Talking QR codes

QRvoiceNot quite a talking QR code but a website called QR voice that allows you to type in 100 words or less and then generate a QR code. When the code is scanned a digitised voice reads the message to you as an audio file.

Could be really useful to give an instruction or reminder, provide the definition of a word or a summary of a page.

Good iPad apps – Mathstorm, Count Coins & Transformation Sentences

Here are some useful apps for primary school maths and language learning (all levels):


$2.49 in the App Store; iOS 6 or later.

An entertaining and customisable collection of 5 games (monsoon, avalanche, meteor shower, sandstorm, blizzard) that each provide a different approach to developing maths skills. Teachers and students can choose to focus on particular skills eg. addition, subtraction, division, times tables etc. and they can also set time limit challenges. Games can be adjusted to suit players’ maths ability levels, catering for multiple abilities within a class. For example, the game can be set to only ask:

– 6 times tables

– Addition sums below 10

– Only division and multiplication

– Only division, multiplication and subtraction

– and many more combinations.

High scores are tracked, giving players a goal to beat. For ages 4 to 11.

Demo video:


Aussie Kids Count Coins

$2.49 in the App Store; iOS 4 or later.

Money skills are practised and developed through 6 games, using animated characters. Activities include paying and giving change, counting change and multiplying, comparing amounts & shopping. Stars are awarded and used to decorate a night scene. For ages 4 to 10.


Transformation Sentences

$2.49 in the App Store; requires iOS7 or later.

This is a powerful app for teachers of sentence construction, sentence transformation and spelling – very useful for teachers of students who are learning to read – primary, high school, adult and ESL.

It was developed specifically for several teachers at Dickson College who wanted an app to support the Scaffolding Literacy program in the Secondary Introductory English Centre. Students here have just started learning English in Australia and will later move to ESL classes. The teachers wanted an app that wasn’t full of fancy bells and whistles but supported the teaching of literacy skills. The app has been used very successfully in class.

Demo video:

Features include:

Sentences: Enter text, rearrange and drag individual words. Use for prediction games, cloze exercises etc

Spelling: Separate a word into letters or sounds.

Shuffle: Places all words in a sentence into random order. Students then reassemble the sentence.

Extra words: Add extra words and label parts of a sentence (eg. Who? What? Where?).

Save data: Save up to 10 sentences or spelling lists in folders. Send the folders to other iPads via Bluetooth or wi-fi (this enables the teacher to type a paragraph just once, which is then sent to the students’ iPads).

Draw: Use your finger as a pencil to write words directly on the screen.

Customise: Choose font, size and background.

(The apps were created by my son Bryan Hathaway, B. Software Engineering).

National Science Week 16-24 August

As well as Book Week, it’s also National Science Week (16-24 Aug):

Here are some interesting links….


Women of science wikibomb

Great to see this event as part of National Science Week in Canberra. Participants researched and wrote Wikipedia articles about Australian women of science, engineering and maths. Awesome work – over 100 Wikipedia entries were created – now that really adds to the authenticity and reliability of Wikipedia!


Science 360

Breaking science videos and news from around the world, ready to embed in websites etc. Hosted by the US National Science Foundation. Search for videos by topic or series.



Thousands of videos and lectures; explore by topics.


10 science YouTube channels you can’t miss

Includes Minute Physics; The Science Channel; SciShow; The Periodic Table of Videos, AsapSCIENCE and the excellent Vsauce.


125 great science videos

Astronomy, physics, psychology, biology, ecology, technology….


Stephen Hawking biopic: The theory of everything

Directed by James Marsh. Stars Eddie Redmayne (from Les Mis) as renowned physicist Hawking, author of A brief history of time. The film follows his life through university and his triumphs in the face of physical adversity. Opens in Australia early 2015.


Hawking is a legend – look at all the places he has appeared in popular culture:


International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

Science magazine and the US National Science Foundation select winners each year for illustration, posters & graphics, photography, games & apps  and video. First place in games: Eyewire – one of the fastest growing citizen science projects ever created, where game players help to map neurons in a mouse’s retina. Also: EarthViewer app – scroll through billions of years of Earth’s geological periods. Meta!Blast: The Leaf game, for high school – players explore the microworlds of a leaf.

Slideshow of winners:


Eureka Prize for Science Photography

3 finalists and 7 highly commended entries; winner announced 10 Sept. Love the photo on a starry moonlit night of part of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope in W.A., which will be part of the largest telescope ever built (the Square Kilometre Array: SKA).


Sleek Geeks Eureka Science Schools Prize 2014

Short science videos – primary and secondary finalists; winners announced 10 Sept. View other years’ finalists also. Lots of interesting science – eg. I want to make tea – a musical parody, sung to Queen’s I want to break free 🙂

2014 finalists:


Free iBooks textbook: Life on Earth by Edward O. Wilson

Biology for secondary schools; 41 interactive chapters with video and animations, written by the Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, collaborating with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Accompanied by an iTunes U course.


