Sunday, December 20, 2009

60 Second Recap: Like Cliff Notes, but in Video Format!

Secondary English students will be delighted to find this new resource called 60 Second Recap.

What is 60 Second Recap? According to the site, they want to "help teens (yes, teens of all ages!) engage with literature. We want to help them see it not as some chore to be endured, but as -- dare we say it? -- the gift of a lifetime. How? Through the language of our time -- the language of video. Video that's focused, engaging, informative ... and short enough to hold just about anyone's attention."

Users will find videos on major works of literature here broken down by chapter, in 60 second increments. Need an overview? They have it in 60 seconds. Need chapter one? They have it in 60 seconds. You get the idea. Novels such as Fahrenheit 451, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Flies, and Hamlet are featured.

In addition, the site also gives students tips on how to write papers so as "not to bore your teachers". That's something everyone can appreciate!

As of right now, the site is free. You can sign in if you want to post a question or leave a comment, but if you just want to view the videos, it's free. I hope that it stays that way...

Behold: The LiveScribe Pen has Educational Applications

I recently received a LiveScribe pen for demo through work. Shortly after, the vendor came out to show how this pen could be used on a basic level, and how it could integrate into a classroom setting.
What is a Livescribe pen? The pen contains a small camera to record your movements as you write on special dot paper. The dots are almost invisible to the naked eye. You can purchase notebooks, notepads, and journals for your pen, as long as you don't duplicate the notebooks. For example, if you already bought and used "notebook one", don't purchase another "notebook one" unless you want to overwrite all of your previous work. Each notepad has different dot paper that the camera records. You can also print out extra dot paper from the LiveScribe website if you like. Within the dot paper, there are small controls that are embedded into the page: most notably: record and stop.
This is how it works:
  1. Click record on your page during a lecture or presentation.
  2. Start using your pen and notebook to write notes during the lecture
  3. Click stop when you are finished.
  4. If you "tap" any of the words you wrote during the lecture, you will hear what was being said in the room at that point in your notes.

No - the pen does not "speak" your written notes. It is not text-to-speech. No - the pen does not turn your messy handwriting into digital print (handwriting recognition). But imagine - you don't have to worry about writing EVERYTHING down during lectures anymore! For example, what if you decided just to write the main ideas and record the rest of the "details" using the pen? It would save your fingers from endless scribbling during class, and you will have captured everything you need to study. Upload your audio and notes to your computer so you can play the audio back on the computer instead of just through earbuds. Click a button to upload these notes online, get a URL to your recorded notes, and share your notes with colleagues, friends, or guests.

So how could this be used in the classroom? Think of all of the ways this pen could be used in the primary classroom.

  1. Talking Books: Make your own living books! Glue a small piece of dot paper on a story book, draw a dot on the page as you record your voice reading the text on the page, and voila! Now students who have difficulty reading can listen to the book and follow along without an assistant.
  2. Talking Word Walls: Ever have kids write the wrong word down even if they used your word wall as reference? Now record your voice saying the word on the bulletin board. When kids click the word, they will hear the word being read out loud. It takes the guesswork out of "which word do I need?
  3. Singing Notebook: embed songs all in once place - in your notebook
  4. Running Records: Record kids reading for fluency for playback for parent conferences or so you can code the passage more accurately later in the day.
  5. ELL Vocab: Do you teach English as a Second Language students? Do you have objects labeled all over the room? Use the pen to record your voice on each label, so kids can hear the word instead of just see the word. Great for pronunciation practice!
  6. Make up spelling tests: Absent kids take a spelling test with the pen, instead of you.

Do you want to see more ideas? Check out this wiki for amazing screencasts and ideas.

