Monday, 30 June 2008

Modeling Writing and old Keyboards

When you are modeling writing on the whiteboard, have some old keyboards available for children to use. So when you are talking about using capital letters or full stops in writing you can at the same time say
  • How do we make a full stop on the keyboard?
  • What finger do we use?
  • How do we make a capital letter?
Use that teachable moment to incorporate some keyboarding skills! Don't assume that all children know how to do it!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Wordle - Word Clouds

Wordle is an application that creates Word clouds from text. The more times the word is used is how large the text will be. You can print them or take a screen capture of them for use on blogs or wikis. To embed you must save to Gallery first and then the code will appear. Here is an example of text copied from a recent newspaper article. This could be used as an activity for writing a report.

Or this one where the story of Cinderella was copied from wikipedia site

Why not copy the text from a child's story and insert into Wordle, the student will be able to see what words they use the most in their writing.
Here are some examples of student writing. This particular student is very aware about using descriptive adjectives and interesting verbs.

This next student who is of the same age as the previous one has the same amount of words, but it is obvious which words she has overused by the size of the text. In discussion with this student she is able to clearly see that she needs to find other words for 'said, school, fun' and she could look at the use of her pronouns as well. Compare the two Wordle diagrams and it is obvious which student has the larger vocab!
If you are letting students enter this site on their own then I suggest that you give them this address this will avoid the Home screen which has examples of others 'Wordles'. Occasionally there may be one that has inappropriate words but if you use this address with the Create it will open up the Create window thus avoiding looking at the Home Screen. There are new features being added regularly. Use the menus to make more changes to your diagrams, the Language menu allows you to show all common words like 'the' or 'and'. The font menu offers you a range of creative fonts. Layout gives you many choices for viewing the words horizontally, vertically or any which way. Under the Colour option you can change the colour of the words and backgrounds. This application has the potential for many uses in education so give it a try!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Mixbook Creating books on line

Mixbook is an application that enables you to create online books (with turning pages!) with photos and text. You can upload photos and jpegs to a library in Mixbook. There are a variety of page templates to choose from. Once finished they can be embedded into wikis and blogs.

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Be Funky - Catoonise your photos

Be Funky is a photo editing application that will cartoonise your photos in colour or as line drawings.

These can then be saved to your computer.

Use these images to create a cartoon in ComicLife or insert them into Autoshapes in Word or PowerPoint.
There is also a wonderful morphing tool where you can stretch parts of the photo. These boys look like elves now!

Eventually you will be able to cartoonise video clips as well as this is a feature they are working on. See a demo here.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Dipity and Timelines

Dipity is an online application that allows you to make and share interactive timelines. There is a search feature to look at other timelines under a wide range topics i.e. History, Literacy, Social Science etc. These timelines can be embedded into wikis, blogs and webpages. This is an example of an incomplete timeline about Sir Edmund Hillary.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Ideas for drafting writing

Here are some ideas for drafting writing that have worked well in classrooms

Mindmap ideas for writing, use coloured felt tips, glue into writing book.
WordProcessor (Word, Pages, Appleworks)

•Set the page line spacing to 2.5
•Children type for a given amount of time, (15 – 30 minutes)
•If they haven’t finished in that time then they carry on with pen and paper
•They proofread and edit their work with a pen, publishing does not have to be completed on the computer

Using Graphic Organisers
•A group of 2-4 children can work on one computer drafting

•They print it out when finished

•They write their own individual stories using their drafts in their writing books using their graphic organiser draft
•You could have blank printouts for children to write in and then glued into books and then the story is rewritten using the graphic organiser as a framework for the writing

Here are some other ways that you might like to try that teachers have found successful

•If you have a PDA they have WordProcessing software on them, perfect for the intrapersonal (self smart) student, who likes to work alone. Use the infrared or Bluetooth to send to a computer
•Old blackboards , take a photograph, print out and stick in writing book
•On an OHP , students can write with coloured OHP pens and stick in writing book
••On a whiteboard (photos can be taken as evidence of writing)
•Magnetic Board , take photos

Use a Drafting task board to manage the drafting choices.
This example on the right shows the different drafting choices and the names of the students Online collaborative mindmapping is an online mindmapping tool that can be embedded into blogs, wikis and websites. It can be created online, saved, printed and other people can be invited to add to it. It can also be exported as a image so it can be inserted into wordprocessing documents. Once it is embedded use your mouse to click and drag the diagram around, use the scroll button on your mouse to zoom in and out. Try this out on the example below.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Animoto is slideshow creator that animates your photos. This example has PowerPoint slides saved as jpegs. There are also some microsoft clipart examples of bees.


Slideshare is a programme where you can share your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. You can save them as .pps, .ppt or pdf. This is an ideal tool for children to showcase their presentations online in a wiki or a blog publishing their writing or sharing their findings on a research .


Photoshow combines photos with captions, transitions, effects, and musical soundtracks.

The Photoshow can then be shared on blogs and wikis. Create your photo slides using KidPix (as in this example)

Going to the Computer Lab

A lot of time can be wasted going to the computer lab, and this is very valuable time as there isn't much of it allocated to you. Here are some tips to make it a worthwhile experience.

  1. before you leave your classroom ensure that children know the rules and the things they have to do when they get to the lab. i.e. turn computers on, log on, open up server (if work needs to be saved there) open a Word or Pages document start practising touch typing their name (address, town etc). Younger ones can open KidPix and type the alphabet (doing all these things will not give children time to interfere with each other or 'ride the chairs', also keeps the noise down to a minimum)
  2. when you are teaching something new, make sure all eyes are on you and bodies are pointed your way, hands off the keyboard
  3. always repeat the task at least twice
  4. if some children are having the same difficulties, bring them up to your laptop and datashow and show them all over again
  5. have at least 3 monitors that can help with problems
  6. use that teachable moment with the more capable children and teach them something more advanced as you see they are coping with the original task
  7. make the tasks meaningful and authentic
  8. when finishing in the lab, make sure that all children know the procedures of how to shut down programmes correctly, and log out

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Kidspiration and Fairytales

One of my school's main topics at the moment is Fairytales and the focus is Narrative writing. Combine Kidspiration, graphics from Microsoft Clipart gallery and children's writing and you have an activity that children enjoy doing and a wonderful assessment tool for the teacher.

Insert some graphics onto a Kidspiration page (or Inspiration). Save the page as a template

Go to Teacher - Enable Teacher Menu, select Teacher - Save with Activity Wizard. Click Next 5 times. Select where you would like to save it

Children open the template, move the graphics around to form the sequence of the story and type in the story. When the story is finished click on the Writing button, click on the Publish button. You may be asked if you want to open it in Word or Appleworks, choose the application you want to use.

The diagram will transfer to this application and students can now edit their text.

Teachers can use this as an assessment tools as they can see what the student's original thoughts were in the diagram and how they

edited and reworked the text to create their narrative below the diagram.

Juniors, teaching and learning with Data projectors

Phillipa uses the data projector frequently in her teaching of junior children. They have been looking at fairytales and Phillipa has been using Word, autoshapes and the projector to create class mindmaps on what fairytales children could identify.

In other sessions she looked at different fairytales and developed a storyweb around individual fairytales.

From this children have used Kidspiration and graphics to make a pictorial representation of their fairytales. Note in the example below one glass slipper at the castle.

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