Saturday, 9 October 2010

Create a graph

Create a Graph

Just a quick one this week.

How many time have you thought to yourself 'I just want the kids to create a simple graph quickly'. It's something my staff ask me all the time and now I've found this.

Create a Graph is really simple to use and you can create a number of different graph types. The graphs can then be printed or saved in a number of different formats (PDF and JPEG being the most useful).

Good quality, easy to use and best of all free!

Sunday, 3 October 2010


After a rather hectic summer break I'm back, apologies for not having posted for so long. ('How to...' guide available for this one)

I found this site over the summer and introduced it at school to the staff and now there are 'glogs' everywhere and for everything. I love it!

Essentially, Glogster is a poster making website but rather than just pictures and text these posters can be interactive. By uploading video and sound clips or adding weblinks children can create digital posters which allow creativity in design and collect together a wide range of resources.

There is now also the option to create an 'edu' account which gets rid of the danger of unwanted comments on your posters. It also means that children's pictures could be used as when kept 'private' no one would have access to the pictures. The only downside in this is that 'private' glogs cannot be embedded into you website. They can, however, be printed off to make fantastic classroom diplays (much better than any posters the kids could draw themselves!).

I don't think I need to say much more. I'll let the my 'glog' speak for itself:
(Apologies that you can't play the video, had to take it out because of copyright.)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Purple Mash - Online tools from 2Simple

(First of all my apologies for my lack of posts recently, writing reports has taken over for the past couple of weeks but I have found lots of great things to tell you about so keep checking back!)

This is a site I've known about for a while and wasn't really convinced until I saw a demonstration of some of the tools. 'Purple Mash' is the online cousin of the 2Simple software you may have in school. Most of the content you will need to subscribe to but as a KS2 teacher I think the most valuable bit of this site is free!

2Publish Projects gives a variety of templates to support writing. Examples include: A factfile about one of Henry VIII's wives, letter from an evacuee, describe a fairground ride, weather report... The list is vast! I was told at the demo I went to that some of this content was exclusively for subscribers but I've not yet found a project I couldn't access and more are being added regualrly. The great thing is children can access it from home too.

Each project starts with a prompt, this can be a picture, text examples or video clip to give children a flavour for the task. In every project there is a space to add a picture and a bank of appropriate photographs and clipart images to create an image as well as basic drawing tools. What I really like is the prompt box which gives children some ideas as to what to write about as well as a sentence opener (not the most imaginative sentence openers ever but a useful start for lower ability). I would definately use this for my less able children a fantastic support framework. With my SATs head on also great for practicing short writing tasks. 

Down sides: 
As a free user you are not given the option to print your finished work. You can, however, save it as an image file (PNG) which you could then upload to a learning platform or insert into a Word doc for printing.
You can't save your work for editing later which is a shame, I would think you can with the full license but as a freebie you wouldn't expect to be able to do that anyway.
I dont' know how long they'll let you continue to use these fantastic resources for free, before they clock on that this is probably the most valuable part of the tools (for KS2 anyway!) so take advantage while it lasts!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

ToonDoo - Creating Cartoons

Although I haven't tried this with my class yet as I only discovered this site this moring, I think it's packed with possibilities.

There are three main options for creating a ToonDoo.
1. ToonDoo Maker - Creating an individual cartoon frame (like above) or strip of up to 3 frames.
2. Book Maker - self explainatory really!
3. TraitR - Creating your own characters to use in a book or ToonDoo.

The best part of this site is its simplicity. It's so easy to use, just drag and drop components into the frame: backgrounds, characters, props and text boxes. There is also an option for uplaoding your own pictures or drawing your own from scatch. Once finished you can save your work as a picture file (for basic pictures) or get an embedded code to use (particularly useful for books).

I can imagine using this in a variety of ways. First I think it's ideal for jazzing up whiteboard resources, a nice way to engage children with the text you have to put up. I can see myself using these to create my own 'concept cartoons' in science. 

Secondly this site would be great for the children to use themselves. My initial ideas include:
- What is a character thinking?
- Continuing a story you've read together.
- Retelling a classic story - such as fairytale or myth/legend.
- Writing their own 'comic strip' style stories.

This isn't by any means an exhaustive list and would welcome any more ideas, particularly from anyone who has tried it themselves. I can't wait to start using this!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Slide - Create your own slide shows

A great site for creating slideshows of photographs. This is more one for teachers I would think than children, but I'm sure there are ways useful to use it with your class (maybe as a record of work in DT or Art?). Really good way of displaying work on your website and really simple to use rather than having to mess about with PhotoStory or PowerPoint.

