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Mixbook: Yearbook/Storybook/Calendar/Card creator

What it is:  Mixbook saved us this year in a BIG way.  Being our first year as a school, we didn’t want to use a big yearbook publishing company to create our first yearbook.  We wanted to be able to get as much of the year in as possible (most yearbook companies have mid-year deadlines), we were only having 60 made (small potatoes for big yearbook companies), and we wanted to be able to print one-offs if we needed to.  We started creating in Shutterfly, it was a familiar program, most of our helpers had used it for personal books so the learning curve was small.  And then the world came crashing down. It was the day before the deadline to get our order in so that it would make it before the school year ended. Two of us logged in at the same time and apparently properly confused the system and lost the whole thing.  All 30 pages of it. After throwing a pity party, trying to get in touch with Shutterfly (unsuccessfully), and declaring that there would be no yearbook, I did what anyone would do- I took my pity party to Twitter. I never did hear from Shutterfly.  You know who did come to the rescue? Mixbook.  They saw my pity party tweet, apologized for our bad fortune, offered their assistance and let us know that they would be happy to help in any way they could.  I was familiar with Mixbook but hadn’t used it before. I hopped onto the Mixbook site and immediately liked what I saw: The interface is incredibly easy to use. It allows collaborative working and tells you when someone else is editing the book so you don’t override each other. It has great templates. It has great customization options. The customer service is unmatched.  Honestly, any time we had a question/comment/problem they helped within minutes.  During business hours they have  a dynamite online chat support system.  When it wasn’t normal business hours their Twitter genius would get back to me. Emails were answered within hours. Finished books can be viewed and shared for free online. They were incredibly helpful in keeping the price of each book reasonable for us.  They extended coupon codes, gave us bulk purchase discounts, and rushed our order so that it would get to us with plenty of time to spare. The books are GORGEOUS.  They look better than they do on screen (this hasn’t been my experience with other book companies). Mixbook is a free online scrapbook/calendar/card creator.  With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to pre made templates, everything is fully customizable. The online design software is extremely easy to use and works the way you would expect it to (no unwelcome surprises). Mixbook is integrated with many popular photo sites including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, etc.  You can also easily batch upload from your computer. How to integrate Mixbook into the classroom:  As we experienced, Mixbook is a fantastic place to make school or classroom yearbooks.  Despite the short timeline, we enjoyed creating our yearbooks and are glad to have our first year commemorated so beautifully.  At the bottom of each page, we created a running timeline of everything that happened in our first year as a school. Because it is so easy to customize each page, students could use Mixbook to create “published” portfolios or writing.  Take pictures of student work throughout the year, keep a folder for each student.  At the end of the year, students can create a Mixbook of their work.  They can include the pictures of their work and add text boxes where they reflect on their learning or explain the project.  For original writing, students can create digital or hand drawn illustrations that get scanned and uploaded to the Mixbook pages.  Students can type the story directly in Mixbook.  The finished book can be shared for free online, parents will have the option to purchase the book if they would like to. A photo calendar would be a great way to commemorate a school year and would make an awesome end of the year gift to your students.  Each month can include projects and snapshots of what you did throughout the year. Create specialized cards and thank you stationary for your classroom.  Any time you need it, it will be ready to go and more special for your students. Group projects are easy to create with Mixbook.  The collaboration ability is wonderful!  You could use Mixbook with colleagues to create custom learning guides that you can get printed. Tips: As an educator, you get an extra discount for any order of 10 items or more.  OUTSTANDING! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mixbook in  your classroom!

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14 Online Interactive Advent Calendars

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 30-11-2010

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It is December again, which means the beginning of Advent.  Advent calendars are a fun way to reveal information and “surprises” for your students to look forward to each day in December leading up to Christmas.  This year I thought I would make an advent calendar of my own using Wix.  I created a Web 2.0 advent calendar by choosing 25 of my favorite web 2.0 tools for the classroom.  Each day you can check out a new one.  (I’ll let you in on a secret, you can cheat and look at them all by clicking on the bird to get back to the calendar page…shh don’t tell anyone!)  You and your students can create your own custom advent calendar like I did using Wix.  Students can create an advent calendar of pictures of their school work, trivia for their parents, special audio notes, or anything they are learning.  To create your own Wix advent calendar, choose a template, add shapes to the template to create your calendar pieces, add 25 pages to the site, add links to those pages.  You could also create an advent calendar of your own using Glogster.  Create a customized advent calendar for your students with fun surprises, quotes, video clips, sound bites, etc.  It can be related to the learning they are doing in your classroom, suggestions of books to read,  or reveal special rewards like extra computer time, time playing a favorite game, time for reading, etc.  Be creative!

Woodlands Jr has a great online advent calendar every year that tests students knowledge about Christmas around the world.  The Woodlands Jr. 2010 advent calendar is now up and ready for viewing! This is a fun way for students to test their knowledge and learn about the ways that Christmas is celebrated all around the world.  As an extension, plot the places around the world that they are learning about on a world map.

BBC Radio has a fabulous Bach advent calendar. Each day your students can listen to a story about Bach or music.

