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Soo Meta: Digital Storytelling Tool

What it is: Soo Meta is an awesome new site that lets students build mixed media stories.  Students can use this storytelling tool to collect, sort, edit and publish web content easily. There are two options for login, with name/email/password or through Facebook.  For students who don’t have...

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Book Writer: create books on the iPad

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 21-10-2013

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Book Writer app- iLearn TechnologyBook Writer

 

 

 

What it is:  Book Writer is a great app for the iPad (and iPhone or iPod Touch).  This app makes it a snap for kids to create books that can be read directly in iBooks.  With Book Writer, students can create their own ebooks with photos, video, audio and links.  Images and video can be annotated over in the book.  Finished books can be shared using iTunes and E-mail.  One of the best features of Book Writer is the huge number of applications that books can be shared through including: iBooks, Nook, Instashare, Bump, Evernote, Dropbox, and Send Anywhere.  This makes Book Writer wonderfully flexible no matter what apps your school uses regularly.

Book Writer- iLearn Technology

How to integrate Book Writer into the classroom: Book Writer is a great app for students to “publish” their writing in.  Students can compile research, notes, images and videos to create their own textbooks.  Why passively read through a text when students can be a part of creating their own?  This makes the learning so much more valuable and gives students the opportunity to “own” their learning.  Each student’s finished book will be just a little different.  Students can compile class notes, images of work and examples from class, and videos (either their own or other videos they’ve downloaded), reflections on learning, etc. into a book that can be shared.  This would be a fantastic way for students to share what they’ve learned at the end of a unit.  Because of the variety of content that can be included in Book Writer, it would make for a great science journal.  Students can take photos  of a scientific experiment or process, label the images, and reflect on observations, hypothesis, etc.

Students could also use Book Writer as a place to keep all of their creative writing based on visual writing prompts.  Students can include the picture prompt on one page and their writing on the facing page.  Students can add to this book throughout the year and share their “published” writings at the end of the year.

Younger students will find Book Writer easy to use.  These students could create their own word bank picture dictionary.  Ask students to create a new page for each letter.  Every time a word gets added to the class word wall, students can add it to their dictionary.  Students can also add pictures to accompany the words, or audio of themselves saying the word.

Book Writer can be used for a class yearbook and then shared with all students digitally.  The extra fun part are the videos that can be included!

Tips: Book Writer has a clean, easy to use interface.  If you are using with young students, you may want to walk them through where to find tools for the first time.

Compatibility: Requires iOS5.0 or later

Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Price: $3.99 (iTunes link)

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

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 10-07-2013

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Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

Here is today iLearn Technology

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!

Inklewriter: interactive story designer

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Government, History, Interactive book, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 05-02-2013

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What it is: Inklewriter is a great digital tool that lets students (and teachers if you are so inclined) write and publish interactive stories.  Inklewriter lets students create choose-your-own-adventure type stories, story lines can come with choices and then be linked back together.  Inklewriter makes this process easier by keeping track of which story paths have been finished and which still need work.  There is no set-up required, no programming language to learn and no diagrams.  Inklewriter is free to use and easy to share with the world when it is published.  When a story is finished, it can even be converted to Kindle format!

I found the Inklewriter format to be pretty intuitive and easy to use.  I think intermediate elementary and older will have no trouble using this tool for creative and informative writing.

How to integrate Inklewriter into the classroom: Inklewriter is a great digital tool for creative writing.  Students can explore multiple plot lines and what-if scenarios in their fictional writing.  I also like the idea of using Inklewriter to ask kids to explore the “what-ifs” in history.  What if we lost/won this war/battle?  What if the other guy (or girl) had been elected president?  What if the Berlin wall hadn’t come down?   These types of stories are fantastic opportunities for students to explore their curiosities and, in the process, learn more about the event they are exploring.  After all, you have to know something about how an event actually went in order to write alternate endings.

Inklewriter would be a fun way for students to come up with alternate endings to a novel they are reading.  Our students wrote a variety of endings for The Giver.  Each student wrote a different ending that picked up from the last chapter of the book.  Inklewriter would have been a great tool to use for all of these endings to be available in one place.  Students could copy/paste the last paragraph of the actual book and then offer their alternative endings as options.

In science, students could use Inklewriter as a tool to record their hypothesis. Students can write out the objective and steps in their experiment and make a new “alternate ending” for their various hypothesis.

In math, students could create story problems where they lead others down the path to discover the correct answer.

Tips: These interactive stories are MADE for your tablet devices…if you have some in your classroom, take advantage of them!

