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Monday, May 11, 2015

Story Prompts - 20 Random(ish) Pictures at a Time

My dog, Morrison, smiling
in a canoe.
Pechaflickr is a neat little tool built by Alan Levine. Pechaflickr displays twenty random images pulled from Flickr based on a tag (keyword) that you enter. For example, enter the word dog and twenty pictures of dogs will appear. But all of the the images don't appear at once. Instead each one appears for only twenty seconds. Alan built the tool as a fun way to get people to try their skills at giving impromptu presentations. But as he wrote in a recent blog post, people are using it in other ways like learning a second language.

Applications for Education
As I tested Pechaflickr I started to think about using it as a source of story starters for students. Enter a tag into Pechaflickr and as each image appears have students try to write down the first word or sentence that comes to mind. At the end of the set of images students can pick their favorite images to write about in their stories.

How Sound Is Produced Through Brass Instruments

How Brass Instruments Work is a relatively new TED-Ed lesson. The video provides an overview of how sound is produced and changed through trumpets, trombones, and tubas. The lesson within the video is rather basic but it does do a nice job of clearly conveying how a musician makes music on a brass instrument.


After students learn how brass instruments work, they can visit SFS Kids to learn how brass instruments fit into symphony orchestras. In the "performance" section of SFS Kids students learn about the instruments commonly heard in a symphony orchestra. After learning about how the instruments are played it is time for students to jump into the "composition" section of SFS Kids where they'll work through a series of lessons on the basics of composition and begin writing their own pieces.

Ten Sites and Apps to Inspire Creative Writing

Last week at the Riding the Wave conference in Gimli, Manitoba someone asked me for suggestions on sites that her students could access to find story prompts. StoryToolz.com was the first thing that came to my mind then. I also suggested Make Beliefs Comix. Those are two of the ten options that are included in my slideshow of suggestions embedded below.



Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

If you have asked your students to engage in research, then undoubtedly they have returned with a fresh list of results from a Google search. It can be a challenge in this era of search engine algorithms to teach students to engage with more traditional research methods and tools. Google Scholar is a great way to introduce them to this work while simultaneously working in a mode that is more familiar to them.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a Google search engine that allows you to look specifically for academic articles, theses, books, technical reports, abstracts, patent information, and case law. Just like Google’s search engine, you can use basic and advanced search options and find articles that are related to one another. It is important to note that Google Scholar does not contain everything. Much of the material you find may require a subscription to that specific journal article or to use a service like JSTOR. Therefore, this is a good tool to use in conjunction with other search methods and a great way to incorporate librarians into lesson plans and activities.

Just like a traditional Google Search, you can simply enter a keyword or phrase and find all relatable content. You can also do an “advanced search” to limit results to keyword, title, date, source, etc. One of the features I really like about Google Scholar is that if you find a good article or source, you can also select “related articles” to advance your research. You can also save the article to your own Google Scholar Library for later reference.

Google Scholar Search Results

If there is a topic that is of special interest to you (a research project you are working on, a pet project, or just a subject of interest), you can also create an alert to email you when something is published on that set topic. Simply click on the down arrow in the top right of the page, select “create alert,” enter your search query, the number of results that you want, and press “create alert.” Now, your research can even come directly to your inbox.

Google Scholar Alerts

Google Scholar is an excellent tool to expand your Google Searches and teach students about academic research and sources. While it doesn’t replace traditional databases or the skills of a good librarian, it is a great supplement to traditional tools. Also, if you like to research while you browse, look at adding the Google Scholar Chrome Extension.

EdTechTeacher will be offering a number of Summer Workshops that will be addressing Google Scholar as well as other research tools. In particular, you may be interested in Teaching English with Technology, Teaching History with Technology, as well as Reading, Writing, & Research.