##POW## %zing% **WoWzA**

Remember Archie & Jughead? Veronica & Betty? Or maybe The Fantastic Four or The Green Lantern were more your style? Comic books have long been a staple in many a young kid’s reading inventory. Why? Well, they are bright, colorful, eye-catchy and very non-threatening in a way that most literature books aren’t.

And now classrooms can get in on the action as well. **WOW** Graphic novels are getting a foot in the door of many classrooms and teachers are finding that students are willing to engage with them on a level that few educators have ever seen students engage with their traditional literature book.

Public Radio International’s show To The Best of Our Knowledge ran an episode about William Shakespeare in which they interviewed Classical Comics about their issue of MacBeth. CC offers 3 different versions – one which has the whole story in the original text of Shakespeare’s English, another with the whole story but “translated” into modern English, and a third which is modern English but an abridged version.Β  Great way to introduce youngsters to The Bard and other Great Authors in a way that won’t turn them off with having to work to “interpret” the text while losing the point of the story.

But it’s not just English where graphic novels are making an appearance. One of the hot topics in Biology always seems to be evolution and natural selection. Check out this great explanation of natural selection being explained by some “sneaky crickets” from the University at Berkeley. It is beautifully rendered and prints off marvelously to use in the classroom. Kids LOVED it!

Looking for more titles that aren’t necessarily “classics”? Check out Great Graphic Novels: 5 Comics to Keep Your Kid Thinking. This site also has links to other GN pages for more resources for most any classroom.

@@POW@@ right at ya! πŸ˜€


collaboration toolsIt seems that every time I turn around Google has added yet another tool to help educators. Ok – I know they aren’t JUST for educators, but dang! They sure are useful!

I have been taking an e-class through my education department and have learned about Google sites. Now – I’ve had a wiki for a few years that I’ve used with my classes and homebound students. I think the Google sites are much easier and more intuitive to use for beginners; but they also have enough ‘bling’ for a more advanced user’s wants.

Several uses that have been listed on my class’s discussion board for Google sites outside of student use with projects included professional collaboration. Administrative schedules could be posted. Announcements could quickly be uploaded and updated. Documents via google docs could be updated in real time thus saving multiple versions of a document floating around in email-world.

On-line, real-time collaboration between rooms, schools, and countries just keeps getting easier and easier. What are you waiting for?

Do you know….?

Which country lets you visit both cities of Edinborough and Glasgow? Where can you see stalactites?

Remember these questions from the wonderful folks over at BrainQuest? ThoseΒ  marvelous flip books which kept thousands of us entertained on the road and we now are trying to get our own children interested in learning various tidbits in the hopes of landing a Jeopardy slot someday.

Now, even better, these books are available for free over at Scribd! Scribd is a free place provided by Google to allow us to jot something down and publish it. In a nutshell it is “largest social publishing company in the world β€” the website where more than 60 million people each month discover and share original writings and documents.” (See here)

You can browse for items to read and even save them to a “reading list”.

I think this would also be a great activity for Smart Boards and allowing the students to take charge of the activity.

So – do you know which has the most gravity: a supernova, a white dwarf, or a black hole?


New Tools

Wow – here I was – taking a quick break from writing lesson plans for the week – just foolin’ and toolin’ around and look at what I stumbled across….Newtools!


Click on the “click here” button to see new possibilities. My thoughts for this in my classroom would be to use this when kids need a break from the usual routine, when things are getting stale, on early out days and class periods are short, and so on. Once you see how it works, you could also make your own options with your own curriculum and choices for how/what type activities and let kids draw from a hat. Then give them 20 or so minutes to get set, do whatever researching they need to do, practice, and then have them hit the stage! This would be lots of fun and the kids may not even realize they are learning as well as doing a little teaching. πŸ˜€

and even more to love about VoiceThread…


I’ve posted before here about my love of Voice Thread and I just received an email from them touting even MORE to make Voice Thread better! If you’d like to read even more about Voicethread – check out their blog.

They’ve added the New York Library’s Digital Library with over 700,000 historical images that can be used in the Threads. VT has also improved its Flickr search and import capabilities along with adding Learning Modules which allow you to set options giving other’s permission to copy and use your VoiceThreads.

These changes and updates are awesome! What a great way to start a new school year with an old friend who has some fresh features?

Share a Tab!!

Oh my heck! Sharing websites and links with each other just got soooo much easier! Check out Sharetabs. It’s a very simple, straight-forward, no-frills site where all you do is enter the links to the sites you want to share. Once you have those entered, click on “tabify ’em”. You will be given a link of www.sharetabs.com/___ with those dashes filled in with a three-digit code. You send that full link to your friend and once they click on it, they will be taken to the internet with all your individual links opening in their own tab!

If you click on the above picture, it will take you to the tabs/links I found helpful in getting started with podcasting.

If you keep track of your sharetabs that you create, you can edit them in the future to add to them or delete as necessary – the link never dies.

This now makes giving your classes several links at a time for them to review much easier! You no longer spend half your class time correcting mistyped links and more time having fun! πŸ˜€


Come see the quick (FREE) wordle I created with the tweets that were generated during this mornings presentation by Ted McCain at the Special Education Teacher Leader Academy in Charleston, WV.

This tools is great to use in so many ways in the classroom – and extremely easy. Check out the gallery for some more inspiration.

Here’s how I did this – all the tweets had the hash mark and tag of #SETLA somewhere in the tweet message. This was agreed upon at the beginning of the conference so we could easily search them out later on. Then I went to the twitter homepage and searched for #SETLA and had returned all the tweets with that tag. I cut and pasted them into Word.

