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Twitter - Twitter, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief...more
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Twitter users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 140 character "tweets," and "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief "tweet." Tweets are much more than messages to share what you are eating for lunch! Use this popular microblogging and social networking tool for a great way to communicate with teaching peers and real world people you may not have a chance to otherwise meet. Reply to others to create conversations for some of the best professional development around. Each "tweet" or message may not seem extraordinary, but using the sum total of tweets from those you "meet" on Twitter can have an amazing impact. Use your profile and settings to add a bio and other information, change your security settings from public to protected, find those who follow you, and more. Post your tweets through the website, mobile devices, or myriad of applications to manage tweets and followers. Keep track of your favorite tweets by starring them. Refer to your favorites list as needed. Wish you could take back a tweet? Click the trash can beside the post to delete (however, others may have already seen and responded.) Find many opinions about Twitter on and off the Internet. Remember you will gain only as much as you put into this service. Build a network of helpful colleagues to become a better learner (and educator). Anyone can learn from Twitter, even a class of elementary students! Still not sure what Twitter is about? Find a great explanation of how it works in this review.

tag(s): microblogging (39), social media (30), social networking (108)

In the Classroom

Bring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use Twitter as a backchannel to expand upon thoughts and ideas during presentations and after. Have a question to ask others' opinion about? Throw it out to Twitter to see the great perspectives given by those who follow you. Start out slowly and look at conversations that catch your eye. Follow people with experience in your areas of interest to gain from the conversations. Start off by following @teachersfirst or @cshively (our leader).

Learn about hashtags -- ways to mark, search, and follow conversations on a specific topic. For example, the #ntchat tag is for new and pre-service teachers and the #edchat hashtag is for all teachers. Participate in these chats which are scheduled at certain days and times or search for their tweets anytime. Find archived tweets from these chats to learn from some wonderful and motivated teachers when it is convenient for YOU. Use other Twitter applications to search or collect specific hashtags.

As a teaching tool, Twitter is amazing! If your school permits access, have a class account to share what you are doing with parents and especially for your class to follow people in topics you study. Studying space? Follow NASA. Studying politics and government? Follow your congressional rep or the White House. Consider using your teacher or class account to send updates to other teachers across the country or across the globe. You can also teach about responsible digital citizenship by modeling and practicing it as a class. A whole-class, teacher account is the most likely way to gain permission to use Twitter in school, especially if you can demonstrate specific projects. That can be as simple as making sure you and that teacher are FOLLOWING each other, then sending a direct message (start the tweet with D and the other teacher's twitter name) or creating a group with your own hashtag for a project such as daily weather updates. Even if you are not "following" someone, you can send them a tweet using @theirtwittername in the body of the message. This is called a "mention" but can be seen by others, too. Compare what your class is observing in today's weather, which topics you will be discussing today, or ask for another class' opinions on a current events issue. Ask for updates about local concerns, such as talking to California schools about wildfires in their area or a Maine school about a blizzard. Challenge another class to tweet the feelings of a literacy character, such as Hamlet, and respond as Ophelia, all in 140 characters or less. Have gifted students? Connect your classroom with the outside world to find greater challenges and connections beyond your regular curriculum.

Learn much more about teaching ideas and tools for Twitter in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst Twitter for Teachers page.

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Library of Congress Read.gov - Library of Congress

Grades
K to 12
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Here you will find the English teachers dream come true! Read.gov is from the Library of Congress and is a new website for readers of all ages. The site offers ...more
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Here you will find the English teachers dream come true! Read.gov is from the Library of Congress and is a new website for readers of all ages. The site offers pages specifically designed for kids and teens, as well as adults, educators, and parents. There is so much here: Contests, books online, book lists, and more. The webcast section is truly extensive. There are Webcasts from famous authors such as R.L. Stine, Jon Scieszka, Jan Brett, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Neil Gaiman, and many more. These webcasts also include interesting topics like "Mystery Writers Discuss Their Craft" and "The Nuts and Bolts of Historical Fiction" among others.

