Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Printliminator

Tired of printing 3 pages of ads and graphics when you only need a portion of one page? Here's another "Bookmarklet" to try.

From the site: "The Printliminator is a bookmarklet with some simple tools you can use to make websites print better. One click to activate, and then click to remove elements from the page, remove graphics, and apply better print styling." 

Remove graphics, un-wanted ads, extraneous sections for a cleaner, easier to read print-out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Free Sounds: Soungle


As they say on their website: "Soungle is a free site, developed by Southern Codes, for finding all kind of sound FX and musical instruments samples on our mega online library."  You can perform a keyword search with the results displayed ten to a page. Clicking on play icon allows you to hear the sound.  There is a wide range of sound effects. A short description of the clip appears above every sound, followed by important info such as the frame rate, duration and bit rate. "Remember, all of our sound effects and samples are royalty free for downloading." Great place to find clips for student projects.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Word Magnets"


Remember how much fun playing with fridge magnets used to be? This Flash app lets you create fridge magnet word tiles, in any colour you want, and allows you to re-arrange them on the "virtual fridge" door. What I like is that the background design can be changed: Venn diagrams, graphs, columns, range arrows...etc. etc. I think this app would be a great tool for Smartboard users. You can access the on-line version by going to the Triptico Word Magnet site, wait a moment for the "page advance arrow" to load, (lower right hand corner... "NEXT >") and then proceed to the app. (You can also click on the message in the middle of the screen to download a paid version with many great new features.) Great for an anticipation guide exercise.


There is also a short demo clip on Russell Stannard's site (Teacher Training videos) that might give you some ideas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to find good educational videos: WatchKnow


"Wikipedia co-founder launches online educational-video library." Sounds promising, doesn't it?
Larry Sanger, who co-founded the Web site Wikipedia, has launched a site that provides free access to a library of educational videos for students ages 3 to 18. (Most of the clips are from Youtube, it seems, but they are organized in a more 'teacher-friendly' way.) It even gives you the option of filtering for "age appropriateness". Time will tell if the feature works, but it's a great idea!

The site -- www.watchknow.org -- features links to more than 11,000 videos in 2,000 categories that include history, math, science and other subjects. Sanger described it as "YouTube meets Wikipedia."

Videos connected to kids' books (Lit->picture books->)
http://www.watchknow.org/Video.aspx?VideoID=13294

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Copyright "friendly" images


We've all had the problem of searching for the perfect image for a presentation, site or blog, finding it and then not being certain about whether or not it can be used. One solution is to search within images that are already "shared" by their creators. Take a look at "Copyrightfriendly" to view a list of media collections with "generous copyright licensing". As it says on the site "[t]hough you may not need to ask permission to use them when publishing on the Web for educational purposes, you should cite or attribute these images to their creators unless otherwise notified!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

MagSearch - what's on the "free" internet?


While not exactly a Web 2.0 app, I stumbled across this great site for searching the "free" magazine content that is out there. Available as part of the "Virtual LRC", (created by Michael Bell, former chair of the Texas Association of School Librarians), MagSearch allows the user to search articles in a variety of "student relevant" magazines, and via a directory of social/environmental issues. It's worth a look.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Create your own mini digital books


I'm always on the look out for interesting web-based apps that can be used on a Smart Board. While Bookr doesn't qualify as an app exactly, it's a fun way for a teacher or teacher-librarian to create content for primary kids, and even allow older kids to develop their own material. (And it's great fun to use a Smart Board or LCD projector to show it to the class.

Taking images from Flickr, the user assembles a multi-page, digitally flippable mini book. Tell a story, illustrate a poem, make an ABC book... be creative! Text can be added to some or all of the pages. (It's even possible to have an image on one side and text filling the facing page.) The final product can be shown from a "bookr" page or embedded onto a class website or blog. Lots of fun.

Here's a sample I "whipped up". (Click on the page corner to flip, or on the black bar at the bottom of the book to open it in full size.)




Ans here's a brief video demo:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Language "tapes"


This is not exactly a "web app", but for those teaching French, either in the core program or even Immersion, it's great to have good language models that kids can listen to. For teachers too, especially if you find yourself doing your own French, and you're not a French specialist! The site is called "IE Languages" and features audio from a number of European languages.

