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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Goodies from Learning a-z

What it is: It’s teacher appreciation week!  One thing that I quickly learned in starting a school, teachers ARE the school. I always appreciate companies that recognize and honor this.  Learning a-z is holding an Open House during teacher appreciation weeks which gives you free access to all 6 of their sites for the whole week.  It also happens to be their 10 year anniversary, to celebrate they are giving away 10 free licenses each day of this week.  Learning A-Z is an excellent resource that I have used for ages.  Sites include: Reading A-Z which is a great collection of printable and projectable books and resources for 27 different levels; Raz-Kids which is a student-centered site where kids can practice reading online; Vocabulary a-z where you will find 12,000+ pre-made vocabulary words where you can build custom lists for students; Science a-z which delivers science curriculum resources across more than 60 units and includes three reading levels for each; Writing a-z which contains everything you need to teach writing in your classroom; and Reading-Tutors which provides more that 400 reading resource packets to use for one-on-one tutoring. Be sure to take advantage of these great resources that are being offered FREE to you this week (May 7-11). How to integrate Learning A-Z Open House into the classroom: The materials and resources at Learning A-Z are wonderful.  I like the way they are available at the touch of a button so that you can instantly customize resources and lessons for students on the fly.  Learning A-Z is like an instant boost to your classroom library.  Students have additional resources that they can access both at school and at home.  When I was a new teacher, Learning A-Z was a lifeline!  I didn’t have a great classroom library built up yet and I didn’t have the money to go out and build it up immediately.  Learning A-Z helped me give students exactly what they needed, when they needed it.  My second grade students loved the printed books, they would often color them, take them home and read them over and over again.  It gave them a sense of ownership over their reading. Learning A-Z resources are great book-buddies for home.  One year, I podcasted all of these (I wish I had saved them so I could share!) and sent my students home with the book and an iPod nano so they could read along at home.  This was wonderful for the kids that didn’t have someone reliable at home to read with. I also used the Learning A-Z resources as part of my literacy and science tub work.  You can learn more about tub work here.  The resources can be used for individual students or for a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Be sure to set up your classroom computers with these resources for your students this week! Tips: Learning A-Z isn’t always a free resource, but they always offer some free material for you to access.  You may find after this week that you would like a subscription.  Be sure to register for the license give away…great end of the year present! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Learning A-Z in  your classroom!

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Mural.ly: Google Docs for Visual People

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-04-2013

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What it is: Murally is a tool I learned about from my friends over at House of GeniusMurally’s tagline is: “Google Docs for visual people.”  Being highly visual, that description immediately resonates with me!  Murally reminds me a little bit of Wallwisher (now Padlet), it is a way for learners to come together to think, imagine and discuss their ideas.  With Murally, students can create murals and include any content they want in them.  Learners can drag and drop images, video, etc. from any website (or from their computer) onto their mural.   Learners can create presentations from within a mural they have already created.  The best part: this all happens with the ability to collaborate with others.  Murally makes it easy for students to collect, think, imagine, show and discuss learning.  Murals can be made public (shared live with a link) or private (only friends granted permission can access the mural).

*** email address, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus account required for login.  You know what that means: 13 or older!

How to integrate Murally into the classroom: Murally is brilliant in the way that it enables learners to work and dream together.  My FAVORITE feature: you can drag and drop content from ANYWHERE!!! It works like the spring-loaded folders in Apple’s iOS.  LOVE this feature.  Honestly, this ability to clip content is a game changer.  It makes creating a mural incredibly easy.  Stinking brilliant!  

Murally is the tool that I wish existed when I was doing research projects in school.  Students can conduct and collect their research solo or invite friends to contribute to their research mural.  Students can add text, drag and drop links, pictures, video and other content.  After they have gone through the hunting/gathering phase of research, Murally makes it easy for students to go through and mindmap it all into some sort of order.  This tool is going to make me a better writer.  Visually being able to organize research and thoughts is HUGE.

Being inquiry based, I love the idea of beginning a mural for students with the driving inquiry alone on the board.  The learners job: be curious together.  Ask questions, explore, research, collect evidences collaboratively.  Capture all of that learning in one place.

Murally could be used for any mind-mapping appropriate project.  This is mind-mapping in the future.  Truly amazing!  The collaborative nature of Murally is fantastic.

Students could begin a Murally with a novel as the base.  As they read, they can include quotes, related thoughts, pictures, video clips, discussion, and related research.  I’m always amazed by the connections that our students make to other learning, a commercial they have seen, or a song.  Murally is a great way to visually collect all of this to share with others.

Murally would be an outstanding way to hypothesize about what will happen in a science experiment.  Students can then add in any research, class notes, discussion, etc.  After students have conducted the experiment they can include observations, photos, and final conclusions.

Use Murally with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard for class notes.  As class discussions unfold, notes can be taken for the whole class and shared later.  Students can add to these later with additional learning, thoughts, and plans.

Because Murally can be used to show learning, consider creating map boards where students link what they know of Geography with the cultures, habitats, religions, politics of that area.

Murally would make the COOLEST “textbook” alternative.  Student created, mashup of all different tools, collaborative, discussion included, and organized in the way that makes sense to the learner.

This is one of those tools that has my mind spinning.  The possibilities overlap all subject areas and are endless.

Tips: The collaborative feature of Murally is so well thought out, see history and message collaborators quickly and easily.  Wonderful!

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

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