Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whoa...Giant Multi Touch Boards

At Educon, there were amazing conversations, great ideas, and.....drumroll please....A GIANT MULTI TOUCH BOARD!!! First of all, I must admit, I was "wowed" by the technology. After playing with it using a few different applications, several people in the session starting questioning the people providing the demonstration. Importantly, the people WHO MADE the board asked the question: Is this useful to education? How could you see yourself using it? To me, this was monumental. Instead of having someone preach about the multitude of uses for a "high-powered IWB," they were analyzing it's possible implications for educators. Let's take a step backward and evaluate the tools we have in our schools. Are they conducive to the missions and visions of our schools? Do they advance student learning in a collaborative manner? Do they assist students in the construction of meaningful knowledge? Good questions for any piece of "fun technology" that you'd like to see in classrooms!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fun Video for Day 100

If you are in an elementary classroom, you may be counting the school days. Well, DAY 100 is right around the corner, and I'm sure you are planning many fun activities for your class. (100 piece puzzles, 100 stickers, 100 cheerios for snack, etc.) Here is a great video that you can use. It is 100 different people from ages 1 to 100 stating their age. Students can count along! (This video is from You Tube, so you may not be able to view it from your school site.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Great Guidelines for Creating Wikis

Dave Foord has conducted some action research about what strategies make wikis successful. The fruit of his research has produced the "6 Stolen Principles" for using wikis. The ideas are on a wiki where YOU are encouraged to edit and refine his findings. I thought that all of the ideas were very helpful for framing my work with wikis. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Free Poverty: Practice Geography and Raise Money

In the past I've posted about Lemons for Literacy, a site that donates money to eliminate illiteracy when students answer vocabulary questions correctly. Bill Ferris has recently posted about Free Poverty, a site that donates water to underprivledged countries when students answer geography questions correctly. Here is what Bill had to say about the site:
The online game FreePoverty rewards your knowledge of geography by donating 10 cups of water to thirsty people around the world for every city or landmark you can correctly place on a world map.

FreePoverty lets you have fun and help others at the same time. It also has a good deal of wiggle room:

“If your answer is correct, 10 cups of water will be donated. The further away you are from the location, the number of cups will decrease."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great Word Game

Larry Ferlazzo brought this game to my attention last week. It is called Word Inspector, and it is a great game for upper elementary students to use during the word-work section of the literacy block. Students create 4 letter words based on the color-coded feedback provided by the game. (Green letters are correct, tan letters are wrong, and brown letters are in the wrong place.) It reminds me of the game show LINGO except only 4 letter words are used in the beginning rounds. I think students would find it motivating, and it encourages students to really think about how words are built. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Model Me iPod App for Students with Autism

Model Me Kids, the service that produces DVDs for social modeling, has produced a FREE iPod app for students with autism. The iPod app is called Model Me, and it is available here. The app includes 6 social stories about common locations in the community, including the hairdresser, mall, doctor, playground, grocery store, and a restaurant. A child's voice narrates each picture and the interface is very easy to use. I highly recommend it as a resource! I learned about this resource from Jill Schweitzer, a fantastic special education supervisor. Thanks, Jill!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poetry Visualizations with Flickr

Writing poetry has always been an enjoyable skill for me to teach. This is likely because students can experiment with the English language, and they can enjoy the quirks, twists, and turns or expression. Many years I taught students how to write short poems, such as Cinquains or Haikus. Typically we would draw images to explain and expand upon written ideas. I just stumbled upon FlickrPoet, a site that generates images based on the poem you enter. I think this would be an extremely motivating way for students to publish short poetry. Students type in their poems and the site generates a visual representation of the poem. Give it a try today!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flockdraw: Like Etherpad for Drawing

I really enjoy working with other people and I enjoy working with my students. However, it is sometimes difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time. (Schedules can be a nightmare!) I have found services such as Etherpad (Read my review of etherpad here.) and Imagination Cubed (Read my review of Imagination Cubed here.). Well, add Flockdraw to the list of good online collaboration tools. It's interface is almost identical to Etherpad, and a log in is not required. People can draw and collaborate online in REAL TIME. You can also embed the canvas, and that feature can be a lot of fun in your blog or wiki. I have used it twice and it worked seamlessly both times. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chatzy: Create a Free Chatroom Instantly

Have you ever needed a chat room instantly? Or do you need a venue for backchanneling in your classroom? You may want to try Chatzy, a free venue for online chatting. When you create a room, you can make it open to the public, or you can require a password for access. Also, you can specify the dynamics of the room (allow individual message, allow chat only, etc.). This makes it highly customizable to your needs. It's a good resource to "keep in your back pocket." It comes in really handy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shape Collage

If you have your class photos uploaded to a public sharing server such as Flickr, Picasa, or Facebook, then you will love Shape Collage. Shape Collage allows you to put in the web address for a collection of pictures and it will create a collage in the shape you desire. You can even embed the collage into your website or blog. It is free, and there is a fully online version available. I think this would be a great way to display pictures of student work! I have embedded an example below.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Make a SmartBoard Puzzle Using Flickr Pics

