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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.

Biopix (http://www.biopix.com/Default.asp) is a collection of nature photos, primarily from Scandinavia. Images include detailed and colourful photographs of animals, plants, weather and landscapes. Biopix is used online by a wide range of students, teachers, researchers, photographers etc. as well as used professionally in a large range of publications.

The photos may be used for free with no permission by teachers, pupils and students at schools, universities and other educational facilities, for purposes related directly to the education. Typically reports, teaching material for single classes, talks, posters, Masters-, PhD-reports etc. The source should always be given and if the product is published on the Internet, a link to Biopix should be given.

Thanks to tee1962 Reagan for sharing

Pixlr (http://www.pixlr.com/editor/) is an online image editor that allows you to upload your images and edit them in your browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer). Pixlr is perfect for students when they want to create or edit images to be used in multimedia presentat ions l ike PhotoStory, PowerPoint or imovie. They can also use it at home as it is online and free!
While it’s not the most full-featured image editor you will ever use, Pixlr makes it fairly easy to do some sophisticated graphics manipulation with images online. The Flash-based web app has an impressive set of tools, from graphics tools like paint, blur, pixelate and emboss, to layers and filters for masking and effects.
Students can create a painting using the pen and paint tools or import images from digital cameras or the web … or even better via a web address (URL). For instance, as shown in the example, students were given the task of studying rainforest birds and their characteristics. The students did a search for pictures of rainforest birds as part of their HSIE unit. When an appropriate graphic is found, the web address can be copied and pasted into the ‘Open from URL’ window. Pixlr will then open that graphic in its own window. With the lasso tool, the bird was selected, copied and pasted into the main project window. A selection of birds were copied and pasted into the project and text and drawings added. For example, foliage could be copied or drawn in. The finished graphic can then be saved as a jpg to import into other programs.
Pixlr has a number of features similar to PhotoShop and other quite expensive software applications and can therefore be used to teach many of the graphics skills students need. Pixlr uses built in Flash so you need to have a Flash plug in for it to work. If Pixlr doesn’t function automatically see http://www.adobe.com/ products/flashplayer/ for details.pixlr

Recyclezone, the site for schools, children and teachers that tells you what’s what in the world of waste! Although this site (http://www.recyclezone.org.uk/home.aspx) from England is called recyclezone, recycling is only one of the things we can do about waste. The site addresses the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle. The site has a number of areas including a Fun Zone, with interactive online games, Activity Zone, where there are activities like making paper and a Teacher Zone.

Teachers might use this site as part of a recylcing / conservation unit or a follow-up to Clean Up Australia activities. It could also be used as inspiration to the SRC or the Environment Committee to plan a school based event. Some of the online waste-related games include:

  • Rubbish Challenge – Can you get rid of your rubbish?
  • Rap with Recycler – Join in with Recycler’s Rubbish Rap.
  • Is your brain full of rubbish? – Test your knowledge with our Rubbish Quiz.
  • Virtual school – Does school have to be rubbish? Find out by exploring our virtual school.
  • How much of a waster are you? – Find out if you’re a waster with our lifestyle challenge.

In the Teacher Zone, there are ideas for integration into your classroom:

  • What your school can do about waste – Practical steps that your school can take to reduce, reuse and recycle its waste.
  • Broader picture – Includes an introduction to waste and Education for Sustainable Development.
  • Waste on the web – Recommended waste related websites for use by teachers, school managers and students.
  • Teacher’s resources – A library of teachers’ resource pages from ‘wasted’, Waste Watch’s education newsletter.
  • Waste in the UK Curriculum – would have relevance for Australian Curriculum
  • Waste education publications and support – education materials and support from Waste Watch and others

The website is managed by Waste Watch, which is a leading environmental organisation promoting sustainable resource management in the UK by campaigning for all areas of society to:

  • reduce resource consumption
  • maximise resource reuse
  • increase the percentage of waste they recycle

Melbourne, Australia had a tremor last night which registered 4.7 on the Richter scale. To take advantage of this current event in your teaching and the amazing up-to-date resources now available on the internet, visit U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program (http://earthquake.usgs.gov). Since the early 1990s, the magnitude and location of an earthquake have been available within minutes on the Internet. Now, as a result of work by the U.S. Geological Survey and with the cooperation of various regional seismic networks, people who experience an earthquake can go online and share information about its effects to help create a map of shaking intensities and damage. The map is available at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/.

The website also has a number of resources for teachers and students at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/kids/. There are facts and information about earthquakes as well as activities, puzzles and animations. The Teacher section includes photos, PowerPoints and maps as well as other resources, although they favour a US perspective.

The map below was accessed from the website on 7/3/09 and shows the earthquake indicator near Melbourne as well as other earthquakes which have been recorded in the previous 7 days. Earthquake times are listed in USA time, so need to be converted to your local time.