Flip Video Camera: Converting File Formats

When the Flip Video camera originally hit the market a few years ago, our school system jumped at the chance to put them on the county bid list. It provided our county a solution to not having firewire on all computers since the Flip allowed users to download video clips via USB connection. Several hundred Flip Video cameras are now in our system. Teachers loved the fact that they could shoot video, connect the camera to the computer, drag the video onto the computer, drop it into MovieMaker software, and create multimedia videos easily.
We were stunned to find out that the Flip Video changed their file formats recently. One school I work for ordered over 40 Flips this fall and recently began complaining that the video clips no longer work with MovieMaker. I was stunned. Upon closer inspection, I realized the second generation Flips now exported their video clips as .mp4 instead of .avi or .wmv. MovieMaker does not support .mp4 clips!
After a brief conversation with tech support, I found out there was a convoluted way to convert the .mp4 clips into .wmv clips within the Flip Video software itself. I was slightly annoyed. Now instead of dragging and dropping the videos into MovieMaker, teachers would need to have their technology coordinators download the Flip Video software so they could convert their videos before they could use them in MovieMaker. I promptly made documentation on this new process.
Then two weeks later, Flip pushes out a new software upgrade that will automatically prompt users when they open the software to upgrade. Once they upgrade to version 5.0 or higher, they will quickly realize that Flip Video has taken out the feature to convert .mp4 clips to .wmv clips.
Really?? Does this make any sense? MovieMaker users no longer can use Flip Video to create movies. Thanks, Flip Video. We'll be looking at other video cameras for our bid list now. I hope you didn't need the business. You just took 3 giant steps backwards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interactive Numberline

Ambleside Primary has done it again! In addition to their hundreds chart and their multiplication chart, they also have an interactive number line. The number line comes with 7 colored squares that you can use to cover the numbers so that students have to calculate what number is missing. This would be great on a Promethean board, too! Notice at the bottom of the site, there are blue buttons with options for different types of number lines: 1's, 10's, 100's, 0.1's, 0.5's, -5 through 5, or create your own under the section entitled "Make a line". Just specify the number you want the line to begin at and the increments to count up by and click "Go". You end up with your own personalized line! If it the site allowed you to display more than 11 numbers at a time, it would be even better.

The Math Worksheet Site has a number line generator, but instead of it being a digital, interactive image, it creates a worksheet that you can print out. The site does not limit the values you can put into the number line, so some number lines may print out very small. This is a nice option for teachers to know about who use number lines to teach basic math. If you have a Promethean board, you can generate the number line, and then use "Annotate Desktop" to write over the number line at the board.

Interactive Hundreds Chart

Since many teachers in my schools use Promethean boards, I was interested to see if there were any hundreds charts available for them to use with math instruction. (I noticed Promethean offered an interactive hundreds chart from Promethean Planet for $7.50. I wanted a free alternative.) I found this site below:

I really enjoy this one. Even if you do not have an interactive whiteboard, you can still project it from your computer and use it with your class. The site will allow you to add 3 different types of counters: circles, squares, and triangles. Drag them onto the chart to show multiples or practice counting.

Ambleside Scribble Table

The scribble table is multiplication chart from the same place, Ambleside Primary School. Instead of chips, use your mouse (or pen on the Promethean board) to "scribble" on the chart to make your annotations. This is a nice tool for quick multiplication or division practice.

Houghton Mifflin Hundreds Chart

The Houghton Mifflin Hundreds Chart is another option for classroom teachers. By clicking the paint can on the top left side, you can choose 4 colors to add to your numbers: red, yellow, green or blue. Now you can color code the numbers by multiples to help children see patterns. Click the empty can to erase color from a number, and finally click the broom to completely clear the board to start again. Even without a Promethean board, this can be an effective teaching tool when projected and used during math instruction.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Promethean Flipchart Bling!

Did you know you can add animated .gifs to your Promethean flipcharts? I discovered this quite by accident as I was browsing the forums on Promethean Planet. If Blogger allowed animated .gifs, you would see the blue font above ("Flipchart Bling") would be sparkling and moving. But don't despair! Instead, add your animations into Promethean flipcharts to add some spice to your pages. Where can you get some .gifs? Try these sites below:
Glitter Your Way: Spice up your font
GlowTxt: Spice up your font again

Discovery Education Animated Clip Art: Be sure to read the license agreement.

