Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Websites Like - Find Related Sites and Tools

If you have ever found a website that you really like and wished that there were more like, Websites Like is a website you should try. Websites Like helps you find sites that are similar to your favorites. To find similar sites just enter the url of a like that you like and let Websites Like suggest similar sites to you.

Applications for Education
Websites Like could be a helpful research tool for students. When a student find a site that contains useful information they can try Websites Like to find more sites that could help them out.

Website on Steroids: Creating a Powerful Blog

This is a guest post from Dan Klumper.


The topic of using blogs in education is nothing new. One thing I have noticed over the years is that many teachers use blogs in basic ways, such as posting a question(s) and having the students respond/answer. This is good from time to time, but a blog can be so much more than that. A blog can by one of the most dynamic teaching tools a teacher could have. It can be a review tool, learning tool, creating tool, collaboration tool, a sharing tool or all of them. With this post, I want to give some useful tips and ideas that can be used to make a dynamic blog. So, let’s go.



  • The Silent Review: The silent review video is something I started this past year. This is a video that my students and I make together. As you will see in the video, it is such a simple way to review, but a very helpful one. The video can be posted on your blog for the students to access easily and watch leading up to the test. The attached video is a review over Greek Mythology. (be sure the students’ answers are the correct ones!)


  • WSG Live! My blog is called Water for Sixth Grade, so at the end of each unit, I have a WSG Live! review event. This review tool allows me to study with the students the night before the test. I am at my computer at my home, and they are on theirs at their homes. (How often can a student review with the teacher the night before?) For 30-45 minutes, I go online and with my blog, ask my students questions on my WSG Live! post. We discuss the material we have been studying together.  I take off comment moderation which allows the students to answer my questions and have their responses post immediately. This is a great way to review interactively.


  • Prezi Online collaboration: I am sure you are all familiar with Prezi. So let’s take Prezi and combined it with our blog. I posted a prezi on my blog that could be edited by anyone. I told my students that sometime over the next week, they were to add anything they know or learned about our topic (ancient Egypt). At the end of the week, we had a ton of things posted. The next step was to take what was added to the Prezi and organize it into topics such as “Nile River” or “Pyramids” or “Religioni.” This forced the students to do some thinking as to which category each piece of info went into.


  • Keep it Fresh: There is a multitude of tools that can be used through your blog. Create a comic on Pixton to help students learn/review in a more fun way. Have the students post a thought/comment on Wall-Wisher. Have the students create an imaginary conversation between them and someone of their choice about a topic. Post some online flashcards for them with flashcardmachine. Hold a debate on your blog, which allows everybody to have a voice, instead of just one kid getting called on. Share student work, post interesting videos. The possibilities are endless!

Keep in mind, you want your blog to be something that the students want to go to. So don’t “over blog” but try to keep new and useful/interesting things going. Start building momentum and remind/show the students how helpful it can be.  Soon, the students will “buy in” to your blog and jump on board. And when that happens, you shall have a dynamic blog.


My name is Dan Klumper and I live and teach in Brandon, SD. I have taught 6th grade social studies for the past six years. I am originally from Worthington, MN. I attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. I have a passion for technology in education because I believe it can make a huge impact on today’s students. Thank you.
Blog: http://waterforsixthgrade.blogspot.com
twitter: @danklumper
email: Daniel.Klumper@k12.sd.us 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Practice Piano With JoyTunes for iPad

JoyTunes is a small collection of iPad apps that I reviewed earlier this summer. JoyTunes builds apps that you can use to practice piano and recorder. With JoyTunes installed you play your physical instrument, but get directions and feedback through the app on your iPad. Last week they launched a new app for learning to play the national anthems of many countries on the piano.

Piano Summer Games from JoyTunes is a new free iPad app. The app provides directions and feedback for playing the national anthems of forty countries. You can play on your piano or play on a virtual keyboard on your iPad. You can compete with other JoyTunes users by earning points for playing the anthems correctly.


Applications for Education
JoyTunes could be a good piano tutor for students who have iPads. You can download the Piano Summer Games app here.

Try Duolingo to Learn Spanish, German, and French

Duolingo is a free site on which you can learn Spanish, German, and French. To learn on Duolingo you read, listen to, and translate words and phrases. For example if I want to learn Spanish I'll be shown Spanish words with translations. I can can hear the words pronounced too. Then to practice I type and or speak translations. The activities start out with simple words and phrases. As I become more proficient, Duolingo gives me more challenging phrases. To help me track my progress Duolingo awards me point and virtual badges.



Applications for Education
Duolingo won't replace in-person instruction, but it could be a good site for students to use to practice writing and speaking a new language.

Grading Made Easy with Diigo & Jing

This is a guest post from Rebecca Johnson.

Both Diigo and Jing have been written about on numerous occasions here at the Free Technology for Teachers blog, but I wanted to share my experiences using both tools when grading assignments. I teach an information literacy course for the college where I work as a librarian. This course requires students to create an annotated bibliography as their final project; but there’s one issue that I continually run into time and time again - students would submit their sources throughout the quarter, but when it came time to put the bibliography together, they never could find their sources again which left them scrambling to search for additional content. This past quarter, I tried something completely different, and it worked beautifully!


Diigo:
Students were required to create a Diigo account at the beginning of the quarter, and when searching for books, journal articles, or scholarly websites, they would save their sources using the diigolet tool (a bookmarklet). As the image indicates, students were required to provide me with an APA citation, and their summary annotation within the description field of the bookmark area. When students were finished searching for that week, they would submit their Diigo library URL to me, which made it very easy to continue grading their work as they advanced through the course.





Jing:
Once students submitted their work to me through Diigo, I needed some way of grading it visually so they would know exactly what mistakes were made in order make the necessary changes and complete the final project. I’ve used Jing in the past to create screencasts, but my number one 
use is screen capturing. I mark-up student work and provide the screen capture URL for them to view. The image indicates an example of what a student missed in their Diigo library and how I marked it up using Jing. 



This combination of grading has worked much better than I ever thought it would, and as an added bonus I have even had students ask how to download Jing for their own computers!
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Rebecca Johnson teaches Information Literacy at Harrison College and is transitioning into an Instruction and Emerging Technologies Librarian position with Manchester University.  Follow her online at BeccaLovesBooks (Twitter @beccalovesbooks). 


Editor's note: Jing Pro is scheduled to be shut down in February 2013. TechSmith (the producers of Jing) do offer other screen capture products. You can find a list of other screen capture tools here