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Visual.ly- Infographics Galore!

What it is:  I am a geek for infographics. I love the way they convey ideas so clearly (especially for visual learners like me!).  Visual.ly is infographic geek heaven.  At Visual.ly you can search all the best infographics from the web in one convenient place.  Do you (or  your students) have infographics to share? Upload your infographics to Visual.ly and share them with others.  Visual.ly even has a lab where you can create your own infographics!  Way cool!  Right now the create feature is limited to a Twitter infographic. How to integrate Visual.ly into the classroom: Visual.ly is a great place to find infographics on any subject.  Search infographics by subject or keyword.  Use infographics to introduce new concepts, to begin a research project (is the infographic accurate?) or for review.  Infographics are brilliant in the way that they help communicate complex ideas in a clear, compact and visually appealing way. Visual.ly can help students better understand infographics so they can create their own.  Right now Visual.ly only has the option for creating a Twitter related infographic (see mine below).  This is great if your class has a Twitter account, students can see what their connections online look like (of course just part of the story!).  You don’t have to wait on Visual.ly to finish their creation tool, use Excel, Numbers, Pages, PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. to create your own infographics!  Any time data is involved (science, math, geography, economics, history, government) students can create an infographic to visualize the learning.  It would be fun to create a class infographic bulletin board for the first weeks of school.  Collect data about students and use picture, shapes, etc. to create a customized infographic.   If you do this, come back and share pictures!! Tips: Because infographics are user-created, some may not be appropriate for all classrooms.  If your students are going to spend time on Visual.ly, make sure you preview first! **By the way, Visual.ly if you are listening, it would be AWESOME if you had an education version! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Visual.ly in  your classroom!

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BoomWriter: Collaborative story writing

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-06-2012

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What it is:  I just learned about this fantastic site from fellow edublogger @dkapuler, thanks David!  Boom Writer is a fun site that gives you a new way to engage your students in creative writing, and will have them assessing themselves in a new way.  Using Boom Writer, you (the teacher) choose or produce your own story starter.  Each student follows this prompt letting their imagination take over.  One chapter at a time, student write, read and vote on the submissions they like the most.  The winning chapter gets added to the story and the process continues.  You can determine how many chapters will be completed.  When the collaborative story is finished, the book can be read online or published and turned into a published print copy.

How to integrate BoomWriter into the classroom: BoomWriter is a great tool for creating collaborative stories as a class. I like that BoomWriter has students not only creating, but critically evaluating each other’s work. Students work on their own creative writing while building each other up as writers.  Begin by creating a prompt.  Give it to your students to think about.  They can write their “what happens next” chapter of the book and submit it for approval.  This is your chance to edit or return to a student to continue development of the story or idea. After student writing has been approved, students can read each other’s addition to the story and vote on their favorite (they won’t see who the author was and they won’t be able to vote on their own).  The chapter with the highest votes gets added to the story and the process repeats.  You can choose as many chapters as you would like the finished story to have.

This would be a fun whole-class project, but if you have a large class, you might split your class into smaller groups so that each student has the opportunity to get “published” in the book.  Groups could start with the same prompt or each have a different prompt.  Rather than the group voting on their own story, they could vote on another groups story.

BoomWriter isn’t only for creative story writing, students could share what they know about a specific topic or unit of study.  Each student can add a chapter about what has been learned.  Students can essentially create their own collaborative textbook.

BoomWriter is a great tool to help students understand writing with purpose and audience in mind.  It is also a helpful way to get students to think critically about their own writing and evaluating other’s writing.

Tips: Books can be read online or purchased and added to your classroom library.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BoomWriter in  your classroom!

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