My young students absolutely love using the SmartBoard as a center. One resource that they have particularly enjoyed is Befuddlr. Click here to see a sample that I made This is a tool that uses Flickr to create a "scramble puzzle" from any Flickr picture (your own pictures or public pictures). Here are some ways that I have used this resource:
  • I have allowed students to unscramble a picture about an upcoming topic as a way to activate prior knowledge.
  • I have allowed students to unscramble a picture of an alphabet puzzle.
  • I have allowed students to unscramble each other's "All About Me" photos. (With parent permission of course!)
  • I have used the tools with students with more severe disabilities to develop their gross motor skills. (They really have to stretch to reach the top of the board!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Slidefinder: Finding Content You Need

Since professional development is a large part of my job, I am always looking for inspiration for my presentations. And while I typically like to "shy away" from slides filled with bullet points and text, it is often helpful to see what others have created when you are at the "drawing board." I have found Slidefinder to be a helpful resource for this purpose. You can search a topic and it will return PowerPoint slides that you can view. A sign in is not required, making it a little bit easier to access than some other slide sharing services. Not only does it assist in planning your presentation, but it also gives you good perspective regarding what others have found to be important on the topic. I hope this is helpful to you! Thank you to Richard Byrne for this resource!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Twitter University

Tired of missing all those informational, educational tweets during the day? Well, Darah Bonham has proposed an idea called "Twitter University." (Read his entire blog post here.) He has suggested using specific hashtags starting with #twitteru so that individuals can explore good educational conversations even after they have happened. All of the hash tags are stored on a wiki here. Feel free to add new tags and searches to the wiki page. This sounds like a fun initiative that will definitely help new tweeps to find value in Twitter.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Build Your Wild Self

Last night, @kjarrett reminded me of one of my favorite sites via Twitter: Build Your Wild Self. This site is produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society, and it allows students to create avatars that have many different animal "parts (wings, frog legs, etc.). Here are some of the uses my tweeps brainstormed for using the site:
  • Use the site as an inspiration for a writing prompt.
  • Use the site to help students learn about adaptations. (Have them create a character, then give them some "environmental factors" and have then redesign the new, adapted character.)
  • Use the site to create a fun image for an "All About Me" bulletin board.
Have more ideas? Add them in the comments!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Useful Site to Compare Assistive Technology Software

If you are going through the SETT process (See Lauren Enders' great preso about that here.) with a student with special needs, you will be researching and considering many different types of assistive technologies. While many assistive technologies are "low tech" resources without batteries, some students require special software. If you are new to this field, it may be difficult to know where to start. For me, I have found TechMatrix to be an invaluable resource. It compares and contrasts all different types of assistive technology software. It is a good starting point for "background research" for any SETT meeting. Enjoy!t

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More free books? EdPub.Gov

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I LOVE free books. Check out my previous posts on free books here, here, and here. Well, here is another source for free books: EdPub. This site was created by the national government to give teachers and parents access to all of the educational documents published by the Department of Education. Some of the books are rather informative, and they could be useful FREE resources for teacher trainings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun Online Safety Game for Ages 8-10

There is a growing need for young students to learn about the dangers of life "on the web." The Media Awareness Network has created a fun, engaging game that teaches students about online marketing, spam, and online predators. It is framed around the classic story of The Three Little Pigs, and I think students would enjoy playing it. A teacher's guide is also provided to help you use the activity in the classroom. Hopefully this resource is useful for you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Synchtube: Watch YouTube Videos Collaboratively

I stumbled across this resource, and I'm glad I did! Many times I want to show a video with my class, but I don't want my students to see all of the unrelated information. While Quietube is good for this, it does not allow you to collaborate or discuss the video. Synchtube removes the unrelated information AND it provides a chat platform where you can collaborate around the video. I think it could be a great resource IF youtube is not blocked in your district. Also, there are no sign ins required to use the service, so it is very "student friendly." Let me know what you think or if you have used it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Venue for Free Online Collaboration

There are times when you need an online collaboration space to work with your colleagues, students, or friends. Wiz-IQ is a free source for online collaboration. With your free sign in, you can create rooms for colleagues to gather and discuss current issues. I set up a room with relative ease, and the controls are similar to an Elluminate room. This could be handy for hosting at-home, online webinars. Have you used it? Let me know!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cool Collection of Infographics

As we help students to decipher the deluge of information that is instantly available in today's age, we need to teach them how to access different forms of literacy. Infographics are images that display data in a visually appealing way. I think it is a good practice to begin using them in class. Here is a nice collection of infographics to help you get started. (Some of these are not appropriate for school, so make sure you just copy/paste the ones you want to use to another source.) How do you use infographics in your teaching? Let me know in the comments! Simple example from the site:

Tutorial Search Engine

There are many program tasks that I don't do very often. Due to this, I reference quick video tutorials for various programs as a reference. The district where I previously worked had access to Atomic Learning, so I used that subscription to help me learn new skills. However, my new job does not allow me to access that site. I've found Tutorials Search Engine to be a viable alternative to Atomic Learning. While the content on Atomic Learning is a much better resource overall, the search engine is a good FREE replacement. Need a tutorial for your students? Consider the Tutorial Search Engine!

