TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jul 24, 2016

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 go to the Featured Sites Archive

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YouthSpark Online Safety - Microsoft YouthSpark

Grades
4 to 12
0 Favorites 0  Comments
Help yourself and others stay safe online with tips and information from YouthSpark Online Safety. Get advice for protecting things important to you such as your reputation and money....more
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Help yourself and others stay safe online with tips and information from YouthSpark Online Safety. Get advice for protecting things important to you such as your reputation and money. Learn online safety tips for dealing with strangers, sharing photographs, and protecting passwords. This site also includes short quizzes and suggestions for managing online sharing.

tag(s): cyberbullying (43), digital citizenship (53), internet safety (120)

In the Classroom

This site is perfect to incorporate into any digital citizenship lessons or to share during the first week of school! Share information and a link to this article with parents through your class newsletter or class website. Share this site with school counselors as a resource for teens facing online safety issues. Have students make a multimedia presentation using Swipe, reviewed here.''' Older students can share their presentation with younger students to teach them about online safety.

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Is It Down Right Now? - isitdownrightnow.com

Grades
4 to 12
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Find out instantly if the problem you are having opening a web site is YOUR problem or a website that is down. Is It Down Right Now (iidrn.com for short) ...more
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Find out instantly if the problem you are having opening a web site is YOUR problem or a website that is down. Is It Down Right Now (iidrn.com for short) instantly "pings" a site so you can tell whether the site is down for everyone or just for you (perhaps due to a glitch with your Internet provider). The Internet is never a sure thing, but this tool tells you whether it's just YOU having trouble. Although it sounds geeky, it's easy. Copy/paste or type the URL you are trying to reach into the box at top right, and click "Check." The results tell you how long it takes for the site to respond and how long it has been down (if it is). What a handy tool for ANYONE using the web! What this tool will not tell you is if you are mistyping the URL, so always double check.
This site includes advertising.

In the Classroom

Mark this one in your Favorites and remind your student to use it before they call out, "The page isn't opening!" in the middle of class. Make it one of the required tools as part of "ask three before me." If you have a class web page, this is a handy way to find out if your web page service (or district-provided web page server) is having trouble "serving up" the class page. Tell savvy students who are unable to access web sites to use this tool and take a screen shot of the results if a site assigned for homework is "down" for prolonged periods. This is simple "proof" worthy of a get-out-of-homework-free card if they can show that the site was down for three hours on the night of the assignment!

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Group Maker Tool - Instant Classroom

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create random groups quickly with the Group Maker Tool. Click "Create a Group Now" to begin and follow prompts to set up your groups. You will need to provide an ...more
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Create random groups quickly with the Group Maker Tool. Click "Create a Group Now" to begin and follow prompts to set up your groups. You will need to provide an email and create a password for your group. Add up to 100 names to your class list. Choose the number of groups to make. You can even choose to make pairs!

In the Classroom

Although a bit awkward and slow to get started, this tool is helpful for creating random groups for many purposes. It is best to create your class list ahead of time then you can easily create groups anytime on the fly! Use this tool to create groups for cooperative learning, class plays, presentations, computer centers, field trips, and much more.

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HomeRoom Mom - School Family Media

Grades
K to 8
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Homeroom Mom is an online community to share tips and tools for working with classroom teachers. Don't let the title fool you, this site contains valuable information for anyone working...more
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Homeroom Mom is an online community to share tips and tools for working with classroom teachers. Don't let the title fool you, this site contains valuable information for anyone working with students! Choose from the many categories to find ideas for decorations, crafts, holidays, and much more. Select Letters, Flyers, and Forms to find a yearly planning calendar, party sign-up sheets, and other handy forms for immediate use.

tag(s): classroom management (127), field trips (12), holidays (148), parents (55), preK (275)

In the Classroom

Share Homeroom Moms on your class website as an excellent resource for use by your homeroom mom (or dad), tutors, and other classroom helpers. Bookmark and save for use when planning class parties, finding holiday activities, and much more. Use this site to help YOU get organized!

