Whyzz is a site that provides kid friendly answers to children’s questions. The tagline of the site is “answering your child’s whyzz, whatzz and howzz”. It is aimed at answering the questions of children aged 4-7 although could be used for children older than this. Registered users of the site can submit and answer questions. Contributions are reviewed by Whyzz staff before being published. While this site is intended to be used by caregivers and not children, it could be useful in the Primary classroom to research student questions together.
If you need student avatars for blogs, Voice Thread or other Internet applications and don’t want to upload photos of your students, there are a few options for creating avatars. I had my students draw a self portrait which I then photographed and uploaded (as above).
Alternatively, there are a number of sites you can use to build avatars and save them to your computer as an image file. The problem that I have found is that many avatar creator sites have innapropriate content for younger students (ads and images). Here are three avatar creator sites that seem to be suitable for children…
Be Funky – upload a photo from your computer, webcam, URL or photo sharing site and give it special effects. Photos can be saved as jpegs. *Update – Be Funky now has a banner across it unless you sign up as a paid member. So it is no longer as useful as student avatars!
Build Your Wild Self - add all sorts of animal features to your character. The best way to create an image is probably to screen capture it. Alternatively you can email the image (you can then save it as a gif) or chose to print your avatar and right click to save the picture. All options would need cropping.
Mini-Mizer - create a lego avatar of yourself. Unfortunately you would need to do a screen capture of this too to save your image as you can only post your image to sites like Flickr.
For more great tips about how to make all sorts of avatars and upload them, check out Sue Water’s comprehensive post here.
This week, I came across this cool online application called FutureMe where you can send your future self an email. I thought it could have a number of uses in the classroom. It would be interesting for students to send themselves an email that they would receive in one/two/five/ten years time. You can receive your email up to 30 years into the future. Of course you need to make sure you will still have that email address in the future although you can go back and change your email address. Students could write down their future goals and ambitions to see if they achieve them. FutureMe could also be used as a short term tool. Students could email themselves reminders about due dates for projects etc.
Xtranormal is a site that provides a really simple way to make an effective looking animated movie. Their motto is “if you can type, you can make movies” (you just type in the script and your chosen characters speak it). The program was very intuitive and I didn’t need to read any instructions to make a movie in minutes.
A basic membership is free and allows you to make a movie with 1 or 2 characters. Xtranormal allows you a great deal of creative control over settings, characters, voices, noises, animations, camera angles, expressions etc.
Completed Xtranormal movies can be embedded on a blog. Making ‘animation’ style movies are a great alternative to traditional movies if you want to avoid putting your students’ faces on the Internet.
Student could make movies about any topics from a book report, a reenactment of an historical event, a debate, a recount, an explanation, a narrative etc. The possibilities really are endless.
I believe Xtranormal would be great for both primary and secondary students. I’m going to try it with my Grade Two students soon!
Here is an example of a short movie that two of my students made recently.
There are many places on the Internet where you can find images for you or your students to use. Here are just a few.
You can search Google Images – the first place many people look for images. While Google Images provides a comprehensive search, the problem with this is that most image results are copyright.
Flickr is a great place to find photographic images. If you do an advance search in Flickr you can search for images with a “creative commons license” which means they aren’t copyright. Even easier than doing an advance Flickr search is this search engine created by John Johnstone that allows you to directly find creative commons Flickr images.
Colouring pages are sometimes a great way to find images to use on worksheets and documents. I like Coloring Book Fun. It has a very extensive range of colouring pages sorted into themes.
Picsearch allows you to search the web for images. An image search service with more than 3,000,000,000 pictures.
Microsoft Office provides a great range of clip art and photos that you can download to use.
Discovery Education has a great range of educational clipart sorted into different curriculum areas
Lucy Gray has blogged about the 25 best places to find stock photos. Find this list here.
I came across this great site this week and instantly found so many things that I would love to use immediately with my Grade Two class.
Skwirk (an abbreviation of School Work) is an “online education portal” designed for use by teachers and students in both primary and secondary schools. Skwirk covers all core subjects studied in all states and territories including Maths, Science, Technology, English, History, Geography and more.
Skwirk contains curriculum-based content, images, animations and videos, quizzes, podcasts and more. It would be fantastic to use in class on an IWB or projector.
There are reports that track student progress and Skwirk can be used as a homework resource. For older students, study guides and the highlighting system help students revise and prepare for exams.
You can enter the site as a guest and there are free trials available for schools. Individuals can sign up to Skwirk for $99/year. School registration is from $7 per student a year. Skwirk is currently offering free access to all year 9 students until 2 October 2009.
It would be great to see businesses/government funding schools to use Skwirk in they same way that funding is being provided for Victorian users of SuperClubsPlus so more schools can take advantage of this great resource!
Behind the News (BTN) is a fantastic Australian site by the ABC that helps students learn about current issues and events around the world. Each week a new episode of BTN is released comprising of about 5 different stories each under 5 minutes long. The stories can be watched individually on their website or on ABC television.
The website contains an archive of all episodes so you can browse for a topic that you are currently working on with your students. The website also contains activities, links, quizzes, comment boards, polls etc for follow up work.
While BTN is promoted for students in upper primary and high school, I have had great success using it with my Grade Two and Three students. There are always a range of stories, many of which are less complex and can be understood by younger students. Our class has had many rich discussions and experiences based on BTN stories and it is a fantastic way for them to learn about the world in which they live!