Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#Techmas Challenge Day 3: Padlet

On the third day of #Techmas, TechformersU challenged me to create a Christmas Padlet for all to see. Padlet, formerly known as Wallwisher, is an online graffiti board in which users can post pictures, text, and links.  There are many applications for using Padlet in the classroom from brainstorming to collaborating on a group research project, students can use these virtual bulletin boards to post online sticky notes in a variety of ways.  Here are just a few:
  • K-W-L charts for pre- and post- assessment
  • Sentence Starters (Allow students to complete the sentence with their own ideas.)
  • Group research projects (share links, topic ideas, etc.)
  • Showcase student work
  • Exit Ticket
  • Collect feedback
  • Book reviews
  • Ask questions 
  • And, even more ideas
A Padlet wall is quick and easy to create and can be shared, exported, or embedded.  Students can begin using it simply after you click "Build a Wall" and share the address with them. 

The walls can also be customized to better fit instructional purposes.  Last Spring, I made a wall (virtual bulletin board) for students to use before we Skyped with a college admissions counselor.  The wall included a background in school colors and featured the school's logo.  To focus the students on the upcoming visit, I asked students to add sticky notes listing one fact about the university and one question for the counselor. Then, I shared the link with the counselor prior to her virtual arrival so that she could make a connection with the kids.
See Richard Byrne's  "How-to Video" for details on customizing a Padlet wall  
For my Day 3 #Techmas Challenge, I made a "Sentence Starter" wall to use tomorrow with my students.  I chose to do "The Holidays In 3 Words." (I was always a huge fan of Good Morning America's In 3 Words segment.) Here is a sneak peek of the wall: 

I think my students will love it:) To give it a try and add your own 3 words, double click on the image above.  What do you think of when you think of the holidays?

Monday, December 9, 2013

#Techmas Challenge Day 2: Smore

On the 2nd Day of #TechmasChallenges, TechformersU wrote to me..."Create a Smore of your favorite Christmas place or city".

My Day 2 project focuses on my little slice of heaven right here in Louisiana.  I used Smore to highlight a favorite Cajun Christmas story, our holiday bonfire tradition, Louisiana's Christmas Fairs and Festivals, and some special recipes.

Online Flyer
Smore, a free webtool, allows users to create online flyers with pictures, videos, links, and events. The creations can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and more.  For the classroom, it would make a perfect platform for presenting research information.  I like the way the flyer looked on the Smore page more so than the way it looked when I embedded it in the blog - some of the formatting changed on the embed and I had trouble getting Blogger to load it, so I opted for an image.  If you try this as a class project, the variations may drive some of your kids nuts, so you may want to give them a bit of a warning in advance:)

Until tomorrow...Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

First Day of #Techmas Challenge: Wordle

It is the first #TechmasChallenge... today's Techformer's task: Create  a Wordle of your favorite Christmas song.  Before beginning the task, I researched a bit.  I was trying to find ideas for using Wordle in the math classroom.  While I did stumble upon a few math-specific ideas, I felt like I hit the real jackpot when I found Jennifer Wagner's SlideShare presentation in which she shows examples of using Wordle across the curriculum.  From analyzing speeches to artwork reflections, she has compiled a plethora of ideas. In many of her examples, she shows Wordle word clouds layered over background images (see several of her examples below)...
Via Jennifer Wagner's SlideShare
While viewing her creations, inspiration for today's project hit!  Jennifer uses Paint Shop Pro to manipulate the images.   I don't happen to have that particular software, but I do have my trusty Promethean ActivInspire (love!!!!).

Here is what I did to make my layered Wordle image:
1.  After selecting "create" on Wordle and copying and pasting the lyrics of the song into the empty text box, I took a screen shot of my word cloud using Promethean's ActivInspire.
My Original Wordle Image
2.  I hoped that I could manipulate the background in ActivInspire to make it transparent, but honestly was at a loss until I ran across Terri Oswald's how-to video. She's brilliant!  It was just what I needed to make it work.
3.  I found an image that I wanted for my background and layered it behind my word cloud.
Via Vector ClipArt
4.  I cheated a bit and used the "camera" tool to trim some of my Wordle image and the "paint bucket" to fill a few of the words with the bright yellow.  (I found it easier to do in ActivInspire than trying to make the perfect image in Wordle.)  In case you are wondering, I also changed some of the words.

     And that was it - I had my finished product.  Wordle would definitely be a tool that students could use in the classroom. It is super quick and easy to do. I liked the idea of adding the art as a background image because for me, it evokes more of an emotional response than the words alone, making it perfect for our Humanities and English/Language Arts courses.  For math, I am still not sure (my two favorite ideas included creating a Wordle for Common Core Standards to identify important concepts and creating one to identify the mode in a list of numbers); so math teachers, please share how you are using this tool in your classroom. I am anxious to try it with my students!

     Oops! Back to the #TechmasChallenge!!! Without further adieu, my Day 1 creation:

Joy to the World :)

I've been invited to... #TechmasChallenges

After decking the halls and filling the sleigh with brightly colored packages, I stopped for a cup of cocoa brimming with marshmallows (yes, I did say I was starting my diet again today only to jump right off of it at the mention of hot chocolate) and took a moment to check my lists Facebook. Much to my surprise in my inbox I found an invitation to a party...a technology party.  The geek within me jumped for joy to read the details.  The invitation, sent by Techformers Unite (which, I think was organized by Andrea at BusyBee) and forwarded via my dear friend and fellow DEN member, LeaAnne, reads, "the purpose is to spread the holiday cheer, far and near by completing the 12 Days of Techmas Challenges."  So, what is it?  The Techmas Challenges are fun holiday centered tasks to complete using different online tools. I have only used a few of the digital resources listed, so I am so excited to try out some "new-to-me" tools.  Here is a quick overview of the tasks:
The first challenge begins tomorrow. Will I be able to complete them all... in order... every day?  Ummm...doubtful.  Do I have to?  No, actually I can pick and choose which challenge tasks to complete. "Although a challenge will be posted every day, you can work on them in any order and at any time!"  Yay! My kind of activity focused on my most favorite time of year, learning about tools that I can incorporate in my classroom, all over an extended holiday break.  I'll post the challenges from the Techformers group here along with my projects and thoughts of how to use the featured digital tool in my classroom.  If you want to join in the fun, post your projects on your blog (feel free to grab the 12 Days of #TechmasChallenges graphic above) and tweet a link to your post using #TechmasChallenges.  Can't wait to get started - I hope you will join me!!!