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5 Sources for Free and Legal Images - The Blog Herald

Grades
K to 12
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These five sources provide Creative Commons images and videos for use in your blog/wiki/web site LEGALLY. Model your ethical use of media by sharing these with your blogging...more
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These five sources provide Creative Commons images and videos for use in your blog/wiki/web site LEGALLY. Model your ethical use of media by sharing these with your blogging students or using them on your whole-class blog or wiki. The sources include abstract photos and current events new stories, as well as general photos. Each has its own search/browse features. The services include: Voxant Newsroom, PicApp, GumGum, Zemanta, and PhotoDropper.

tag(s): blogs (88), images (265)

In the Classroom

Since each site has its own directions, our review team will not explain the how-to's of each here. Some require access to install a plug-in on your blog, such as wordpress. Many school blogging sites do not provide this access. Others permit embedding an image simple by copy/pasting code into your blog or wiki. Two are actually extensions you add to Firefox or Internet Explorer and may require tech department authorization or installation on school computers.

If you do allow students to join a site, be sure to adhere to school policies. As always, we recommend previewing the content available on each site before recommending it to your students. These images sites are NOT education-only, so some image content may not be classroom-appropriate. Have a policy and consequences in place before turning your students loose.

Art teachers or writing teachers can use the abstract images from the GumGum option as writing prompts or to launch discussion on design principles. If your students have individual blogs, allow them to personalize the "look" using these legal images. Be sure to model thinking aloud about why you are using a legal image source. Use news images or videos from Vixant Newsroom as prompts for current events discussions on your blog or wiki, or assign students to select a news story and write an in-depth analysis of it to accompany the image/video. English or social studies teachers teaching persuasive writing can assign students to use their multimedia skills as they present arguments both verbally and visually on a class "issues" wiki. Younger students can help select images to include on a whole-class wiki or blog then add their own writing about them. A teacher can embed a sequence of photos and ask student to tell the story that explains it. Be sure to include this link on your teacher web page for your tech-savvy teens to use as they generate projects with LEGAL images. Of course you will require them to document their sources.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Wonder How To - Wonder How To, Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
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This creative site offers "how to" videos on a WIDE variety of topics. Anyone is able to view the videos, but you must be a member (which is free) to ...more
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This creative site offers "how to" videos on a WIDE variety of topics. Anyone is able to view the videos, but you must be a member (which is free) to comment on the videos, grade the videos, or submit your own "how to" video. Topics vary; some are appropriate for the classroom - others are definitely NOT appropriate. Some of the general topics that may be useful in the middle school or high school classroom include: alcohol, autos, motorcycles, and planes, business and money, computers and programming, diet and health, education (which features a variety of science experiments and more), film and theater, language (English, Chinese, Hungarian, Russian, Finnish, sign language, Polish, and countless others), music and instruments, travel, and several other topics. Within each of these general topics, there are thousands of specific "how to" videos.

Membership is free and has many perks. You are able to comment and/or grade the video clips or even submit your own video. Registration does require some personal information: a username, password, email address, and date of birth. ALL USERS MUST BE OVER 13-years of age! Check with your administrator about allowing the students to register for this site using fictitious names. You may wish to set up a class registration instead of entering true data into the registration site. Another option is to create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.

Warning: not all videos are suitable for the classroom. Be sure to preview what you wish to share. If you choose to allow your older students to navigate this site on their own (for research or a class project), be sure to set boundaries on which videos to watch, consequences for going elsewhere, and WATCH CAREFULLY! Some videos explain "how to" do things that are unsafe or inappropriate for school-ages audiences. Wonder How To does include unobtrusive advertisements. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): aircraft (24), business (58), money (193), russian (26), sign language (8)

In the Classroom

Use these fabulous "how to" videos for informative writing projects in speech, science, or even with your gifted students. The site does provide excellent research. You may want to link directly to the specific videos you want students to see in order to avoid other, less-desirable options. Share the "how to" videos on an interactive whiteboard or projector as an anticipatory set for a new lesson. For a final project, have students create and submit their own "how to" video using YouTube or using a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).

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Bill'z Treasure Chest - Bill Zimmerman

Grades
4 to 10
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This writing site offers interesting prompts for intermediate and secondary students. The site is set-up as a blog, and you are able to make comments on the writing prompts. New ...more
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This writing site offers interesting prompts for intermediate and secondary students. The site is set-up as a blog, and you are able to make comments on the writing prompts. New prompts are added at least once per week, sometimes twice or more. There are archived writing prompts dating back to 2005 - so there are PLENTY of choices to use in your classroom. Adding a comment requires an email address. Rather than using your personal or work email addresses, create a free Gmail email address.

tag(s): blogs (88), writing (358), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

Share the writing prompt(s) on an interactive whiteboard or projector and have students independently writing on paper or typing on the computer. These would be terrific prompts for student blogs! Provide two or three choices for students to use writing prompts. Have younger students work with a partner to brainstorm and list possible stories based on the prompt.

