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Search Me

What it is: I have been testing the Beta version of a new search engine called Search Me for the past few months and today the public beta was released for everyone. Search Me is really unique…it lets you search webpages the way that iTunes cover flow works. Their motto is “You’ll...

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Google Story Builder: Create a video story Google style

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Government, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Subject, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-03-2014

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iLearn Technology Google Story Builder- Easily create short video stories

What it is:  I can’t help but love Google’s commercials. They are brilliant in their simplicity and weave together a story beautifully. In the past, Google let you build a story by way of a Google search. Now with Google Story Builder, you can build a video story that looks like it is being typed live between two collaborators in a Google doc. SO very happy! It couldn’t be simpler, any age could create a fantastic little video with this tool! Students create some “characters” for their story. These characters are the Google Doc collaborators. Next, students type text for each collaborator to add to the doc. Finally, students choose music to accompany their video. That is it! When students are finished with their video, they can share it via a weblink.

How to use Google Story Builder in your classroom: Google Story Builder is an outstanding little tool for sharing a story or learning. It allows students to demonstrate learning or understanding in a fun, easy way. A lot of tools can become THE focus of a project. You know how this goes, as soon as you mention that students will be creating a video project all of the learning journey goes out the window and immediately the focus is on the hilarious video they are going to create. The learning can become an after thought. With Google Story Builder, this isn’t the case. The outcome is going to look similar for everyone so the focus is the learning and story. Creativity comes through the story and the music chosen. This is the best kind of creativity, it requires students to know the topic or subject well enough to create a mini parody of it.

Students could use Google Story Builder as a book report. Students can think about major themes or the climax of a story and retell it through the collaboration the story characters in this Google Doc. How awesome would it be to have Romeo and Juliet creating a document together? How about Junie B. Jones and That Jim I Hate? The Little Red Hen asking for collaborators for her latest cooking project?

As students learn about major players in history, they can create a Google Story about those historical figures and their interaction if they had a shared Google Doc. For example students might imagine the writers of the US constitution drafting the constitution as a Google Doc. Or Galileo arguing with the “church” (the story I told in my video).

Students could personify any inanimate object or idea as a character in a Google Story. How about parts of speech arguing which part of speech is the best or should be used in the sentence being typed? Countries of the world telling all about what they are known for? Periods of history as characters? Science ideas (evolution vs. creation)? Math stories including characters like Odd Todd and Even Steven? The possibilities are as varied as your student’s imaginations!

Teachers can create a Google Story to help their kids with inference. Create a story between two characters and ask students to infer about context. What is happening? Do you think the characters are friends or foe? Why? What do you think they are working on together?

Tips: I created the Google Story above as an example. What will you use Google Story Builder for in your classroom?

 

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Answer Garden

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, collaboration, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 26-07-2010

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What it is: I learned about Answer Garden from an interactive post on Suzanne Whitlow’s excellent blog, Suzanne’s BlogAnswer Garden is a “new minimalistic feedback tool.”  It can be used as an online answer collection tool or embedded on a website or blog.  An Answer Garden is created as easily as entering a question and clicking create, no registration needed.  Embed the Answer Garden on any blog, website, or social network page using the embed code provided.  You can also give students a direct link to the Answer Garden. Students can post answers to your questions by entering their own answers or by clicking on and submitting existing answers.  All of the answers are represented in the form of a word cloud.   25 answers are visible per garden but as students submit the same answer, that word will grow bigger.  Creating an Answer Garden is SO simple.  Just type in your question or brainstorm statement and click create.

How to integrate Answer Garden into the classroom: Answer Garden is a fun way for students to brainstorm, plan, and work together.  Pose open-ended thinking questions on your classroom blog or website for students to answers.  Use Answer Garden to host a classroom poll.  Create a geography Answer Garden that gives students a place that they can describe a state or country they are learning about.  Use Answer Garden during reading as a place for students to reflect on different characters, plots, settings, and themes.  In history, give students a date range, event, or historical figure and let them add words to the Answer Garden that describe.  In the primary classroom, type in a phoneme combination and have students submit words that fit the phoneme rule.   Create an answer garden to recognize VIP students in your classroom where each child can answer with a character quality that they appreciate about that student.  The possibilities are endless!  This tool is SO easy to use, try it out in the Answer Garden below.

Where will use Answer Garden?… at AnswerGarden.ch.

Tips: The default settings on Answer Garden only allows students to submit one answer.  You can check the optional “Unlimited Answering” to give students multiple opportunities to submit answers.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Answer Garden  in your classroom.

