Tag Archives: web 2.0

FutureMe — Time Travel Through e-mail

Dear Future Me,

What would you tell the future you if you had a chance?  Is there something you need to remember?  Some sage advice you might have? Do you want to be nostalgic?  What do you think your students would say? If you have ever wanted to do this but never had the chance, or if you’re looking for a fun, quick creative activity with your students, try FutureMe.

All you need to take advantage of FutureMe is access to the Internet and a valid e-mail address that you have now and will keep long enough to get your letter.  Have students write something to themselves at some future date – maybe freshman writing to themselves as seniors or graduating seniors writing to their future selves going to a five year reunion – the possibilities are endless!  What would they write?

With FutureMe, you can sample the students’ writing before they send it, and tailor it to be a reflective, persuasive, or creative piece.  You can even gauge the reaction of students to their letters if they were to send it to themselves while still in school.  Simply collaborate with a future teacher and have students write a response or reaction to their past selves letters.

FutureMe can be a fantastic tool for gauging student growth, both personally and academically and they will love the quasi time-travel aspect of the project (no TARDIS required).

Heads-up:  There is an option that letters can be shared publicly (but anonymously) and these appear in a sidebar on the right of the window.  Some may contain language inappropriate for school so determine whether or not your students can handle this (or preview the site the day you plan on using it).

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , ,

Alice in Wonderland — An Interactive Adventure

Alice in Wonderland Interactive

Both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are classics in children’s literature.  Teaching (and reading) these novels can be fun and exciting, and more so if you choose to check out Ruthann Zaroff’s Alice in Wonderland Interactive Adventures.

Over 30 links are available on the Interactive Adventures that will allow any student, young reader, or adult to play games, read further into the story, or even cool the Queen of Heart’s Tarts!  Whether you use this for a class, yourself, or your own little ones discovering Alice for the first time, all of the games on the Interactive Adventures are a fun aside and further exploration of these great books!

Most of the Interactive Adventures require either a flash or a shockwave plug-in for your browser, so make sure you test them first.  Have fun and enjoy all of these little Interactive Adventures – you’ll be lost for hours!

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Information Literacy — Website Evaluation Wizard

Website evaluation wizard

Students rely on the Internet and websites more for information in research than any other source.  However, can they know that what they find on the Internet is reliable?  Teaching and practicing information literacy requires that we not only teach students how to find information but also how to critically analyze its validity.  This is where a tool like the website evaluation wizard can come in handy.

This tool, at first looks like a self-running model, but don’t be fooled.  What the evaluation wizard does is a simply guide the student through the website evaluation process.  Have them cut and paste the URL of the site they wish to analyze into the wizard then click on each of the criteria on the left hand toolbar.  Each criterion opens a dialogue box with guiding questions that students answer to determine the validity of the information they have found:

While this evaluation wizard is not all-inclusive – students will still need to make their own judgments about the website’s validity and accuracy on their own – it does provide a good basis to begin analysis.  Students will be able to print out their “reports” and evaluation and should use this wizard to show a critical analysis of their web sources at least once through their research process.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Paper Rater — Free Writing Analysis & Plaigarism Checker

Paper Rater

This is a nifty little tool that you can use yourself, but make sure to share it with your students as well.  Paper Rater is a free online service that will check your work for not only grammar and spelling – sometimes picking up things that the built in checkers in Word or Pages miss – but also for plagiarism, readability, and originality.

All you need to do is visit Paper Rater and then copy and paste the body of your work into the analysis box.  You must give it a title!  As an option, Paper Rater can check your sources if you provide them.  Select the education level of the author (from 6th grade to a Doctoral student) and the type of paper you have written (essay, report, letter, review, etc) then click on “Get Report”.

Once complete, Paper Rater will generate a report of the writing in the text submitted:

Students can click on the options above to see the specific suggestions about word choice, style, vocabulary use and mote.  Within these suggestions, Paper Rater will list items such as how sentences are started, the use of transitions, over use of clichés or certain phrases.  Paper Rater will even assign the paper a “grade” if it’s more scholarly writing, or the readability and creativity if that is more meaningful to the student.

