Monday, September 17, 2012

Dozens of Icebreaker Activities and Team Building Games

This morning on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked me for recommendations for icebreaker activities. That question reminded me of is an online catalog of dozens of fun icebreaker and team builder activities. The activities are categorized by group size and activity type. To find an activity appropriate for your group just select your group's size then use the activity type key to find "get-to-know-you games," "team building games," or "active (break a sweat) games."

Applications for Education
We often think of icebreaker and team building activities as things we do at the beginning of the school year. But as we know, getting to know our students is an on-going process. The next time you're looking for a team building activity, take a look at

Symbaloo Mobile - Share & Access Your Favorite Resources On Any Device

Back in July when Google announced the closure of iGoogle I recommended trying Symbaloo as an alternative. Since then I have heard from many readers who are happy with Symbaloo. Last week Symbaloo launched a new iPad-friendly version. The iPad-friendly version gives you access to all of your favorite Symabaloo bookmarking and sharing options in a format optimized for tablet display.

Symbaloo does offer an iPhone app, but that app is only optimized for phone display.  However, the Symbaloo Android app is optimized for tablet display. In fact, I like the Android app better than the new iPad-friendly tablet display. For my taste the Android app has a cleaner, less cluttered display than the iPad display.

Applications for Education
Symbaloo allows you to bookmark your favorite websites and arrange them into tile boards that you can share or keep private. Symbaloo calls the tile boards webmixes. You can create multiple webmixes arranged according to topics of your choosing. You could create webmixes about topics to share with your students. Or you could have students create their own webmixes and share them with the class to help everyone learn from each other's research.

Symbaloo does offer an education version, but the education version is not free except for individual use which doesn't make it different than signing up for a regular Symbaloo account

Stop Frame Animator - Create Stop Motion Videos

Stop Frame Animator from Culture Street is a neat tool for creating animated stop motion movies. Creating your animated stop motion video is a simple drag and drop process on Stop Frame Animator.

To get started creating your stop motion video select a background scene then drag your characters into place. While you have nine background scenes to choose from, the only characters you can use are wooden manikins. You can position the manikins' arms and legs in every scene. After choosing your scene and characters you can add some other props like chairs and beach balls. And if you want you can add sound effects and music to your video by selecting them from the Stop Frame Animator gallery.

Stop Frame Animator productions cannot be saved locally, but they can be saved online if you create an account. You can share your productions by emailing them to friends.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a different way for your students to create short stories, have them try Stop Frame Animator. The challenge of using Stop Frame Animator is getting students to tell stories without using words. This process will require students to make careful selection of props and sound effects.

Thanks to Nathan Hall for sharing Stop Frame Animator with me.

Spanish Is Your Amigo - Video Lessons for Beginners

Spanish Is Your Amigo is a new series of video lessons taught by Kristen Williams. The lessons are designed for beginners. The short, upbeat lessons cover the basics of things like letter pronunciation, numbers, syllabic stress, verb conjugation, nouns and articles, and common Spanish phrases. Check out a sample lesson embedded below.

Applications for Education
As I say with almost every series of video lessons, they won't replace direct in-person instruction. But video lessons can be good resources for students who need a review or for students who can benefit from a slightly different wording or way of looking at material.

Spanish Is Your Amigo does have an etextbook available too, but the etextbook is not free as the video lessons are. 

Wikispaces Updates Viewing and Editing on iPads

Wikispaces does not have an iPad app, but they do have a mobile-friendly site that was recently updated for a better iPad viewing experience. The updated site has the major navigation functions at the bottom of the screen in order to provide you with more working space on each page. At the bottom of your screen you will now see "home," "recent changes," "pages and files," and "members." The edit button resides at the top of your page. You can edit anything on wiki with your iPad that you would edit on your laptop.

Applications for Education
The updated Wikispaces mobile interface isn't limited to iPads. It also works on my Android tablets. The cross platform compatibility is a nice feature for schools with BYOD policies as your don't have to worry about one student not having the same editing options as another.