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Screencast-o-matic - Big Nerd Software

Grades
4 to 12
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Use this simple and free tool to create a video recording of your screen to upload and share on a teacher web page, wiki. blog, etc.. This is an easy ...more
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Use this simple and free tool to create a video recording of your screen to upload and share on a teacher web page, wiki. blog, etc.. This is an easy way to create a tutorial from your own computer screen. When you visit sites that have tutorials on how to use their software, you are looking at a screencast. Use this site to give specific directions on how to use different applications in and out of the classroom. Audio is not necessary for the screencasts but may be beneficial, depending upon the tutorial. An example can be found here.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): tutorials (47)

In the Classroom

Users will need to know how to use whatever computer software, website, or skill they are demonstrating. Following basic directions and managing browser windows or tabs are a must, as well as the managing settings of the computer being used. The site demonstrates how to troubleshoot problems on both PC's and Mac's.

Click "create" to start. As the screencast is being created, files will need to be written temporarily to the desktop. A security screen will pop up that asks to run the application. You will be asked to "trust" or "not trust" the security certificate. Depending upon your school's Acceptable Use Policy and computer security settings, you may not be able to complete these steps. Choose the screen size when played and whether audio will be needed (audio can be tested here as well, which is recommended: settings may need to be adjusted for different microphones.) Open a new tab or browser window and enter the web address of the site (or software) that will be the subject of your screencast. Drag the black frame by clicking the line and dragging it in order to choose what will be recorded during the screencast. The microphone icon has a green bar that shows recording levels. A green arrow showing instead of a green bar denotes that sound is not being captured. The red button is used to start recording while the black "X" stops the recording. Once you stop recording, click on your screencast tab or browser window and preview your recording. You can then either upload or discard your screencast. At this point you can create an account easily. Save your screencast to a channel of your own. Use the embed code to place your screencast into a blog, wiki, or other site. You can also use a widget code to embed the screencast player into a website. Screencasts can then be made from your other site and will save directly to your screencast channel. Screencasts can be set to different levels of privacy and comments can be turned on or off.

Teachers who must request certificate approval by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value. Unless checked to turn off comments, this site will allow comments on your work. Many districts prohibit such interaction and steps should be taken to prohibit commenting from others. When using the widget, the tool does not attribute work to specific students. You may wish to have the students identify their work while creating the screencast. Screencasts will only be able to be viewed when using an embed code in a site, wiki, or blog. By marking the screencast "searchable," it can be available to the public. Recently created screencasts do not appear on the home page of screencast-o-matic. Students are able to self-register, but you may want to keep a record of logins and passwords for students who forget.

Make how-to demos for instructions on using and navigating your class home page, class wiki or blog, or other applications you wish the students to use in creation of classroom content. By narrating how you want students to navigate through a certain site or section, you can eliminate confusion, provide an opportunity for students to use the information as a refresher for the future, and maintain a record for absent students. Software demonstrations add an increased flexibility with helping students who need it while allowing students to begin and work at their own pace. Added audio is a great asset for many students including learning support and those who might need to access the material in smaller "chunks." Use this site for students to give "tours" of their own wiki or blog page. The presentation of their web-based projects and resources can be more engaging. Use screencasts to critique or show the validity of websites, identify a resource site they believe is most valuable, or explain how to navigate an online game. Challenge your gifted students to create a screencast as a final project rather than a more traditional project. Social studies teachers could assign students to critique a political candidate's web page using a screencast. Reading/language arts teachers could have student teams analyze a web site to show biased language, etc. For a powerful writing experience, have students "think aloud" their writing choices as the record a screencast of a revision or writing session. You will probably need to model this process, but writing will NEVER be the same! Math teachers using software such as Geometer's Sketchpad could have students create their own narrated demonstrations of geometry concepts as review (and to save as future learning aids). Teachers at any level can create screencasts to demonstrate a computer skill or assignment, such as for a center in your classroom or in a computer lab. Students can replay the "tutorial" on their own from your class web page and follow the directions.

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Young Novelists Workbooks - Tavia Stewart, et. al.

Grades
3 to 12
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This is an extension of the website Young Writers Program which has been completely updated and revamped to be more user-friendly and appealing. The workbooks are very handy...more
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This is an extension of the website Young Writers Program which has been completely updated and revamped to be more user-friendly and appealing. The workbooks are very handy in themselves. They are downloadable in pdf. format and therefore can be used as individual workbooks for each student working at his/her own pace. While there is a lot to do at the home site, this activity can be used independently for a writing project to extend beyond the time frame the site designers have in mind. The workbooks require Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): writing (358)

