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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Awesome Library



I think we could all love a web site that made looking for resources a little faster, and Awesome Library has 37,000 organized web resources organized into neat and tidy categories. 



Each category is then further broken down eventually leading to oodles of useful links! Definitely a great prep tool for teachers, the site includes links to lesson plans, project ideas, worksheets and online activities!

By the way, I found this cool tool for teachers simply by reading a tweet containing a link to the blog, "Techy Things Teachers Should Try". I told you that Twitter could be useful!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Twitter??

OK--I used to ponder that question myself. Why Twitter? What can I possibly gain personally from such inane mini-messages?

My first adventure into Twittering was not successful. I found "friends" that were tweeting and simply followed them....and they were really going nowhere! I consider myself a busy enough person that I don't want to know what anyone is doing for every moment of the day.

Luckily, I have a wonderful technology role model in my life (thanks Jerri!), and she set a great example for me: don't aimlessly Twitter but look specifically for a group of people to feed your interests and meet your professional development needs. Now I have multiple resources at my disposal each and every day ---OK--each and every moment.

Sometimes I still feel overwhelmed by all the Tweets that I don't have time to read. My OCD just kicks in and I "unfollow" people who are flooding my Twitter. I would also like to note that I do not really like to tweet and do not have anyone following me either. For now, however, I have found that Twitter has been a great tool for learning, and, eventually, I may even join in the "exchange".

If you are interested, even a little, in starting up a Twitter account, there is a great article to get you going.
"How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN" has basic instructions on starting an account at the end of the article, and it also includes a list of "educationally focused chats" to make your first experience a positive one!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kids Click Search Engine


Teachers of the younger grades want their students to safely explore the internet to find their own resources, and Kids Click is the perfect solution! It is also absolutely FREE!! There are several ways for students to search: keyword, advanced search, category, alphabetically, and even Dewey Decimal (the site was designed by librarians). Another great tool is the quick links to digital media: pictures, video, and sound. 

Eight Tips to Engage Your Students

The article, Eight Tips to Engage Your Students, was recently tweeted  from Steven W. Anderson of Web20Classroom. It has a nice little opening article, but, if you are in a hurry, just scroll down and look at the bulleted information.

Great reminders of how to keep our learning environment and instruction "fresh"!

Monday, May 9, 2011

ABCya.com



I love those websites that have oodles of resources where teachers can go "shopping" for games and activities to suit various subjects and grade levels! ABCya.com is one of those sites! The home page has separate links for the various grade levels Kindergarten through 5th Grade. The only issue I have with the site is that the games for the older grades don't have sound and the "gaming frame" is small , but there is still plenty of good stuff in this one site.

FYI: ABCya.com is also the source of one of our students' favorite apps, "Rocket Math", so you know there are some gems to be found here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bubbl.us

Teachers love to use brainstorming and "mind mapping" in the classroom, and Bubbl.us is a free on-line tool to use to enhance this interaction.  The site allows you to just click and play or register for an account where you can save your "maps".

When I used the site, it took me a little while to figure out how to change the colors and make connectors. If you click, you will get a new "bubble". If you hover over the bubble, you get menu choices for color, connecting and deleting. I kept accidentally changing the text color instead of the bubble color. To connect, you have to actually click on the connect icon and drag directly from there----not from the bubble itself. Once I figured that out, I was good to go (in my defense, it was very early this morning!).

In the end, I decided this was really fun and useful---and more importantly---FREE!
But, go and try it for yourself!

Screen shot of a quick map I made comparing PBL with true 21st Century Technology  Integration.
Don't look at the content---just the Bubbles!

For other great brainstorming web tools, take a look at this great article by Richard Byrne.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ToonDoos

During the Texas Steps Up Technology Training today, we got to play with a really fun website called ToonDoos. You do have to go on and set up a free account, but it was very easy and there was no e-mail confirmation to wait for---so you get play right away! Once you have an account, you can create cute cartoons and avatars, save them publicly or privately, and even print them. Though I have only just quickly played with this site, I immediately loved it! It was intuitive and will be so easy to integrate into classroom learning. Check it out and let me know what you think

Screen shot of the little cartoon I made in class today. It only took about 15 minutes to get this done!
!