Friday, 27 November 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas

There are only two weeks left until the end of the school year in New Zealand,

so it is time to start thinking about Christmas activities we could do with the students in our classes. Even though Christmas is during Summer we still adopt a lot of the Northern Hemisphere traditions and teach them in our classes. One noteable case last Christmas was showing the teacher of the bi-lingual Tongan unit how to make paper snowflakes online and offline!
The next few posts are going to concentrate on Christmas activities you can do in the classroom using computers.

Twelve Days of Christmas

This was a favourite activity I did with students every Christmas where we would
The ICT adaption of this would be to create their own books using either
  • PowerPoint (Younger children could have a template with most of the words typed and they would fill in the gaps, add pictures and themes to the pages)
Here is a download for the PowerPoint. Click on the Menu button and select Download Presentation. You will need to have a slideshare account.

  • older children could create theirs from scratch
  • draw the pictures in Kidpix, Paint or Artrage
  • students could draw or paint pictures, take photos of final products
  • or use online programmes to create drawings such as Sketchfu ( need to set up an account, click on Download to see image and screen capture or print); Odopod is more suitable for older students, drawings look like watercolours; Sumo is more suitable for older children as it has quite comprehensive tools; Artpad is a simplistic art tool suitable for all ages, take screen captures of finished art work
  • other programmes that could be used are PhotoStory 3 (Windows only), Moviemaker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) Insert photos, record voices or add a music track to create movie.

Inspiration or Kidspiration could be used for the mindmapping of the ideas and publishing as well. Both Kidspiration and Inspiration can be hyperlinked to websites, Inspiration can also have movies embedded on the page.

ComicLife is also another easy way to publish students work. Use their drawings or photograph artwork and add it to the comic.(If you are using images from online don't forget to reference!)
If you don't have ComicLife then use the Autoshapes in Word

A simple but fun activity for all ages is building a picture in Kerpoof and adding text, you can search for graphics and make it as unusual as you like. Print it or screen capture it when finished.

Of course the ever popular Wordle should not be left out. Adding a Tilde ~ in between each word will allow phrases to appear. This is when children need to learn how to copy and paste as there is a lot of repetition going on.

    Different themes could be decided on. There are different schools of thought on the original meaning of the song. Here are some ideas for themes that could be used
    • characters and settings from a fairy tale or favourite book 
    • indigenous items from the child's country of origin
    • favourite sports (teams)
    • international themes such as Global Warming, Third World countries, Disasters
    • based on a Social Studies/Science topic studied that year
    • presents they would like for Christmas
    • presents they would like to give for Christmas
    • based on people in the school/classroom
    • based on a favourite movie (See the youtube movies below)
    • look through a current magazine or newspaper
    • write about noteable school or personal events
    How about a non-Christmas theme?
    There maybe some students in your class who do not celebrate Christmas so they could have a theme about the holidays. I saw a great book in a classroom a few days ago called 'The Twelve Days of Holidays'. This is written from the mother's perspective as she is increasingly getting 'fed up' with her children at home during the holidays. Students could write about
    • the holiday they are going to have
    • their best holiday
    • their worst holiday
    • their dream holiday
    • or from the perspective of a member of their family

    Other versions of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' that can be viewed that could motivate students are the following
    • this one is a slideshow with pictures (paintings) of each day

    • This next Youtube movie is a good example of how you can create your own Twelve days of Christmas on a particular theme, in this case on Disney stories.

    • This version will appeal to Shrek fans. This is a great theme to use picking out characters in the movie.

    • And if you want to see the lyrics have a look at this Youtube movie

    For more advanced ideas of presenting the twelve days of Christmas which could be embedded into Blogs and wikis...

    Wallwisher: Add posts to the wall, could be an individual wall or a collaborative wall

    For further instructions on how to use Wallwisher

    Glogster a poster yourself application enables you to embed graphics, movies and link to websites.

    Create an online book
    Mixbook has some great Christmassy templates. Students can publish their Twelve Days of Christmas in Mixbook and then embed into their wiki or blog (for free). They can also be purchased from $6.99 US and sent to you.

