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Posts Tagged ‘piclit’

Been a while.  This can only mean one thing – yup, I am on holiday of what appears to be a permanent nature due to not being offered a permanent position at the end of last year. Ho hum – back to the drawing board.  Despite the hugely disappointing end to my first year teaching, I would not change a single thing about the year itself.  I taught  students from Year 9 to 12 with a range of abilities.We had our ups and downs and our moments, some we made the most of, some we’d probably prefer to forget!   I will miss ALL of my students this year, am proud of how much we achieved together in 2011 and am very sad I won’t get to see their various learning progressions.

So, before I have to make some really tough decisions about what to do (and it looks as if teaching is simply not an option) I thought I’d share a list of links and brief comments about ICTs and digital technologies trialled last year.  As always these choices are dictated by environmental factors. The school I taught at did not have PCs or laptops for students in the class.  It used a book in lab system. It was tricky getting into the labs for some of my classes and there were never enough PCs for one computer each student. Mid-way through the year the school bought sets of netbooks (20 per set minus a couple that were generally out of action). These had limited applications installed and again had to be booked well in advance. Still a step in the right direction. 

So here’s the summary, take from it what you will and feel free to ask questions if you’d like to know more.  This is not a comprehensive list  – just what I can remember after far too many days off! I’ll start with Year 9 today and add others later.

Year 9 – lower ability class:

  • History of English – 10 short clips from the Anglo Saxons to Language of the Internet, worked really well.  Developed focus questions around each one so this can be used as a listening exercise too.
  • Grammar Skills Testing – Spent a session in the computer lab working through at their own speed. Good before creative writing. They could go back to problem areas and retest – also handy for diagnostic testing.
  • Persuasive arguments  – an interactive online organiser, used for speeches, would also work for formal writing  Because we didn’t have PCs in class, I developed an argument for them and then projected the template to copy.
  • Creative writing starter/poetry taster – pick an image then drag and drop words to create poems, see earlier post on PicLits.
  • Animate words from essays – the visual learners liked this, most failed to see the point, used for early finishers, similar application can be found at pimpapum.
  • Fractured Fairytales – another great interctive from Read Write Think, students create their own characters, setting etc to rewrite well known fairytales.

And when all else fails, I used social media sites they knew about as a basis for static activities.  For example, I created a Facebook profile template and used this for note-taking on key characters. I also created a template for a twitter feed (after showing them the basics online and tweeting them via my account) and used this to rescript a scene from a drama studied in class.  They weren’t convinced about this approach but some really enjoyed!

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One of the points of this blog was to actually try out some of the tools I encounter to test their relative merits and consider ways they could be used in a classroom. 

I’m always acutely aware that not every child in every school has immediate access to a PC so one of the first cons I’ll have to declare with the following is the need for PC access…which might mean booking a space in a lab ahead of time but hey, you’re teachers so you’ll be able to organise that!

First up is pic lit. This website enables students to flex their creative muscle through “inspired picture writing”.   Like most Web 2 tools it will satisfy any need for instant gratification and also help students learn more about choosing the best words in an economical and effective way. As such it would be ideal as part of a poetry unit – yes not only are you going to read poetry, you’re also going to have a go at writing it!  And of course as a warm up exercise for a creative writing unit.

Like most interactive learning tools there is a need to sign up which might mean some consideration for email submission (their own? yours? the school’s?) and a bit of set up time.

Here’s my first very quick attempt:

It’s pretty easy to navigate.   Simply drag and drop the image you want onto the centre of the page and then add words from a set list (create tab) or be brave enough to start from scratch (via the freestyle tab).

The resulting work can be emailed, shared via social networking sites or added to a blog. You can either add a link to your blog or a preview image – I have to admit after 30 minutes I’m still unable to upload the image to this post so that will require a bit more thinking on my part.

I can’t find a print option on the site although if you save a print screen image into an editing programme and then crop, you could also print out for students’ folders or for use as classroom posters.  It’s a great way to scaffold their learning (through the create option first followed by the freestyle option later) and motivate students to think about word choice.

Next on my “must try” list was wordle.  A worldle is simply a collection of words (word cloud) presented in a visual format. Words that are inserted more than once display larger than less popular words. Here’s one I found on media literacy:

It’s also very simple to use. Go to the site, add a list of words (you need to use a tilda ~ for a hyphen) and hit create. Once you’re master piece appears you can change the font, colour, word orientation etc. Like Pic Lit you can also save to an editing programme.  Possible uses would be to create a class wordle and get students to give you three words each associated with a topic (a poet/poem/author/novel).  If time allowed they could also create their own. 

Wordle creation would be a good way to check recall of  key points and would also be good to keep for revision either in their folders or on the wall.  If time and resources allowed you could also get students to create their own wordles. I haven’t tried it out but you can also copy and paste a whole essay in there – wordle simply takes out the non-essential words leaving the main points for the world. Pretty cool.

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