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Here is Today: a web app to put time in perspective

  What it is:  Here is today is an interesting little web app that helps students visualize time in a new way.  Students start out by seeing a square and a title that says “here is today” with the current date.  When students click “okay” at the bottom, they are taken to a visual of the next step in.  Students can see where the day is falling within the month, the year, the century, the millennium, the epoch, the period, the era, the eon, the earth, life, oxidation, fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, birds, humans, and the universe.  Each stage of the graphic has an arrow pointing out how today (whatever day that happens to be) compares in the grander scheme of things.  Pretty cool! How to integrate Here is Today into the classroom:  Here is Today is an outstanding way to help students understand where they are in place in time.  They can see where they are and then compare it to the larger history of the world and universe.  Obviously, this is a natural fit into a history or biology class.  Here is Today would also make a great object lesson in math and be great for studying comparison and scale.  It would also make for a great philosophical discussion as we realize just how minute the moment we are living in really is. Here is Today is a great site for students to explore and inquire about independently.  What questions arise as they explore the site?  After students have investigated and come up with their own lines of inquiry, gather back as a classroom community and discuss those lines of inquiry and the thinking that led to them.  If you happen to follow the IB Primary Years Program, this fits in great to “Where are we in place and time” inquiry. Here is Today would also be a useful visual on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where a class can observe and explore together during discussion.  The way that the site compares time is seriously smart. Here is Today could launch an interesting creative writing assignment.  Invite each student to explore the site and to choose a view.  The story should be written based on the point of view and time that they chose.  This could be a new way to explore setting, time and theme. Tips:  Here is Today reminds me a little bit of the Scale of Life site that I wrote about here.  Using these sites together could be pretty epic.  Talk about a great sense of our place in the universe! Are you using Here is Today in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

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Wordsmyth- outstanding illustrated e-dictionary

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-11-2013

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iLearn Technology: Wordsmyth- illustrated e-dictionary

What it is: Wordsmyth is a fantastic online dictionary for kids.  WILD is Wordsmyth’s Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary.  It is a truly well done young reader’s dictionary for k-3 readers or ELL students.  WILD is a simple-to-use visual dictionary that includes definitions for 1500 words, developmentally appropriate sentences for each word and for each meaning of the word, integrated visual environments that help kids really explore language, audio for each word, and fun activities that promote literacy.  Wordsmyth has a dictionary for intermediate elementary and middle school students called Word Explorer Children’s Dictionary.  The Word Explorer includes a related-words feature where students can see concept maps, easy-to-read and understand definition, word histories, Language Notes, and thousands of images and animations to help students build literacy. Finally, Wordsmyth has a comprehensive dictionary suite with easy to read entries and definitions, illustrations, synonyms/similar words/antonyms under each definition, audio pronunciation and thousands more images.  Wordsmyth has different options for use.  There is a free subscription available to everyone that will allow students to freely access all 3 dictionary suites, advanced search options, puzzles, words of the day, look up history, customized pronunciation and dictionary formats, and a glossary maker.  MOST of the site is totally free to use with the free registration!  For $9.95/year, you can also purchase an individual subscription that gives some additional features such as the ability to customize the dictionary and gain access to premium features.

An educational subscription allows access to ALL tools including teacher tools.  Best of all, it is FREE for schools for the 2013-2014 school year.  Worth taking advantage of this option!

How to integrate Wordsmyth into your classroom: I’m seriously impressed with the Wordsmyth dictionaries.  They are truly an impressive option for a digital dictionary in the classroom.  The downfall of this site: the illustrated dictionary (WILD) is flash-based.  This means that it is not easily accessible on iDevices in the classroom.  It also means that it takes a bit to load each page if your Internet connection isn’t great.  

What I appreciate about this dictionary, is the accessibility for emerging readers, non-readers, or ELL/ESL students.  The dictionary is really easy to use, the definitions are easy to understand, and the accompanying audio and images are fantastic!

If you have a dedicated writing space in your classroom, make sure to include Wordsmyth in it.  Bookmark it on classroom computers, send it home to parents, include it on your classroom blog/website, etc.  This is a wonderful place for kids to be empowered during their writing and literacy time.

If you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 device setting, this site is worth making a web clip for to make it easily accessible to everyone.

Right now our students are inquiring into how we express ourselves.  Our intermediate students are looking at different mediums and methods that people use for self-expression.  Part of that exploration has led them into a study of words.  Wordsmyth is a great way for them to explore in a place that is developmentally appropriate and helps them see the way that language is connected and can be used for expression.

Wordsmyth has words separated by topic.  As you begin a new unit, give students the opportunity to explore the vocabulary on the front end.  You can do this as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard or individually on classroom/personal devices.  As you go through a class book or unit together, create a custom glossary that students can refer to.

Tips: Be sure to sign up for the free educational group subscription for the 2013-2014 school year.  With the subscription you get unlimited making/using/saving/sharing activities, customize the dictionary, access premium dictionary features, and access to the teacher tools.

What do you think of Wordsmyth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Comments (1)

I have a class of students with language impairments. The collections tab is a great tool for them because it allows them to make connections between the word categories. I plan to have them use that to include words in their personal dictionary so they can find them easier. Their spelling is often very phonetic so using a regular dictionary doesn’t help because their sounds are so off. I also plan on sharing with our ESL teacher. Thanks so much for sharing!

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