Lightning Bug

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 26-04-2010

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What it is: Lightning Bug is a fantastic resource for the writing classroom.  The tag-line of Lightning Bug is, “Your writing partner, helping you write a story from beginning to THE END”.  That is exactly what it does.  For each stage of the writing process, students have access to excellent guides and resources to aid the process.  Students can get help finding a story idea, developing the idea, and finishing the story.  Students can even have a look at what kind of writer they might be based on their personalities.  Lightning Bug has a great collection of writing resources.  Students can explore author blogs, search for character names, get some exercises in creativity, get help with grammar and spelling, and even get help for publishing their written work.  The teacher resources are equally helpful for teaching writing.

How to integrate Lightening Bug into the classroom: Lightning Bug is a great resource to have going on your classroom computers as a writing/publishing center.  Students can visit the site to get help with every stage of writing.  This is an excellent site to send home and alert parents to, it would be enormously helpful for at-home writing projects.  If you have access to a computer lab or 1 to 1 setting, allow your students to walk through this website as they work on any piece of writing.  The site is organized really well and easy to navigate independently.  Be sure to take a look at the teacher resources.

A few of the recommendations for the writing process include worksheets such as mind maps.  Instead of using a worksheet for students to map their ideas, consider using online tools that will let students organize their thoughts and collaborate with others as they write.  Try using online mind mapping tools such as Creza’s Mindomo or  Comapping.  Students can use tools such as Zoho, Google Docs, or Kerpoof to collaborate as they write.

Tips: Many of the ideas and resources found on Lightning Bug are useful for digital storytelling.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Lightning Bug in your classroom.

Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Fun & Games, Geography, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 13-01-2010

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free virtual worlds

What it is: I absolutely love when I learn about a new site, especially those that I immediately know will be a winner with students.  You know the sites that have incredible graphics, are easy to use, and involve kids in the story (instead of just drill and practice).  Wiglington & Wenks is one such site.  One of the creators of the site @aldricchang alerted me to the new site today via Twitter.

Students are dropped into the middle of a story where they become world travelers to places around the real-world, meeting historical characters, playing brain games, building culture inspired houses, exploring secret locations, and solving ancient mysteries.  There are 100 educational real-world and imaginary places for students to visit from the past, present, and the future.  Wiglington and Wenks was originally a children story book series written by Johan Bittleston.  It has exploded into an online world where students can learn and explore.

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Wiglington and Wenks is so much more than your standard virtual world, it has a rich story line with well developed characters, plot, mystery, and quests.  Students are dropped into the story and invited to participate, learning through exploration, problem solving, and critical thinking.  The world highlights famous real-world landmarks, historical figures, inventions, culture, nature, and wildlife.  Students are motivated to learn more about each as they complete a series of quests.

The story behind the virtual world is about two water rats from England, Wiglington and Wenks, who are in search of a legacy left by Wiglington’s great explorer ancestor.  A series of magic maps guide them as they travel through time and space.  Through a series of events, a time portal was accidentally created that transported famous figures from the past to the future.  All of the historical figures seem to have forgotten who they are.  Students embark on a quest to help Wilington and Wenks find the famous missing characters and recover their lost memories.

Wilglington and Wenks are the main characters of the story.  They are the heroes. There are a host of other characters that further enchant students as they solve the mysteries of this virtual world.

Carto is the map creator who created the magic maps that keep track of geography, cultural evolution, and climate change over time.  Fragments of the map piece together to form a complete real-world map.

Sir Ordy Nace is the curator of the maps at the British Museum.

Filo rat is the head of the Traveling Academy in the town.  He is an inventor, code breaker, and skilled strategist- a genius in every way.  He loves a challenging game of sudoku or master mind.

Scuttle Butt is a search engine.  Ask him a question and he provides a useful list with the most relevant information at the top.  He is Filo Rat’s assistant. (This is an awesome way for students to familiarize themselves for using search engines to solve problems!)

Chacophonous is a crab who also happens to be a conductor.  He is reportedly connected by an ancestor to Beethoven.  He introduces students to classical music.

Walpole the whale makes cross-ocean transportation possible.  He has a terrible sense of direction so students have to give him directions and help guide him.

Every story needs a villain and the Count is the villain of this story.  He is known for using his knowledge of the magic maps for the destruction of the environment along with his side kick Warrior Wolf.

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Historical figures include Thomas Edison, Alexandar Graham Bell, Cleopatra, Confusious, Copernicus, Damo, Emperor Quin, Galileo Galilei, Issac Newton John, Marco Polo, John Rolfe, Nostra Damus, Pocahontas, Wilber Wright, Orville Wright, Vlad Dracula, and many more.

