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Edublog Award Nominations 2009

The 2009 Edublog Awards After digging through 60+ feeds in my RSS reader, I have finally narrowed down my nominations for this years Edublog Awards.  It is getting harder and harder to choose my favorites! Best individual blog– Once Upon a Teacher because like Melanie, I am addicted to learning. Best...

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Adobe Spark: Easily create and share videos, images, and newsletters

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Create, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Maker Space, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 02-01-2017

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Adobe Spark: Create videos, images, and newsletters in a snap!

 

Adobe Spark: Easily create videos, images, and newsletters in a snap!

What it is: Adobe Spark is a collection of fantastic (free!) creative tools available online or as an app download.

  • Create social graphics that are stunning and easy to share (you know the kind: flyers, memes, posters, ads). The example above took under 2min to create and share! 🙂
  • Make beautiful web stories for event recaps, newsletters, photo journals, portfolios, etc.
  • Produce and share impressive videos for storytelling, projects, or to share to social media.

If you (or your students) are feeling a lack of creativity, there is even a bank of inspiration that will get you started! This is particularly helpful for your students who struggle with a place to start but are brilliant with a little nudge. Whether you begin with inspiration or not, you’ll be feeling an extra burst of creativity in no time.

How to integrate Adobe Spark in the classroom: The collection of tools in Adobe Spark are perfect for students and teachers alike. Students can use these tools to create book reviews, to document science experiments, for storytelling, to explain their inquiry process, as an eportfolio, to illustrate math concepts, and so much more! These tools will help your students take their learning and present it in a way that is both visually powerful, and easy to share.

Teachers, you can use Adobe Spark to create a weekly newsletter (SO easy to share home with parents!), create photo journals of class events or field trips, to create writing and thinking prompts to share with students, quotes, presentations, and announcements. The photo journal would be a great way to give families a glimpse into your classroom, if you’re like me, your phone is FULL of pictures at the end of each week! If you have a class social media channel on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube- Adobe Spark is about to take it to the next level of awesomeness!

I love the way that Adobe Spark has made digital storytelling that much easier to create and share. This is a site that you’ll want to bookmark for easy access, and put on all of your students devices if you have a one-to-one environment.

Tips: If you have laptops, the web version of Adobe Spark is best, otherwise download the app!

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

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Character Education, Create, Foreign Language, Government, History, Inquiry, Language Arts, Maker Space, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-09-2016

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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!

Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Boy’s Life Comic Creator

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Foreign Language, Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, web tools, Websites | Posted on 12-07-2011

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What it is: Boy’s Life Magazine is a great place to reach those boys in your class that are reluctant readers or writers.  On the Boy’s Life site, you will find a Comic Creator where students can create a comic strip.  The Comic Creator is easy to use, offering enough tools for boys to really customize their comics but not SO many that they get lost in the forever search of pictures.  A great balance!

How to integrate Comic Creator into the classroom: The Boy’s Life Comic Creator is a great little tool to help your boys connect with writing and story telling in a way that they enjoy and understand.  The tool is simple enough to use as a writing station/center on classroom computers.  The comic does need to be created in one sitting, there is no way to save and come back to a comic later.  Completed comics can be printed off and shared.

The Comic Creator is a great entry point into writing but could also be useful in math for creating and solving story problems.  Students can create a short math comic strip that can be traded with other students to solve.

Students taking a foreign language class could practice new words by creating a comic strip story in Comic Creator.

Use Comic Creator the first week of school as a way for boys to tell all about themselves.  Each student can create a comic strip that stars them as the main character.  Invite other students to try to match the comic strip with the student as a fun interactive bulletin board activity (Think comics on one side, student pictures on the other and string to draw the “line” between matches).

Tips: I learned about the Boy’s Life Comic creator from The Book Chook, be sure to follow this GREAT kids lit blog!  The Boy’s Life website is packed full of goodies that your boys are sure to enjoy (there is even some reading that gets sneaked in there 🙂 ).

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

 

Sharendipity

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Blogs, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-08-2010

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What it is: Sharendipity is an excellent online tool that lets you easily create your own learning and educational game.  You can do this by using one of the Sharendipity ready-made templates, or you can create a game from scratch.  There just isn’t always a quality game for students to practice with when you need one.  I know I have found myself wishing that I could find a game focusing on the exact phonic skill or a game that used the vocabulary that we were working on in class.  Often those tailor-made games just don’t exist.  Sharendipity is the answer, making it simple to create your own custom games.  Games are a fun way for students to practice a new skill and they make a great quick center activity on classroom computers.

How to integrate Sharendipity into your curriculum: Create games that are tailored to your students learning needs.  Sharendipity makes it easy enough to create fun games, you can create one in the time it would take you to make copies of worksheets.   Use one of the ready-made templates for the easiest game creation, or if you are feeling brave, start from scratch and make your own.  You can upload all of your own images to Sharendipity making customization really easy.  Consider using pictures of your class, school, or students as the background of a game.  Your students are sure to love seeing familiar faces or landmarks as part of the game.  These games are great for fact practice and recall in math, vocabulary, spelling, phonics, or geography where quick recall of the basics is key.  Sharendipity will walk you through each step of the game making process and when you are finished, you can share the url or embed the game in a class website.  If your students are a little older, they can make their own Sharendipity games to practice with.  Students can create games for their classmates to play as a way to study.  I have students who were constantly creating games and practice activities for my classroom; they got really good at it!  If you are teaching in a computer lab, Sharendipity is a fun way for students to create “original” content for their wiki, blog, or website.  At my school, we buddy up older grade level students with younger grade level students.  It was fun for the older kids to create special games for their buddies after learning about their buddies favorite things.  For example, one student found out that their buddy loved basketball and created a basketball themed spelling activity for them.

If you collaborate with another class or another school, it would be neat to swap customized games with them.

Tips: If you are braving creating your own game, be sure to check out Sherendipity’s learning center for a great guide on how to use the tools.

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