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."