Give it a try – our pick of the best apps and tools, part 15

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software that we think might be useful or fun in your classroom or school. Every few weeks we round them up here on the blog.

We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share.  Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1 part 2, part 3 part 4, part 5, part 6part 7part 8,  part 9, part 10 , part 11,  part 12 ,  part 13, and part 14

Don’t want to wait for the roundup? Sign up to our newsletter to get a new ‘give it a try’ in your inbox every Thursday lunchtime.

Subject-specific apps and tools 

Looking for subject-specific apps and tools? We hold regular online subject-specific forums. This term we covered maths, science and the creative arts; next term we’ll be holding our humanities and computing conferences. These sessions go into much more detail about how to use digital tools and resources effectively and we suggest lots of great subject-specific GIATs. Get in touch to find out more.

Blob Opera

This is inexplicably brilliant and will make your day better. A machine learning experiment that explores the human voice, you can play four opera voices in real time by dragging the blobs up and down to change pitch, or forwards and backwards for different vowel sounds. Just try it – you’ll smile.

An experiment about how we view history

How good are you at guessing the date of a picture? This fun data storytelling experiment looks at how our understanding of historic time frames is skewed by the form in which we view it – with clear implications for critical literacy.

Simple Search

Ever looked at a Google search result page and noticed just how much of the page is taken up with Google’s own properties and ‘direct answers’? Simple Search is an extension that de-prioritises Google content in searches by highlighting the “traditional” or “ten blue link” search results provided by the search engine, laying them over the info boxes and other content.

Appvent calendar 2020

Mark Anderson (aka ICT Evangelist) has once again produced a calendar with daily suggestions of useful tools, apps and services that can help and support teaching, learning, productivity and being safe online. You can also subscribe for a daily alert if you’re worried about forgetting to open a door each day.

Google Live View

Ever noticed that some London landmarks have their own cute little icons on Google Maps? It started in October last year when Google quietly introduced landmark icons to new cities Barcelona, Florence, London, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Rome, San Francisco and Tokyo. It gradually made the icons bigger, added more cities (80 now and counting) and then recently announced they are part of its Live View AR navigation feature. Could be handy for local geography work in class.

10bn pixel scan of ‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’

Get up close to an important piece of art history with a 10bn pixel panorama. Find out more about the background to the project, check out the full painting panorama on full screen and don’t miss the 3D viewer.

Flame

Make some festive art with this 3D generative fractal flame Chrome experiment, which is triggered by a word/phrase you type in. The fractal flame changes as you type and you can try different words, delete letters, zoom in and out and create some festive looking effects with your own name or other characters. Here’s our attempt!  The creator’s website is worth exploring, too.

Beethoven bonus!

In the week that marks 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth (no one is quite sure of the the exact day) if you’re looking for a few minutes of peace and tranquillity why not try the three part ‘Celebrating Art and Nature with Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony’ from Google Arts and Culture? It highlights paintings by Monet and others with the Pastoral symphony as background. Or, if you want to know more about how he drew inspiration from nature on his walks (as many have in these current times), view an interactive show from the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn. All of these and much more at artsandculture.google.com/project/beethoven

Make a times table helper in Scratch

Explore this Scratch activity from CLC’s Rowan Roberts and discover how to use ‘new variables’ and ‘sensing’ blocks and adapt the script.

Busy Things

Busy Things’ hundreds of games, activities and teaching resources across many subjects, including maths, English, phonics, geography, history and coding for EYFS, KS1 and KS2, are available free for a month, as well as other lockdown offers. Try it here

Cloud Stop Motion

Cloud Stop Motion is offering schools a free 50GB account during lockdown, which means unlimited numbers of students can use Cloud Stop Motion from anywhere, on any device, and create their animations for teachers to watch, edit and export. It’s a simple tool – go to cloudstopmotion.com, capture your pictures, record some dialogue, add some music and sound effects, then create titles and credits to finish your film, export it as a video file and share it.

Scavengar

This free app looks like it offers an interesting way to create hunts and quizzes outdoors using augmented reality. It’s not one we’ve tried ourselves so we’d love to hear how you get in with it if you give it a go.

Fabricius

It’s another good’un from Google Arts & Culture Lab Experiment (we’re still smiling about its Blob Opera…). This one uses machine learning to help translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and offers the chance to send coded messages using hieroglyphs and learn more about ancient languages and how they are decoded.

Radio Garden

We had hours of fun with this – warning, it’s addictive! Discover live radio stations all over the world by clicking on different parts of the Google map. It offers loads of possibilities for geography, MFL and music.

Plus, Drive and Listen takes you on a driving tour of cities around the world with background street noise and a local radio station playing. For lockdown escapism, we imagined being in a taxi on a weekend break in a foreign city…

Turn your PDF into an online activity

Doing more with PDFs, or saving time doing the things you need to do with them, has become a hot topic in remote/blended education. The ever-helpful Richard Byrne has some suggestions, including a free tool, TeacherMade, that turns PDFs, Word docs, Google Docs and pictures into online activities to which you can add multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions. There’s also a helpful Chrome extension, Lumin PDF, that lets you, or your students, draw on top of PDFs and save them.

An ocean of books

Google’s latest machine learning arts experiment is a big map of literature, plotting 113 008 authors and 145 162 books as islands and cities. The proximity of different authors is based on their relationship on the web, allowing the possibility of discovering some unlikely connections. It’s intriguing but we’re not finding it as intuitive as some of Google’s other arts experiments (may we mention Blob Opera again?!) What do you think?

Never been seen

Never Been Seen shows objects from London’s Science Museum that have never been seen online before. Each time you refresh this webpage an object with zero views is shown, making you the very first person to see it. It’s also possible to take a look at the code behind the tool on Github.

Hidden Winter

Discover an audio adventure that starts on your sofa then continues in your local park, using just a phone and pair of headphones. Hidden Winter, from Stand and Be Counted Theatre and The Herd, lasts an hour and it’s available in both English and Arabic, with or without captions and there are options for downloading it if phone data is limited.  For age 5+ and there’s also a follow-on activity pack.

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