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Random Name Picker - Russel Tarr

Grades
K to 12
12 Favorites 0  Comments
  
When it seems the same students always volunteer with answers and help, try the Random Name Picker. Get your entire class involved using this colorful "game-like" tool. This colorful...more
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When it seems the same students always volunteer with answers and help, try the Random Name Picker. Get your entire class involved using this colorful "game-like" tool. This colorful wheel clicks when you spin. It cheers when you land on a name. The site uses HTML5 so it will work on iPads as well as laptops and PCs. There is no registration required. Input the names, save your lists with a password, and embed the Picker into your blog or website. You can even get a QR code. You also have the option to remove a name from the wheel once you have used it. For safety, use first names only!

tag(s): classroom management (127), gamification (62)

In the Classroom

The obvious use for this tool is for selecting students to answer a question or do an activity. Other uses could include forming groups/pairs or creating seating charts. Allow students to use it when it's time to choose the next student. Instead of names, enter activities for P.E., rainy day recess activities, the next book your class will read together, or anything where you need to make a choice. You may want to save one wheel as a template when you know you'll be selecting several students. That way you can remove names from the list on the wheel you are using, but will have the original for the next time.

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Bouncy Balls - Practicon

Grades
K to 12
6 Favorites 0  Comments
Manage your classroom noise level with this visual presentation from Bouncy Balls. Bouncy Balls monitors noise levels from your surroundings. The quieter your environment is, the more...more
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Manage your classroom noise level with this visual presentation from Bouncy Balls. Bouncy Balls monitors noise levels from your surroundings. The quieter your environment is, the more settled the balls remain. If there is more noise, the balls start flying and jumping around the screen. In addition to bouncy balls, choose from bubbles, eyeballs, and smiley face icons. There is also a full screen option. Our editors had some trouble trying to figure out HOW to enable the microphones. Here are some tips that we learned. If you are using Firefox or Chrome, you must allow pop-ups. You should get a message in the narrow band below the address bar asking you to "Allow Microphone" for this site. At the time of this review, this site was not working properly on the Safari browser. Even so, this is still one site you will want to explore and "have a ball."

tag(s): classroom management (127)

In the Classroom

Display Bouncy Balls on your interactive whiteboard or projector anytime you want to monitor classroom noise levels. Share this tool with your class and let them "tech it out" by making noise and seeing how the balls react. Of course, the first time you use it, students will want to see just how MUCH noise they can make. Discuss how much the balls should be moving throughout the day. Use this tool during the Daily 5, learning stations, DEAR time, or other quiet times throughout the day. Challenge students to keep the balls as still as possible for the activity.

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Verso - Verso

Grades
4 to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
    
More than a student response system, Verso allows you to create lessons, track and group students' responses, collect data, and give everyone in the class a voice. Create a class...more
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More than a student response system, Verso allows you to create lessons, track and group students' responses, collect data, and give everyone in the class a voice. Create a class and students join using a unique code. Create lessons containing instructions and content such as a video or video clips, sound recording, document, or link to a website. Students cannot see responses by others until they have submitted their own choice/response. Once students can see others' responses, they are anonymous. Only the teacher can see who made each response. Students can "Like" and/or comment on others' responses, anonymously. Students and teachers can flag comments they deem inappropriate. Teachers can see who made comments and choose to hide or show it. Use Verso in the classroom or at home on any device. This app is perfect for flipping learning since it will work on any device and the web. There are many instructional videos available to help you get started! The videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): assessment (96), classroom management (127), creativity (108), DAT device agnostic tool (189), data (150), video (251)

In the Classroom

See ideas for creating lessons on Verso by clicking on the tab in the top menu labeled "Getting Started." You will see several "challenges" (lessons) created by teachers. There is plenty of video support for setting up your classes, getting students registered, and creating lessons. There is even a "challenge" for students to use before you assign them your lesson. If you have ever wanted greater student engagement, increased student interest, and heightened discussion and interactivity in your classroom, Verso is the answer. Students can give their input and express their views anonymously. This tool will give everyone in your class a voice, even the shyest student.

Use this site to create unique lessons that require critical thinking responses from your students. Math and science teachers can use annotated images such as a microscope, cell, equation parts, etc. Pose questions or allow students to pose their own "I wonder if..." questions as they watch and listen. In world language classes, have students use new vocabulary to comment on descriptions of what they see while classmates act out a scene from a video or novel. Autistic or behavior support students can guess the feelings of the people while watching a video. For longer videos, you may want to put a tag or comment in certain areas before uploading them to Verso. Use a tool like Zaption, reviewed here, for students to pause the videos and ask or answer questions right on the video.