While this is a help to students writing papers, Paper Rater could also help teachers in grading, if you have an electronic copy of students work and want to check sources of for plagiarism quickly.  Creative writers and beginning authors could also benefit from a quick analysis once in a while to check readability and phrasing, especially as Paper Rater offers some writing suggestions based on its analysis, and not just numbers!

Best of all, unlike other programs that offer similar services, Paper Rater is fully functional, user friendly and free!

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teaching the Constitution — Interactives

US Constitution Interactives

American politics and the US Constitution seem to be on peoples’ minds more and more these days.  From debates about gun control, taxation, and governmental powers to procedural events such as the second inaugural of President Obama to new Cabinet nominations it is hard to avoid Constitutional questions today.  It is critical that we work hard to help our students not only understand these issues, but also the key documents continually referenced in the debated – the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.  The key is helping them understand the importance and relevance of documents that are over 225 years old in their daily lives in 2013.

Several sites are available that have great interactive lessons and games that can help you teach them the importance of these documents and how losing them, or any of the rights they protect and guarantee could affect your everyday life:

  • National Constitution Center – You can read through the Constitution and use hyperlinks throughout the text lead to exhibits at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.  There are also lots of lesson plan ideas and activities for teaching specific aspects of the law, rights, and protections guaranteed to all citizens.
  • Constitution Facts – A collection of online quizzes, puzzles, word searches, dates, glossaries, and more for use in teaching the US Constitution.  The activities are broken down by grade levels from K through adult.
  • Celebrate the Constitution – From Scholastic, this is their Constitution Day activities page.  A great deal of information, primarily for upper elementary & middle school students is available that walks them through the writing and meaning of the Constitution as well as activities including a scavenger hunt at the Constitution Center, an online quiz, and the ability to write their own Bill of Rights.
  • Annenberg Classroom – Eight interactive, flash based games that allow students to work with not only the Constitution and Bill of rights as living documents, but that also allow them to try their hands at governing as the President of the United States or attempt to navigate the nation’s legal system from local courts all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • Bill of Rights Institute – Four flash based games are available where students can see what life would be like without certain protections of the Bill of Rights, where they can see all the ways in which their personal information and activities are monitored, where they can interview the Founders to reconstruct James Madison’s missing convention notes, and a quiz of Constitutional knowledge in which they can “duel” classmates.

These five sites are only the tip of the iceberg when looking to find great activities and web-based projects for learning and teaching the US Constitution.  If you know of anymore, please feel free to let me know, I would love to hear what you use!

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Solid Edge Garage — A Critical Thinking Game

Solid Edge Garage

Today I thought I would mix it up a little and bring you another game because I know it’s been a while since I’ve done that.  Put out by Siemens, Solid Edge Garage can be used in virtually any class, even though on the surface it lends itself very well to a physics or physical science class.   You may want to consider using Solid Edge Garage any time you want to break up your class or have students work on their collaboration skills, reasoning, problem solving, or critical thinking.

The idea behind the game in Solid Edge Garage is that there is a Rube Goldberg machine set up in the garage but it is not working.  You need to adjust the various parts of the machine to allow a ball bearing to pass through the machine and release a scooter that is parked in the Solid Edge Garage.  There are twelve components of the Solid Edge Garage machine that can be adjusted when a wrench icon is visible, but all twelve do not have to be tweaked to solve the puzzle.

The difficulty in the Solid Edge Garage arises when students need to start to think through and observe the mechanism as they begin to work on solving the puzzle.  After each unsuccessful attempt, the machine resets to its default, requiring students to observe and take notes about what did and did not work in each trial run.  Planning is essential to success in completing Solid Edge Garage.  Also, observation and deductive reasoning as well as critical thinking and logic are all tested in Solid Edge Garage.

