Web Based Tools


There is an absolutely exhaustive list digital tools available online. In fact it can actually get quite overwhelming at times. The trick is to find the few that suit you and best meet the learning needs of your class. My other suggestion is that you start out by focusing on just one tool at a time when you're just starting out. It can be really easy to get carried away and try out everything!

The ideas for use suggested below are really only a taster. There are so many possibilities out there and I'm sure you can think of many of your own. By playing with the tools and exploring the links, I hope you will begin to build your own list of ideas.

Tool

Example

Ideas For Use

VoiceThread


This is one of my all time favourites and it keeps getting better all the time. You can use it within your own class or to collaborate locally, nationally or globally! The creators of VoiceThread have also recognised that educators are really embracing this tool and so they created EdVoiceThread which allows you to have an educators account. This has several advantages including the fact that you can create as many VoiceThreads as you like.

ed.VoiceThread
VoiceThread

  • A problem solving VoiceThread for Maths.
  • A VoiceThread with children's artwork or projects for others to provide feedback.
  • Pre/Post unit knowledge & understandings.
  • A digital "big book".
  • To share learning & thinking for Science, Social Studies, Technology, etc.
  • A collaborative "never ending story" type project.

Click here for more ideas.

Wikispaces


The creators of Wikispaces also provide special accounts for educators. One of the neat things about educator accounts is that they are totally ad free so you don't need to worry about anything inappropriate turning up on your site. You can create as many wikis as you need and you can determine the level of privacy. A quick email to the wikispaces team at help@wikispaces.com is all it takes to set up individual user names and passwords for your class. You just use the format User name Email Address (if they have one) and Password for each student. I had mine all set up within 24 hours - their service is prompt and they are really helpful.

Wikispaces
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  • Use as a class web site for sharing learning, classroom happenings, etc.
  • Provide each child with an individual page & encourage peer feedback.
  • Class contributes their ideas and discoveries to a class "encyclopaedia"
  • Collaborate on online projects with classes from around the world.
  • Collaborative story writing.

Blogs


There are several different blog providers available including Edublogs, Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress to name just a few. Edublogs is designed specifically for schools and educators.
The others I have mentioned are open to all members of the public. I currently use Blogger as this is the platform I used when I first started blogging. The word blog is simply short for "web log" and blogs are used by many people as a form of online diary or journal. Educators have found a myriad of ways to use blogs in the classroom, some schools are even using them for their school's website.

My Class Blog (Contact me for password)
Blogger
Edublogs
Typepad
Wordpress
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  • Home-school communication.
  • Sharing learning & events taking place at school & in the classroom.
  • Children draft directly into a blog post and get feedback from peers via comments.
  • A point of connection/ collaboration for local/national/global collaborative projects.
  • Exploring the process & progress made in a Science experiment, novel study, etc.
  • Select a blogger of the day/week to act as classroom reporter.
  • Reflective journal as children progress through their learning journey.
  • A combination of all of these.

Skype


Skype is basically an online telephone service. Calls from one Skype account to another are free, no matter where in the world you are calling from. Skype can also be used to set up conference calls allowing for multiple participants. Skype can also be used to call landlines and moblie phones, although there is a cost involved for this.

Skype
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  • Interview an expert.
  • Collaborate on a project with another class.
  • Invite parents & other significant adults to read their favourite book to the class via Skype.
  • Conference call with several experts/classes.
  • Have a teacher or class in another school teach your class via Skype & vice versa.
  • Keep in touch with a classmate who is overseas/sick.

Skrbl


Skrbl is an online white board that allows for collaborative brainstorming, idea sharing etc. It updates in real time (depending on bandwidth) and you are able to have several people working on it at one time. Skrbl allows you to type, draw/write free hand or upload pictures and files. You can save your Skrbls online and can share them with others.

Skrbl
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Click on the picture to follow the link.
Organise children into cooperative groups, assign each group a different colour & a different part of the whiteboard. Brainstorm ideas for:
  • Prior/Post Knowledge
  • Questions about a topic.
  • Recounting events, results of experiments, etc.
  • Problem solving strategies for a Maths problem.
  • Upload a picture for one of the following purposes, to
    describe what they see,
    comment on an artists work,
    ask questions, generate
    story starters, generate
    adjectives,etc.
  • Try the same ideas but with one Skrbl per group.
  • Use in conjunction with Skype to teach something to a class in another town or country.