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Happy Class - David Cole

Grades
K to 6
4 Favorites 0  Comments
 
HappyClass is a FREE automatic classroom seating chart maker. HappyClass creates charts in minutes based on your students' needs and relationships. Type or paste your class roster into...more
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HappyClass is a FREE automatic classroom seating chart maker. HappyClass creates charts in minutes based on your students' needs and relationships. Type or paste your class roster into the website and configure the virtual desks to look like your physical classroom. The contextual menu provides options to make sure relationship factors are prioritized as well as student needs (like front or back of the room). Need a student to stay in the same seat? Pin them to the seat (not literally of course!). Edit each student's unique needs at any time as your students change throughout the year. The happiness indicator automatically determines if the student is sitting in an ideal situation. A smiley face means all is well, a so-so face means it could work, and an uh-oh face means the current seating configuration could lead to a negative classroom environment. Seating chart results are immediate with one click of a button. Not happy? Generate a completely new configuration with another click. Print your chart in a snap for your lesson plan book. The free version (Lite) includes an unlimited number of students in one editable class roster and one room setup at a time. You can add, edit or delete students, rearrange the room, or change relationships and needs of that one class over and over. The freebie limits make this well suited for self-contained classes, not teachers who see different classes throughout the day.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): back to school (56), classroom management (127), gamification (62)

In the Classroom

HappyClass is a great site to make sure seating preferences in IEPs /504 plans are met even before the first day of school. Create differentiated cooperative learning groups throughout the day in seconds. Printing charts is quick and easy. Change the configuration of your room by dragging and dropping desks. Clear the chart and start from scratch. More time to focus on instruction! Save this in your "back to school" online files!

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Tackk - Creatively Share Your Message - Erick Bockmuller and Dan Klammer

Grades
3 to 12
14 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Tackk is a new way for sharing and creating web content. It is almost like designing a one page web site. Start with an image or idea, NO membership required ...more
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Tackk is a new way for sharing and creating web content. It is almost like designing a one page web site. Start with an image or idea, NO membership required (for short term pages). Personalize the look of your content using the editor to change colors, fonts, and background. You can also add tags. Choose from themes on the left to begin customization or just click on different portions of the page to upload a picture, edit your title, and write a description. Add additional information using links provided. Paste a link to your Youtube, Vimeo, Hulu, Instagram, or Soundcloud to embed songs, photos, and more. Sign up isn't required. However, your Tackk will only be available for a week if not registered on the site. Free registration allows multiple Tackks, available indefinitely. Savvy users can make a Tackk private (i.e. hidden from search engines), password protect your Tackks, add tags, and even collect them into Tackkboards by tag -- very handy for seeing a full class's work simply by having students use the same tag. Click the word Tackk then on the FAQ in the footer of the page to learn how to do all of these and more! Share completed Tackks using social media links at the bottom of the page or via the unique url created and available at the top of the page. People who wish to comment must do so using an account on Facebook or other social media, so the commenting feature is somewhat limited.

tag(s): creative writing (165), journals (20), multimedia (50), posters (34)

In the Classroom

Share any short term announcement visually without joining or set up a class account for all to use. One of the options when you click "Create" is Class Assignment! If students have email, they can set up individual accounts. Have students create a Tackk instead of a book report. Have students copy a story into Tackk and expand using multimedia and photos. Have students make Tackks as online posters advertising healthy eating or reminding others about grammar rules. Create a Tackk to introduce any unit or a webquest. Use it to compile review materials; then share the link on your classroom website. Have students create a Tackk for upcoming book fairs, math or science night, or any school activity then print the finished items for display around the classroom or school. As a back to school introduction, make a cooperative Tackk of class rules or allow students to make a Tackk introducing themselves without a photo. Have others try to match the Tackks to their classmates.

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Teaching Channel - Videos, Lesson Plans, and Other Resources for Teachers - Teaching Channel

Grades
K to 12
13 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Explore this video showcase of innovative and effective teaching practices from America's schools. The video library offers a wide range of subjects for grades K-12. Videos also include...more
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Explore this video showcase of innovative and effective teaching practices from America's schools. The video library offers a wide range of subjects for grades K-12. Videos also include information on alignment with Common Core State Standards and ancillary material for teachers to use in their own classrooms. Browse by grade level band, subject, or popular topics. Use the search box to find ideas for a specific topic, such as "earth" or "electricity." There are too many topics to list. Pretty much anything you are looking for academically, behaviorally, or professionally can be found here! See video length for each choice along with the title, subject and grade band. After choosing a video, view objectives, questions to consider, and information about the teacher in the video. Download or receive codes to embed videos using the links available with each video. Register on the site (free) to access the site's lesson planner features. Save, schedule, and receive reminders about great ideas after registering or follow teachers to receive notification of new uploads.

tag(s): assessment (96), behavior (46), classroom management (127), commoncore (92), differentiation (47), inquiry (36), newbies (18), professional development (121), rhythm (20), substitutes (21), video (251)

In the Classroom

Mark this one in your favorites for those times when you need inspiration. View videos as a way of finding fresh lesson ideas with practical suggestions for implementation. Share this site with other teachers, viewing videos together during professional development sessions. This site is a great site for mentoring new teachers to develop professional skills. There are even videos to share with your class on your interactive whiteboard or projector.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Make an Animation - ABCya!

