Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Animoto App is Here!



Yesterday I received an exciting email.  Animoto is now available for the ipad, ipod touch, and iphone.  For those of your who may be unfamiliar with Animoto, here is the rundown.  Animoto allows users to create multimedia presentations.  The site has a collection of music, templates, images, and video clips.  However, users can easily upload their own media.  In addition, once a video is created there are options to order a DVD, or get the DVD quality upgrade.  I have ordered the upgrade before to create my own DVDs, and the quality was fantastic! Media creation really cannot be made easier.
On the site users will find several different plans. The great news is educators can sign up at Animoto Education to get the ability to create unlimited length videos for themselves and their students.  Otherwise, 30 second videos are the limit for a free account.
I have used Animoto several times in my classroom for a variety of things.  Uses range from anticipatory videos, poetry, persuasive writing and a chance to record class field trips!



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sliderocket

I am sure their are some of you who have hear of Sliderocket.  However, I felt compelled to share this software after playing around with it.  Like many of you, I have grown tired of Power Point presentations.  Even though Sliderocket is similar, there are subtle differences that make it worthwhile.
First, it is web based.  So there is no need to save to a flash drive or computer hard drive.  Second, the ease at which the user can insert charts, images, shapes, videos and text.  Third, Sliderocket provides the user with the tools to share a finished product with a public link or embedding code.  Lastly, users have the ability to collaborate on a project.
Recently Sliderocket also came out with their app for the Ipad!  Again, this software is not vastly different from Power Point, but does have qualities that make it more web 2.0 friendly.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wibiya! Toolbar for Your Blog

Just recently I decided to place a toolbar at the bottom of my blog to make it a bit more interactive.  After a short web search I came across Wibiya.  What is great about Wibiya is that there's an apps market where apps can be added to your toolbar. Everything from Facebook, Twitter, or an RSS feed.  Tools like Wibiya not only keep visitors to your blog engaged, but encourages them to visit back in the future.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cool QR Code Creation!


I recently came across a QR code creator that has some unique features. Unitag QR code creator involves 5 simple steps. The first step is choosing what information will be embedded with the code.  Users can select from text, a website, personal information (qr business card), geo location, and a few other choices.  Unitag then allows the user to select a color, or combination of colors, the size, and even add a logo.
There are other QR code creators, but I think Unitag offers some features that others don't.  If Unitag is not to your liking trying one or more of the following: KaywaQR stuffGoQRme, and Good Survey.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Class Dojo!

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out the use of Class Dojo.  This online classroom management tool allows the user to award students immediately for positive behavior in class.  Class Dojo also will let the user record negative behaviors.  One of the many great features is to ability to attach notes to any behavior that is recorded.  These will come in handy at parent/teacher conferences.  In addition, teachers are able to print off PDF documents or email a copy of any student's report.
Luckily I have a touch screen laptop which makes all of this a snap!  My laptop stays open all day.  As the students are working, or we are having discussions I can award those who choose to participate in a positive way.  Class Dojo has made an impact in my classroom in that I am seeing more students engage in class discussions and debates.
If you choose to use this program, take the time to share it with the students.  When I first began, I shared the process on the SmartBoard.  They especially enjoyed the avatar characters that are available.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Get Organized!

This year seems to me that I have had a difficult time getting/staying organized.  The one item that has been particularly difficult is getting students up to date on our most frequently used links.  An easy way to organize those links is to use SymbalooEdu.  The site features a " board" of squares in which each connects to a unique website.  SymbalooEdu functions like a blog link list, or one that would be shared on a class webpage.  However, users can organize their "board" and group similar links together.  It is also great for those students who are visual learners.  Once a teacher has their "board", it can be shared with students via an original url.




Remind 101

While browsing through Edmodo today, a link was shared that caught my eye (Thanks Mr. Woicik).  It led to a site called Remind 101.  The site looks very promising, though it is still in Beta mode.  This site allows teachers to utilize text messaging with students and parents.  Remind 101 provides a safe and secure environment to do so.  Once students have joined their teacher's class, the teacher can then text out reminders.  The texts can even be dated to send out at a later time and day.  A site like Remind 101 mostly applies to middle school and high school students.  I believe that cell phone use in the classroom has barely been tapped into. Maybe, Remind 101 will push the initiative in the right direction.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Start the year with a little PD!

It can be overwhelming starting a new school year.  When given new tech the start can be even more stressful.  Here are some tools that will hopefully encourage you to train others, or use the tech in your classroom more effectively.

99 Polls is a site that will allow students or teachers to create a poll.  These polls can then be shared through email, a blog, or social website.

Boxify.me is a site that allows teachers or students to upload files to share.  You can very simply select which files to share, whether they be photos, documents, PPT files, etc.  After all of your desired files are uploaded a link is supplied.  The user can keep the link that was given or rename it.