In the Classroom

Having students work excitedly and independently on a writing project is something most teachers can only dream about. This workbook site makes it do-able, allowing each student to work at his or her own pace, choosing those workbook pages most useful to him or her. You might individualize the unit by choosing which pages they must do interspersed with those they want to do, all having similar end results. Assessment can also be individualized depending on the class you teach. It is helpful if students can work daily on computers on this project. There are lesson plans included at the home site if you so desire, but they are not necessary to work with the student workbooks.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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English Fail Blog - Englishfailblog.com

Grades
9 to 12
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Here is a site to whet student interest in looking for English errors! This site encourages submissions of photos that depict those cringing mistakes people make with the English language....more
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Here is a site to whet student interest in looking for English errors! This site encourages submissions of photos that depict those cringing mistakes people make with the English language. Mistakes can be found in signs, headlines, advertisements, or anywhere people can mangle the language with misspellings, incorrect punctuation, misplaced modifiers, etc. The site calls these an "English FAIL." Not only is this hilarious, it teaches students how to spot those errors and with guidance how to fix them.

Caution: This is an open blog. While students may submit their own pictures, you should preview what you want to show them and supervise site use while in the classroom. Some of the topics or images are questionable (i.e. Erotic Cat Food). There are plenty to share without crossing the line, but teachers MUST control the sharing to avoid the occasional inappropriate choice.

tag(s): grammar (216), writing (358)

In the Classroom

This is a great way to get students involved in proofreading and looking at the ambiguities of inexact language. Share one or two at the start of class on a projector/whiteboard as grammar check-ups. You might create a FAIL wall in your classroom, allowing students to post pictures they find in your community (give exrta credit for thier analyiss and suggested corrections to the errors). This would also work well as a class wiki. Invite English classes from other schools to join your class in adding to the wiki (and thus avoid the more questionable content of a "public" version). Share the wiki address via your professional network or groups such as NCTE for teachers to request access. The advantage of a wiki: start it this school year and keep adding from year to year. Your former students will return to see the latest or contribute to such a humorous endeavor.

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Pixlr - Pixlr

Grades
2 to 12
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This free, beta site is a useful photo editing service. Edited pictures are saved on the computer and are not public for viewing. Use this site to create montaged ...more
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This free, beta site is a useful photo editing service. Edited pictures are saved on the computer and are not public for viewing. Use this site to create montaged images, resize photos for emailing or use on wikis, etc, or simply because your camera files are too big to store.

tag(s): editing (60)

In the Classroom

Know how to browse to find files saved on your computer and be willing to "play" with the tools and menus, if you are unfamiliar with photo-editors.

Click Jump In to access Photoshop-type tools. Select an image saved on your computer or your desktop or create a new one. Currently, pictures cannot be accessed from online photo storage sites. The top menu contains almost any option the average user would need to edit and manipulate pictures. The menu is easy to navigate and read. Help is minimal at this time. The site is easy to use, and users of other paint and editing applications will be at ease using this site. Students will love the filter options for altering pictures. Multiple images can be edited or "montaged." When editing is complete, save the image by specifying an image name and file type (JPEG or PNG). Click "OK," and the file will be downloaded to your machine. The simple interface and fast site makes this a great editing application to try.

Use this site to add information to pictures for class and student projects and creations. Add attributions (copyright info and sources) directly to the photo. Add student responses to pictures of class experiments. Create artistic effects with student pictures. The ideas for picture taking, creating, and sharing are endless. Make this a link from your class wiki so students can cut down file sizes before uploading large photos or make edited composites to communicate their message visually. As you study propaganda, have students create propaganda images to share on a class wiki or classroom bulletin board. Art teachers will love the ability to teach photo montage without expensive software. Make creative bulletin board displays from multiple digital pictures of special events, adding text and captions right into the photo. ESL/ELL, language, and special ed teachers can ask students to label images with sentences including correct vocabulary and grammar. Have students in your reading class create visual idiom images using digital pictures.

Keep this tool handy as a link from your teacher web page for quick access any time!

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Daily Writing Tips - Daniel Scocco, et. al.

Grades
7 to 12
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Discover a simple, yet sophisticated blog about all things related to writing. The information is presented as text only (nothing visual or slick), but it is helpful, especially as...more
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Discover a simple, yet sophisticated blog about all things related to writing. The information is presented as text only (nothing visual or slick), but it is helpful, especially as a reference or guide to improving your writing. The variety of tips offered is perfect whether you need help or are simply curious. The list in the left column offers the archived articles on everything from business writing, fiction writing, and writing basics to misused words, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This is a great site for information both students and adults can use in their writing.

tag(s): creative writing (166), expository writing (44), grammar (216), process writing (42), punctuation (43), spelling (168)

In the Classroom

Focus on the topics that repeatedly occur in a student's writing by sharing a link to the topic they need most right now. The Misused Words and Expressions sections are especially helpful for explaining how to correct for cliches, etc. As always, the timing of seeing the tip matters most. Share it when you see the problem. Encourage students doing peer editing or collaborative revision to use this site and find the tip to help a classmate when something "sounds funny." That way every writer in your class can become an expert in supporting other writers, not just you, the writing guru/teacher! While learning centers are generally considered an elementary tool, they can be exciting and valuable for secondary students as well. Use sections of this site as the focus for different writing centers. The links from this site can help students move through areas where they are having difficulty and enjoy the process of interaction as well. Have them create a clever writing tip video or a quick podcast about the tip that resonated with them personally. Try Spreaker, reviewed here. Collect links to the tip videos or podcasts on a class writing wiki. Teachers will also find this reference useful as a writer of graduate papers or newsletters for parents.

