Category Archives: tools for learning

Tildee

Tildee is a fabulous tutorial creating tool that I came across on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog site. Larry used David Mearns Tildee, The Plight of Too Many Pooches as an example of how Tildee can be used as an educational tool.  It is very easy to use for example, insert a video and then take screenshots of scenes in the video and attach questions.  Especially great for ESL and special needs learners.   Larry has so many amazing tools I can’t keep up with, but this is one I have definitely checked out and used. You can create your own tildee really easily – I have just created one on the Industrial Revolution.

 

Search with a difference

If you haven’t come across Spezify, check it out.  Spezify is a really neat search tool which acts intuitively by  collecting results from a large number of websites in different visual ways.  This is a great tool for classroom use instead of a list of links and specifically for younger age groups.  I was really impressed with this tool, it’s definitely going to the top of my list!  I ran a search on ‘sustainability’ and the result included great video and images, as well as related words to use for further searches.

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Web 2.0 in Education

Great tools are always popping up, it’s hard to keep track of them all.  Having many tools under one roof is great for the busy teacher.  Web 2.0 in Education, a  UK created wiki has everything any ICT teacher would ever need. It has over 295 tools with a review and screenshot or example of the tool as well as suggestions on how they might be used. Definitely worth a visit.

Please share it with others and send a note of thanks to its creator.

Here is a list of its contents:

  • mindmapping tools
  • website builders
  • timeline makers
  • comics and cartoons
  • drawing tools
  • photofun
  • mapping tools
  • presentations/slideshows
  • scrapbooks
  • multimedia
  • electronic books/writing
  • quizzes and games
  • video and screencasting tools
  • graphs/charts/databases
  • music tools
  • discussion/debate tools
  • surveys/polls
  • Read/Write/Think tools

Terrific Tools

Like most people who write a blog, there is never enough time to write about all the wonderful and interesting tools that are constantly evolving.  To keep this post manageable, I’m mentioning a few of the fabulous tools that I have come across in the past weeks  via the various networks that I attempt to keep up with.

Networking

StumbleUpon, a social media site that enbles users to discover and rate webpages, photos, videos, and news articles, has become a favourite plugin on my toolbar. If you haven’t tried it out, I’d encourage you to do so.  Like most networks or tools, StumbleUpon’s features are best experienced than described.  Briefly, you can identify the topics/areas you are interested in, then when you click the Stumble! button on your toolbar, it will present a site based on your selected interests.  You can then give it the thumbs up or down to refine your preferences.   Once you start using the tool, you see its wonders (and its addictiveness).  Since using it, I’ve come across some fabulous tutorials which I may not have otherwise found.   It can be used as a marketing tool, or in the case of educators, networking with other users to gain interesting and useful information.  Here are 5 power tips to get the most out of using StumbleUpon.

Information Organiser

The Personal Brain is a free downloadable visua information organiser that sits on your desktop and facilitiates keeping track of projects.  Great for a visual overview of what is going on either at work or home.  You can have as many ‘brain’ projects as you wish, or you can divide one ‘brain’ into different projects.  So it can be used for work/home.  Keep all your work related projects together and same with personal.  Notes can be added, web links, even files and images and there’s also a calendar.   It has potential in the classroom for brainstorming projects, project planning and even as a revision tool. Here’s a Youtube review of Personal Brain.

After using this tool now for several weeks, I’m quite impressed with its functioning.  It is intuitively easy to use, adding a new project is as simple as clicking on ‘Thought’ from the drop down menu > Parent Thought.  Add a sub-thought to this > Child Thought.  For a completely new brain > File > New Brain.  A paid version is available, obviously with more features. The free version has enough options to make it very usable and worthwhile.

Educational Videos

Teachers TV is certainly one of my favourites places to go when I want videos for the classroom, classroom management and personal development. Although I joined earlier this year, a mention of Teachers TV on Paul Hamilton’s site prompted me to go and take a deeper look.  As mentioned in Paul’s post, there is an incredibly rich supply of resources available on this site. What makes the site even more usable is that vidoes can be downloaded or watched directly via Quicktime or Windows medial player.  This overcomes the buffering problem that happens with watching online videos.  If you haven’t been acquainted with Teachers TV, I’d certainly encourage you to do so.

