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Draw That Habitat

What it is: I am a fan of everything PBS does, recently I ran across this gem while looking for some activities that help students learn about habitats.  Draw that Habitat is SO much more engaging than most of the “match the animal to the correct habitat” lower level thinking “games”...

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Buncee: Digital Creation tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, For Teachers, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 16-01-2014

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Okay, it is 2014…time to kick it into gear and get back to blogging. The awesomeness of what exists in educational technology is stacking up and NEEDS to be shared. I’m on it!

Buncee-digital creation tool iLearn TechnologyWhat it is:  Buncee is a super cool creation and presentation tool.  Buncee is useful for students and teachers alike as a digital canvas.  Students can use Buncee to create neat interactive presentations and stories. Teachers can use it to help teach new concepts, in a flipped classroom, or to share information with families.  There are three account types to choose from within Buncee.  The free account lets students and teachers share finished presentations with social media, upload your own photos, create Buncees with two slides, offers 500mb of storage, and lets you save the Buncee as a jpeg.  The education version cost $9.99/month or $59.99 for the year and includes: sharing to social media, uploading of files (audio, media, image), record audio, create Buncees with unlimited slides, storage of 2G, ability to save as a clickable pdf or jpeg, 1 teacher account to create and manage 30 student accounts, create and post assignments, and view/grade student submissions.

How to use Buncee into your classroom: Buncee is a great creation webapp.  As a teacher, use Buncee to assist guided reading by recording a read aloud. Use the recording as part of a classroom reading center where struggling or emerging readers can get a customized lesson.  Stop during the reading just like you would if you were doing a read along sitting with the child.  Include slides with questions that students can answer, ways that they can reflect on the story, etc.  While you are working with a small group of students on close reading, other students can still get some great reading support.  This is also great for those kids who don’t have a parent at home that can read with them- you can “go home” with your students every day!  Buncee can also be used for guided learning.  Create your own digital “textbooks” complete with multimedia, images, audio, and text.  I’ve often been let down by what a boxed curriculum provides for students, create your own resources for students to access. This is especially helpful for young students who won’t be able to independently research using the Internet on their own.
  Buncee could be a great help for the flipped classroom model. Send students with learning to complete at home in preparation for a project or activity that will be done at school with your support.

Students can use Buncee for multimedia presentations to demonstrate learning.  Students can create interactive presentations when learning a foreign language connecting vocabulary words with meaning.  Because it is so easy to combine multimedia types, students can create their own digital “textbooks” where they collect learning in history, government, geography, science, social studies, etc. and present it in new and meaningful ways.  These digital “textbooks” can be shared and commented on by other students.

Buncee could be a great way for students to reflect on a book that they have finished. They can complete character sketches, retell, or combine media types to create a book review.

If you have a digital camera (built in or separate), students can take pictures of a science experiment and create a digital review of the experiment including any hypothesis and conclusions.

Tips: With the education version, students can submit their work and it can be graded and commented on directly in Buncee. This could be a really great way for students to keep a digital portfolio that you, and parents, can comment on throughout the year.

 

Degree Story Teacher Contest

Our Little Earth: Global News for World Citizens

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 20-11-2013

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iLearn Technology- Our Little Earth international newspaper for kids

What it is: Our Little Earth is a great international online newspaper for kids.  It is delivered every two weeks directly to email and best of all, it is free!  Past editions of Our Little Earth can be found on the site for students to read and explore.  Each issue helps students stay informed about what current events are happening in the world around them.  Every edition has a map showing students where the news came from for the issue.  The articles are easy for students to read and do a great job of offering enough background information so that students can make connections to the text and better understand it.

How to integrate Our Little Earth into your classroom: I really like Our Little Earth kids news, it is simple in its delivery, but packs a substantial punch of great information.  This is a fantastic source for students to read just-in-time, non-fiction text, at a level that is accessible to them.  Subscribe to Our Little Earth and read through a story-a-day for the weeks following.  Make sure to model for kids how to explore the themes, politics, geography and history that is related in each article.  This is also a great starting point for kids to fact check, make connections, and confirm the reliability of a source.  The news is current, so there is always something fresh!

