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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?

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)

Kids Picture Dictionary App

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 30-07-2013

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Kids picture dictionary app- iLearn Technology

Kids picture dictionary app-iLearn TechnologyWhat it is: Kids Picture Dictionary is just what you would imagine it to be: a dictionary, for kids, with pictures.  This picture dictionary has something extra special built in, it includes a self record feature so that kids (teachers or parents) can record their own voice to record sentence examples.  Each word includes a picture, an audio recording of the word, and the ability for kids (teachers or parents) to record their own sentence.

How to use the Kids Picture Dictionary App in your classroom: This is a very simple dictionary app for young students.  It is organized well so that they can search words by letter and picture.  The words included are pretty basic, but would be perfect for an emerging reader/writer.  Students could use the dictionary to help them with spelling during writing time.  I’ve often seen kids who can tell a fantastic story, but their writing is limited because they don’t want to spell a word that they aren’t sure of.  Kids Picture Dictionary app could be just the confidence they need to let their ideas soar.

The Kids Picture Dictionary app could also be really helpful for ELL/ESL students who are learning vocabulary.  Each word not only includes a picture, but also a sample sentence.  Students can listen to the word used in context and then practice recording their own sentence using the new vocabulary.  The recording is saved within the app so students can work independently, and teachers can go back through the app to assess understanding later.

Tips: The Kids Picture Dictionary app is free; however, it does include advertisements at the bottom of each page.  For $1.99 you can get the app without the ads.  A strong suggestion for educational app developers: It is RIDICULOUS to put an in-app purchase option on an educational app.  If a school is going to buy your app, they will want to do it through the Volume Purchase program.  In app purchases are NOT education friendly!  (If you are purchasing this for school, the app exists in the app store twice, the free version always comes up first and if you dig, you can find the $1.99 ad free version.)

Price: Free

Device: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad with iOS 4.3 or later.

You Are Your Words

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Character Education, Create, History, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 27-03-2012

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What it is:  The American Heritage Dictionary has a new webtool that lets students create a self-portrait using their words.  Students can link to places where they have already written (Facebook or Twitter) or write something unique specifically for their portrait.  The unique image can be shared, saved and printed.  You Are Your Words works best in Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari Internet browsers.  I’ve found that pictures with high contrast work better than pictures with similar coloring and low contrast.  After you create you image, you can adjust the colors, contrast and font.

How to integrate You Are Your Words into the classroom: You Are Your Words would be a great getting-to-know-you activity.  It would give students a neat way to share who they are with the class.  At the beginning of the year, a You Are Your Words bulletin board or classroom display would be a fun way for everyone to get to know each other.  This site could lead to really interesting discussions about the power that our words have, what they reveal about us, and how they impact people’s perception of us.
You Are Your Words would also be a great way for students to create a mini biography about a hero, person of interest, historical figure, etc.  Students could upload a picture and include famous quotes or words that describe the person.  These could be used as part of a larger project, or as an independent research project.  The site asks where the eyes and mouth of the picture are, so uploading another image or diagram to describe might not work.
Students can create character description cards with words, quotes and phrases that describe fictional characters in the reading they are doing.   If you have a class or small group that is reading the same book, each student can choose a character to do this for.  Create “trading cards” of the characters that students can create and share with each other so that each student has a card for each character in the book.  If students are doing an author study, they could create a “You Are Your Words” about the author.
As students are learning about different roles within government, they could create a You Are Your Words image about each position using a picture of the person who holds that position in government.  The writing could be related to the job description of the position.
The picture above is an example of a You Are Your Words image that I created with the words from this post!
Tips: If you have an iDevice, the Word Foto app works very similarly and lets you use ANY picture.  This allows students to define vocabulary words with pictures.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using You Are Your Words in  your classroom!

Quicklyst: Note taking web app created by student

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-01-2011

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What it is: Senior in high school Shantanu Bala emailed me yesterday with a link to a new web application he built called Quicklyst. Quicklyst is a web application for note taking. Shantanu created Quicklyst to make taking and studying notes easier.  Quicklyst makes it easy to take notes, deliver notes to a Kindle device, look up topics in Wikipedia, and define words within notes automatically using the Merriam Webster Dictionary.  It is free and easy to use from any web connected computer. Students can quickly organize their notes into study guides and even create a study queue for important notes.  Notes can be searched by topic or subject.  Quicklysts can be delivered to a Kindle, printed, or downloaded as text files.  There is no need to register to create a Quicklyst, to save a Quicklyst, students will need to create a username (could be email address but doesn’t have to be) and password. While students take notes, they can instantly include definitions and search information in their notes.  Type a question mark followed by the word you want searched and Quicklyst will automatically add information from Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo. Type a colon followed by the word you want defined and Quicklyst will automatically insert the definition into the notes. Students can click on the + sign next to their notes to add the notes to their Study Queue.  The study queue is a place for students to save notes that they want to reference and study later.