Corkboard.me is a simple virtual cork board for posting sticky notes.  I chose to share this tool because of its simplicity.  If you can write a sticky with pencil/paper, you can use this site.  Each "board" has a unique url that can be shared. Students could easily use this site to share ideas or ask questions.

Edmodo is a micro-blogging site created specifically for education.  I have talked about Edmodo in the past, but they have recently made some great updates.  This site allows students and teachers to share ideas, post assignments, take polls, and much more.  It has literally changed the way that I teach!

Feels good to  blogging again after a summer off!  Hope that one or more of these tools can be used in your classroom.

Monday, May 9, 2011

JogTheWeb

JogTheWeb is an online solution to presenting or sharing multiple websites.  This site allows the user to create a "Jog" that lists all the sites in the left hand margin.  To switch sites the user just needs to click on the corresponding tab.  There will be no surfing the web to find it! JogTheWeb is perfect for professional development where time is always an issue.  Click here for an example Jog the Web relating to using Skype in the classroom.  A Firefox extension is also available to easily add sites to your Jog as you surf the web.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

EmbedPlus

EmbedPlus is a tool in addition to those talked about in a previous post on Tips for Using You Tube.  EmbedPlus allows the user to take a video from You Tube and tweek it to their own liking.  Some features include: "Sweet" spot marking, scene skipping (like a DVD player), cropping, "real time" discussion, third party annotations, slow motion on demand, movable zoom, and an instant replay feature.  After browsing around a bit the site seems fairly easy to use.  I uploaded a link, cut the video, and inserted the "DVD" buttons in less than 5 minutes.  If you enjoy using You Tube videos in your classroom, EmbedPlus is a must!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review of the "Ultimate Web 2.0 Smackdown"

On April 9th Lisa Thurmann posted a short article on the Tech & Learning Advisor blog.  The article outlined 28 web tools that Lisa Thurmann and others reviewed during Tech Forum Boston.
The first tool that I checked out was Paper Rater.  This site allows the user to copy and past a paper, whether it be an essay, report, or other type to be analyzed.  Once the paper is pasted in the user can check for spelling, grammar, or even plagiarism.  The later feature can be especially useful to teachers.  Paper Rater allows has settings 6th grade all the way through doctorate.
Livebinders is a tool that I am already familiar with, but I wanted to share it.  Livebinders is a site in which you can create your own virtual binders to organize information. Users are also able to search binders that have been created by others.  No matter the subject you teach, there is likely to be a Livebinder.  Livebinder has great tutorials for first time users, and has a blog to provide teachers with ideas.
A great audio tool that included was Audioboo.  Audioboo allows user to record and upload audio via PC or on an  iPhone, Android or  Nokia device.  The recording can then shared with the world, or just your friends and family.  This site gives a great tutorial for new users, with step by step instructions.  Students who wish to sign up will need to provide an email address.
QR codes have found their way into the classroom as of late.  Our next site, FreedomShare, gives the opportunity to create your own.  No sign up needed!  Just create a title, type or paste text, include images or hyperlinks, and bingo! You have your own QR code.  Students would really get a kick out of sharing an assignment with a parent disguised as a QR code!  I have recently added a QR code to my contact card. 
How cool is that?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips for Using You Tube

To some administrators You Tube is a scary tool.  But there are some ways that educators can soften those fears.  Here are some tools that have helped me in the classroom.
1. View Pure is a great site that allows you to get rid of all the "related" content and comments that surround You Tube videos.  As you all know, some related videos and content are not school appropriate.
2. TubeChop is a site that gives you the opportunity to "chop" parts of the video that you like.  This can be useful in that most students prefer short clips.
3.  SnipSnipIt is a site I learned about through Kelly Tenkely's iLearn Technology blog.  It is similar to TubeChop in that the site allows the user to paste the video url and cut and share your favorite parts of the video.
Convince your administrators to let you use You Tube!  It is a wonderful resource full of videos that relate all parts of the curriculum.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Manga High Math!

A colleague of mine recently registered our school on Manga High Math.  On this site you can set up an account for your school.  Each teacher can then enter their math/homeroom class to participate.  Students can earn points by playing games, completing challenges, or competing against other schools.  My students are loving it!
Manga High Math even provides user guides and lesson plans, which are available when clicking on the resources tab. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Edmodo Expands!

