TeachersFirst's Gifted in any Classroom: Project Tools for Animations, Images, Drawings, and Whiteboards
This collection of editors' choice tools will challenge gifted students working on independent and creative projects to show what they know in all grade levels and subjects. This collection focuses on tools for creating animations, finding and annotating images, and making online drawings or whiteboards. Selections include simpler tools that require no membership and sophisticated tools that require email and registration but provide professional level options for older students. Wherever possible, we have suggested tools that are device agnostic (DATs) or that work on mobile browsers so your students can use them on any device.
Before you start choosing tools, Check out the tips, permission slips, and rubrics for Injecting and Respecting Creativity, and be sure you encourage your gifted students to collect ideas in an idea bin as they begin their project.
The "In the Classroom" portion of these tool reviews will suggest some possible project types for your gifted students.
Can't find one you like? Find scores more in the TeachersFirst Edge.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomThe possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Teach parts of speech and grammar by having students write captions using colorful adjectives, adverbs, or specific sentence structures on a random photo. Make classroom signs and reminders. Caption the homework directions on your teacher web page. Ask your students to create captions for class photos for all sorts of reasons. Use this site for back to school fun. Post a photo of yourself with a caption on your class website introducing yourself to the class during the summer. Challenge each student to find/share a photo of themselves either the first week of school (or even prior to school). You will want parental permission before posting any student photos on your class website. Use photos or digital drawings from your classroom, such as pictures taken during any hands-on activity. Have students draw in a paint program, save the file, and then add a caption. Spice up research projects about historic figures or important scientists. Have literary characters "talk" as part of a project. In a government class, add captions to photos explaining politicians' major platform planks during election campaigns. Caption the steps for math problem solving. Even elementary grades can make captions of an animal talking about his habitat or a "community helper" talking about his/her role, though you may have to do it together as a class to upload the image. 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 caption the pictures to explain the concepts. Share the class captions on your class web page or wiki. Leave directions to your class (for when a substitute is there). Use at back to school night to grab parent attention to important announcements. Have students make talking photos of themselves as a visual tour of their new classroom for parents attending back to school night. World language classes can create images explaining and using new vocabulary. Use the site's random photo offerings for clever caption contests in your new language. Have gifted students create PhaseIt pictures to explain new knowledge they gain in going beyond the basics. For example, as the class studies plate tectonics, they could make a collection of volcano images "explaining" their own history or describing the Ring of Fire. Gifted students of all ages can make simple Phrase It images to share their own thought provoking questions about curriculum content, such as "Which figure of speech would Shakespeare be willing to give up?" Be sure to include these thought provokers on a class wiki or blog for others to respond! (No need to single out the "thinker" by mentioning who created it if it would cause ridicule.)
Grades2 to 8
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In the ClassroomThis 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.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomUse digital images of lab experiments or class activities for sharing on a class wiki or blog with clickable enhancements offering additional information. Have students add links or even a blog reaction or explanation to their project or experiment image. Use the site for making a photography or art portfolio blog. Have students annotate images to explain their work or various techniques they used. World language or ESL/ELL teachers can enhance images with links to sound files or other explanations for better understanding. Use in world language to label items in an image with the correct words in that language. Young students could write simple sentences to practice language skills while explaining about a favorite picture or activity. Use in Science to explain the experiment or in a Consumer Science class to explain cooking or other techniques. Consider creating a class account for student groups to use together. Teachers can create a ThinglLnk of an image with questions and links that students must investigate to respond as a self-directed learning activity. An image of a tree could have questions and links about types of leaves, photosynthesis, and the seasons, for example. Gifted students could create a collection of annotated images that link to sound files to add "personalities" to science objects (think of the talking trees in the Wizard of Oz) or create an annotated image of a almost anything they research to go beyond regular curriculum they have already mastered: Annotate an image of a food product to link to information about its sources and potential harms. Annotate an image of a campaign poster and "debunk" its claims with links to video clips that show the politician in action, etc. Annotate an advertisement with links its propaganda techniques. Teens with a sophisticated sense of humor will especially enjoy linking to ironic examples that debunk or offer a satire of the original!
