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Tar Heel Reader

What it is: Tar Heel Reader is an excellent website that is “a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces (i.e. switches, alternative keyboards, touch screens, and dedicated AAC devices). The books may be downloaded as slide shows in PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash format.”  There are hundreds of books on a variety of topics.  In addition to the ready-made books, you and your students can create your own Tar Heel Readers.  Students can add pictures to their readers from Flickr or by uploading their own images.  Each of the stories can be read silently, or read to students with a child, male, or female voice (computer). How to integrate Tar Heel Reader into the classroom:  Tar Heel Reader is a great place for beginning or struggling readers and English language learners.  Each of the stories has the option to be read silently or read aloud.  Use Tar Heel Reader to create custom stories to motivate your struggling readers.  You can include pictures of people they know, subjects they love, and make them a character in the story.  The stories can be read online or downloaded in multiple formats.  Because the stories can be downloaded as PowerPoint presentations, they can be opened in Apple’s Keynote and put on an iPod (Nano, Classic, or Touch) for mobile reading.  Students will love searching the Flickr collection and creating their own stories on Tar Heel Reader.  Older students can create books for younger grades describing science concepts (think weather, food chain, plant cycle, etc.).  This is also a great site for students to use during National Poetry month (April) to create poetry.  Use Tar Heel Readers as a ‘big book’ that your class can read together using an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Set up a reading listening center during silent reading time with Tar Heel Reader on your classroom computers.     Tips: Create a favorites page for your students.  Although the site has been created for beginning readers, some books may be inappropriate for your students.  There is a section of books for teens that are beginning readers.  Note: to create a book of your own you will need to register for free.  You will need an invitation code.  I requested a code in the comment section and got a response within 10 minutes of my comment.  You can send me a request Tweet http://twitter.com/ktenkely and I will send you an invitation code.   I learned about this site from Larry Ferazzlo’s excellent blog.  Thanks for highlighting this great site Larry!   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Tar Heel Reader in your classroom.

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We Choose the Moon

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 18-02-2011

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What it is: This site has been around for a few years, I am constantly using it with students and assumed (wrongly) that I had shared it on iLearn Technology.  I think sometimes I use a site so often that I think that it is common knowledge or that I have already posted about it.  I’m redeeming myself today and sharing the truly INCREDIBLE site, We Choose the Moon.  The site drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in the Apollo 11 launch and mission.  Time travel might not exist yet, but I’m telling you, this site is the next best thing.  Students actually hear all of the chatter from Mission Control, control the launch, view all 11 stages of the mission, read mission transmission, and follow the mission  in “real-time”.  I cannot say enough about how truly awesome this experience is for students.  At each stage, students can explore more in-depth by looking through actual pictures from the mission, videos (including JFK’s We Choose the Moon speech), and a “map” of the stages Apollo 11 took to get to the moon.  I wasn’t alive to witness this piece of history first hand, but I can tell you that this interactive gives me goosebumps, makes me appreciate the giant leap that our country took, and makes me swell with pride. Not something a textbook can deliver.

How to integrate We Choose the Moon into the classroom: We Choose the Moon plops students right in the middle of the action.  Students can experience this solo in a one-to-one computer lab setting where each has access to their own computer.  Students can explore at their own pace and “rabbit trail” for more information as needed.  My favorite use of this site is as a whole class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  The site has such a sense of nostalgia and it gives the opportunity to remember how the nation stopped and focused on the monumental moment in time.  Children everywhere were riveted to their TV sets watching men being launched into space to travel to the moon. Students born after the era of the space race have a hard time recognizing just what an event this was.  Viewing the site as a class gives students the opportunity to discuss the fashion, technology, and viewpoints of the day.  It gives students the opportunity to “witness” history first hand as if they have traveled back in time.  Take time to look through the photos, watch the videos, and reflect with students.  Turn the interactive into a creative writing opportunity where students choose a view-point (of JFK, a child, an astronaut, someone in mission control, etc.) and write about their reflections and thoughts as they witness and are a part of this history.

Don’t be afraid to let your students “rabbit trail”, click here to see where students I worked with took the learning.

If you have students who are still crazy for more “moon” experience, check out Google Moon and NASA’s Moon virtual tour.  I cannot get over how amazing technology is!  Do you ever just stop and marvel at what we have at our finger tips? Wow.

Tips: Do you have parents or teachers who fail to see the brilliance of technology in the classroom?  I defy any parent or educator to experience a site like this and not have their minds changed.  This is one of those sites that upon stumbling on, I immediately sent to my dad.  He LOVED it.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using We Choose the Moon in your classroom

Comments (6)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ktenkely, CT. CT said: We Choose the Moon.. http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=3671 [...]

Oh yeah I love that site! It’s a great example of using the potential of the web to engage students. Thanks for sharing it!!

Isn’t it? So fantastic!

I have never before seen this site. I’m so glad you posted about it.

I’m glad I did too Jacqui, hope you can use it with students!

[...] 1. We Choose the Moon- An interactive that drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in, the Apollo 11 launch and mission. [...]

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