TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Nov 4, 2012

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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Julian Germain Classrooms Portraits Project - Julian Germain

Grades
7 to 12
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View portraits of classrooms in many cultures 2004-2012, taken by photographer Julian Germain. The collection is actually from a book. As Archive Magazine reviewer Tom Shakespeare...more
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View portraits of classrooms in many cultures 2004-2012, taken by photographer Julian Germain. The collection is actually from a book. As Archive Magazine reviewer Tom Shakespeare explains, "By presenting different pupils, different schools, different year groups, Germain asks questions about contemporary educational practices and social divisions." The photos are clearly deliberate portraits, not candids, but offer a glimpse into other cultures and a chance to ask questions about why a class ( and classroom) might look the way it does, inviting discussion about what we have in common and how each culture conducts and values education.

tag(s): cross cultural understanding (115), images (266), media literacy (58)

In the Classroom

Share these photos as a writing prompt about cultural differences in a world cultures class or as a way to get students thinking before writing an essay about their "dream" school. Use the common experience of school as an entry point into conversation about cross-cultural understanding. Share on a projector or whiteboard as students use powers of observation to notice what might be different about life in another culture and how school reflects a culture's value systems. Have them write a blog post about what they see. Have students create blogs using Throwww (reviewed here). This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. There is no registration necessary! Use this site In art class or even as a media literacy exercise. Have students jot down the words they would use to describe the emotions they see/feel in these images. What message is the photographer conveying about school? Extend the discussion by challenging students to take their own photos to portray "school." Share the photos on a class wiki, blog, or online scrapbook using a tool such as Beeclip, reviewed here.

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inklewriter - Joseph Humfrey and Jon Ingold

Grades
4 to 12
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL....more
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL. These stories allow for others to create their own path or choose an existing one. Begin by choosing to read stories or create your own. Type parts of the story including the title, author, beginning, introduction, and add sections as needed. After each paragraph is the option to create different outcomes of the story, offering choices the reader makes. The site contains excellent tutorials for getting started with stories. When finished, share the URL for your story using Twitter or Facebook or copy the URL to share and bookmark as you wish. Of course, your "story" need not be fiction! You could also write an opinion piece with branches for people to ask click on questions about facets of your argument! NOTE: When you click to begin writing, you should click SIGN IN and choose to make a new account. Do this before you start writing in order to be able to save. The tool will then save your work as you go along. Although you do not HAVE to sign in before you start, it is risky to sign up later! Here is a sample to show just ONE way to use Inklewriter besides the obvious use for storytelling. Inklewriter has also made it easier for teachers to sign up students WITHOUT student email addresses. Read the directions about how to do this on the landing page by scrolling down and finding "Sign-up and email addresses."
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tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), narrative (24), persuasive writing (55)

In the Classroom

View stories on the site together to understand the components of the site and discuss how different choices in characters and settings lead to different story outcomes. (Be sure to preview stories before sharing, since there is "public"' content.) Watch the tutorials together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) before students begin to write stories. Use a graphic organizer to "map out" the story before writing. Create a short story together as a class to become familiar using the site. Assign a group of students to create an interactive story each week to share on your classroom website or blog. Have students create a story map before beginning a story on inklewriter; use a tool such as 25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. Create class stories to teach about literature, geography, reading comprehension, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Inklewriter to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. A graphic organizer for planning and organizing evidence is a must! Teachers of gifted could use this for students to develop elaborate fictional or informational pieces. If you work with students who struggle, scaffold with a template for them to organize their thoughts.

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TweetChat - tweetchat.com

Grades
5 to 12
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TweetChat is a simple and easy tool for isolating and following specific Twitter hashtags in real time. Sign in to a chat room using the hashtag and your Twitter login ...more
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TweetChat is a simple and easy tool for isolating and following specific Twitter hashtags in real time. Sign in to a chat room using the hashtag and your Twitter login information. All you will see on your screen are the tweets using your tweetchat's chosen hashtag. Reply right from tweetchat without leaving the page; send and continue reading the conversation. Each reply will automatically include the hashtag. Tweetchat has a great feature called smart pausing. When you scroll down, it stops refreshing, allowing you to find what you are looking for and reply or retweet the information without losing it. New to Twitter? Read more about Twitter from TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.
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tag(s): chat (51), microblogging (44), twitter (50)

In the Classroom

If your school permits student Twitter accounts, use TweetChat on laptops during a video or student presentations. Pose questions for all to answer/discuss using an assigned hashtag. Ask students to pose their own "I wonder if..." questions as they watch and listen. Keep every student engaged and THINKING as an active listener. The first time you use TweetChat, you will want to establish some etiquette and accountability rules, such as respectful language and constructive criticism. Assign students to watch a news program or political show and have a chat during the broadcast. Revisit the chat on a projector in class the next day or post the chat transcript to a class blog or wiki and have students respond further in blog posts or on the wiki discussion tab. The advantage of backchannel chat is that every student has a voice, no matter how shy.