How to integrate Quicklyst into the classroom: Quicklyst is a great addition to any student (or teacher) tool box. It makes note taking a breeze, quickly importing definitions and search information into the notes. In a one to one setting (where every student has access to a computer) Quicklyst could be used by students to take notes during discussion, lecture, or any type of whole class learning activity.  In the one or two computer classroom, Quicklyst could be assigned as a student job in your classroom. During the class, the student assigned can take notes that can later be downloaded and sent to students, or printed as a study guide.  The class job should be rotated so that each student has an opportunity to be class recorder.

Quicklyst is also excellent for teachers taking notes in staff meetings, professional development, or conferences.  It is such a simple tool to use and has just the right amount of extras (instant definitions) to make it really useful!

Use Quicklyst with younger students to create KWL (know, want to know, learn) type notes with students.  Using a projector-connected computer, interactive whiteboard, or classroom computer, students can begin the chart and fill it in as they learn more.  The simple built in search and definition make it ideal for this type of use.

Tips: Quicklyst is a fantastic example of student innovation, it once again begs the question are we providing opportunities for this kind of creativity in schools?  Shantanu created Quicklyst in his free time for fun, amazing! I asked Shantuanu where the idea for Quicklyst came about and how he learned how to program, here is his response: Mainly, notes were something I always had a problem with. I’d either lose them or forget them, or just use a textbook since my notes weren’t very good. Although my school doesn’t have laptops for every student, schools are slowly getting more and more computers for use directly in the classroom. I realized it might be interesting to create something that stores a person’s notes online and allows a person to search his or her notes easily. That solved my first problem of losing and forgetting my notes. But there was one thing I found missing when looking through some of my notes: structure. I’d try to continue my notes chronologically, but sometimes there’s a gap when a teacher stops teaching one subject and jumps to something else that’s more urgent. Other times, I’d miss a lesson, and I’d forget to copy someone else’s notes. On a computer, this process is much easier, and copying/moving things around can happen in a couple seconds. I also realized that notes feel very disconnected — there’s a wealth of information available online, and there’s only so much a teacher can fit into a class period that’s less than an hour. Providing that information to a student while they take their notes in class seems like the right direction. It encourages active learning by allowing a student to ask a lot of questions and find answers themselves.

Part of the reason I am really excited about the amount of information available online (and the quality of the information) is because I was able to teach myself how to code in the 6th grade. I just followed some tutorials online, and whenever I was confused I just asked a question on a forum and I’d get an answer pretty quickly. There are a ton of people who write excellent materials and answer questions completely in their free time. It’s really amazing. Once I got into high school, I found out that I could get credit by taking some community college courses in programming, so I took Java and C++ classes. But my favorite programming language is really the one I learned first — Python.

Thank you Shantanu for creating such a useful application and sharing it with all of us!

Leave a comment and share how you are using Quicklyst in your classroom.

Reading Logs

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-10-2009

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What it is: Reading Logs is a free website that makes reading, spelling, and vocabulary simplified.  Reading Logs is a great way to organize student reading, spelling, and vocabulary practice.  Learning material can be uploaded by teachers to be accessed by students online.  Once the material is online, students can use the electronic reading log, vocabulary card creator, and and use the listen and spell practice system.  Teachers can upload reading lists and reading goals for their class.  These can be weekly or monthly goals and can be set up to track the number of minutes or the number of books read.  Online competitions can be setup by the teacher (example: first student to read a certain number of minutes).  Teachers can quickly post a vocabulary list where students can look up words with the online dictionary and add definitions to the cards.  The cards can be studied online or downloaded as a pdf to print out.  With the listen and spell system, teachers can upload spelling lists for students to practice.  Students click on a button to listen to the spelling word and practice spelling it.  They receive immediate feedback from the program.  Reading Logs tracks students reading logs and updates teachers with progress.

How to integrate Reading Logs into the classroom: The Reading Logs website is a great place to organize your classroom.  It eliminates the need for paper spelling lists, vocabulary cards, and reading logs. Parents and students will appreciate the one stop shop for these common weekly tasks.  I am not normally a fan of reading logs, I think they can stress students out about reading unnecessarily (readicide!), but this online reading log works more as a motivator and goal setter for reading.  I like that the focus is not on the number of pages read but on what books that a student is reading.  This could encourage great conversation about reading between students who are reading similar books, or between the teacher and student.  The focus is on encouraging the love of reading and not on the task of reading.  The spelling practice center is great for vocabulary development, pronunciation, and self guided learning of spelling words.  The vocabulary card creator allows students to easily create vocabulary cards, look up words in the online dictionary, and practice the words.  I like this site for student and home connections and for the self guided learning and pacing.  The spelling portion of this site could be great for English language learners because they will hear the pronunciation of words and can look up the definitions within the program.

Tips: When you register for this free website, you will get some great printouts explaining the site to parents and students.

Related Resources: Spelling City, Shelfari, Book Adventure

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

Shahi

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 25-03-2009

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What it is:  Shahi is a mashup of Wiktionary (a Wikipedia type dictionary) and Flickr.  This visual dictionary is a great way for students to look up definitions and get a visual representation of the word.  Students can choose for the images to come from Flickr, Google, or Yahoo.  I find the most reliable image results come from Flickr.