A special feature of the site is an exclusive story, called "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure." The Exquisite Corpse was a game in which someone would start a story, fold over their part, and the next person would add to the story and on it would go until the last person ended the story. For this Exquisite Corpse, Jon Scieszka started the story and passed it on to Katherine Patterson, who passed it on . . . and so it goes for 18 episodes. The entire story will take a year to write to the finish. There is an illustration that goes with each segment.

tag(s): authors (120), writing (363)

In the Classroom

Check out "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" and have students listen to the stories. As a challenge ask students to look at the differences in writing style for each of the authors. Project a chart about the plot and the writing style on your interactive whiteboard or projector, and have students list the differences and similarities in writing style. Students could also keep a chart of similarities and differences for the illustrators. Another idea for an activity is to have the students read the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling and then have them read the very touching national contest winner letter to the author about his poem. Students could then write their own letters to an author of a favorite book or poem. Have students create podcasts to read their letters to the authors using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).

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Daily Writing Prompts - The Teacher's Corner

Grades
2 to 8
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Are you looking for interesting and fun ways to provide practice and inspire students to improve their writing? The "Daily Writing Prompt" page of The Teacher's Corner will make...more
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Are you looking for interesting and fun ways to provide practice and inspire students to improve their writing? The "Daily Writing Prompt" page of The Teacher's Corner will make your life a little easier for as many days as possible, when you are searching for an event to initiate a journal entry or any writing prompt. The ideas are written for various grade levels to meet the needs of both primary and intermediate students. Some of the prompts may not explicitly state that day's event; however you can easily cross reference them with this site's monthly events calendar. Who knows that June 1 is "Donut Day?" Many students consider donuts to be a great breakfast food, which leads to the describe your "perfect breakfast" prompt. However you decide to use "Daily Writing Prompt," you will find them to be a helpful addition to your resources.

tag(s): writing (363), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

One advantage to the "Daily Writing Prompt" is that they can easily be displayed on your interactive whiteboard or projector in your classroom. They can be used in a number of ways to improve your students' writing, including daily warm-up activities, practice in writing for state assessments, journal entries, free-writing, or as an "anytime" or "when you're done" activity. The writing prompts have creative ideas and options for how to implement them. They can be easily printed to use as practical "emergency" or substitute teachers' lesson plans.
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Common Core State Standards - Common Core State Standards Initiative Team

Grades
K to 12
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The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a nationwide effort led by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to establish a common set...more
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The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a nationwide effort led by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to establish a common set of educational standards which aligns benchmarks and expectations across state lines. This system builds on what states are already doing by providing an opportunity to share experiences, best practices, and lessons, while maintaining high expectations that insure the quality of education across America to enable our students to maintain a competitive edge in the global economy.

Visit this website to find out exactly what the national K-12 standards are for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science and technology, as well as mathematics, and to find out if your state is one many states (at the time of this review) that have already committed to adopt the Common Core State Standards. Watch videos and the recorded webinar, and read about the key points and rigorous curriculum standards, including the content and skills related to the use of media and technology for critical analysis and production.

tag(s): commoncore (89)

In the Classroom

Take a look at exemplars and sample performance tasks and students' writing to consider how you can integrate these ideas into your own planning to prepare students for the growing challenges of today's world. You can also sign up to receive updates via email. For more information about the Common Core and implementing it in your classes, see TeachersFirst's Common Core: The Fuss Over Non-Fiction, a Q/A article for elementary teachers, and TeachersFirst's resources tagged Common Core for many helpful sites.
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Smories - Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for a place to publish your student's writing? Smories is a cool site to do this for your student writers. At this site you will find videos of students, ...more
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Looking for a place to publish your student's writing? Smories is a cool site to do this for your student writers. At this site you will find videos of students, 8 to 11 years old reading short stories. Click "Submit a filmed Smory" to submit a video of your Smory. Submitting a video of your Smory requires an email address. Writers can be any age, however narrators must be 16 or under. There is also a place where students sixteen and older may have their stories become one of 50 stories entered into a monthly contest. (Visit the "Submit a Smory" link). There are five winners a month, with a monetary prize. If you're a writer (established or aspiring), send in a story! Be sure to get parent permission to publish stories.

tag(s): word choice (28)

In the Classroom

This would be a great way to have your older students study word choice! Start by going to the "Writing Fix For Kids" (reviewed here) and look at the left column index to find "Six Traits" click on "Word Choice." At this site you will find several recommendations for picture books and chapter books to use with your students so they can analyze good word choice. Read a few of these, and ask the students to point out the descriptive writing that stands out for them. Then use a wordless picture book and have your students write a short story for an 8 to 11 year old that doesn't rely on the illustrations. From there your students can write their own short story, and have an 8 to 11 year old student read it while being video taped. You might consider pairing up with a local elementary or middle school teacher to have one of their students do the reading.

