Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Don't Need to Break the Bank

Podcasting has been my big push this year. So, I was upset when I found out that SoundSnap, my favorite website for downloading free copyright-friendly music and sound effects, was changing their policy. As of the last week, SoundSnap now requires users to create an account. Also, each account receives only 5 free downloads a month. Not very clssroom friendly.

To be honest, I was slightly devastated. I did not know of any website that could replace it. However, I was determined to find a replacement site. So, I began scouring the web and I found a great alternative. Royalty Free Music offers a free library of their professional quality music and sound effects to schools.

Here is a flyer that provides all the information necessary to sign-up to receive free access to this music library. After e-mailing the company with my information and then posting a link to their website on my site, I was given a username and password to provide to my students - no creating accounts and no cost - just free music/sound effect downloads!

Move over SoundSnap . . . here comes Royalty Free Music!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Poetry in Pictures

What is poetry, but pictures made of words. So, when I found a website that married the two, I was thrilled. I have already shown one of my fifth grade teachers PicLits and she will be using it during her poetry unit. It is very easy to use, which makes quick (even spur-of-the-moment) implementation possible.

One of the qualities I love about PicLits, is that (while preferable) you do not need to create an account to use it. When I see web applications like that, I cheer, because I know using it with students will be so much easier.

Also, PicLits includes a Learn It section that provides lesson ideas for using PicLits in the classroom. They are best suited for high school students, but could be modified for use by younger students.

There are two methods: the drag-and-drop and the freestyle. Drag-and-drop is exactly like magnetic poetry. However, the words provided you are tailored to the picture that you have chosen. I think this is fun, however, I see more potential in the classroom for the freestyle method. By choosing freestyle, students can type in whatever they want to say.

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com
PicLit from PicLits.com

See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

Classroom Ideas:
1. matching a student-created poem with a powerful picture
2. using pictures for inspiration to creative writing or writing poems
3. writing sentences that include vocabulary words or grammar concepts and choosing pictures that best express the meaning of the word and/or sentences
4. teaching students about nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs (a possible alternative to mad-libs)

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/surrealmuse/4757004/

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Web 2.0 Goodie Bag

I just stumbled upon an amazing web2.0 resource. The Go2Web20 site is supported by TechCrunch who in their own words is all about, "obsessively profiling and reviewing new internet products and companies."

Go2Web20 is a web 2.0 directory that is very user friendly. You can sort by date to see what new sites have been added. You can also choose from a tag cloud - which is wonderful! If a teacher wants to do podcasts, I'll check out the podcast tag to see what it shows me. In my short time playing with this site so far, I know that it will become a go-to resource for me.

I'm really looking forward to exploring this site. I'm sure I'll find some absolutely perfect applications to use in the classroom! I'm sure I'll have plenty to post about as I explore this directory.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One for the Language Arts Teachers

This week I happened to be introduced to two new sites that are so perfect for language arts and english teachers as they deal directly with spelling and vocabulary. Now, if I remember my middle school and high school days correctly, I would have been glad for anything innovative (and dare I say) fun that could have been done for these two tedious topics. So, I would like to introduce wordia and spellingcity to you.

Wordia - This was a popular one in the blogs this week, so I thought I needed to check it out for myself. My conclusion is wordia + vocabulary = good times!

Example: Here is an example from the site. I have not created one for myself . . . yet.

Classroom Ideas:

1. This could be used by teachers to create an interactive vocab list. Put up a list of links to the URLs of vocab words. Students can use these to help them study and internalize the meanings.

2. Assign each student a word from the list and have them create their own videos to upload and share to the class.

SpellingCity - In three steps you can create a fun and interactive way for your students to study their spelling words. Step 1 - As a teacher, you can register for a free account. Step 2 - Begin by create spelling lists (which will be saved until you delete them). Step 3 - Place a link on your website so students can easily access your list(s). It truly is as easy as that!

Example: Here is an example I created for Thanksgiving spelling words.

Classroom Ideas: This one is pretty straight forward - just begin creating lists for students to use! With each list, students can be taught the words, play games to practice, and take tests to check their knowledge.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcgutierrez/352732175/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mashup Heaven

"All it needs is a little salt . . . pepper, mustard, catchup, sauce, flavour." ~Trapper (M*A*S*H)

The photo mashup sites are like the salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, and sauce that can be added to a photo to take it to the next level. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and these mashup sites let you express the message you are trying to convey in a way pure words cannot!!! There are a ton out there, but here are my favorite four:

1) ImageChef - Provides you with hundreds of templates which you can modify for your own purposes. Some of the categories they include are signs, work, sports, music, characters, license plates, holidays, buttons, etc. Best of all, this site is soooo easy to use, especially when you don't have any of your own pictures off of which to work.
Example: This took me about 15 seconds to create!
Classroom Ideas: Jazz up your PowerPoints, wikis, and blogs.

