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Story Time for Me: Digital Children’s Books

What it is: Story Time for Me is a beautiful collection of digital children’s books for primary students in kindergarten through second grade.  Each story includes charming illustrations, animation and professional narration with music and sound effects.  Activities accompany every story that...

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Call for Posts: May Project PLN #ntchat

Posted by admin | Posted in Project PLN | Posted on 05-05-2011

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For the May Issue of Project PLN, we would love to hear from all of the new teachers out there. You have had a long year and we want you to share your experiences as a new teacher with everyone. Please email your stories to ProjectPLN10@Gmail.com or send us a tweet @ProjectPLN.  Be sure to include your name as you would like it to appear, your Twitter ID (if you have one), and a link to your blog (if you have one).  We look forward to hearing the joys and struggles from the perspective of a first year teachers!

 

Fraboom Online Children’s Museum: Online classes, videos, interactive book, games, oh my!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Classroom Management, Create, Fun & Games, Government, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 04-05-2011

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What it is: Oh. My. Word. I have just stumbled on gold my friends, gold!  Fraboom is an online children’s museum packed full of games, interactive books, creativity, learning and-are you ready for this-LIVE online teachers!  On Fraboom students can learn about US presidents while they play games, watch Fraboom TV cartoons to learn vocabulary, read interactive books that encourage creativity and join live online classes with real flesh and blood teachers!  Fraboom TV has a variety of cartoons that will teach students content area vocabulary words. Each cartoon on Fabroom TV lists all associated vocabulary words so teachers can quickly find a video that will support learning.  Cartoons can be searched by keyword or category.  The very best part of Fraboom (in my humble opinion) is the live online teachers.  Drawing classes start every hour on the hour.  Students can drop into a class and learn how to draw cartoons.  There is a new challenge every day so content is always fresh!  Students can interact with teachers through the chat feature; students type a message and the teacher responds to them by name.  Fraboom cartoon characters introduce the activity for the day and the teachers interact with the cartoon on the screen- very fun!  Students learn how to draw step by step guided by the teacher and follow along on their own whiteboard space.  When students are finished, they can share their pictures with the class.  After drawing, the class completes a mad lib together.  The teacher explains a part of speech and requests words for that part of speech from the class.  Students can contribute words to the story by typing them into the chat area. Throughout the class, the teacher shares submitted pictures with the whole class.  I attended two live classes and was really impressed with the teachers in both sessions. They are upbeat, engaging and fun.  Fraboom was created for students six to twelve years old.  Content is being added regularly and fresh challenges in the live classes every day.  Plenty to keep kids creating and learning!

How to integrate Fraboom Online Children’s Museum into the classroom: With widespread budget cuts and art programs being cut regularly, Fraboom is a welcome new addition to the education landscape.  Being able to connect every student in your class with another teacher is amazing.  Fraboom could be used on classroom computers as a creativity/art/grammar center that kids can visit throughout the week.  Students can get one-on-one attention from a virtual teacher freeing you up to work in small reading or writing groups knowing that all of your students are engaged in learning.  Connect to a Fraboom online session as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Students can follow along with the drawing instructions and take turns engaging in the chat as a whole class.  Students can take turns creating the class picture on the projector or interactive whiteboard while students at their seats create their own masterpiece.  This would be a great activity for students to do while you hold one-on-one student conferences in your classroom.

Fraboom TV is full of fun cartoon videos that help students learn a variety of content area vocabulary.  Use these videos to introduce a new unit so that students are familiar with vocabulary before engaging in new learning.

The interactive stories on Fraboom can be shared with your class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Read through the story as a class and practice comprehension strategies together.

Tips: Be sure to share Fraboom with parents, this would be a great opportunity for learning at home too!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Fraboom in your classroom!

Moon Zoo: Contributing to science with lunar mapping

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 03-05-2011

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What it is: The Endeavour Shuttle launch has been delayed but don’t let that keep your students from exploring space, there are some incredible interactive sites that will make your students feel like they get to suit up as astronauts.  Moon Zoo gives students the chance to study the lunar surface while contributing to real science.  Students can get an up close and personal view of the moon viewing images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.  Moon Zoo’s mission is to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the moon’s surface as possible.  Your students can take part in actually helping to count and map out craters and features of the lunar surface.  Students can identify craters with boulders around the rim to help map the regolith across the surface of the moon.  To take part in Moon Zoo, students are shown an image of the lunar surface, the first task is identifying craters in the surface.  Students can click on the “Crater” button and click the center of each crater they see.  Next, students adjust the ellipse to stretch and move their marks so that they are the same size as the crater.  Students search for boulders around the craters, if there are any boulders students can note that by selecting “blocky crater” and marking the most appropriate description.  When finished, students can submit their work to the Moon Zoo database.