Use Tweetchat to collaborate with other classrooms or teachers at a distance. Use a whole class Twitter account to contribute to a regular chat. Professionally, teachers can join subject or grade level specific Tweetchats that happen in real time. See the Twitter Chat Schedule, reviewed here or Educational hashtags listings here to find real time groups you can join using Tweetchat.

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Pen.io - Anthony Feint

Grades
K to 12
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Write and publish a very simple blog post or writing piece instantly. This is a simple tool and requires NO membership. Pen.io is also ideal for collaborative drafts. All you ...more
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Write and publish a very simple blog post or writing piece instantly. This is a simple tool and requires NO membership. Pen.io is also ideal for collaborative drafts. All you need to do to create a page is to choose a name and a password for editing. (You may have to try a few names to find one that is unique.) You receive a URL you can give to others along with the password to be able to collaborate. Or simply share the url for them to read only. You can include an image by dragging and dropping.

tag(s): blogs (88), editing (61), process writing (42), proofreading (19), writing (359)

In the Classroom

Publish student writing projects such as short stories, poems, and reports. Publish study guides before tests. Publish directions for assignments. With the options for password protected editors, students could post a collaborative report and have others help edit the work. This is an easy way to set up a student blog, especially if the focus is on writing rather than multimedia. Have students write a progressive story where they each add a portion. Practice vocabulary in English or world languages by having students add sentences throughout the year, continuously using the newest words. Just make sure that students use the same password for all the stories started in a class.

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SpeakPipe - Speakpipe.com

Grades
K to 12
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SpeakPipe offers a widget to install on your blog or website so readers can send you an audio message of up to five minutes in length. The message goes to ...more
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SpeakPipe offers a widget to install on your blog or website so readers can send you an audio message of up to five minutes in length. The message goes to your Speakpipe inbox, and you receive an email notification. You also receive a url for the message that you could post on the blog so others can hear the comments. Visitors click the "leave voicemail" button to access. Next, the visitor records a message for you. Users have the option of including their names and email addresses.

tag(s): blogs (88)

In the Classroom

When installed on a school website, SpeakPipe provides a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. Unless one of you shares the url, the communication remains confidential. Download messages to your computer as a simple way for students to record their voice responses for use in a multimedia project on your classroom blog. After posting student work on your classroom website or blog, allow students to record information responding or explaining each project. Encourage emerging readers to record their own voices reading a blog post they write. Auditory learners will truly benefit from this tool. Install this on your class blog or wiki so parents who visit can leave audio comments for the class. World language teachers could post an image on a class web site and ask students to record a response in their new language. SChool library/media centers can invite students so comment about new books listed on the web page.

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SimpleMeet.Me - Irian Solutions

Grades
4 to 12
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SimpleMeet.Me is a free service to quickly create an online chat room and invite others. That code appearing when you open SimpleMeet.me is the code that you can give to ...more
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SimpleMeet.Me is a free service to quickly create an online chat room and invite others. That code appearing when you open SimpleMeet.me is the code that you can give to anyone you want to join your chat. They simply enter that code to join. Registration is not required to use SimpleMeet.me.
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tag(s): chat (51), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Use this site to connect to other classes to open up conferencing between your students in one convenient place. Safety is not a concern with this site, since only those with your unique code can participate in a chat. Chat sessions are not saved. (You can copy/paste the content into a document before closing to save an offline copy.) Use this site for a means to connect to any classroom you choose for any subject area. Connect to learn about other locations, learn various perspectives, find animals that are similar yet different, learn about the different books others are reading, survey students on various economic, political, or environmental topics. Be sure to plan content ahead of time, so students have the opportunity to think through the material and formulate a response. Discuss appropriate ways to communicate to others prior to connecting with another classroom. Use SimpleMeet.me as a place for students to brainstorm and share ideas about a topic. Use as a simple help forum for students to ask questions of each other and of you. Share your unique code with parents once a month for a question and answer session at a scheduled time.

Use backchannel chat on laptops during a video or student presentations. Pose questions for all to answer/discuss in the backchannel, or ask students to pose their own "I wonder if..." questions as they watch and listen. Keep every student engaged and THINKING as an active listener. The first time you use backchannel, you will want to establish some etiquette and accountability rules. The advantage of backchannel chat is that every student has a voice, no matter how shy. In world language classes or even autistic support class, have students using new language vocabulary in backchannel descriptions of what they see while classmates act out a scene from a video, or describing the feelings of the actors. In studying literature, collaborate with another class to have students role-play a chat between two characters or in history class for conversations between soldiers on two sides of the Civil War or different sides of the Scopes Monkey trial.