All you do is upload your photographs and select the style and themes you would like to use. Done! There are extra options to include captions with each picture (note: the default is to have the picture name as the caption but is easy to remove). What I really like about this site is you can keep your slide shows private, yet still generate the code to embed it into your site. This allows you to upload pictures of children without the worry that they will be seen by all on the internet.

To save you slideshow you will need a email address to register an account.

Finally, when generating the code to embed, the default is a MySpace code which doesn't work on my learning platform (Uniservity). I selected the Microsoft Live Spaces code at the bottom of the list which worked fine.

Really easy and really effective. The only thing you can't do is save your sideshow for playback on your computer, it is only useful for embedding into a website. For playback on computers PhotoStory is best.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Storybird - Create online story books

I know lots of people have heard of Storybird already but for those who haven't - I love it! It's so simple to use and with so many possibilities for the classroom. There are two ways to start your Storybird at the moment (but I believe more are on the way). The first is to be 'inspired by art' the second to select artwork based on theme.

There are many ways to use it, there's the possibility of individual or collaborative writing. I'm hoping to use it as part of an international project as the books can be written collaboratively with other 'authors'.

The way I've used it already is with my Year 6's working in pairs to write stories for Year 2 children; discussing with them the type of stories they like before going away and writing them. Children who hate writing have been truly inspired by the beautiful artwork. What I really love about doing work like this is that many children have gone home and set up their own accounts and been writing more of their own stories at home.

Once the stories are finished they can be saved and viewed through the site, alternatively they can be embedded into your website/learning platform. A great site, definately worth a look. 

NOTE: You can only embed your Storybird when you have published it. If you choose to make your stories public they will be rejected if the children have put their surnames on. (Learnt this through trial and error!)

Take a look at this example - not the best story I've ever written but will give you a good idea of what you can do.

Howard the Robot saves the day on Storybird

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Fotobabble - Talking Photos

Great site, really simple to use but with lots of possiblities (obviously uploading pictures of pets not being one of them!).

Similar to voicethread but with less setting up involved. The basic idea is to upload a photograph and have children record their voice commenting on the picture. Although you need an email address to set up an account, you can create a username for your class.

What's really good I think is that your 'fotobabbles' can be kept private so using photos of the children wouldn't be an issue. I could see younger children using photographs of a trip they went on or activity they took part in and record their recount of events. It  could also be used as a stimulus for writing.

Once children have created and saved their 'fotobabble' it could be embedded into you website/learning platform. I could see our older children using them on their e-portfolios to keep a record of things they've done or just for fun.

I'm not going to embed a demo of this one as I couldn't bear the thought of having to listen to my own voice! Similar results could be achieved with Voicethread or Photostory but I though this was just so simple to use with lots of possibilities.

(Thanks to 'The Keen Bean' for this one.)

Saturday, 24 April 2010

PictureTeller - similar to PhotoStory

This web tool has some really good features and is really easy to use. First you'll be asked to upload the pictures you wish to use to create your story. (Tip: if you want blank pages for just text save a coloured background on "Paint" as an image) On each image you can add a title, subtitle and sound. There is then the "Zoom and pan" option.

By altering and adding new points you can control how the camera will pan across your picture - at the bottom of the screen you can alter the speed at which the camera moves. Also, you can "Choose Label"; this option allows you to add speech bubbles to your picture.

Finally, there are options to download as a movie file or embed into your website/learning platform.

Build your wild self - a bit of fun!

A bit of fun this week! I've had a number of headaches with facebook in school this week so trying to find things to encourage kids to use thier ePortfolios instead. (Or give them things they can upload to facebook instead of thier own photographs!)

It's pretty self explanatory really: choose your body, facial features, clothing... Then add some "WILD" features. The bit you really need to know is how to save your picture. Click "I'm Done" and then a number of options will appear select "Get a WILD desktop", a new window will open where you can right click and save the picture.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

PinDax - online noticeboard (alternative to Wallwisher)

Very similar to Wallwisher. Great for class discussions and sharing ideas. Could be used just like a forum but I like to layout where you can see all posts at once and read the most relevant first. Double click on the posts to enlage. Have a go on the noticeboard below.

I found it a little trickier to get the hang of but it does so much more. Instead of just text you can post pictures, files, hyperlinks. You can even add a poll as a post giving readers multiple choice options (try voting on mine below!) I think my Year 6's would get the hang of it pretty quick but for lower KS2/KS1 Wallwisher is probabily easier. To upload files or pictures you need to be logged in but setting up a class account gets round this.

