Page Updated: Web 2.0 Tools to Embed on Your Blog

I have just updated my page about web 2.0 tools to embed on your blog.

Here you will find:

  • Tips for using and embedding web 2.0 tools.
  • A list of tried and tested tools from slideshows to videos and polls.
  • An embedded example of each tool so you can see what it looks like.

Please visit the page and leave a comment if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Our World, Our Stories

Next week, my class will be joining in with many of their “blogging buddies” from around the world in a new global project.

This project is called Our World, Our Stories and the blog  http://ourworldourstories.edublogs.org/ will be our central meeting place.

After months of planning, we look forward to launching this seven week project on Monday 24th October.

Our World Our Stories Blog

Classes involved

The students are all from junior primary classes and are from three different continents and six different countries.

2KM and 2KJ from Victoria, Australia

B4 from New Zealand

Mrs Yollis’ third grade class from California, USA

Mr Salsich’s third grade class from Connecticut, USA

Melody Watson’s 2/3 class from Canada

Andy Sefa Boachie and his students from Ghana

Miss Usher’s standard 3 class from Punta Gorda, Belize


View Our World, Our Stories in a larger map

How will it work?

Students from all classes will connect and collaborate by sharing their stories, experiences, thoughts and opinions about a variety of themes. This will happen through the blog and involve a variety of media.

A different class will “lead” a topic each week, publishing posts and moderating comments. Topics will be based on students’ interests such as school games, hobbies, food, local environment etc. The other classes will read the posts, possibly publish their own posts, and students will leave blog comments.

The learning

Through the blog comments, students from the different classes will have conversations. Students will gain an understanding of different countries and cultures. They will make comparisons and contrasts between their lives and other students’ lives.

The students will reflect on their own experiences and hopefully develop a curiosity about other students’ stories. They will develop a voice to share their own stories.

Concluding the project

Stayed tuned for a culminating celebration in December!

If you want to keep up to date with how the fun and learning unfolds, there is a “subscribe via email” box on the right hand side of the Our World, Our Stories blog.

I have received a number of questions about how to organise your own global project so I will be posting a guide on this blog soon. Stay tuned!

MeeGenius

MeeGenius is a new site that has been popular on Twitter recently. MeeGenius is an online library of picture books for young children. Currently there are nearly 30 books available to read, most of which are popular fairy tales.

meegenius library

The books can be read independently or there is an option to hear the book being read to you with the words being highlighted as you hear them. If you choose the read along option, you can pause the books as they are read aloud. This is useful as it allows you to ask the students questions and focus on teaching points.

One of the most exciting features of this site is the ability to personalise the stories. This could be a great way to entice reluctant readers and a fun tool to make the stories more meaningful to your students. You simply answer a few questions and the book is rewritten to include new character names and locations etc. You can also click on the “edit” button to rewrite the whole book. This could be useful for creating “Fractured Fairy tales” with students.

meegenisu

You don’t need to sign up to read the MeeGenius stories, however you do need to sign-up if you wish to save and email your personalised stories.

These stories would be great on an IWB or classroom computers. While the site is completely free, you can buy MeeGenius Apps from the iTunes store for iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads (currently AU$2.49)

Leave a comment. How could you use MeeGenius in your classroom?

Smories: Stories for Children

Smories is a website with short videos of children reading original stories for kids. There are 50 new Smories added every month. Writers are encouraged to submit their original children’s stories to be featured on the website.

The stories are advertised as being suitable for children aged three to eight although there are many stories that would also appeal to children older than eight.

There is a special version of Smories available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and there will soon be an iPad version.

I have been using this site with my Grade Two class as a means of modelling reading with expression and also as a comprehension activity. I have been encouraging the students to picture the story in their mind as they listen. Listening to Smories is also a good way to revise the features of a narrative.

My students have really enjoyed the stories and find it quite appealing to listen to children their own age.

Next time we do a story writing activity I am going to get my students to publish their work “Smory style” which we can then put on our class blog.

Smories

Do you have any other ideas of how you could integrate this site into your classroom?

Storytelling Tool: Five Card Flickr

Five Card Flickr is a simple yet useful tool that I found out about from a number of people on Twitter.

Five Card Flickr deals you random pictures from Flickr that you put together to tell a story. From each 5 photos you are dealt, you choose one to add to your story. You then repeat this 4 more times until you have 5 photos that you can then use to tell a story.

Students could use this tool for oral language story telling or for inspiration for creating a written story. Stories could be created individually or as a class using an IWB.

Stories can be written on the site and saved to a gallery or alternatively, students could just write on paper.

Especially with younger students, oral language is an important area that can sometimes be neglected in the crowded curriculum.

The possibilities of Five Card Flickr are only limited by the students’ creativity! Give it a try.

five card flickr

Do you know any other sites that are useful for writing or oral language prompts?

Tech Tools for Teachers #11 VoiceThread

Each week, Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter called Tech Tools for Teachers to inform teachers of useful online tools. Find out more here.

