Quietube is a handy tool that allows you to watch videos such a those on YouTube without all the distracting or inappropriate ads and comments etc. Providing YouTube isn’t blocked at your school, this is a great tool for the classroom!
Using Quietube is so easy. You simply drag the button from the site to your toolbar, then when you are watching a video on a site like YouTube, you press the Quietube button on your toolbar and the video opens in a distraction free window.
You can also get a short link to your distraction free Quietube video to send to a friend.
Do you know any other tools that make watching videos in the classroom easier?
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.
Leave a comment. How could you use Virtual Manipulatives in your Maths lessons?
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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
The Ultranet is a $60.5 million online portal for teachers, students and parents in Victorian government schools. After years of build up, the Ultranet was officially launched on Monday 10th May and my school was in the first group of schools to come online.
The first stage of the Ultranet allows students and teachers to create personal learning portfolios and collaborate with others across the state. Stage Two, to be released in Term Four will allow parents to log on and keep track of their child’s performance. It will also include features for teachers to plan curriculum and monitor and assess student performance.
While the Ultranet is unique to Victoria, it is not dissimilar to other smaller scale online portals that schools around Australia and the world run independently. With increased accountabilities and controls appearing in various education departments, I would not be surprised to see an increase in Ultranet type portals in coming years.
I completed the two-day Lead User training last week. This “train the trainer” course provided an overview of all the features of Stage One as well as discussions on how to implement the Ultranet in our school. After these two days, I’m still gathering my thoughts on the pros and cons of this new initiative but I thought I would share some initial thoughts.
What do you think about the Ultranet? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
As I read quite a few blogs, I always like it when a commenter has an avatar (picture of self) next to their comment. Even if the avatar is not a true picture, it adds interest and a personality to the commenter. Often, when someone does not have a recognised avatar, their comments on blog posts and so forth display a randomly generated image or nothing at all. On my class blog, visiting commenters are assigned a monster image. This is cute but doesn’t add a unique identity or personality to the reader.
The solution to having an avatar that will work when you comment on all blog posts is Gravatar. This image follows you from site to site when you comment on blogs and other forums. I found about Gravatar last year from the ever knowledgeable Sue Waters. She has a great step-by-step description of how to use Gravatar. Check it out here.
I heard about this You Tube clip via a few different people on Twitter. The 4 minute video involves 18 classroom teachers “speaking out” on the topic of tech integration and 21st Century skills for students.
It’s a really interesting insight into what the technology in the classroom can look like in all curriculum areas and allludes to why technology integration is so important. Check it out…