Dear Photograph is not an educational site. It is a collection of photographs of pictures. In each photograph, the photographer is holding up a picture from the past in front of a scene from the present. The juxtaposition is striking, and the submissions are accompanied by moving letters to the subjects of the older photos. The emotions that you find on this site are varied and deep, from nostalgia to regret. I like the idea of using this concept in the classroom because I think that it could help students to better understand their families. And if you have some really creative photo editors, they could develop their own versions for historical settings that they are currently studying or for literature. Using Dear Photograph for a project would be a neat way to encourage empathy and perspective.
The Doodle 4 Google contest is up and running, and I love the theme for this year. It’s, “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” It’s open to all K-12 students in U.S. schools, and there are some really amazing prizes, including a Google Chromebook. If you know a student who is an aspiring artist, be sure to have him or her submit an entry by March 23rd. To inspire your students, you might want to head over to this link, where some art students created some Art History Google pieces.
Many educators already know about BrainPop, a subscription site that offers animated videos on a variety of educational topics. It includes quizzes and downloadable handouts, as well as ideas for lessons. BrainPop is also available as a free app for iOS. For free, one can watch select videos. Recently, BrainPop also made their subscription videos available with this app, so you can log in to that as well on your iDevice. The new feature some of you may not know about, however, is “Game Up“, which is the BrainPop games area. Partnering with a few other websites, BrainPop is continuing to add interactive games which tie in to their videos. They are also offering resources for students and teachers to develop their own games.
As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing? In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice: when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today. I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write. I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave. So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories. For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story. We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.
After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens. I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice. You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish. They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.
Storybird is free. Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily. The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in. You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top. They can comment, as can the teacher. It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family. The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create. Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring. The art work is charming and lovely.
Here is a sample from one of my 4th graders: (I apologize if some of the words are cut off – WordPress does not “play well” with embed codes!)
Larry Ferlazzo offered a new link on his blog for a site called Draw a Stickman that I think could be really fun for the classroom. The key to this site is the “Share” option. At the end of the interactive story, a message appears. When you choose to “Share”, you can determine the message. You can then e-mail it to yourself and/or others. If you want to use this to introduce a topic, you can e-mail it to yourself, save the link, and have your students help you create the stickman that brings the message. You could also create several different messages, differentiating for your students, and offer them as links on your student server or on a teacher website. If your students have e-mail addresses, such as e-pals, and are corresponding with someone for class, this would be a fun message for them to create and send.
This recently appeared in the Langwitches blog, and a fellow teacher shared it with me. It is similar to the Bloom’s Taxonomy Tech Pyramid I posted awhile ago, but this one sticks to iPad apps. Of course, there are new apps every week that would also be great to use at multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This, however, is a great jumping off point, particularly for teachers who are just beginning to implement these devices in their classrooms.
Whether you use the Wordle riddles that “Jen” has created, or set off to make some of your own, this is a great concept that integrates technology with practically any topic you are learning. You could use your Wordles to introduce a topic or to review something that has already been taught. You could have students create their own Wordles that others need to guess. One of the cool, and quite simple, features on this site is the way that she embedded the Wordles in her blog so that when you roll over them the answer appears. This can be done when you add the alternate text to a picture you are inserting in your blog or website. Of course, Wordle is not the only site that creates word clouds. Tagxedo is another fun way to make these, and allows you to format them to different shapes.
S.C.O.R.E. Cyberguides is a site that was produced by Schools of California Online Resources for Education. It is based on California’s Language Arts curriculum, and offers a multitude of literature units at levels from K-12. The units include teacher and student resources. They could be used as supplemental materials, or as jumping off points for Literature Circles or independent study assignments. There is a disclaimer on the site that lack of funding has resulted in some of the units being out of date (broken links, etc…). However, it appears that even those units are still available on the site under “Retired” sections. This is helpful as a teacher could scavenge them for curriculum ideas or website suggestions.