Includes an education-only area for teachers and students
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Products can be embedded
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
Includes teacher tools for registering and/or monitoring students
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this as a place to put web quest links and information. As a project idea, have students create a wall about their summer vacation. They can include links and other information to display. Have elementary students build a class homework board each day, having a different student add the assignment for each subject; then share the link to the board for them to access at home. "Writing down" assignments can be fun! Any activity you can do by sorting and ranking words, terms, or ideas can be done instantly (and changed later) on a Scrumblr board. Use this tool as a new format for book reports. Do your students have favorites such as music or sports? Create a wall around these favorites or hobbies. Use a wall for grammar or vocabulary words or science unit terms. Create walls of pro/con for debates or high level thinking viewpoints. Post assignments, reminders, or study skills on a wall. Do you use student scribes or reporters? Use the site to create a wall with the goings-on in class. See a similar tool (and more ideas to use either tool) in the TeachersFirst review of Stixy here. Decide which one you prefer!
This is the perfect quick start tool for your gifted students to record the ideas that occur to them during class. Have them create their own boards with a "what if" column for the crazy questions that pop in their heads, things like "What if Shakespeare wrote in a different meter?" or "Would Poe and Stephen King get along?" Give permission for far-fetched questions and graffiti! Have them create pro/con boards for tough topics such as gun rights during a unit on the Constitution, including links to evidence to support the statements they make on notecards. This tool could also help them brainstorm and sequence steps for a major independent project, sometimes a real challenge for the brightest students!
Grades1 to 12
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In the ClassroomIf your students have never tried to make a Blabber, share the introduction blab on the home page 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. If you are implementing technology in your classroom, this is an augmentation tool.
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.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUsers need to be able to use good search terms to find the best pictures possible as well as knowing how to save images on their computer. Use in the classroom any time that an image is needed for projects, even if it is not going to be put on a website for others to see. Be sure students are aware that any time another person's image is used, they must give full credit for it, even if that owner cannot see it. Demonstrate Compfight on a projector or interactive whiteboard so students know how to use it. Student groups can use Compfight to collectively find the best image to use for a project. Have students create a multimedia presentation using ThinkLink, reviewed here. For example, students studying renewable energy can use Compfight to find images of various renewable energy sources, then explain them using ThingLink. Teachers can collect Creative Commons images for use on their interactive whiteboard for sorting activities (monocots and dicots, producers and consumers, etc). Never assume that your students, even the gifted ones, understand about giving proper credit and only using copyright-safe images (CC or public domain). Compfight makes it easier. Be sure to hold students accountable by including a "digital citizenship" category in your project rubric, requiring proper credit for all images. You will want to spot check a few of the URLs to be sure they are actually correct credits. Share Compfight as an important tool on your class web page, wiki, or blog so students can access it anywhere, anytime.
Grades2 to 12
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In the ClassroomTo view and share drawings on a projector or interactive whiteboard with your class, you do not need to join. You can even draw. collaborate, and play back a drawing without saving. For full features, join the site (free). The confirmation email is slow to arrive, so join a day or so ahead of time. We suspect that the Germany-based site has real humans checking memberships on Germany time! While you wait, you can experiment with the drawing tools or learn about them by visiting the gallery and "playing" some drawings to see how some of the tools can be set to create truly artistic images. Be sure to experiment with the tools together with your students. There is an undo tool--very important as you start out. There are no demonstration videos or help screens, so you may learn best by doing or watching what others have done. There is a forum where users discuss tools, etc. Preview before sending students here, but the advice may be very helpful.
Art teachers will love the chance to teach about design elements in a public, hands-on environment. Assign students to use only certain tools or to "variate" on a starter drawing you provide to demonstrate both creativity and mastery of the elements. Students using the tool from home could generate an actual portfolio of drawings without expending precious art materials. Have students or groups create collections or locate artworks in the galleries that demonstrate the design elements or techniques you want them to notice. Without joining the site, play selected drawings on a projector or interactive whiteboard and have students narrate what they see the artist doing.
Students in other subjects can use password protected Multidraw "rooms" (save the URL!) to create and share collaborative visual explanations of science processes, book covers for literature (with explanations for the design choices, of course), visual responses to poetry, graphics or logos for "companies" they create in a business or math class, etc. The animated playbacks of drawings could even show how to form letters in manuscript or do calligraphy (if you can do it without making a mistake!). An animated playback of a science process like the water cycle would be a great way to assess student understanding or reinforce the concepts. Challenge your gifted students to collaborate on Multidraw diagrams and playbacks to explain processes, sketch out ideas, or plan a project.