Related Posts:
Promethean Baby Steps
Promethean Calculator Tip
Importing Promethean Resource Packs
Promethean Pen Troubleshooting
ActivInspire: Using the Fill Tool to Change Font Color
Teacher Led for Whiteboard Activities
Base 10 Games for the Promethean
Interactive Whiteboard Links
Games for the Interactive Whiteboard
Kids and Cookies: Division online
Tic Tac Toe in 3D

Friday, September 25, 2009

Virtual Graphing Calculator

I had a math teacher approach me this week with a Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus graphing calculator. He is an avid user of the Promethean board and hates to change to the document camera to show his students how to enter problems into their graphic calculator. "You'd think Texas Instruments would have a virtual calculator that teachers could use on their computer so they could show students how to enter their problems," he said to me. I decided to look around, and sure enough, there IS a virtual TI-83 calculator that you can download and use with your class. It looks just like the real calculator, and you click the buttons on it just like you would on the real thing. (Don't forget to click the power button on the image, or the calculator won't turn on!)

Where did I find this? At Video Math Teacher! Check it out, secondary math teachers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Assistive Technology Software Worth Noting

While at the MATN conference in Columbia, MD today, I had the pleasure of listening to Dan Herlihy speak on "Using 21st Century Tools to Promote Teaching, Learning, and Providing Support".
He mentioned two new Web 2.0 tools that I have never heard about before.

i-Lighter is a site that allows you to highlight within an existing webpage. The program can be downloaded as extensions within Internet Explorer or Firefox so that you always have access to the tool. It will also store your highlights online!

The second one is the Non-Visual Desktop Access program. This is a screen reader that allows you to point your cursor to words and have it read out loud to you. The best part of this program is that it's small enough to fit on a flashdrive and run from there! Yippee!

Sunday, August 16, 2009 to bookmark images

Thanks to Hillary Andrlik's post on The Teaching Palette blog, I now have a favorite web 2.0 tool. Go to her post for a detailed description.

Basically, my new find thanks to Ms. Andrlik, is a site called, which is similar to lets the user bookmark and share images that you find on the web instead of websites. As Hillary mentions, this is great alternative to saving images on your computer and filling up its hard drive. I just signed up for an account and can't wait to try it. I'll post again later in the month when I have had time to review it.

Promethean: Using the Revealer to Control Information

Within the ActivInspire software, there is a revealer tool that allows teachers to black out the screen, much like pulling a shade over a window. Using the ActivPen, the teacher or student can "reveal" the information by pulling the revealer from the bottom, top, right or left. Most teachers feel the need to pull the revealer up like a shade, but this will reveal your information in reverse order (see below).
However, by pulling the revealer down from the top, you can reveal your information in order and control how much your students see at one time. You can explain the first point before revealing the second one. Try it!

Related Posts:

Promethean Baby Steps
Promethean Calculator Tip
Importing Promethean Resource Packs

Promethean Pen Troubleshooting
ActivInspire: Using the Fill Tool to Change Font Color
Teacher Led for Whiteboard Activities
Base 10 Games for the Promethean
Interactive Whiteboard Links
Games for the Interactive Whiteboard
Kids and Cookies: Division online
Tic Tac Toe in 3D

Friday, August 14, 2009

Promethean ActivInspire: Calculator Quick Tip

I found a cool new trick in Promethean ActivInspire today quite by accident. First, activate the on-screen calculator. Type in your problem and click "equal". Once the answer is displayed, you will also see the math problem typed out in small font along the top of the calculator. Click on this problem and drag it off onto the flipchart. You can now display the problem automatically that you entered into the calculator this way. This is great for recording multiple steps as you arrive at your answer.

Related Posts:
Promethean Baby Steps
Importing Promethean Resource Packs
Promethean Pen Troubleshooting
ActivInspire: Using the Fill Tool to Change Font Color
Teacher Led for Whiteboard Activities
Base 10 Games for the Promethean
Interactive Whiteboard Links
Games for the Interactive Whiteboard
Kids and Cookies: Division online
Tic Tac Toe in 3D

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baby Steps: Promethean Style