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How to integrate Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World into the classroom: The rich storyline alone makes this site one to bring into your classroom.  Students can do character studies, learn about plot, mystery, and suspense.  Use this site to teach your students about environmental issues such as global warming, forest preservation, protection of marine life, and endangered animals.  This is an immersive learning environment where your students will learn by doing.  As students travel the virtual world, they will learn geography, cultural differences, history, and inventions.  Students are encouraged to think creatively to solve the issues facing the world today.  Wiglington & Wenks would be a great site to introduce to students at the beginning of the year that is used throughout the year for learning.  Make it your goal to solve the mysteries of the magic maps before the end of the year.  Throughout the year students can visit the virtual world, learn about historical figures, famous inventions, and geography.  Hang up a world map in your classroom and keep track of the places that have been visited.  Encourage students to create character cards as they learn about new historical figures, and story characters.  Each student can have their own account but keep track of progress as a class.  Create PSA posters for the classroom as students learn about environmental issues.  Explore more about the inventors and inventions that students come across in the virtual world.  Have students keep a journal of discoveries (on or offline) as they discover new clues.  Have students write newspaper articles about the happenings of the virtual world and it’s characters.   This site can be tied into your curriculum for the year in a variety of ways.

I love the way this site encourages discovery of knowledge, teamwork, and critical thinking. This site will have your students excited about learning the whole year through.  Fridays would make a great day of discovery each week and give students something to look forward to.  Create a single class account and explore Wilington and Wenks as a class each week (or a little each day) using an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Give each student the opportunity to be the navigator of the world.  The other students can take observation notes in a journal about what they see and learn.  If you have classroom computers, cycle your students through the virtual world as a center activity.  In this model each student can have an account.  If you have access to a 1 to 1 environment (one computer for each child) or a computer lab setting on a regular basis, students can each have their own account and solve the mystery individually.  Form small groups where students can discuss their findings and give each other tips and tricks. (Hint: these groups will form whether or not you create them…it is that engaging!)

Wiglington and Wenks is the way that learning should be!



Tips: Read the Wiglington & Wenks books (Amazon link) as a class…the tie into the virtual world will have your students eager to read these books to learn more!

Your students will catch on to the virtual world environment quickly and know more about the characters, games, etc. than you could ever hope to learn.  There is a great guide that will clue you into everything the world offers so that you can keep up with your students. Check it out here.

Leave a comment and share how you are using Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World in your classroom.

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Shidonni

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 23-09-2008

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What it is:  Shidonni is a really intriguing new web application for kids.  Shidonni is an imaginary world that kids create.  It provides a virtual universe where kids can create their own imaginary world, play, and share games and interact with each other in a safe environment online.  Kids can create their own animals or characters online and make them interactive.  Their characters actually move and interact with the kids (no programming required!).  They can create a world for their character, feed their character, and play games using their character.  Watch the video on the Shidonni website for a good idea of how the program works.  

 

How to integrate Shidonni into the classroom:  Shidonni is an amazing way for kids to express themselves creatively.  They will LOVE the interaction that this site provides.  I am really in awe of this site and its capabilities.  The site is simple enough for kindergarten students to use but will keep even 5th grade students intrigued.  For classroom use the site is a great way to let younger students practice interaction with the computer and mouse manipulation.  It is also a great introduction to drawing programs.  Students can use Shidonni as a place to start digital storytelling.  They can use the site to illustrate stories that they are creating in writing class.  Shidonni can also be used to create “living” dioramas for the classroom.  This is a great place for students to learn by trial and error.  I like to introduce programs like this and then let students teach themselves how to use new technology through exploration.  

 

Tips:  Shidonni requires that you download a plugin for your Internet browser.  Be sure to do this on all computers before you roll it out for the first time in class. 🙂

 

 

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

ipopetz.tv

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-07-2008

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What it is: ipopetz.tv is a fun web 2.0 site that your students will love to use.  Students can create their own 3-D mini cartoon show by selecting a puppet, creating and recording their show (with their own voice) and then sharing their show.  The puppets that students have to choose from are a lot of fun.  The shows are easy to create, students make their 3-D puppet move by using their mouse and keyboard and record their voice using the microphone.  The puppets lip sync to the words your students say!  