Flickr


This is an online photo storage & sharing service. It is
sometimes blocked in schools, but I asked my adminstrator to unblock it for me. Where it starts to get really useful is when you use it in conjunction with one of these Creative Commons search tools. A creative commons licence allows you to use the photos you have selected providing you follow the terms and conditions of the licence. You can find out more about creative commons here. My classes are ONLY allowed to use images and video licensed under creative commons if they wish to download pictures from the internet.
As an interesting side note - NASA makes all their images available under Public Domain - worth knowing if you are planning a unit on Space.

Flickr - Home
My Flickr Page
Tell A Story In 5 Frames - Kids
Creative Commons Search
Compfight - A Flickr Search Tool
Simple CC Flickr Search
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  • View & discuss examples of 5 Frame Stories, then plan, storyboard, photograph & upload own.
  • Use in conjunction with a Creative Commons search tool to locate pictures for VoiceThread, Blogs, Wikis & other online projects.
  • Use as a storage place for class photos (depending on your school policies).
  • Select an image or images for use as a story starter, discussion starter, example of good composition, for visual language, poetry prompt, etc.

Google SketchUp


Google a range of really neat applications available for free.
This is one I have used with my class and they think it's
just wonderful! SketchUp is available for both PC and Mac, and is a 3D design tool. It links beautifully with Technology, Maths and Art. With a little bit of practice it is really easy to create some stunning 3D models.

SketchUp
Case Study Examples
Examples from my class
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  • Maths create a 2D tessellating pattern.
  • Maths create a 3D version of a 2D plan.
  • Technology - Create a 3D version of the model or product you plan to create in real life.
  • Maths create nets & their 3D counterparts.
  • Create a 3D version of the setting of a story or play.
  • 3D All About Me cubes or other project ideas.
  • 3D Story Maps.

Photostory


Unfortunately this is PC only, however Mac users could
achieve the same result with iMovie and Garage Band or even Keynote. This is basically a tool for combining images, text, voice overs and music for digital story telling. It's a very simple tool for children to use which is one of its main advantages.
You can't add video though and would need to export it to Movie Maker in order to do so. Having said that, many of the children in my class prefer it to Movie Maker or PowerPoint.
It's a great tool to use with younger children.

Beginner's Guide to Photostory

QuickTime Version

WMV Version
  • Take your 5 Frame Stories and put them together as a mini movie. Add music voice over as desired.
  • Export Powerpoint slides as jpeg and insert into Photostory. Add music & voice over.
  • Create a class or individual picture book.
  • Share classroom happenings.
  • Create picture in Paint & import to Photostory for storytelling, poetry, topic, etc.
  • Create a portfolio of classroom work - group, class or individual.
  • With still photos as a support record an interview with an expert, class member or "book character".

Quest Atlantis


This is an online virtual world designed for use with children from about Year 4 - Year 8. It was designed as part of a research project for the University of Indiana. Teachers have to under go 3-4 sessions of training online before their class is allowed to access Quest Atlantis. The children are able to participate in online chat, messaging, emailing and blogging, all within the safety of a "walled garden" environment.
All forms of conversation are monitored 24/7 to ensure there is no cyber bullying or inappropriate language. The children also participate in quests and missions which are designed in line with curriculum requirements. A recently added feature allows teachers to customise the quests to suit the needs of their class and their local curriculum requirements.

Quest Atlantis
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  • Visit the website and explore the information for teachers.
  • Watch the Quest Atlantis back story video.
  • Check when the next PD dates are for the Asia/Pacific region and sign up for PD.
  • Before letting your kids on QA get them to watch the video and then write letters to "The Council" explaining why they would be a good quester.
  • Create an arch for your classroom.
  • Write stories, film scripts, poems, plays, etc relating to Quest Atlantis.

