Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Kids to Tell Their Stories

Throughout the time I have been blogging on this site, I have shared a number of digital storytelling tools and examples of giving students a voice with various technology tools.  In the work I do with teachers, I am amazed that many teachers say "I never thought of that" when I suggest digitally recording their students. 

Yesterday, I did a presentation on digital storytelling for a 6th-8th grade ESL class. Several students recorded poems they wrote and the class got excited when I told them that they could use the free tool Vocaroo at home. The message is that these tools are not just for the classroom and students can use them in their personal lives.

Today, a teacher told me about a monologue her students were preparing for a project on the ancient Mayan civilization.  As is customary, the students were going to present their monologues in the classroom.  Another aha moment!  I explained Vocaroo to the class and one student who had completed her monologue volunteered to record her piece.  Now the class and teacher are planning to add a digital component to their existing monologue project. 

 I am always looking for examples and articles that support giving students a voice and recently, I read an excellent blog post that I want to share. Rob Bayuk, author of TechTec, posted this on Feb. 1, 2010.  It included a teacher's guide to digital storytelling by Microsoft and information about Windows Live Movie Maker and Photostory3, two free downloadable programs.  The blog also mentions an ISTE webinar on digital storytelling that took place in January and includes a link to the archive of the webinar, something you can watch at your leisure if you want to learn more about the power of engaging kids
by allowing them to tell their stories.  Mr. Bayuk presents a number of compelling reasons to become involved with digital storytelling.

I hope you check out the blog post and think about ways you can use some tool to support storytelling, in every way possible, within your curriculum and/or classroom.  Let's engage kids and get those stories told in as many ways as possible!

Your comments are always welcome.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Microsoft Math 4.0 - FREE!

Microsoft offers a free downloadable math program called Mathematics 4.0.  The website offers more than just the download.  There is a video overview of the program and a number of printable support documents.

There is a keeping it simple teacher guide and step-by-step instructions for using each of the four elements of the program, along with a classroom poster and a datasheet.  The program provides a graphing calculator, triangle solver, a unit conversion tool and more.

The program will work on Windows XP, Windows Vista Windows 7 operating systems.  Give it a try.  Anything that keeps kids engaged and interested in mathematics is worth trying and the price is right!  If you like the download, leave a comment and share how it works for you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Graphic Organizers - A Good Collection

If you are looking for a good collection of free graphic organizers, check out this group of resources from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  The extensive list of graphic organizers open as PDF files and can be printed.  They can also be used on an interactive white board.  There is something for everyone here and the page definitely keeps it simple.
The graphic organizer collection is available in both English and Spanish.  This provides teachers with additional uses for them.
Check out this site and see if it can support the graphic organizers you currently use.
Share the resource with a colleague and leave a comment if you have a suggestion on using this resource.  As stated on the website, you have permission to use and copy the organizers for your classroom.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Teach Writing Transitions With the Owl Online Writing Lab

Are you looking for grammar and writing resources?  Purdue University's Owl Online Learning Lab has many learning tools that can help students of all ages.  These writing transitions are an example of the "keeping it simple" way the handouts on Owl are produced.  The information is clear, easy to understand and accurately presented. 
The transitions are just one of many helpful pages on the writing mechanics section of the website. You can see the extensive list of resources on the left. 
This site has a ton of writing resources.  The general writing url is:

Share this quality writing resource with students and give them another way to learn the tools that will make them better writers. 

This site is a great example of a college English department sharing free information that can be used by all educators and students.  Check it out and use the link I have shared to help your students add some new transitions to their essays.