For younger students, use your projector or interactive whiteboard and project the student reader full screen. It would be like having a visitor come to your classroom at story time!
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Edit Dan's Copy - Scholastic

Grades
3 to 8
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Reporter Dan needs help editing his news reports. Students can choose Level 1 for capital letters and final punctuation or Level 2 for run-on sentences, quotation marks, and apostrophes....more
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Reporter Dan needs help editing his news reports. Students can choose Level 1 for capital letters and final punctuation or Level 2 for run-on sentences, quotation marks, and apostrophes. Students need to retype the entire sentence using correct punctuation and capitalization. Walk through this site with students prior to putting them on independently. This site provides a lot of keyboard practice and may require some comfortability with a keyboard.

tag(s): capitalization (18), grammar (210), punctuation (43), sentences (49)

In the Classroom

Use this site as additional independent practice during center time or have students work in pairs to edit the sentences together. Place the site on an interactive white board or projector and correct the sentences during whole-group work time. This would be a great Opening activity for the start of the school day.
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Literacyhead - Jan Burkins

Grades
K to 5
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Literacyhead is an online literary magazine that provides creative inspiration for teaching reading, writing, and higher order thinking. They provide teachers a literacy curriculum...more
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Literacyhead is an online literary magazine that provides creative inspiration for teaching reading, writing, and higher order thinking. They provide teachers a literacy curriculum that promotes creativity and critical thought. Every two weeks Literacyhead publishes a new issue that focuses on either a children's book author, writing, or reading comprehension strategy or open ended literary theme. Their lessons are not prescriptive or ordinary and always include the visual arts. Each issue is broken up into 14 components. Two of the main features are The "Art of Teaching Writing" and "The Art of Teaching Reading." The writing section contains a lesson perfect for writer's workshop. Funny cartoons introduce the week's literacy theme. They recommend author mentor texts and suggest independent writing practice objectives. The book titles they suggest come with discussion prompts to guide reading instruction before, during, or after a read aloud. Visual vocabulary illustrations serve as definitions for key terms. Explore the other wonderful features such as literacy coaching tips, and writing stARTs. Literacyhead's current weekly issue is free but there is an optional membership fee that provides access to previous issues. Sign up for their free bi-weekly newsletter for new issue alerts.

tag(s): creativity (119), literacy (105), writers workshop (34)

In the Classroom

Reach out to the artists and visual learners in your class. ESL/ELL instructors will find the gorgeous graphics and "visual vocabulary" a fantastic way to communicate concepts to second language learners. Literacyhead will spark ideas for instruction that address the diverse learning styles in classrooms today. Use this site to help students draw connections between text, and prompt thoughtful conversations. Ask students to create their own "visual vocabulary" illustrations. Download the free graphic organizers. This site offers reproducible graphic tools to reinforce comprehension and writing strategies but also some meant to develop critical and creative thought. Share this site with your teaching colleagues who work with your learning support students.
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A New Way to Lecture - Michael Zimmer

Grades
4 to 12
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At this site you will find a slide show with at least fourteen different programs you can use instead of PowerPoint for your lectures. Are your PowerPoint lectures boring you ...more
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At this site you will find a slide show with at least fourteen different programs you can use instead of PowerPoint for your lectures. Are your PowerPoint lectures boring you and your students? Take a look at this online slide show, and choose one of fourteen different programs to convert just one of your PowerPoint lectures. Not only is each program explained, but many have suggestions for integrating your lectures with the program. Take a look. Learn about some great web 2.0 sites (Prezi, TypeWith.me, Animoto, ToonDoo, and many others). Note that many of the tools mentioned are also reviewed on TeachersFirst in greater detail if you want to learn more.

tag(s): chat (50), comics and cartoons (62), digital storytelling (154)

In the Classroom

Surprise your students and yourself with how effective any one of these programs can be with your material or THEIR presentations. Create a comic strip to replace a traditional grammar lesson. Use a class wiki to discuss and debate topics in history class. Once you see a tool that sounds interesting, read its full review on TeachersFirst to find even more ways to use it.
 

