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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.

This website (http://www.teachersdomain.org/) is a growing collection of downloadable multimedia resources and lesson plans. Currently the majority of resources are in the Science field (listed below) but they are planning to add Language Arts, Social Sciences and Mathematics resources. It has a free registration although you need to align yourself to your educational institution.

I am not a huge fan of downloadable Lesson Plan websites but this site has suggestions which are not only practical and constructivist but also resources and links which students could use. For instance, the Polar Sciences Special Collection focuses on issues relating to Global Warming effects on the Arctic and Antarctic.  The collection includes a fabulous range of interactives, documents, lesson plans and video clips which can be viewed online, with some downloadable. Each with a brief description and suggested year level e.g. Earth as a System (Grade 6 – 12) is a visualisation adapted from NASA maps and shows progressive global changes on a rotating globe. You can also turn captions on or off to accompany the clip.

The collection groups resources in 5 areas: Atmosphere, Ice, Oceans, People and Land.

 

 

The Science K-12 resources are listed in major strands and sub-topics:

Earth and Space Science (292 resources) i.e. Earth in the Universe, Earth System, Structure, and Processes, Water Cycle, Weather, and Climate

Engineering (204) i.e. Engineering Design, Materials and Tools, Systems and Technologies

Life Science (399) i.e. Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, Genetics and Heredity, Organisms and Their Environments, Regulation and Behavior, Structure and Function

Physical Science (395) i.e. Energy, Fundamental Theory, Matter, Motions and Forces

Thanks to Dean Mantz for sharing this website via Diigo.

 

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.

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 http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/ 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!

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.

 A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most of the information is researched via the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge and Tom March at San Diego State University in 1995 (http://webquest.org/index.php)In an interview with Linda Starr of Education World,  Bernie Dodge discusses some of the key aspects of using WebQuests (complete interview). 

Bernie describes why WebQuests are not just internet Treasure Hunts or research projects … The key idea that distinguishes WebQuests from other Web-based experiences is this: a WebQuest is built around an engaging task that elicits higher order thinking of some kind. It’s about doing something with information. The thinking can be creative or critical, and involve problem solving, judgment, analysis or synthesis. The task is more than simply answering questions or regurgitating what’s on the screen. The benefit to using WebQuests is that it puts more responsibility on the learners themselves. Usually, a WebQuest includes the following:

Introduction: an engaging first statement that draws the reader in while setting the stage for the WebQuest – includes the central question around which the WebQuest revolves.

Task: a description of the end result of the students’ work; the culminating performance or product that drives all the activities of the lesson.

Process: describes step-by-step how the learners will accomplish the task. Includes online (and offline) resources, role descriptions (if any), and guidance on individual steps in the process.

Evaluation: a rubric or other means to evaluate the final task.

Conclusion: final statement that may include reflections on the lesson or extensions of the content for further exploration.

With today’s Web 2.0 tools, a WebQuest can easily be set up on the internet, include multimedia and hyperlinks and be an exciting, engaging activity for students across the curriculum. It can form the basis for a COGs unit, a G&T activity in Literacy and Numeracy or a group activity in any KLA. 

Bibliography

Linda Starr – Education World

WebQuests in wikipedia 

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