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Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Edition: 5 Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

I'm taking a few days off to relax and enjoy the holidays. Just as I did at this time last year, for the next three days I'll be re-running the most popular posts of the year. I'll be back on Monday morning with fresh content. Happy Holidays everyone!



1. Create book trailers. I ran a post about book trailers during the summer which you can read here. In short, a book trailer is a short video created by students to highlight the key points of a book. When creating their book trailers students should be trying to "sell" viewers on a book. To create their videos your students could use Animoto for Education, JayCut, or PhotoPeach. Learn more about these free video creation tools in my free guide Making Videos on the Web.

2. Create animated or stop-motion videos about a book's plot. To make an animated video try Memoov which is a free service that your students can use to create an animated video book review. Memoov allows users to create animated videos up to five minutes in length. Creating an animated video with Memoov can be as simple as selecting a setting image(s), selecting a character or characters, and adding dialogue.

If stop-motion videos are more your speed, Kevin Hodgson's Making Stopmotion Movies is a fantastic resource for directions and advice on making stop-motion movies.

3. Create literature maps. Using Google Maps or Google Earth students can map out the travels of character in a story. Google Lit Trips has many examples of teachers and students using Google Earth in literature courses. If you're not familiar with how to create placemarks in Google Maps, please see my free guide Google for Teachers for directions.

4. Create 3D augmented reality book reviews. ZooBurst is an amazing service that allows you to create a short story complete with 3D augmented reality pop-ups. Students could use ZooBurst to create short summaries of books that really jump off the screen.

5. Create multimedia collages about books. Glogster allows users to create one page multimedia collages. Students could create a collage containing videos, audio files, text, and images about books they've read. For example, a Glog about Into the Wild could contain images of Chris McCandless, chunks of text about the book, and this video featuring a song from the movie based on the book.

Holiday Edition: 7 Resources for Detecting & Preventing Plagiarism

I'm taking a few days off to relax and enjoy the holidays. Just as I did at this time last year, for the next three days I'll be re-running the most popular posts of the year. I'll be back on Monday morning with fresh content. Happy Holidays everyone!

1. The first thing I do when I want to check a student's work for plagiarism is to do a quick search on Google. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don't think they've written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may want to search on Google as well as on Google Scholar. For more Internet search tools and strategies please see my free ebook Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results.

2. The Plagiarism Checker, created as a project for the University of Maryland, is an easy-to-use tool for detecting plagiarism. Simply enter a chunk of text into the search box and the Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was plagiarized.

3. Doc Cop offers a free service for checking small documents and a free service for checking documents against each other. Doc Cop also offers a fee based service that will check large documents and do a more comprehensive check than that offered for free.

4. The Purdue OWL website is the number one place I refer students and parents to for questions not only about Plagiarism, but for questions about all parts of the writing process.

Paper Rater is a free service designed to help high school and college students improve their writing. Paper Rater does basic spelling and grammar checks, but the real value of Paper Rater is that it tells students if their papers have elements of plagiarism. Paper Rater scans students' papers then gives students an estimate of the likelihood that someone might think that their papers were plagiarized.

Plagiarism Checker.com works just like many similar services. To use it, simply type or paste text into the search box and Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was copied. (Note: the name is similar to #2 above, but they are produced by different organizations).

7. Plagiarism.org, produced by the same people that produce the commercial plagiarism detection software Turn It In, has a free learning center for students and teachers. Plagiarism.org's learning center includes tips about avoiding plagiarism, definitions of plagiarism, and explanations of when you do or do not have to cite a reference. Plagiarism.org also hosts two recorded webinars addressing the topic of plagiarism in schools and how teachers can educate their students about plagiarism.

Holiday Edition: 47 Alternatives to YouTube

I'm taking a few days off to relax and enjoy the holidays. Just as I did at this time last year, for the next three days I'll be re-running the most popular posts of the year. I'll be back on Monday morning with fresh content. Happy Holidays everyone!

Some excellent educational content can be found on YouTube. However, many teachers cannot access YouTube in their classrooms. That is why I originally wrote what became one of the most popular posts to ever appear on Free Technology for Teachers, 30+ Alternatives to YouTube. That post is now fourteen months old and I've come across more alternatives in that time. Also in that time span some of the resources on the list have shut down. So it's time to update the list.


1. School Tube is a website dedicated to the sharing of videos created by students and teachers. School Tube allows teachers and schools to create their own channels for sharing their students' works. School Tube also provides excellent how-to resources, copyright-friendly media, and lesson plans for using video in the classroom.

2. Teacher Tube has been around for a while now, but I still run into teachers who have not heard of it. Teacher Tube provides user generated videos for teachers by teachers. Many of the videos on Teacher Tube have teachers sharing lesson plans in action. Some videos on Teacher Tube are simply inspirational. And other videos don't have teachers or students in them, but contain educational lessons none the less.

3. Teachers.tv is a UK- based website of videos for teachers and about teaching. Teachers.tv provides hundreds of videos available for free download. On Teachers.tv there are videos for all grade levels and content areas. Teachers.tv also has videos about teaching methods and practices.

4. Next Vista is a nonprofit, advertising-free video sharing site run by Google Certified Teacher Rushton Hurley. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch this interview I did with Rushton to learn more about Next Vista.

5. Academic Earth is a video depot for individual lectures and entire courses from some of the top universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

6. Snag Films and its companion site Snag Learning are great places to watch full length documentaries from producers like National Geographic for free. Snag Learning provides a catalog of educational films that are accompanied by classroom discussion questions.

Read the rest of list of 47 Alternatives to YouTube here

UJAM - Record Your Own Music Online

UJAM is a new service that aims to make everyone a singing sensation. Okay, so it might not make you a singing sensation, but it could help you create music tracks that you can share with friends and use in multimedia productions.

Here's how UJAM works; you sing or play an instrument while recording to UJAM. When you're done recording, use UJAM to alter the sound quality of your voice, turn your voice into other sounds, adjust the tempo of your song, and or remix a song to include your recording. UJAM is essentially an online, light weight version, of Garage Band. Watch the video below to learn more and see UJAM in action.


Applications for Education
UJAM could be useful for students to use to create music tracks to include in multimedia productions like documentaries, short story videos, or as background on a Glogster project.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Three Ways to Cut, Mix, and Mash YouTube Videos
12 Ways to Create Videos Without a Camera or Software
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web

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