Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

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5 Upcoming Writing Competitions

Having an audience for kids is a motivator. Winning a prize for your writing is huge motivator. Here are five writing contests just around the corner:

  1. Young Writers and Illustrators Contest
    A creation of PBS Kids and Reading Rainbow, this is a contest for all kids in K-3rd grade who want to write & illustrate a story and submit it for judging for a chance to win local and national prizes. Everyone who enters gets a Certificate of Achievement.
    Deadline: PBS Stations will hold local PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contests during February and March. In late January go to pbskids.org/writerscontest to find your local PBS station and Contest deadline as well as to print the Entry Form and Rules.
  2. The Betty Award
    A writing contest for kids ages 8-12 where kids can win up to $300.
    Deadline: All entries must be postmarked no later than May 15, 2010. Winners will be notified by July 15, 2010.
  3. Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
    International writing competition for writers age 13 and above. Amazon and Penguin are seeking the next popular novel. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
    Deadline: Entries must be submitted between January 25, 2010 at 12:01 a.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and February 7, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).
  4. Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Competition
    GRAND PRIZE: $3,000 cash and a trip to New York City to meet with editors or agents. Writer’s Digest will fly you and a guest to The Big Apple, where you’ll spend three days and two nights in the publishing capital of the world. While you’re there, a Writer’s Digest editor will escort you to meet and share your work with four editors or agents!
    Deadline: May 14, 2010.
    Add $5 per manuscript or poem to Entry Fee(s) on all entries submitted after May 14.
  5. Kids Can Do It Essay Contest
    Ongoing essay competition where kids can win $50, an autographed book from Sandra McLeod Humphrey, and an award certificate to hang in the classroom.
    Deadline: Ongoing. Next contest begins January 1, 2010.

This list just scratches the surface of the writing contests out there. A word of caution though: there are several scam contests looking to take advantage of young writers. Here are some articles you should read before entering any writing competition:

Do you have other contests to recommend? If so, please share.


Top 3 Free Synonym Sites

I had a teacher I work with wanting to purchase a thesaurus program to use for her English language learners and my principal was wise enough to say no. With Microsoft’s built in synonym finder and a plethora of online word sites, why would anyone want to spend money on something you can get for free?

So here are my top 3 synonym sites:

  1. Free Thesaurus is a clean, googlesque site that provides over 2.5 million synonyms. Simple to use and no frills. I challenge anyone to find a more user-friendly word finder than freethesaurus.net.  
  2. Wordsmyth is a great, free, easy to use online synonym finder. With a free registration, educators can not only look up words for definitions and synonyms, but also create quizzes, glossaries, and get help on anagrams and crosswords. There’s also a children’s dictionary section that states the following:

    Wordsmyth proudly introduces the first real Web-based dictionary made expressly for elementary-school-aged children. This new electronic dictionary from the Wordsmyth Collaboratory features over 30,000 entries and an array of multimedia, including spoken pronunciations, animations, and colorful illustrations.  

  3. When right-clicking for synonyms doesn’t meet your needs, WordsLike, a similar word finding site might just do the trick.
    WordsLike.net is a free service that allows you to find words and phrases that are similar or related to each other.
    Type in a word or a phrase and Words Like.net will come up with a list of related words and their corresponding definitions.
    Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for finding this one.
  4. Bonus: Not really related, but interesting nonetheless is this site:  Connecting Mathematics.  Connecting Mathematics contains brief explanations of mathematical terms and ideas in English, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak.

Got others? Add them in the comment section.


disclaimerHaving no false assumptions, I am not writing this blog to show off my superior writing ability or amazing, grand ideas.  Most of my posts are simple thoughts jotted down in 5 minutes after a class leaves my lab.

My hope is that by showing my few successes and frequent failures, teachers will possibly grab hold of a single idea or two that enables them to integrate tech into their classroom in a way that they hadn’t thought of before.

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