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SchoolTube - Lightspeed Technologies

Grades
K to 12
7 Favorites 0  Comments
    
You can be as adventurous or not as you wish! This safe, free site lets students and teachers show off their talents by sharing their appropriate videos to be viewed ...more
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You can be as adventurous or not as you wish! This safe, free site lets students and teachers show off their talents by sharing their appropriate videos to be viewed all over America. With a simple registration, you can upload your classroom video, which then goes into a "holding" area. That video then awaits approval by the website's moderator before becoming available. Because of the layering of approval, this site poses no security concerns to students or schools. Not only can teachers and students upload videos, but administrators may also want to post welcome or informational videos to be viewed by parents and students. You may also wish to share some of these videos with your class. Teachers will find videos suitable for classroom instruction (and lesson plans). Use the search box at the top of the webpage to look for topics that relate to your current units of study. If your school blocks streaming video sites, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home, using a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube, to bring them in on a USB stick for class use. Searching the site and simply viewing the videos does not require any registration or log-in. There is a link to SchoolTube Games , as well.

tag(s): video (253)

In the Classroom

If you wish to upload your own SchoolTube video, you must register as a user at the site. Registration is free. Create and save your edited videos where you can find them on your computer. (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie are great, free tools for video). Then upload to SchoolTube. You can share the video via link or by embedding it in another web page. See our editor's SchooTube video here. If the teacher is the one uploading, the only potential concerns include posting videos with identifiable information or images about your students, school, or class. Check your school policies about posting pictures of your school. If you post student videos, obtain written parent permission to post student work, again within school policies. Any student visible in a video should also have parent permission in accordance with school policies. Students can use SchoolTube to share videos with sister schools, or to broadcast weekly news from their school or classroom. Students can also produce project videos on any curriculum topic. Try making "You Are There" videos about different events in history! Teachers may want to use this site to share ideas and lesson plans with other teachers across the nation. Make "how to" videos to share with parents and friends. Embed SchoolTube's video player into your school's website and encourage parents to view school news or clips from events they were not able to attend.

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Remember The Milk - Remember the Milk.com

Grades
K to 12
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Your busy life needs a manager. Now you have one: RememberTheMilk.com (also known as RTM). Don't worry about missing a date; any or all of these applications or programs will ...more
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Your busy life needs a manager. Now you have one: RememberTheMilk.com (also known as RTM). Don't worry about missing a date; any or all of these applications or programs will remind you: email, SMS, and instant messenger (AIM, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Skype and Yahoo) are all supported. Set up a free account in minutes. Secondary students will embrace this tool to remind them of tests or assignments or sporting events. List making has made it to a whole new level.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (196), organizational skills (122), time (144)

In the Classroom

Read the Blog at this site to learn many cool ways to interact with your personal computer an devices using RTM. Learning support teachers and teachers of disorganized gifted students may want to "model" using such an online tool to help middle and high school students learn better personal organization. Make a demo account for a "mythical" student and organize him/her together so students can see how it works. You will have to check school policies and access to some of the messaging tools, however, since some may be prohibited in your school. Learning support and gifted teachers will welcome this online tool as an engaging way for students to become better-organized. Give students a tech tool, and they just might try it!

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Web Poster Wizard - 4Teachers.org

Grades
K to 12
7 Favorites 0  Comments
Use this terrific online tool for your students to create posters or short reports in a poster format. Create lessons, worksheets, or class pages and instantly publish them online using...more
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Use this terrific online tool for your students to create posters or short reports in a poster format. Create lessons, worksheets, or class pages and instantly publish them online using this free Web Poster Wizard. The teacher sets up an account (for free), and follows simple directions so students can upload images and write about their project or pictures. The site even includes management tools so you can keep separate classes of students and see their work by class.

Plan to spend some time reading through the directions and trying out this tool before you assign it to students. Teachers and students must register and login each time they use this tool. Students can share the URL for their posters with grandparents or parents to show off their good work!

Students will need to know how to locate and upload a file for an image (such as a digital picture) to place it in their poster. If you allow them to use images from the web, the tool asks them to give information on their image source, as well (hooray for ethical use of the Internet!). If you use digital pictures of students, be SURE that you do NOT use full names on the site. You should get parent permission for uploading any student images, even if anonymous.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): posters (36)

In the Classroom

Some uses for this simple tool: book reports (take a digital photo of the book cover), biographical posters of famous people (images from the web), "all about me" posters, posters about community members such as veterans of World War II whom students interview and photograph, author posters, fictitious character studies, science posters on processes or terms with accompanying digital pictures to illustrate, etc. The possibilities are endless. Once students know the tool, they can use it over and over.

