Friday, May 18, 2012

Making Stories Talk

Have you been testing this week? It's a pretty straight-forward format - teachers read directions, students are quiet, read the questions silently and mark their responses. When they are finished for the day, both teachers and students are looking for exciting ways to express their ideas and things they are learning and have learned throughout the year. So why not put some sound in the mix and make your stories talk!

Below are a few of the tools I like to help the teachers incorporate into their lessons and students request them as a favorite and fun way to share their ideas (and even do a homework assignment).

Blabberize is a fun way to take a photo and make it look like it's talking. Your creation can be done in just a few minutes by uploading a photo, mark the moving points for the "mouth", and record your voice/message. It can then be shared on a blog or website.

Voki allows you to add your voice to a talking avatar that you've created or use one provided. It is a great way to present an idea and can be shared on a website or blog. The Voki website has free lesson plans for all grade levels and subject areas.

Voicethread is a easy way to create an audio presentation and allow others to comment through phone, text, microphone, webcam, or upload a file. You can even draw on the page while recording your comment.

Here are some of the ideas we used for our "talking stories."
  • "All About Me" story
  • Events from a field trip
  • Book Talk
  • Movie Trailer
  • Demonstrate a Concept, Rule, etc.
  • Explain a topic (Cyberbullying)
  • Present an "Oral Test"
  • Recreate an historical event
Whenever you get ready to have the students create a story, demonstrate a mathematical process, review for a test (and the list could go on forever), maybe one of these tools will bring a little "vocalization" into your classroom. Feel free to share your ideas for a talking story. I'll help spread the word.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Different Way of Looking at the World

While looking for some 4th quarter Social Studies resources to share with the teachers I noticed some interesting sites that were shown at the NCTIES conference earlier this month. The show.mappingworlds site in particular caught my attention. It has a new and different way of looking at data for our states and the world. All the collected data allowed numerous possibilities for projects in more subject areas than just Social Studies.

It is easy to get started – choose from USA, World or Japan, then select a subject and topic. The states or countries or prefectures change shape according to the data collected. Being able to watch the states change size and shape helps to make the information more meaningful. Who would have thought that the top two states, Iowa and Illinois, produce the most corn and would have the shape of a man’s face?

What a great way to help students remember facts. Included with the visual changing of the states are sections for maps, rankings, books, and interesting facts. The animated maps can be embedded or downloaded as an image. The data can be downloaded as an Excel file to use for graphs and charts.

This is a site with endless possibilities for making collected data come alive visually. Where would your fact-finding adventure take you?