This blog will be a reflection of my experiences this summer and beyond, as I strengthen my PLN and discover new Web 2.0 tools that will engage my students in authentic learning experiences. Also, this blog will be used as my portfolio - a collection of created "products" - as I explore different online tools and activities. Through technology, we have the opportunity to connect and communicate with individuals from all over the world. My hope is that this blog will develop into a resource and inspiration for other educators.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Imagine and Create...

Growing up, I was never an artist, or creative for that matter.  When drawing illustrations in the classroom I make fun of my terrible artwork, which more often than not is indecipherable. For this reason and many more, I absolutely LOVE Web2.0 tools that allow me to create and show my recently discovered artistic ability. With paper and pencil, I am a disaster. With my computer and the internet, I can create a masterpiece. This year my students began using tools such as, Glogster, Prezi, Animoto, Wordle/Tagxedo and Little Bird Tales, to create various projects and activities on the web. Just like adults, we have students that strongly dislike projects because of the 'neatness' and 'creativity' categories on the rubrics.  With these online tools, students feel confident in their design and final product. My students were motivated when given the freedom to choose and create a product that would show what they had learned, because they were using their strengths. The sharing and commenting aspect of the tools was also a motivating factor.  Over and over they would mention how special they felt when others appreciated their work and provided meaningful feedback. Exploring the web in search of these tools for my students and myself has been the highlight of my summer, as far as 'work' is concerned! :)

Thanks to Cool Tools for Schools and Go Web2.0 for an extensive list of tools! The first day of my exploration, led me to create a list of tools that sounded interesting and seemed appropriate for my classroom.  My next task was to dwindle down the list to tools that I wanted to investigate further and try out myself.  Here is my "shorter" list: 

Note: ** = used last year, and plan to use again this year!
  •  Digital Storytelling Tools
    • **Little Bird Tales: Allows children to upload their own artwork or use a drawing tool when creating their story on the web. The author can use text and/or record their voice. (Elementary)
    • Storybird: Collaborative storytelling - Begin by choosing an artist or theme (visual images) and use these pictures to tell your story...
    • Story Jumper: Start a story with a seven-step story starter process. When you are finished you can choose to share the book or even publish into a hardcover copy ($$).
    • Tikatok: Students can create and share their own book - this site also gives an opportunity to publish your book.
  • Presentation Tools (These tools all have the same purpose, I look forward to giving my students many different options to choose from.)
    • **Prezi: Easily create exciting and engaging presentations that zoom in and out around the canvas!
    • 280Slides: Similar to the Powerpoint, with the ability to access anywhere and share with others on the web. This tool has built-in media searches for Flickr and YouTube, which makes it easy and handy to add videos and images to your presentation.
    • PreZentit: Working on a new version...but looks neat.
    • Empressr: Create an online slideshow to share with others - includes 3D transitions.
    • Viddix: Create a video presentation and connect various content to your video (images, documents, websites) on a second panel.
  • Animation and Videos
    • **Animoto: Great video slideshow maker, the biggest challenge for student use is that the videos are short unless you pay for an account or are an educator. 
    • Memoov: Struggling to access their website, but looks interesting.
    • **Blabberize: Take any picture and make it blabber! :) 
    • **Voki: Customize your avatar and add your voice - can be embedded into blogs and websites. New: Voki for Education!
    • GoAnimate: Make animations easily, similar to Voki.
  • Others:
    • GoogleMaps(My Places)/MapMe: Create maps of your favorite places and destinations - so many creative ways to use these tools in the classroom.
    • Pixton for Schools: Interactive and teacher-moderated comic strip creator, which looks awesome to use (easy to use and fun) -- only downside is a cost for the program.
    • ToonDoo: Free tool to create cartoon comics or books.
    • **Glogster EDU: Create online posters. Easy to setup your class with usernames and passwords.
    • **Wordle/Tagxedo: "Generate word clouds from the text you provide."
    • Creaza Education: "An engaging suite of creative tools (4) where learners can create, publish, and share digital stories." - This looks really neat, I am still looking into this! Any comments or advice would be much appreciated!
    • My Fake Wall:  Students can create 'fake' Facebook profile pages for characters in story or famous people, groups, etc.  Excellent tool and excited to use in my classroom! :)  
    • Museum Box: Make a virtual box using text and media to describe a person's life or event!
    My explorations have led me here...now to determine which of the above tools to use for my project. :) If you have any classroom experience with any of the above tools, I would appreciate your advice and expertise! :)

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