WatchKnow is an emerging  non-profit, online community that encourages everyone to collect, create, and share free, innovative, educational videos. Although not yet officially launched, it is available for beta-testing.  You just need to sign up (username and password is all that is required) to add videos.  The library is still building up.

Presentation Tools

Flowgram is Larry Ferlazzo’s No.1 site for Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education 2008. This is a great tool for presentations, tutorials, web and photo sharing; audio can be added and comments made by viewers. 

Magshow is a slide show creator alternative to my favourite slideshow creator, Smilebox (which requires a download and this proves difficult on different computers in a school setting).  Magshow enables the creating slideshows, panoramas or make your own map.

Rock You is a great new slideshow sharing site I came across via Larry Ferlazzo’s Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education 2008, rated No. 11by Larry.

Automotivator is a poster site I came across via Paul Hamilton’s site.  Create a motivational poster by uploading your own image or choosing a random image, add a quote and title, save to your computer or upload to a site.  This is an alternative to Bige Huge Labs which also has a poster feature.

Extranormal is another great tool that has potential in the classroom for students across the curriculum and across the grades.   It’s new animation tool that is so easy to use.   It claims if you can type you can create a movie.  It could be used for story making, explaining facts or concepts (either the teacher creating or students displaying their knowledge), revision topics, language students and so on.  I came across this via Paul Hamilton’s site.

ICT Tutorials

I came across ICT Teach via Patricia Donaghy’s site and it has been a minefield of wonderful free tutorials. Not only for school use but for my own personal learning.   For example, I have never found easy to understand tutorials for Photoshop and gave up on mastering its workings.  ICT teach has great simplified vidoes which enabled me to finally grasp the program.  ICT teach is aligned to UK syllabuses, nevertheless  all tutorials have universal value.  I’m continually going back there to check the resources, lesson ideas and just-in-time learning.  There is also what appears to be just about a whole syllabus set of resources on the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) which is an internationally recognised qualification which covers the key concepts of computing.  I got really excited about the prospect of this availablility in schools in my country.  It probably won’t happen, but isn’t it a wonderful concept that we could be teaching kids skills that would have universal recognition?

Image by macropolous

Creating quizzes

I was searching for some easy quiz creators that I could use for students to create quizzes for their classmates. This is a great way for students to think about the concepts they have covered,  revise what they and have fun testing their peers!

Here’s a run down on the quiz makers that I came across:

Quiz your friends: free, easy and effective quiz creator, unfortunately the ads make it inappropriate for classroom use.  I’ve written to the creators asking if they can make it school-friendly.  This would be perfect for students to create quizzes, no registration required.

Classmarker: Requires registration but is free.  You simply create your quizzes and your learners or business clients take them online.  Great for teachers to create quizzes for students, but not really suitable for students to create their own quizzes to exchange with each other.

Mystudiyo is a free quiz creator that enables you to build a quiz and add it to your site. Great looking quizzes with a choice of templates.  As I learned from Larry Ferlazzo’s site,  Sue Waters has great screenshots about how Mystudiyo works.

I have written about Quia and Yacapaca! in a previous post, both of which have quiz making facilities. However, they are  teacher-generated.

So I haven’t found exactly what I am looking for. I’ll use Classmarker to create quizzes for students to do, but I’d really love to use Quiz your friends if only they could clean up the page.

After writing this post, Larry Ferlazzo kindly responsed to my plea and directed me to a few more options.

Smile allows teachers and students to create quizzes, drag-and-drop exercises and sequencing events.  The interface is very simple and clean, so very appropriate for student use.

Another extremely useful tool is to use google spreadsheets which enables users to create forms. These can be used as quizzes including multiple choice.  See Anne’s instructions for form creation.  I guess the only lacking in this tool is that it doesn’t give the sender the instant result of whether the answer is correct. Aside from that, it is a great way to create quizzes.

Refining Flickr searches

There is no doubt about the usefulness of Flickr for image sharing. A couple of tools that can assist the user (and may not be as commonly known as Flickr itself) are flickr-storm and flickrCC.  I was going to write a post about each of these but since they have already been done, I’ll conveniently provide the links here.

ICT Guy has done all the hard work for me (thanks!) with images of how the site works so visit his post at A perfect flickr storm.

What I particularly like about flickr-storm is the fact that you can search for images within the licencing category you are after. Just under the ‘keyword search box’ there is an advanced button. When you click on this  a drop-down box will appear just to the right of the search box, and you can then select what type of licensed images you want.