This week we review the website VoiceThread

http://voicethread.com

voicethread-pro

VoiceThread is a popular tool that allows you to narrate images, documents and videos. Others can join in the conversation too. Your completed VoiceThreads can be embedded in a blog or website, emailed or simply stored and viewed on the VoiceThread site.

We like VoiceThread because it:

* is free (there are paid options but these aren’t necessary)
* is easy to use
* permits you to have one account for your class with individual identities so students don’t need to sign up
* is suitable for all year levels and curriculum areas
* has a range of possible uses
* is a great tool for collaboration, reflection and creativity
* allows you to control who is able to view and contribute to your VoiceThread.

HOW TO…

To sign up to VoiceThread go to http://voicethread.com. You will see “sign in or register” in the top right hand corner of the home page. Click here and then click “register.”

* Note: VoiceThread is offering a free upgrade to K-12 educators, called the VT Educator account. This account allows you to create up to 50 VoiceThreads and gives you 250 MB of storage. It also allows you to upload audio files as comments. You can take a look at the features of the VT Educator account here.
For step by step instructions on how to use VoiceThread, check out our newsletter here Newsletter #11 VoiceThread

USES…

There are many ways to use VoiceThread in the classroom. Here are a couple of ways Kathleen’s Grade Two students have used VoiceThread in the classroom. They were all embedded on her class blog so check out the links to see the actual VoiceThreads.

1. Happy Father’s Day
The students made a comment on why their Dad is special.

2. Monster Adjectives
The students all drew a picture of an monster which they described using all the adjectives they had come up.

3. Winter Poems
Students all wrote a poem about Winter and narrated their favourite line from their poem.

4. World Earth Day

All the students left a comment with a tip about looking after the environment for World Earth Day.

voicethread5

VoiceThread is also great for peer assessments, self reflections, discussions around videos or artwork, digital portfolios or collaboration with other students/classes. There are obviously many more great ways to use this tool, only limited by the imagination of the teacher and students!

TRY IT OUT!

We have set up a VoiceThread as a means for you to try it out and share your ideas on how you could use VoiceThread in the classroom. Please leave a comment!

Xtranormal New Features

We’re currently on school holidays until the end of January, however it is hard to switch off completely! I received an email about Xtranormal’s new software and have been having a play around today.

I have previous blogged about the great online movie maker “Xtranormal“. Click here to read my post about it this effective and simple tool to make animated movies.

My Grade Two students loved making movies on this site, however being an online application we had a few problems with the Internet being slow etc!

Xtranormal now has a program that you can download to your computer rather than making your movies on the net. It it is a beta software called “State“.

According to the site…

STATE lets you make better movies, faster.

  • Multiple actors per scene
  • Multiple scenes per movie
  • Audio import
  • Custom camera placement
  • Walking actors
  • Actors and locations marketplace
  • Voice recording NEW!

A cool feature of this program is that students can customise their actors’ voices with their own.

State is only available for Windows, however talk on the Xtranormal forum indicates that the Mac version may be coming soon.

The downside is, while State is free it only comes with a choice of two actors and one scene! You can pay to download “Showpaks” which are collections of actors and scenes that don’t come with the free version. The Showpaks tend to be around $40 US and give you quite a good selection of actors and scenes. I still think the program could be a useful digital storytelling tool to use in the classroom and the simplicity of it makes it ideal for younger students.

There are State tutorials on the Xtranormal website that you could go through as a class to introduce your students to the program.

Completed movies can be exported as standard movie files or shared on the web.

Here is a short video I made today with the State software.  

Trialling Xtranormal State from Kathleen McGeady on Vimeo.

 

Speechable

Speechable is a cool website I found out about from David Kapuler’s blog. It is simply an easy way to add a speech bubble to an image. You can upload an image from your computer or a URL and photos can be shared with friends via email or on Facebook®, MySpace®, Orkut, blogs, and message boards.

Here is a pic from the Speechable gallery

Adding speech bubbles to images could be a fun activity for children, a literacy task or even a classroom competition. You can make photos private which means you can still email and embed them but they won’t appear in the site’s gallery. Check it out.

Photo Story Alternatives….

Here are a couple of good online alternatives to Microsoft Photo Story for making digital story videos or slideshows. The benefits of these tools over Photo Story are they are very fast to generate and you can often download the final product, embed it on your blog or email it.

ANIMOTO

Animoto allow you to turn images into professional looking video slideshows. Videos can be automatical generated with music and you can narrate your video with text. You can download the final product or embed it in blogs, Facebook, You Tube etc. This is the link to get a free premium education account to use with your class.

STUPEFLIX

Stupeflix is another web service that turns your pictures, videos, and text into professional looking videos. You can download your video to your computer as an MP4 or flash file.

PHOTOPEACH

PhotoPeach is a very simple way to make an online slideshow. You can use your own photos or those from the web (or from your Picasa or Facebook albums). You can write captions, zoom in on photos and add music. You can do a You Tube search to find suitable music for your slideshow. Slideshows can then be embedded on blogs or shared with friends.