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.)