The Friday Mystery

Mysterynet.com is a great class opener website.  I have often used this on Fridays to engage and settle them down for class. This site has many different mysteries to solve. Typically, I would display a “Get a Clue” or “Solve It” mystery that the students could see as they enter the classroom. Once the bell rings I allow the students some time to try and solve the mystery. They become quite engaged in trying to figure out the mystery often well before the bell rings. This activity has led to some great class discussions about a variety of social topics but best of all it has engaged them and settled them down on a Friday afternoon so I can start my lesson.

Give it a try at the following address:  http://www.mysterynet.com

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3 Great Movie Clip Websites to Gain Student Attention

With spring break behind us and summer right around the corner the natives are becoming restless. This new excitement in the air can be difficult to deal with at times in the classroom. This is why I have found that adding movie clips from popular films to my entry tasks to be very effective in gaining students attention. These short 1-2 minute video clips seem to calm them down and get them thinking. Once this happens I then can steer them into the topic that we are going to cover in class.

So where can you find these types of video clips? If you know movies well you can look up clips on Youtube and other video hosting websites like Vimeo. If you don’t know movies that well or you can not think of one to meet the needs of your lesson try one of the following three websites.  These sites will allow you to search movies by topic, mood, genre, time period, event, plot and other criteria.  Making it easy to find the clip you need to fit your lesson plan.

  1. This site will allow you to search for movie clips on a specific topic that you are going to cover in class. This is the best site for finding topic specific movie clips for your classroom.  Click here to go to MovieClips
  2. Jinni is like MovieClips and allows you to search movies by mood, plot, genre, time period, place etc.  Click here to go to Jinni.
  3. Anyclip is another video hosting site that you can search for movie clips to use in your classroom. However, this site you need to know movies it does not provide the easy search options found on the other two sites.
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Three New Tools I Have Found Useful

Over the course of the past week there have been three web 2.0 tools that have come in quite handy for me so I thought that I would share these.

  1. The first is Markup.   http://markup.io/ This site has come in very useful with my Interactive Whiteboard.  As they state so well on their website, “Markup lets you draw on any webpage with a variety of tools to express your thoughts, make a point or just simply edit. Yes, no downloading needed.”  This is definitely one to check out and bookmark.
  2. The second is Ding It’s Up.  http://www.dingitsup.com/ This site will let you know when sites are up or down via email, text or tweet.  Very useful when you are waiting for your district to get you website back up or to let you know when sites you use frequently are up or don for maintenance.
  3. The third is Embedithttp://embedit.in/ This site is great for embedding PDF files and other webpages into your exiting website. Helping your students navigate to required information without getting sidetracked or lost on the web. you would like students to look at with out have them go out and get lost on the web.
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Making PowerPoint INTERACTIVE Easliy With ActiveOffice

Microsoft PowerPoint

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I have always been a big fan of cross platform integration.  Many times I have worked with programs and wished I could blend applications together seamlessly to create projects and lessons. Well, finally there is an integration that just makes sense.

Promethean is now offering  what they call an ActivOffice application that will integrate their software, ActiveInspire/ActiveStudio with Microsoft’s PowerPoint.  This feature will place a toolbar within PowerPoint that will allow you to access many of the features of the Active software.  With this extension in PowerPoint you will be able to incorporate Promethean LRS student devices to assess learning by quickly and easily by  adding questions and importing questions for assessment. This software also allows you to display these results within PowerPoint. ActiveOffice will also provide you the ability to annotate on PowerPoint slides and save them for later presentations. ActivOffice will provide instructors the ability to create interactive presentations within PowerPoint.

For more information on this great application take a look at Promethean Planet at the following links.

 

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Great Teaching Resource “Teacher First”

This past weekend I found a great resource that I wanted to share “Teacher First”.  I have looked at this site before but never really took the time to look at all of the available content.  It is quite impressive and has some great units and lessons that are engaging and well developed.  This site offers a wide variety subject specific resources and can be a great place for teachers to bookmark and visit when developing their lessons. Check it out at www.teacherfirst.com.

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Keeping “I GET IT!” & “WHAT?” Students Engaged

A special education teacher assists one of her...

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Every teacher knows that students learn at different rates.  We know that students need their own time to process the content that they are presented. The problem is that in many cases they are required to move at specific times to keep up with the scope and sequence of the class. This causes problems for some students.  While some are ready to move on early and are stuck waiting for the class others are just not grasping certain concepts and need more time.  Both scenarios cause students to be disengaged with school. This dilemma really seemed to be a problem with my students this year.

Sound familiar? We all have those years where we have two kinds of students the “I get it!” kids and the “What?” kids.  So it has caused me to rethink my delivery method and class organization.  Through some experimenting I came across a method this week that does show some promise. I call it pod learning.

My room is broken up into three groups. I have them color coded by rugs on the floor, red, black and green. At the beginning of each unit I give a pretest to see where my students are at. Depending on how they score on that test they are placed into each of the pods. The black groups is for kids who are struggling with the concept. Green students have a basic knowledge of the content and red who seem to have a good understanding of the concept. Once they are placed in their groups each pod has scaffolded instruction to their specific needs. Black will receive a lot of my attention and I will move them along slowly while green and red can move more at their own pace. My scope and sequence has not changed I have just added some enrichment activities to the green and red groups.  In some cases my red students get into their own course of study on the subject. This process really seemed to work well over the past couple of weeks and has led me to begin looking at refining this system even more.  While this is not true differentiating instruction it is allowing students to move at their own pace and has not created an excessive burden as far as planning my lessons. I am optimistic about this concept and wish to hear your thoughts on this little experiment. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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My Students Favorite 14 Avatar Creators

This past week I moved my students in to the blogosphere to start participating in the great conversation.  One of the big things we talked about however was privacy and keeping all personal information and images off of their blogs.  So I had them create an Avatar to represent them online.  At first my students seemed genuinely bothered by the fact that they could not place their own pictures on their blog but after some conversation about safety and the purpose of the blog most agreed that using an Avatar would be just fine.   The following list seemed to be the most popular avatar creators among my students.

  1. DoppelMe – Free Dynamic Avatars  Create simple cartoon characters to represent ou as your avatar.
  2. Create Avatar – South Park Studios  Create a South Park Avatar to represent you.
  3. Marvel Create Your Own Superhero | Make Avatars with Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Thing, Wolverine, and more Marvel Characters | Marvel.com  Simple and easy to create superhero avatar creator.
  4. Toy story toy creator  Create your own Toy Story avatar.
M&M’S® Become an M&M’S® Character: Home  Create your own personalized M&M avatar.
  5. Raster Boy Avatar Creator
Easy to create full body cartoon
  6. FaceYourManga.com | Shake Yourself!
Another simple cartoon creator.
  7. Lego Avatar Creator
Easy Avatar creator that creates Lego
  8. Makewee
Wii Avatar Creator just like the the Wii console.
  9. Clay Yourself! | Hotels.com
Create a claymation avatar.
  10. HeroMachine 2.5, Superhero Generator, Create Your Own Hero – UGO.com
Super Hero Avatar creator.
  11. avatarizeyourself.com
Create an Avatar movie Avatar. Upload your own picture and then turn yourself blue.
  12. Wimp Yourself
Diary of a wimpy kid avatars.
  13.  Portrait Illustration Maker : Free Illustration Generater!
Simple to use avatar cartoon character creator. Has many different options and styles.
  14. BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF
Sponsored by the New York Zoos and Aquarium. This site allows you to create half human half animal avatars.

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