Map showing latest earthquakes

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

We live in an increasingly visual society. Just take a look at the proliferation of, and near obsession with, digital and mobile phone cameras let alone the over three billion photos on Flickr! We are surrounded by images everywhere in our lives. By studying and discussing photographs with your students, you will help them better understand the complexities of their world.

By incorporating photographic media in your curriculum, you expose your class to artefacts from the past that are authentic and make history come alive. Many collections are coming online and provide educational institutions with free access e.g. State RPicadilly Circusecords. These historic photos fascinate students because they are real.

As David Jakes said, “Visual information is everywhere online, and the importance of being visually literate cannot be overstated. Visual literacy has been identified as an essential literacy by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills; and with the development of the tools and contributory capacity of Web 2.0, it is critical that schools focus on helping students acquire the skills necessary to navigate, evaluate, and to communicate with visual information.”

An suggested activity is to display a historical photo, like the one of Piccadilly Circus. Imagine it displayed on a SMARTBoard and students could come out and circle elements that were of note. This particular photo appears on http://www.histografica.com and has accompanying notes and a Google Map showing its location. The best feature of this website is that you can search for photos by date and location. As yet, there is not much Australian content on the site, but it would still provide a focus for discussing ‘Then and Now’ i.e. have a modern photo of the location and do a Compare / Contrast activity.

To give you more ideas and to start you thinking about questions to be discussed, look at Picture This. For instance, Where do you think it was taken? Who do you think the people in the picture are? What does it look like they are doing? Utilise your technology to zoom in to uncover more detail. For instance, who is this person? What is he doing? What products are being advertised in the area?

“All of us are watchers – of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway – but few of us are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing” (Leschak).

To help children “see”, a wonderful project is being run by Picture Australia, called the Re-Picture Australia project. Further details at www.pictureaustralia.org. Picture Australia is hosted by National Library of Australia which also houses a wonderful collection of photos.

Searching the web effectively does present problems for many students. Tag Galaxy provides an engaging, easy-to-use interface which supports the searching process. "frog" search results

Enter a keyword or tag into Tag Galaxy (http://taggalaxy.de/). The example above is the result for ‘frog’. The results are displayed as an interactive, multi-dimensional visualization … each planet represents a group of photos that have the related tag i.e. amphibian, pond, animal, green.

Choosing one of these orbiting planets narrows the search further. When the central globe itself is clicked, the related photos are presented in an amazing fashion. Photos fly in and ’stick’ to the globe, which can be rotated and turned.

When a suitable photo is found you can click on it to zoom in and to access the related Flickr page. Students can then view closely to make observations or download to use in multimedia presentations (provided copyright is appropriate).

Flickr photos relating to frogs

The Pics4Learning collection consists of thousands of images that have been donated by students, teachers and amateur photographers. Unlike many Internet sites, permission has been granted for teachers and students to use all of the images donated to the Pics4Learning collection.

Browse by topic, look at the most popular photos or do a search for specific images. Topics include  Animals, Countries, Education, Food, Geography, History, Signs, to name a few. Some of the over 50 topics have numbers in brackets – these refer to sub-topics i.e. Animals has 49 sub-topics which include Marsupials, Bats, Insects, etc.  In the Marsupial section, there are 96 jpg images which can be copied or downloaded and used in multimedia presentations and information reports.

Students can also contribute photos they have taken. An example activity could be setting the students the challenge of taking digital photos around your school of mathematical concepts e.g. acute angles, parallel lines or symmetry. These can then be uploaded to the Pics4Learning site. This activity is not only an authentic learning task to consolidate students mathematical understanding but also a very engaging activity where students would be using a range of ICT knowledge and skills as well as collaborative and decision-making skills.

http://www.pics4learning.com/details.php?img=greyroo5.jpg

Since October 2008, The Louvre website (http://www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home.jsp) features a new host: Dominique-Vivant Denon. The first director of the museum has been brought back to life as an animated character! He has a multitude of stories to tell about the museum and its contents, together with anecdotes from his travels, and he’ll help both children and adults explore the Louvre Web site! He will also entice young and old into his workshop—an Aladdin’s cave of treasures and memories.

When on the Louvre’s home page, click on Dominique’s head (top right-hand corner) and he’ll pop up all over the place to give students some practical information, suggestions for the virtual visit, and facts and figures about the museum. His audio narration will tell  the kind of things people don’t usually tell you about the secret life of the artworks. Visitors will learn the full history of these artworks when you open the description pages. These histories are in a detailed written form.

Dominique’s workshop is full of clickable objects and creates an excellent interactive starting point for students. For instance, click on Dominique’s book: it’s full of amazing stories about the artworks. In the portfolio next to his writing desk, find the list of story-telling objects. There are always lots of things lying around in Dominique’s workshop to experiment with.

The Louvre’s collection covers Western art from the medieval period to 1848, formative works from the civilisations of the ancient world and works of Islamic art. Dominique narrates the history and aspects of some famous artworks which are contained in these collections. The collection is grouped into eight Departments, each shaped and defined by the activities of its curators, collectors and donors. These include Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings and Prints and Drawings.

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