How to integrate Moon Zoo into the classroom: I love that Moon Zoo actually lets your students take part in science.  They are contributing to actual lunar research in real and meaningful ways while learning about the moon.  Moon Zoo would be a great activity to complete as a whole class in the elementary classroom.  Tell your students that they are going to be astronauts and complete a “launch” to the moon.  If you have time, students can create official astronaut badges to wear for the big launch.  Using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard, launch one of the shuttles here.  When you “land” on the moon, let students explore the surface together by hunting for craters in Moon Zoo.  Help students mark craters, look for boulders and map the lunar surface.  Each student should have a chance to make a discovery.  While students wait for their turn, they can track the crater/boulder count on a table to create a graph.  Categories can be small, medium, and large craters found and number of boulders.

Older students can sign up for their own Moon Zoo account, each studying and identifying craters on their own images.  Older students can dig into the science behind mapping craters and learn about how craters can be used to date the moon.

Want to involve your students in more contributing science?  Check out Galaxy Zoo (the hunt for supernovas), Galaxy Zoo Hubble, Planet Hunters, or the Milky Way Project.  This is such a neat way for students to contribute to the scientific community while learning more about space and the universe.

Tips: Registration for Moon Zoo does require an email address.  If your students don’t have an email address of their own, they can use a mailinator or tempinbox address.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Moon Zoo in your classroom!

Learning A-Z Teacher Appreciation week open house

Posted by admin | Posted in Download, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 02-05-2011

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What it is: Every year, Learning A-Z celebrates Teacher Appreciation week with an open house where teachers can explore all that Learning A-Z has to offer for FREE!!  Each day you can access another portion of the Learning A-Z tools.  This is one of those sites that I have paid for and used since I started teaching.  I love Reading A-Z because it has books that my students can print off and take home with them for every reading and interest level.

All week: Raz-Kids is a student-centric site where kids can practice reading online anytime and anywhere.

May 2, 2011- Reaing A-Z is a fantastic collection of printable and projectable books and resources that spans 27 reading levels.

May 3, 2011- Vocabulary A-Z has 12,000+ words that are organized by categories and give teachers the ability to create customized vocabulary lists.

May 4th, 2011- Science A-Z has science curriculum resources spanning more than 60 units, all are written to three reading levels.

May 5th, 2011- Writing A-Z has many of the resources you need to teach writing in your classroom.

May 6th, 2011- Reading tutors provides more than 400 reading resource packets that can be used for one-on-one tutoring.

How to integrate Learning A-Z into the classroom: If you teach in an elementary classroom, you should take advantage of these resources during the free open house week.  Find new resources for your classroom and explore what Learning A-Z has to offer your students.  I think you will be impressed by the resources available here!

As a new teacher, I relied heavily on Reading A-Z to help bulk up my classroom library.  Students loved being able to color in and take home the Reading A-Z books.

Set up your classroom computers with Raz Kids for the week, students can have fun practicing those reading skills in a fresh new way all week long!

Hunt down your science units and download resources that teach important concepts while being accessible to students of all reading levels.

Tips: Don’t forget to visit and explore each day this week!  Everyone who registers for the open house will be eligible to win a free classroom license of Learning A-Z, 5 teachers will be selected each day!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Learning A-Z  in your classroom!

 

NASA @ Home and City space is everywhere you look

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 27-04-2011

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What it is: NASA has such cool exploratory websites for kids. NASA @ Home and City is no exception.  On this site, students get to explore 3D environments where they discover common household and city items that have roots in space exploration.  Students can click on various objects in the house or city to learn more about how space travel impacted the items creation or use.  Each item has a brief description and a short video included.  If students are particularly interested in an item, they can click to learn more about it on NASA’s Spinoff database site.  Students can take part in a Spinoff challenge where they explore technologies and answer questions; when all have been answered, students will unlock special downloads.