For the last two days, I have been working at a middle school undergoing renovation. Many teachers are going from having an overhead projector to a short-throw Promethean board, laptop, CPS remotes, flip video cameras, digital cameras, DVD players, and more. The staff has been receptive to the new technology, especially the Promethean board, as I introduce them to ActivInspire.
How did these staff members cope? They are learning Promethean software by taking baby steps. Each staff member is excited about different aspects of the software. They leave with their own little gem, each one different, and they will cling to it until they can add to their knowledge once this is digested.
What did the teachers take away? Here were some of their gems:
  1. Typing text on a flipchart and using the fill tool (paint bucket) to color code text. This is great for categorizing words or phrases quickly in a variety of educational settings.
  2. Count Down and Count Up Clock: using these tools to keep students on track and practice for timed tests.
  3. Revealer: Using the revealer to reveal objectives, warm up questions, or tasks one-by-one.
  4. Using interactive websites to enage kids at the Promethean board. Need a starting place? Try here or here.
  5. Annotating over the desktop and word documents to utilize existing documents.
  6. Math Tools: there is nothing like a virtual protractor, ruler, dice, and compass
  7. Promethean Planet: Knowing there was a site for existing resources. Let's not reinvent the wheel!
  8. Using white ink on a white background to create hidden messages or hidden answers to matching activities. Fill in the background with another color to reveal the "hidden" message or answers.
  9. Utilizing resources in the resource library: interactive Periodic table and color wheel was a big hit
  10. Grids and backgrounds: Just changing the background to graph paper, grids, or lined paper can create the setting for interactive success

Sorry for the delay....

Sorry for the delay in posting to the blog for the past 6 weeks. I took a short break from technology to get married and travel. Surprisingly, I didn't miss the technology while I was away.

Back to the real world now...

Monday, June 29, 2009

NECC: Stories from the Worldwide Scratch Community

NECC Session: Stories from the Worldwide Scratch Community

Mitch Resnick of MIT discussed how teachers can help students learn to create, build, and invent in the digital world. Digital natives are comfortable with interacting with technology, but they tend to need support to create and build things with technology tools.

Scratch is a free download from the Internet where you use building blocks of programming to create stories, games, and animations and share them with the web. By utilizing the programming blocks, students do not spend weeks and weeks writing code. Instead, the focus of Scratch projects is on creating content instead of programming code. Most of the users are between 9 – 16 years of age and have uploaded a variety of projects to the Scratch website such as Barack vs. McCain games, advertisements, announcements, science simulations, birthday cards, games, and remixes of other scratch animations. But the best part of Scratch comes with the collaboration among users. By posting animations and creations to the Scratch website, users can take those animations and remix them into a new creation.

Before I attended this session, I toured different student Scratch projects in the Student Showcase section of the conference. I was amazed that I saw students as young as second grade explain how they create their projects in Scratch. The only disheartening piece that I heard from them is that most of these students learned about Scratch in after-school programs or Saturday school clubs. Ideally, I’d love to see Scratch integrated into the school day so that this program is available to all students.

NECC: Authoring Books with CAST Book Builder

At NECC I had the pleasure to attend a session called "If You Build It, They Will Read It: Authoring Books With CAST Book Builder" by Loudoun County Public Schools in Virgina.

The technology specialists presented about Book Builder, which is a FREE tool that allows you to create books online to adapt to the needs of your students. It is a free online authoring tool for educators and students. Book Builder has three characters to guide student thinking as they read the book: Pedro, Hali, and Monty. Pedro engages the affective networks by prompting readers to actively think about the text. Hali engages the strategic network by providing hints. Monty engages the recognition network by offering models of expert strategy use and think-alouds. The best part about the coaches is that you can customize them to make them say whatever you want to help children with their reading strategies.

Book Builder was created with the "design for all" concept of Universal Design that focuses on three principles: Representation, expression, and engagement. A teacher creates one account but multiple students can use to create their own books. Multiple users can create separate books on the same accounts with no problem. In fact, if students want to work on the same book at the same time, they can as long as they are on different pages. Book components can include: text, pictures, and recorded sound. There is also a multimedia glossary and 3 coaches (described above) to guide students' thinking as they read. The iTRTs that presented student books from Book Builder also passed around the book once it was printed out. They added symbols to each word in the story in a binder so that kids could have a print copy and not just a digital one.
Post any thoughts you have on Book Builder to the presenters' AT Tips Blog. For a link to their presentation, visit their website. There is also links to handouts of fold out pocket mods and videos on how to use it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm Quoted on Common Craft's Site