How to integrate Shahi into the classroom: Shahi is a neat mashup of two tools.  Having a visual dictionary is great for every student but especially useful for your visual learners.  Beyond using Shahi as a dictionary, this is a perfect site for teaching your students the parts of speech.  Because pictures acompany the definitions, students can “see” that a verb is an action word.  Use Shahi as the base for a part of speech game with the whole class and a projector.  Choose a word from reading, spelling, etc. and have students ‘guess’ the part of speech based on the pictures.  This is a great way for students to learn the parts of speech through inquiry and problem solving.  Shahi would also be a useful tool for ESL or ELL students.  Bookmark Shahi on your classroom computers as a resource during reading/writing time.  Look up a spelling word on Shahi and have students journal about one of the accompanying pictures.  This site could be very useful for writing prompts.  Shahi would also be wonderful in the science classroom, students can look up difficult words or concepts and immediately have a good visual representation to aid in understanding.  In the geography classroom, students could search places and get a  collection of images that will provide them with additional insight into the place.  Cool!

 

Tips:  I learned about this site from activeducator  on Twitter.  If you haven’t yet, sign up for Twitter today, it is a great way to network and learn about education (or anything you are interested in).  Don’t forget to add me as a friend, ktenkely!  A word of warning with this site: sometimes images will be inappropriate on this site because of the tags people put on their pictures in Flickr.  For example “berry” brings pictures of fruit berries but also scantily dressed women named “Berry”.  For elementary students, pre-search words you will be using with the class for appropriateness. 

 

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

Scholastic Listen & Read

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 08-09-2008

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What it is: The Scholastic website is full of truly amazing resources.  Today I ran across one that I hadn’t used before called Scholastic Listen & Read, I heard about it on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.  Scholastics Listen and Read is for students in first and second grade.   The site does exactly what it’s name implies, it lets students listen to non-fiction stories and read along.  There are 11 non-fiction stories for first grade social studies including The Path of the President, What Does the President Do, and a Celebration of Earth Day.  There are 15 non-fiction stories focused on animals and food for first grade students.  Second grade students have access to 10 non-fiction stories focused on social studies including Constitution Day and Welcome to a Pilgrim Village.  There are also 11 short non-fiction stories for second grade students focused on animals and food.  Social Studies is a hard subject to teach first and second grade students from a text book because the vocabulary and reading can be especially challenging.  Scholastic Listen and Read solves this problem wonderfully with short, easy to read non-fiction stories that are read aloud to your students.  As an added bonus, each story includes the Scholastic Word Wizard.  This tool floats right on top of the web page.  At any point, students can click on a word in the story and the Scholastic Word Wizard will give them an easy to read definition of the word.  Students can also type a word into the Word Wizard to look it up.  

 

How to integrate Scholastic Listen & Read into the classroom:  Scholastic Listen & Read is ideal for any classroom or computer setting.  The non-fiction stories could be read together as a class with a projector and speaker setup, individually in a computer lab setting, or in small groups as a center in the one or two computer classroom.  The stories are easy to understand and the ability to look up words right from the story makes it a great place for students to learn key social studies and animals and food concepts.  

 

Tips:  Scholastic Listen & Read is a great place for ESL and ELL kids to go for English practice and vocabulary!

 

Leave a comment and share how you are using Scholastic Listen & Read in your classroom.

 

Free Rice

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 10-11-2007

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What it is: Free Rice has two goals: to provide English vocabulary to everyone for free and help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free (this is made possible by the sponsors on the site). Free Rice is a sister company of www.poverty.com. Free Rice began in October 2007 and to date has donated over a billion grains of rice. Students play a vocabulary game online. For each word they get correct, 10 grains of rice are donated. If a student gets a word wrong, the words get easier. If the student gets the word right, the words get harder.

How to integrate Free Rice into the classroom: Free Rice is a wonderful vocabulary game for the classroom. I love the added lesson about helping those who are less fortunate. Free Rice would be the perfect game to play during the holiday season…particularly around Thanksgiving. As our students give thanks for plentiful food and nutrition, they can play a game to help others get much needed food and nutrition. Visit the FAQ page to find out more about how the Free Rice program works and how rice is donated. This vocabulary game could also be a great way to teach students how to use the dictionary. As students get an unfamiliar vocabulary word, encourage them to look the word up (online or “old school”).

Tips: Use Free Rice as a math lesson, students can document the number of grains of rice donated each month. Use these figures to introduce graphing and charting skills (among others!).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Free Rice in your
classroom.

Rhymer

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 16-08-2007

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What it is: Rhymer is a free online rhyming dictionary from Write Express. Students can find end rhymes, last syllable rhymes, double rhymes, beginning rhymes and first syllable rhymes.

How to integrate Rhymer into your classroom: Set up an inspiration center during a poetry unit. Students can stop by the center when they need a little poetic inspiration.

Tips: Bookmark this site for easy access.