ABCYa.com has a FREE app that many of you will find useful called Word Clouds. It is a simple app that allows you to create a visual from a group of words you have collected. It is similar to websites such as Wordle, but this allows you to create it straight from the iPad so it can then be included in a presentation or video project.
When you open the app you are prompted to type or copy/paste the list of words you would like to use to create your word cloud. If you list a word multiple times it will take precedence and show as a larger font size than the other words. This will draw attention to it as being a word you really need to focus on.
Once you have compiled your list, the app will show you an example of what your cloud will look like. You have options here to change the layout, color scheme, and font. There is also a randomize button that will change the way your cloud looks. Each time you press randomize it will change the look. Click on the “3 line” option in the upper left for other options such as editing your original word list, saving your cloud to your photo library, or creating a new cloud.
As you can see, it is fun and simple to use while still creating a clean visual for any presentation or media project you are working on. Give Word Clouds a try!
I am a big fan of Twitter. I learn more from Twitter than I do from any other staff development or conference I have ever been to. Twitter also is a great place to make connections. I now feel I have a broad range of “Tweeps” out there that are able to help me out when I need it. Nobody has the ability to know everything. Twitter grants me access to people all over the world that each have an abundance of knowledge in specific fields. If I don’t know, all I have to do is ask.
Once you begin to feel comfortable with Twitter itself, you can spread your wings a little more involved and become involved in Twitter chats. For those that don’t know, this is a time set aside for anyone on Twitter to join in on conversations based on a foundation of questions set by a person or group. You use a hashtag to follow along and interact with the conversation. For instance, I am involved in the #TXed chat group. The chat is from 8:30 – 9:30 PM CST every Wednesday night. Questions are posted every few minutes. You post a comment, including the hashtag, and then start chatting with others that are posting comments as well. It is a great way to get new ideas and meet new friends along the way.
To learn more about how to follow along with a chat using Twitter.com, check out these Twitter Chat Tips. It will give you some tips and tricks to help you get started.
If you want to find out what chats are going on, visit this link by @cybraryman1. It lists a large number of chats that occur every week dealing with education.
As you become more and more involved in chatting and Twitter in general, you will realize that you want more from just what Twitter.com has to offer you. TweetDeck is a great alternative for you. TweetDeck allows you to create additional columns built specifically to do things like follow a certain person or hashtag. For instance, I have a column that posts only tweets that have the hashtag #TXed in it. Then when we chat I do not have to weed through all tweets or do a special search through Twitter.com. I simply need to focus my attention on that column. Two other cheat sheets have been created to help you get started and understand TweetDeck: TweetDeck Getting Started and TweeDeck Column Options will give you a taste of what TweetDeck can do and get you up and running in no time.
I hope to see you soon on Twitter. Make sure to give me a follow, @pwagnerlcisd, and ask any questions you think I can help you with. It is possible I will know, but more possible I will know somebody else that can help you even more!
A timeline is something that seems to present itself at every subject in every grade level. You are always sequencing something. This week I ran across a great site for creating timelines from ReadWriteThink.org. I have used their stuff in the past and this one lives up to the bill: easy to use and a nice product at the end.
Upon accessing the program, you will be prompted to enter your name and a title for your timeline.
A new window will open up. Here is where you can start adding the information to your timeline. Click on the dotted line to start adding your events. A wizard will open in a new window. Fill in what is pertinent to your project. You can add a label or title, short description, and full description. You can also add an image from your computer. The label and short description will appear with an image (optional) on the timeline itself. If you choose to add a full description, that is listed on an adjoining page upon completion. It does not appear on the visual timeline.
Once you add an event to the timeline you are able to drag it to the correct location. If your events need to change their sequence you are still able to do so later. You can drag the cards above or below the line and to any location. The marker on the line can also be dragged to a new location if need be.
You have the option to save your work as you go along and return to it. A file is saved to your computer. Upon returning to the site you can choose to open an existing file and continue working. Note that the program itself will NOT save your work. You must save it to your computer if you do not finish.
When you are completely done, choose to finish your work. You will have options to save, print, or email. The final format for the project will be a PDF. Click here to view an example timeline.
Do you have iPads in your classroom? There is a free app that follows the same format as the program online. You can access your camera roll to add images and your final project is saved as an image to the camera roll if you choose. Click here to visit the app in the app store.
I am fortunate that the district I work for has seen the need for technology integration in education. I believe we are front runners. We do not wait for others…when something is out there that will benefit our students we jump at the opportunity to give it a try. One big example of that are the iPads. All campuses have iPads. The number varies by available funds and, of course, some administrators jumped in feet first while others tip-toed in to test the water. This accounts for a varying student:iPad ratio. In any case, along with district checkout options, all teachers in the district have access to devices if/when they are needed.
What tends to draw teachers to the devices are all the apps available to them to serve as a “tutor”. We know it is impossible to get a 1:1 teacher:student feel. These devices can help with remediation and practice in a more engaging way. Let’s face it though…drill and kill is drill and kill whether it is being done on an iPad or a sheet of paper. I am not saying iPads cannot be used for this, but this should not be the ONLY reason they are being used.
