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Math Doodles

  What it is:  Math Doodles is a set of math games created by Daren Carstens that help students learn the most important aspect of math…it can be fun!  Daren created Math Doodles as a place where students can “discover the joy, wonder, and fun of mathematics.”  I have to admit...

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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?

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.

3D Toad- 360* images worth more than a thousand words

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 16-04-2012

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What it is:   3D Toad is a site I learned about from @rmbyrne‘s fantastic blog, Free Tech for Teachers.  This is like hitting the lottery of educational image libraries.  It goes beyond your typical image library and has 3D images that students can spin all around and explore from every angle.  Stinking awesome!  Even better? (Yes, it gets better.)  It works on mobile iDevice browsers! There are great images to explore on a variety of educational topics including: dissections, animal skeletons, human skeletons, music, geology, dental hygiene, coral, yoga, ballet positions, fossils, history, chemistry, emergency preparedness and computer networking.

Our students are learning all about earth systems right now so the fossils, geology and coral are especially exciting!

How to integrate 3D Toad into the Classroom:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If a regular picture is worth a thousand, these 3D images are worth at least 360 times more.  The 3D images on 3D Toad let students examine all 360* of an image.  Students can examine, discover, and analyze images from various angles.  3D Toad helps students really visualize learning in new ways.

Use 3D Toad as a visual glossary on classroom computers.  Students can visit this “visual glossary” center to explore objects and new vocabulary that they are learning.  It would also be great on an interactive whiteboard or classroom computer where students can examine objects together.  3D Toad has a video on their site that shows a teacher using 3D Toad with students.  I don’t love their example because the teacher is at the center of a review time before a test.  The best use of this site would be to let students loose on it so that they can explore the images on their own.

3D Toad would be a great place for students to practice their observation skills.  Each student could choose an object to explore in depth, write a detailed description and observation of the object.  Working with a partner, they can describe their object and see if their partner can identify the image from the description alone.

These 360* images can be used for introducing new concepts, as a visual aid for students who are presenting learning, and as a place for further exploration of a topic or object.

Tips: Double click to zoom-in on an image.  ***Some of the images have alternate 3D views that can be viewed with 3D glasses!  The Giraffe skull is a good example of this.  How cool would it be to outfit your students with some cheap 3D glasses for this lesson? I’ve asked local theaters to share leftover glasses in the past, they are usually very willing/happy to help out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using 3D Toad 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!

Inside Story Flashcards: The world’s most interesting way to learn words

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 22-09-2011

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What it is:  First of all, how about that for a tagline?  “The world’s most interesting way to learn words” is a lofty goal for anyone to reach, but I must say, Inside Story Flashcards is doing a bang up job of it!  What makes these vocabulary flashcards so great is the accompanying pictures.  They are so appropriate for the words they are describing and offer a great visual to associate with the word.  In addition to the well matched picture, students can click on a speaker icon for audio of the word.  Students can choose to show or hide the definition.  Students can choose words at four different levels: Basic (includes words like seven, comb, typewriter); Easy (includes words like attire, inclined, endorsement); Medium (includes words like prodigy, monochrome, dank) and Hard (includes words like crepuscular, bedizened, atavistic).

The online flashcards are fantastic but there are also free printable flashcards for offline use!

How to integrate Inside Story Flashcards into the classroom:  Inside Story Flashcards are a superb addition to any classroom.  They are just the ticket for visual learners…petrified will forever more be associated with the kitten picture above in my mind!  These flashcards are a fun way to practice vocabulary and learn a new word.

Use the site with the whole class using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard.  Split students into teams to see which team can come up with the most creative sentence using the new vocabulary word.  The online flashcards also make a great creative writing prompt.  Students can use the newly learned vocabulary in connection with the picture displayed.

Students can practice their vocabulary skills on classroom computers using the “hide definition” feature.  Students can quiz themselves and then show the definition to find out if they are correct.

The print flashcards can be used in the low tech or no tech classroom.  Print out flashcards to keep in a writing inspiration station.  Students can use them to learn new vocabulary or to inspire writing.

Start your day with a new word.  This can be the “word of the day”, challenge students to use the word of the day in conversation at some point during the day.

Do you have students who are gearing up for the SATs?  Send this link home for some fun practice/learning time.

Tips: At Inside Story Flashcards, you can also purchase sets of flashcards with a theme.  I’m liking the cat and dog flashcards.  Can Haz vocabulary.

**For those who are wondering, I did write this post on my iPad.  It was not wicked hard…just different.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Inside Story Flashcards in  your classroom!

Picasa

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Blogs, Fun & Games, History, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Software, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 07-01-2009

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What it is:  Picasa is a free download from Google that helps you organize, edit, share, and create using photos.  The edit feature allows you to fix red-eye, crop, and fix any blemishes or scratches.  Picasa lets students create turning photos into movies, collages, and slideshows.  Picasa also makes it easy to upload albums to the web to share.  Picasa has been around for a while as a Google tool but the big news this week is the release of the beta version of Picasa for Macs.  The neat thing about the Mac Picasa release is its integration with iPhoto.  The features are pretty neat and definitely worth a look for either platform but with the announcement of iPhoto ’09 yesterday, they aren’t as impressive.  HOWEVER, Picasa is completely free while iPhoto ’09 is not.

 

How to integrate Picasa into the classroom:  Picasa  is a great way to organize photos you are taking of your classroom in action.  Create a web album, parents always like to see the great things their kids are learning.  Students can use Picasa to organize images they find online or pictures they take on a field trip.  These pictures can then be used to create a movie, collage, or slideshow directly in the Picasa software.  Students could create a class story in pictures, create a movie out of it and share it with other grades.  Students can also collect historical images, scientific images, etc and easily create a movie or slideshow displaying their knowledge.  

 

Tips:  Picasa is available for Macs in beta version and Windows and Linux based in alpha.  

 

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