Looking for a way to spice up your PowerPoints to make them more engaging? Want to throw in some animation to help keep your students’ attention? PowToon is a free, easy to use presentation tool that uses click and drag features to create animation. The set up is very similar to PowerPoint, so it is not intimidating to learn, and the graphics are pretty spectacular. Check out the two-minute video to get a sense of what it can do and then have fun playing around on it.
WordSift is an on-line, free tool to support effective vocabulary instruction by helping students identify key words in text, as well as creating a visual resource using the web. Teachers and students can also use the tool as a way to skim text and increase comprehension. Simply copy and paste text into the window, click sift, and the fifty most common words in the text will appear with the most frequent words appearing larger than the others. The most frequent words are automatically entered into the text box just below which is linked to Google Images, causingimages of these words to appear. Then, the most frequent one word is automatically placed into the visual thesaurus and a list of the sentences from the text that contain the word are listed for the user. The user can click on any of these sentences to see the sentence within the context of the text. The visual and textual information is so abundant, automatically organized, and user-friendly that you can find something for everyone! Watch this short introductory video to get a better sense of how to navigate this tool.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created the BLOSSOMS video library for teachers to access over 50 math and science videos and lesson plans. Each lesson contains video segments, a teacher’s guide, downloadable hand-outs, and a list of additional online resources relevant to the topic. The idea behind each of these lessons is for teachers to help student connect math and science concepts to real world applications.
Edward B. Fiske, former education editor for The New York Times and a widely-published writer and editor specializing in education, spoke on Wednesday February 12th at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education as part of the Hussman Education Policy Colloquium Series. Fiske’s talk was entitled “Getting the Word Out: Using Your Research to Craft Opinion-Editorials” and focused on advice for faculty and students when writing op eds. Fiske, who refers to himself as a journalist rather than an educator, gave advice that can help teachers write publishable pieces. Op eds offer the opportunity for the voices of teachers and reasearchers to be heard by a wider, larger audience. Below are some points to think about if you chose to use op eds as a means of sharing your perspective.
- In order to write, you have to believe that you have something to say. As classroom teachers you have the authority and knowledge to say something about what is happening in schools.
- You are an authority on teaching within your area and grade level. Write about your expertise and people will listen to you.
- Remember to state clearly that you are writing your opinion and not speaking for the institution that employs you. You should let your bosses know that you are writing this opinion piece so that they won’t be caught off-guard if it does in fact get published.
- Co-authors are a wonderful asset. If possible, have one.
- Limit the article to 750 words, and shorter than that is even better. Use short sentences and paragraphs and rely on declarative sentences.
- Make a single point and make it well. In 750 words, you can make one persuasive argument concisely. This is not enough space to argue multiple points well.
- State your point immediately. Do not make your audience guess what you have to say and be sure to tell them why they should care about your point.
- Offer specific recommendations on how you feel the problem should be solved and what changes you would like to see made.
- Embrace your personal voice. Use first person writing to connect with the audience.
- Acknowledge the other side in order to appear credible, humble, and well-informed.
- Newspapers write their headlines, so you do not need to invent your own.
Fiske is the author of the best-selling The Fiske Guide to Colleges and many other books on college admissions. He and his wife, Helen Ladd, a professor of public policy at Duke University, have worked together on a variety of publications regarding education, including examinations of education reform efforts in South Africa and co-editing Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy, the official handbook of the American Education Finance Association. Fiske has received numerous awards for education reporting.
Students can create original artwork, animated movies, stories, greeting cards, and more on Kerpoof. The site’s homepage contains links to classroom ideas, lesson plans, and educational standards so that teachers do not have to re-invent the wheel. You do have to register to create an account,t but it is free. This site is kid friendly, easy to use, and fun for both students and teachers!
Chogger is a free on-line comic creator students can use to create their own characters, retell what they have read, or demonstrate understanding. There are multiple comic strip layouts. Students can easily add images by uploading, taking pictures, importing from Google Image Search, or drawing. The site walks the students through the process with easy to follow, explicit directions. This would also be a fun addition to classroom newsletters or mini-lesson instruction.
TikaTok is a free resource produced by Pearson where students can write and create their own digital storybooks. This digital storytelling tool can be aligned with Common Core, is a great way to incorporate integration between multiple subjects, and can easily be differentiated for ability level and interest. Students can either chose a blank book to create their own images and text or choose one of the many templates available. Teachers can also create books to share with students.
Looking for a fun new way to send electronic newsletters out to parents? Try LetterPOP. The basic plan allows you to publish and share 10 newsletters for only $4.95 and the teacher plan, allowing 365 newsletters, is $39.00. This easy-to-use program includes templates, drag and drop features for adding text and images, and online. The newsletters are an aesthetically pleasing, impressive, and fun way to share what is happening within your class with parents and other teachers.
exploratree is a free web resource full of mind maps. You can use these already created maps, edit them, or create a brand new one. Teachers can create blanks within maps for students to fill in while reading or listening to a class lecture and use maps as presentation tools or assessments. Students can create mind maps to use as study tools and to organize thoughts, notes, or ideas throughout the inquiry process. This tool is a wonderful resource for both teachers and students with many possibilities for utilization.
Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Users may log in by creating an account or using their Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. After logging in the user is given interest areas from which to choose to create a personalized question and answer feed. Education is one of these choices, along with literature, science, and many others. This site is more appropriate for teacher use than student use because it s anyone can create or answer a question, which would not allow teachers control over students’ online interactions. Teachers can put a question on the feed and learn as others respond, or look through the feed to see what topics are trending within their subject area. It is a great way to find fun, fascinating information or connect with other teachers.