The French section (which interests me) has an extensive list of topics, verbs and expressions. While the emphasis is European, rather than Canadian, there's a lot of variety and could be very useful. Here's a listing from one of the units:
101. Camping
102. Special Uses of Devoir
103. Cosmetics / Toiletries
104. Medicine and Hospital
105. Present participle
106. Abbreviations / Slang
107. Past Infinitive
108. In the Ocean
109. To Die
110. In Space
111. Possessive Pronouns
112. Simple Past
113. Make-Believe / Fantasy
114. Religion
115. Music and Art

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writeboard - another collaborative writing space


If you liked Etherpad (posted last week), then you will probably like Writeboard as well. Setting up a space is much like the other service: 1) Pick a name for your "board", 2) assign a password, 3) and give an email address. You can then email people you want to join, or in the case of a class, simply give out the URL and password so students can log on and begin collaborating.

The "tour" page lists the features of this web-app, and there are a few! For example, you (and others with the PW) can edit the writeboard, (or mark it), export it as plain text or email it. There doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of "invitees". Version tracking is quite good: every time you save a change to a writeboard, a new version of that writeboard is created in the sidebar. (They use an ingenious "dot" system to keep track of the size of the changes.) Not only can you merge and compare changes, but you can discuss the document by leaving remarks in the comments area.

And you can even "subscribe" to the writeboard in RSS and be notified anytime anyone makes a change.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Etherpad - collaborative writing space



NOTE: Unfortunately, Etherpad has been acquired by Google and is no longer active! PiratePad is an open-source clone.


Piratepad (Piratepad.com) is a shared web-based writing space that students can use to collaborate "instantly". (Think Google docs without the set-up time.) Multiple people can edit the same document simultaneously, with any changes showing instantly on everyone's screen. When you visit the page, you have the option of creating a team site or a public pad. The public item is free, and you are setup as soon as you click on the button. Simply direct participants to the URL that is generated and you're in business! The Public pad will handle up to 16 people at a time. (So, for a full class, you'll need to create 2 public pads.) There is a Pro Edition with more features and better security for $8/user/month, and free for 3 users.

How could you use Piratepad in a class? Students could use it for "instant" collaboration on a script or outline. The resulting work can be emailed, posted on a class blog or saved in a Word document. (You could even paste the text into a Wordle generator to create a visual take on your brainstorming.) Get instant feedback on what is important, or bothersome or inspiring in a lesson by having all students type into a common Piratepad at the end of a class, or at the start, as a warm up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Working with your Pictures



Many people (teachers too!) are using Flickr to store and share their images. What many don't know is that "Big Huge Labs" has a 'huge' number of extras that you can do with your pictures. There are a great many options for creating an assignment, or for creating image based material that will liven up your classroom or make your projects a little more fun! You can use photos from your Flickr account or upload them from your computer.

Here are some of the fun things you can do:


Make your own inspirational, funny, parody, sports or other motivational poster. (This is a great way to make "targeted" classroom decorations.) Make a magazine cover. (This could be a first page of a writing assignment or journalism unit.) Make a mosaic from individual images. (Art class?) Make a movie poster. (You choose the photo, titles, and credits. Great for Booktalks or Booktrailers.) Create jigsaw puzzles from your images. (Could be fun for the primary classroom...scan student art and use it!) Create (and print) a pocket-sized photo album. Make an ID card, press pass, name tag, etc. (For clubs, or role
playing.) Create monthly calendars from your class photographs. Turn your student pics into a trading card! (or draw characters from a novel and turn them into trading cards.) Generate a harmonious color palette based on the colors in a photo. (Perfect for an Art assignment.) Choose up to six images, print and fold to create a photo cube. Make a unique CD or iMovie disk cover. (Great for Garageband projects.) Add comic book style captions to your photos.
Check out the link and discover other intriguing applications.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Free font creation: Use your own handwriting


I have such bad handwriting/printing that I almost always use a keyboard. But sometimes I find that a personal note in Arial or Helvetica seems too "sterile" or stuffy for the context. And I've tried using some of the various handwriting fonts out there, but I know that they are not really my style.

Lo and behold, along comes a great little website that solves the problem. "FontCapture" allows the user to write out the letters of the alphabet once on a sheet that you can download, scan and upload the result and then get a font library that s/he can download and use to create truly "personal" messages. Printing/saving your manuscripts to PDF format gets around the problem of the recipient not having your unique font installed.

Some users have reported problems with the scanning, so you may need to fiddle with your settings before it works perfectly. Although, once you get your own unique font ("gordon" bold), it's all worth it!