Get your students creating! There are many wonderful, free apps out there that allow them to be creative while still showing you what they know. It gets them to dig deeper into a concept. It allows for an even better understanding of what you are teaching them. They can become the tutors as well.
I have had an opportunity over the last few years to go into rooms of varying ages and abilities to work on project creation. It never ceases to amaze me how engaged the students are when they are creating. It is also quite incredible to view some of their finished products. All you need to do is take a look at their finished pieces to see that they haven’t just memorized something that they will soon forget. They have truly learned it…grasped the understanding of a concept and taken it even further. Create…create…create!
If you are looking for some fun apps to get you started, Tellagami, Chatterpix for Kids, and 30 Hands are some great choices! Do a search for any of those on my blog to learn more about them.
Being an Instructional Tech Specialist allows me access to many teachers. I service 4 campuses. My days are spent as a troubleshooter, a curriculum specialist, a creator, and a trainer. Many days I also serve as a confidant. There are times when all that is needed is someone to listen. I hear many things. I feel very blessed that I am trusted enough by my teacher friends that they feel they can confide in me. What they probably don’t realize is that they help me more than I could ever help them. They help put things into perspective and motivate me to work even harder. I work for them. Whatever I can do to make things better for them I am willing to try.
This past week I had a conversation with a group of teachers. They were discussing the stresses of the profession. We all know there are plenty. One teacher made a comment that stuck with me. In dealing with the stresses of our profession, or any profession for that matter, it’s the little things that can pull you through. A simple thank you, a note on your desk saying you are doing a good job, or a surprise cookie in your box or delivered to your door can make all the difference in the world. Too often these days society thinks the only thing people appreciate are big rewards…money, time, awards. In truth many “little things” will be appreciated more than one big reward. A personal touch to a simple gesture goes a long way.
Teachers and administrators alike, keep this in mind when working with your students and teachers. A personal note, a pat on the back, a smile and a “thank you” can be the little things that can turn someone’s day, week, or year around. Take time to do, and to enjoy, the little things.
Transitioning in the classroom seems like a small thing. It only takes a few minutes to transition from one subject/class to another. If the kids are running a bit slow, 2-3 minutes might turn into 5-6 minutes or more. That is a small amount, right?
Take into consideration the number of times a day you are transitioning from one thing to another. Is it 4,5,6…more? Let’s settle on 6 transitions a day. At 5 minutes each you have just used a half-hour of teaching time…each day! That is 2.5 hours a week. For a 36 week schedule that is 90 hours a year. It adds up fast. Imagine being able to get even half of that time back…
Teachers are finding that music is a great way to make transitions smoother and more efficient in their classroom. By spending a few minutes to introduce the concept they are saving hours in the long run. Students will quickly associate the song to the task at hand and start the process as soon as they hear it. By utilizing the same song every day, students also start to understand how much time they have by recognizing how much of the song is left. Add in the fact that it is more fun than hearing the teacher say 25 times that “it is time to go” and I am sold!
I know what many of you may be thinking, “That is a great idea, but how am I going to get that done every day? I have enough trouble keeping up with what I am doing now.” I hear you loud and clear. You don’t need another thing to do every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to set your computer to automatically play your transitions every day? Let me introduce you to the Task Scheduler.
The Task Scheduler can be accessed through your start menu under accessories. It will allow you to set as many tasks as you want, as often as you want. All you will need to do is have your music files stored on your computer so they can be accessed by the scheduler. To learn how to schedule tasks, a cheat sheet has been created to walk you through the process on a Windows machine.
If you are looking for some music to use for this task or for any other projects you are doing in class, FreePlayMusic.com is a great place to go. All the music there is royalty and copyright free. It is all instrumental so you have no worries about lyrics either. To learn more about FreePlayMusic and how to download from the site, refer to this cheat sheet.
Both cheat sheets are located on the iCafe website.
Gain some of your valuable classroom time back. Give the Task Scheduler a try!
The beginning of another school year is upon us. It is time for you to get to know your students and your students to get to know each other! Find below three different app projects that can be done to help your students introduce themselves to each other.
Tellagami is a free app that can allows students to create a video up to 30 seconds long. They first create an avatar and can then add a background image. Record your voice into the app and your video is complete! Download it to your camera roll to view from there, email, or share through another avenue. To learn more about Tellagami check out this post.
Fotobabble is another free app that would be great for students to create their introduction. Take a picture or create one on the iPad, then use it as the background for your Fotobabble recording. You are not limited to 30 seconds with this app. The video will be uploaded to the Fotobabble site and a link can be provided for playback.
Chatterpix for Kids
A third free app I want to share is Chatterpix for Kids. It allows you to take any image you have and make it speak! It is very easy to use. Children of all ages are able to use it independently. Your video can be saved to your camera roll, so you have access to use it however you like. To learn more about this app, check out this post.