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Fotobabble

What it is: Fotobabble seems to be everywhere I am lately, and now that I have had a minute to play with it, I can see why.  Just upload a photo, record your voice, and send or embed away.  It is very simple to use and has really fun results!  The only downside for use in education are: 1. on the home page of Fotobabble you can see other members creations, at the time of writing they are all clean but I would hate to send my kids here without knowing exactly what content they would run into; 2. To use Fotobabble as a student, you must first sign up. This requires an email address Which means that under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, that children under the age of 13 cannot sign up for an account on the site for their own creations.  I would love to see Fotobabble create an education version that can be used by students under 13 if monitored and signed up by an adult, and without the other user generated content on the home page.  That being said, Fotobabble is a fantastic tool for the classroom. How to integrate Fotobabble into the classroom: Fotobabble can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  For students over 13, it is a great creation tool.  Students could take pictures, or find creative commons images that illustrate vocabulary that they are learning and record themselves saying the definition and using the word in a sentence.  Students could collect and trade Fotobabble vocabulary with other students in the class and embed them in a blog or wiki to create their own visual talking dictionary.  If you teach students younger than 13, have teachers or parent helpers build audio visual dictionaries that can be added to throughout the year.  How neat would it be to have a talking, visual word wall?!  This would be helpful for math, science, social studies, history, and regular vocabulary words that students learn.  The format will be so valuable to your audio and visual learners.  Did you take pictures of that field trip? Upload them to Fotobabble and students can record thoughts, observations, and lessons they learned on the field trip.  Consider creating a class Fotobabble account that you (the teacher) are in charge of.  Upload student illustrations and record a story that they have written using their own voice.  This is the perfect type of project to share at parent teacher conference time.  Parents can get a good idea of their child’s writing, reading, and fine motor skills all in one spot.  If you complete a similar project several times through the year, both students and parents can see the growth and progress that has been made during the school year.  Fotobabbles are an outstanding way to send your young students on an Internet scavenger hunt.  Along the way, record directions with Fotobabble and embed on your class website, wiki, or blog.  Non-readers will be able to listen to, and follow directions for any assignment.   Upload a picture of a landmark or map and have students record fun facts that they have learned about the place.  Send special messages from your class home to parents in the weekly newsletter.  Take a picture of a project that the class has done, or of a fun activity from the week.  Students can record a message about upcoming events, fun highlights of the week in learning, and a list of helpers who have signed up for the week.  Parents will love hearing their kids give the news updates for the week!  Are you wracking your brain for a fun Mother’s/Father’s day activity?  Why not record the kids leaving a special message to their parent with a special picture made just for them? Now that is a keepsake! Tips: Because younger students can’t sign up for their own Fotobabble account, consider creating a class account that you can be in control of.  For younger students, having a Fotobabble recording center set up on one of the classroom computers might be appropriate.  Since you will control the account, you will be in charge of what content is added by students. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Fotobabble in your classroom.

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Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Comments (2)

[…] Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site. […]

What a great resource for classroom teachers. Finding FREE eBooks is hard to do, not to mention books related to technology topics! Oxford Owl looks to be pretty amazing, minus the flash part. Here’s a great eBook collection to add to those resources mentioned above. Also, these books are PDF so they work great on iPads!

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