Literature-Map: Help students find new authors to fall in love with

Literature Map: Help students find new author to fall in love with

What it is: Literature Map is a literature recommendation system. It is really easy to discover a new author. Start by searching for an author you enjoy, and magically a map of names will appear based on what other readers of that author have read. The closer that two writers are on the map, the more likely it is that you will like both of them. Click on any name on the map to travel further and find more recommendations.

Literature Map- find your next favorite author

How to integrate Literature Map into the classroom: It’s a common problem, a student falls in LOVE with an author and devours everything the author has ever written. Then they come to the end of their journey and a sort of sadness hangs over them, there is nothing more. Enter Literature Map. Students can easily enter the name of the beloved author and discover others they are sure to love, leading them down a rabbit trail of reading utopia! Students can discover new voices, genres, and keep the love of reading alive. Literature Map is a great site to bookmark on classroom computers, in the library, or on student devices.

If your students do an author study, this site could be useful for helping them find related authors and then using Wolfram Alpha to compare the authors they find side by side.

Tips: Hat tip to @michellek107 for sharing this with Anastasis staff this week!

My Simple Show: Create your own explainer videos for free!

Create  explainer videos free with My Simple Show!

What it is: My Simple Show Video Creator lets students easily create professional level “explainer” videos. The finished product looks just like a Common Craft video, so cool! The step-by-step tool helps students think about storyline and the flow of explaining a concept.

How to integrate My Simple Show into the classroom: My Simple Show is a fantastic option for digital storytelling. Students begin by choosing to write their own script, or by uploading a Power Point presentation. Next, they can choose from one of many templates to start from, or alternately, start from scratch. The templates are an awesome option because they give kids an outline and break down the story telling/explaining process. For each step in the process, it guides students with a prompt and with some examples. My Simple Show auto-magically picks up words in the script and suggests pictures. Students can use the pre-selected images, choose an image from the My Simple Show library of images, or upload their own image or picture. In the final step, students add audio. This can be computer generated or students can record their own audio. The finished product is pretty impressive! Below is a video I made quickly today.

My Simple Show’s obvious use is for explanatory digital storytelling, but it would also be a great way for students to reflect on a field trip, tell a story, retell new learning (pssst. this is an awesome way to check for understanding!), or create their own “textbooks.”

Students can use My Simple Show to explain a historical event, introduce a biological process, introduce a physical law, summarize literature, summarize a biography, discuss pros and cons, explain a law, etc. Use My Simple Show to create whole class stories where each student contributes a portion of the explanation or story.  This type of video can be made over a few weeks using classroom devices as a writing center.  This would be a fun way to create an A to Z type book of learning, reflections by students after a unit, a 100 day video,  fact vs. opinion video,  a class video of poems, a phonics video, or a class video about a field trip that students took. Students can take pictures of science experiments and create a digital video detailing the experiment with text, images, and student voice reflections included.  The finished product can be shared with parents and families easily through YouTube, Vimeo, or downloaded as a MP4 file.

For a back to school night activity, take a picture of each student to add to a class video and record students sharing an explanation of a school day. This same idea could be used in preparation for parent-teacher conferences. Students can create a video about their learning during the quarter/trimester, record thoughts about why they are proud of the work they did, and add reflections.  These can be shared as a starting point for conferences, at the end of the conference, parents have a keepsake. My Simple Show could also be used for character education. Give the students a scenario or problem, and have them work out a step-by-step explanation or solution.

Because of the voice recording capabilities, My Simple Show, would be a great way for students to practice a foreign language.  They can illustrate a word or phrase accompanied by the audio.  Classes could work together to create a “living” digital glossary.

Be sure to give your students access to My Simple Show in your Maker Space, it is a great option for students to choose!

Tips: My Simple Show has video guides that lead students through each step of the process…I definitely recommend watching these at least once as a class or for the first round of creation!

The Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

Scholastic Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

What it is: Scholastic Reading Club Spotlit Collection is a fantastic place to find outstanding books for preschool through middle school students.  Teachers, librarians, and book professionals came together and considered thousands of books to create a diverse list of award-winners, classics, and dynamite contemporaries.  Each grade level includes the 50 top favorites selected for that age group.  The result is a great place to start when you are searching for books to introduce students to!