For a student with written output problems, this might be a fun application that makes them feel like "one of the gang."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Web-based Sound editing - Myna


I'm always on the look out for interesting web-based applications, and when Bob W. from my district sent out a link to aviary.com I was quick to take a look. This site offers a complete suite of graphic editing software (image, effects, colour, vector): it's really quite amazing. I was really taken with the audio editor Myna (...everything is named after birds!) and found it to be remarkably like Garage Band. The layout and controls will seem very familiar to Apple users. For kids who are turned on by music editing, this is a great free app. (One caveat with this site is that you are able to see and hear other users' image and audio creations. Depending on the age level of your students, it might be problematic.)

There are great demo videos that show the power of these applications. Here's a teaser:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Text to Speech (Web based)


For those of us who have enormous quantities of text to read, the dream of being able to convert documents to mp3s and then being able to listen to them on an ipod is a compelling one! Yes, there is software that will do this for you, and there are packages that have uncannily human sounding voices to choose from. But what about web-based applications? SpokenText is a handy little site that allow you to upload a document, or paste in some text and get an mp3 output file. Very handy. The voice quality is not "stellar" but depending on what you're planning to to with the audio file, it's actually not bad at all! I can imagine a scenario where you have a reading-challenged student who needs to have a paragraph read to him, or you would like to send a kid home with a practice file, or you want to create a listening station in your class. SpokenText will take English, French, Spanish and German text. It could be another great tool for your teaching toolbox! (NB: You will need to sign up to use the service - it's free for a demo - and your files are only kept for a day, so you'll need to download them right away. Each demo account is only good for 7 days and 6 recordings. If you like it, it's $30 a year for a "real" account.)


ReadTheWords is another site with similar limitations. (Although, you can only have 30 seconds max.) There is a wider choice of voices, including a female French option in addition to a male voice. I've uploaded 2 samples in the audio players below.




En fran├žais!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

TidyRead - for a cleaner page


Here's another bookmarklet that will help clean up webpages and make reading and/or printing much easier: TidyRead. What I like about this applet is that you can resize the margins or font size on the fly. (There's a menu that appears across the top of the document.) It's really handy for projecting an article on the big screen, without all the "extra" visual clutter. Using it is simply a matter of dragging the icon to your menu bar. When you want to "tidy-read" a site, just click on the link! (There is also a way to use this on the iTouch/iPhone as well. Just follow the instructions on the site.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

eBooks on the iTouch


Recently, I went out and picked up an iPod Touch. Despite all the fun tools and crazy apps you can acquire, the real reason I bought my device was to read. (At least that's what I'm telling everyone!) We went away for our regular "holiday week by the lake" , and I usually bring a box of books with me. (Usually 20 or 30 titles.) This time, I went the ebook route. Using Stanza for the Mac, I first opened a number of titles on my laptop which then I transferred to my iTouch. The Stanza app on my iPod allows me to view the book in either portrait or landscape, change the font size, and even read at night with the handy "reverse" colour setting. The desktop Stanza will open just about any format: txt, pdf, .lit, epub, etc, and allows you to resave, along with any cover art you might add, into the standard epub form. (I reviewed Stanza in Oct 08, but really like the version that runs on my iTouch!)

What about titles? All the major bookstores sell e-versions of their titles, but I find the prices are still too high for a product that I can't share with friends or read on multiple devices. There are lots of "classics" for free, and I have friends that search the torrents for "epub novels" in order to get their fix. But a great source is "Fictionwise". This e-vendor offers monthly specials on great titles for just a few dollars per title. I subscribe to their e-bulletin.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On the fly photo editing


Sometimes all you need to do is quickly edit, resize or touch up an image before you use it. But the thought of downloading the jpeg and then launching Photoshop, and then making the changes, saving your work and finally, uploading ... seems like just too much work. Then, along comes "Snipshot". This great web-based freebie allows you to take an image from any webpage, make the changes you need and move on! There is a basic app that allows you to resize, crop, rotate, enhance and "adjust". "Effects" only lets you create a black and white image. There is a Pro version that offers many more features. It might be worth getting if you do lots of image fiddling.

The great thing about Snipshot is that the creators have provided users with a handy bookmarklet that can be dragged to the browser menu bar. This lets you scoop the images from any html page for quick editing.