    There are a lot more online ways of presenting 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', for more ideas look at 

    Friday, 13 November 2009

    Apture - Snapshot tool for your wikis and blogs

    Apture allows you to save webpages within your blog or wiki without leaving your site.
    First you will need to download the plug in, click on Download Plugin.
    Select a blog type and then click on the Install the extension (in this example Firefox)
    You will need to open a new post page and the extension will be added.
    Follow the instructions to activate the link.
    Highlight the text that will open up the Snapshot
    Click on the Apture link button
    Paste in the URL address for the snapshot, click Go
    Choose whether you want an External Link or a snippet then click on Create Link

    Hold your mouse over the Link below (don't click) to see the snapshot window

    Here is a snapshot of another one of my blogs

    Or click on the Apture Embed button, paste in URL and click Go

    Wiki Instructions
    For a Wiki click on Other Platform and click on Get Started now then Create a Super Embed
    Choose from the selections; article, map, audio, document, person, news article, webpage
    Type URL address, click Go

    An image will appear of the website.
    Click on Create an Embed
    Click on Copy this code
    Paste into your Wiki Widget.

    Friday, 6 November 2009

    Graphic Organiser pack (mimio)

    The mimioconnect site has just added a new content pack to add to their mimio notebook software. It is worth a download. It is called Graphic Organisers. It has some of the standard
    • Cause and Effect
    • Concept Wheel
    • KWL chart
    • Venn diagrams 
    and a few extra ones that can be adapted for classroom use.

    Monday, 2 November 2009

    Textoriser -Textorise your images

    Textoriser turns your pictures into words. In this example I have used the text from my ICT Teaching and Learning blog and my avatar.
    First download the software from Textorizer, install the software. Upload a picture.

    To use your own text, copy the text into a Word/Pages file and save the file as a .txt.
    Click on the Change Text and browse to your text file.
    There are two choices of Textorizing, the one I prefer using is Textorizer Two.

    You will need to play around with the the font scale and text size (drag the blue bars up and down like sliders).
    Click on Textorize when finished.
    Maximize your screen before taking a Screen Capture

    Here is an example of the same graphic with slightly bigger text.

    Here is an example of a Picture created in KidPix, saved as a jpeg. The text was typed in Word and saved as a text file. Here are 3 different examples where I have adjusted the font scale, text size and Line height. Click on each example to see the full image.

    Wallwisher in the classroom

    I have seen Wallwisher used in a few different ways by teachers, which has of course inspired me to write this post and come up with some more ideas of how to use it. So instead of writing the ideas in this post I have added them to the Wallwisher. Please feel free to add but additions are moderated.
    If I was using this with students in real time I would not moderate it until later.
    You do not have to set up an account, but for classroom use I would as you can save and view all of your walls.
    First choose your wall colour and add distinguishing words to the end of your wall URL if you would like to personalise the wall. Click on the options of who is able to view or post notes. If you want to approve the posts click on the check box.
    Type in a title for your Wallwisher by clicking on Click here to edit title and do the same for the Subtitle.

    Add an Icon Picture to the wall by clicking on Click to select image. Choose one from the ones provided or upload a  picture from your own picture library by clicking on the Browse button.
    When you have finished click on the 'done' button in the bottom right hand of the screen.
    To add a note, double click on the wall, type in your note which is limited to 160 characters.
    You can add links to a website or to a  movie by pasting in the URL at the bottom of the note.

    The notes can be moved around and organised.
    The notes can only be edited or deleted by the wall owner.
    If you have given a unique name to your wall, anybody can view and add to it but in this case I am moderating the comments.

    Hero Machine Version 2.5

    Hero Machine Version 2.5 is another Superhero site. This one is very comprehenisive and offers many choices. I particularly like how you can add a companion.

    There is also four choices of bodies.

    Once you have added all the parts and features to your superhero then you will need to take a screen capture
     Update 3 November 2009
    Jeff the Designer left a comment about my post and told me that HeroMachine Version 3.0 is in Alpha mode, it looks amazing, heaps more options. Kids are going to have fun with this one!

    Thursday, 22 October 2009

    Animoto for Educators

    The standard Animoto website allows you to make 30 second videos for free with about 12 items (photos or video clips). Add text over slides and spotlight the special slides. Add music by choosing tracks available from the Animoto library or upload from your own computer. Once the movie is generated it can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, or any social networking site, and it can be embedded in blogs and wikis.

    Animoto for Educators allows more choices. Click on the Apply button to lodge an application for Animoto for Educators. Create longer videos and export to Youtube or download to your own computer.
    Animoto for Education - Bringing your classroom to live

    Wednesday, 21 October 2009

    PhotoPeach - Slideshows

    PhotoPeach allows you to make slideshows out of photos, add captions to each slide, add music and then finally add a quiz to the end of the slideshow. Once the slideshow is finished, the viewers can leave a comment in the comment box.
    You need to sign up for an account first.