Monday, January 11, 2010

CAST Science Writer

CAST (the makers of the UDL Bookbuilder) have released a free new tool called the Science Writer. It guides students through the creation of a science lab report. It gives students the following features when writing a science report:
  • It chunks each part of the report so students do not feel overwhelmed
  • It guides students through the steps of the writing process (draft, revise, publish)
  • It has sentence starters to help students that need prompting to begin writing
  • It has a journal section where students can take their own notes
  • It has a text to speech feature that allows students to hear what they have written read aloud
  • It has a cast of animated helpers that support students as they work

Sunday, January 10, 2010

iPod Books?

Check out the video below of an iPod book. I could think of so many different applications for a tool like this. What do you think? Is this "good for learning" or "just another gadget?"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Webinars about Transition

Creating a meaningful transition plan for students with special needs can be challenging. Teachers, parents, and students must work in tandem to ensure that a student is able to be successful beyond the scope of the educational system. Transition Map has created several free webinars that teachers can use as resources when creating transition plans for students. The webinars are available here. They are viewable at any time, and they could be a good resource for teachers, parents, and administrators.

The topics include:
  • Transition and the IEP
  • Preparing Autism and Aspergers Students for College
  • Employment After Graduation: Paving the Way to Success
  • Planning for Persons with Disabilities Using First and Third Party Trusts


Friday, January 8, 2010

Anatomy Arcade

Do you teach students about the parts of the body? Check out Anatomy Arcade. I really like the free games on this site. I think they are most appropriate for high school students, but some middle school students may benefit too! You can choose games by "body system" or "type." If you are a biology teachers, this site is a great FREE resource.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Changing Brains

Prior to the job I have now, I used to be a primary teacher. My experiences teaching the younger grades have led me to realize the power of learning during the earliest years of development. Sometimes this information is hard to portray to fellow teachers or parents. Check out Changing Brains, a site created by the University of Oregon to help educate teachers and parents about "brain-friendly" learning during the early years. There are short video clips that explain the necessity of language development and other tasks. These clips would be perfect to spark discussion at PLC meetings or inservice days. Check them out!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Google DID YOU KNOW?

I am a huge fan of Google Docs. I just found one more reason to LOVE IT EVEN MORE. If you use Google Docs, then you can share the link with your participants. By clicking on "view together" your participants can create a private back-channel inside your presentation. There is no sign in required for this feature. Here are some applications that I thought of for students:
  • Students can ask questions as you present notes.
  • Students can use the backchannel for formative assessment during lessons.
  • Students can use the backchannel to get insight from fellow students when they present.
  • Students could participate from other locations. (i.e. home sick, etc.)
See this example from Tom Barrett:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creaza: An Integrated Multimedia Cloud Application

While we all know different apps for creating cartoons, editing movies, and recording audio, I just learned of a free service that integrates all of those tasks. Creaza is a free site (Paid premium accounts are available.) that allows students to create comics, videos, and songs. It could be very helpful for multimedia projects because students would be able to work from home if necessary. The interfaces seemed pretty easy, and I created a cartoon with minimal help. Teachers may appreciate only having to teach 1 tool to students. You may want to check it out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lemons for Literacy: Raising Money

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how valuable I believe vocabulary instruction is. Well, I just stumbled across Lemons for Literacy. This site provides a dictionary reference and vocabulary game that contributes money to literacy programs for children and adults with every correct answer! I think it could be a very fun way to foster awareness and good cheer in your classroom during this season of "giving." Check it out!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Stock Market Simulation

Do you teach economics or money management? You may be interested We Seed, a stock market simulation that is geared towards both high school students and adults. Students create a free log-in that allows them to buy and sell shares at anytime. Real time data is provided regarding their moves. However, all of the money is FAKE. This could be an excellent way for students to learn the "reality" of the stock market in a safe way. It looks like a good resource.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's the Year 2010-- Throw Away Your Flashdrive!

I am a big fan of Dropbox. (See my post about Dropbox here.) Using this free online tool will enable you to quit carrying around those old flash drives that can get corrupted, lost, or broken. This particular resource also has an iPod app so you can access your files remotely on-the-go. So, get rid of your flashdrive. Start using an online storage system. Flash drives are SOOO 2009.

Interested in joining Dropbox for FREE? Click HERE to begin!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Goals

As we enter the new year, I am already thinking of new learning goals to pursue. Here's what tops my list of "things to investigate" in 2010: What do you want to learn? Leave your comments!


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