New List: Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2013

AASL_BestApp 2013The American Association of School Librarians is out with a new list of their favorite iOS and Android apps for education:

“The apps recognized as Best Apps for Teaching & Learning are of exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning as embodied in the AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The apps foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration and are user friendly to encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.”

See the full list:


Tech tip: Convert Text into an MP3 audio file

Do you need to convert large text files into audio files? Here’s a helpful tech support video from Urban High School that walks you through converting digital text in to a MP3 file. You can then listen to this file on your computer or iOS device.

There’s also Text to Speech in the Safari Browser: Using a Mac computer. Open up Safari and you can highlight text and have your Mac read a web page text to you. Instructions

If you’re a Google Chrome user you’ll need to add Speakit! through the Google Chrome Store.

Laptop setup for new MS students

6th-grader-laptop-setup-1000pxOne of the joys of starting the new school year is setting up the MacBooks for our new 6th graders. Each student gets their own log in and is able to customize the desktop and other areas of these laptops. As you can see from the photo to the right, the new Middle School students really enjoy this rite of passage.

By the way, we name each MacBook. This year laptops are named after great American movies. The one in the picture above is “The Godfather.”

And one final note: Synergy is starting its 7th year using laptops in grades 6th through 8th. The mobile devices are used throughout the year in Humanities, Science, Elective (web design, Photoshop etc.) and Yearbook classes.

Welcome back!

As we gear up for the new year, we’re excited to support the new Middle School team and assist our existing teachers to deliver the best educational technology features at Synergy School!

Stay tuned, we’ll be talking about some new 2013-14 technology efforts on the horizon at your school.


Hopscotch: Beginning programing for iPad users

Hopscotch-ssA new iPad-only app for beginning programmers is making waves this spring. Called Hopscotch, this visual programming language allows users to drag “blocks” of code into a scripting area in order to build programs. Download: Hopscotch is free on Apple’s iTunes Store.

This touch-friendly coding app is aimed primarily at girls age 8 and up. The developers hope to eliminate some of the frustration common with code syntax.

Hopscotch is based on the very popular visual programming language developed by MIT called Scratch. Google also has a similar program called Blockly. Each of these were built for use on desktops and laptop computers.

Read more about the launch on AllThingsDigital’s website


How primary schools in Vietnam teach Computer Science

IMG_1961How is Computer Science taught in primary grades in Vietnam? You’d might be surprised what one American educator found:

“I had walked into that high school class prepared to help them in any way that I could. But instead of the school learning from my experience, I learned from them. They showed how computer science education should be done. Start everyone early, and offer those who are passionate about the subject limitless room to grow.”

Read more:

How Evernote can help make students (& teachers) more productive

Writing notes and keeping them organized is one of those important things that can easily become a chore – especially if you’re using multiple written notebooks or trying to sync notes across multiple devices. Luckily we have great apps like Evernote.

You can create a free Evernote account and you easily save a note (or audio files, web searches and more) on a school computer and then view it or hear elsewhere on your home computer or mobile device.

If you need more coaxing, read: 10 ways Evernote can help make students more productive. Here’s an excerpt:

For those of you who haven’t come across it, Evernote is a remember-everything app. It remembers, everything. When used to its full potential, it has the capacity to improve the productivity of our students. Here are 10 reasons I think it could help to do just that…

Evernote makes you organized. I am the opposite of an organised person. However, a peek inside my Evernote account reveals a different story. All of my notes are tagged and saved into one of my notebooks and give more than an illusion of organisation. These notes contain typed notes, handwritten notes, pictures, webpages, audio files, documents, pdfs, powerpoints and much, much more…

Also, check out:  Evernote Peek which helps you make flashcards from your study notes.