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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

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.


Annenberg Media’s website for teachers ( 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.


Be part of a NSW ICT project! The Tooth Tally Project gives teachers a way to integrate an important event in the life of a child – losing a tooth – with Reading, Mathematics, Writing, HSIE and ICT. Using “lost tooth” data collected in the classroom, students will practise counting skills and collecting data. They will learn to make and interpret graphs, develop map skills and communicate through email. It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to realize that in spite of many differences children all around the world have many similarities, too.

To take part in the Tooth Tally Project ( you’ll need to register your class before 1 February 2009. Registered classes will count and compare tooth data from 1 February 2009 until 30 April 2009. Your class will become part of a team competing against other teams for the grand Tooth Tally Title. The winning classes will receive a special Tooth Tally Project certificate and be acknowledged on this site as the biggest tooth wigglers and wobblers in the world!

The Tooth Tally Project has been running for 10 years under the capable direction of Lynda Smith, Technology Coordinator at Barwell Road Elementary School, Raleigh, NC, USA, who inspired and created this wonderful learning activity. In mid-2008 Lynda passed coordination of the Tooth Tally Project to Cheryl Hill, Computer Teacher at Lindfield East Public School, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

A wiki site is used to keep the tally and to communicate with each other. There’s a gallery of work samples, class comments and a photo album. For lots of lesson plan ideas from previous Tooth Tally participants visit our Teachers page.

A great way to kick off the Tooth Tally Project is the Tooth Fairy description activity. Participating classes are invited to do this activity and select a picture to upload to the wiki. Instead of trying to squeeze the Tooth Tally Project into an already packed teaching day, why not integrate it into your regular curriculum? There are heaps of ways you can use the Tooth Tally Project to teach your regular curriculum objectives. Many of these ideas have come from previous Tooth Tally teachers!

Thanks to Melanie for alerting me to this  interesting integrated project.

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 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 Picture Australia is hosted by National Library of Australia which also houses a wonderful collection of photos.

The Paralympics are being held in Beijing from September 6 to 17, 2008. The official website is at The International Paralympic Committee website contains a huge resource of information about paralympics, classifications, past and future games as well as current Beijing updates

The Australian Paralympic committee website has an excellent photo gallery and information on Australian Paralympians.  Wikipedia also has a good section, 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 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. 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. 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:

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.

The Australian Olympic Committee invites primary educators to join the a.s.p.i.r.e. school network, a program designed to instill in young Australians an appreciation for the values, spirit and philosophy of the Olympic Movement. Visit the website at:

As a member, you will receive access to Olympic resources including the Olympic Fact Zone, a Certificate of Membership, a monthly newsletter and a BK Medallion to award to a student who has demonstrated the a.s.p.i.r.e. values. Once you have registered, you can also access over 200 Olympic themed, cross-curriculum resources including lesson plans and games. The resources are structured around Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and Bloom’s Thinking Taxonomy and emphasise the a.s.p.i.r.e. values, literacy and numeracy skills, the use of information and communication technologies, active lifestyles and links with the community. This online, values-based program complements the Federal Government’s National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools.

The website also has an amazing range of information about Australia’s involvement in the Olympics. There is a database of athletes which covers every past Australian Olympian and their results.  You can view information about all Olympic champions plus a detailed profile of our 50 finest athletes. Facts about record breakers, Aussie Team Trivia, past Summer and Winter games as well as pictures and details about Beijing 2008.

In Australian schools, Olympic Day will be celebrated on Friday June 20, 2008. Olympic Day celebrates the Olympic Games through sport, education and culture. Across the globe, millions of schools celebrate the day by participating in Olympic education and activities. A resource kit for primary educators is available to download from the aspire site.

The official site of the 2008 Australian Olympic team is found at It also contains a huge range of resources useful for teachers and students.

The official Beijing Olympics site is at . Links from here include all related Olympics information and pictures, as well as the Olympic Education link which contains some moving stories of human determination and spirit. For example, John Akhwari, the greatest last place finish ever: After Akhwari crossed the finish line, a reporter asked him why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally, he answered: “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish.”

Further information is available at the International Olympic Committee’s education site at . Apart from vast collection of Olympics information and archives, this site also has an excellent library of multimedia i.e. audio and video footage from previous Olympics.

From the MANSW site, a free 48 page Olympic Maths workbook “In the Running for the Olympics”. Excellent for Year 6 / Year 7 Mathematics classes in preparation for Beijing 2008.  To receive the workbook send an email to  giving teacher name and school mailing address.

Lastly, the AFSSSE Australia-China project ( ) has produced four units in the Social Sciences area.

Audacity is free, easy-to-use Windows and Macintosh software which schools can easily and successfully utilise to record and edit audio. Teachers and students can use Audacity to:

· read and record their own stories to accompany PhotoStory or PowerPoint slideshow,

· record and produce a ‘radio show’ or podcast,

· record singing, choirs, music groups and musical instruments,

· record sounds e.g. sounds in the playground, classroom, in nature,

· generate special sound effects,

· create a narration for a multimedia slideshow,

· edit a recorded interview,

· cut, copy, splice and mix sounds together,

· experiment with sounds and sound waves,

· change the speed or pitch of a recording, and

· edit MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.

Download at It also has a range of professional features, which include:

· built-in effects processing,

· mixing of tracks, and

· recording overdubs while playing previously recorded tracks.

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone, line input or other source. It has Level meters which can monitor volume levels before, during and after recording. You can import sound files, edit them and combine them with other files or new recordings. Export your recordings in several common file formats e.g. wav, mp3. These can be used to accompany PowerPoint presentations, PhotoStory movies or used in video production. Editing is easy with Cut, Copy, Paste and Delete. You can edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks. Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool. It also has a range of built-in effects e.g. Echo, Phaser and Reverse. Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

All you need is to download the software, access a microphone and away you go!

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

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!

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