Teachers, make sure you select the archive option to keep student projects live online for more than a month. Use the Teacher Feature option to create one web page of your class' archived projects. You will want to put your created web page link prominently on your class homepage.

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Pics4Learning Lesson Plans - Tech4Learning,Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
This site provides links to lesson plans on using visual (and audio) prompts to get students thinking and writing. While many ideas in the literature section are geared for middle ...more
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This site provides links to lesson plans on using visual (and audio) prompts to get students thinking and writing. While many ideas in the literature section are geared for middle school, most of them are adaptable to younger or older students. One of the advantages to these lesson plan outlines is the variety of ways suggested to get students working with computers. In particular "Interpreting Lyrics with Pictures" suggests students using CD music and pictures to create videos with Photo Editor, Media Blender, or PowerPoint. You can navigate through the "100 Most Popular Images" or search by keyword or photographer for the pictures. Some of the lesson plans require Flash, Adobe Acrobat, or Quicktime. You can get them from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): literature (275), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Creating videos and/or PowerPoints is always attractive to students since the hands-on capability to create, especially using music and pictures of their choice, is a great motivator. While the lesson plan pages provide standards, the structure of the plans is very open and flexible. Consider using a class wiki as a place to share projects or embed them in a class blog for commenting between students.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Plurk - Plurk

Grades
9 to 12
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends....more
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Plurk is a microblogging platform for quick 140 character "plurks" about what you are doing, thinking, or mentally asking. Plurks show as a timeline along with those of your friends. Comments to plurks are attached to the original and conversations are easy to track and continue. Plurk brings interconnectivity between friends and is more like a social network than a blog. Registration with an email is required and managing login and password is necessary. Instant messaging and mobile blogging options are possible.

tag(s): microblogging (44)

In the Classroom

This site is not difficult to navigate. Left click on the timeline to drag it to earlier posts. Unread plurks and replies appear as a number beside each plurk and in the timeline. Along the top of the timeline are user controls. "My profile" contains your contact information and details. Upload a photo, customize the colors of your outline, or add a widget to your blog or site that contains your plurks. Use "My friends" to invite friends, create cliques that allow you to segregate who sees certain plurks, and blocking other users. "Alerts" contain friend requests sent to you. Click on "Interesting plurkers" to see plurks from everywhere which you can customize to gender, age, city, state, or country. Use "My account" to change privacy settings and set up instant messaging. Create your plurks below the timeline and use the dropdown to change your verb from "is" to "says," wishes," "feels," and many others. Hover over a person's picture or name to send a private plurk. Plurk messages can be edited but replies cannot. Pictures, images, and links can be added as well. Also below the timeline are tabs to see plurks from you and your friends, your plurks alone, and private plurks. View your Karma -- which increases with plurks and friends and unlocks new features. Use "Embed your Plurk widget" easily to your blog by simply entering your login information.

Create a written and signed classroom policy that outlines necessary privacy settings and actions that would be considered misuse. Check these regularly and take appropriate actions to enforce rules when needed. Students need to be guided in how to safely blog and share information. Students may come across questionable content if reading through the "interesting plurkers" tab. As with all social networking sites, students need to be aware of proper ways to communicate at school and at home. Teachers should be a part of all student groups to monitor use.

Students can use Plurk to discuss group work on a project, create study groups, ask for help, or communicate with those who can mentor their class or subject they are learning. Many students will find success with sending bits of information at a time and letting the conversations evolve from there. Literature teachers may want to require students to plurk their thoughts within small groups as they read chapters or acts of longer works for homework, generating discussion and active reading. Social studies teachers could assign a similar task as students read about history. Math teachers may want to encourage "plurking" as students work on longer, more complex problems. Those writing lab reports for science class may find that plurking will help them collaborate in interpreting data. Consider setting up a regular class "plurk time" in the evening on certain nights of the week or for snow days.

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TeacherTube - Teacher Tube, LLC

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Move over YouTube! Teachers now have their own place to learn and to teach: TeacherTube.com. Since this site is designed specifically for education, there is not as much concern about...more
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Move over YouTube! Teachers now have their own place to learn and to teach: TeacherTube.com. Since this site is designed specifically for education, there is not as much concern about "public" contributions and appropriateness for school! Teachers will find videos suitable for classroom instruction, such as Ben Franklin chatting with a group of students, or there are also professional videos ideal for staff training (such as Classroom Strategies for Differentiated Instruction). Search and view videos or click on the subject area that interests you, and then click on a video to view. To leave comments, save your favorites, or upload your own video, you will need to register. It's all free. Obviously, this isn't a site for students; however, there are many educational videos suitable for all subject areas that you could share with your students. If your school blocks streaming video sites, consider accessing this site and choosing videos at home, using a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube to bring them in for class use.