This is a super application!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Print What You Like


So you've found a great idea for a lesson and you just need to print out a section of a webpage. But it has ads, and some parts that aren't relevant. If you print as is, you'll end up with too many pages, or lots of unrelated stuff. I suppose you could launch Word and copy and paste, but that's a hassle too. What to do! Why not try printwhatyoulike.com? The opening page gives you an overview and a big green "demo" button to push. Experiment with the various options and then paste in the page you want to edit. It's a handy, quick way to "print what you like."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Archive that perfect clip


I've mentioned Keepvid before as a good way to get a backup of that perfect clip. I know some teachers are reluctant to use material from Youtube because they wonder if it will remain accessible from term to term or week to week. All it takes is one time for you to get burned (ie it's not there when you need it, or your school doesn't have enough bandwidth to show it or it's been blocked by your sysadmin) and then you're not so sure!

Keepvid gives you the option of downloading the clip, so at least you have a back-up copy, just in case. The latest cool trick is that Keepvid has now added a "bookmarklet" to their site. All you have to do is drag the little "box" to your menu bar (see graphic below), and then, from now on, any time you see a clip on Youtube you would like to archive, you click your bookmarklet, and "presto", the clip can be downloaded....so easy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Getting Kids to Write: Penzu


So what makes a student want to write for a teacher? Is it the connection, or the cool assignment or a quirky topic? I read somewhere that a good writing prompt is worth at least 1000 words. There are some great sites out there that will perhaps inspire you to either create that most excellent prompt, or to at least give a quirky enough assignment that your students might be hooked in.

And where to write it? You can certainly have kids use Word, or write online with Googledocs. Here's another one to explore: Penzu. (See here for the guided tour.)

It's a quick and easy-to-set-up mini-journal and could just the ticket for an on-going writing assignment.

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As a bonus, here are two sites for you to consider if you're looking for prompt ideas:

1. "Six Sentences": This blog is an opportunity for budding authors to write in with carefully crafted mini-stories of six sentences etc. While some of the topics may not be suitable for all audiences (*be warned), there are a great many thoughtful, intriguing and captivating pieces. My suggestion is to maybe use some of the ideas as jumping off points. Or better still, give the class the challenge of writing six sentences a day in something like Penzu. Have a "reading" of works at the end of the term.

Here's an example:

Writer's Block

by Laurita Miller

As a writer, fate has conspired against me. I had a happy childhood devoid of any hardship or tragedy. I have never suffered any horrible illnesses, or struggled with addiction of any sort, nor have I been a victim or perpetrator of any crime. I have no long lost siblings or children, no vengeful lovers, no bitter enemies. I have never been abducted by aliens, and even the neighbour’s nasty little dog refuses to bite me. I am doomed to failure.

6S
2. "First 50 Words": Try to get your reader's attention in the first fifty words. How hard can it be? Can you make them want to read more, to wonder what comes next? Again, some of the stories on the site may not work for your students. I would recommend picking and choosing the ones you think are the most useful, and getting your students to create their own.

Example:

Chorus

The cathedral in Perugia was cool and calm, so I sat down to rest and look at the art. A group of young women walked in. They were dressed in the shorts and walking shoes of travelers. They dropped their backpacks near the altar, lined up, and began to sing. The first piece was Bach. Their voices were strong and beautiful, covering the range from alto to soprano. They sang another song I didn’t recognize in a language I didn’t know. Then they picked up their gear and left. I couldn’t believe something so magical really happened.


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Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Room Designer


Since the demise of "designmyroom" recently, there are many disappointed users looking for a new place to exercise their designer yearnings.

Mydeco.com has a similar free service for the budding interior artist (but not quite the same slick interface as DMR). The "Planner" module is a fun way to think about area, design, colour etc. Recreate the bedroom of a character from a novel, or imagine a brand new scene. The main website offers options to upload a photo and then "enhance it".

FYI, there is some advertising on the site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cut the clutter - Easy to Read


Some web pages are very attractive and interesting to look at. But sometimes, those same features can make it difficult to read, especially for a student who may be easily distracted. Along comes a great tool by arc90: the "readability" bookmarklet. Much like "Quietube", you drag the icon from arc90's page to your browser's button bar. Then, as you visit pages, you can "de-clutter" them by simply clicking on your "readability" button. Arc90 give you the option of selecting font sizes, page width and presentation style. You can even email or print the "clean" version!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quietube - Youtube lite


Bookmarklets are "min-apps" you drag to your browser button bar, that allow you to automate certain tasks that you perform again and again. (Here's a site with some common examples: https://www.squarefree.com/bookmarklets/)

At a Metro tech meeting this week, Sandra from Langley passed on a great bookmarklet for Youtube users. Quietube strips away all the distracting side-bar material, and shows just the video clip itself (much like it would appear embedded in its own page.) It supports Youtube, BBC iPlayer, Viddler and Vimeo.( with more to come...)

