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Speakaboos

  What it is:  Some websites are so impressive that I immediately spam all teachers in my address book with them.  Speakaboos is one of these sites for me.  I learned about the site from the Free Technology for Teachers blog (I highly recommend it for middle and high school teachers).  Speakaboos is a collection of online children stories read by celebrities (although this is not what impresses me).  Each story is read aloud with flash illustrations and the words on each page for read-along.  The stories are captivating and include popular titles like Arthur and Curious George.  This highly engaging website has some other features that make this one of my favorite website finds of the year.  When you sign up for a free membership, Speakaboos offers a free story download.  The download is a swf (flash) file but can be converted with a site like Zamzar to make it iPod ready (aka mobile learning!).  They plan to add more free downloads throughout the year.  Parents can also purchase individual stories iTunes style for $0.99.  Speakaboos  has a feature coming for parents, students, grandparents, teachers, etc. to record their own stories!  Speakaboos offers several activities for students including a diary to write in, a place to create their own story, games, ecards, and printable coloring pages from their favorite stories.  Speakaboos is in beta version right now so some of the above features are not yet  active.     How to integrate Speakaboos into the classroom:   Speakaboos stories and activities are a fun and engaging way to develop students reading, writing, and speaking abilities while learning basic computer skills.  The Record your own Story feature is a wonderful way for students to practice fluency, it is also a great feature for struggling readers who can listen for mistakes that they make during reading.  Older students could make recordings for their younger reading buddies to enjoy.  The ability to download select stories for free is amazing for an iPod reading lab.  Speakaboos is a great reading or writing center for students to visit in the one or two computer classroom.  It would also make a nice whole class read along using a projector.  Speakaboos offers free story guides for teachers to help lead discussions on each story.  The guides come complete with themes to help reinforce the story message and offer questions to check general comprehension, discussion, and personal extension.  There are also printables that you can use with your class in conjunction with the Speakaboos site.   Tips:   Membership on Speakaboos is free and provides access to the free downloads.   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Speakaboos in your classroom.

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Screenr: Instant Web-based Screencasts

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Blogs, Classroom Management, Create, Download, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Websites | Posted on 01-04-2013

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What it is: Have you tried to type the following into Google: “school makes me”?  If you haven’t, it is a sobering reminder of the state of education as perceived by students and society.  I started Anastasis Academy to change this reality for students.  My hope is that one day soon, the automatic suggestions that Google pulls are overwhelmingly positive.  Last week, I asked students at Anastasis Academy to finish the statement “school makes me…”  I didn’t prompt them or give them any additional details about how I would be using it.  The answers that we got are in the video above.  Pretty cool to see how even one year of freedom in learning leads to different perspectives.  I can assure you, these are not the words most students would have used about school prior to coming to Anastasis Academy.  In fact, in full disclosure, we have 2 students that are new to Anastasis.  They started only a few months ago.  They finished the statement with “bored” and “tired.”  *sigh* This was a sad moment for me.  I want more for these boys.  Later in the day they both happened to be hanging with me in the office for a few minutes.  One of the boys asked me why I had asked the question.  I showed them what happens when you type the words into Google.  “Oh, that is really depressing. So why did you ask us?”  I told them that I cared about what they thought because if there was something we could do differently as a school, we would do it.  Both boys asked if they could change their answers, “we were thinking school in general…this place isn’t really like that.”  There were no GRAND statements of how much they loved it and we are changing their world…give it time!

To create the video above, I needed to screen capture my Google experience.  I’ve long been a fan of Screenium but for some reason, it has decided to throw in the towel and is not interested in recording anything but audio.  Frustrating.  So, I set out to see if I could find an online screencast recorder that I could use.  Jackpot!  I found Screenr and it is my new go-to for screencasting.

screenr_logo_small

Screener is a web-based screen recorder that makes it really easy to create and share screencasts.  There is nothing to install or download (always a plus!), you can record on a Mac or PC, the video plays on all devices, and it is totally FREE!  Just click the record button, capture your screen and voice (if you want) and then share the link or download the video to use in other programs.  I downloaded my finished screencast so that I could make a little video in Keynote with our words.

How to integrate Screenr into the classroom:  Screenr is a fantastically simple tool that allows teachers to create detailed screencast instructions in minutes.  This free-to-use application can capture video of anything that is on your computer screen.  Audio can be included (or not) for any screencast.  The resulting video can be embedded on a webpage or blog, sent to students via email, or downloaded.  Screencasting is a great way to teach students how to use e-Learning tools or how to complete any computer assignment.  When I taught in the technology lab, there was never enough of me to go around.  Screencasting made SUCH a difference in how I spent my time with students!  Students could self direct learning, or remind themselves of that one step they forgot.  Instead of waiting for me to be available, students could keep working and my time was spent working to help students make connections in learning instead of just on answering process questions.

Screenr would be useful for students who want to share something new they learned.  Have a student who is JAZZED about coding?  Let them show off that passion by creating tutorial videos for other students.  Anything that is computer based and could use some explanation is perfect for Screenr.  Because you can embed videos, you can share them on a class blog or website.  If you tag your videos and posts, it will be easy for students to quickly search and find what they need as they work.

Screenr can be used for more than just tutorials.  Remember this video?  This is such a cool, creative use of a screencast.  Students could similarly show off their learning through screencasts of various programs on their computer.  Just takes a little inspiration and creative thinking!

Tips: There is a pro version of Screenr, I’ve found the free version to meet all of my needs for school/classroom use.

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

Comments (1)

Having tried several online whiteboards Screenr is the one I turn to when I want to illustrate mathematics examples online for students – see http://mathematicsforstudents.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/looking-for-examples/ for example.
I find it easy to use, also I can write with my graphics tablet easily using Screenr.

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