How to integrate ipopetz.tv into the classroom: The ipopetz.tv puppets would be the perfect way for students to display knowledge.  They can use their ipopetz character to give a book report.  Instead of standing up in front of the class and reading off of their book report, students can “advertise” a book using an ipopetz puppet.  Because they can record their own voice and manipulate their puppet, they display their knowledge in a new and fun way as well as become the directors for their own 3-D cartoon.  So much fun!  Have students create shows about any subject.  For example, students could create a show about a current science topic.  Instead of studying from a text book before a test, students can watch eachother’s informational cartoon shows.  If your students are like mine, they can’t recall facts from a textbook at the drop of the hat but they can all quote Kung Foo Panda.  Let them create and learn in a way that they love.  I garuntee this will be a huge hit with your students!  It is easy enough for as young as first grade but will hold the attention of students through middle school (maybe even through adults…I am throuroughly entertained!)  Create your own cartoon to teach a subject for a change of pace, it will give you a break and the students will enjoy something new.  You can create your show, save it, and use a projector to teach the whole class.  If you are lucky enough to have a projector in your classroom you could even start out each day with a message or brain teaser for your students.

Tips: ipopetz.tv does require a download plugin for Quick Time.  It is a quick and small download.  Make sure to download the plugin for every computer that you will be using ipopetz.tv on.  Also be aware that this site has advertisements, be sure to use this opportunity to teach your students about online ads and set up the rule that they not click on them before you start a project.

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

SuperThinkers

Posted by admin | Posted in General, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 03-12-2007

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What it is: SuperThinkers is a website that encourages students to become thinkers as opposed to memorizers. The goal of SuperThinkers is to teach children how to think by creating connections, look for meaning behind facts, and analyzing in order to understand. Even reluctant readers enjoy using this site to read for meaning. The Peetnik Mysteries are stories that the students read and interact with. In the mystery game, students use common tools such as maps, phones, and phone directories to follow up on hunches to solve the mystery.

How to integrate SuperThinkers into the classroom: SuperThinkers includes quality mysteries from author Peter Reynolds. Use SuperThinkers as part of a larger mystery unit or as a reading activity that encourages logic, problem solving, critical thinking, cooperative learning, analysis, pattern interpretation, mystery solving, writing, observation, sharing, discovery, imagination, self determination, reflection, and opportunities for self expression. The mysteries take about 30 min. to solve and would be best utilized in a computer lab 1 to 1 setting or as a whole class with a projector. The mysteries are popular with students, even the most reluctant readers enjoy working with the mysteries. The Peetnik Mysteries can also be used to teach students how to create a time line, compare and contrast skills, and as story starters.

Tips: Be sure to visit the Educators section of SuperThinkers for curriculum tie-ins, lesson plans, and posters.

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

The North Star

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, General, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 29-11-2007

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What it is: North Star is a book written by author Peter Reynolds. The North Star book is online for students and classrooms everywhere to read and enjoy. The book is a fable which helps children chart meaningful journeys in life and teaches a philosophy of creativity and lifelong learning. The North Star website includes the book, a place for sharing and communication with other North Star readers, a North Star constellation Map Maker where students can chart their own journey, crossword puzzles, inspirational quotes and cards, and several activities that encourage creativity and reaching goals.

How to integrate North Star into the classroom: The North Star is an amazing addition to any character education program. Read the story as a class using a projector (or purchase the book). Use computer lab time or classroom computers for the North Star constellation map maker where students can chart their life journey and goals. Encourage students to share their hopes and dreams with one another. Your students will not only learn more about themselves, they will learn more about their classmates.

Tips: Be sure to visit the Educators section of North Star for some outstanding free teacher resources. Find mini-posters and clip art. Note- the North Star Constellation Map Maker requires a Shockwave player.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using North Star in your classroom.

Fable Vision

Posted by admin | Posted in General, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 28-11-2007

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What it is: Fable Vision is a virtual town for kids filled with stories, games, and fun places to visit. The Fable Vision Library has a collection of online stories and stories that can be downloaded, borrowed, and shared. The Fable Vision Arcade fun games featuring the whimsical characters of Fable Vision. FVTV is the Fable Vision TV station, here students can watch mini cartoons that are fun and informational. At the Fable Vision post office allows students to send Fable Vision e-cards to family and friends. Fable Vision School is the home to all things educational. The first offering is the Fable Vision publishing workshop. Fable Radio is a place for students to listen to the Fable Vision books.

How to integrate Fable Vision into the classroom: Fable Vision is a fun virtual world that teaches reading and writing language skills. Use this site during literacy time. Read fables together using a projector. Use the Fable Vision School as part of the writing publishing center in your classroom. Students can stop by the Fable Vision School to learn about publishing and then open a word processing program to digitally publish their writing. Students will love the Fable Vision stories, use them for retelling and story ordering activities.

Tips: Be sure to visit the Educators section of Fable Vision for some outstanding free teacher resources. Find mini-posters, a guide to Sparking the Creative Spirit, a Fable Vision Field Guide, and a Fable Vision clip art collection.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Fable Vision in your classroom.