I love using current news with students, it keeps the classroom relevant and touches enough transdisciplinary themes that students can make connections to other reading and learning they are doing.  Combine Our Little Earth with @angelamaiers What Breaks Your Heart project.  As students are more informed, they will be able to better articulate things about the world they would like to be a part of changing.

Use Google Earth to help students learn geography at the same time.  Create a pin on the map for each story read.  Ask students to come up with a title for each story (or use the title provided) to help them remember what they read about that location. Add to the same Google Earth map all year-long so that students can begin to see common themes by geography.

Tips: Use the search feature to help students dig even deeper into events and themes.  What happened a year ago at this time?

What do you think of Our Little Earth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Soo Meta: Digital Storytelling Tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Geography, Government, History, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 10-04-2013

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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 their own email accounts, you can have them login using a temporary inbox like Tempinbox (just type in a word or words followed by @tempinbox.com and you are in business!).

After students have logged in, they will be asked to enter a title for their new story.  Then, they can search for videos, pictures, sounds and text or copy and paste their links into a new story.  Videos can be trimmed and edited, pictures resized and text edited.

Soo Meta is incredibly simple to use.  Just search the web, choose content to remix and off you go!  You can also simply drag and drop content from your computers desktop to create something new.

When finished, just publish the story and you can share it via link on Facebook or Twitter or you can embed the story like I did above.  (I literally spent a grand total of 2 min creating this story!)

How to integrate Soo Meta into the classroom: Soo Meta is a fantastic online tool for digital storytelling. It makes the process incredibly easy and the possibilities are limited only to your student’s imagination.

With Soo Meta, students can compile research on any topic or subject and create their own digital “textbook” of the learning to share with other classmates or students around the world.  I love that Soo Meta combines the research component with the creation piece.  So often students want to skip right to creation…with Soo Meta the two are so interdependent, it would be impossible to do one without the other!

Teachers can use Soo Meta to create learning stories for their students.  Pull together various videos, pictures and articles and mash them up for your students.  Embed finished video stories on a classroom website or blog.

Older students can create interactive video stories for younger “buddy” students.  They can solidify their own learning of history, math, science, geography, etc. by putting together learning opportunities for younger students.

The storytelling aspect of Soo Meta is fantastic!  Students can do story re-tells, current event mashups, historical documentaries, political commentary, science discoveries, etc.

Tips: Don’t be discouraged if your students are too young to create their own Soo Meta stories, create your own mashups for them to enjoy!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

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

If It Were My Home: Compare Countries Visually

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-02-2013

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What it is: We are just heading into a new inquiry block at Anastasis Academy.  The kids are exploring world communities and our interdependence on each other.  If it Were My Home is a fascinating website that asks students to consider what their life would be like if they were born in a different country.  Would they be the same person?  If it Were My Home is a country comparison tool where students can compare living conditions in their own country to those of another.  When students select a country, there is a visual overlay comparison of maps.  Students can easily visualize relative size of another country based on their own state or country.  Students will also see a break down of death rates, HIV/AIDS, birth rate, electricity availability, oil consumption, economic comparison, health care, and class divide.  Students have the ability to compare the country they selected with another country of interest.  Students can learn additional information about the country and vote to show if they would rather live in the chosen country.  Additionally, most countries offer a recommended reading list with books about the selected country.  When students click on the mini-facts, they get a full description of the fact along with the original source.  SO stinking cool!

How to integrate If it Were My Home into the classroom: If it Were My Home is an outstanding way for students to visualize and compare other countries to their own.  I love that this site helps students with geography, but also reveals that there is a real world community that is interdependent and diverse.  This site helps students recognize the unique place they are in the world and how it relates to other countries.  I love the added awareness of human rights and social justice issues that this site encourages.  In our inquiry unit, we are looking at what the facts listed on the site mean about the government, belief systems, human rights, equality, social justice and landscape of the countries they represent.