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PhotoPeach - Nota, Inc

Grades
3 to 12
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This site allows you to upload photos, create captions, and add music to a slideshow in minutes. It is fun and easy to use. Check out the reviewer's sample ...more
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This site allows you to upload photos, create captions, and add music to a slideshow in minutes. It is fun and easy to use. Check out the reviewer's sample here. Shows can be shared or embedded into other social networking type sites.

tag(s): images (283), photography (156), slides (67)

In the Classroom

You also must be able to locate files on your computer to upload. Follow onscreen instructions to create a project. The instructions are very easy to understand. In a few short steps, there is a finished product. Share the finished show by URL or embed code (for those who know how to copy/paste this code).

Use this site in science class to make a slideshow of a completed lab as an alternative to a laboratory report. Use this in history class to create short videos about different people and places in history. Use in math to have students explain a word problem or complex algebra problems in a slide by slide (step by step) manner. In lower grades, use a whole class account to create a slideshow about a class project or special event such as pumpkin day and all the calculations you do with pumpkin seeds, the weight of pumpkins, etc. Share the slideshow as an embedded object on your class web page/wiki or share the link with parents so they can ask their child about the activity and reinforce the concepts simply by having him/her talk about it at home.

If students create their own shows using images from the web, be sure they are using Creative Commons licensed photos or images without copyright restrictions, sine the products are shared online. Of course you will want to require a credit for any photo used to be included in the show.

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Historic Tool Construction Kit - Karnebogen

Grades
3 to 12
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This online "Kit" allows students to create stories with Medieval graphics a la Bayeux Tapestries and antique-style text. Students drag the selected picture onto the screen and click...more
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This online "Kit" allows students to create stories with Medieval graphics a la Bayeux Tapestries and antique-style text. Students drag the selected picture onto the screen and click on text to begin writing the story. They can change the graphic to its mirror image easily. Options include deleting the page or going on to a new page in the story. Students can save, e-mail, and view other historical tales already created. Although the graphics include plenty of men, animals, and buildings, there do not seem to be many females available! Given the historic source of the graphics, this alone could spark an interesting discussion about the Bayeux Tapestries and the times when they were produced.

tag(s): medieval (27), writing (363)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Have students use this story writing site to summarize historical tales or to creatively imagine and display what might have been if historical events had gone in a different way. Have students write a blog entry from the perspective of a male, female, or even animal during this time period. Use this site as an inspiration for developing student's own system of pictographs for story-telling.
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Building Schoolwide Literacy With Free Web 2.0 Tools: A Grade by Grade Elementary Model - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 8
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TeachersFirst offers this model for elementary (or middle) schools to build skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening systematically in a schoolwide model including students,...more
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TeachersFirst offers this model for elementary (or middle) schools to build skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening systematically in a schoolwide model including students, teachers, and parents. The free web 2.0 tools suggested here are by no means the only tools that might work. These exemplary tools were chosen by the TeachersFirst Editors for ease of use and versatility in classroom and home use, and could easily be implemented at grade levels other than those suggested here. As students and teachers master a new tool at each grade level, they develop rich literacy skills and vital technology skills, all in the context of reading, writing, speaking and listening across the curriculum.

tag(s): listening (86), speaking (24)

In the Classroom

Explore the tools and project suggestions by grade for your individual use as a teacher or work together with others in your school to build literacy across all subjects and grades by systematically adopting and repeatedly using a fixed collection of tools so students master the tool skills as an aside to reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Try the practical suggestions for implementing this model in your school or grade level team.

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Web Resizer - webresizer.com

Grades
2 to 12
1 Favorites 1  Comments
 
This site is quick, easy, requires no registration, and FREE. Upload your image to this site in order to create a smaller file size for use on other sites and ...more
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This site is quick, easy, requires no registration, and FREE. Upload your image to this site in order to create a smaller file size for use on other sites and applications as well as adding effects such as corner rounding, rotating, tinting, changing contrast/brightness, or adding borders/edges. Upload an image up to 5 MB to alter easily with this site. Web resizer automatically reduces the file size to create an optimized image. Be sure to click "apply changes" once you have finished making selections. Click "start over" to remove previous changes. Download the image easily in a JPEG format.

tag(s): images (283)

In the Classroom

Provide the link to this site for students to use in altering and resizing images for use in presentations and online applications. Be sure students understand the file size needed for the various sites that are used in class.
 