tag(s): video (253)

In the Classroom

If you are looking for a specific topic, save time and use the search option If you wish to add comments or upload your own Teachertube video, you must register as a user at the site. Create and save your edited videos where you can find them on your computer. (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie are great, free tools for video). Then upload to TeacherTube. You will also receive comments on your uploaded videos. If the teacher is the one uploading, the only potential concerns include posting videos with identifiable information or images about your students, school, or class. Check your school policies about posting pictures of your school. If you post student videos, obtain written parent permission to post student work, again within school policies. Any student visible in a video should also have parent permission in accordance with school policies. The most common classroom use would be viewing many videos that match curriculum content. Rap math, visit Anne Frank's historical locations, or view a grammar lesson--these are just a sampling of videos that you may want to use to enhance your curriculum lessons. Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to share the videos with the class. Use the site's videos as an anticipatory set to a new unit or lesson on a specific topic. Have your students create their own TeacherTube video together as a class on any lesson/topic that you are teaching. Have a contest for the best videos and upload the winners to the site (within school policies, of course). Once the class has videos hosted at TeacherTube, you can also embed them in your class bog or wiki for easy sharing with those in your extended online "community."

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Spore Creature Creator - Electronic Arts, Inc.

Grades
2 to 12
7 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a ...more
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Use Creature Creator to make interesting and imaginative animals. Your students may recognize it as a tool for making characters for the Spore video game, but it is actually a useful tool for learning, as well. Use a pre-made creature or create your own custom creature. Add carnivore features to your creation that include mouths, ears, eyes, arms, hands, feet, and legs. Weapons such as horns, spikes, and clubs can also be added to the creature as well as wings. Change the position of the features and alter them through unbelievable joint changes which then alter how your creature walks and moves. Paint your creation when done and place it in its woodland environment. The creature can walk, show emotion, have offspring, and make sounds. Use the software to take a picture, record a movie, and make an avatar. By adding a description and tags, your creation can be uploaded to the spore website or to a You Tube account. Here is the first Spore tutorial , which is hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, it 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.

Creature Creator is a free download but is a limited version of the original purchased program. The purchased program provides many more choices for the features and environments used to make the creatures. The download is available for both PC and Mac.

tag(s): adaptations (17), animals (276), animation (63), classification (25)

In the Classroom

User needs to be able to download and install the free program. Easy to use interface. Start with a blob, which you manipulate into a shape, pulling its spinal cord in any direction with the mouse, before adding a head, limbs and various optional extra body parts. Choose your part by using the onscreen catalog. Manipulate it further by changing the position of joints or through adding or deleting segments. Add a background and move your creature by dragging your mouse for it to follow. Continue to alter your creature to get the movement or features needed.

Pressing "H" brings up the spore guide which includes topic categories such as "Welcome to Spore," "Getting Started," "Build Mode," "Test Drive," and "Paint Mode."

Check your district policy on downloading and installing of programs. Check with your IT department. Teachers who must request software installation by tech staff may want to try this tool at home and create some sample projects to convince administration of its educational value.

Uploading pictures and videos of creations to You Tube or the spore site may expose students to advertising as well as inappropriately created creatures. You may want to send students directly to URLs for their own projects, maintain the creatures on the classroom computer itself, or use Teacher Tube to upload the creations. Uploading creatures enables outsider comments without teacher control. Outsiders can interact or mark the creations as favorites. Many school policies prohibit such interaction, so be sure to check your school policy. You will want to discuss these features in the context of Internet Safety or establish specific written class rules and consequences for interacting with outsiders. Student work can be saved as a picture and printed, as well, for sharing and showing. Check your school policies on whether student work may be displayed online and what information is permitted, then enforce that policy with your students.

The tool does not show which work is attributable to each student. You may want to require student initials on projects in order to get credit.

Use Creature creator to create an unusual creature as a class project. Create a classification system of all the class creatures to demonstrate biology classification skills. When discussing the groupings in the Animal Kingdom, use Creature Creator to create a new organism for that group. Use the tool to create a class creature with adaptations to a specific environment. Have students create a creature and then write a story or poem about it and how it lives. Have students create a creature as a self-portrait of personality or other traits the students possess. Students can design and draw habitats that would house their creation including the calculation of the volume and area the housing would require. Use a classroom projector or white board to share/create creatures in class and discuss specific features of the creatures.

