Monday, January 26, 2009

Activities for Understanding Political Cartoons

Political cartoons are a great way for students to learn about current news events as well as the nuances of political satire. However, if students don't understand various elements that create a good political cartoon the lesson loses its meaning. It's No Laughing Matter is a learning activity developed by the Library of Congress designed to help students understand and analyze the elements of a political cartoon. It's No Laughing Matter provides students with an interactive guide to understanding, practice activities, a short glossary of terms, and brief histories of the featured cartoons. It's No Laughing Matter also offers a compilation of resources for teachers.

Applications for Education
It's No Laughing Matter could be a great resource for introducing political cartoons to a Social Studies class. The students can use the practice activities individually before moving on to exploring other political cartoons that you provide to them. If you're looking for more political cartoons to use in your classroom take a look at Cartoons for the Classroom.

Edmodo - Microblogging for Students

Typically when people hear the term microblogging, they think of Twitter, Tumblr, or the now defunct Pownce. Edmodo has elements of all of those services along with some extra features designed with students and teachers in mind.

Edmodo is a microblogging system designed specifically for teachers and students. Using Edmodo teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Just as with any good microblogging service users can share links, videos, and images.

Watch the video overview of Edmodo below.

Applications for Education
Edmodo could be used for a wide variety of tasks and lessons. Creating an Edmodo group could be a handy way to remind students of assignments and tasks they need to complete. It could also be a forum for open discussion in an online course setting. In a one-to-one computing environment you could post a story starter and have each student add a sentence or paragraph to create a collaboratively written story.

Make Beliefs - Multilingual Comic Strip Creation

Make Beliefs is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a variety of templates, characters, and prompts for building their own comic strips. Make Beliefs provides students with a pre-drawn characters and dialogue boxes which they can insert into each box of their comic strip. The editing options allow users the flexibility to alter the size of each character and dialogue bubble, bring elements forward within each box, and alter the sequence of each box in the comic strip. Students that have trouble starting a story can access writing prompts through make beliefs. Most impressively, Make Beliefs allows users to write their comic strip's dialogue in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin.

Applications for Education
Make Beliefs, like other comic strip creation tools, provides teachers with way to get students to write in a manner that doesn't feel like a traditional
writing assignment. The option to create comic strips in seven different languages makes Make Beliefs useful for foreign language teachers as well as ESL/EFL teachers.

Here are some additional comic creation tools that you might consider using in your classroom.
Be Funky - Create Comic Strips from Photographs
Comiqs - Create Comics to Play as Slideshows
Pikikids - Comics Creation for Kids

Blank Sheet Music and Other Music Resources

Yesterday, through Fred Delventhal's blog, I came across a link to free printable sheet music. Blank Sheet allows you to create your own blank sheet music. Before printing you can select the key signature, time signature, number of staves per set, sets per sheet, and the cleff.

Applications for Education
Blank Sheet Music could be a handy resource for music teachers, particularly music theory and music composition teachers. I remember my high school band teacher bemoaning the inflated cost of sheet music. Blank Sheet Music could be a cost saving resource for music educators.

Here are a couple of other music education resources that I've mentioned in the past.
Beethoven's Baseball from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Ed Tech Musician Podcast