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How can technology help keep all students in your class motivated and engaged in Spelling activities, whether very able or needing lots of consolidation? One way is using a free online spelling tool from Scholastic, which allows you to enter your own spelling words and create two activities. The Spelling Wizard is found at http://www.scholastic.com/kids/homework/spelling.htm.

The first step is to type in the 10 spelling words. You, the teacher, can do this or even better, the students can type in their own. Once the words are in, there are two activities to choose: Spelling Scramble or Word Search.

The first activity is a scrambled letters activity, where the letters of each of the 10 words typed in are jumbled. The activity can be printed and completed on paper or filled in online by typing in the correct spelling of the word in a box to the right of the scrambled word. Once all 10 are completed, you can again print the page or even better, have the computer correct the spelling. Students can then re-do the activity if they haven’t scored an appropriate score.

The second activity is a Word Search, and again, can be printed out or completed online by clicking the letters of the words.

Students could create and complete activities for themselves or for other students in their class. The only drawback is that words and activities cannot be saved.

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Annenberg Media’s website for teachers (http://www.learner.org/) provides teacher resources for a number of KLAs. The site is more aligned with American 7-12 curricula but there are a number of excellent interactives which could be used in a K-6 Australian classroom.

In the Mathematics area, there is an engaging resource on 3D Geometry. There are 6 sections, including 3D Shapes, Surface Area and Volume and Test Your Skills. Teachers can use the online information and activities as a teaching resource and students can use it to consolidate their knowledge and understanding of the concepts. The lessons are structured sequentially and progressively build on skills.

Another useful interactive is Spelling Bee. A cloze passage is displayed with missing words which the student needs to type in … obviously spelling the words correctly. Content is divided into year groups with sub-levels for each year. Words and passages can be ‘read’ out by the computer and even better, the computer corrects the student’s spelling!

Have you programmed for a unit on Fairytales? There is an interactive called Elements of a Story, which takes you through creating the Cinderella story. Could be used by teachers as revision activities or consolidation for students who need extra scaffolding. As stated on the interactive: “This site features an interactive explanation of each literary element, which is then followed by a series of activities to enhance students’ understanding. Students will be asked to put plot developments into the correct order, select appropriate settings and characters, and sort events and exposition.”

Other features of the website are videos and support materials which are aimed at helping teachers understand concepts and background knowledge of some content areas of the curriculum e.g. How can we use rocks to understand events in the Earth’s past? You must sign up to use these but they are free if watched online.

fireshot-capture-30-interactives-www_learner_org_interactives

The Paralympics are being held in Beijing from September 6 to 17, 2008. The official website is at http://en.paralympic.beijing2008.cn/index.shtml. The International Paralympic Committee website contains a huge resource of information about paralympics, classifications, past and future games as well as current Beijing updates http://www.paralympic.org/release/Main_Sections_Menu/Paralympic_Games/Beijing_2008/.

The Australian Paralympic committee website has an excellent photo gallery and information on Australian Paralympians.  Wikipedia also has a good section, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Summer_Paralympics with lots of facts and figures i.e. emblems, themes, events, etc.

Why not have your students send a hero message to one of our Australian athletes? Go to http://hero.telstra.com/paralympics/. Students can write the message to an individual athlete or to a whole team. Simply click on the “Send an online message” button. Students need to enter a name and email address – you could set up a gmail address for your class i.e. 3GWPS@gmail.com. The message should contain a maximum of 160 characters. It could be drafted and edited on a wordprocessor prior to sending and then copied and pasted into the Message area.

If you want to get creative, students can also send a video message. Video file has a maximum size of 5 Mb. File types accepted are .avi, .mpg, .mov and 3gp. These short videos could be recorded on a digital camera and saved to be uploaded. Students could combine dance, drama and music or use computer graphics to create a short animation.

Messages, both text and video are shown in a gallery on the Hero site.

http://voicethread.com is a free Web 2.0 tool which provides easy-to-use features for students to create multimedia projects. This is exciting in itself, but even more motivating for students is that viewers of the project can leave comments via the internet. Look at this example to see how it works: http://voicethread.com/share/107896/

The online media album can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in different ways – using voice, text, audio or video. They can even be exported to an Archival Movie for offline use on a DVD or video-enabled MP3 player.

Comments: as seen in the little thumbnails down the left and right side of the example. Simple voice recording within your web browser allows students or viewers to add their voice. All you need is a microphone! Comments can also be written or recorded on video.

Doodles: the Doodler is a way of annotating the presentation. It captures drawing as an animation and synchronises it to the voice or text commentary. See the red circle drawn around “name” in the example.

Identities for easy classroom management: to leave a comment, you need an identity and be logged in. One class account can have multiple identities so  a number of students can easily switch identities on-the-fly without having to sign-out.

Sharing your VoiceThread

It is totally safe for your students. You can set the access privileges – from completely private to completely open and variations in between.

Moderation: comment moderation puts the teacher in charge of the conversation. Only the comments that are deemed appropriate are exhibited on the screen.

A family picture was the inspiration for VoiceThread. One of the program’s creators was looking at the photo and thought it would be really great to hear each person commenting on the picture. They would all have different stories. This thought was a spark for the creation of the Web 2.0 tool. It is an extremely easy online application that allows you to create multimedia using your own photos, video clips, audio, etc… and then allows others to comment with text or audio in a way that will play along with your presentation.

