Monday, January 6, 2014

Word Tamer - An Interactive Journey in Creative Writing

Word Tamer is a neat site for learning the process of developing characters, settings, and plots in creative writing. Word Tamer is set up as an interactive journey through a carnival of literary devices. As students move through the carnival they develop characters, develop a setting, and develop a plot for their stories. At each stop in the Word Tamer carnival students can print out the words they have written. Along the way there are videos to help students understand the roles of characters, settings, and plot development in crafting a good story.

Applications for Education
Using Word Tamer could be a good way to get reluctant writers started on their way to crafting creative stories.

Craft Stories and Plan Video Projects With Storyboard That

Disclosure: Storyboard That is a new advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Last week I published a short video in which I demonstrated creating simple comic strips with Storyboard That. Besides creating comic strips, Storyboard That is a nice tool for planning and creating stories online. Completed Storyboard That projects can be downloaded as images and or PPT files that could then be used in a video editing tool like WeVideo. Once in a video editor your students could add narration to their Storyboard That comic strips.

Storyboard That provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned.

Mission U.S. Expands to Offer Another Interactive Journey Through American History

Mission U.S. is a popular series of educational games about U.S. History. Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo I just learned that the latest installment of Mission U.S. is now available. The latest installment is titled A Cheyenne Odyssey.

A Cheyenne Odyssey focuses on Northern Cheyenne life in 1866 through 1876. A brief prologue introduces the era and a short epilogue continues the story into the 20th Century. In the game students take on the role of a young Northern Cheyenne boy named Little Fox. Throughout the game Little Fox has to make choices that can impact his future. As students move through the game there are moments that get paused to allow students to read and learn about how Northern Cheyenne life was impacted by westward expansion of the United States.

Applications for Education
The Mission U.S. games are available to use in a web browser. The games are also available as Android and iPad apps. The Mission U.S. website offers an educators section that includes printable lists of vocabulary terms, writing prompts, and post-game discussion prompts.

How to Make Posts Sticky in WordPress, Kidblog, and Edublogs

When you're using blogs in your classroom there may be some posts that you want to keep at the top of the page rather than letting them get pushed down by new entries. For example, if you're students are contributing to a group blog, you might want to keep the instructions post pinned to the top of the list of posts. Or you might want to keep a reminder about an upcoming due date posted at the top of the page. These kinds of posts are called "sticky" posts and they're easy to create on, Kidblog, Edublogs, or any other blog running on the software.

To create a sticky post in any of the aforementioned services follow these steps.
1. Write your post as you normally do.
2. Before publishing the post open the "visibility" menu on the right side of your post editor.
3. Click "stick this post to the front page." Your sticky post will stay at the top until you uncheck "stick this post to the front page."

To make an existing post a sticky post follow these steps.
1. Open your list of all posts.
2. Click "quick edit" below the title of the post that you want to make sticky.
3. Check "make this post sticky."

A Twenty Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers via @kellyhines

Last week on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I shared the twenty day blogging challenge created by Kelly Hines. I decided to share it here as well to give the challenge a little more attention. The challenge, which does not have to be completed in twenty consecutive days, contains twenty blog post prompts for teachers. To help teachers support each other in this challenge, Kelly created this form through which teachers can submit and share their blogs and Twitter IDs.

Applications for Education
As I've written in the past, most recently on my new blog Worms In the Fridge, the act of sitting down to write a blog post is a good exercise in thinking and reflecting on your practice. One of the obstacles to blogging that some people express to me is, "I don't know what to write about." Kelly's twenty day blogging challenge gives you plenty of ideas to run with.