Thursday, January 7, 2016

Literacy Tools

I have recently revised a page on the media center website that includes a number of literacy tools for breaking down information for students who may be struggling with specific content. For example there are sites that provide articles at different reading levels - Newsela is one example that I've written about previously. A number of the video sources give quick introductions to complex topics. There are also some tools to help modify and teach content. Below are a few highlights. 

CommonLit - This site has FREE fiction and nonfiction texts. You can choose a topic then a discussion question. The site then gives a selection of articles at different reading levels. When using the search feature to find content, filters include grade level, themes, genre and literary devices.

Rewordify - This sites lets you take a selection of text and "rewordify" it: Paste a selection of text or website URL into the the yellow box. Click on the desired button (options depend on what's pasted into the box). The site will then replace difficult terms with easier to understand words. In some cases the results give a couple alternatives, so try texts out ahead of time to start.

There are a number of additional features.
  • The Rewordify site has links for classic literature and public domain texts
  • It includes activities for learning vocabulary
  • You can more quickly create activities and lessons
  • Settings can be changed to modify text difficulty and display options
  • Sign in to view work, edit, save, share and more

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Research Round Up

After updating all of the RHS databases, I've finally put all of my suggested research resources in one easy to use place as well. This list can be found on the media center website on the Research tab. Please note that the RHS databases can now be found on the tab called Databases. Below is a description of a few of the tools from the site.

PLANNING

If you want to assist your students with planning their research (or any) project, have them use the Research Project Calculator.
Research Projecto Calculator

ORGANIZATION

If you would like to have your students organize their thoughts and ideas, have them try MindMeister. This tool is available within Google Apps. See me for details.
MindMeister

CREDIBLE WEBSITES 
The CRAAP Test is an easy yet effective method for determining the credibility of websites for both personal and school use. The accompanying video, while a bit corny - they are my people (librarians), gives a quick explanation of why and how to use this test. The acronym is memorable too! 

TAKING NOTES
Evernote lets you take notes AND retrieve them anywhere you have Internet access. So it's a great tool for everyone. I use Evernote when I'm attending conferences. You can include links, photos, videos, tags, etc. Evernote has collaborative features too that allow you to share information and more. 
Evernote














PLAGIARISM AND CITING SOURCES
The tutorial/quiz on plagiarism and citing sources teaches students about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

The resource list included on the media center Research page is not exhaustive. So please let me know if there are other items you would suggest adding. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RHS Databases - Credible sources all in one place!

As I was updating access information and instructions for the databases available to RHS students and staff, I was once again reminded of some of the great features that are included by the different database publishers. I have highlighted these features below.

Links to all of these databases along with access information and search tips can be found on the RHS media center website - Databases tab:
https://sites.google.com/site/richfieldhighschoolmedia/databases


NEW to RHS: When users perform a search in the ABC-CLIO databases, they can click on the Translate button and have the information translated into French, Spanish or Chinese. The information can also be read to users (including translations) by clicking on the Listen button. Listen settings include playback speed and the option to download an MP3 file. ABC-CLIO databases cover current Issues, World History, Religions and Wars.



Britannica offers different Reading Levels, Primary Sources and the Web's Best resources when available for a topic.





EBSCO lets users search for Primary Source Documents with the click of a button. Searches can also be limited to results based on Lexile Level. Search results can be saved in a Folder during a search session. 




Once a user perform a search in the Gale databases, results can be narrowed by a number of criteria including Primary Sources. The Advanced Search feature lets users search by Lexile Range. Within articles, clicking on the More button offers users a Highlight and Notes function that saves selections to a Folder. Gale also has an extensive Help section that includes Tip Sheets, Teacher Resources and more. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Create interactive and "awesome" presentations!

With so many new and creative web tools out there, I thought I would mention a couple alternatives to consider for presentations. Both of these tools can be used by teachers and students.

Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool that works within Google Apps. Pear Deck lets students interact with teacher created presentation content using any device that runs Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Questions can range from multiple choice to open ended. So this tool works well as a formative assessment, discussion starter, and more. Currently Pear Deck has a 5 slide limit for the free account*. So it can be used to supplement existing presentations. Or current, shorter presentations can be converted into Pear Deck files.

The Pear Deck Support page explains how to get started along with examples of how it's being used in different subject areas.

Below is a video that shows how Pear Deck works. 


*Nearpod is similar to Pear Deck. Nearpod limits by presentation size rather than number of slides. So longer presentations are possible.


PowToon lets you easily create animated presentations and videos. This tool is an interesting alternative to using PowerPoint, Google Slides or Prezi. 

PowToon offers video tutorials and additional support on their website. It can be used to create introductions to units, instructions for a project or flipping your classroom to name a few examples. 

Below is an introduction to the "awesomeness" of PowToon (created using PowToon). 



As always, these web tools can be found on the RHS media center page on the Web Tools tab under "Present". 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Explore the world!

It's still cold here in the frozen tundra with a bit of snow in the forecast but that doesn't have to stop you and your students from going on a field trip - a virtual field trip! Below are links to sites that can be aligned with your curriculum and will help you bring the world to your classroom. Bon voyage!!!


Panoramio - lets users explore the world using real photos and Google Maps, Panoramio is a Google App

Travel by Drone - another great site for exploring using real photos


GoogleTreks.org - Google Maps and photography are used to create trips, search by grade and subject, includes instructions for creating your own Trek

Learning with iAdventures - an interactive problem solving activity where students determine the outcome of a content-rich story line, search by grade and subject (check links), great idea to try with your own class using Google Sites or Weebly

Inside the White House - interactive tour of the White House, site includes history and additional information, little known fact: you can get in trouble for touching the wall paper in the White House during actual tours...


Google Art Project (Google Cultural Institute) - I've mentioned this site before for exploring museum collections around the world

 
Google Sky | Moon | Mars - Explore the universe using this site



Google Maps, Treks and Tour Builder - use Google Maps to explore or tell a story

Google Earth - you can download Google Earth to your computer, there are also apps for Apple and Android devices, Google Maps can be used on Chromebooks

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

InstaGrok


Just a quick post today about InstaGrok. InstaGrok is a visual search tool that returns results in the form of an interactive concept map (a Grok). InstaGrok is free to use. But if you sign up for a free account, Groks can be customized and shared as well. 

One of the best features is that the results are much more education based then a typical web search and the site is ad free. The linked website sources open in a window that minimizes ads as well.

Here's a quick description and summary from Edshelf. One update - there's now an Android app along with the others listed.

Below is a "Grok" of a search I did on digital citizenship. In the window that opens, click on the various source types (Key Facts, Websites, Videos, etc.) or select one of the other concepts shown in yellow.

Try it out and start Grokking today!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Magical Beginnings and Endings



I really appreciated the article The eight minutes that matter most & how to make them magical by Brian Sztabnik posted in Edutopia. It's about creating meaningful beginnings (activating prior knowledge, building anticipation, setting learning targets) and endings (checking for understanding). 



Source: "The eight minutes that matter most", Edutopia 1.5.15

I immediately started thinking about tools that could be used with this author's ideas. Below are some that came to mind. Here's to a magical 2015!

Beginnings

1) "Trend with YouTube"

YouTube EDU is described as a "global video classroom" bringing learners and educators together. Here's a bit more information about this resource

3) "Cross disciplines"
Check out Art Project - Google Cultural Institute if you're interested in the author's idea of starting with a painting. This site gives users access to collections all over the world.

Endings

1) "Level Up", 2) "Exit Tickets", 3) "Mimic Social Media", 4) "Post-it Power"
Try:

Kahoot! - "game-based classroom response system" using mobile devices including mobile phones

 

Padlet - where students can post their feedback online (web-based), could also be used to "Start With Good News"


Plickers - great way to collect formative data without student devices, you need an IOS or Android phone, very cool


Polleverywhere - students can give real-time responses using mobile phones, Twitter or the web


Socrative - a free, comprehensive assessment tool that can be used with any device


TodaysMeet - private, online discussion forum (web-based)