    Step One: Upload photos
    Step Two: Arrange your images into the order you want to present them
    Step Three: Type in a title and choose your music. There is a choice of instrumental, classic, search YouTube or upload your own
    Step Four: Click Finish
    Step Five: Play the slideshow and add captions by clicking on Add caption
    Step Six: Type in the caption, choose where you want to place it 'Center or Bottom'
    Step Seven: Click on the next photo and add a caption, repeat with all of the photos

    Step Eight: Finally, add a quiz by adding first a blank slide and then click on the Quiz button. Type in the Quiz. Complete the slideshow by clicking on OK at the top of the page.

    There are several  ways of sharing your slideshow.
    Email to friends, upload to Facebook, MySpace, add a link to Twitter, embed a copy into your wiki or blog or copy a link to the slideshow that could be inserted into PowerPoint,Word, Keynote, Pages, Zoho or Google Docs.

    Methods of Drafting on PhotoPeach

    Voki - Animated Avatar

    A Voki is an animated avatar.

    You can customise the avatar's look.

    You can add voice by typing in some text and a computer generated voice will read it out, or record your own voice using the microphone.
    You can add backgrounds.

    And  you can publish to your blog or wiki.
    You can also send to an email address and a phone
    You will need to set up an account.

    Get a Voki now!

    More Superhero Avatars

    Following on from my blogpost about The Hero Factory, there is another Superhero site. Marvel has their own website for creating superheroes.
    Click Begin and then create your base.

    Then go through all of the tabs to create your superhero.

    To save the Superhero you need to set up an account or you can click Download and then take a screen capture.

    Kid Friendly Avatar Maker - My Avatar Editor

    When you show My Avatar Editor to children they recognise it straight away as it looks like the avatars (known as Mii) you can make on a Wii. It is very easy to use.
    Type in your name and creator name.
    Choose Gender,
    Choose colours.
    Then click on the buttons below to personalise your avatar.
    Once you have finished click on the the Save button (the first button)

    There are several save options.
    I recommend using the Export option as that allows you save it as a Jpeg. You can also select the Pictures size and a background colour.

    Saturday, 17 October 2009

    Where the Wild Things are

    Where the Wild Things are is an old favourite book of mine and one that I have used with classes many times. The movie is due out on the 3 December 2009 (in NZ) which will renew interest in this old classic. A few years ago I developed some activities using the context of the book and integrated it into the maths we were doing at the time; tessellations and rotation. The skills students learned from working with shapes enabled them create their own Wild Things.

    Where the Wild Things are activities
    View more documents from Jacqui Sharp.

    Creating Wild Things from shapes Activity Four

    Build a Story: Activity Six

    A to Z of Wild Things: An example

    Thursday, 8 October 2009

    Telescopic Text, Magnetic words and Editing Writing

    Teachers want to know ways to engage students in editing their own writing. If you have a projector, whiteboard (or even better an IWB) try this.
    Start off with Joe Davis's site
    I ask students to describe what the tea could taste like, write some answers above the text, then click on the word 'tea'. New text will be inserted into the sentence.

    We carry on in this mode predicting, describing and analysing the new edited text until we can go no further.

    The next day we can look at this website which is based on Joe Davis's site
    Now we can add our own words by replacing the text that is already there by highlighting the word to be changed, click on Replace, type new word and then click on Submit changes.

    The third day can then be spent looking at Tripticos Word Magnet site.
    Type in a sentence. When you type in the full stop make sure there is a space between it and the last word.
    Click Next.

    In the next window you can choose from many different backgrounds but for my editing lesson I will keep to a blank page

    Click on Done and the next page will appear with your text broken up into text boxes. Click and drag them up to make a sentence.

    Now start adding new words by typing in the 'Add new magnet box', once you have clicked the + symbol, click on a colour to change the colour of your text box. Drag it into the correct place. Use the colour coding to identify adjectives, conjunctions etc.

    This is a great way to get students interested in editing their work and to see how a sentence can come alive. These are the type of activities that I like to use with children as part of my modelling and teaching.
    This will work well with just a projector and computer, but the Interactive Whiteboard would allow students to take over the manipulation of text and objects.
    Smartboards 'Ink Aware' software allows you to edit in Word. So this activity could be carried on in Word, using the Smartboard software that will recognise your ink writing, turn it into text and insert into your sentence. This is demonstrated in the Youtube movie below