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.
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.