This is a site that can be used to help students ask bigger questions.  To see a fact about another country, and ask what bigger problems might be revealed, what we can learn from other countries, and break down some stereotypes that students may have about other countries.

Ask each student to choose a country to compare to their country of origin.  Have students pair up with a partner and compare their chosen countries to the country of origin.

Choose “Disasters” from the menu at the top of the screen to view some natural and man-made disasters that affected the lives of millions of people.  Students can view the scope of the disaster in relation to where they live, helping them to better visualize the impact that man-made and natural disasters can have on a population.

Tie in a creative writing project and have students imagine that they are moving from their country of origin to their chosen country.  Students can use the information and comparison as inspiration for their fictional story about what life would be like in their new home.   Students could also write a short autobiographical story about growing up in their country of origin, followed by a short “autobiographical” type story about their life growing up in a different country.

Use the statistical data in If it Were My Home for some real world mathematical comparison between countries.  If Rwanda has a 10.7 times higher chance of dying in infancy, how many infant deaths does it expect on average per year?  If Rwandans make 98.06% less than Americans, what would you expect an average salary to be?

I used Rwanda as my example because Rwanda is where we started our first Anastasis sister school.  Our 2nd-3rd grade class has been absolutely fascinated with Rwanda and poured over this site to learn more. :)

Tips: Encourage your students to read one of the recommended books about the country they chose. This will help them understand more about the country they chose, and give the people in that country voice beyond the facts listed.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  If it Were My Home in your classroom.

Unitag: Custom QR Code Generator

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-12-2012

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What it is: QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent in education and everywhere else (advertisements, TV, your bag of chips, soda, etc.).  These codes are easy to make and can lead to some fun learning opportunities.  Unitag is a QR code generator that lets you customize the look of the QR code.  First, choose a type of QR code to generate.  This can be a weblink, text, a business card, an email, a geolocation, a text message, a phone number, a calendar date, a wifi network, or a mobile page.  Next, you can customize the QR code with pre-made templates, personalized color palette, a special look, a logo or picture, “eye” colors, and more.  When you are finished, the QR code can be downloaded or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  This process could take seconds (it is SO fast to create) or several minutes depending on how fancy you like to get with your customizations.

How to integrate Unitag into the classroom: So, what in the heck can you use those codes for?  A lot!  Use Unitag to create customized codes for back to school night; instead of sending parents with stacks of papers, offer a QR code by the door where they can snap a picture that takes them to your expectations/important dates/syllabus/special projects.  Include QR codes next to parent teacher conference signups so that parents can instantly upload the date to the calendar on their phone.  A QR code linked to your business card helps parents and students know what office hours you keep and how to keep in touch.

For older students (who have a phone) offer QR codes to help them remember important dates, homework, special projects, etc.  This could be posted next to the door so that on their way in or out they can instantly snap a picture and have all of the upcoming assignments in their calendar.

QR codes can be used by students to create choose your own adventure type stories.  The codes can link to different twists and turns within the story.  This would be fantastic for student created fiction but could also make a really cool book report.  Students could write one version summarizing the story as it was, a QR code could lead to an alternate ending that they created themselves.

When studying history, QR codes could be used to show different angles of the same event, different outcomes depending on population…and how cool would it be if those QR codes were included on a map where the events took place?!  Students can link the QR codes to different views of the same event.  For example, one from the viewpoint of explorer Christopher Columbus and another from the point of view of Native Americans.  A QR code classroom timeline would also be very neat.  Students can create reports/content that is linked to a QR code that gets placed on a giant timeline.  Customize the code with images that are related to the event or colors that represent the event in some way.