At the beginning of the school year I blogged about Edmodo and its uses in the classroom.  You can see and contribute to an awesome list here.  Since that last post there have been many additions and improvements to Edmodo.
In November they launched their help center.  The help center provides answers for teachers and administrators.  It also gives users a webinar schedule and information to become an Edmodo advocate.  New within your Edmodo library, "power searching" is now available.  This allows for users to search using terms like ".doc", ".ppt", or even "embed".  Users can even search for Google docs that have been shared with them!  Towards the end of January real time updates within your communities was added.  Edmodo users just need to click the Everything link in the left hand margin to view the updates.  The month of January also brought the addition of Parent Accounts.  What great way for parents to observe the wonderful ways Edmodo is used in the classroom!  Lastly, maybe the greatest addition came in February, "The Backpack".  This feature allows students to store files on Edmodo.  Students no longer need to worry about accessing the school's network or losing their flash drive on the bus.  Kids just need to log into Edmodo at home and open the file.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Online Game Creation!

This year I have a few 6th grade boys who are really interested in creating their own video game.  So through a little research I have found two great options for kids to try out.  The first, Kodu Game Lab, provides an environment for designing and playing your own creation.  Here are some key features (courtesy of Microsoft):
  • High-level language incorporates real-world primitives: collision, color, vision

  • Runs on Xbox 360 and PC

  • Interactive terrain builder

  • Bridge and path builder

  • Terrain editor - create worlds of arbitrary shape and size

  • 20 different characters with different abilities

  • The student in my class who has started using it said there is a learning curve, as with everything, but is not particularly difficult to figure out.
    The second online game creator is called Sploder.  This site offers the opportunity to create flash games to play right on your PC.  I personally played around with it bit, and I must say that it is pretty cool.  The site provides many options for character develpment, background, etc.  Sploder does however regquire users to register.  So if you have younger students who are interested, parents or teachers could provide their email address.  This option might be useful in that he/she would then know that students password and username.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Making Grammar Fun!

    We have all heard the moans and groans while teaching grammar in the classroom.  There are times when it is difficult to get students excited about practicing grammmar.  Hopefully the following sites will encourage them to work on these skills.
    Grammar Ninja-Beginner, Skilled, and Master Levels
    Grammar Gorillas-Beginner (nouns/adjectives), Master (all parts of speech)
    IKnowThat-Great resources! (PreK-6)
    Grammar Blast-(Grades 2-5)
    Grammar Bytes-(For teachers--Exercises, Presentations, Handouts, etc.)

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Interactive Timers

    As our district is switching to Mimio software we are finding the lack of interactive timers within its gallery.  All teachers previously had access to Smart Notebook 10, but that is no longer the case.  If you are in the same position we are in, or would like additional options for interactive timers, here are some alternatives:
    E.gg Timer
    Class Tools Timer
    30 Second Countdown Timer
    Virtual Stop Watch
    Online StopWatch
    Another Stop Watch w/ Hour Glass Included

    Hopefully you can find a timer that works for you from the list above!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Capzles and E Portfolios

    While contemplating what to use for the students' e portfolios, a colleague on Twitter, Kelly Tenkley suggested Capzles.  You can follow her blog iLearn Technology here.  I had never used it before, but was eager to try it out. Capzles is an interactive time line in which you can upload word docs, pdf docs, excel files, jpegs, and videos.  There is even a blog feature available to the user. Below is a student example. She did a great job!
    The assignment I gave my students involved creating a Capzle to share with parents during p/t conferences.  I provided the students with certain criteria that had to be followed.  They had a great time sharing writing pieces, Animoto videos, and blog posts.  I am also encouraging the students to continue to add to their Capzle as they progress through high school.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Online Quiz Generators

    Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of paper on my desk.  Edmodo has really helped cut down on the paper that we use in the classroom by turning items in using the Assignment function.  But I still seem to be collecting quizzes and short tests on a regular bases.
    So, as a class we have begun using Google forms a bit for quizzes. If you are unaware of how to create a form using Google Docs, click here.  Beyond using Google forms, there are many quiz/test generators out there.  I found a great list via Cybraryman.  He is an educator of about 30 years with the resources to show for it!  Cybraryman has created a page solely for online quiz/test generators.  You can find his homepage here.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Alternatives to Animoto

    Many of you know of the site Animoto, on which you can create slideshows that are accompanied by music and transitions.  Those of us who have used it, know that there is a very small learning curve.  That is what makes it ideal for students.  Animoto for education also provides a free promo code to educators that allows students to make videos beyond 30 seconds.  Animoto is great, but at times I find myself looking for something new.  So, here are a few alternatives.
    Stupeflix is a video creator similar to Animoto, but there is a larger learning curve.  Like Animoto, you can also insert video clips.  Stupeflix may not be for younger students as its ease of use may take some additional teaching on your part.
    Clip Generator is another program similar to Animoto and Stupeflix.  It is very easy to use, and there is no sign up required.  Once you create your video they will send a link to you via email.  Also, Clip Generator provides a few music choices that are more popular than some other free video creation sites.
    I have used all three and think that any could be applied in the classroom.  Some ideas might be: alternative to book report, autobiography/biography, express a math concept, persuade an audience, show scientific process, etc.