How to integrate NASA @ Home and City into the classroom: NASA @ Home and City is a great place for students to learn more about space as well as how the science and discoveries made in space impact their daily lives.  I love the way this site encourages students to discover and uncover learning.   NASA @ Home and City would be a great website for students to visit in partners or small groups on classroom computers.  Each student can take a turn exploring for the group and acting as guide.

If you don’t have access to classroom computers, explore the site as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  There is enough content for each student to have a turn directing the exploration.  The  3D feel of the house and city would be fun on the big screen!

I like that this site is appropriate for a wide range of age and developmental levels.  Young students will enjoy exploring and viewing the videos for information, while older students can really dig deeper with the Spinoff challenge and additional information links.

Tips: Make sure to rotate around the home and city, there is more to explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  NASA @ Home and City in your classroom!

 

Tiki-Toki: Create gorgeous multimedia timelines

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 26-04-2011

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What it is: Tiki-Toki is an absolutely GORGEOUS multimedia timeline creator.  The results are truly a work of art-no joke!  Tiki-Toki is very easy to use, after registering for an account, students are guided step-by-step through creating an interactive timeline.  Students can add text, images (Flickr) and video (YouTube or Vimeo) to a timeline.  Images can be uploaded from a student computer or found through a search on Flickr.  Throughout the creation process, tool tips pop-up to guide students through creation.  Students can share saved timelines with a unique URL.

How to integrate Tiki-Toki into the classroom: Tiki-Toki is a fabulous new way for your students to create and share online.  Timelines are an obvious choice for history projects but can be used throughout the year for a variety of subjects and learning focuses.  Students can reflect on and share learning using a Tiki-Toki timeline.  Students can begin a timeline at the beginning of the year sharing videos, links, pictures and reflections each unit, week, month, or semester until the end of the school year.  This is a nice way to encourage students to reflect on learning while providing them with a record of what has been accomplished throughout the year.

Students can create timelines based on books or literature they are reading.  Young students can create a timeline with information about beginning, middle and end while older students can add supporting details, action, climax and concluding thoughts.  A timeline book report is a welcome change for your logical/analytical thinkers- seriously, offer it as an option!

Timelines can also be used as KWL charts (Know, Want to Know, Learned).  At the beginning of any learning, students can list the facts that they know about the topic. Next, they can brainstorm and write about what they want to know about a topic.  At the end of the unit or semester, students can detail what they have learned including any relevant videos or images.

In science, students can use Tiki-Toki to detail an experiment or scientific method process they go through in a lab.

Tiki-Toki is probably too advanced a tool for primary elementary to use independently, but it can be used with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer to create a timeline as a class.  This is a good way to teach students about timelines while recording learning.

Create an account on Tiki-Toki and record a few pictures of your classroom along with a description of the learning that happened each day.  At the end of the week the timeline can be sent to parents and administration to share what you are working on in your classroom.  This is a fun change from the traditional newsletter and, because it is added to a little at a time, it will give you a break from the Thursday mad-dash-to-finish-Friday-newsletter thing you have going (oh, is that just me?). ;)

Tips: The basic Tiki-Toki account is completely free and contains enough features to keep kids creating with no problem.  The paid accounts include features like shared timeline creation which would also be useful in the classroom.  I’m hoping that Tiki-Toki catches on to the uses for education and comes up with an education version just for us!

A minimum age for use of Tiki-Toki is not specified in the terms of service.  If you work with students who do not have an email address to share, consider using a tempinbox account or mailinator.

A BIG THANK YOU to @anderscj for mentioning Tiki-Toki on Twitter, I have a new favorite timeline creator!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Tiki-Toki  in your classroom!

SnipSnip.It: Share the best parts of online video

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, web tools | Posted on 25-04-2011

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What it is: I don’t know about you, but I am constantly finding great videos online to share with my students.  The problem: I usually only want a small portion of the whole video.  I use SnipSnip.It to crop the video down to only the parts I want to share with students.  SnipSnip.It is easy to use, just copy and paste a YouTube url, choose the start and end point and click “snip”.  Easy! After snipping your video you can embed the shortened video on a website or blog or share the shortened video with a link.  The other benefit: all of the YouTube extras (a.k.a. distractions) are eliminated in the SnipSnip.It version.  Not. Too. Shabby.