Create a bulletin board with a map of the world.  Place QR codes over different places for an interactive board.  Students can use the QR codes to reveal the name/capital/key features of the place.

Have a secret clue or math problem each day that students can reveal using a QR code.  It sounds so simple, but honestly, students love the mystery and hidden challenge!

In science, QR codes can be used at different stations to reveal the steps that students should follow for an experiment.  How about a periodic table of QR codes that reveal what each element does or a video that shows the element in action?

At the beginning of last year, we created a school wide school scavenger hunt that used QR codes to help students learn where different classrooms/resources could be found.  It was great fun!

Anytime you have a center activity, include a QR code that links to instructions, supplementary videos or websites.  This saves students from having to spend learning time typing in URLs or looking for directions that the last group wrote on or piled things on (or does that only happen to us?).

Do your students create a LOT of digital work like ours do?  One of the challenges we face at Anastasis is the lack of worksheets going home.  I know…it doesn’t seem like that would be a challenge, but it is.  Parents aren’t quite sure where to look for their child’s work since it is all digital.  QR codes could go home in lieu of a Friday folder that link to student work.

This time of year, it would be really neat to create a QR code advent calendar where students reveal some new piece of learning every day.

Tips: I hope that your mind is racing with the possibilities these little codes offer.  There is something to the mystery of them that appeals to students, they are like unveiling a surprise.  Don’t keep all the fun of creating them to yourself, students can easily create these and use them within their work.  I honestly can’t think of a subject or discipline that these wouldn’t be useful in.

Art: Share some art history or steps to an art project through a QR code.

Foreign Language: Create a word bank wall that has QR codes that reveal the translation of the word.

Geography: Create a map with QR codes that reveals additional information about the place.

Government: QR codes that lead students to political cartoons and related learning.

History: Exploring multiple points of view within a historical event.

Language Arts: Choose your own adventure story creation.

Math: Problem of the day.  Multiple methods for solving a problem.  Instructions for a math center activity.

Music: An exploration of world music through QR code link/videos.

PE: Links to examples of different exercises/warm ups.

Phonics: Video library of phonemes through QR code.

Science: Periodic table of QR codes with links to element information or videos.

Apps for scanning QR Codes: QR Reader, Qrafter, QR Scanner, Scan, Red Laser, Quick Scan Pro, Quick Scan, ATT code scanner.  There are hundreds of these, search your app store for “QR code” and find the one that best fits your needs and device.

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

Scholastic’s Listen and Read: Free non-fiction ebooks for primary students

Posted by admin | Posted in Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 17-07-2012

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What it is:  Scholastic is constantly sneaking new great resources for the classroom onto their site.  The other day I learned about one that I haven’t seen before from @rmbyrne on his great blog Free Tech for Teachers.  Listen and Read has fantastic online reading activities for early learners.  There are 54 nonfiction read-along books that include words, images and sound.  You can sort books by subject including: Community, American History, Animals, Civics and Government, Environmental Studies, Plants and Flowers, Science and Social Studies.  You can also sort books by level (A or B).

How to integrate Listen and Read into your curriculum: Non-fiction can be hard to read in the early years.  It often includes unfamiliar words and vocabulary and concepts that students don’t have a lot of prior knowledge of.  Scholastic’s Listen and Read is fantastic because it helps students navigate their way through non-fiction with the support of a read-aloud, sounds and images.  These interactive books help students better comprehend content because they aren’t focused on the words they are stumbling through.  At the end of the book students can click on the unfamiliar new vocabulary to hear the word said again.  This follow-up exposure reinforces word recognition, vocabulary and ideas.

Scholastic Listen and Read can be set up on classroom computers as a reading center.  Students can read and listen independently with headphones.  After reading through the story, students can discuss with a partner (or as a whole class) what they remember about each of the “sound it out” words from the story.

If you don’t have the ability for students to read these non-fiction books independently, use a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard to read as a whole class.

