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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Starfall - Learning to Read and Write

Starfall.com is another of the great resources that was shared at the FOSS VT conference. Starfall is a great resource for early literacy teachers. Starfall has many free teaching resources including pdf files of handouts to use with students. For students Starfall has numerous online games designed to teach reading and writing skills. Starfall.com includes a page for parents discussing activities that they can do with their children to help them learn to read and write.

Applications for Education
Starfall.com has a great download center where teachers will find numerous activities and materials available for free. Each of the Starfall activities includes ideas for modifying activities based on a student's ability. The educational games on Starfall are suitable for students aged three and above. Most of the games for learning the alphabet are easy enough to navigate that even very young students will benefit from using the game.


Free Technology For Teachers: Cullen's ABC's - Videos and Activities for Elementary Students

Cullen's Abc's a new website that was featured today on Killer Startups. Cullen's Abc's provides users with a large collection of free videos (most are hosted on You Tube) and activities for young students. The activities on Cullen's Abc's are available as pdf files. Each activity pdf is accompanied by a short "how to" video. Below I've embedded one of the Cullen's Abc's activity videos.



Applications for Education
The activities and videos on Cullen's Abc's are geared toward elementary school and preschool students and teachers. This is a good resource for teachers new to the profession that are looking for activity ideas. Cullen's Abc's is also a good resource for parents for the same reason.


Free Technology For Teachers: You're Invited to Wikis For Education

Wikispaces

In preparation for the workshops about wiki uses in education that I'm conducting in the coming weeks, I have created a wiki about using wikis for education. I created this as a place to have workshop participants practice editing wikis, but it is open for the public to edit right now. If you're a reader of this blog, chances are you are at least familiar with wikis and likely a wiki user. If you have ideas about using wikis in education please share them at Wikis For Education.

ABCya - Elementary School Educational Games

ABCya is a great place to find all kinds of free educational computer games for elementary school students. The games do not require any special plug-ins or downloads in order to play. ABCya also does not ask for users to register. ABCya is divided into grade levels (K-5) then subdivided based on subject area. The categorization system ABCya uses makes it quick and easy to find an activity appropriate for each student.

Applications for Education
ABCya's games reinforce basic academic skills and are fun to use. Games that reinforce academic skills are useful for meeting the needs of different students. Each student can practice and develop the skills that they need to focus on.

Free Technology For Teachers: Five Free Wiki Tools

Over the next six weeks I am going to be conducting three workshops about using wikis as educational tools. In preparation for those workshops I'm taking a look at five different, free, wiki applications. Two of these programs, PB Wiki and Wiki Spaces, I'm currently using with my classes. The other three wiki programs are very good alternatives, I just haven't put them to use with students yet. If there are other wiki programs that you have had success using with students please leave a comment.

Here are the five wiki programs that I will be sharing with workshop participants.
1. PB Wiki
2. Wiki Spaces.
3. WikiDot
4. Wet Paint
5. Scribble Wiki

Applications for Education
A couple of months ago I reviewed PB Wiki and wrote about uses for wikis in education. You can read that review by clicking here. That blog post includes a discussion of how quickly a teacher can get a class working on a wiki.

One way to use a wiki in education is to build a resource page with your students for your students. As students progress through course curriculum they can share notes and references through a wiki. For example, during the third marking period my students built a wiki about the topics we studied. The students then used the wiki as a study guide for the quarter test.

Wikis make are great for group projects and presentation as students can easily collaborate on a wiki from any Internet connected computer. Wikis are a great way to have students share information through a 21st century medium. Students can share their work with classmates or a wider audience through a wiki. Most wiki programs allow for the inclusion of audio and video media along with text.

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