Another great feature, is that Quietube generates a new URL you can email or link to that points to the stripped down page. Very slick!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Audio From Youtube


Occasionally, I'll find a Youtube clip of a lecture or presentation that has an audio track I want to listen to on my iPod, or perhaps I want to add a little piece to an iMovie I'm making. The "low-tech" way is to plug in earbuds, hold one earphone up to the computer's mic, and "play" the clip while iMovie records it. It works, but it's pretty low fidelity! Enter "ListentoYouTube": this site allows you to extract the audio as a downloadable mp3 file.

There is an advisory on the site that there are have been problems with the latest Youtube version, but I used LTYT successfully this past week: it worked like a charm.

(BTW, there are some pop-ups associated with this site, so you might want to have your pop-up blocker set to "stun"!)

You paste in the URL of the clip you want. The app chugs away for a bit, and then you'll get a link to click. This will open a new page; choose the ">>download mp3" link and you're in business. If you're on a Mac, you can choose to open the file in iTunes, and then put it on your iPod....or what ever.

It's really useful if you come across a Youtube clip of a lecture series, and you want to "take it with you" for listening later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Schedules and Choices: Doodle


Have you ever tried to get a number of people to agree on a date by sending them an email? After multiple mail messages, each with its own history or updated status, everyone can be quite confused about the final date (or time.)

The same can be true with asking a group to make a choice: Chinese food, Italian or Spanish? Vacation in Maui, Montreal or Europe? What's the best gift for Mom and Dad?

My suggestion is to try DOODLE. You create a set of choices and then email the URL to all participants. They can then add themselves, add their choice and the app keeps track of the results.

You could use this with a class to help them define a study question or refine a project direction. Or even for students to arrange a get-together for teamwork.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TIMEGLIDER - timeline maker



TIMEGLIDER is an easy-to-use, fully featured timeline maker that makes professional, scalable graphic representations of chronological events. Perfect for a student to use, and suitable even for a professional "stand and deliver".







You can add dates, images and links and even view 2 timelines simultaneously. How could you use this? A student could map events in a novel against real world events in the same time period, compare the rise of two civilizations, or show the unfolding of a major historical incident.

In order to use this great app, you will need to create an account (an email address is required.)

The Worldbook online (available in many school districts) also has a timeline gereator that has some similar features.

Timeline generators are just one more interesting way to allow kids to demonstrate their learning and thinking.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Capture that Youtube vid


So you've found that perfect video clip that illustrates the concept you want to introduce to the class. You've made a note of the Youtube address, or the embed code and are ready to show it to your class. You've connected the projector, fired up Firefox, and *disaster*, Youtube is blocked in your district!

What to do? This is where Voobys comes in handy. (There are a couple of other sites that work in a similar way: www.keepvid.com for example.)

Here's what you do:
(adapted from: http://www.wikihow.com/Download-YouTube-Videos-Using-Voobys)
  1. Go to http://www.youtube.com/
  2. Type your search term in the search bar.
  3. Click on the video link so that it loads in the current window.
  4. As soon as you're on the desired page, go to the Address bar (where you typed in www.youtube.com) and just erase the word "youtube", substituting for it for the word "voobys".
  5. Download the video. This will take you to a page that allows you to download the video. Click the "Download Video" link that and choose the "save as" destination.
The resulting file can be burned to a CD or played directly from your computer.

Of course, you'll have to do all this from your home computer, if Youtube is blocked at your school. (As an additional ironic note, Voobys is unaccessible from my work site!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Be an Artist: Create your own still life


I was at a meeting with some Elementary Computer teachers in my district, looking at some web-based drawing programs, and I mentioned the "Still Life" Painter on the US National Gallery of Art site. If you haven't seen it, it is worth a visit.

While it can be a little slow to load (depending on your connection), it's great fun. Students can view a "typical" still life composition and then take a turn creating their own, using the various elements provided. You can choose the table, the drape, the background, the fruit, the bowls and additional elements. Then you can add a "paint" effect to personalize your creation. The interface allows the student to create 8 different versions and hold them in "frames" along the right side of the screen (activated by the "look" button.)

From the site:
[Students] can explore spatial arrangement, perspective, proportion, and balance while creating engaging, interactive still life compositions that mix everyday objects with elements borrowed from famous works of art.