Tips: Some of the titles are offered in both A and B level.  This is great for a little differentiation within the classroom (while gaining the same concepts).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Scholastic’s Listen and Read in your classroom!

iCivics- teaching students civics through games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Evaluate, Government, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 11-06-2012

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What it is:  iCivics is a great way for students to learn about civics in the United States.  The site features 16 educational video games that help students understand our government.  In addition to the great games, iCivics has great standards-aligned civics curriculum available for free to teachers! Games include topics like: Citizenship and Participation, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Budgeting, Foreign Policy and National Defense, Separation of Powers, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  The games are fantastic, and put students right in the middle of the action and story.

  • Activate- Students campaign for an issue of their choice.
  • Cast Your Vote- Students choose the questions in a debate, rate the candidates responses, and cast a vote.
  • Immigration Nation- Students help newcomers along their path to citizenship.
  • Responsibility Launcher- Students help others with civic common sense.
  • Argument Wars- Students argue a real Supreme Court case using persuasive abilities.
  • Do I Have a Right- Student run their own law firm that specializes in constitutional law.
  • Counties Work- Students make decisions about community programs and services.
  • People’s Pie- Student control the budget of the federal government.
  • Crisis of Nations- Student work to solve international problems.
  • Branches of Power- Students control all three branches of government.
  • Executive Command- Student get to be president.
  • Win the White House- Students get to manage their own presidential campaign including raising funds and polling voters.
  • Supreme Decision- Students help cast the deciding vote.
  • Court Quest- Student help others navigate the US court system.

Students can join iCivics for free.  When they do, they can take part in the Impact Competition where they play games, earn points, spend points on a iCivics real life project of their choice.

As a teacher, you can sign up for an iCivics account where you can add classes and students.

How to integrate iCivics into the classroom: iCivics is a great way to help students better understand the US government.  The games are engaging, relatively quick to play (one class period), and teach everything that students need to know to play the game.  Students with little or no understanding of the topic will be introduced to everything they need to know within the game.

The games are a great way to learn about civics because they put students right in the middle of the action, the games remind me a little of the SIMS games that I played as a kid.  Students will enjoy being the decision maker in the game-this isn’t a power point presentation disguised as a game (you know you have seen those!).

iCivics is best played on individual computers in a one-to-one or lab setting.  If you don’t have access to a lab where your students can play, students could play as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Make sure that every students gets a chance to participate and weigh in on decisions that are made.

Tips: The lesson plans in the teacher section are truly well done.  These are worth using in your classroom!  Games are now available in the app store as well!

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

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!

Fakebook and Twister- Create custom social media pages for learning

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Government, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 14-03-2011

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What it is: I don’t know if you all noticed, but I have been on a serious social media kick lately. :)  There is just SO much for students to learn from the social media sphere.  Last week (or was it the week before?) I shared that I had created a Facebook Template that could be used with students for creating a fake Facebook profile.  Since then I have come across Fakebook created by teacher, @russeltarr.  I have one word: Brilliant.  Seriously this is the BEST Fakebook tool I have seen.  It is simple to use.  Just click and type.  The profile pictures get pulled automatically based on the name that students type in.  Especially good for literary and historical characters!  The focus here really is on the learning that it enables, there are NO advertisements (unlike Myfakewall which I have deemed unusable because of all of the ads).

The other fake social networking tool I want to feature is called Twister.  This is a fake Twitter wall that students can create just by filling in a few key bits of information like a username, the real name (this is what the photo pulls from), a status update, and a date.  When students click submit, they have their very own fictional status update.  Very cool!

These tools are fantastic for the classroom because they don’t rely on actual social network sites (which are often blocked by filters), they are not limited by age to use them, and they provide a fun way for students to reflect on learning.  So neat!

