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Snap! Digital Reading Program: 128 leveled readers

What it is: Snap! Digital Reading Program is a set of interactive leveled books that can be printed, viewed on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, interactive whiteboards or classroom computer.  All of the books in the program have been developed to help teachers meet requirements in the Common Core Standards...

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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

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?

Book Writer: create books on the iPad

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 21-10-2013

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Book Writer app- iLearn TechnologyBook Writer

 

 

 

What it is:  Book Writer is a great app for the iPad (and iPhone or iPod Touch).  This app makes it a snap for kids to create books that can be read directly in iBooks.  With Book Writer, students can create their own ebooks with photos, video, audio and links.  Images and video can be annotated over in the book.  Finished books can be shared using iTunes and E-mail.  One of the best features of Book Writer is the huge number of applications that books can be shared through including: iBooks, Nook, Instashare, Bump, Evernote, Dropbox, and Send Anywhere.  This makes Book Writer wonderfully flexible no matter what apps your school uses regularly.

Book Writer- iLearn Technology

How to integrate Book Writer into the classroom: Book Writer is a great app for students to “publish” their writing in.  Students can compile research, notes, images and videos to create their own textbooks.  Why passively read through a text when students can be a part of creating their own?  This makes the learning so much more valuable and gives students the opportunity to “own” their learning.  Each student’s finished book will be just a little different.  Students can compile class notes, images of work and examples from class, and videos (either their own or other videos they’ve downloaded), reflections on learning, etc. into a book that can be shared.  This would be a fantastic way for students to share what they’ve learned at the end of a unit.  Because of the variety of content that can be included in Book Writer, it would make for a great science journal.  Students can take photos  of a scientific experiment or process, label the images, and reflect on observations, hypothesis, etc.

Students could also use Book Writer as a place to keep all of their creative writing based on visual writing prompts.  Students can include the picture prompt on one page and their writing on the facing page.  Students can add to this book throughout the year and share their “published” writings at the end of the year.

Younger students will find Book Writer easy to use.  These students could create their own word bank picture dictionary.  Ask students to create a new page for each letter.  Every time a word gets added to the class word wall, students can add it to their dictionary.  Students can also add pictures to accompany the words, or audio of themselves saying the word.

Book Writer can be used for a class yearbook and then shared with all students digitally.  The extra fun part are the videos that can be included!

Tips: Book Writer has a clean, easy to use interface.  If you are using with young students, you may want to walk them through where to find tools for the first time.

Compatibility: Requires iOS5.0 or later

Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Price: $3.99 (iTunes link)

BoomWriter: Collaborative story writing

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-06-2012

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What it is:  I just learned about this fantastic site from fellow edublogger @dkapuler, thanks David!  Boom Writer is a fun site that gives you a new way to engage your students in creative writing, and will have them assessing themselves in a new way.  Using Boom Writer, you (the teacher) choose or produce your own story starter.  Each student follows this prompt letting their imagination take over.  One chapter at a time, student write, read and vote on the submissions they like the most.  The winning chapter gets added to the story and the process continues.  You can determine how many chapters will be completed.  When the collaborative story is finished, the book can be read online or published and turned into a published print copy.

How to integrate BoomWriter into the classroom: BoomWriter is a great tool for creating collaborative stories as a class. I like that BoomWriter has students not only creating, but critically evaluating each other’s work. Students work on their own creative writing while building each other up as writers.  Begin by creating a prompt.  Give it to your students to think about.  They can write their “what happens next” chapter of the book and submit it for approval.  This is your chance to edit or return to a student to continue development of the story or idea. After student writing has been approved, students can read each other’s addition to the story and vote on their favorite (they won’t see who the author was and they won’t be able to vote on their own).  The chapter with the highest votes gets added to the story and the process repeats.  You can choose as many chapters as you would like the finished story to have.

This would be a fun whole-class project, but if you have a large class, you might split your class into smaller groups so that each student has the opportunity to get “published” in the book.  Groups could start with the same prompt or each have a different prompt.  Rather than the group voting on their own story, they could vote on another groups story.

BoomWriter isn’t only for creative story writing, students could share what they know about a specific topic or unit of study.  Each student can add a chapter about what has been learned.  Students can essentially create their own collaborative textbook.

BoomWriter is a great tool to help students understand writing with purpose and audience in mind.  It is also a helpful way to get students to think critically about their own writing and evaluating other’s writing.

Tips: Books can be read online or purchased and added to your classroom library.

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

eduify: virtual writing coach making writing easier

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 08-06-2011

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What it is: eduify is an online tool that acts as a writing coach for students.  As students write they have immediate access to tutorials and writing examples, the built in ability to discover and cite sources automatically, the ability to verify citations and safeguard against plagiarism, the ability to store, share and edit documents online, and the ability to get help from friends and experts.  eduify takes all of the guess-work out of writing and puts the focus back on…well, writing.  Students can focus on getting their thoughts out and expressing learning, eduify helps take care of those little details that hang students up.  Students can even find quotes and additional sources for their writing directly within eduify.

How to integrate eduify into the classroom: eduify acts as another teacher in the writing classroom.  Because we don’t have the ability to work one on one with every student at once, eduify steps in and guides students until we can offer personal support.  Students don’t have to wait around for coaching, they can get help as they need it.  Students working on writing from home also have access to that support.  In my experience students are hindered in sharing their learning through writing by the writing “rules” and process itself.  They are so stuck on form that they lose the content and passion about a topic along the way.  eduify gets them out of the writing rut, giving them the freedom to focus on content and ideas first and form second.  Like a writing wingman.  Awesome. Where on earth was this when I was in school?