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

BoomWriter: Collaborative story writing

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-06-2012

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What it is:  I just learned about this fantastic site from fellow edublogger @dkapuler, thanks David!  Boom Writer is a fun site that gives you a new way to engage your students in creative writing, and will have them assessing themselves in a new way.  Using Boom Writer, you (the teacher) choose or produce your own story starter.  Each student follows this prompt letting their imagination take over.  One chapter at a time, student write, read and vote on the submissions they like the most.  The winning chapter gets added to the story and the process continues.  You can determine how many chapters will be completed.  When the collaborative story is finished, the book can be read online or published and turned into a published print copy.

How to integrate BoomWriter into the classroom: BoomWriter is a great tool for creating collaborative stories as a class. I like that BoomWriter has students not only creating, but critically evaluating each other’s work. Students work on their own creative writing while building each other up as writers.  Begin by creating a prompt.  Give it to your students to think about.  They can write their “what happens next” chapter of the book and submit it for approval.  This is your chance to edit or return to a student to continue development of the story or idea. After student writing has been approved, students can read each other’s addition to the story and vote on their favorite (they won’t see who the author was and they won’t be able to vote on their own).  The chapter with the highest votes gets added to the story and the process repeats.  You can choose as many chapters as you would like the finished story to have.

This would be a fun whole-class project, but if you have a large class, you might split your class into smaller groups so that each student has the opportunity to get “published” in the book.  Groups could start with the same prompt or each have a different prompt.  Rather than the group voting on their own story, they could vote on another groups story.

BoomWriter isn’t only for creative story writing, students could share what they know about a specific topic or unit of study.  Each student can add a chapter about what has been learned.  Students can essentially create their own collaborative textbook.

BoomWriter is a great tool to help students understand writing with purpose and audience in mind.  It is also a helpful way to get students to think critically about their own writing and evaluating other’s writing.

Tips: Books can be read online or purchased and added to your classroom library.

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

BBC-History of the World

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 19-03-2012

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What it is:  The BBC is full of fantastic resources for learning.  Recently, I came across the British Museum’s History of the World.  It is WAY cool!  This is like a fantastic virtual museum collection that makes it possible for students to see primary sources up close.  Each piece in the collection adds a little bit to the story of the history of the world.  The objects in the collection each have a quick overview about the piece, and the option of delving in deeper and learning more.  Objects can be filtered by location, theme, culture, size, color, material, contributor and BBC area.  This is a really neat way to view and explore world history.  SO much better than the dry textbook fact collection that I had.

How to integrate BBC History of the World into the classroom: The BBC History of the World collection is a great way for students to explore and engage history.  Being able to go through the objects and primary sources connects them to story and people from another time in a way a textbook just can’t touch.  This is a fantastic place for students to begin an exploration of history; to find an object that “speaks” to them and learn more about the object and the people who created the object.  This site gives students the opportunity to engage history.
Instead of starting a history course chronologically, let students select an object or piece from the collection that interests them.  Let them learn more about the object, the people and the time period that the object was created in.  Let them teach others about the object and its importance.  How was it that this object was so well preserved? What does it tell us about that period?  What stories does it tell?  Give students creative license to do this.  Do they want to make it a creative writing piece where the object is personified? Do they want to write a letter as if they were from that period of time explaining the object?  Do they want to create a mockumentary about the object?  Whatever they do, place the object, along with the others chosen by the class, on a timeline so that students can get a sense for where their object falls in history.  Let the kids teach each other and explain why they chose the object they did.  Not only will kids be exploring world history, they will be learning something about each other.
Write a class story with a common thread.  Create a time traveling team as a class, these are the characters that visit the time period where they find the objects that they have chosen from the BBC History of the world site.  Write the beginning and ending of the story as a whole class.  Each student can be responsible for writing their own “chapter” where the time traveling team visits their time period.
I didn’t enjoy history when I was in school.  It wasn’t ever presented as a story (which I love).  Instead I got a collection of facts, dates and names to memorize for the next test.  I had a really hard time understanding why anyone would be passionate about history.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that history is really just a set of rich stories that we try to piece together to help us understand who we are in place and time.  That I enjoy. That I can get behind.  Help your students discover the story in history!

Tips: At the bottom of the window, you will see a back and forward arrow.  This lets students time travel.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BBC History of the World in  your classroom!

Draw a Stickman has a new episode!

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 16-03-2012

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What it is:  Draw a Stickman is a fun little site that I wrote about last year here.  They have a brand new episode of our little stickman friend!  For those of you who haven’t seen it (or don’t remember), Draw a Stickman is a delightful place for kids to be creative, read, imagine and draw.  Students are given sets of directions that they must complete to help out the hero of the story, a stickman figure that they created.  Everything that they draw comes to life and interacts with the rest of what is on the screen.  Brilliant!  These mini interactive stories that have students reading and following directions, solving mysteries, thinking creatively and solving problems. The new episode is just as charming as the last!