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Incredibox - So Far So Good

Grades
K to 12
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Create your own unique musical compositions with Incredibox. Express your inner musician with this simple way of creating personal musical masterpieces. Choose from one of the four...more
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Create your own unique musical compositions with Incredibox. Express your inner musician with this simple way of creating personal musical masterpieces. Choose from one of the four versions, version 4 is more recent, and easier to use and understand. Simply drag and drop to add beats, melodies, a chorus, and special effects to create a musical creation. When finished add clothing and hats to characters and bring your entire composition to life!
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tag(s): musical instruments (48), rhythm (20)

In the Classroom

Use Incredibox as a great warm-up activity for a choir, band, or any sort of music appreciation class. As part of music class lessons, discuss the different elements in compositions. Use in any class as background music for podcasts, movies, PowerPoints, or blogs. Highlight and honor the musical geniuses in your classroom with this easy tool. Allow your learning support students instant success while challenging gifted students to create the perfect piece. Use in writing class to create mood. Play a composition as background while reading poetry or doing artwork. Help students memorize mnemonics by accompanying them with an audio track a la rap. Use music tracks as a writing prompt and enjoy the fun.

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Snapguide - Heavy Bits

Grades
2 to 12
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Looking for an easy to use "how to" guide? You must visit Snapguide! Find various topics: Sports & Fitness, Technology, Cooking, Music, Arts & Crafts, Gardening, and countless others....more
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Looking for an easy to use "how to" guide? You must visit Snapguide! Find various topics: Sports & Fitness, Technology, Cooking, Music, Arts & Crafts, Gardening, and countless others. You can view all of the content of this site without joining. Create your own "how to" guide on any topic. It's a "snap" to create the directions with pictures. Use your computer or iOS device to create a guide. Download the app onto your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to create a guide for explaining anything! Each page contains a picture and text to explain the parts for your guide.

tag(s): computers (95), crafts (41), directions (20), fitness (49), photography (160), sequencing (31), speeches (17)

In the Classroom

Share the ready-made snapguides in various classes: family and consumer science, music, art, photography, science, computer, and more! Create your own snapguides to share with your class on any subject matter. ESL/ELL and other special needs students will learn better seeing the photos along with the instructions. Use Snapguide to explain a lesson or a project that has multiple directions. Use Snapguide for directions for parents. Create a snapguide for your students when leaving plans for a substitute teacher. Students can also create their own snapguides to use as presentations and even for sequencing practice. These re the perfect prompts for writing and giving informative, how-to speeches. Students can explore the guides available and follow directions or even evaluate their effectiveness. Have cooperative learning groups create their own snapguides to share a new topic with the class. Encourage students to use Snapguide to illustrate their math solutions, discuss the completion and science behind a lab experiment, or show cause and effect.

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Talk Typer - 2012 TalkTyper

Grades
K to 12
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Your spoken words are instantly changed to written text. You need to use the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. Just click on the microphone and speak. Follow ...more
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Your spoken words are instantly changed to written text. You need to use the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. Just click on the microphone and speak. Follow simple directions and immediately begin to dictate. You need to the Chrome browser for this site to work properly. As soon as speech is ready, it appears in red, and you push ok. Corrections are suggested in red. If your speech is not recognized, there is an alternatives button to help you dictate correctly. You can also click on the speaker button to hear the written words played back to you. Click the blue arrow to move the text down to the larger text box. There you can store several phrases or sentences together. Choose to print, email, or tweet your message. Talk Typer is also available in a variety of languages. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. This is best used with short phrases or sentences.
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tag(s): text to speech (16)

In the Classroom

Talk Typer is a very versatile tool, for students, parents, and teachers alike. Bypass poor typing skills, dysgraphia, dyslexia, and physical disabilities. Use this tool in emails, documents, or anything requiring typed text. Use in your writing class so students can either write or edit their work. Use when you are in a hurry with emails requiring long text. Use for your newsletters or family emails. Share this on your class website and at Back to School Night. Emerging literacy students will enjoy the success they have with their oral language into written word. Improve content and forget about mechanics of writing or typing. Focus in on grammar and mechanics after seeing the recognized mistakes. Include this website on every tool bar and as a favorite on your class web page. ELL students can speak English, play it back, and correct it until it "sounds right" and expresses their ideas correctly.