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bubbl.us - Kirill Edelman and Levon Amelyan

Grades
K to 12
14 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This simple and free online tool allows you to brainstorm ideas and create concept maps with no special software! Bubble.us features some highly interactive abilities: saving your mind...more
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This simple and free online tool allows you to brainstorm ideas and create concept maps with no special software! Bubble.us features some highly interactive abilities: saving your mind map as an image, sharing (emailing) your work with a friend, printing your organizer, creating colorful mind map organizers, embedding your work into a website or blog, and working with friends. You are able to "play" at this site without registering; however registration is necessary for saving, embedding, emailing, and other features. NOTE: the free version only allows you to SAVE three maps, so you will want to save your completed maps as images, then deleted them from your membership to make room for more freebies. Here is an example of a bubbl.us map embedded in a page. Click and drag on the background to read more, or try the zoom controls to see more or less.

tag(s): brainstorming (23), graphic organizers (43), mind map (25)

In the Classroom

Click "Start Here" to type the subject of your concept map. Hitting your Enter key creates a new level (branch) within the map. Tab creates an additional branch on the same level as the current topic. Experiment with the small icons on each "element" to change colors, drag, make new connections, etc. Save and set sharing (read-only or open access) in the area at the right. You can "send" a read-only link via email or copy the embed code from the Menu at lower right), but you cannot find the URL directly from your map. "Send" it to yourself via email to copy the actual URL.

There are countless possibilities at this mental mapping site. Demonstrate the tool on an interactive whiteboard or projector, and then allow students to try to create their own graphic organizers. Use this site for literature activities, research projects, social studies, or science topics of study. Use this site to create family trees. Have students collaborate together (online) to create group mind maps or review charts before tests on a given subject. Have students organize color-code concepts to show what they understand, wonder, question; map out a story, plotline, or LIFETIME; map out a step-by-step process (life cycle); map a real historical event as a choose-your-own-adventure with alternate endings(?) based on pivotal points; plan a "tour" for a "thought museum." Use this mapping website as an alternative to a traditional test, quiz, or homework assignment in literature or social studies: have students demonstrate their understanding by completing a graphic organizer about the main points. To minimize the number of maps on a free account, have students screenshot or print their results to turn them in. See more ideas in the linked example above!

Comments

david, TX, Grades: 9 - 12

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Wordle - Jonathan Feinberg

Grades
2 to 12
17 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This site takes any quotation or poem and creates a "word cloud" (graphical display) of the words in a passage of text. Paste in any passage or the URL for ...more
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This site takes any quotation or poem and creates a "word cloud" (graphical display) of the words in a passage of text. Paste in any passage or the URL for any blog entry or web page (including newspapers online) to create a wordle of the text. If you make a Wordle, you can choose your own colors, type of display, and font. The most frequent words appear larger and darker. Students can view creations others have made or make their own with or without saving them to the database of clouds. You can also print creations, open them in a window without borders, or link to them from a home page (html code is provided for the link). This site requires Java. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page. However, this site is now a device-agnostic tool, available on the web but also available for free as both an Android and iOS app. Use it from any device or move between several devices and still access your work. App and web versions vary slightly.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (196), speech (92), vocabulary (324), word choice (26), word clouds (10)

In the Classroom

You need to know how to copy/paste. No email registration needed to create. Click Create to get started. Copy/paste text, type into a text box, or paste in the URL of the page you wish to "cloud." Play with options under Layout, Color, and Font menus to change the look. When done, choose to Print, take a screen shot of it in New Window view (PrntScrn on Windows, Command+shift+4 on Mac) or save to public gallery. Once it opens in the gallery view, be sure to copy the URL and keep a record of the exact URL of wordles you save to the Gallery. You will never be able to find them again without it! Use this tool easily in your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom since all students will be able to access it for free, no matter what device they have.

The public can enter text and create their own Wordles, some of which appear on the home page for "recent" Wordles. Teachers should preview the Gallery and home page immediately before sharing this site with a class. TeachersFirst's review team has not witnessed any objectionable examples. In today's world, a brief lesson or honest discussion on ignoring, clicking out of, or avoiding the inappropriate on the web might be worthwhile, depending on the age and maturity of your students.

This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Paste in a passage or URL for a political speech to visualize the politician's "message." Analyze advertising propaganda by visualizing the language used in TV or print ads. Create wordles of historical texts of inauguration speeches as time capsules of the issues of the day. Use this site as a way to help students see and memorize text, especially visual learners. Use it also when writing poetry or reading passages of great literature to "see" themes and motifs of repeated words and images. Have students paste in their own writing to spot repeated (and monotonous) language when teaching lessons on word choice. Students will be surprised to see what words appear to be dominant. ESL and ELL students will eagerly use this site since word order will no longer be a problem for them. Have students work in groups to create word posters of vocabulary words with related meanings, such as different ways to say "walk" or "said" and decorate your classroom with these visual reminders of the richness of language.

Another idea: use this site during the first week of school. Have students create "Wordles" about themselves and create a "Wordle" bulletin board introducing your students (and yourself). Or use Worlde for a whole-class positive statement as shown in this example. Remember that the most frequently appearing words will appear larger so plan accordingly.

Comments

So versatile and easy to use. Needs supervision because of what some people post in the galleries. Kids find it very easy to use. Nice for quick analysis of text (love to use with Shakespeare). Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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Pixton - Goodinson Design Inc.

