ViewPure is a great tool for any teacher who loves YouTube, but hates all of the annoying ads, user comments, and related videos that pop up online. They can be distracting, bothersome, and (sometimes) inappropriate. Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video that you want to watch, and paste the URL into the bar on the ViewPure website. Or, you can visit ViewPure and simply drag their icon into your browser bookmark toolbar. Once ViewPure is on your toolbar, you simply click on it while viewing a YouTube video and it will automatically "purify."
Whether you plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month or not, this website offers some wonderful free resources that can be used all year: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/node/
After all, why stop writing at the end of November? Print off the free PDF Writer's workbooks (available in elementary, middle school and high school levels) and conduct mini-lessons on a variety of literary elements, including the "plot roller coaster," character development, conflict, setting, mood, dialogue, and using sensory details. These workbooks are incredibly versatile, and would work well with literature circles, classroom novel studies, or student writing assignments.
NaNoWriMo also includes exercises for work shopping student writing--peer review and self-review--as well as grammar checklists, and guidelines for writing a letter to an editor. Another feature that I like about the writing workbooks is that they strongly link the acts of reading and writing, asking students to reflect on positive reading experiences that they have had in order to inspire their own writing.
NaNoWriMo's plot roller coaster
NaNoWriMo even offers "pep talks" from professional young adult literature authors to help keep your students on track and highly motivated. This year, I'm particularly looking forward to the pep talk given by Gayle Foreman; I just recently finished reading If I Stay, and I loved every minute of it! So, what are you waiting for? Start that novel! (Or, at the very least, beef up your writing curriculum with some top-notch resources.)
Create Facebook-Style Quizzes
Go To Quiz allows users to create free online polls, quizzes and tests. My favorite feature, however, is the ability to create multi-answer quizzes--for example, which Harry Potter character are you? This turned out to be a big hit with my students, many of which create Time Machine-inspired quizzes for quiz-takers to find out if they are Morlocks or Eloi. The only drawback is that, because the service is free, there are a lot of ads that pop up on their website. I also hope that, in the future, they offer an embed code so that quizzes can be directly embedded into websites. Still, creating a quiz is a creative alternative book project, and the price (did I mention that it's free?) can't be beat!
Create Your Own Games with SPLODER
I found out about Sploder completely by accident. For a class assignment, students were asked to collaborate in order to create websites focused on the novel The Time Machine. Many groups decided that they wanted to create games for their websites. I had no experience building online games, so I told students to Google "create video games online" and the standout winner among online video game creators was Sploder. My students loved building their own custom games and playing them. Below, I'm embedding a screencast of myself playing (very poorly, I might add) a student-created game, in which the player plays as the time traveller, fighting the morlocks with a mace. I must say that I really love it when I get to teach my students something new, but it's just as much fun when they teach me something new!
SpicyNodes is a dynamic organization tool that is designed to make content easier for your web page visitors to navigate. However, it also has plenty of educational uses; namely, it is a great tool for visually representing information in much the same way as Prezi. It offers features, including the ability to add images, music, and YouTube videos. Essentially, these "nodemaps" are multi-media mind maps. SpicyNodes is simple enough for students to create on their own. In fact, SpicyNodes offers sample lesson plans on their website HERE. SpicyNodes could also be built by teachers as an engaging way of delivering classroom notes, creating webquests, or recording group brainstorming activities. SpicyNodes could also be used for outlining information (such as book chapters), creating character profiles, or prewriting before an essay. SpicyNodes can also be used as a change of pace from standard tools, such as Power Point.
WARNING SIGN GENERATOR
In honor of Banned Book Week (September 24-October 1, 2011) I created this sign to "warn" students about books in the classroom library. Posting a bulletin board of commonly banned books always sparks some interesting classroom discussions, particularly when students notice that many frequently challenged and banned books are some of their favorites--even, at times, required reading in junior high! Why not celebrate by making your own caution sign in honor of banned books? This Warning Sign Generator is very easy to use and offers many eye-appealing options. (All for free, of course.)
The Warning Sign Generator also offers many more traditional sign options. Just choose your sign layout and your graphic, and then customize your text to create endless possibilities.
IPEVO Document Camera"Cheat Sheet"
Below, I'm embedding a handy little "cheat sheet" that I created for use with the Ipevo Document Camera. The chart shows how to navigate the different menu options. It was created using MS Publisher, then published as a PDF using Primo PDF, and published online with Slideshare. Please feel free to copy/alter/distribute.
Edudemic is a wonderful website that focuses on "connecting education and technology." It offers tons of articles on up-and-coming products, teaching methods, and social media websites. Edudemic also offers several "guides," which as basically online tutorials, including topics such as Google Plus in Education and How To Do Everything on Wordpress. One of my favorite features--something that distinguishes it from many other websites out there--is the wonderful collection of infographics available; I'm embedding one entitled "Students Love Technology" below this post. There is a wealth of information that teachers can share with students, as well as information that teachers can use for professional development. I know that this website will definitely keep me busy for several days as I search through all that it has to offer.
VISUAL WRITING PROMPTS
This Writing Prompts website run by teacher Luke Neff has tons of writing prompts that are great for visual learners. Each picture comes with a specific writing prompt (such as the one to the left) or a non-specific prompt (tell the story in this picture). Most of them are geared toward creative writing, descriptive writing, or narrative writing. These would make excellent prompts for writing journals, bellringer activities, or online portfolio prompts. To date, there are 258 writing prompts (plenty to stock any writing teacher for the year) and they are high-quality photos, on par with many for-purchase writing prompt books and flashcards. Click on some of the sample pictures below to enlarge the image.
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.