A few months ago, Lee LeFever asked for teacher educator feedback on his Common Craft videos that feature different technology tools. I enthusiastically responded since our county has been using Common Craft as part of our county-wide trainings over the last two years. One of my teammates saw that my comment was posted on Common Craft's website and forwarded it to me:

Having said this, I highly recommend using Common Craft videos to help explain technology tools to other people. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Promethean ActivInspire: Importing Resource Packs

If you have downloaded resource packs from Promethean Planet and are having trouble importing the resources into Inspire, follow these directions to correct the problem:

On the top menu bar, choose File > Import > Resource Pack to My Resources.
Then browse to your resource pack and open it. You should see your resources appear in the “My Resources” section of the resource library.

I chose to have you put the resource pack in “My resources” instead of “Shared Resources” because you will be able to find them easier. Once the pack is imported into Shared Resources, you may not have control over which folder your resource pack goes to, and then you have to click through several folders to try to find it.

Related Posts:

Promethean Pen Troubleshooting

ActivInspire: Using the Fill Tool to Change Font Color

Promethean Pen Troubleshooting

Please be sure watch your Promethean Pens carefully. It's actually a good idea to lock them up in a safe place when you are not going to be in the room. Also, when students come to the board to use the pen, be sure to check the tip of the pen for the nib. (See picture above) Students can actually yank the nibs out if they pull hard enough on them. Without the nib, the Promthean pen is disabled. If you find yourself in a situation where you have missing nibs, call Promthean at 1-888-652-2848 and they will send replacements free of charge. *Please note: it is better to call Promethean directly than to email them using their support address. They rarely repond to emails.
Related Posts:

Photo Story: Adjusting Music

There is an option in Photo Story to add music to your slideshow. However, some users have discovered that if there is already spoken narration added to the slideshow, the addition of music can overpower the narration. For the most part, it is recommended that you do not include music if there is narration in the show because it can be difficult for some individuals to hear. But if you find that both narration and music are necessary, here is a tip where both can be used in harmony. On the "Add Background Music" step in Photo Story, be sure to slide the "volume slider" down to the "low" end. Then preview your slideshow. If the music is still too loud, slide the volume slider even closer to the "low" end. The volume slider will only lower the volume of the music, not the spoken narration.

Related Posts:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spice Up My Slideshows!!

Are your students bored with regular lecture slideshows? Or even worse, are you trying to integrate technology by having your students create digital content, but you are stuck in having the kids create PowerPoint presentations? Time to spice up your digital content!

Alternatives to PowerPoint:
  1. Promethean Flipcharts: For those of you with Promethean boards or ActivSlates, you should make use of downloading pre-made flipcharts from Promethean Planet, or better yet, make your own. Remember to incorporate interactive features so that students are interacting with the board.
  2. Prezi: Unlike anything I have seen before, this site boasts that it is the "zooming editor for stunning presentations". Create your presentation online, and zoom into different parts of the lecture to create an interesting visual display.
  3. Slide Rocket: This online tool allows you to upload photographs and present them in a unique way. It reminds me a bit of Cool Iris.
  4. My Plick: Upload your PowerPoint file, add audio, and sync the audio to your slides to make an audio narrated slideshow. This is a good alternative for teachers teaching other teachers, or to make presentations that you want to post online for students to review content.
  5. SlideShare: Upload your PP to slideshare so that you can embed them into websites, wikis, and blogs.
  6. Show Beyond: Upload your slideshow and add audio narration.
  7. Bubble Share: Slideshows from your pictures
  8. Rock You: Add pictures, text, and music to these slideshows and embed in blogs, wikis, or webpages

Want Students to Create Digital Media?

  1. One True Media: mix your photos and video to create a masterpiece
  2. Photostory: Free download from Windows. Create picture slideshows, add audio narration for a better way to convey information. Students don't spend their whole computer lab type retyping their research into PP slides. Instead, they can record their voices to add their information.
  3. Stupeflix: Turn your video, pictures, and text into professional looking videos.
  4. MovieMaker: Capture footage from a Flip Video Camera or edit some editable footage from Discovery Streaming to create movies around a content area. Free with Windows - check your computer if you have a relatively new one. You probably have it already.
  5. FreePath: Mix slides, videos, web content and more.