There are hints provided along the way to help you solve the puzzle, but they will not provide the answer.  I think you might enjoy Solid Edge Garage more for the fun the students will have at being allowed to play a game while at the same time honing critical thinking and logic skills that are oftentimes neglected.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy — Infographic

The Good, Bad, & Ugly of BYOD

With today’s tech savvy students, many school districts either already have or are seriously considering implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This infographic from Biztech explores the good, the bad, and the ugly of these policies and why it’s a fast growing trend in both business and education.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Infographics


Tags: , , , , ,

That Quiz — Interactive, Real Time Reinforcement

That Quiz

We’re always trying to find new and exciting ways to (dare I say it?) drill and quiz our students.  Often they need repeated drills and practice with concepts to help reinforce learning and ideas.  That Quiz might be able to help.

Working on a simple platform, That Quiz has drills and materials available to help students with a myriad of subjects from math and science through foreign language and geography.  Each subject allows the user to set the criteria for each quiz.  Students can change the difficulty levels, number of questions, and add a timer, if desired as they use That Quiz for practice.

That Quiz offers real-time feedback, hints, and sharing options as well.  As teachers, you can also direct students to use That Quiz to your specifications. Create a free account to create quizzes from scratch or select from questions already entered into the That Quiz database.  Simply provide your students with a quiz code generated after you create an assessment and they will be taken right to your quiz.

Subjects offered are:

  • Integers – Arithmetic, Inequalities, Averages, Exponents, Factors, Algebra, Calculus
  • Fractions – Identity, Arithmetic, Inequality, Averages, Simplify, Probability
  • Concepts – Time, Money, Measure, Place value, Graphs, Sets
  • Geometry – Triangles, Squares, Points, Angles, Number line, Trigonometry
  • Vocabulary – English, Spanish, French, German
  • Geography – Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia
  • Science – Cells, Anatomy, Elements, Conversion

Many textbook publishers and websites charge hefty fees for these kinds of drills and quizzes with full functionality.  That Quiz is a free web-based service that while not stunning graphically, easily makes up for it in ease of use and content.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

750 Words — Write 3 pages a day!

750 Words

If you have ever done journal writing, either in class or on your own, you never know when inspiration might strike.  You have also probably encountered the issue of having to lug around journal notebooks (if grading them) or finding one for yourself!  This is where a site like 750 Words comes in handy.

The brainchild of Buster Benson, 750 Words is based on the concept of “morning pages” which are three pages of writing (usually in longhand) done each day to keep the creative juices flowing and are not meant to be edited, revised, or changed in any way.  This equates to approximately 750 words of free-form brainstorm stream of consciousness writing each morning.

While this type of writing is meant to help writers clear their minds and get ideas moving, the concept can easily be applied to your classroom as you ask students to write journals or write creatively or objectively.  Where does the 750 Words site come in to this?  Use 750 Words as a base for your students to do their writing and have it saved to the cloud.  All they will need for this is a computer with Internet access and it can be any computer –no need for journal books or even flash drives!  Simply have them create either an account or log in with an existing social media account and they can begin writing straight from the 750 Words interface.  There is an option to follow other writers, and export and share their work do you can find it easily and they can keep personal writing private as well.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , ,

Tagxedo — Word Clouds with a Twist!


Many students are visual learners and the benefits of using word clouds and sites such as Wordle are well known.  A student being able to create word clouds and maps to see the relative importance through frequency of words in a document, or their own overuse of words in a paper or essay is a fabulous tool.  But is there a way to allow them to change it up a bit, and perhaps allow a little more customization?  Yes – with Tagxedo!

Tagxedo allows students and you to copy in text from anywhere and customize your shape, font, theme, and size.  Students can upload their own images to use as a template, or choose from the pre-set templates within the program.  The cloud at the top of the post is taken directly from the text on the front page of NJBiblio, and this is the Gettysburg Address:

Try using Tagxedo as you would any other word cloud.  Have students create character summaries of books with a picture of the character or key trait, create a keyword visual of important news events, check their own writing for overused words or phrases, compare two pieces of writing, or even have them use their own picture to create a personality trait map.  All clouds can be saved as images, shared with many common Web 2.0 and social media programs, or printed out.

If you need ideas on how to Tagxedo (or any word cloud program) check out the 101 Ways to Use Tagxedo through Google Docs.

Feel free to post and share any clouds you build, or share how you’ve used them in your program here, on my Facebook, or through my Twitter!

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


Tags: , , , , , , ,