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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Class Charts - A Nice Tool for Tracking Student Attendance and Behavior

Class Charts is a free service that is best described as one part seating chart and one part behavior chart. In Class Charts you can create and arrange as many seating charts as you like. You can create charts in a "seating" format that shows seat placement or you can use a list view. You can use students' real pictures in your charts or you can use one of the avatar images in your charts.

Class Charts seating charts double as behavior tracking charts. To document a student's attendance and behavior just select his name from the chart and tap the appropriate icon for attendance or behavior. You can record positive and negative behaviors. Students and parents can see their reports by accessing Class Charts through an invitation code that you send to them. 


Applications for Education
Class Charts is a service that could be very helpful to teachers who are looking for an easy way to document their students' behavior.

Class Charts was started by a teacher and I always try to support entrepreneurial teachers by trying out their services.

200+ Novel Games for Your Classroom Website

In my previous post I mentioned that I once put some games in the sidebar of a blog classroom blog. I did that because I had a group of students that I knew enjoyed games. I put the games in the blog to make the blog a little more appealing and hopefully get my students in the habit of visiting the blog often. The source of the games that I embedded into the blog was Novel Games. Novel Games offers more than 200 games that you can embed into your blog, wiki, or website for free. Most of the games are simple logic games, basic mathematics games, geography games, and spelling games like hangman. Novel Games also offers Sudoku and Mahjongg games.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above including games in your classroom blog or website is one strategy for getting students in the habit of visiting it without you're prompting. A few fun mathematics games or spelling games can keep students and parents coming back to practice and develop those respective skills. There are enough games on Novel Games that you can rotate games in and out of your class blog to give students variety or to match the topic you're currently teaching.

Four Good Ways to Use Media In Your Classroom Blog

Watching videos and commenting on them or looking at a picture and commenting on it are the most common ways that teachers have students use media in blog posts. There is definitely value in those activities as they do get students to think, write, and share. These are some other ways to think about using media in your classroom blog. 


SoundCloud is a great tool for creating short audio recordings. Those recordings can be embedded into blog posts. The feature of SoundCloud that makes it worth using instead of just embedding a recording from another service is that listeners can tie their comments to an exact moment in a SoundCloud recording. This means that if something twelve seconds into the recording triggers a thought in a students’ mind she can tie that comment to that exact moment. I’ve seen SoundCloud used by world languages teachers who have students make short recordings and post them on a classroom blog. The teacher then used the comment tool to give feedback to students.

ThingLink is a free tool for creating interactive images. To create an interactive image upload an image from your computer to your ThingLink account. After uploading the image you can add pins to the image. Each pin that you add to your image can include a video clip, a link to another site, a SoundCloud recording, a block of text, or another image. You can make your images collaborative by allowing others to add pins to the image. Images can be embedded into blog posts for students to view and or add their own pins. A few of the ways that I’ve seen ThingLink used by teachers is to have students add multimedia labels to diagrams of cells, to label geographic features, and to label historical images like that of the signing of the declaration of independence.

VoiceThread and Narrable provide platforms for uploading images and hosting discussions around them. VoiceThread offers more commenting options than Narrable, but I find Narrable easier for new users to master. Both tools allow you to embed your image-based stories into blog posts where students can comment on those images. Students will have to have an account to do this. VoiceThread allows three free projects before requiring you to upgrade to a paid plan. Narrable gives you one project before requiring you to upgrade to a paid plan.

Your classroom blog doesn’t have to be serious all the time. In fact, one of the ways that I used to make one of my blogs more appealing to students was to embed a game and or entertainment news widget into the side column of my blog’s homepage. One semester I had a group of students that enjoyed playing simple games online so I would grab a free game embed code from Novel Games and put it on my blog. A couple of years ago I put a news widget, a sports stories widget, and a TMZ feed on my blog. My goal in doing these things was to give students another reason to visit the blog besides just, “Mr. Byrne said we have to visit the blog.”

The Poetry Idea Engine Helps Students Create Poems

April is poetry month. At least that's what Scholastic tells me. Scholastic has assembled a big list of lesson resources for teaching poetry this month. One of the resources that I really like is the Poetry Idea Engine. The Poetry Idea Engine is a simple, interactive tool that helps students create four types of poems; haiku, limerick, cinquain, and free verse. To create poem on Poetry Idea Engine students select one of the four formats. If they pick one of the first three format students will be given a short explanation of the pattern before completing the template to create their poems.

Applications for Education
As a student when my teachers had us write poems I always struggled to come up with ideas to write about. Then when I taught language arts for a year (my first full-time gig before teaching social studies) I saw some of my students have the same struggle with poetry. The Poetry Idea Engine could be a great tool to help students who struggle to come up with ideas for poems.

Poetry Idea Engine will work on your interactive whiteboard, but it will not work on your iPad.

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