Grades
2 to 8
13 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This cool tool, developed especially for older elementary to middle school students, allows you to create simple animations. You are provided with 40 frames. Click to choose your color,...more
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This cool tool, developed especially for older elementary to middle school students, allows you to create simple animations. You are provided with 40 frames. Click to choose your color, brush size, and more. The site includes the options to copy a frame, draw with a pencil instead of a brush, save, undo, clear and start over, and more. This is a simple to use tool. More in-depth instructions are provided on the site. Animations are saved as a .gif file. Read the tips on the home page to learn how to open your downloaded .gif.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animation (59), creativity (108)

In the Classroom

This site is useful for both teachers and students. During the first day of school, create a simple animation to share with your class. Highlight information about yourself, class rules, highlights from the year, and more. Create math animations showing different geometric shapes on 2-3 slides (just click to copy a frame, rather than remaking the slide) and giving the students a chance to guess the shape before the answer is provided on the next slide. Challenge students to create their own animations "introducing themselves" to the class. Students could also create animations to demonstrate what they have learned about a piece of literature, a science unit, social studies theme or unit, or more. Save the students' work and share the animations on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Challenge your gifted students to create animations about their in-depth interests or curriculum concepts they have pretested out of so others in the class can learn from them. This tool is simple enough for bright students in early elementary to navigate on their own, a real asset when your gifted ones are working alone while you teach others.

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ClassDojo - Sam Chaudhary and Liam Don

Grades
K to 8
17 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Manage behavior and boost involvement in class quickly and easily. ClassDojo allows you to recognize desirable behaviors and accomplishments in real time. Use it on any Internet connected...more
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Manage behavior and boost involvement in class quickly and easily. ClassDojo allows you to recognize desirable behaviors and accomplishments in real time. Use it on any Internet connected device in your classroom: computer, smartphone, iPod Touch, iPad, or tablet. There are app versions for both iOS and Android. You can choose an avatar for each student. Student behavior records are automatically created, updated, and reports generated with just one click by you. You can even write comments to parents about why a student lost a point. Weekly summaries are automatically emailed to parents. The wording on their site indicates that ClassDojo is free and will stay free for "early adopters," so start your account (and parent accounts) before they change their minds! Please be aware that ClassDojo falls under the FERPA laws for "directory information" and "educational records." Any school getting funds from the Department of Education (public schools) is required to disclose to parents and get written consent to use ClassDojo with their child. Be sure to click the Privacy Center or Terms of Service link at the bottom of any page and read more about FERPA and ClassDojo.

tag(s): behavior (46), classroom management (127), DAT device agnostic tool (189), game based learning (97), gamification (62)

In the Classroom

Consider using this program to reward a group of the week. Award points for positive behaviors such as participation, helping others, creativity, hard work, or create your own categories. Using ClassDojo for group behaviors will give immediate feedback to students if projected on your whiteboard or your projector. Use this tool to help your unfocused students stay on task. Share this site with students on the first day of school as you go over class expectations and your behavior plan for your classroom. Use ClassDojo to offer both negative and positive feedback to parents and students.

Are you a regular education teacher with special education students mainstreamed into your classroom? Use Class Dojo to privately keep track of student behaviors and send a report to special education teachers or parents. This could be invaluable to a life skills, autistic support, gifted, or emotional support teacher who needs to track the behavior of each of the students as part of an IEP/GIEP. Alternative ed programs may find this tool very useful, as well, even up through high school.

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Readability - Arc90

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This simple but powerful tool allows you to view ANY web page as simple, clear text. It removes all of the flashing, moving, distracting elements that interrupt concentration and understanding....more
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This simple but powerful tool allows you to view ANY web page as simple, clear text. It removes all of the flashing, moving, distracting elements that interrupt concentration and understanding. Visit the Apps and Add-ons page before making an account. Readability will recognize most browsers to download a Readability add-on or extension for your browser so you can "clean up" the pages you're viewing with a single click. You can also install a "bookmarklet," a simple mini-program that runs inside Internet Explorer, Firefox, or other web browsing software on your computer. "Installing" is then as simple as dragging the Readability button to the Favorites bar of your browser, a one-click button to scrub webpages clean of distractions. No Favorites or links bar to which to drag? Go to the View menu on your browser and click to turn on your Favorites or links bar. Once you have the Readability button, go to ANY web page and click "Readability" to see the page magically change to simple text passages, ready for your interactive whiteboard, easier for your young readers, or enlarged for tired eyes. Share your Readability links through email or Flipboard. There are also Readability Twitter clients as well as many other features offered on the Apps and Add-ons page of the Readability site. Note: Pages with content created in FLASH will not work in Readability, since FLASH text is actually an image to a computer. Test it first before planning to use it in class. Readability delivers a great reading experience on every platform and provides an avenue for connecting readers and publishers on the Web. iOS and Android apps for Readability are available to use on mobile devices.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (189), media literacy (51), reading comprehension (112)