Google Custom Search


This neat little tool allows you to create a customised search engine for your class. You select the sites it searches, which means that you have an opportunity to locate and screen various websites to ensure they are relevant and appropriate for your class. One of the things I really like about it is the fact that as the teacher, you know that the sites that come up in the search contain the information your kids need. This means that the children don't spend hours and hours searching through irrelevant sites. It also means that no
one can say "I can't find any information, there isn't any"
that you know there is and can redirect them as
appropriate (remembering of course that children need to
be taught how to locate information).

Mrs McGhie's Google
Google Custom Search
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  • Embed in your School Zone or Knowledge Net pages, class blog, class wiki, etc.
  • Provide your children & their parents with the URL (web address) for your Google search engine.
  • Create search engines that specifically serch your blog, wiki or school website.
  • Locate sites relevant to current topics of study and link these to your search engine.
  • Create scavenger hunts based on your search engine to help children learn about boolean searches, keywords, narrowing search terms, etc.

Wordle


This little application allows you to show the most prominent or frequently used words in any piece of text. Why might you use this? Well, let's say, for example, that your class has just finished brainstorming their prior knowledge relating to a topic. You simply paste all the text from the brainstorm into wordle, follow the steps and create a graphic that shows the most common words from your brainstorm.
Another idea - have you ever read those stories where the same word is repeated over and over again? Just paste the story into Wordle and straight away you have a visual to show exactly what you're talking about - a good starting point for a discussion on over used words.

Wordle
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  • Create a Wordle using all the ideas your class has brainstormed on a particular topic - what comes up the most?
  • Paste in a child's story to identify over used words.
  • Brainstorm words to describe a picture, book character, etc - which words are used with the greatest frequency.
  • What are we blogging about? Paste in blog posts and see what happens.

Glogster


This is a recent find of mine and is fast becoming a
favourite. Glogster has recently developed Glogster Edu
in order to cater to the needs of educators and provide
a safe, secure environment for kids to use. They can
set up a class account which keeps the Glogs children
make private and out of the Public gallery. Glogster allows you to create charts that can include multimedia features such as sound files, video and animations. You can use the images and backgrounds provided or upload
your own.
Glogs can be posted to blogs and wikis. They also
print out nicely, although you obviously loose any
video or sound files embedded in the Glogster.

Glogster/Edu

  • Publish a poem or story. Add photos, computer drawn images, etc. Add a player and have the author record themselves reading their work. Feeling really clever - create a video version of the writing and add this to your Glogster. Then embed the whole thing into your class blog or wiki or email a link to the child's parents.
  • Create a Glogster as above to support Science, Social Studies, Technology or Transactional writing projects. Add hyperlinks to supporting information onto your Glogster.
  • Create a Glogster explaining a particular Maths concept, how to solve a problem, how to learn your 7x tables, etc. Add supporting pictures, video, sound bites, hyperlinks, etc.
  • Create a Glogster without any multimedia features and take a screen shot of a smaller version. Place screen shot in VoiceThread for child to add commnetary to and for others to provide feedback.
  • Create a poster or chart in Glogster and simply print it out.

Delicious


Think of your "Favourites" or "Bookmarks" folder on your computer. Now imagine that same collection of links available to you no matter what computer you are using, where ever you are in the world. Delicious is an online bookmarking tool. It has a few quite useful features such as the ability to organise your links according to the tags you give them (tags are like special key words). These tags also allow you to search within your links for links relating to a specific topic e.g. Let's say you want to find some ideas for your Maths lesson you might search for "maths" or "numeracy" or "subtraction", etc depending on what tags you have used. Then all the links with
those tags will turn up on the screen in front of you.
You will also have the option of checking out others' links that have the same tags. Delicious also allows you to network with others and share links. You can use Delicious to create a class set of links or to store links as you surf the net for adding to your Google Custom Search later on.

My Delicious Links
Delicious
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  • Create a class Delicious page with links specifically selected for your class.
  • Tag links carefully and teach your class about using tags to search for particular information.
  • Collect links via Delicious for specific topics you are planning to study. Then when you're ready to add links to your customised Google search they are all in one place and ready to go.
  • Add others to your Delicious network and explore their discoveries as well as sharing yours with them.