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Comments

Use this all the time. Easy to use and SO helpful. You can use online, don't have to download. Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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This Day in History - Timelines, Inc.

Grades
4 to 12
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This site, containing tons of timelines, is great for a number of different content areas. There are many video clips included. Search for the timeline of your choice, browse topics...more
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This site, containing tons of timelines, is great for a number of different content areas. There are many video clips included. Search for the timeline of your choice, browse topics or people, or play timeline trivia. Topics range from Mark Twain to Women's Suffrage to The Beatles to Lord of the Rings (and countless others). There is a lot of information written in a clear, understandable manner. Plus, the pictures help tell the story of the timeline. You can also contribute by creating events, voting, commenting, and adding descriptions, photos, and videos to this site. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): famous people (23), heroes (24), religions (69), timelines (57)

In the Classroom

To add events to the site, locate the "add event" found at the bottom of the Timelines.com homepage. Follow the very clear (with samples) directions to insert your own event. Viewing the timelines is simple. Click to watch videos, view the maps, click "Like" or "Dislike" or make comments by clicking on the words.

Monitor what students are viewing in the premade timelines. Also, teach students appropriate events to include and check their work before having them submit work so that they are more accurate.

Use the timelines on the site in science class to help students understand the history behind discoveries that they take for granted, such as the the space race. Today's students have never lived in a world where traveling to the moon was not possible, and understanding the history of the event could be very helpful in understanding the magnitude of such an event. This site would also be useful in art or music class. Have students investigate the history of their favorite group or type of music and create a multimedia presentation to share with the class. How about a video (including music, of course). Use a tool such as Moovly, reviewed here, and then share the videos on a site such as SchoolTube, reviewed here.

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Goofram - goofram.com

Grades
K to 12
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Looking for the most from your search? Use Goofram to find the best of both Google and Wolfram alpha all in one place. View top Google searches using Safesearch as ...more
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Looking for the most from your search? Use Goofram to find the best of both Google and Wolfram alpha all in one place. View top Google searches using Safesearch as well as Wolfram alpha (which include definitions and abundant resources.)

tag(s): resources (106), search engines (58)

In the Classroom

This site is very simple to use. Simply type in the term you are searching and click "search."

This site is as safe as any other search engine. Just be sure students are aware of the consequences of misusing the search engine.

Use Goofram the next time that you use search in your classes. Discuss the difference between each side of the screen where both parts appear. What is the advantage of Wolfram Alpha vs. Google? Use this site as you discuss how to search and use materials on the web. Practice showing different searches and aspects of the searches that are useful. Challenge students to use these sites for individual research projects.
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Signed Stories

Grades
K to 5
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The goal of Signed Stories is to increase the literacy of deaf children; however, it is a great resource for all children. After choosing a story, you will see the ...more
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The goal of Signed Stories is to increase the literacy of deaf children; however, it is a great resource for all children. After choosing a story, you will see the text, hear the story and see it in sign language. Almost 100 titles are available and can be searched by topic or by browsing all titles. Some stories offer more options than others. Many stories have pause and rewind buttons, so you can replay to see signs again.

In the Classroom

Use stories on the interactive whiteboard or projector to teach story elements - pause as the story is read to allow students to retell details to the stopping point then make predictions of what will happen next. Help students understand disabilities and adaptations to disabilities through watching the stories being told in sign language. This is also a great resource for students with deaf/hearing impaired parents or students/teachers trying to learn or practice sign language. In sign language classes, consider creating your own signed story videos for children's books and share them on a tool such as TeacherTube reviewed here.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Tagul - tagul.com