How to integrate Draw a Stickman into the classroom:Draw a Stickman is a fun interactive site that uses student creations to tell a story.  Students can complete the interactive on individual computers, iDevices (the site works great!), interactive whiteboards, or classroom computers.

Aside from just fun practice at following instructions, Draw a Stickman would be a great fictional story prompt.  Students have the bones of a story and can fill in details, vivid verbs, adjectives, etc. to tell the story.  Students can focus on fleshing out their hero, the plot of the story, the details, the setting, etc.  Students can come up with a moral of a story that they add in the customized ending.  This link can be sent as a tweet, facebook link, or in an email to accompany the story they have created.  These stories would be fun to share as a class…how many different stories did students come up with using the same base?

On an interactive whiteboard, students can go through the story together, labeling the different parts of the story (beginning, problem, climax, resolution, ending).  This interactive can help students identify parts in a story including setting, characters and plot.

Tips: After you have gone through Draw a Stickman, you can personalize the message at the end and share.  Add any two lines of text that you wish.  This could be a fun way to reveal messages to your students!
Draw a Stickman is also in the App store on iTunes!

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

Grammaropolis: Personified Parts of Speech

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Music, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 05-03-2012

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What it is:  Grammaropolis is a site I have long been a fan of.  I’ve written about it in the past in these posts Grammaropolis recently got a significant upgrade with TONS of new, great features.  The site now includes character descriptions for nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions and interjections.  In addition to the great descriptions, each character includes a song, videos, book, games and, soon, quizzes.  Not all of this content is free, but there is enough free content to be useful in every classroom no matter the budget.  All of the content associated with the Noun character is free.  Every other character includes the character description and book for free.  The music, videos, quizzes and games are “extras” that are available by subscription.  You can get your classroom a Grammaropolis passport to access all of the content including the ability to follow and track your students progress within Grammaropolis.

How to integrate Grammaropolis into the classroom:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Grammaropolis approach to the parts of speech is completely brilliant!  I love the way Grammaropolis gives the different parts of speech a “face” and an attitude.  For those of us who learn through story, Grammaropolis gives us a unique connection to the parts of speech.  The books and videos are fabulous.  They are extremely well done, and take the characters a step further by dropping them into a story.
The characters interact true to their characteristics.  For example, in the “Noun Places” video, Noun sits looking through a photo album of places.  As he flips the pages, he names the places.  “Antarctica,” he says.  Adjective, who is sitting next to Noun, exclaims, “beautiful!”  Verb agrees, “very.”  The videos and books are so well thought out and really demonstrate to students how the parts of speech are used.  So smart!
Grammaropolis can be used as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Learn about, and explore, the different parts of speech as a class.  Choose a new part of speech character each week and encourage students to spot the part of speech character in their own writing with a colored pencil or marker that matches the character color.  Books can be read as a class on the big screen.  Each book begins with the cast of characters with a short description of each part of speech.  As you read together, discuss the way that the part of speech characteristics are revealed by their interactions with other characters.  The same can be done with the videos!
Students can play the games on classroom computers as a center, or on individual computers in a lab or 1:1 setting.  After your students familiarize themselves with the parts of speech characters, they can write their own creative stories featuring the characters.  This is great for older students!  Students will have to remember that the characters have to act in ways that are true to their nature.
Tips:  There are a few different options for a Grammaropolis subscription, the options are very reasonably priced.  Grammaropolis also has a brand new store that has some fun grammar shwag.  If you have an iDevice, check out the Grammaropolis app!

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

Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr from @JohnTSpencer

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 20-02-2012

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What it is: @johntspencer is one of my very favorite bloggers.  He makes me think, laugh, challenges me and reminds me that there is always something to push forward for in education.  If I’m honest, sometimes he even makes me crazy…usually because he is pushing my thinking into areas I’m not ready to consider yet.  How dare he call “me” out?!  To be fair, he isn’t calling me out, usually he is calling himself out and I feel the residual conviction.   John writes all over the place.  The first time I encountered his genius was a chance reading of his blog Adventures in Pencil Integration.  Brilliant.  I started following it pretty early on in it’s existence and soon found that he writes ALL over the place.  He has written several books including Drawn into Danger, Pencil Me In, Teaching Unmasked, Sages and Lunatics, and a Sustainable Start.  If you haven’t read these, you should.  John is open and honest and has a great sense of humor.  His Education Rethink blog leads you to all of his resources, blogs, books, videos and podcasts.
John has also created a resource for his students that the rest of us can use.  How nice of him!  His Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr is chalk full of images with captions designed to make students think deeply.  Browse through the collection and soon you will understand how students can’t help but pour forth their ideas in writing.  We do something similar at Anastasis but hadn’t been collecting the images on anything but our own blogs.  These prompts are a great addition to what we are doing!  Some of them are challenging, some are thoughtful, some are humorous.  Sometimes we get a really special treat and John includes his own sketches.

