Giving Them A Voice

Voice Thread

Looking for a something to use to culminate a lesson while giving your students the opportunity to voice his/her opinion. Well, VoiceThread is your Web2.0 tool of the day. Many have heard me preach the praises of Voicethread, so I thought I would put it down on paper, so to speak, and share with my Thompson family. 

VoiceThread is a highly-praised Web-based tool which enables students and teachers to add text and audio commentary to digital images and create unique interactive presentations.  Voice thread allows you to record a single or multiple voices and images to create a multimedia show that is personalized and applicable for educational projects as well as personal multimedia endeavors.  Your VoiceThread presentations can be made public to anyone or you can make them accessible to selected individuals.  You can even set up an account for individual classes that will allow multiple classmates access to the account for group projects!  As you can see, you can also embed your VoiceThread presentations in your blogs. The possibilities are endless for integrating this into your classroom!  Goodbye, PowerPoint!


An iPod In The Hand Is Better Than A Book In A Nook

As more and more district contemplate going BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), attention to what device has the greatest impact in the classroom will rise. In my class the debate is on. We are doing a novel study and I allowed the students to use their own e-reader. We ended up with 2 Kindles, 1 Nook and 9 iPod Touch. Once we downloaded the book on all devices, students were salivating to start reading.

Now, this post is not to compare the devices but to prove a point. I assigned two chapters to read, 10 questions per chapter over inferencing, author’s purpose and organizational structure along with a response post on their student blogs. 15 out of 25 students completed the assignment on time, which included all 12 who used a hand held device. What was more interesting, was 11 out of the 12 students with a device each held thread conversations on one another’s blog about the 1st two chapters.

Is this just a coincidence?

Toontastic is Fantastic

As I play around with ways to use the iPad in the classroom, I came across a new app that I simply adore. Now, I know that sound a little frilly, but if anyone knows me, my passion foreducation is centered around technology. One of the areas that I have focused on in the past is digital storytelling using Web2.0 such as Xtranormal, Storybird and Voicethread. I’ve tried a few beta tools thatdidn’t pan out, but I enjoy the idea of students expressing themselves via technology. Well, I just so happened to come across another storytelling tool that I am thrilled to talk about: Toontastic. Toontastic was designed for educators to implement in the classroom on an iPad bywriting a storyline and adding animation and characters. It includes a study guide with questions such as “How many scenes are in your story?” and “What’s the conflict?”

Designed in partnership with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and Zeum: San Francisco’s Children’s Museum, Toontastic inspires the artist and writer in every child while teaching key storytelling principles that help to promote Creativity at a young age.

Toontastic’s drawing tools bring kids’ wildest ideas to life alongside virtual playsets chock full of pirates, princesses, far away galaxies, and many other characters and settings to spark the imagination.

Cartoons can be shared online via ToonTube, Toontastic’s Global Storytelling Network, to help children connect to friends and family and learn about other cultures, customs, and lifestyles through stories created by their peers around the world.

Put a voice to your students creativity and animate their imagination with Toontastic.

One Way To Make Your Classroom Pop (repost)

As many of you know, using technology in my self proclaimed project-based portable is essential to our success. Collaborating with each other and other classrooms, creating projects, research all require the use of tools that make learning meaningful. A tool that I thoroughly enjoy using is BrainPOP. Tim and Moby are hilarious and do a wonderful job engaging the students during a short lesson that explains some very interesting and sometimes complex topics, but have a way of putting in words that all students can understand.

Now, when starting a project in my class, I attempt to use the CBL method by developing everything around an essential question. Then I provide links to websites, paths to various resources that will allow the students to work in groups to learn the new topic. They answer various questions while playing different roles in presenting what they have learned. This helps me keep the students motivated and makes their learning relevant because they do it themselves.

Well, BrainPOP is usually one of the links I use to explain a topic. However, I learned to enhance Tim and Moby experience while sitting in on a recent webinar given by Lisa Parisi and this is what she gave us.

“Fifth graders are more than capable of this student centered type of learning.  But getting started is sometimes quite a challenge.  When the world is open to them, it is often too overwhelming to narrow anything down.  So my job is to keep their topic focused.  And BrainPOP helps me do just that.

At the start of every new topic, I create a wiki or webpage that features the main unit, each group topic, the essential questions, and a resource page.  This resource page is where the students begin.  They find their topic and beneath it, a list of webpages, videos, image sites, and books.  Where do they always begin?  The BrainPOP video links, of course.  Tim and Moby are ready to provide the students with the basic ideas for each topic.  But BrainPOP doesn’t stop with the motivating videos.  They also provide related features for each video.  There are quizzes, activities, timelines, and Cassie and Rita show up to discuss background information.  By the time the students are done with the one BrainPOP link I provided, they have ample information to move onto the Internet and expand their research.

BrainPOP helps me run a successful project based learning classroom.  By covering topics in a simple, fun way, and including related information, the site makes the learning easier for my students. And it keeps my students motivated and working.  What more could a classroom teacher ask for?”

To add more technology to what Lisa does, I will bring the quiz back in at the end of the unit and use the Activotes to allow the groups to input their answers on the screen. If I have checked out the ActivExpressions, I will allow the groups to type in different references to prove their answers. Just another way to use the tool. Do you have any other ideas? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

BrainPop UK