How to integrate Fakebook and Twister into the classroom: These two teacher created tools are fantastic.  They produce results that look like the real deal and were obviously created by teachers who understand that the focus should be learning and not the tool (or advertisements surrounding the tool).  These fake profile/status creators are a wonderful way for students to learn about historical and literary figures in a manner that they can personally connect to. Students can create profiles or updates from the perspective of historical figures, literary characters, government, artists, composers, etc.  Students can also use these tools to help them develop characters for their own writing.

Take a page out of the Grammaropolis book and have students personify things they are learning about like parts of speech.  Students can create a profile for each part of speech.  How about creating a profile page for math functions like Number Gossip does? Students could even practice dialogue in a foreign language using either tool.

Teaching your students netiquette? Let students create two versions of a Fakebook page, one with appropriate online interaction and another that “breaks the rules” to compare/contrast.

The Twister site only lets you create one status update at a time.  This makes it really nice for memorializing famous or favorite quotes. These would be fun to print out and display on a bulletin board.

Tips: Students can save or print out their Fakebook page. To save, they will create a password and need to write down the unique URL for their page to access it at a later date.

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

Announcing: Voki Education!

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Evaluate, Government, History, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 26-01-2011

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What it is: Voki is a free web tool that let’s students create personalized speaking avatars that can be used in a variety of online formats (blogs, email, direct link, social network profiles, etc.).  Now, Voki has released an exclusive education edition of their service.   Voki Education has some additional features that make it even more useful for the classroom.  Sharing is now easier than ever.  Students and teachers can embed their finished Voki in webpages, email, and social network profiling, they can also share using a “Voki link” which will allow students to share a simple URL to a Voki page.  Students no longer need access to a website or blog to share their Voki scene!  Voki also provides custom links for educational partners like SymbalooEdu, very handy.  A new lesson plan database provides teachers with a searchable database of lesson plans that utilize Voki for learning.  Teachers are encouraged to share their Voki enhanced lesson plans.  In the new Teacher’s Corner, teachers and “expert” users can discuss anything related to Voki.  There is even a Newbies corner with a series of discussions in Q&A format.  Voki is now ad-free, this makes it an even sweeter deal for the classroom!

How to integrate Voki Education into the classroom: Voki lets students create custom characters that they can personalize and make speak.  These speaking avatars can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom, now that Voki Education includes the ability to “Voki Link” it is easier than ever for students to create and share.   Students can make their characters speak by recording a voice via phone, text to speech, record by microphone, or upload a sound clip. Students can use Voki to create characters modeled after historical or literary characters.  Students can bring those characters to life-a virtual wax museum of sorts! Those finished Voki’s can be embedded in a class website or blog, or shared by a Voki Link.  In math, students can create Voki’s that speak a riddle or word problem.  The Voki’s can be shared with other students in the class with a challenge to solve the problem.  At the beginning of the school year, students can create Voki’s to introduce themselves to you (the teacher) and classmates. Are your students learning how to speak a second language? Voki’s are a fun way for your students to practice that second language.  They can record by classroom phone or built-in microphone.  Throughout the year students can add characters to their new language and hear the progress they have made.  Voki’s make a great accompaniment for the beginning reader.  Students can create a virtual character and record themselves reading.  They can play back their Voki to listen to their fluency, pronunciation, and annunciation.  Once again, these recordings can be collected throughout the year as a way for students to track and hear their progress.   Students can use Voki characters to summarize any learning (how about a summary of the State of the Union Address?).  Have a science fair coming up that needs a little tech infusion?  Have students create a virtual scientist that describes their experiment or the science behind it.

In my last post, I talked about how I integrated technology in my 2 computer classroom with a tub system.  Voki’s would be an outstanding way to record instructions for students that can be played back.  Because they can be saved with a Voki Link, the speaking character can be open along side other activities.  It will be like having a virtual teacher there next to them!  Voki recordings are perfect for transitional instructions. These can be put up on a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard to be played back for students.

Tips: When students publish a Voki they can choose to login or register to save it, or click “No Thanks” to go directly to the published Voki with embed codes and links.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Voki Education in your classroom.