Monday, January 26, 2009

Snowmen at Night

We have been working at learning Microsoft Word basics in my primary classroom over the last two weeks. Students as young as kindergartners are learning many skills including demonstrating how to center, underline and bold the text. When you have a room with 26 students, this does take patience and it is nice to have help. I am thankful for my very patient aid, Dylan. I borrowed an idea from Lisa Harris and Michelle Brown on CAPspace to put some of our skills to use.

I read the book, Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner to my primary students. Then, students used TuxPaint to illustrate what they would do at night if they were a snowperson. The Turtles (aka kindergarten) did their typing within TuxPaint. The Honeybees and Buffaloes (aka grade 1 and grade 2) imported their picture into Microsoft Word where they were asked to type and center the title of their paper, right align the body of their text, print and save their document. This turned out to be such a cute project that I uploaded the student TuxPaint drawings into MixBook and copied in the text into the book in order to spread a smile or two. This Mixbook project could be a great collaborative project to share and work on with other schools around the world.

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

I do have some great news that I want to share about Mixbook. After I first discovered Mixbook, I sent an email off letting Mixbook know that I thought they had a terrific product and with a few tweaks could be a wonderful educational tool. You have to know in the back of my mind, I was not really expecting any response. So you can imagine my surprise last year when I received an email from Andrew Lafoon, co-creator and founder of Mixbook. We ended up Skyping and discussing Mixbook. Through our conversion, I discovered that Mixbook had been talking with a few other teachers and was working to develop an educational version.

Over Christmas break, Marcel Sanchez, head of the educational division, contacted me to ask me a few more questions about Mixbook and to give me an update. Last week, I received another Mixbook update via email. Mixbook is just about ready to release their educational version.

Here is a quick overview. Mixbook is looking at charging educators a 1 time fee of $10.00. Mixbook is also looking at giving educators a 20% discount when we publish a hard copy of our books. In fact, the discount for teachers is already in effect. There will also be a wide array tools and features that will help teachers persuade their districts to unblock Mixbook and let the learning begin. When Mixbook comes out with the new educational version, make sure to sign up again if you already have an existing account with them, so you do not miss out. Mixbook is a wonderful tool to aid in digital storytelling and I am impressed that the team at Mixbook took time to speak with this small town tech!

I also read Snowmen at Night to my preschool classes. Then we used Audacity to create a podcast of what they would do if they were snowmen at night. I used podOmatic to host our podcast. I will link the show to this blog, but note that I had problems with the podOmatic player last week when I gave this a try on my Martin Luther King, jr post. The podcasts seem to download okay but I cannot play them from the web. So I hope you are able to view the preschool episode as preschoolers are always so cute to listen to.

Snowmen at Night
by the Preschoolers

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Junior

To celebrate and learn about the life of Martin Luther King, jr. my primary classes watched a Brainpop video. After discussing the video and the impact Mr. King made on our country, we used Audacity to record our own dream. I used podOmatic to share our mp3 file. It was very easy to create and use the website.

I Have a Dream
by the Burrton Primary Students

My upper elementary classes were challenged to spend some time becoming experts about Martin Luther King, jr. The third graders started listing major events in King's life taking turns discussing and verifying information the students were discovering on the web. I wanted to use Timetoast to create a time line. Class ended before we had enough time to complete our time line. So Mrs. Schmidt returned to her classroom and later finished up the TimeToast time line in her classroom with her third graders using laptop computers.

Earlier in the day, I used our Polycom system to talk with teachers at Wheatland. I tried to review material and answer questions that anyone might have had from a previous technology in-service that I gave back in October.

In October, we covered various topics like blogging, Google docs and Google Forms.

I also covered public learning networks (Twitter, Plurk, Ning, Delicious, etc..) and a few web2.0 applications (Animoto, Voicethread, Mixbook etc..).

One of the teachers was looking for a free quiz application that he could embed in his blog. I usually use Google Forms to create quizzes and embed into my blog, so I decided to do some research and see what else was available as I know there are several quiz creators out there. I decided to give ProProfs a try. It looked interesting and after I explored the site a little, I think it has potential. I like that you can embed video pictures and external links into your quiz. I wish the site was a less cluttered with ads, as it seems to take away from the sites good qualities. I found ProProf easy to use. I ended up creating a three question quiz to go along with Martin Luther King, jr's famed, "I Have a Dream" speech. I embedded the sample quiz into my blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

'09 Inauguration Links

Glen Wiebe recently shared a bookmarking resource at a tech meeting called ShareTabs. I used Sharetabs to share inauguration links with teachers in my district. I plurked the link and made a comment that it would be nice to be able to embed the visual bookmarks. TammyW (aka Tammy Worcester) plurked back that I should give WebSnips a try. Maybe you will find something useful within this list of resources.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Year in One Sentence

Third grade students were asked to summarize their year in one sentence. To begin the project, the third graders used Microsoft Word to type and edit their sentences. Then, they used TuxPaint to illustrate an image for their stories.

I created an account on Gabcast and used my cellphone to dial into my account and create a podcast recording. Students took turns recording their sentence.

Gabcast! Burrton Third Graders #1 - My Year in One Sentence

Third graders describe their year in 2008 in one sentence.