How to integrate SnipSnip.It into the classroom: If you happen to be in a school or district that has not blocked YouTube, you are going to find SnipSnip.It very handy!  This is a great way to crop videos to share with students either by URL or embedding the shortened video into a class blog or website.  Even if your school doesn’t have access to YouTube, this may be a great way to try out the Fisch Flip and encourage your students to watch the snipped videos at home in preparation for class the next day.

Tips: This service is so easy that I have no fancy schmancy tips; I’ll just leave you with this: stay classy!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using SnipSnip.It in your classroom!

Video Search in 3D and Create Playlists in 1 Click!

Posted by admin | Posted in Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 25-04-2011

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What it is: Video Search in 3D is a neat way to search for, and find, videos.  Search videos by keyword and instantly get a 3D “globe” of video results.  With the click of a button you can create a playlist of videos to be watched.

How to integrate Video Search in 3D into the classroom: Video Search in 3D would be a great way to search for and create playlists of videos for students and teachers.  Create playlists for students to access on classroom computers as a digital-media learning center.  These can be videos centered around a science concept, phonics rules, a period of history, math, foreign language or anything else that students are studying.  For example, for language arts you might search “School House Rock”.  During your writing block, students can visit the media learning center (your classroom computers) to learn more about grammar and parts of speech.

You can also use Video Search in 3D to create play lists for professional development opportunities.  There are SO many outstanding educational videos available.  Search videos by keyword or speaker and create an instant playlist.  I started a Webspiration Wednesday lunch group at my school where I played inspirational videos in the library during lunch.  I invited all the staff to bring their lunches to the library where we would watch and discuss inspirational educational videos.  Mid-week video inspiration is just what the doctor ordered to put some pep back into your step!

Tips: Because this is a search engine, I wouldn’t let young students loose to search whatever they want until a teacher has previewed it.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Video Search in 3D in your classroom!

Storify: Turn social media into a story

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 25-04-2011

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What it is: Storify has just been released to the public!  I have been playing with this site for a few months and am excited that I finally get to share it with all of you.  :)  Storify lets you create stories based on Tweets, photos and videos.  You can search multiple social networks from one place, and drag elements into your story.  Re-order elements and add text as needed.  Storify lets you take those little bits of information shared over time and turn them into a story.

How to integrate Storify into the classroom: If you are using social media in the classroom, Storify is a fantastic addition.  Use Storify to create weekly stories of tweets, pictures and videos from your classroom that can be sent home to parents.  Create a story of learning based on a collaboration between classrooms as a way to chronicle and reflect on the collaboration.  Build a semester or year-long story as a sort of online scrapbook that can be shared with families.   Invite other classrooms to take part in writing a collaborative story 140 characters at a time using Twitter.  At the end of the project, each class can use Storify to create an original story from the tweets. Send out links, book recommendations, and other resources used throughout the week using Twitter.  At the end of the week, create a resource Storify for students to access.

Storify makes it simple to create and share social media stories.  Storify stories can be shared with a unique link, emailed or embedded in a blog or website.  Very cool!

Unsure about how to use Twitter in the classroom?  Check out my posts on it here, here and here.

Tips: Because Storify is based on social media, anyone can add to your stories!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Storify in your classroom!

Virtual book club: Readicide

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 22-04-2011

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What: The Michigan Reading Association is hosting an interactive virtual book club for anyone to join via Facebook.   This is an opportunity to network with educators around the world and take charge of your own professional development.  The first book is Readicide by Kelly Gallagher (who will be hosting the book club with the Michigan Reading Association).  If you aren’t familiar with this book, you can read a post I wrote when the book was first released here.  The idea behind the virtual book club is to give educators a place to connect with others, share ideas, reflect and improve your classroom.

Where: It is easy to join just click to view the Facebook invitation and select “I’m Attending.

When: The book club will meet during the month of May.  Login whenever you are available to browse posts and conversations and add your own thoughts.  Each week there will be a post that outlines a general road map that chunks chapters so we are reading and reflecting at a similar pace.

How: Purchase Readicide, view Kelly’s website and follow him on Twitter, “attend” the facebook invitation, let the fun begin!

I really enjoyed reading Readicide and look forward to reading it again-this time with friends to reflect with!  Who else will be joining us?

Thank you to Erin for inviting me!

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