How to integrate Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr into the classroom:  This one is best for intermediate, jr. high and high school students.  The topics are probably a little too complex for younger students to write about (although some of them would be appropriate and some kids are really brilliant!).  Spending time writing creatively is one of the best ways to improve as a writer, to challenge and support deep thinking, and to express themselves.  I learn SO much about students through their writing.  Whether it be a blog post, an imaginative story or a letter…writing exposes them in new ways.
Use John’s Photo Writing Prompt Tumblr with your students, these can be projected for students to see while they write.  John updates the Tumblr often so you won’t be lacking for new material for your students to interact with!  Students can write in a traditional writing journal, in the form of a blog post where they link to the original post, or on a class blog together as a group writing project.
Tips:  Teach younger students? Take a cue from John and start your own writing prompt Tumbr for your students!
I’ve written about another Photo Prompt Tumblr blog that you can find here.  Incidentally, I learned about that blog from @johntspencer. That guy is full of ideas!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Photo Writing Prompt Tumbr in  your classroom!

Moglue: Create interactive ebooks and release as apps!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Download, Geography, History, Interactive book, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Software, Teacher Resources | Posted on 26-10-2011

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What it is:  Moglue is an interactive ebook builder that helps students create and share their stories on mobile devices as an app.  This download desktop platform makes it a snap for students to create interactive ebooks and release them as apps for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Android tablets and Android phones.  Students only need to build the content once and Moglue makes it compatible with each user interface seamlessly.  No programming is required, this is a great creation platform for all classrooms!  Using a simple drag and drop interface, students can make their stories come to life.  Every child is enabled to be an artist now.

How to integrate Moglue into the classroom:  I think tools that make content creation simple are absolute genius.  As much as I would love for every student (and myself) to know how to program, it takes quite a bit of know-how before students can make their stories and ideas come to life.  The intuitive interface of tools like Moglue let students focus on breathing life into their creations and not on the technology tools used to build them.  Tools like Moglue are wonderful for the classroom where students are often short on time and resources (someone to teach them programming).  Because the interface is so easy to use, students can focus on telling a story, releasing their inner artist, and letting their creativity shine.

Students (or classes) can use Moglue to:

  • Tell a fractured fairy tale
  • Create a choose your own adventure story
  • Demonstrate science concepts in an interactive “glossary”
  • Create a class dictionary of math, science, economics or geography words
  • Write creatively
  • Create an interactive “textbook”
  • Create an illustrated dictionary for a second language
  • Create an interactive “travel-the-world” geography book
This is a neat way for students to publish their work and share with others!

Tips: The Moglue builder can be downloaded on Mac or Windows computers and has a great tutorial to get your students started!

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

Draw a Stickman

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 25-10-2011

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What it is:  Draw a Stickman is a delightful site that I learned about from @amandacdykes on her blog Upside Down Education.  On Draw a Stickman, students are prompted to draw a stick figure, the figure they draw springs to life and is faced with several challenges, students must follow directions and draw several props for their stick figure to interact with.  This is a mini interactive story that has students reading and following directions, solving mysteries, thinking creatively and solving problems.  Students will love the hero of the story (the character they created) and the villain (a dragon).

How to integrate the Draw a Stickman site into the classroom: Draw a Stickman is a fun interactive site that uses student creations to tell a story.  Students can complete the interactive on individual computers, iDevices (the site works great!), interactive whiteboards, or classroom computers.

Aside from just fun practice at following instructions, Draw a Stickman would be a great fictional story prompt.  Students have the bones of a story and can fill in details, vivid verbs, adjectives, etc. to tell the story.  Students can focus on fleshing out their hero, the plot of the story, the details, the setting, etc.  Students can come up with a moral of a story that they add in the customized ending.  This link can be sent as a tweet, facebook link, or in an email to accompany the story they have created.  These stories would be fun to share as a class…how many different stories did students come up with using the same base?

On an interactive whiteboard, students can go through the story together, labeling the different parts of the story (beginning, problem, climax, resolution, ending).  This interactive can help students identify parts in a story including setting, characters and plot.

Tips: After you have gone through Draw a Stickman, you can personalize the message at the end and share.  Add any two lines of text that you wish.  This could be a fun way to reveal messages to your students!

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