Dear Photograph

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.

Doodle 4 Google

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.

200 Ways to Show What You Know

200 Ways to Show What You Know, brought to you by John Davitt from www.davittlearning.net, is a simple tool for generating ideas for products.  In other words, it gives suggestions for different ways to “show what you know.”  This allows the student to see that there are other options for projects besides Powerpoint presentations and papers.  If you, as the teacher, don’t feel comfortable in giving your students quite that much freedom (particularly since they may not be familiar with or at the maturity level to complete some of them), you could use the generator yourself, and narrow their choices down to a few that appeal to you for assessment possibilities.  Then, it might be easier for you to create accompanying rubrics with your expectations.

BrainPop’s GameUp

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.

Storybird

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!)

WordFoto

WordFoto is an iApp ($1.99) with a lot of potential for creative minds.  The app allows the user to either take a picture or load a photo from the device’s Photo Gallery.  Once loaded, the designer can then crop the picture if necessary.  The main appeal, however, is adding words to the picture.  There are sets of words already provided, or a creative mind can provide his or her own.  You can also choose the style by selecting from different themes or creating your own.  In addition, there are some fine-tuning tools to tweak things a bit more.  Below you will find an example of an original photo by one of my 4th graders, and her interpretation using WordFoto.

Original Photo

WordFoto Version

Thanks to Laura Moore, who first brought this app to my attention in her blog!  Be sure to check out her post for ideas on how to use WordFoto in the classroom.