First, Zing!  Suddenly, everyone wants to give free eBooks to teachers, first Epic! and now Zing!  (clearly they want you to know how excited they are to be doing this, hence the exclamation points after each name)  Zing! is very similar to Epic, in that it has a large collection of ebooks (some similar to the ones available in Epic!).  The site is searchable by reading level, topic, theme, and genre.  You have the capacity to mark books as your favorites, and to set up a virtual classroom and assign books to your students.  Inside the book, there are some nice functions such as a dictionary that defines and speaks the word if needed, also a highlighting pen a notepad, and a bookmark, all of which can be saved to be retrieved later if you re-access the book.  The books themselves seem to load fairly quickly and once loaded, turn pages easily.  If anyone tries it out, let me know how it goes - seems all good to me so far.

Second, Google voice-to-text.  Having tried DragonSpeak as well as other voice to text software, I was prepared to be skeptical.  But after a lunch conversation with Eric during Julie Coiro's visit, I gave it a try and was amazed by how simple it was to use, and how accurately it captured my speech!  I think the secret may be that it combines voice recognition with google docs editing functions, so what the voice recognition misses, the editor captures (more or less).  For example, I dictated something numbered. At first, it was recorded as "to" but as I continued, it autocorrected to 2.  It wasn't perfect, but it was better than anything I've used before.  It is accessible on google docs through the tools menu.  You can check out the blog Have you tried voice typing in google? by Richard Byrne for more information, including voice commands such as "period" and "new line."