How to integrate Spotlit Collection into your classroom: Scholastic’s Spotlit Collection has a wonderful selection of 50 books for each grade level in preschool through middle school.  This would be a great place to determine what you would like in your classroom library, which books to help your students hunt for in the library, and which books to introduce for classroom book groups.  If you have students reading above grade level (or several levels above/below) the Spotlight Collection can help you guide students towards appropriate books.

Challenge your students to read 10-20 of the books in the Spotlit Collection before the end of the school year.  Keep the collection handy by bookmarking it on a classroom computer.  When a student laments that they, “don’t know what to read,” they can quickly pull up the collection for some great new recommendations.

Tips: While you are visiting the collection, sign up for the Scholastic Reading Club!

What do you think?  How are you using the Spotlit Collection in your classroom?

TED-Ed: Lessons (videos) worth sharing

What it is: I have long been a TED talk fan, so much so that I started a lunch group at my previous school called TED Talk Tuesdays where teachers could gather over lunch, watch TED Talks and discuss it’s implication on education.  TED has a brand new education site that I am excited about.  TED-ed is a collection of educational video lessons that have been animated.  These lessons can be used as a supplement in any classroom.  Each video on the TED-ed site has an associated lesson, a Quick Quiz with multiple choice comprehension questions, Think which asks questions to help students think more critically about what they have watched, and Dig Deeper which helps students to explore the topic further.  In addition to the videos, TED-ed gives educators the ability to “flip” videos.  You can use, tweak, or completely re-do any lesson that is featured on TED-Ed, or even create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube.  You can re-title a lesson to fit your classroom, add context, questions and follow-up suggestions, and create a custom URL for your video lesson.  You can even track your student’s progress to see who has viewed the assigned video, the number of questions they attempted, the answers they provided, and the answers they got correct.

How to integrate TED-Ed into the classroom:  TED-Ed is a fantastic new resource for the classroom.  The videos can be used for flip teaching.  Flip teaching changes up the classroom model.  Normally students come to school to get instruction and do their practice work at home as homework.  In a flipped teaching model, the instruction is watched at home as “homework” and the practice happens in the classroom where students can receive teacher support.  This means that the focus in the classroom is on higher-order thinking and learning skills instead of on instruction.  How novel. 🙂 Student can come to class ready for deeper inquiry, critical thinking, discussion with classmates, collaboration and get more personalized attention from the teacher.  You maximize classroom time by “going home” with the students.

Video is a great medium for learning because it allows students to learn at their own pace and gives them the ability to replay as many times as they need to.  Visuals are always useful when learning something new, video is a great medium because of the way that it helps enhance understanding through the use of visuals. 

Videos are searchable by those that have been featured, those that are part of a series or by subject.  Students can learn about the arts, business/economics, design/engineering/technology, health, literature/language, math, psychology, science/technology, and social studies.  The library will continue to grow as teachers flip the videos and TED-ed adds content from educators around the world.

The videos are great in a flipped classroom model but can also be used within the classroom.  Videos can be watched and discussed as a whole-class or put on classroom computers as a learning center.  When I taught second grade, I made sure that I had time individually with my students each week.  In the mornings, my students worked on groups with “tub work” to make this time possible with individual students.  These videos would make a great “second teacher” in a blended learning classroom where students could continue their learning while you work with students individually. 

Tips: Remember, if you don’t find a video that meets your classroom needs, you can always flip any video you find on YouTube!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using TED-ed in  your classroom!

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  🙂   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

Make your own QR Code Scavenger Hunt!

Today was the first day of school.  Ever.  It was pretty epic.  Since the students didn’t know where things were located in the building yet, I thought we would have some fun locating them with a QR code scavenger hunt.  It was SO easy to do, I thought I would share the process here.

1.  First I made a new website where each page of the website contained a clue.  I made my site with Weebly.com because it is SO easy to use.  I made the entire site in under 10 minutes.

2. Next I used goo.gl URL shortener to shorten the URL of each webpage and generate a QR code.  Just copy and paste the long Weebly URL into the goo.gl shortener and voila. A short Googlefied (that is a technical term) URL.  Click on “Details” next to the shortened URL to view your QR code.  I just dragged and dropped these QR codes into a Pages document so that they were all in one place for easy printing/copying.

3.  Print out QR code sheet and make enough copies for each classroom.  Because we have a 10-1 student-teacher ratio, I made up 10 clues to find.  Each student was in charge of one clue.  I cut up the QR code sheet so that each student had a little QR code clue card.

