Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's the end of the school year and the classroom clean up is the only thing holding us back from driving off into summer, but fall will come soon enough and if you want to change up the decor in your classroom, is a free source for cute posters that can downloaded as pdfs or embedded on your classroom webpage or blog.

The categories of posters they have are: office, home, teacher, kid, and teen. I'm constantly looking for teen stuff and they're a bit too cutesy, but still, FREE and easy to use.

Besides downloading the posters, you can share it on twitter, facebook, delicious and email.
One more poster for the heck of it:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tech Tool:

"Infographics are 30 to 40 times more likely to be viewed and shared than text." 
I think that's especially true for our students who live in a world saturated by visual stimulants vying to grab our attention. It's not enough to have billboards lining the highways. Now it's animated billboards. It's no wonder that our textbooks and newspapers are filled with colorful infographics. It's how we read.

As a genre, infographics challenge creators to synthesize information and visually depict the information in a catchy, yet logical fashion. It's hard, but it's still a worthy skill to have students practice., although still in beta form, and very limited in its templates is a nice site that allows students to play with data using pre-made templates. The teacher would of course need to have a conversation with students on the purpose of each of the templates, and it's by no means perfect for all content areas, but check it out, it's got potential.

The good thing about trying something out in beta form is that the company is eager to get your feedback, so someone is actually listening to you. Another perk of working with a product in beta is that you're in on the ground floor. True it may disappear if they don't get sponsors (flock, picnik), but sometimes they take off and start charging beaucoup bucks (voicethread). Being in on the ground floor usually allows you to have free access for life. I am forever indebted to VoiceThread for grandfathering me in and allowing me to store over five years of VTs and unlimited identities on my one free account.

Right now they only have the 5 templates to choose from, but they promise more soon.
Students are able to add shapes, edit text, insert charts, insert objects and upload their own information. Individual objects and text can be rotated, enlarged, diminished and rotated. Now to just find data.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tech tool: VocabGrabber

Saw this on a tweet and decided to try it with our 6th grade Hawaiian studies readings.
Check it out. Start here.  You'll get the screen below.

I then went to grab some text from the Hawaiian Studies curriculum. This particular one is from the book on Kamehameha V: Lot Kapuāiwa, Introduction Chapter 1, pages 1-3.
I put it into the VocabGrabber and here's what I got.
A couple things I noticed:

  • The list of 37 words on the bottom left are set up like a wordle, so the ability to bring out themes and important words is already built in.
  • It gives you an example from the text which helps when doing a literary critique because you have possible citations.
  • There are visual connections with the main word as the piko or the center (see screenshot below with the word unify)
  • Yes, it does cost money if you want to create a word list or do more with it, but there is a 14-day free trial offer, and on their "educators" page on the menu bar, they give lots of tips on using it in class.