Tech Tools for Teachers #22 PrimaryPad

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the site PrimaryPad

http://primarypad.com/

PrimaryPad  is a tool that allows students and teachers to collaborate on a word-processor style document. Despite the name, PrimaryPad could be used with both primary and secondary students.

primarypad

We like PrimaryPad because it:
* is free.
* doesn’t require users to sign up or log-in.
* is very easy to use. You can create a page in seconds.
* has a wide range of uses for all ages and curriculum areas.
* allows for collaboration across the class or globe.
* is secure – only people with the unique URL can enter a room.
* is ad-free.
* provides an authentic opportunities to discuss netiquette and cyber safety issues.

An example of how I used PrimaryPad in my Grade Two Classroom
Last week, I used PrimaryPad with a small group of students each day.
I wanted to use this tool, not only for the powerful collaboration opportunities it offers but to create an authentic opportunity to introduce my students to chat rooms and netiquette in a controlled environment.
For the task, there were six members of the room (including myself) each on individual computers. We first started by having a general online chat to get the students familiar with the tool. I had my students focus on
reading others’ messages, responding appropriately and remaining on-topic and polite.
With the first group, the chat led to a discussion of the school Festa that was held on the weekend and the group decided to use the collaborative space to create a top 10 list of the best aspects of the Festa. The chat feature of the tool was used to decide on what to put on the list.
The students got so much out of this session. Afterwards, we were able to reflect on how the students did with reading and responding to messages and we had a rich discussion about netiquette (ie. CAPTIALS means shouting, the importance of taking turns etc).

Other examples of how PrimaryPad could be used (note some ideas from http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/primarypad.htm)

* Import a document and students edit it collaboratively.
* Students write a story, movie/book review, essay or other text in small groups.
* Brainstorming in groups what students know about a new topic.
* Import an opinion piece and have students use the chat function to debate the topic.
* Make a chain story. One class starts a story, another class continues it and so on.
* At the end of a unit of work, students collaborate to document what they’ve learnt.
* Students help their peers to make their sentences more interesting.
* One child types a word in and other children try to list as many synonyms of it as possible.
* One child takes on the role of a person (e.g. Roman soldier, environmentalist, land developer etc.) who must answer questions posed by other children.

For more information about how to use PrimaryPad, download the PDF of this week’s Tech Tools for Teachers Newsletter Newsletter #22 PrimaryPad

Have you ever used PrimaryPad?

Do you know if any other tools like PrimaryPad?

How could you see this tool being useful in your classroom?

PrimaryPad is a web-based word processordesigned for schools that allows pupils

and teachers to work together in real-time.

Virtual Maths Manipulatives

I nearly always use my IWB (interactive whiteboard) for Maths whole-class introductions and often small group instruction.  Publisher McGraw Hill and Glencoe have a great maths resource for your IWB that is an alternative to IWB software. It is called Virtual Manipulatives.

Virtual Manipulatives is a Flash based website with interactive manipulatives that students and teachers can use to introduce or reinforce maths concepts. It is suitable for students from Kindergarten to Year Eight.

This site is very simple to use (mostly drag and drop) and requires very little preparation.

You simply choose a background from the collection of Game Boards, Story Boards or Work Mats. Work Mat options include place value mats, tens frames, graph paper, algebra tiles, in and out equation tables, blank calendars, number lines and number charts.

You can then set up or solve a problem by choosing from a set of manipulatives such as base ten blocks, counters, fraction tiles, cubes, spinners, tangrams, calendars, clocks, teddies and number cubes (dice).

You can narrow the choice of backgrounds and manipulatives to your grade level to find the most appropriate resources.

There is a pen tool to draw on the screen and completed work can be printed. There is also a stop watch feature to time the completion of tasks.

virtual manipulatives

Leave a comment. How could you use Virtual Manipulatives in your Maths lessons?

Blogging Tool: Embedit.in

embedit.in is a site that I saved to my Delicious and Diigo accounts about a year ago but forgot about and have not yet used. I recently rediscovered this site and realised how useful it could be in blogging.

This tool allows you to embed almost any sort of file into your blog such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, HTML, web pages and other URLs.

You can embed files up to 20 MB and choose to embed the full document or add a thumbnail or link.

The site is easy to navigate and straightforward to use. On the home page, you simply click on “select files”, choose your file and then sign in with a third-party account such as Twitter, WordPress, Google or OpenID.

You can annotate files with red pen or highlighter and choose the height, width and background colour you desire.

When you upload your document you can choose whether you want to allow or disable printing, download and public visibility.

embedit.in uses the Adobe Flash 9 platform to display your document, which is apparently available on over 98% of browsers worldwide.

The site includes an analytics feature to show where your viewers are coming from and how they are interacting with your documents.

Here is an example of what an embedit.in file looks like…

I have added embedit.in to my list of Web2.0 tools to embed in your blog.

How do you see embedit.in being useful?

Blog resource: New fonts for your posts!

I have long been a fan of downloading free fonts to use in Microsoft Office documents and I have often wanted to use more interesting and creative fonts in my blog posts. Most blogging platforms have set fonts however which limits your ability to change the appearance of text and therefore the visual appeal of blog posts.

I recently came across the website Fontself which allows you to create and use various fonts and create your own alphabet for your blog, website, and social networking profiles.

The Fontself Widget Maker is useful for sites like Edublogs as you simply choose a pre-made font, type in your text and grab the HTML embed code.

Here’s an example of how a Fontself font can add life to your blog post…

I have previously blogged about Page Plugins which has an option to use glitter text which is a similar concept.

Adding a new font is a great way to jazz up your blog so enjoy exploring the possibilities of this great tool!

Leave a comment if you know of any other great font tools that can add some personality to blog posts!

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!

Kubbu: Make Education Games

I recently came across the site Kubbu. This is a site where teachers can make games and online activities for students. The activities can be made available to individual students or groups of students and the teacher can view and analyse results.

Kubbu is free for teachers although is limited to using with 30 students and 15 activities at a time. If you wish to use Kubbu with a larger group of students or create more than 15 activities you can purchase a year’s membership.

The types of activities you can create on Kubbu include matching, sorting, crosswords and a range of quizzes. Activities are stored for 30 days and you can print paper copies of the online activities.

This is an example of an online synonym matching activity.

synonyms kubbu

It may seem time consuming to create new activities for students but there are also shared activities available that others have made. I couldn’t find many activities that would be useful for my students in the shared section although hopefully these activities will grow as Kubbu becomes more well known by teachers.

Kubbu could be used with students of all age groups and could be a handy tool for practice, revision and assessment both at school or as homework.

kubbu

Leave a comment if you have tried Kubbu. How did you find it?