Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Voice Thread In The Classroom-Examples That Will Give You Ideas!

For those of you who have not yet subscribed to Education World as I have highly recommended, you would have missed Brenda Dyck's wonderful article about using Voice Thread in the classroom. There are some wonderful examples for you to look at and I am sure several of them will give you some ideas for using Voice Thread with your students. When you have a chance check out this article and take a look at the examples of Voice Thread used in various classrooms. The students are really proud to talk about their pictures. You can find the article here:
Hope you are staying warm if you are in the midwest as I am - It was in the teens most of the day!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ooops - A Big Mistake!

I just wrote about the Tumble Book Library and how surprised I was that it was free. Well, I had linked to it through someone's blog and had gotten right on. Therefore, I thought that there was no cost. Later tonight, I went to look at it some more and I saw I needed a sign in. I found out that except for a Free Trial, there is a hefty subscription fee for these online stories. I am sorry to have guided to you a site with a cost! I am disappointed as these stories looked like they were very well done. I am not sure how i first got into them without a password, but, try as I might tonight - it just doesn't work. Oh well, if you do get a subscription to the Tumble Book Library, enjoy. It is just nothing that I would have written about had a realized the cost.
Hope you are all having a good week.

One More Online Story Website-and a great One At That!

I know that I have shown participants at my BER workshops some really nice websites that allow students to listen to and follow along with online stories. Someone asked me if I had used the Tumble Books and I replied that I thought a subscription was charged to use these. Boy, was I wrong! I apologize and want to include these in all future workshops. The website for the Tumble Book Library is .There is an index to many books that can be read (heard) in English, French, or Spanish. There are no advertisements or distractions and the animation and the inflections in the voice are done very well. You can also download stories to an organized playlist.
I know your younger students will really enjoy these stories - and gaining one more reason to choose reading as an awarding and exciting activity.

An Int.eresting Look at an Unfortunate Disaster

Now, what does that have to do with the "Best of the Best" websites? OK - I will admit that it is not a new tool to use in your classes. I don't just have a bag of great new tools waiting to pass on to you and this week I have just not had any new ones worth writing about.
However, I did have a wonderful week in St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Mobile, AL. There were five airplanes in four days, but all were on time and without incident and I am grateful for that.
So what is this new website that I find fascinating? Well, while in Mobile, AL, I learned so many new things about the gulf coast. Did you know Mardi Gras originated in Mobile and not in New Orleans? Did you know that there are more Mardi Gras activities in Mobile, AL than in New Orleans? I know if I would have stayed I would have had a few hosts to take me to the parade as the group was just all about "southern hospitality". I had a real great impression for a first time visit.
Anyway, I digress - as I was talking about not knowing much about Mobile, the participants told me how much damage that they received during Katrina. They explained it as New Orleans having a devastating flood, but Mobile really suffered more (I am sure they are not trying to "outdo" each other) damage from the Hurricane than New Orleans did.
To finally get to the interesting website - The Sun Herald of the Gulf Coast has a section that shows homes and other buildings before and after the Hurricane. I found that the way they showed the "before and after" really compelling to look at. It was just one more illustration of how technology has made a concept come alive - it did for me. Take a look and if any teachers you know talk about natural disasters, you might want to pass this site on to them - It can be found at Scroll down to a small box that says "Before and After" if it does not load on to the list of houses.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There is an Audience Out there!

I just installed a Stat Counter on this blog and when checking it have found out that I definitely have readers checking in. Realizing this, I thought I had better blog a little more often, so as not to disappoint my visitors.
Today was one of those days that I never left the house. It was a high of 11 degrees here in Cleveland and because of the MLK holiday, I am only presenting four days this week. I am off to St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Mobile, AL this week. I am not sure that the Logistics Department at BER has a good grasp of the U.S. map (only kidding, they do an excellent job)! I am ready for a great week and hopefully on time flights.
I thought I would borrow from David Warlick's blog today because he wrote about a product that I thought many of you would be interested in as I certainly was. I didn't know that video cameras had become so compact, inexpensive, and so easily downloaded onto the computer. Quoting from David, " The Flip camera, is a new inexpensive and small video camera.
Thumbing through the U.S. Airlines inflight magazine, I found an ad for this very simple yet stylish pocket digital camera-looking device that takes video.
Flip Video Ultra (60 minutes, black) Digital Camcorder reviews - CNET Reviews:
At the time of this writing, the best selling camcorder at isn’t a model from Sony, Canon, or Panasonic. It happens to be the Flip Video Ultra, the third iteration of Pure Digital Technologies’ simple plug-and-play video camera that features a hideaway USB connector and built-in software that makes viewing and sharing your videos incredibly easy.
It comes in colors, and it ranges in price from $149 to $179*. The best thing about it is a retractable USB plug, so you simply plug the camera into your Mac or PC, and you’re moving the video file to your machine for further enhancement.
This really sounds like it would be great for podcasting and making videos in the classroom and maybe within budget constraints.
I, personally, am going to purchase one for my husband for our upcoming 41st. anniversary. He will have fun with it on our end of February cruise.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Early Literacy Videos

These videos are from Montessori and are just perfect for the emergent reader who can benefit from visual animation and audio. Seeing the words highlighted across the bottom of the online video story will certainly help build fluency. The set that I found are at . What I liked best was the ability to show these videos full screen which gets rid of all of the advertisements or any visual distractions. These are coming through You Tube - extremely worthwhile and not in any way a threat to online safety. Hopefully, You Tube is not being blocked from your school! Make these videos part of your argument for "unblocking" if that is the case.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Grade Teachers - You Will Like This

If you teach First Grade or if you coordinate the technology projects in a school with First Graders, you know that this is the time of the year when their little teeth are wiggling and even falling out. Here is an opportunity for them to celebrate this life passage, realize that there are other first graders all over the country losing their teeth, and also learn all about good dental health. There is an online project called Tooth Talley and the registration for this year is open now at . The project resistration is open now until January 31st. and the project will go from February 1st. through May. Participating in this project will even give you an opportunity to utilize one of the Web2.0 tool - the Wiki, where you will enter the data. Take a look at this project. It is a great "first time" entry into the world of online collaborative projects.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A New Teacher Tool Worth Seeing

For those of you who have taken my suggestion and have subscribed to the TeachersFirst Newsletter, you will know about this new teacher tool from this morning's wonderful list of new websites. May I take this time to encourage any of you who have not yet subscribed to this weekly newsletter that you do now?

The website that I saw as being so useful is Flash Card Data Base Maker. It is quite simple to come up with the flash cards to be used for online study, simply putting in a word and an answer. You can save all of your sets of flashcards and if you tag them and make them public and others can use them also. Of course, checking out the tags that could be useful to your students will lead you to flash card sets already prepared. Again, we see Web 2.0 and the fabulous ability to participate in social networking, useful to everyone.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A New Project Announcement

I guess this is the weekend that all of you are trying to "gear up" to get back to the classroom, hopefully well-rested. I remember how hard it was to leave the "vacation time" behind and get back to early risings and full days! But, if Winter Break is over, how far behind can summer be?

I always get excited when Jennifer Wagner announces a new project ready for registration and I got word of a new one today. It is called "From Me To You" and all of the information can be found at . Take a look at it - it involves having your students send out valentines to classes around the country. There is also a connection for using Google Earth. Once your class begins receiving valentines, they will begin "talking geography" and build understandings of where other students live in the United States. So many curricular goals can be met while engaged in a project such as this. Take a look at it. I'd love to hear if you participate in it.