Grades
4 to 12
11 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Create comics quickly and easily with this free site! Choose starting scenes, add new frames, change characters and add text. At this site, students can create, share, and "remix" comics....more
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Create comics quickly and easily with this free site! Choose starting scenes, add new frames, change characters and add text. At this site, students can create, share, and "remix" comics. The "remix" link allows students to add their own twist to ready-made comics. Students can read comics created by others and also make comments on them. Other highlights of the site include a featured author and blog. The free version of Pixton is open to the public. There is also a fee-based version for schools (with teacher and student registration levels and safety tools) with a 30-day free trial period available. Be aware: the Pixton for Schools (if continued after 30-days) will cost $1 per student. See an example created by the TeachersFirst Edge team.

tag(s): comics and cartoons (74), graphic novels (7), novels (24)

In the Classroom

Simply login and click create. Choose a scene you wish to start with. Change your characters from a variety of option. When the comic loads, your chosen character may not show immediately but will appear as you edit each frame. Change sizes of caption bubbles, fonts sizes and types with easy to use sliders. New characters can be added in each frame as well as a variety of additional props such as sports equipment and furniture. Change the background set to a variety of indoor, outdoor city, and outdoor country landscapes. Change background colors easily too. Comics can be saved, scenes can be deleted, and changes made can be reverted to the previous idea easily with on screen controls. Below the comic, buttons for "Save for later" and "Publish Now" quickly save or publish works. If the scene is not ready for publishing, Pixton requests further edits to complete the process.

Consider creating a class account that students can use. Track comics made by students by placing initials in a small caption bubble to identify created comics to a specific student. There are some safeguards in place to be sure students use appropriate language and actions. It would be wise to preview whatever you wish to share with your students, however, since the general public can create comics with their own ideas. Students should submit their work without identifiable names and location, according to your school policy. You will also want written parent permission before allowing students to create comics that can be seen online.

Capture and use your students creativity in storytelling using this exciting tool! Using small amounts of texts to frame a story or to deliver information creatively allows students the opportunity to work deeply with information and use a creative outlet for a variety of projects. Use for students to provide information learned with personal thoughts on subjects ranging from historical events, environmental issues, discussion about plants, animals, and ecosystems, as well as other topics in Art, Math, English, Health, and others. Use in Foreign language classes for short stories created in the language and translated then by other students in the classroom. Use comics to write summaries of current events, responses to reading assignments, expressions of teen problems, and creative works of humor. With younger students, use an interactive whiteboard or projector to create a class comic on a current topic of study, such as the life cycle of the frog or ways to conserve energy. Use this site to integrate an art and writing lesson. Why not have students create comics to demonstrate a concept in science or social studies, rather than a traditional paper/pencil quiz? World language teachers and ESL/ELL teachers will love the chance for students to demonstrate written language skills in the "context" of their comic situations.

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Google Sky - Google

Grades
K to 12
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Google Sky is a great way to view the planets, constellations, birth of galaxies, and other items in the universe. It uses some of the best images from the Hubble ...more
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Google Sky is a great way to view the planets, constellations, birth of galaxies, and other items in the universe. It uses some of the best images from the Hubble Telescope and other observatories around the World. Select thumbnail images along the bottom of the screen to quickly access planets, constellations, stars, galaxies, and nebulae. Use layers that are created using different wavelengths such as x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Type in the name of your favorite planet, star, or constellation in the search field to find it quickly and then zoom in for greater detail and information. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): planets (123), stars (61)

In the Classroom

No matter what subject you teach, bring the wonder of the night sky to your students. Google Sky provides a look at millions of stars and galaxies in the universe which can be a springboard to many activities in your class using art, geography, math, and writing. Use Google Sky as a complement to a planetarium field trip by showing the solar system in your classroom. Use Google Sky to track the life of a star from birth to death, begin discussions and multimedia presentations of mythological orientations of names, and histories or trajectories of planets. Elementary teachers will enjoy being able to share the night skay to accompany or inspire writing poems and stories aout the stars. Find great resources from Google here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Traci's List of Ten: Literature - Traci Gardner

Grades
6 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
This is an idea site for those who teach literature. It is a plain vanilla site that offers ten interesting ways to involve students beyond mere essay writing on any ...more
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This is an idea site for those who teach literature. It is a plain vanilla site that offers ten interesting ways to involve students beyond mere essay writing on any piece of literature. Some of these ways are new twists on old ideas and several of them are rather innovative. Definitely worth a look if you are tired of reading the same things over and over. Although this site was created in 1998, the ideas are still relevant today.

tag(s): literature (275)

In the Classroom

The mix-n-match element of this particular list makes it interesting for students working on a novel or a longer story that could deal with several of these elements. Take one or two of the ideas and split them up among a class. Create a debate, complete with slide show, or webquest to involve students in the text.

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