Grades
4 to 12
1 Favorites 0  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 word cloud of the text. This resource is currently free while in beta and intends to keep it free for NON PROFIT only. Enhance basic word clouds by using this site to create clouds in various shapes, use mouse rollover options, use font effects, and more. Elevate your word clouds into an art form. Once registered, change your password by clicking on the profile tab and entering your changes. Before creating a word cloud, agree to their terms that includes only using appropriate content. Copy and paste series of words or use the url of a page where the words can be found. Choose a shape such as a heart, cloud, or geometric patterns. Choose a font as well as other options, and then click "Build the Cloud." Preview your cloud before saving.

tag(s): images (283), vocabulary (314), word choice (28), word clouds (11)

In the Classroom

Users must be able to copy and paste text or provide a url to a page of text as well as determine parameters of more advanced word clouds. Alternately, these word clouds can be kept very simple. After creating the word cloud, be sure to save the image (or use a screen capture) to share with others. Another idea, use the url of the cloud or embed into a place to share such as blog, wiki, or site.

This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Help students develop creative fluency by creating their own taguls of words and ideas from scratch. 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 taguls 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. Collect thoughts about the class subject at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year to determine changes in thoughts about the subject matter.

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Tagxedo - Hardy Leung

Grades
K to 12
15 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Want a word Cloud with Style? Create one here! A word cloud is an image of words that show the most frequent word in a larger font than the others. ...more
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Want a word Cloud with Style? Create one here! A word cloud is an image of words that show the most frequent word in a larger font than the others. Create a visual representation of a passage to pull out and identify important words or show the text in an interactive, visually appealing way. The resulting cloud pops out the words as you roll over them, so viewers can "see" each word separately. See a sample, created by the TF Edge review team. Explore the gallery for many inspiring examples, including some that use the customizable image shapes uploaded from your own computer (premium feature). Some features may change slightly after the beta phase, but developer Hardy Leung assures TeachersFirst users, "Even after beta you'll be able to save the animated version of the Tagxedo for free to your computer or to the web without the paid version. I may require a membership, though unlikely, but even then I'll make sure there is a free version for teachers and students."

Tagxedo requires Silverlight. The site will appear as a blank page with the "Install Silverlight Plugin" button if your computer does not have it installed. See your tech folks to allow download and installation of this plug-in if school computers do not have it and/or are "locked down."

tag(s): firstday (24), vocabulary (314), word choice (28), word clouds (11)

In the Classroom

NO membership required to create a cloud, though saving may require a (free) membership in the future, according to developer Hardy Leung. Click "Create" and then "Words." Paste URL to "cloud" words from a web page or copy/paste (or type) a passage of words into the given field. (Repeat words to make them larger). Experiment with various settings and "themes" to create the different colors and shapes of the word cloud. Change the theme, shape, direction, layout, and other parameters easily. Click SAVE to easily download a static image of various sizes or take a screenshot using shortcut keys. Saved images do not have the cool "pop-out" feature (rats!), though the developer tells TeachersFirst that users will be able to download animated versions in the future. You can also save and obtain the direct URL to your animated cloud. Be sure to bookmark it or copy/paste the URL for safe keeping in a document, wiki, etc. During beta, the tool allows you to save and copy embed code, but this feature will cost money later.

In the classroom: This is a terrific visual tool to share on an interactive whiteboard or projector. In primary grades. Enter a group of related words into the text box, such as sight words, words with the same spelling cluster, or vocabulary terms. Then have students roll over the words to read them aloud as they pop out (only works in the ONLINE version of the clouds). 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 word clouds 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 terms and important vocabulary, 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. Use themes and shapes that coordinate with the word cloud (for example, use a bird shape when creating a cloud about flight or a heart when interpreting a love poem. Consider using a word cloud as a first week of school activity where students discuss summer vacation or what they did over the summer. As a first day activity, students could also make a cloud with words about themselves, then have classmates guess which cloud matches which person.

For a free gift for special occasions, make word clouds about mom for Mother's Day or Thanksgiving "I am thankful" visual poems. Share them by emailing the URL or in printed form.

