BY BILL FERRIS
It’s that time of year again when lazy bloggers rehash old material under the guise of “Best of” lists rather than come up with new stuff. Instructify is no exception.
Below are the top 10 Instructify posts of 2009. The rankings were determined via a combination of Google Analytics, retweets, and the capricious and arbitrary whims of the editor.
ScreenToaster features great video quality, the ability to add captions, plus it lets you easily upload your video to YouTube, or download it in a variety of formats for viewing or editing later.
Before you spend hundreds of bucks for an expensive graphics suite or face the ethical dilemma of whether to ask your friend to make you a copy of her expensive graphics suite, try Aviary. This free collection of programs will handle all the same stuff as your Photoshops and your Illustrators and such, all for free. That’s a savings of infinity percent. Whether you want to do photo editing, vector graphics, or just edit colors in an image, Aviary has you covered.
The Hale Scrapbook from The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library maintains an extensive collection of editorial cartoons from Gregorian England. Your students will be able to see the issues of the era as seen through the lenses of the doodlers of the day. The University of Nebraska Libraries keep a colossal collection of government-issued comics, which delivered messages about everything from the war on drugs to what to do in case an atomic bomb suddenly explodes in your neighborhood. These books say as much about the era in which they were printed as they do about topics like psychological warfare or nutrition.
Carbonmade takes the hassle out of the portfolio process by letting you or your students set up free, simple portfolios online.
IXL Math bills itself as “The Web’s #1 Math Practice Site.” While Instructify hasn’t gone through and ranked all the math practice sites out there, we can say that IXL is a good place for students in grades K-5 to get some extra practice on grade-appropriate math skills. The kindergartners start with counting and learning shapes. Later grades delve into addition, subtraction, fractions, probabilities, decimals…you know, math stuff.
The Great Turtle Race raises public awareness of leatherback turtle migration through the magic of sports. The site has lots of nifty race stats, such as how many hour-long dives each turtle makes. You can cheer on your favorite turtle, and elect to receive daily updates on how it’s doing in the field.
You never want to set a classroom full of 8th graders with scalpels loose on a long-dead and well-preserved frog without some guidance. Froguts.com offers a paid service, but their free demos are a great tool to introduce the basics of dissection before pulling out the wax trays and pins. When they access the site’s demo, students can manipulate a virtual scalpel, pins, and scissors to start the process. The demo leads users through the dissection from pinning the frog to identifying its organs.
Interactive white boards, combined with online tools can be an amazing way for kids to have fun and not even realize they’re learning. Introducing students to data and graphing can be a difficult sell, but using an interactive white board can make this introduction a bit less painful for your students. This article shows you how.
Have you ever wanted to make your own animated movie? The script, the soundtrack, the camera angles — if it were all up to you, you’d do an awesome job — probably better than Steven Spielberg, right? With Xtranormal’s Text-to-movie website, you can create your own animated flick. With a few simple steps, you or your students can create a movie. You could create a short animation giving instructions for a web-based project, or a sub plan for a day you will be absent. Your students can use it to demonstrate their knowledge of a classroom concept, or to teach a concept to another class or grade level.
Back in the day, portfolios manifested themselves as four-inch-thick binders filled with plastic sleeves and teacher-themed paper. Electronic solutions were fraught with privacy issues. These days, student teachers can create their own secure electronic portfolios with Google Sites. Since Sites is a Google product, it works seamlessly with Google Docs (to save space, if you’re approaching the 100mb limit, storing files like your teaching philosophy in Docs and embedding them won’t count against your server space), YouTube, Google Calendar, Picasa web albums…you get the picture.