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Whiz Kids

What it is: Whiz Kids is a new site developed for autistic children.  It was designed to give these kids a fun place to develop life skills.  All of the games and videos have high production values, making them engaging and impressive, they feel as though you have stepped into a Pixar movie.  Through this one portal, you get 16 interactive and therapeutic games.  The games help kids develop essential life skills like empathy, recognizing emotion, making decisions, coping with change, transactions,  non-verbal gestures, grouping, schedules, finding a route, and making eye contact.  Although these games were specifically developed for children with autism, they are wonderful for primary elementary students and ELL students as well. How to integrate Whiz Kids into the classroom: Whiz Kids has an incredible back story, the site was created by more 80 students 8 lecturers and 10 autism specialists, the project represents more than 16,000 hours of research and development.  The games are tailored to fit the needs of autistic children.  If you teach autistic children, these games will help them develop important life skills that will aid them when interacting with classmates.  The games would be great for classroom computers as a center activity.  Help other students in your classroom understand how they can help the autistic children in the classroom by having them play the Whiz Kids games as well.  This will give your students a shared vocabulary and experience to draw on when they are working and playing together in the classroom.  Because the games focus so much on character development, they are appropriate for any primary classroom.  Help your students learn about complex human interactions like empathy, non-verbal communication, and coping with change through game play.  The games can be played and discussed as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer, or they can be played independently at a computer center, or a computer lab.  After playing the game, practice the skill taught as a class.  For example, if students play Robbie the Robot and are practicing recognizing emotion and facial expressions, follow up by asking students to work with a partner making faces and naming the emotion.  ELL students can use Whiz Kids to develop character related vocabulary and understanding. Tips: On the Whiz Kids sister site, Autism Games, teachers can get more information about individual games and how to use them with students.  Each game is categorized based on the life skill that it teaches.  The game descriptions and suggestions are fantastic. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Whiz Kids in your classroom.

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Photo Booth/ Seenly

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Open Source, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2007

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What it is: If you are lucky enough to have a newer Mac in your classroom, you are familiar with Photo Booth. Photo Booth is reminiscent of its name sake, it allows students to take pictures with the built-in iSight camera. If you have a pre-Photo Booth Mac or a PC you can now use a free Browser application called Seenly. Seenly lets students take pictures of themselves (even applying different effects like sepia tone or x-ray). Seenly can be used on older Mac’s or PC’s. The only requirement is a web cam. These are coming way down in price, $15-$25.

How to integrate Photo Booth or Seenly into the classroom: Photo Booth and Seenly can be used for a multitude of projects throughout the school year. My favorite project for using Photo Booth/Seenly is for character education development. I create a “How are you feeling today?” grid in Pages or Word and save as a template. Students take pictures of themselves displaying the different emotions and drag and drop onto the template. When they are finished we print them out and create a class book of emotions. This is a wonderful way to teach students empathy. Photo Booth/Seenly can also be used at the beginning of the year for a getting-to-know you project. Create a bulletin board with student pictures. Students could use Photo Booth/Seenly to star in their own stories. Teachers, take pictures of students throughout the year as you podcast students reading. The photos with the podcasts make an excellent end of the year gift for students and parents as they can see and hear students growth throughout the year. Create a classroom “dictionary” where students create definitions for themselves along with their pictures. When teaching action verbs, have students take pictures of themselves actually doing an action verb. You will find a hundred and one uses that you never expected when you bring a web cam into the classroom and pair it with Photo Booth/Seenly!

Tips: See the image below for an example of the “How are you feeling today?” templates I created in Pages. One template was created for kindergarten through second grades and the second template was created for third through fifth grades.

Comments (2)

What a great idea! You said it best. Photo Booth does have a 101 uses and then some. I really like the idea of using it for character education. Also, seeing the maturation of a reader doesn’t get any better than capturing it over the course of a year. Good stuff!

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