Monday, November 2, 2009

Shape Poems - Poem Template from RWT

Shape Poems is a simple poem generation template hosted by Read Write Think. Shape Poems provides a template for writing poems in the shape of an object, about that object. Shape templates can be selected from one of four themes including sports, school, nature, and celebrations. Students then select a shape and identify words that they associate with their chosen shape. When completed, students can hear their poems read to them and or print their poems.

Thanks to Stacy Aune for the link via Twitter.

Applications for Education
Getting students interested in writing poems can be a difficult task. The Shape Poem generator provides a nice selection of templates that may pique students' interest in writing poetry.

Scribblar - Simple, Effective, Creative Collaboration

Scribblar is a free, simple service designed for creative, real-time collaboration. Using Scribblar, users can collaborate on the creation and editing of images and drawings. If you have an image you can upload it to your whiteboard where you and others can edit it or comment on it. The commenting can take place directly on the whiteboard or in one of two side bar chat options. Users can chat in text or in voice.

You can create a Scribblar room without creating an account. However, if you choose to create an account you will get some additional free benefits like locking and unlocking rooms, naming of rooms, and privacy controls.

Applications for Education
Scribblar could be a great tool for students to use to comment on and peer critique art work and graphic designs. This would be useful when students are creating slides for a presentation or a creating other original designs. Scribblar could be a more effective collaboration tool than some its competitors because it does have two options for dialog, text chat and audio chat.

Huffduffer - Easily Embed Professional Podcasts

Huffduffer is a simple, free, service that allows you to create podcast playlists and embed podcasts into your blog or website. Finding podcast content and developing playlists is a simple matter of using the search box. The real utility of Huffduffer is the ease with which you can embed a podcast recording into your blog or website. To do this simply select the podcast you wish to embed then find the embed code provided by Huffduffer in the lower-right corner of the page. Then just copy and paste the code in the same manner as you would use for a YouTube video. I've embedded a sample podcast from American Public Media below.
APM: Marketplace All-in-One Podcast on Huffduffer

Applications for Education
If you're looking for an easy way to enrich your classroom blog or website with audio content, Huffduffer might be the tool for you.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
20 Interesting Ways to Use Audio In Your Classroom
Mix Your Own NPR Podcast
Sound Bible - Free Sound Clips

A Fun Physical Education and Video Activity

The International Olympic Committee in partnership with YouTube has launched a new site called The Best of Us Challenge. The Best of Us Challenge is designed to give average people a chance to test their unique athletic abilities against those of real Olympians. Through The Best of Us Challenge, participants "compete" against Olympians in unique physical challenges such as spinning an umbrella or balancing a stick your foot. To enter, select a challenge, create a short video of yourself completing the challenge, then upload the video to the YouTube The Best of Us Challege page. Winners of the contest can win t-shirts, video games, posters, and possibly a trip to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The contest is open to participants age 13 and older (under 18 needs parental consent). Read all of the contest details here.

The video below is Asafa Powell's challenge to balance a stick on your foot.

Thanks to Mashable for the information about this fun challenge.

Applications for Education
The Best of Us Challenge provides a fun opportunity to get kids excited about physical education challenges while also providing an opportunity to integrate a technology component into a physical education class. The Best of Us Challenge also provides an opportunity for students who may not fit into the typical "athlete" mold to show-off their unique skills.

9 Resources for Website Evaluation Lessons

Nine days ago I published Beyond Google, an ebooklet designed to help teachers and students improve their Internet search results. What that ebooklet didn't include was resources for evaluating the quality of the websites that you find through Internet search engines. Therefore, I've compiled a list of nine resources that teachers can use as part of lesson plan about evaluating the quality and reliability of a website.

Downloadable PDFs from DocStoc and Scribd
1. Evaluating Information - A Guide to Websites.
- This is a one page list of guiding questions to consider while viewing a website. This guide is best suited to high school and college students.

2. Gary Library Website Evaluation Checklist.
- A two page document containing checklists in six different categories for determining the validitity and quality of online information. "Smiley" icons provide clues for younger students. Suitable for middle school and high school use.

3. Evaluating the Quality of Sources.
- A one page document outlining a list of questions to consider as you evaluate a website. This document recommends and provides a link for checking the WHOIS domain registry.

4. Boolify Lesson Plan for Evaluating Websites.
- A simple lesson plan from that is appropriate for grades four through nine (give or take a grade).

5. Bear Essentials Evaluating Websites.
- This document is part of series of documents about finding and evaluating online and print references. These documents were produced by the Baton Rouge Community College.

Online Lessons and Activities
6. Cyber Smart Lesson Plans and Student Activities.
- Provides more than a dozen lesson plans and activities appropriate for grades K-12. Lessons cover everything from finding websites to evaluating websites.

7. Kathy Shrock's ABC's of Website Evaluation.
- Tried and true lesson plans, online activities, and handouts for teaching website evaluation. The resources found here can be adapted for use in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

8. Cornell University Library - Evaluating Websites.
- Geared toward college students, the resources here can be accessed by high school students. Many links out to other resources on the topic of website evaluation.

For Brushing-up on Your Own Skills
9. Evaluating Websites for Learners.
- Created by Maggie Verster, this presentation provides justification for teachers previewing websites, creating their own search engines, links to resources for teaching website evaluation. Presentation is embedded below.