In the Classroom

Install Readability at the beginning of the year on any computer you use with interactive whiteboards so students can highlight key words from any web page and practice notetaking, main idea, summarizing or other comprehension skills to improve web literacy and overall reading skills. If your school computers are locked down, show it to tech staff and special ed/reading department chairs to convince them it is worth installing! Use Readability as you project any advertising-laden site or to help attention-deficit students stay focused on the words. Resource and ESL/ELL teachers will appreciate the ability to focus on the words without other distractions, allowing you to determine how much students are actually reading words vs. using images as context clues. Use this site to help your unfocused gifted students pay better attention! Try turning Readability on and off to show students how they can use images to help in comprehension once they find some meaning from the words on a page. All readers would benefit from stopping to compare how they construct meaning from words and text. Advanced art and design or media literacy students will enjoy examining the advertising techniques on a web page by stripping them away, then turning them back on. This tool also provides a clean way to make printable versions of web page text, even adjusting text size to your preferred option. Please consider the trees before getting carried away, though!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Blabberize - Mobouy Inc.

Grades
1 to 12
18 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Blabberize is a photo editing tool that creates talking animations from a photo or other image. Browse the ready-made blabbers or create new ones. There are some real treasures among...more
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Blabberize is a photo editing tool that creates talking animations from a photo or other image. Browse the ready-made blabbers or create new ones. There are some real treasures among the ready-mades. These will help you get ideas for ways to use a Blabber! Here is an example created by the TeachersFirst Edge team. Upload an image from your computer, select an area to become the talking "mouth," and record sound from the mike on your computer. Sound can also come from a sound file you upload. You will need to "allow" access to your computer's microphone. You have 30 seconds to narrate your photo. When you complete the blab, click SAVE. You will be prompted to create an account on the spot. You will also have the options to mark your blab "mature" or "private" (not shown on the "latest" pages and other public areas). Completed Blabs can be shared via email or embedded in another web page, blog, or wiki. Users unfamiliar with copy/pasting embed code can simple share by the URL of the blab's page.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): animation (59), images (257), photography (155)

In the Classroom

If your students have never tried to make a Blabber, share the introduction blab on the home page (click the Blabberize logo to get there) on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Browse a few examples first to get ideas on how to make a mouth on your photo to move and "talk." Be sure to turn up your sound! Have a student demonstrate uploading an image from a safe and legal source. You may want to use a single, whole-class account you create with your "extra" email account. Be sure to spell out consequences of inappropriate use/content of blabs. Have students enter the site through the "Make" page link provided in this review to steer clear of the "latest" blabs. You may want your students to make their blabs "private" so they do not show on the public areas, depending on school policies.

Blab the homework directions on your teacher web page. Have your students use photos or digital drawings to "blab"! Have students draw in a paint program, save the file, and then make it "speak." Spice up research projects about historic figures or important scientists. Have literary characters tell about themselves. This tool is great for gifted students to go above and beyond the basics with an independent project. Create entire conversation sequences of blabs between people in world language or ESL/ELL classes (with students speaking in the language, of course), then embed them in a wiki. Have speech/language students make blabs to practice articulation and document progress over time. Promote oral reading fluency with student-read blabs. Create book "commercials." Have students blab what the author may have been thinking as he/she wrote a poem or literary selection or as an artist painted. Blab politicians' major platform planks during campaigns for current events. Blab the steps to math problem solving. Even primary students can make an animal blab about his habitat if you set up the blab as a center. Make visual vocabulary/terminology sentences with an appropriate character using the term in context (a beaker explaining how it is different from a flask?) Students could also take pictures of themselves doing a lab and then blab the pictures to explain the concepts. This would be a great first day project (introducing yourself and breaking the ice). Share the class blabs on your class web page or wiki! Give directions to your class (for when a substitute is there). Use at back to school night to grab parents' attention for important information.

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