I just came home from a fantastic technology conference in Palm Springs called Computer-Using Educators, or CUE, and my head is about to explode (in a good way). I would love to share some of these fantastic cool tools and apps with you. If you ever do any projects online or offline, have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, or are just a tech geek like me, hold on to your heads for some AMAZING tools that you can use right away, to make teaching easier in almost any grade level or to make your life easier at home. Special thanks to all the presenters at CUE for inspiring others to bring tech into their classrooms! Read on to check out some super amazing techy things to do with your class and some cool apps for you!
If you have a conference for technology and education in your area, I highly recommend you go — if not for technology, then for math, reading, history, or whatever you have a passion for. I love technology, and every year, I make it a point to attend CUE. Next year, the International Society for Technology in Education is going to be in San Diego, and I can't wait. I always feel energized, excited, and blown away by the amazing resources and applications out there and the inspiring teachers who are using it in new, creative ways.
Print, Cut & Fold
OK, the first resource for you is on the Web, and it's actually a resource that uses a program you already have, PowerPoint! But these PowerPoint slides are not for presentations, but for creating templates for books and 3-D projects.
The Print, Cut & Fold session, led by Jim Holland and Susan Anderson, shared several free resources and templates that use PowerPoint to create impressive looking brochures, towers, cascade books, mini books, and study cards. I purchased a great book Print, Cut, and Fold: Creative Technology Projects for Grades K–2 that includes step-by-step instructions and templates. There are some FREE templates available on the Web site, as well as information on their books. These templates are easy to use and require only a few prerequisite computing skills. All of my 2nd graders will be able to create all of the templates using skills they already have. Here are their other titles:
The geniuses that sharted the wonderful Powerpoint templates also gathered the wonderful Web 2.0 applications that I know you will love using in the classroom. All of the applications are free and easy to use, and there is nothing to install. If you want more information or more Web 2.0 tools, check out Digital Goonies and click on the Sqworl link.
The free site Kidblog.org allows kids to create, write, and use a blog in a safe, protected environment. Kids, even young kids, can write on the Web. Besides being really cool, this site gives students a real-life application and purpose for writing. You can set up accounts for your class in under a minute, and it doesn't require your students to have email addresses.
Xtranormal is a very neat online application that allows users to write a script online and use animated characters to act it out. It's easy to use and gives you an embed code for your movie when you are done.
Open Clip Art
Open Clip Art Library has thousands and thousands of totally free, good-quality clip art images with NO watermarks. You don't even have to open an account to start looking and downloading. You can download clip art in two formats, as SVG or PNG files.
Use timetoast to create interactive time lines. The time lines allow you to write in a text box, and add a picture and link for each event featured on the time line. This would be a cool way to chart historical facts or biographies, but at the 2nd grade level, I picture using it to chart events in a book, in a historical figure report, or in an all-about-me project.
Move over Wordle, now there's Tagxedo! This application works similarly to Wordle, but the words get popped into images instead of word clouds. For example, words describing Lincoln get formed into Lincoln's portrait. There are a ton of images to choose from. You do have to download a plug-in called Silverlight for it to work.
I'll be using the online application Quizlet in my class right away. It allows your kids to study vocabulary in a fun way. Best of all, it only takes five minutes to type in your words, and there are iPhone, Android, iPod Touch, and iPad apps for it, too. It can auto define them or you can type in the definition you want students to learn. It allows you to choose from their image library to attach a picture to the definitions. It also has an audio pronunciation of the word and the definition. You can even export them, print them, or share them via Facebook or Twitter. It also gives you a link or embed code so you can put the cards and games right on your Web site or blog.
It has three modes: learn, study, and play. In the play area, there are two games, Scatter and Space Race. Scatter is fun to play and even more engaging on an interactive whiteboard. There are also tons of lists already archived by other people that you can search through. Can you imagine how easy it is to create a set of cards for a foreign language? It's available at Quizlet. And of course, it's easy and FREE.
Join me next week for part two of "Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids." I will be sharing "Ten Ways to Makeover Your Classroom Web site" created and presented by Brent Coley at CUE.