It has been enthusiastically used by many teachers all over the world as a simple way for individuals and groups to work together on a presentation and storytelling. Visit VoiceThread to see more great examples!

 

 

Thank you to Bob Sprankle at Seedlings for this great Web 2.0 tool. Students can type in text or upload Word or pdf documents to the Read the Words website. A ‘voice’ is chosen to read the text. The resulting sound file can be embedded into a blog (as I have done to the right) or downloaded as an mp3 file to listen to. A great motivator for students to encourage a more effective proofing and editing process as well as providing a bit of a giggle :-). Free registration provides a wider range of voices. Below is the text from my Read The Words audio – a reworked excerpt from a paper Lesley and I wrote for AAEC conference in 2006.

The use of ICT tools such as word processing, graphics packages, database and spreadsheet applications, has often been proposed as evidence of technology uptake and integration into learning and teaching. While many worthwhile uses have been made of these tools, their integration has largely been as an optional ‘add-on’ to an unchanging traditional teaching environment (Bottino, 2003). In contrast, I recommend educators take advantage of the potential of new technologies, including Web 2.0 tools and provide a variety of multimodal ICT project-based learning activities to enhance children’s learning. There are many benefits associated with this approach. Students have a high level of engagement while they are actively designing and making multimedia presentations for real audiences. Teachers report that not only are students gaining a greater depth of understanding of curriculum areas but their collaborative, communication and problem-solving skills are also being developed. Research also testifies that students display increases in mental effort and involvement, interest, planning, collaboration and individualisation (Lehrer et al, 1994). The acquisition of ICT skills and confidence, independence and risk-taking when using technology were also a valued consequence.

New media, Web 2.0 tools and software have many beneficial impacts in the classroom. Key aspects of this kind of learning is not so much the technology itself but the interaction of the learner with the technology (Gros, 2003). Using ICT has tremendous potential for reaching, motivating and fully involving learners. Any teacher who has used ICT project-based learning strategies should be able to attest to the power of a project topic to capture a student’s energies and enthusiasm for exploring knowledge (Richards, 2005). Project-based activities encourage collaborative talk around the computer screen. Students also freely and easily share resources and skills. Multimedia projects can encourage students to be better learners as they are getting immediate feedback as they work through their project and reflective evaluation from peers and audience when they have completed their product.

The most successful classroom projects involve the interweaving of learning, student engagement and presentation. Teachers provide a framework for students to scaffold their learning by balancing support and the explicit teaching that needs to occur. The result is not only improved learning outcomes but your students will learn to use these emerging technologies and communicate effectively in ways that are visual, dynamic and interactive.

Trying to encourage your students to read a variety of books? This free online library provides a wealth of diverse and engaging literature!

The mission of the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation is to “excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.” Website address is http://www.childrenslibrary.org/index.shtml

The site provides free access to over 1300 books from more than 42 countries in 11 different languages. Amongst the collection are picture books, scanned old books from library archives and stories which capture the essence of different lives and cultures. Books are read online through your computer. You can search for books in an easy to use graphical environment. This allows you to find books via age brackets, content categories, genres and other sorting filters like true books, picture books and short stories. You can also do advanced searches by title, author or keyword.

Each year the language specialists at the International Youth Library in Germany, select newly published books from around the world that they consider to be especially noteworthy. This White Raven label is given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and/or exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design. Many are available on ICDL. An example is Taming the taniwha by Tim Tipene and illustrated by Henry Campbell. This vibrant colourful book tells a story about a boy who overcomes being bullied at school. Young readers can join the ICDL and write reviews on the books which are then published on the website. For instance, 10 year old Max from Germany reviewed the Kenyan book, The Alien by Anthony Mwangi. His review included: “To me the most important thing in the story was when Pakko got the bad animals and humans together and said that they should be good.”

There are currently 215 books written or translated into English but don’t let that limit you! Do you have students who speak a different language at home? Do you have members of your school community who can read another language? What about integrating into Visual Arts? Is your class studying another country in HSIE? Books from other countries can be searched for by spinning an interactive globe. What about projecting the book on your SMARTBoard and reading with the whole class!

PowerPoint is a well-known software program used for presenting information in a dynamic slide show format. Text, photos, clipart, graphs, sound effects, music and video are just some of the elements that can be included in a presentation.

Many teachers integrate PowerPoint into their curriculum, especially in English (Talking and Listening), Science and HSIE. Examples include students using PowerPoint for a visual support to an oral presentation or a means to present a research project. These are both excellent uses of the software but what about using it for more creative cross-KLA projects?

PowerPoint can add a new dimension to Writing while accommodating all age levels as well as range of abilities and learning styles. Students can use the software to publish their writing, whether it be a narrative, a personal recount or a procedure. Text can be typed in to consecutive slides, formatted appropriately and spellchecked. This provides the opportunity for developing effective proofing and editing skills as well as a range of publishing options. Additional writing skills like storyboarding can also be targeted.

PowerPoint also offers easy-to-learn features which allow students to enhance their writing. For instance, they can illustrate, record their own voice reading the text, animate the pictures and add page turning buttons.

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