Monday, June 27, 2005

ShapeUp ($14.95)

ShapeUp is a Geometry program that focuses on shape recognition and transformational geometry. Although I usually write about free programs, I couldn't resist including this one! There are a couple of basic activities--identifying shapes and transforming shapes. If the student doesn't know the properties of a shape, background information is provided so that the student can complete the activities. Identifying shapes (such as isosceles triangles) is ok...but the real fun is with the transformational geometry activities. In the first part of this activity, students are challenged to transform a shape in the minimum number of moves. The second part consists of transforming multiple shapes to form a given design. Lots of fun and a good way to reinforce transformational geometry concepts.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Simplify and MixedUp (freeware)

These free two programs can both be used to practice fraction skills. Simplify allows students to simplify fractions. Students can select the maximum size of the denominator (up to 20, 100, 200, 1000). MixedUp allows students to convert between fractions and mixed numbers. Students can select the maximum size of the denominator (up to 10, 20, 100, 200) and the level (beginner and advanced). In both cases, there are no documented assessment results. However, after each problem, the student receives feedback and a running total is kept until the student stops using the program.

SpellIT (freeware)

Students can use SpellIt to create their own spelling word/definition lists. Once the list has been entered, students can practice spelling, work on word jumbles, and take spelling tests. The teacher can look at test results by date/time, can see how the student responded during the spelling test, and review the overall percentage that the student spelled correctly.

HiMoney (freeware)

The HiMoney program is for tracking your budget. However, the cool part about it is that there are multiple ways to graph budget data. This program would be great for use in the classroom as part of a simulation where students track their expenses and incomes. Graph reading skills can also be targeted as the students can switch between the numerical budget and the graphical representation.

Gone Mad (freeware)

As a kid I remember planning MadLibs with my sister and friends. One person would write down the nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. that we suggested and then read the story that our parts of speech had formed. It was so much fun! The great news is that Gone Mad is available for the Palm and is the same game that I played as a kid using the MadLibs note pad that we had purchased at the store. Gone Mad comes with three stories that have certain parts of speech removed; when you complete the list of the required parts of speech, Gone Mad substitutes your words into the story. There are two features that I love—first, the stories can be exported to Memo Pad where students can continue writing. Second, the story templates can be created by the teacher or students (be sure to read the README file for instructions on how to create the templates, as it is a really easy task if you follow the directions).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Idea Pad 3.1 (freeware)

I first saw Idea Pad about a year or two ago. At that time, I decided that it was really too much work to have students create diagrams on the Palm with Idea map--that it was easier and more efficient to have them do so on paper.

However, all that has changed with Idea Pad 3.1. It works quite similarly to the program Inspiration, allowing you to create a diagram, switch to outline view, and then export your work to Memo Pad where you can continue the writing process.

Thanks to Tony Vincent for his tip on deleting files: "To delete a file, tap the file name from the "Choose a file" screen. Then tap the Details button. From there, you can delete it."

Moose 1.1.3 (freeware)

WOW. After spending all day reviewing Palm software on Saturday, I found some really cool software. Moose is a free piece of text-to-speech software. Need I say more? Now your Palm can read to you, pronounce words for students who don't know how to read, and be used in the writing and revision process. It does require a bit of space, so be sure to read the Read Me before you install it.

If you're students are not using text-to-speech in the writing process, you may want to do a little reading. My web page on this topic includes several worksamples showing the student's progress as she writes, listens, spellchecks, listens, and revises.

One thing that you will want to do is to turn on Moose (in the Moose options) so that it can be accessed from all programs in the shortcuts menu.