2) Flickr Toys - You need a flickr account to be able to use this one. There are so many awesome toys here: create your own movie poster, magazine cover, ID badge, CD cover, jig-saw puzzle, trading cards, and much more.
Example: Here's my pathetic attempt at a magazine cover highlighting some spy novels. I apologize for the size of the picture here.
Classroom Ideas: historical figure trading cards, magazine cover about a book, poster about vocabulary words, movie poster about a country/nation, etc...

3. Bubblr - Create mini comic strips using pictures from flickr. This is site is so easy to use (and fun)! (no account necessary)

If you want to see a larger version click here:
Classroom Ideas: storytelling, a fun way to summarize a current event, practice with grammatical concepts (adverbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases), poetry, etc.
4. Bookr - Create short books using photos from flickr (no account necessary).

Classroom Ideas: practicing synonyms and antonyms, poetry, figurative language, retell an historical event using few words and powerful pictures, vocabulary, book reports, etc...
Some other good image creator sites are:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Revolutionary Wiki

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a webinar hosted by the wonderful wikispaces. It was an excellent hour-long course that quickly provided newbies with the basics. Then, the best part came. They had invited Clay Burrell to talk about his use of wikis in the classroom. I came away with some great ideas:

1) Have students write a class journal as historic characters.
2) Assign each student a chapter about which they create a wiki page with links, video, photos, and a re-written version of their chapter.
3) Create stories on which students have collaborated.

I decided to take his electronic textbook idea and try it out for myself. So, I talked with the fifth grade social studies teacher to see what she thought. She immediately jumped on board - yay!

So, I began by setting up our Revolutionary War wiki by creating the basic structure of an intro page, a task page, and an example page. Then I created pages from a list of topics that my social studies teacher had given me. Finally, I e-mailed wikispaces with a list of usernames and passwords, and they will create free accounts for all my students! We will be assigning each student a topic and they will build their page with an article researched and written by them, photos, links for additional info, and a works cited area.

I'm excited to see how the students do with it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pre-Research Fun?!?

I've been playing with Twiddla and Dabbleboard as possibilities for use in pre-research activities. In the end, I found Dabbleboard to be my favorite for creating graphic organizers. While Twiddla has more bells and whistles, I found the simplicity of Dabbleboard more appropriate for middle students to use. Twiddla would be better suited for sharing documents, photos, and e-mails throughout a group project.

I just started using Dabbleboard with my students to help them think about how they are going to organize their research. Never before have I had students so excited to do a pre-research activity! I almost had to pinch myself at the positive student response.

For very broad topics, such as the Revolutionary War, creating a map to plan research can help students develop sub-topics. These sub-topics could be used to narrow their research topic or to help them create areas of focus for their research. Depending on the age and/or ability of your students, the Dabbleboard could be completed as a class, in pairs, or as an individual.

Also, the map gives them a structure to use in their note-taking. Anything that helps students in their organization cannot be a bad thing:)

There are a lot of other great ways Dabbleboard could be used. I think it would be great for students to create charts comparing two topics/ideas. Here is an example I created on Dabbleboard comparing McCain and Obama.

Monday, October 20, 2008


My web 2.0 journey actually began in May of this past year after attending an eye-opening workshop by the always inspiring Joyce Valenza. (If you don't follow her blog NeverEndingSearch - what are you waiting for!) I have never been in a workshop where so much new information and so many new ideas were crammed into so little time . . . and so I had to explore more.

My biggest problem will be that I think I started the blogging process too late in my journey. I wish I could have taken this course 4 months ago. I have so many ideas and I have stumbled upon so many neat apps that I think I could sit here all day and night continuously blogging about it all. That said, I'm so glad that the first thing the web 2.0 class does is force me to start a blog. Now that I'm almost done my first entry I'm wondering, "why didn't I start blogging sooner?!?"

So, my goal for this class is to learn how to organize and process, in a more structured manner, the actual fruits of my life-long learning.

Photo by