4.  Set students out on their mission.  Each student takes a turn using the Scan app to uncover the clue.  They read the clue out loud to their group and brainstorm what the answer could be.  When they thought they had the answer, they went to that place and took a picture of it using the camera app.  For example, one of our clues was: “The Grub Hub”, students went down to the kitchen and took a picture.

5.  When all pictures have been collected, students gather and add up the points they won.

*Below is my example of the QR code and website they were connected to.

This was a really easy activity to prepare for from a teacher perspective.  The impact was huge with the students.  They had a great time with this!

We used this hunt as a way for students to familiarize themselves with the layout of the new school but it would also be a great activity for a math scavenger hunt “Find an item that represents three times four”, or colors in art “This is the color you get when you mix yellow and blue”, or literature “find an object that represents this character in our novel”.  The list could go on and on if you use your imagination!  The QR codes are so easy to generate, students could use these for almost anything!

Literature Map- The Tourist Map of Literature

What it is: Literature Map is a neat little web tool that I learned about from Samantha, an iLearn Technology reader. Thanks Samantha!  Literature Map makes it simple to discover new authors.  Student’s can type in the name of a favorite author and instantly get a cloud of related authors.  The closer two writers are together on the map, the more likely someone will like both of them.  Any of the authors in the cloud can be selected to see the authors related to them.

How to integrate Literature Map into the classroom: Isn’t it wonderful to find an author that you can’t get enough of?  Literature Map helps students in the discovery of new authors based on authors they know they like.  Tools like Literature Map can act as a catalyst in uncovering the love for reading.  Literature Map would be a great site to bookmark on classroom computers or in the library.  Students won’t be stuck in the “I don’t know what to read” or the “I can’t find anything to read” rut.

In the intermediate classroom or middle/high school classroom, ask students to choose two authors from the Literature Map to compare and contrast.  Students can dig into writing style, genre and author study as they compare/contrast.

Tips: If you don’t find an author listed, you can contribute to Literature Map so that others can benefit from your recommendations.

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

Tiki-Toki: Create gorgeous multimedia timelines

What it is: Tiki-Toki is an absolutely GORGEOUS multimedia timeline creator.  The results are truly a work of art-no joke!  Tiki-Toki is very easy to use, after registering for an account, students are guided step-by-step through creating an interactive timeline.  Students can add text, images (Flickr) and video (YouTube or Vimeo) to a timeline.  Images can be uploaded from a student computer or found through a search on Flickr.  Throughout the creation process, tool tips pop-up to guide students through creation.  Students can share saved timelines with a unique URL.

How to integrate Tiki-Toki into the classroom: Tiki-Toki is a fabulous new way for your students to create and share online.  Timelines are an obvious choice for history projects but can be used throughout the year for a variety of subjects and learning focuses.  Students can reflect on and share learning using a Tiki-Toki timeline.  Students can begin a timeline at the beginning of the year sharing videos, links, pictures and reflections each unit, week, month, or semester until the end of the school year.  This is a nice way to encourage students to reflect on learning while providing them with a record of what has been accomplished throughout the year.

Students can create timelines based on books or literature they are reading.  Young students can create a timeline with information about beginning, middle and end while older students can add supporting details, action, climax and concluding thoughts.  A timeline book report is a welcome change for your logical/analytical thinkers- seriously, offer it as an option!

Timelines can also be used as KWL charts (Know, Want to Know, Learned).  At the beginning of any learning, students can list the facts that they know about the topic. Next, they can brainstorm and write about what they want to know about a topic.  At the end of the unit or semester, students can detail what they have learned including any relevant videos or images.

In science, students can use Tiki-Toki to detail an experiment or scientific method process they go through in a lab.

Tiki-Toki is probably too advanced a tool for primary elementary to use independently, but it can be used with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer to create a timeline as a class.  This is a good way to teach students about timelines while recording learning.

Create an account on Tiki-Toki and record a few pictures of your classroom along with a description of the learning that happened each day.  At the end of the week the timeline can be sent to parents and administration to share what you are working on in your classroom.  This is a fun change from the traditional newsletter and, because it is added to a little at a time, it will give you a break from the Thursday mad-dash-to-finish-Friday-newsletter thing you have going (oh, is that just me?). 😉

Tips: The basic Tiki-Toki account is completely free and contains enough features to keep kids creating with no problem.  The paid accounts include features like shared timeline creation which would also be useful in the classroom.  I’m hoping that Tiki-Toki catches on to the uses for education and comes up with an education version just for us!