Comments

Very versatile, creates word clouds in specific shapes. Adds another dimension. Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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Recipes to Good Writing - Jenn Farr

Grades
3 to 8
5 Favorites 0  Comments
 
If you are hungry for food for thought and tired of the same old thing, this site offers colorful recipe cards full of great writing tips! From prize-winning biography recipes ...more
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If you are hungry for food for thought and tired of the same old thing, this site offers colorful recipe cards full of great writing tips! From prize-winning biography recipes to research papers, personal narratives, compare and contrast essay writing and more, these colorful recipe cards will make following directions flavorful and have your students asking for "seconds."

tag(s): book reports (37), essays (20)

In the Classroom

You will find these motivating, interactive recipe cards a clever approach to teaching the various forms of writing. Click on a recipe card from the online file box to explore, download, and print out the accompanying worksheets and checklists. Each writing recipe has an assortment of ingredients, including links to online tools and generators, articles, and lessons. If you have been shopping for an easy to follow book report format, you will find a sprinkling of what you have been searching for, so be sure to save this site.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Tux Paint - Bill Kendrick

Grades
K to 6
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Are school budget cuts cramping your style? Then look at this award winning, FREE drawing application! Tux Paint is an "open source" drawing software for young students (preK - grade...more
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Are school budget cuts cramping your style? Then look at this award winning, FREE drawing application! Tux Paint is an "open source" drawing software for young students (preK - grade 6) and is available to the public at no cost. If you are familiar with Kid Pix, you will feel right at home with Tux Paint. The design is straightforward, and easy to navigate. The center of the screen serves as a large canvas with drawing tools on either side. Beneath the screen is a color palette. A cute penguin cartoon character directs students through the program and provides helpful tips. Some of the features include a large, kid friendly mouse pointer, brushes, stamps, sounds, erasers, letters, numbers, "magic effects," and an undo/redo option. Save artwork directly onto a slide finder page without having to create a file name. The installation is quick and easy even for older computers. First, download the application itself, and then the stamp collection. The number of stamps and the variety of images is amazing! Feel free to install Tux Paint on as many computers as you wish. Tux Paint will work on a variety of operating platforms such as Windows, OS X 10.3, and Linux. The "Tux Paint Configuration" tool is a separate file found on the "Tux Paint" download page. Having the controls in a different location makes it difficult for students to adjust the settings. Simply open the Tux Paint Configuration file and a main control panel will come up. From here, the supervising adult can control the screen size, sound, mouse, print settings, and save functions. Adjust the settings and simplify the program for younger children. Choose from approximately 80 different languages to run Tux Paint. Click here to see an example of a "painting" made to accompany the book Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM .

tag(s): creativity (119), drawing (79), painting (65)

In the Classroom

Introduce this fabulous site on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students take turns trying the program. Include a link to Tux Paint on your class website and encourage families to download Tux Paint onto their family computer. Elementary teachers will enjoy all the options Tux Paint provides for image making. Classroom teachers can have students draw a response to a class glyph, illustrate stories, label scientific images, write and illustrate word problems or create self-portraits. You will need headphones or speakers for the audio portions of this site. Dazzle parents at Open House or Back to School Night with a viewing of the slide show presentation or looping animation of student work. Save student work as a JPG and export images into a multimedia presentation with narration using Slidestory, reviewed here. Ask older students to design and submit new stamps to Tux Paint. Explain to them the premise behind Open Source software and how to participate in collaborative software development. Tux Paint is also a great way to teach young students how to control a mouse, type, drag, and cut or paste imagery. Stuck for lesson ideas on how to use Tux Paint, just ask the students!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Story Maker - British Council

Grades
2 to 4
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Students can write their own stories online. First they select the genre (fairy, horror, sci fi) and then select characters to be in the story, places, favorite animals, colors, etc....more
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Students can write their own stories online. First they select the genre (fairy, horror, sci fi) and then select characters to be in the story, places, favorite animals, colors, etc. The story maker then creates the short story. Students can read it there or select the printing option. At the end of the story, you can click to create another story, A dictionary is available on site. This might be useful for ESL and ELL students.

In the Classroom

This activity would work well for individual or pairs of students in a lab or on laptops. Be sure to help your weaker readers and ESL/ELL students by sharing the vocabulary words (names of animals, pets, etc.) prior to using, either on a handout or by projecting on an interactive whiteboard and highlighting them in the text as you come to them. Teach parts of speech as students recognize how the story maker "plugs in" their word choices to create the stories mad-lib style. Share the printables with parents at open house or conferences. Have students record their stories on a podcast and share the podcasts using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Teach parts of speech as students recognize how the story maker "plugs in" their word choices to create the stories mad-lib style.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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