While there is a print feature, it seemed a little buggy, so I just used SHIFT+APPLE+4 on my Mac to snap png images of my work. The finished products can be viewed in Preview as a slide show.

http://www.nga.gov/kids/zone/stilllife.htm

Sunday, April 12, 2009

SKRBL: An interactive whiteboard


A while back, I reviewed Dabbleboard and recommended it as an easy virtual whiteboard. Here's another great Web-based tool for collaboration. Skrbl allows you to create a space and invite others to view and modify what you are working on.

As it says on the website:
Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. There are no new tools to learn, nothing to download, nothing to install.
Here's a link to try your own skrbl space.

skrbl now

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If the World was 100 people


For those looking at sustainability, or communities, or global issues, this miniature earth site is a great thought provoker.

(It can also be found as a Youtube upload - with different music)


Want to explore this idea further?

  1. Some history behind the concept: click here
  2. Here's another Flash video with slightly different stats: click here.
  3. Some great poster ideas...could be a good art project! click here.
  4. Here's another visual representation: click here.
  5. And very ambitious project spin-off from 100people.org: click here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Web-based music composition: Noteflight


I just stumbled across a great web-based tool for musicians: Noteflight. If you want to compose, and share your works with others, this site is perfect. Users can save their creations in an individual account, and email a link or embed the score on a blog or web-page. There's even a teaching module (which costs $) for music instructors to use.

Compositions can be printed or exported in a variety of formats (you need the latest Flash plug in installed) such as midi or wav files. The online documentation is very extensive and give a good idea of what this program can do.

A great tool, especially for Music Composition and Technology teachers!

Here's a sample I created:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Smart Boards: Try a Jigsaw Puzzle!

Are you looking for a novel way to use SmartBoards in your class? Why not have your students work on a puzzle? This could be a fun stations activity for younger students, a chance to practice shape recognition or even a rainy weather "in-day" lunch option.

Take a look at the JigZone. You can pick the design and number of pieces. And you can compette in teams to see who can assemble the puzzles the fastest. Viewed full-screen on a SmartBoard, it's great fun.

Here's one to try:

Click to Mix and Solve

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reader's Advisory: Bookwink


One of the great things about working with kids is the opportunity to suggest titles you think they'll enjoy, and then talk about the book with them later. But how can we keep on top of all the great material out there?

Here's a nice site (Bookwink) to help busy teachers and TLs that suggests books by theme, title, grade and author.

It's definitely worth a look.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Create Comics on-line


I know that many teachers have begun using comic creation as a way to springboard into composition: students can use the "3 panel" format to sketch out a scene and then flesh out the scenario in prose. For younger students, it can also be a great way to build simple stories....and it's fun too!

Comic Life gives students lots of great options, but if you don't have a Mac, or you don't have it installed, you may feel left out.

There are two web-based comic creators that just might fill the gap. While your options are limited (scenes, props, characters are all preset), you can still have fun building a scene. Stripgenerator has a very "Jetsons" feel and gives extra options if you create an account. My preference would be to create without an account and then print or take a screen shot (SHIFT-APPLE-4) and save to the desktop. The downside of this site is that some of the user created strips might not be appropriate for a younger audience.

A more "realistic" looking strip is easy to create with "Make Beliefs". What I like with this second option is the many story suggestions and idea starters that the site provides. (In addition, there is no requirement to create an account and students aren't distracted by work others have created.)

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Just as a little extra, if you are planning to teach comics as an art form, there is a wealth of info in the gURL site to get you "savvy". (I'd use this more as a teacher resource since some of the referring links might not work with younger students!)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Easy-to-use Web-based Whiteboard


I've tried a number of "whiteboard" products and I have to admit that Dabbleboard is easy and intuitive to use. While is doesn't have every single feature (ie resizable text), you can manipulate objects quickly, draw free-hand, insert text, add colour and insert images. You can download your production as a png file or sign up and keep it in your account. Dabbleboard also allows you to create a library of shapes you use often, so you don't have to start from scratch each time. And if you want to illustrate a point quickly, DB lets you draw without having an account: just click on the "Get Started" button and choose the new/or clear icon in the upper lefthand corner of the draw window.

Here's a sample:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Movie Clips to Illustrate your point




Are you looking for that perfect 3 to 5 minutes clip to kick off your Math or Science lesson? Or maybe a short discussion starter to keep your students' interest high? I think "The Futures Channel" might be the solution. Each videoclip has an associated page with a lesson idea and a downloadable PDF that you can use with your class. The material is appropriate for Intermediate and above. There are also some interesting Pro-D clips of Kay Toliver and Jamie Escalante speaking about Math instruction, and even modeling a lesson. (sample here)