A Joyful Jubiliant Learning has posted a helpful post about the meaning of the different creative commons licencing terms and it is here that I came across flickrCC.

FlickrCC is a site published by Peter Shanks (an Information Technology Teacher at Bathurst TAFE, Sydney, Australia) to help search for free, Creative Commons licensed Flickr images.  Thanks Peter!

Summarising tool

If you have Word 2007, there is a really neat tool that will enable you to automatically summarise a lengthy document.  I used it for my previous post: Are Underprivileged Students Better Off Without Computers?

You simply need to add the icon to your tool bar.  The How-To Geek will show you how to do this.  Then whenever you want to summarise a document, click on the summarise icon and you have a choice of options. For example, you can replace the article with a summary, place an executive summary before the article or highlight main points in the article.  Besides being a great time saver for writing summaries, I find it useful when I have to read lengthy reports. If they are web based, I select the article, right click and select ‘text only’  paste them into Word and summarise.

Thanks to Paul Hamilton and  Free Digital Tools for a UDL approach for leading me to this great find.

Create a comic/cartoon book

toondoo-logo.jpg There are several  comic creators available and they are a great tool in the classroom for communication exercises, story writing, reporting factual information and so on.  For some students, this is definitely a more appealing option than writing an essay or story on paper.  My personal favourite is Toondoo as it is facilitiates one step further than a comic strip, that is, the making of a (toon) book.  When you create your comic strips, you need to save your pages in a ‘toonbag’.    Open an account (free), enter your username and password to begin creating.  The speed of loading pages can be a little slow depending on your connection, so be patient (it is worth the effort).  Go to ‘create’ on the startup page and you will see this screen:

Making a book is relatively easy process. When you create your comic strip, you need to save your pages in a ‘toonbag’.  At the ‘start here’ option above,  save your work (click on the disk icon and make sure you check the box ‘save to toonbag’. There are also options to keep your work private or public. Publish your work to save it.

When you have finished collecting pages for your book, go back to the starting page, click on ‘Books’ and dropdown menu will include  ‘my toonbag’.

From your toonbag, you can rearrange your pages and tick the pages you want included in your book.  Click on ‘make a book’ and your book is ready.

Here’s an example of what can be done using Toondoo, a book created by Toondoo user, hainesk, a student, on cyber bullying.   A great classroom tool to bookmark. 

Anyone have any other favourite comic/cartoon resources?

Getting started with Web 2.0 tools

It can seem a little overwhelming knowing where to start with facilitating Web 2.0 tools in the classroom for teachers who are trying to embrace 21st century learning. I was so captured by this wiki: Webtools4u2se that I thought it would be a great tool to introduce teachers to cool tools and what is great about the wiki is that it gives lots of ideas for using the tools. Designed for school library media specialists, it is an ideal starting place for all educators.  It is very informative with a bright inviting home page (this is created using Glogster). It also has a page dedicated to Why Web 2.0 tools? Tools include:

  • audio and podcasting
  • blogs
  • calendars, task management and to do lists
  • drawing, charting and mapping tools
  • portal and web page starting tools
  • photo and photo sharing tools
  • presentation tools
  • quiz and polling tools
  • news feeds and aggregators
  • social networks
  • video tools and video sharing
  • wikis
  • productivity tools

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Another great starting place for teachers wanting to know how to start or where, is Anne Mirtschin and Jess McCulloch’s project and wiki for laying the foundations for using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching and learning. Visit their wiki at: Laying the e-planks for a Web 2.0 school. Anne and Jess are embracing 21st century literacies at their Hawkesdale P-12 College (a small rural p12 school, educating 5 – 18 year old students om Victoria, Australia) and are documenting what they have achieved as well as their goals on the wiki.

In the Planks page, they have resources to important issues related to Web 2.0 use, such as cybersafety, digital media and copyright, joining networks and creating an online space. To follow their journey you can subscribe to their eplanks podcasts.

Here is a great  wiki, 23 Things introducing Web 2.0 tools to teachers. It is a 10 week course for teachers. Although it cannot be joined it gives a list of resources that are to be covered in the course. If you are interested in learning more about the course, participating in a future course session, facilitating the course at your own school or adapting the content under Creative Commons, please email Shelley Paul @ k12learning20@gmail.com