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You Are Your Words

What it is:  The American Heritage Dictionary has a new webtool that lets students create a self-portrait using their words.  Students can link to places where they have already written (Facebook or Twitter) or write something unique specifically for their portrait.  The unique image can be shared, saved and printed.  You Are Your Words works best in Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari Internet browsers.  I’ve found that pictures with high contrast work better than pictures with similar coloring and low contrast.  After you create you image, you can adjust the colors, contrast and font. How to integrate You Are Your Words into the classroom: You Are Your Words would be a great getting-to-know-you activity.  It would give students a neat way to share who they are with the class.  At the beginning of the year, a You Are Your Words bulletin board or classroom display would be a fun way for everyone to get to know each other.  This site could lead to really interesting discussions about the power that our words have, what they reveal about us, and how they impact people’s perception of us. You Are Your Words would also be a great way for students to create a mini biography about a hero, person of interest, historical figure, etc.  Students could upload a picture and include famous quotes or words that describe the person.  These could be used as part of a larger project, or as an independent research project.  The site asks where the eyes and mouth of the picture are, so uploading another image or diagram to describe might not work. Students can create character description cards with words, quotes and phrases that describe fictional characters in the reading they are doing.   If you have a class or small group that is reading the same book, each student can choose a character to do this for.  Create “trading cards” of the characters that students can create and share with each other so that each student has a card for each character in the book.  If students are doing an author study, they could create a “You Are Your Words” about the author. As students are learning about different roles within government, they could create a You Are Your Words image about each position using a picture of the person who holds that position in government.  The writing could be related to the job description of the position. The picture above is an example of a You Are Your Words image that I created with the words from this post! Tips: If you have an iDevice, the Word Foto app works very similarly and lets you use ANY picture.  This allows students to define vocabulary words with pictures. Please leave a comment and share how you are using You Are Your Words in  your classroom!

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DIY: a maker site for kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Art, Character Education, Create, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-03-2013

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What it is: I LOVE everything about this site.  It truly embodies everything I love about learning and technology.  DIY is an online club for kids to earn maker skills.  Kids (otherwise known as Makers) share their creations and work with a larger online community and collect patches for the skills they learn.  Each skill has a set of challenges that help kids learn different techniques and create something fantastic.  When a child completes a maker challenge, they can add photos and video to their online portfolio to show off their creation.  DIY is a website where kids get a public portfolio, an app that they can use to upload videos and pictures of their projects, makers can choose to do challenges to earn “Skills” badges, and a parent dashboard where teachers or parents can follow along on all activity.

Maker identities are always secure, children are asked to choose an animal and a nickname to help protect their privacy. Parents get access to see what their kids are posting online.

I love that this site encourages creativity, reflective portfolios and using technology constructively.  It is an outstanding balance of online and offline activity!

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How to integrate DIY into the classroom: At Anastasis, we strive to encourage a maker community.  We do have a 1:1 iPad environment.  For many, this equates to a technology rich environment (it is) where everything is done or consumed on a device.  I can think of nothing sadder than reducing learning to a device!  We most often use our technology to capture and share our learning.  DIY is a fantastic site that makes way for kids to be curious about the world around them, create something new and use technology to innovate.

DIY is a great place to help students discover the love and joy of being a learner and a creator.  It fosters a classroom culture of innovation and sharing of learning and accomplishment.  So many of the challenges incorporate learning that support standards and other learning that is “required” in the classroom.  These challenges would be great to take on as individual makers, in small groups of makers, or to tackle as a whole class.  Don’t think of DIY as an “extra” thing to add into your classroom routine.  Instead, look through the challenges through the lens of how it can enhance the learning objectives in your classroom.  Embrace the maker culture in your classroom and allow room for creativity and innovation.  The inquiry model of learning lends itself beautifully toward this.  DIY could be the catalyst to making the shift away from more traditional learning and into an inquiry based model.

Tips: Instead of assigning “traditional” homework (read: piles of worksheets), assign a challenge from the DIY site.  Better yet, let students choose their own challenge to tackle and make time in the classroom for them to share their creations and accomplishments.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  DIY in your classroom.

Comments (1)

This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

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