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Vozme - Festival Speech Synthesis System Centre for Speech Technology

Grades
K to 12
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Change text into speech in your email messages, in your browser, website, or Wordpress blog. VozMe is free and easy. Save as an MP3 file and expand your possibilities. Languages ...more
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Change text into speech in your email messages, in your browser, website, or Wordpress blog. VozMe is free and easy. Save as an MP3 file and expand your possibilities. Languages include Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Hindi, and Apache. You can also choose a male or female voice.

tag(s): text to speech (16)

In the Classroom

Create a verbal classroom using speech in your email messages, blog, browser searches, and even class discussions, read alouds, and simple explanations. Lower elementary classes, ESL/ELL, or learning support classes can enjoy greater independence with both verbal and written text. Let students try making a blog post with synthesized speech. ELL students can hear written language to build listening skills and relate written English to the spoken sounds. Send an email with an anticipatory activity for a content lesson by polling, asking a question, or offering food for thought. At the end of the unit, have students create a review for content area subjects. Use in your writing class for students to listen to their own work read aloud. This allows for easier self-revisions. Share all written work on your class blog, allowing everyone to share (with parental permission, of course). Enjoy giving students writing prompts or homework assignments spoken aloud, playable as many times as each individual needs. Send a quick email to a sick or absent student, adding a more personal touch with them hearing your message. Use to read poetry or to illustrate inflection and emotion in your speech. Enjoy all the talking and listening you and your class will do!

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TED-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing - Ted.com

Grades
6 to 12
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Find videos recorded by professional educators. These are not just the humdrum lecture type videos you might expect. These are dynamic speakers, energized by their desire to share what...more
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Find videos recorded by professional educators. These are not just the humdrum lecture type videos you might expect. These are dynamic speakers, energized by their desire to share what they've learned and know. The videos are even more appealing because of the professional animators who worked in the background (with the educators) to get the message across to the audience. You can search these videos by "Series" or by "Subject." Every video has a Quick Quiz with basic comprehension questions, and real time answers. If you get an answer wrong, you will receive a video hint to help you get it correct. Every video has a "Think" section with open ended questions. Every video has a Dig Deeper section with additional resources for exploring the topic. You can take one of these videos, a video from YouTube, or any other video with a URL and "flip" them to make them your own. You can change the title, put in instructions, discard or keep the questions, create your own questions. In other words, you can make the video your own, to suit your needs. Once you save the video it will have a unique URL so you can track the progress and participation of anyone using it. Don't miss such clever offerings as David Hunter's video about the importance of geography concepts in deciding "How do you decide where to go in a zombie apocalypse?" Ted-Ed is only part of the TED offerings. View the full TED site reviewed here.

tag(s): business (58), design (84), literature (275), psychology (64), religions (61), video (254)

In the Classroom

Choose a video or create your own videos for students to use for review. After students view a video that has the questions, show one that doesn't, and have students generate questions for it. Assign videos for students to view at home or in the computer lab. Use them as a springboard for engaging writing prompts or to spark a discussion connected with a unit of study. Challenge students to do a compare/contrast activity using an online Venn Diagram tool reviewed here. Most of the videos are less than twenty minutes, which makes it realistic to use them in a one-period class lesson.

Show a video or two with your class and discuss the set up of the lesson. Discuss the difference between basic comprehension questions and open-ended questions. Show your students an inspirational video or two from TED reviewed here. As a class, pick out eight or ten of the TED videos and allow students to sign up to work on one of the videos. Have cooperative learning groups develop a TED Ed video lesson. You will need to proofread all work using a word processor, before allowing students to upload their questions on TED Ed.

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Button Beats - Buttonbeats.com

Grades
K to 12
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Make music using this creative tool. Play the instruments by moving your mouse over the keys, or use your computer's keyboard. To play with your computer keyboard, click the "activate...more
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Make music using this creative tool. Play the instruments by moving your mouse over the keys, or use your computer's keyboard. To play with your computer keyboard, click the "activate keyboard control button" on the right side of the piano. Play single notes or chords (hit two or more keys at the same time to play the chord). Use the built-in metronome and a chord chart. Switch from piano to organ mode and play other instruments. Sheet music is converted to a sequence of letters you type on the computer keyboard to play the actual song. The video here gives great directions on using the Button beats music player. Unfortunately this site requires Flash, so it will not work on touch-friendly iOS devices.
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tag(s): music theory (43), musical instruments (48), musical notation (35), podcasts (52)

In the Classroom

Create original background music for any multimedia project or a lead-in for podcasts. Since the created music is original it is not a copyright concern. Use this site to teach basic music concepts on an Interactive Whiteboard or projector. This is a great tool for music classes or students learning to play the piano. Challenge students to RECORD their own creative pieces and share with the class. Have students create music to express their reactions to current events, social issues, after reading a book, or whatever relates to your curriculum.

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