There are many, many more options, but these should get you started! Do you have a favorite tool for slideshows or presentations? Leave your comment to keep the ideas coming!

Photo from - by scragz.

12 Essential Technology Tools for Education

I found this article last week about the "Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration" by Richard Byrne, author of Free Technology for Teachers. He includes free sites for:
  • creating documents and presentations
  • communicating
  • creating collaborative projects
  • alternatives for YouTube

This is a digital article which means you can turn the pages right on your laptop, zoom into the pages to read them full size, and click the links Mr. Byrne has embedded into it.

I tip my hat to you, Mr. Byrne, for creating a concise, informative document that many teachers will find beneficial.

Pixie Quick Tip: Gluing Stickers onto the Background

Are your students frustrated that stickers are moving around in Pixie when they want them to stay in place? You can use the "glue bottle" feature to glue things to the background of your painting. Once a sticker is glued into place, you can now erase parts of the sticker or draw and paint on top of it. To glue a sticker into place, first add a sticker to your canvas.
On the sticker above, you can see that the green handles are activated when you click on the sticker. This means that the sticker is currently floating on top of the canvas. Any drawing or painting you will do will go behind this sticker. To glue it in place, click the sticker to select it and choose the "Options" tab on the right. On the options tab, click the "Glue Bottle".

Once you click the glue bottle, the sticker is stuck to the canvas so you can erase parts of it or draw on top of it. Now when you click the sticker, it will no longer have the green handles since it cannot be selected (See below) because it's stuck to the canvas.

ActivInspire: Using the Fill Tool to Change Font Color

Did you know you can change the font color with the fill tool (paint bucket icon) in ActivInspire? As long as you choose a big, chunky font, you can change the color of the font of an ENTIRE word by clicking on any letter in the word with the fill tool. This is an easy method to make plain text on a flipchart into an interactive activity for kids. Have the kids color code text for:
  • Parts of Speech
  • Main idea/detail
  • Characters, setting, problem, solution
  • Keywords
  • New Vocabulary and Definitions
  • Prepositional phrases, clauses
  • Etc.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

History in Pictures

The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr. is a site where you can see how photographs have changed since the 1940s. Also users can create their own propaganda to study how propaganda is used in the public within this site.

Picturing the Century is sponsored by the National Archives and spans over 100 years in history. In addition to browsing the pictures online, you can order reprints from their catalog.

The Way We Worked: a site that documents in photographs how the workplace has changed since the 19th century. Pictures of how we worked, where we worked, what we wore to work, dangers at work, and more are displayed.

Life Magazine: Photographs show current issues as well as historical events.

Create Stories Online: Digital Storytelling Sites

Myths and Legends Story Creator is a great site for kids who love to create stories. Not only can you create stories with several backgrounds and clip art pieces to choose from, but you can also read and listen to stories that other students have written. Click "Play" to play the story and watch as the stories animate and you can follow along with the narrator. Try making your own and sharing it with friends!

Story Top story creator is an online application similar to Myths and Legends (above) but with fewer choices. The website utilizes a drag and drop interface where you choose backgrounds, characters, and objects. Add text to your story. Choose to save it to the Story Top account or send your story to a friend when you are finished.

Related Posts:
Read, Write, Think: Comic Generator
Audio Books Online
UDL Book Builder

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Math Practice

The last post was about summer reading practice, so it only makes sense to follow up with summer math practice! Parents often ask me how they can practice basic skills with their children over the summer. Begone, worksheets and workbooks! Look online for some of the best math practice and manipulatives to help you work on your math skills:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Reading Practice

Are you looking for sites to encourage your students to read, listen, and connect with books over the summer? Here are a few to get you started:*

*(As with any site, preview it before you decide if it is age appropriate before you give it to your students).