What's really useful is the "How to..." guides on YouTube - really useful for getting started. It's really easy to embed into your website/learning platform, either as a small widget board as I've done here or as a full page board.

NOTE: There are "chat" and "who's online" options but these are easy to disable when you set up the wall under "Tools".

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Dabbleboard - Online whiteboard

Fantastic collaboration tool. You can create a flipchart just as you would on your interactive whiteboard, including pictures, text darwings, but once embedded into your website/learning platform children can collaborate on work together.

The tools are easy to use and although you can create an account to save what you have done, you don't have to which means children could create pages for others to collaborate on. I think there are so many great uses for this tool.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Tagxedo - word cloud generator

Very similar to Wordle but in many ways I think a lot better for use in school.

First, and I think most importantly, you can save your cloud as an image file. There are more options for personalising your cloud, choosing the shapes, colours, fonts, etc. Just like Wordle, you can upload a document or use a url to generate your cloud. If you haven't used a program like this before what it does it generate your cloud based on the words in your document/webpage, the more frequently words appear the larger they will be.

I like to use this to when children have done a piece of writing. After typing it up they can upload it to the site and see which words they have used most frequently. It's a really good way for them to spot words they have overused and think more carefully about word choices. Also they make really effective artwork for displays!

(Cloud made from using the url of this blog.)

WallWisher - online noticeboard

Anything you might do with a post it note you can do here: brainstorming about a new topic; sharing ideas; discussing what we did over the holidays... The children love it. It can be used like in informal discussion forum

You will need to register an account to build a wall, but as long as you choose the setting for "Everyone" to post on the wall children do not need passwords (have a go below!) The best thing is it's so easy to use. All you need to do is select a background, give it a title and brief description and if you like add a picture - done. The best thing to do with it is to embed it into a page on your website/learning platform for easy access.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Picnik - Online photo editing

This is great and it fulfulls two important criteria: free and no need to register. We don't have a photo editing package in school so this is brilliant as we have been using the DigiBlue software which is no where near as good as this for photo editing.

They have demo photos you can use to have a play with the tools or you can upload your own. The photo can then be saved to your computer, rather than on the site (however this is an option if you register). It also has option to create "scrapbook" style pages - which look great - and slideshows (although Photostory is much better for this).

It does all the things you would expect from a photo editing package, as well as having lots fun features like adding writing or pictures on top and adding borders and frames. There are also "premium" features which you would have to pay for but I don't think for school purposes that would be necessary - there is more than enough there for free.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

TimeToast - Create timelines

Really useful, easy to use resource for creating timelines. You will need to set up an account to create and edit the timelines. The way I got round this is by setting a generic school account and gave children password and to access it so they can all add further events. The downside of this is that you can't see who added what but just ask children to add their name to the end of thier entry. Also, you need to make your timeline public in order to embed it in your website/learning platform.

Very easy to set up, you can add pictures for each event as well as a picture to go with the title. Once you have made the timeline public you have the object to embed it.

Ways to use:
  • Historical timelines, obviously
  • Year 6 Biographies/Autobiographies - children could create timelines for chosen subject of biography or create a personal one when writing thier own autobiographies (be careful with privacy issues here if children using thier own photographs - perhaps keep these as draft rather than publishing.
(had problem with embedding here but worked fine on my site)

Voki - Create speaking Characters
This website is so much fun and really easy to use. What I really like is that creating an account is optional so no email address is needed (something that really frustrates me about a lot of sites out there).

It allows you to create your own characters, which can be a little limiting as you can only choose from thier stock of faces and clothes but still plenty of choice (Creating a Victorian street child was interesting to say the least but I got there in the end).

There is then the option to add a voice, there are three main ways to do this:
1. Type your text and choose a computer voice to read it - ideal if like me you can't stand the sound of your own voice!
2. Record what you want your character to say
3. Upload a pre-recorded sound file.

You can also change the background that appears behind the character you've just created or upload your own. The publish button allows you to save your character so it can be embedded in your webpage/learning platform. Once embedded others can add comments about your character and what they have said, giving plenty of scope for peer assessment. The only downside I can see is the advert for "I can't believe it's not Butter" underneath your character but it's a small price to pay for a freebie!

Ways to use it:

  • Creating characters to use in writing - what might they be thinking in different situations (a way of using hot seating for shy children)

  • Re-creating characters from stories who can then be questioned or as above children write what they might be thinking in different situations.

  • Please share any further ideas..

Get a Voki now!