Professor Manning Clark and donor-conceived granddaughter

Fascinating story of Dr Lauren Burns and her quest to find out about her biological father (Aust. Story Aug 10 & 18). Good resource for discussion of medical ethics and legal issues.



Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

The oldest medical research institute in Australia – 100 years old in 2015.

WEHI.TV: Video clips of discoveries and research:

Virus one billion times: Projected animations of viruses magnified one billion times – in the State Library of Victoria’s reading room earlier this year:


Science is awesome!

Happy Book Week 16-22 August

Here are some interesting sites celebrating books and reading (college/high school focus):

The Children’s Book of the Year Awards

Australian Independent Bookseller – good books and bestsellers in Australia.

Top 100 books – all good reads.

LibraryReads – the top 10 adult books published each month as voted by library staff in the US.

The greatest books – generated from over 50 other “best of” lists; favourite books of each decade; links to many other book lists and award sites.

100 best first lines from novels

Favourite opening lines from books

Famous book quotes

50 literary quotes to start your day

Popular science books

100 all-time greatest popular science books

FableCroft – tune into Tehani Wessely’s publishing website for some great speculative fiction and the Cranky Ladies of History upcoming book.

Genrefluent – helping readers find the books they will love.

Aurealis Awards – Australian awards for sc-fi, fantasy & horror fiction.

Australian Women Writers – supporting and promoting books by Australian women


Aussie Teens Online Report

ACMA (Aust. Communications and Media Authority) recently released a research snapshot: Aussie teens online (14-17 year olds).

Good infographic:
Report summary:

• 69% of their mobile phones are smartphones.
• Mobile phones are increasingly used for online activities.
• 23% go online with a tablet; 74% with a laptop/computer; 56% with a smartphone.
• Wireless hotspots are increasingly used for internet access.
• 72% go online more than once a day.
• The top 5 internet domains visited (Dec 2013): Google (including Search, Chrome, Mail, Maps, Earth etc); Facebook; YouTube; Mi9 (including Skype, Xbox, ninemsn etc); Microsoft.
• 90% went online for entertainment activities – the most time spent online was at YouTube, then Facebook & Skype.
• Teenagers are not the dominant group in social media forums (other age groups outrank them) – they account for 7% of Australians who use social networking.
• Teens in Aust. and the US are moving away from Facebook (70% in 2012 to 58% 2013).
• Teens access a range of online forums – Wikipedia, WikiHow, Tumblr, Blogger, ninemsn Entertainment videos.

Not many surprises really….and 6 in 10 are going online for research and information! The internet is a natural and essential part of their (and our) lives….more support for BYOD.

Internet ethics?
You may have read about Facebook’s unethical experiment, where it secretly manipulated 700 000 users’ emotions via the Facebook news feed, in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks”. The researchers wanted to see if reading fewer positive posts made people less likely to post positive content (and the same for negative messages). They found that social networks can indeed propagate positive and negative feelings. And apparently we agreed to this “research” via the Data Use Policy when we signed up. A good article for discussion for psychology, sociology and legal studies classes.

Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition

This annual report, released in June, examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning and creative inquiry in K-12 education.

Key trends:
Rethinking the roles of teachers
Shift to Deep Learning approaches
Increasing focus on open content
Increasing use of hybrid learning designs
Rapid acceleration of intuitive technology
Rethinking how schools work

Significant challenges:
Creating authentic learning opportunities
Integrating personalized learning
Complex thinking and communication
Increased privacy concerns
Competition from new models of education
Keeping formal education relevant

Important developments in technology for K-12 education:
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Cloud computing
Games and gamification
Learning analytics
The Internet of Things
Wearable technology

Full report:
Summary video (3 min.):

Films for action

Some excellent documentaries and films for senior students of global studies, sociology, geography, sustainability, human rights…..

Films for Action

“Discover, watch and share over 3000 of the best social change videos online – a community powered learning library and alternative news center for people who want to change the world”. Includes documentaries, videos, short films, presentations, trailers and articles.

Search for films via subjects and countries eg. corporations, big ideas, human rights, social issues, climate change; war and peace, culture, consumerism; globalization; cities; animal rights; vision; technology and design.

Includes films such as Inside job; War made easy; Consuming kids; Capitalism: a love story; WikiRebels; Flow: for love of water; The internet must go; Chasing ice; Plastic planet; The superior human?; Schooling the world: The cove; Exit through the gift shop.

View titles via the visual Wall of Films:
View the Top 100 Documentaries:
Also includes featured articles: