Category Archives: ICT

ABCYa! – Updated

Last year, I blogged about the fantastic ABCYa! website.  As the site has now been updated, I wanted to not only highlight the update, but another reason that it is a fantastic, safe resource to use in the classroom.

Recently I have been working with a number of classes from prep to year 7, and have noticed that many teachers are now starting to incorporate tools such as Wordle into their classroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wordle …… but, on further use and investigation,  I have seen dangers of using it in the classroom!

 

 

As the gallery of images is updated regularly, there is no way of filtering the information that will appear – not a great function when using it in a classroom!  Whilst a high percentage of the time, the content will be appropriate – you still don’t want to have to explain that ‘one time’ a student saw something inappropriate to parents or your administration team!  Wordle have addressed this issue on their website:

The Wordle front page will never feature images or links that are inappropriate for classroom use. Therefore, it’s possible to configure an institution’s “site-blocking” software to keep Wordle safe for classroom use.

Simply have your networking administrator block the following base URLs:

and your users will not be inadvertently shown anything that’s not safe for classrooms.If your filtering software only blocks per domain, then you’re out of luck. It’s either no Wordle at all for your school, or Wordle avec des gros mots.

As Wordle recognise, this may not be a ‘fix’ for all schools.  If your school falls into that category (or you are waiting for the filters to be put in place), then you should visit ABCYa! word clouds.

This safe and easy to use Word Cloud tool is fantastic to use with students of all ages.

 

ABCya.com word clouds for kids! A word cloud is a graphical representation of word frequency. Type or paste text into the box … and press the arrow button to view the word cloud generated. The appearance of a word cloud can be altered using the graphical buttons above the cloud. It is also easy to save and/or print the cloud by simply pressing a button.

The tool is very user-friendly, and even comes with instructions for a very common ‘word cloud’ issue of keeping words together. 😉

Students enter their words into the box, and then click on the arrow.

The next interface in the sequence is extremely easy to use, and allows the students to manipulate their word cloud.

 

When the students click on ‘save’, the word cloud defaults to a JPEG image.

I love that students can change the colour to black and white for ease of printing on the school printer, but would also like to see colours on a white background too.

Overall, this site is quick and easy to use with no chance of students viewing inappropriate content.  The other great thing is that you can safely recommend it for use at home (where your school filters are obviously not in place!) and be sure that all content viewed by your students is appropriate!

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Computer kids – Eat my Bytes!

For those beginners out there, I just wanted to share with you a fantastic site that has some basic information and ICT worksheets for you to work through with your students.  Computer Kids is an Australian site that has been created by Cheryl Hill of Lindfield East Public School in NSW.

With over 10 years experience in devising customised computer skills lessons, Cheryl is currently contracted at Lindfield East Public School in Sydney, where students engage in technology rich activities including movie-making, web design and digital animation (in addition to core skills, word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia & presentations and internet usage).

 

The site is very basic, and easy to navigate.  It has several sections that include a gallery, typing, teachers and an about section.

A great feature of the site is in the teachers section where there is a link to loads of free (.. and you know I love that word!!) ICT worksheets that range from care for equipment to how to use Microsoft Word.  The resources provided cater for most primary school students – with K-2 and 3-6 worksheet sections.  Below is an example of the worksheets provided (click to enlarge):

As well as the worksheets, the site also has some great touch typing links for you to use with your students.  If you have a lower school class, you may even like to join and take part in the ‘Tooth Tally Project’.

Overall, the site is great starting point to creating student ICT journals that the students can refer back to if they need help on how to complete a task that you have previously covered.  I have used the ICT worksheets in a student journal in the past with fantastic success!  Another bonus is that, if you have limited ICT resources in your classroom, you can have the students working on these activities whilst they rotate through the stations you may have set up for them.

E-Classroom for students affected by the floods

Education Queensland has developed their own official site for students, parents and teachers affected by the recent floods – eClassroom.  The aim is to provide students of all year levels with specific activities to do whilst they may be isolated or relocated to another campus.

The Education Queensland eClassroom provides a range of self-paced digital learning resources and activities:

  • Resources: self-paced learning objects by year level 
  • Activities: self-paced structured lessons by year level
  • Programs: self-paced vodcasts or daily scheduled multimedia events by year level
  • For teachers: teacher lead virtual classrooms
  • Parents/guardians can contact our Learning helpline for assistance from a teacher.

Even if you are not in a flood affected area, it is still worthwhile visiting the site and having a look around 😉

** Don’t forget that the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal is still accepting donations. **

Guvera – FREE music downloads :o)

Guvera has spent several years negotiating rights all around the world and designing this new system to make music free by having advertisers pay for our downloads.

You’ll see when you experience Guvera – You select the brand that will pay for each piece of music you search for, then you visit their channel and discover a whole bunch of other music that may be interesting… then you channel hop, this is how you discover new music, all the while not being interrupted by ads you cant click past and now, you simply enjoy the music.

Best yet, those artists that create all these goodies we download will be paid in full for the inspiration they make for all of us.

Enjoy!

Jing – Quick and Easy Screen Capture tool

Very often, I find myself looking for a new web tool that will make my life easier … because when you spend as much time online as I do, you want any help you can get!! 🙂  Recently, I came across a fantastic little download, through one of my discussion lists, that has saved me quite a lot of time taking screen captures, pasting them to publisher, cropping and then saving.  This wonderful little tool lets me just draw a square around what I want to capture, and then crops and saves it all for me to a nice, crisp .png file – FANTASTIC!

‘What is this wonderful little download?’ I hear you ask.  Well, it is called Jing, and could not be simpler to use!

The free version is great, and allows you to do the basics.  For those of you who tweet, you will be amazed at how simple things just became!

For creating ‘how to’ files, the screen capture that Jing takes also allows you to add arrows, text etc (see below) to your image as well – such a timesaver!

Already, this tool has saved me SO much time.  I hope you find it useful too. 🙂

Blabberize – Bring your pictures to life!

Recently my son was given a DVD as a gift, and he wanted to send a thank you video to the person who gave him the DVD – but as the main character!  This sparked something in my memory, and I revisited a site that I used to use all the time in my classroom called Blabberize.  Blabberize is a fun presentation tool. Simply upload a picture and make it talk! Click on the image below to launch the site and the example Blabberize.

The site is very easy to use! There are many ways Blabberise could be used in the classroom – you just need to use your imagination!  Who could the students become?  What historical figure could they make talk?  What topic are you studying?  Could the students become a cloud or fish etc etc …. Please add a comment to share how you have used the site in your classroom 🙂

In the past, I have created one account for my class (so they do not have to give away any personal information – as per EQ policy!), and we have all worked in the same environment.  The other great reason to have one account is that you can have the students save their work in the account and you can log in and see what they have produced.  Easy!

Note:  Don’t forget to make sure all your students remember to tick ‘private’ when they save their work so their work does not go to the public Blabberize gallery.

Enjoy this fun, easy to use site.  Don’t forget to add your comments and share how you used the site.

KISS to download YouTube Videos

Have you ever wanted to use a You Tube video in the classroom, but perhaps don’t have internet connection …. or you’re connected at such a slow speed that you don’t have a spare 15 minutes to wait for the video to download?  😉  Then worry no more, as there is a very easy way to download your video – just think KISS!

 

 

By adding ‘kiss’ to the you tube address, www.kissyoutube.com, you will be taken to a site that gives you the following instructions to save your video:

Method 1
Whenever you are watching video on YouTube, go to your browser’s address bar and insert the word ‘kiss’ in front of the youtube.com domain name and press ‘Enter’.

Example: http://www.kissyoutube.com/watch?v=VKMm4XBsqhk (Video tutorial here)


Method 2

Copy the whole YouTube Video URL (Eg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKMm4XBsqhk) and paste directly into ‘Enter YouTube Video URL’ field above [at www.kissyoutube.com ] and hit the ‘Get’ button.

Once you have followed these instuctions, you should get the following icons under a thumbnail picture of the video you want to download. 

Simply click on one of the icons to start your download – couldn’t be easier! 

Important:  Please remember that the files you download may be subject to copyright.  It is advised you seek the authors permission prior to download.  Some authors will have no issue giving permission, whilst others may be happy for you to download but request you delete the file after use. 

Photofunia – Put yourself in the scene!

Photofunia is a fun site that students can visit to put themselves into the picture!  They can use the one photo and place themselves on a billboard, in a busy railway station, in an advertisement, or in many other photos.  Not only will the students have great fun seeing themselves in all these new locations, they will also learn about how to upload a file to an internet site. 

Below is an example of what can be achieved with minimum (if any!) skill:

Students can create their own photos just for fun (remember when we had time for that???), for inclusion into an assignment, to create interesting pictures to be used in a yearbook layout, or to create an avatar.  More advanced students completing a social action unit of work may even choose to create a poster or advertisement, and upload it to create an example of how their ideas might be displayed.  They key is to think outside the standard use of the site and see how you can ‘bend’ it for educational uses. 

As always, there is also a great opportunity to bring up internet safety and copyright issues.

Hot Shot Business Game

After hearing my four year old discussing with his father the benefits of selecting a ‘chocofier’ over a ‘lollycobber’ to make the customers happier, I was intrigued as to what had captivated his interest …. and what those yummy sounding things were!  I quickly discovered that they had found a site that allowed them to open their own business, and run it by making decisions (similar to Sim City) that would either make or break their company.  Introducing Disney’s offering of  Hot Shot Business.

 

“Hot Shot Business” teaches skills kids can use the rest of their lives – and equally important, helps them realize that the dream of owning a business is possible.
                            Carl J. Schramm, Kauffman Foundation, President and CEO

Hot Shot business seems perfect for use within the classroom, with student, parent and teacher guides provided, as well as a choice to use the site with broadband or dial up connection.

Explanation of the site from the teacher manual:

“Hot Shot Business” takes a fresh approach to showing teens (ages 9-12) what it means to be an entrepreneur. The first step is to enter the world of “Hot Shot Business,” an Internet simulation game. Through carefully constructed scenarios, students gain experience with the nuts and bolts of designing and operating their own business—a skateboard factory, a comic book shop, a pet spa, a landscaping service, and a candy factory. Students are not alone in their venture. Business-savvy animated hosts, Kate and Jack, offer advice at every turn. As in real life, the decisions a kid makes about his or her business has consequences that extend far beyond profits and losses. There are environmental factors to reckon with (e.g., conserving water while operating a landscaping company), as well as finding ways to provide jobs for members of the community.

If the reaction from my own little man – at just 4 and a half – is anything to go by, then older kids should LOVE this site!  🙂

Weebly – ‘Easy as pie’ website builder

Ever wanted to head into website development with your students, but just felt that you did not have the skills (nor the patience!!) to help them actually create their site?  The great news is that there are some fantastic resources on the internet that can help you achieve your objectives.

Recently, I found a site called Weebly.  Weebly is an extremely easy to use website builder that allows you to host your sites with them for FREE!  Easy website creation is their passion…… and when they say easy, they mean it!

Weebly was named one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites of the year in 2007 and they’ve since made our service even more powerful, while keeping it simple. They have 3 million customers who would likely agree that there’s really no better place to create a website online. 

Some of the most beneficial features for schools include:

  • Powerful, Drag & Drop Website Editor 
    Our core advantage is our stunningly easy drag & drop website editor. Videos, pictures, maps, and text are added by simply dragging them to your website. We love it when new customers are totally surprised at how straightforward it is to build a website with Weebly – no HTML or technical skills required!

  • Hosting Included – No Restrictions
    We provide the hosting so you don’t need to pay for a hosting provider. We don’t impose arbitrary bandwidth restrictions, storage caps or limits on the number of pages allowed, either. Going to be featured in the New York Times? Great! Our hosting infrastructure is backed by an army of servers that provide reliable stability for your websites – all for free!
  • A Variety of Content Elements
    If you can imagine it, you can do it with Weebly. Add pictures, videos, music and audio, documents, maps, and photo galleries. Sell products, accept online bookings, create a contact form, or arrange your pages in multiple columns. Drag on slideshows, files, forums, games, RSS feeds, or any other HTML embed code — all by simply dragging and dropping.

and best of all??

  • No Advertising
    We don’t place advertising on your site, and never will. Some “free” website providers force advertising to be placed on your site, but you won’t find that around here. In fact, we’ve even integrated with Google AdSense to allow you to easily enable advertising – as simple as entering your email address – letting you earn money from your site!

The site does require login, but it is a very quick and easy process.  The thing I like about this site is that it is clear and easy to use.  Students should have no problems creating their own websites.  Please add any site addresses you create using Weebly to the comments section – I’d love to see what others can create.