Use eduify as a writing platform in a one to one setting where every student has access to a computer.  Students can store their papers safely online for easy access both at school and home.  Papers can share their papers for review online with the teacher or with other students.  In a one or two computer classroom, set up computers as an eduify center that students can visit for writing support as an editing center.

Tips: eduify is in beta right now.  Students (and teachers) can request a beta invite code, mine came right away.

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

Figment: Writing community for students

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-12-2010

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What it is: Figment is a brand new website and writing community for students 13 years old and older (middle or high school only!).  This is a place where students can read student writing, share their own writing, connect with other student writers, and discover new stories and authors.  Students will find a community of writers and readers who like to share collaborate, and discuss a variety of topics in the online forum.

How to integrate Figment into your curriculum: Do you have students who can’t get enough creative writing time?  Figment is a perfect match.  Students who love to write can join a community of other students who enjoy to write.  This is a great place for them to share their writing, read other students writing and learn how to give, and accept, critiques and recommendations on their writing.  This is a great place for students to analyze and evaluate each other’s writing.  Have a class of creative writers?  Send all of your students to Figment to share their writing with other students.  Your students can learn and practice providing constructive criticism and netiquette in Figment.  Working with another class from another school, district, state or country?  Send both sets of students on Figment as a platform for sharing and discussing their writing.

*There is no teacher portal for Figment, if your students are using Figment in school, be sure to sign up for an account and monitor your students use of Figment.

Tips: The sign up requires an email address, twitter account, or Facebook account. Make sure your students have one of the three before using Figment in class.

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

Graphic Novel Creator: Comic Master

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 27-09-2010

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What it is: The Graphic Novel Creator: Comic Master is a portion of the Read Me program (learn about it here).  This is a really cool online comic creator, the interface is fun to use and very intuitive.  It is obviously geared toward students with a great look and even an embedded music player.  I love the details on this site, including the headline “Reading isn’t only in books, it’s everywhere!”.  Using the Graphic Novel Creator, students can create their own multi-page graphic novels with interesting backgrounds, characters, props, and customized text.  The graphic novels can be saved and printed out.

How to integrate Graphic Novel Creator: Comic Master into your curriculum: Graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular reading material, particularly for boys.  They have even the most reluctant readers excited to pull out a book.  Now those kids who love reading graphic novels, can create their own.  A graphic novel is a great way for students to show what they know.  They can create a graphic novel re-tell of a story as a book report, describe a science experiment, re-tell a portion of history with a superhero twist, practice another language by telling a story, even define and demonstrate understanding of vocabulary words.

Tips: Be sure to check out the read me site for great teachers notes, ideas, and additional resources for teaching with the Graphic Novel Creator.  A special thank you to @thebookchook for introducing me to this tool!

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

The Write-n-ator

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 15-09-2010

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What it is: New Hampshire Public Television has created a great site based on the PBS Word Girl show. I learned about the site from a blog that I look forward to in my Google Reader every day, The Book Chook. The Write-n-ator site features video clips about words and vocabulary for students to watch; after completing the clip, students are offered a related writing challenge.  The clips and challenges are all related to writing, word recognition, and vocabulary development.

How to integrate The Write-n-ator into your curriculum: The Write-n-ator highlights words and vocabulary through fun videos and writing challenges starring the PBS character Word Girl.  Offer these challenges to your students as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Watch the video clip and create a class response to add to the challenge.  Alternately, each student can take the challenge in a writing journal.  These videos and challenges make for a fun introductory activity to use as a writing warm up.  They have the added benefit of introducing new words and vocabulary.  There are 20 videos and challenges total, so these could be a regular feature in your class.  If you have access to a computer for every student, students can complete the writing challenges online and view other students responses to the challenge.

Tips: Click on the “For Teacher” tab next to each mission for the correlated standards that each challenge meets.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using the The Write-n-ator in your classroom!

Storybook Web

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-08-2010

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What it is: Storybook Web is “based on popular children’s stories by authors Scoular Anderson, Debi Gliori, Mairi Hedderwick and Frank Rodgers.”  There are a number of fun activities on this site including the ability to listen to the author’s reading excerpts from their stories and answering questions about how they came up with ideas for writing.  Students can choose from one of eight stories, each story has a related game, word bank activity, and videos/audio for reading the story and interacting with the author.

How to integrate Storybook Web into your curriculum: Storybook Web is a fun way for students to interact with stories, making connections to the authors of the stories and the themes that they are reading about.  This site helps students think like an author.  It gives them an inside look at how authors think about writing.  Use this site as an introduction to a writing activity.  Students can watch the author videos and get an inside look at the process that a writer goes through.  This can be done using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Storybook Web would also make a nice addition to a writing center on classroom computers.  When I taught second grade, I set up an “editing and publishing” center on my classroom computers.  Here I gave students access to an online dictionary, thesaurus, word processor/publishing program, and Read Write ThinkStorybook Web would be an excellent addition to a writing center.  Students can go to be inspired, encouraged in the writing process, and given a place to practice their own writing.  I like the word bank on Storybook Web, word choice is hard for beginning writers.  By interacting with the word bank activity on Storybook Web, students will begin to think about their own word choice.  You may want students to go through their own writing and pick out words that they would add to their word bank.  I have found that activities like this make students think about the words they are using.  Often, students will self-edit and find richer vocabulary to use in their writing.

Tips: This is an easy website for emergent readers and writers to navigate.  Students can choose to have the site narrated for them or they can turn the audio off and read on their own.

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