The National Museum of Liverpool has an advent calendar that reveals a piece of art from the museum each day.

The Dirt Dirt advent calendar is purely fun, each day click on a number and an animation will be added to the tree.

For those of us who are app inclined, you can download a free app for your iDevice every day from Appvent Calendar.

Below you will find my interactive advent calendar finds from last year.  You are bound to find one that is a perfect fit for your class!

What it is: It is December!  This means the beginning of Advent along with the anticipation and excitement that it brings.  The Internet is full of interactive advent calendars that you can use in your classroom to teach about how the Christmas season is celebrated all around the world.  These advent calendars reveal fun facts, interactive activities, and stories.

Santa’s House Advent Calendar- This advent calendar tells a fun story.  Each day reveals another secret about what goes on inside Santa’s home on the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  In each picture, there is a little mouse hiding.  When students click on his ears, he jumps out.

Picture 1

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar- Each day students click on the date to reveal a fun fact about how countries around the world celebrate Christmas.  The facts are accompanied by great illustrations and pictures.  This site shows up very small inside my Internet browser (Firefox).  To remedy this problem, click on “view” in your menu bar and choose “zoom”.  You may need to zoom in several times.

Picture 2

Christmas Mice Advent Calendar- This calendar tells the story about a mouse family who celebrates Christmas.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.  Each picture includes some animation.

Picture 3

Santa’s Advent Calendar- On this advent calendar, each day reveals a new song or activity for students to complete. There are some fun Christmas themed mysteries to solve, stories to read, and activities to work through.

Picture 4French Carols Advent Calendar-  This is a French advent calendar.  Each day contains a new French Christmas carol sung by children.  This advent calendar would be a fun one to include in a study of Christmas around the world.

Picture 5

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar Quiz-  This advent calendar tests students knowledge about how other cultures celebrate Christmas.  Each day students are asked a question and given hints to help them answer.  When the answer is revealed, students can click on links to learn more about the Christmas celebrations in that country.  This site also includes great activities and teaching resources for Christmas.

Picture 6

Christmas Advent Calendar- Follow the adventures of Zac the elf as he tries to find a Christmas present for Santa.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.

Picture 7

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar-  This advent calendar has fun little games and activities to play each day.  The games and activities are quick and easy to complete, building mouse and keyboard skills.  This advent calendar would be a good one for the classroom computers as a center activity.

Picture 8

How to integrate Interactive Advent Calendars into the classroom: The season of Advent is always filled with eagerness and expectancy. Build some of that anticipation into your school day by allowing students to unlock a new secret on the advent calendar each day.  Use these advent calendars with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector, or set them up as a quick center activity that students can visit.  Use the advent calendars that reveal a story to practice looking for foreshadowing clues, using context clues to guess what will happen next, or as story starters for students own stories.  The Christmas around the world advent calendars are wonderful for teaching students some of the history of Christmas and the way that other cultures celebrate the familiar holiday.

Tips: Each of these advent calendars has some fun goodies and hidden surprises, find the one that best fits your classroom needs.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Interactive Advent Calendars  in your classroom.

Comments (11)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, ktenkely, Heather Mason, lmockford, Tracy Poelzer and others. Tracy Poelzer said: RT @ShellTerrell: 14 Online Interactive Advent Calendars http://bit.ly/f1ry7R by @ktenkely #edtech [...]

Awesome resources. I love your Web 2.0 Advent Calendar! I’m sharing it with my teachers because it’s so fun. Thanks for all of the great sharing you do.

I love your Web 2.0 advent calendar. What a great way to share tools with educators. I also hadn’t heard of Wix.com- very impressive. Thanks for your dedication to educational technology.

Great resources, thanks for sharing! I’m involved in a different kind of online advent calendar using a blog to publish a different type of resource each day, see http://www.librarycraft.com/festive24things

It’s designed for anyone to join in as a bit of fun and to introduce people to new tools they may not have heard of, by using the festive theme. I can see how this could easily be applied to a classroom setting also, and the great thing with blogging software like WordPress is that you can schedule posts in advance (similarly you could do a smaller scale version by simply scheduling 24 tweets with links to resources).

We hope people will join us in our festive adventure through web tools, please feel free to subscribe to the blog or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/festive24things

Jo, thanks so much for sharing your resource of the day, what fun!

Thank you Karen. Yes, Wix is a wonderful way to build a flash website that looks impressive in no time.

Thanks for passing it on Tiffany!

[...] point out that a lot of the inspiration (and material) for this series of posts has come from the iLearn Technology blog.  Enjoy (and show any little kids you’ve got hanging around, they’ll love [...]

[...] gem from the iLearn Technology blog and again one that would have been perfect when my kids were [...]

I’ve enjoyed our blog very much. Thanks for all the great ideas.
Jeannie
retired educator
founder, educational nonprofit

Thanks for all the great tips!
I came across this online advent calendar of the public Czech TV; it has a nice educative ideas – comics on Baby Jesus, info on Christmas related music and paintings, educative games…. http://advent.ceskatelevize.cz/

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