A minimum age for use of Tiki-Toki is not specified in the terms of service.  If you work with students who do not have an email address to share, consider using a tempinbox account or mailinator.

A BIG THANK YOU to @anderscj for mentioning Tiki-Toki on Twitter, I have a new favorite timeline creator!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Tiki-Toki  in your classroom!

Class Blogs: Blogging, virtual classroom, LMS, and more!

What it is: Class Blogs is a fabulous new way for you to easily create and manage FREE classroom blogs!  What makes Class Blogs so wonderful are all the extras that are built in.  For example, with Class Blogs you can create a virtual classroom space.  With just a few simple steps, you can create an online meeting space for your students to learn and discuss in.  Blogs can be used to post assignments; when you post an assignment to your teacher blog, students can submit the assignment and a pingback will be sent to your blog.  Class Blogs even has features that utilize SMS so that you can send a text message to students and the ability to host lesson plans complete with supporting resources!  Class blogs really offers more than just a blogging platform, it offers many Learning Management System (LMS) solutions making it a great all-in-one tool!  Here are just a few of the ways you can use Class Blogs:

  • Class Blogs – Teachers and students can create blogs to help facilitate classroom learning or the blog can be an extension of the classroom conversation.
  • Learning Logs – Learning logs are sites created by teachers for the purpose of creating online assignments for students. Students can then answer the questions and submit the assignments once they are completed.
  • Learning Management System (LMS) – Teachers can create a blog and use it as a learning management system. Teachers can post online courses and students can submit their assignments (through blog posts) for the course online as well. These assignments can be viewed by the instructor, the instructor can submit feedback, and the instructor can grade the student’s assignment online. Both the teacher and his/her students must have blogs in order to create a successful LMS.
  • Electronic Portfolio (E-Portfolio) – An e-portfolio is a valuable learning and assessment tool which includes but is not limited to a collection of resources and accomplishments that represent the individual. Moreover, it is the author’s personal reflection on the work included in the e-portfolio that creates a meaningful learning experience.
  • Web Conferencing/Virtual Classroom – Teachers/professors have the ability to create meeting rooms or virtual classrooms from the backend of their site. You can upload your presentations, chat with students, public/private chat, webcam, and even share your desktop.

How to integrate Class Blogs into the classroom: Class Blogs has features that make it wonderfully useful for any classroom.  Blogging gives your students a place to write where they have an authentic audience.  An audience of one (the teacher) is SO 1995.  To limit your students to that audience is a disservice.  I find that when my students write in blog form, the enthusiasm to write increases, the richness of language increases, and the ideas are communicated clearly.  Obviously that is a bit of a generalization, I have also had students who don’t want to post for an audience, it makes them nervous to reveal themselves to their classmates in that way.  I let those students blog about topics they are “experts” on as they are building confidence in their learning process.   Students can blog to reflect on learning; write creatively; write as if they were a historical character, famous inventor, or a favorite literary figure; to chronicle learning (e-portfolio style); or to invite others on a journey of inquiry with them.

Using this type of social media in the classroom is important. It helps students learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, and netiquette in an authentic environment that goes beyond the rules and actually lets them practice it.

The additional features of Class Blog make it the perfect place to organize your classroom.  Post assignments in Class Blogs as a learning log, as students respond, your original post will get a pingback making it easy to track students progress. Class Blog also makes it easy to extend learning beyond the four walls of your classroom using the virtual classroom features.  Create meeting rooms to extend classroom discussions, offer additional learning support, or as a place to prepare students for learning.  Class Blogs makes it easy to include podcasts, videos, webcams, private chat areas, desktop sharing in your virtual classroom.

Tips: Class Blogs does not have an age requirement, this means that it is available to k-12 (and beyond) education.  Registration does require an email address.  If your students do not have email addresses, you can create accounts on their behalf.  With Class Blogs you can create unlimited class and student blogs, unlimited free classes/courses, and unlimited free virtual classrooms.  Be sure to check out the feature page for a comprehensive list of the awesome features on Class Blogs, you won’t believe what all is included!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using the Class Blogs in your classroom!

 

Fakebook and Twister- Create custom social media pages for learning

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!