PuppetPals and Sock Puppets

These are two iPad apps that I truly love.  The possibilities for activities are endless and the ease of use it far better than many of the web-based animation suites.

Here are some ideas that we have tried or will be trying in the new year:

  • French dialogues between two characters
  • an interview with a character from a book
  • creation of original media texts (we did informercials – they were hilarious)
  • role playing social skills
  • sock puppet conversation of the birds and the bees (seriously…)
  • animation of a chapter of a story
  • explanation of a math concept and it’s application in the real world

The list keep growing and growing.  What have you used these apps for?


Firstclass Tip 1: Workspaces

I have been assigned to present a workshop on how to use Firstclass, our board’s email system, in the classroom. One of the main reasons to provide students with email is to allow them to sign-up for Web 2.0 tools and have access to an email address that is not effected by the board’s filtering system.

Firstclass has many extra features that many people don’t really know about yet in our board.  For those of you in the WRDSB, you may find this useful now or as a preview of what is to come for our workshop.

The most useful tool that many people don’t know about is Workspaces.

In a Workspace, you can add Firstclass applications such as a Calendar, File Storage, Documents and a Discussion Conference.  I am going to be using this with my students in the coming months as a way to have an open discussion in a moderated, virtual world.

To create a Workspace, click the icon on your desktop (seen above).  It will bring up a window where you will see nothing but a menu bar, unless you have used Wordspaces before.  Once you have clicked this, select “New Workspace.”

Choose the type of Workspace that you would like.  Each one has different pre-load applications, saving you the time of creating them after.  I have used the Standard Workspaces as it has all five application included.

Finally, you will have created your Workspace.  To add Workspace member, click “Workspace Members”.  This will allow you to quickly and easy access anyone on your Firstclass system directory.  Once everything is ready, you will be able to set up permissions and other security rules.  This will be covered in our February training.

To add members to your workspace (this will have the workspace appear on their Waterworks), select “Workspace Members” from the toolbar and enter the names of your students.

To allow your students to post in the Discussion Conference, right click on your conference and choose “Permissions”.

Enter the student’s name and give them access as a “collaborator”.  The permissions to the right tell you what they are allowed to do.  Make sure you include yourself in this list as a “controller”.



Zombie Restaurants

Zombie Restaurants?  Oh yes, that is what I said.

After the ECOO conference a couple of weeks ago, I was extremely inspired to have my boy students write more.  This has always been one of the biggest challenges.  The boys are extremely hard to motivate when it comes to writing and their “learned hopelessness” definitely causes thick brick walls to be put up when attempting these types of tasks.

At ECOO, Kent Manning (who writes the Motivating Boy Writers blog) spoke in great length about the strategies he has found successful when working with these students.  One point that particularly hit home is that we need not be afraid of letting the “boys be boys” in their writing.  Today, I really let me boys loose in their writing.

We have been working on descriptive writing over the last several weeks.  After spending time talking about figurative language, vivid adjectives and stretching sentences, they were assigned to create a menu for a restaurant of their choice.  Tying in with media literacy, we asked to students to choose a target audience for their restaurant and gave examples such as teens, seniors and zombies.

Needless to say, many of the students decided that zombies would be their audience of choice.  So far, the descriptive writing has been amazing.  I will post the “horrific” results once their are complete for you to see the amazing work they have done.

To keep with the theme of my blog, here are a couple of websites related to writing and boy writers that I have used in my classroom.  Some you may know, some you may not.

Write Source Student Models – website that accompanies the textbooks.  Has writing samples for all age groups.

WritingFix – writing website with amazing resources and information.

Bitstripsforschools – easy online comic generator

http://www.readwritethink.org/ – too many writing lessons to count

Writing Fun – numerous text organizers that help explain a variety of writing forms for students

Wordle – word cloud generator


5 Ways to Use Qwiki Alpha in the Classroom

A colleague of mine was nice enough to invite me to this website in its Alpha version.  Upon playing with my students, I become really excited about the opportunities that this sites offers to students due to the multi-modality presentation of search results.

When presenting to a group of teachers from our board’s behaviour programs, someone asked how this website might be used in the classroom.  My short answer was that it would be a great way to have the students start a search on a topic as it give your related searches at the end of the presentation in addition to links to other websites.

After the presentation, I thought that it would be a good idea to come up with additional ideas on how Qwiki could be used in the classroom.  Here was the result – I’ll add more as I think of them.

5 Ways to Use Qwiki Alpha in the Class

  1. The “Hook” – I’m often searching for short and sweet multimedia ideas to be the hook in the lesson.  I will occasionally be unable to find something that works.  Qwiki seems to be a good tool to feel in these gaps.
  2. Introductions – Using iMovie or Jaycut, have the students create their own Qwiki that would introduce who they are in under a minute.  At the end, include links and related searches.
  3. Qwiki Debates – After a short lesson or unit on the art of debating, have the students do Qwiki debates.  Show a Qwiki on a debatable topic (eg. school uniforms) and have the students develop a few arguments for each side of the issue.  Do a “Qwiki” debate in 5 minutes or less and move on to the next.
  4. Qwiki News – Include the viewing of a Qwiki presentation into your daily news routine.  Search for the topics that need a more in-depth understanding.
  5. Today in History – Use Qwiki to better present a “Today in History” activity.

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