After years of using Comic Life, I decided to try out Pixton this school year. Pixton is web-based, and let’s your students create a variety of comics using built in character designs. They can do some manipulation of characters and objects. Outside images can be imported, and final comics can be exported. With the beauty of Web 2.0, all comics can be shared with the teacher, classmates, or public at large. Teachers can also create a comic structure or assignment and “assign” it to students. A bank of comic assignments are also available for a teacher to copy and assign. My students love Pixton!
I have been experimenting this fall with using a single iPad, my personal iPad, in my classroom. I use it for various tasks, like being a sign in-and-out for the bathroom, checking out classroom books, attendance, and behavior. If I am having the kids work on note-taking or research, they can use the class iPad. I still prefer students to have laptops rather than iPads. But it is a nice device, larger than the iPod touch. I will be interested to see how it is effective for use an ebook reader for when we do our novel studies. That starts on Monday, and I’ll share any insight on ebooks at a later time.
I introduced my 6th graders to Edmodo yesterday, and it’s taken off like wildfire. They LOVE it! I think it is because they sense of it as being a social network site for our class. They are just at the prime age to want to connect with their friends, but aren’t old enough (in my opinion) to use Facebook. Edmodo let’s them make comments and post pictures with me always in the loop. (Kids cannot send personal messages to each other, only to our class group.) Also there is not way for the outside world to get into our class group. So you don’t have public side to it at all. There are no fears that student pictures or information will be seen by strangers. Edmodo is free and you can access it at Edmodo.com.
Multi-tasking is something that the iPhone 4 is able to do right now. Simply double click the home button and a second panel of available apps with show up. It’s quite handy; however, it’s not in the cards for the iPad, at least not yet. I found it frustrating as I was trying to work between my Mail, the Pages app, and a PDF reader. With the size of the iPad, I’m almost frustrated that it does not act like a computer, with multiple windows.
I’m back on Twitter again for a short hiatus. Well, a actually it wasn’t short. What I’m enjoying about Twitter is developing my PLN by following others in the ed. tech field. I’m finding all sorts of forums to join in on. (I just added comments to a Voice Thread about how administrators can support teachers, students, and learning.) I’m reading all kinds of articles and blogs about technology, education, and instruction. Twitter gives me just enough tidbits of information for me at this time. I’m still hoping to incorporate Twitter as a communication piece with parents. It failed for me two years ago, but this just might be my year!
For technology reasons, I was without my machine running Snow Leopard, therefore without capabilities to screen record from the new QuickTime. This resulted in a neat experiment of trying out Jing as well as Screencast-o-Matic. I began with Jing, which seemed simple enough. I recorded my Moodle tutorial and proceeded to upload it to my YouTube channel. Jing, unfortunately, saved my file in a .swf format that is not supported by YouTube. QuickTime, likewise, would not read the file. I moved on to Screencast-o-Matic. Once finished with my recording, I was able to login to YouTube and upload. The encoding took a long time. My two minute tutorial took over 30 minutes to encode for YouTube. I miss Snow Leopard and Quicktime!
Our school uses Edline as a grade portal for students and parents. I plan on finally using it this year as my class website. Although it lacks some of the options I would like to have, it will be a one-stop-shop for student, parents, admin, and fellow teachers. What is missing? I’d like to be able to add a Twitter widget. Sync the “combined calendar” to iCal or Google calendar. You can get more information about Edline at Edline.com.
Webspiration is an online beta version of Inspiration, and content-mapping software. Although it has potential to be a collaborative tool for users to create, draft, brainstorm, and diagram, I found very few examples available. Yes, there are examples and templates built in to the website. You can also find examples on the Inspiration website. But it’s funny that I was not finding many examples by teachers using it in the classroom. Why is that?
The number one tip I can give a new Smart Board user is to actually use it. The more you use your board, the more proficient you will become. It does, however, require that you plan your lessons differently. Think of this: Do you want the children to watch you, or to come up to the board? If the kids come up to the board, how disruptive is that? If it takes too much time to have them get out of their seat and come up to the board to press one thing, you might want to have a student helper (what I call a “Vanna”) stand at the board to press the indicated buttons. Managing the use of your board will be crucial to keep your lessons smooth.
Apple’s iMovie is an easy way to create student-made or teacher-made products that incorporate video, photo/images, and audio. My most recent session on iMovie brought together educators from around the county. Small groups brainstormed ideas on how iMovie can be used in an educational setting. Check out these ideas!