The way that Wordle works is returning a graphic with the most commonly used words in the chosen text with different sizes and colors. I didn’t want the usernames of the tweeters to show up so I used the “find and replace” feature in word for each username and replaced it with an empty space. Then I highlighted, copied and pasted it into the Wordle website and clicked on “GO”. If I liked the created graphic, I could publish it or print it. If I didn’t like it I could change some of the colors and options as well as click ‘randomize’ for a completely different look. If a couple of particular words showed up that I didn’t want, I went back to the Word document and again, used find and replace to delete that undesired word. Copy and paste again back into Wordle.

Like it? Publish it!

If you would like to play a game that an online teacher has created with various Wordles, go over to Guess The Wordle.


The Rest of the story…….

When telling a story, words can convey so much. However, when you can tell a story using words, pictures, music, and your own voice – the power of the message becomes exponentially greater. Even those unenthusiastic writers may show a glimmer of interest when presented with this program as a medium to create a project.

Photo Story 3 is a free download for Windows XP and greater computers. It is a program that is very easy to learn and show others how to create their own digital movies, narrate them, set them to music tracks, and publish them for others to view. Students can create their own videos for just about any topic you can think of. Turn them loose with a couple of digital cameras and see what they can come up with. Don’t have any digital cameras? Use Flickr to search for photographs relating to the topic and have students use those.

Here are directions on how to download music to Photo Story 3 from a CD as well as general Photo Story directions. (The directions on downloading music were created by Melissa Given.)

There are some ideas and websites listed below for inspiration.

The following activities are just a few samples from TeachersInTouch.
* Learn how to create a farewell, end-of-year video file that will be remembered long after the streamers are cleaned up and the DJ has gone home. Using still images and text, you can create a video file complete with music and narration using Microsoft Photo Story.

* What I should have done in the holidays – Students always write a recount of what they did in their holidays. Here is a way to make their recount dynamic and more meaningful. Using Photo Story 3, students narrate their
recounts making their everyday recount come to life in visual and audio multimedia.

* In this activity, students create a Photo Story video file using still images, text, narration and sound files to advertise and promote sun safety. Throughout this lesson, students will gain an understanding and appreciation of their home climate and its affect on skin.

* Waltzing Matilda – In this activity, students are asked to analyse the meaning behind a well known song or quote. Students create a visual audio story using Microsoft Photo Story and synchronize it with a PowerPoint presentation detailing the song lyrics along with their own interpretation.

Websites with examples:

Digitalcamerasined – a wiki with resources on using digital photography in general in the classroom along with Photo Story 3. Lots of great ideas!

ReadWriteThink – Here is a website that has a lesson plan and activities using Photo Story 3 and/or Movie Maker from the ReadWriteThink site.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…..

Ok – that’s obvious – my favorite things also happen to include the song from Sound of Music.

Sound of Music soundtrack picture

I also love chocolate, soft cotton t-shirts, cuddling with my kids, holding hands with my husband, and learning new things. Over the last year or so there has been an explosion of web 2.0 tools to learn about. On twitter, there was a question about what were my favorite ones that I just couldn’t live without. So, after humming for a little while about doorbells, and sleighbells and schneitzel with noodles.…here are my favorites:

Google Earth Logo

  1. Google Earth has to be one of the best tools out there that I can think of. There are so many ways this application can be utilized for just about any class and learner. There are also many, many resources out there showing you the golden brick road to best useage of Google Earth.

VoiceThread logo

2. VoiceThread is probably going to be on a lot of people’s lists – also for its flexibility across many curriculums and forums. I already blogged about this site here.

Primary Source Learning logo

3. My third pick (this list not in any particular order, just someone had to be third…) would have to be Primary Source Learning. This site is set up in conjunction with the Library of Congress (which by the way is debuting a new resource of its own very soon here.) Anyway, Primary Source Learning is a site that shows teachers how to integrate primary historical documents into their classroom for everyday lessons. It strives to teach students connections between then, now, and the future. Lessons are there along with whatever printables are needed as well as field test reports from real live teachers who have used these lessons in their classrooms. Lessons also have links to how to differentiate the content, processes and products for each experience. What an amazing resource!

So – there you go – my favorite three…..for today. Who knows what’ll come along tomorrow?

LearnOutLoud – podcast-palooza!!

Learn Out Loud

LearnOutLoud has an incredible library of podcasts and audio files free for the taking. The podcasts range from Aesop’s Fables to Greek Mythology to Ralph Waldo Emerson essays and Great Speeches in History. The podcasts can either be downloaded and listened in your leisure or streamed and listened to immediately. The only software you need is a program to listen to mp3 files. You can use Quicktime, Windows Music Player, or any other program that plays sound files with the mp3 extension. These are both free downloads and usually come already installed on many systems.

How much more alive would your class be if your students could actually hear Richard Nixon giving his resignation speech? Make history authentic with audio files of stories of slavery. How about bringing to your science class the latest in nanotechnology? The reading of The Road Less Traveled could encourage your students to enjoy further readings of Robert Frost’s works. Looking for something in the foreign languages genre? How about a daily Mandarin Chinese lesson podcast for your learning pleasure?

There are also video and audio files that are fee based. The Great Gatsby is only $4.99! Prices range anywhere from $1 to $25 depending on the download and whether you want CDs ordered with it or not.

This resource is an incredible one – not just for those reluctant readers we all have in our classes – but also for the enjoyment of hearing the spoken word as these wonderful files will prove, over and over again. Have students actually choose to listen these files as part of completing projects, reviewing for tests, or previewing for upcoming units of study. These files can be downloaded, burned to a CD or synced to a portable music player (iPod, Zune, mp3 player, etc) and played again and again.