UDL Book Builder

The UDL (Universal Design for Learning) Book Builder is a site where you can read, explore, create, and share digital books that build reading skills for your students. UDL Book Builder also provides three coaches that you can build into your books. (See the 3 little characters at the bottom of the book page?) When you click on a character, the character will speak (and show a text bubble) as it guides the students through different reading skills, such as predicting, clarifying, reading for meaning, etc. In my opinion, this feature alone is what sets this site apart from the rest. I haven't seen any site like this that allows the user to create the book, add images, and add reading coaches! UDL Book Builder provides links to free text, free images, free reading strategies, etc that will help you create your book. You will need to sign up for a free account to fully explore the site, but it's worth it!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Games for Elementary Kids

With summer fast approaching, are you looking for educational games to recommend to your students? Here is just a partial list of some of my favorite sites that reinforce basic skills:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teachers: Be Very Afraid

There are teachers who are resisting technology integration in their classroom because they don't want to change their teaching style and see no need for it. However, there is no denying that today's generation of children are completely different from previous generations. Reluctant teachers do not want to admit this because if they acknowledge that students are different, that means they will have to change they way they teach. This site is for all of those teachers who think they can continue with paper and pencil activities and still reach today's youth. Reluctant Teachers: BE VERY AFRAID. This site is actually called "Be Very Afraid". To summarize the site, I have taken a quote directly from their home page:
  • "Each year a selection of ingenious students - from primary to university age - are invited along to BAFTA in London's Piccadilly to show and talk about the extraordinary things they are doing with new technologies in their learning. During the day the students explain just what it is that they are doing. Each year is more ambitious; each year poses real questions for policymakers and parents as the ambitions of these 21st century learners, together with their ability to deliver on these ambitions, becomes apparent."
While browsing through some of the video clips from the conference, I saw some AMAZING examples of students using technology. A few things that I saw:
  • Students from elementary school through college using technology
  • Special needs students using technology (learning disabled, autistic, and MR)
  • Movie Maker for student made videos
  • Google Sketch Up for building design
  • Cell Phones in education
  • Satellite technology
  • Clay animation
  • Web Design in Flash, Director, Dream Weaver
  • Gaming in education
  • Pocket PCs

And this was just the first page!!

Is there really any argument for not using technology in the classroom? I think not.

Vote in Doodle for Google's Contest

Between May 11 and May 18, you can vote for student created Google designs in Google's national "Doodle 4 Google Contest". Logos are broken down into age categories, and students were challenged to design a Google logo based on the theme "What I Wish For The World". It's definitely interesting to see how the younger generation views world issues. The winning logo will be displayed on on May 21st. Good luck to all the finalists!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Photovisi: Create your own desktop collages!

Photovisi is a website where you can upload photos from your computer or import them from Flickr to create your own personalized photo collages for your desktop. There is no need to create an account or login to the site to use their services. They do not store your photos in their site. Just upload anywhere between 1 - 30 photos, choose your template, and Photovisi does the rest. Download your creation in three standard desktop wallpaper sizes, apply to your desktop, and you're done! Impress your friends! Now teachers can quickly showcase pictures from a field trip or special event.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prezi: A New Way To Present Information

Prezi is not your mom's presentation tool! Prezi does not just create linear presentations, but it also allows you to create a path between the information that you create, linking it in any order that you want. Zoom into the information for details, or zoom out for a global view of the presentation.

Link to a very quick prezi presentation that I made:

I signed up for a free account, which does not offer me an option to make my presentations private. However, there are paid subscriptions available that has this feature. My free account comes with 100 Mb of storage. This is a great tool if you have key ideas or pictures that you want to focus in on quickly instead of having lots of text on a screen.

"Web 3.0" by Kevin Kelly

It's coming - web 3.0. Are you feeling overwhelmed that you don't even know web 2.0 very well and now technology is moving on without you? It just might be! Kevin Kelly, from Wired magazine, talks about how the Internet will change over the next 5,000 days. It's worth pondering, especially if you are an educator resisting integrating technology into your classroom. It's painfully clear that teachers will be hard pressed to reach children coming into their classroom unless they adapt their teaching methods accordingly.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, copy and paste this video link and view it at home:

Animal Web Cams

Looking for animal web cams to enhance your science instruction? Here are a few to get your started:

Animal Cams at the Smithsonian National Zoo
This page from the National Zoo has many cams to choose from including: gorilla, lion, panda, octopus, tamarin, leopard, flamingo, and more! One of my friends told me about this site, and now I can share it with you!

Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cams
Monterey's site includes cams that feature otters, a kelp forest, penguins, and a live view of the bay underwater.

Biodiversity Research Institute's Eagle Cam
This is one of my favorites. You can choose to go to this page and watch 15 second updates, or you can click the preview window to see a live feed (recommended). I used this site with my class and we were able to watch a pair of bald eagles feed their babies!

Biology Resources for Teachers
Food Chain Games
Make a Wild Animal
Way Cool Science Sites
Science Videos on Vimeo

Friday, May 8, 2009

Digital Avatars for Website: Oddcast PhotoFace

Create Your OwnOddcast Powered

Oddcast PhotoFace is a website I came across the other day that allows you to upload a headshot of your face and it will turn it into a digital avatar for you that can be posted to Facebook, downloaded, or embedded into websites. Once the image is uploaded, you can change your race, facial expressions, hair color, and facial hair (for men). In addition, you can add audio with a microphones, text-to-speech, or call it in by phone.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Multicultural Sites for Kids

Kids Around the World is a site that allows you to "meet" kids from all countries, listen to their interviews, and see pictures of how they live their life in their part of the world.

Hello, World! is a site designed to help children learn foreign languages. Start with simple phrases and vocabulary and work your way up to games and activities to reinforce your skills. Some of the languages that are featured are: Spanish, Italian, French, Arabic, German, Russian, Chinese, and more.

MICCA 2009: Presenting on Web Blender

I had the pleasure of presenting a poster session at MICCA 2009 in Baltimore, MD on April 23. I showcased different ways Web Blender is used in the elementary classroom by teachers and students. Since Web Blender creates interactive presentations and primary websites, it can be used in place of PowerPoint for students, and can be used as an interactive presentations for teachers trying to explain a difficult concept. Here are a few ways Web Blender was highlighted in this session:

Life Cycle of a Frog (Web Blender can show the cycle using action buttons)
Water Cycle
Student Poetry
Animal Reseach Reports

Do you want more resources on Web Blender? Check out these links:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Microsoft's Surface at MEEC

I had the pleasure of going to MEEC today (Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium) in Baltimore. While I was there, I visited Microsoft's booth in the vendor area where they were demonstrating a new product, called "Surface". Essentially the Surface is a small interactive tabletop where a group of people could gather around it for sharing or learning. Touching the surface of this device reads the location of your finger, so if you touch an object, it orients toward you. If the person on the opposite side of the table touches the same object, it orients towards them. This eliminates having "bad seats" around the Surface. I could completely see this being used in elementary classrooms. It's the perfect size for little ones and for small group instruction. It will be interesting to see how this device plays a part in education in the future. The only disadvantage I see right now is cost. It looks like a complete unit plus installation costs $14,000. Check out a demo at the Microsoft's official site. I also have footage from MEEC of the Surface highlighted below. What do you think about this tool?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teacher Led: White Board Activities!

I just came across a website called Teacher Led and it's one of the best sites I have seen to use with interactive whiteboards in a long time! One of their pages is a list of interactive activities that were designed to practice basic concepts on the interactive whiteboard. At this time, most of the activities are designed for math, but there are a few for reading and social studies. "I don't have an interactive whiteboard!" you might complain. These activities would work well on eInstruction chalkboards or Promethean ActivSlates as well. Don't have those either? If you have a computer connected to a projector in your classroom, these activities can be just as effective. Let's take a look at some of these:

The first one is an activity where you have to find common multiples using a Venn Diagram. When you have sorted all of the numbers, you can start over with a fresh batch of numbers to practice with.

The second one allows you to explore the concept of symmetry. Use shapes or draw and color with the pen tools to make a design. The activity will automatically fill in the other 3 quadrants as you draw. This makes a difficult concept very easy to illustrate.

The third one demonstrates the concept of prime factorization. You have the option of choosing a number, and the simulation will break the number down into its factors. Remove the "leaves" over each number to see if you were correct in your guess.

These are just three examples of many activities that Teacher Led has to offer. I highly recommend this site to classroom teachers looking for ways to illustrate difficult concepts.

Related Posts:

Interactive Whiteboard Links
Games for the Interactive Whiteboard
Kids and Cookies
Division Online