December 3, 2010
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Episode 35 >> Previous Paragons
Mapeas is a Google Maps mash-up that shows news happenings from around the world. The hot-spots are divided into categories: Business, Entertainment, General, Science and Sport, so you can select which one you’d like to see, or simply see all of them at once. Each dot on the map represents a story and the numbers indicate how many stories from that particular area there are. When you click on a dot it opens up a quick description of the news event along with a video that can be played directly in the site. EdTechIdeas: Social Studies teachers can use Mapeas when learning about current events and also help students understand world geography at the same time.
Sight Words with Samson allows students to learn and practice word spelling and pronunciation in a fun, easy to use way. In a four-step process students are challenged to learn words, build words, identify words, and finally, take a quiz about everything they have learned. Within each step there are 4 different levels of difficulty that contain 7 lists of high-frequency words. EdTechIdeas: Sight Words with Samson is a fantastic site for English language learners and students in lower elementary. It could be used as a center activity as it is a very intuitive site.
Qwiki is an impressive new website that just recently rolled out their alpha phase, which means they are still in testing mode, working out some bugs. Currently, you can request access via email and they’ll send you login credentials within a day or two. What Qwiki is, is this: Do you remember the scene from Wall-e where the captain asks the computer to, “define earth?” The computer then displays tons of pictures, videos and maps while spewing out (in a pleasant sounding voice) various facts and information regarding Earth. This, in a nut shell, is what Qwiki is aiming to do, and they do it pretty nicely. Users simply enter a word into the search form and a 2-3 minute “information experience” is displayed. EdTechIdeas: Once this is out of Alpha, Qwiki will be a great research resource for quick and easy information for students studying a variety of subjects. This would also be a great example for students to mimic. Make a “Quiki” assignment where students create a short film about any given subject, pulling in a wealth of facts and media and create their own “information experience.” Below is a quick demonstration of how Qwiki works.
February 27, 2010
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No singing involved (thankfully) but Lyrics Training is a great YouTube mash-up that allows users to practice a foreign language by listening to a song and then filling in the blanks of what was just sung. The video stops automatically at the appropriate time and continues after the correct words are typed in.
Signing up is not necessary, however if you do sign up, you can save your scores over time. As of now, there are six languages supported (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Dutch), and there is just a short list of videos for each language, but this should only increase as the site gains popularity.
Uses in the Classroom
Upper elementary students could use this site for practice improving their English skills. Could be used as a listening center. Would make a fun Friday activity for a language class where the class has a “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” competition.
February 1, 2010
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Telling your students that they need to become fluent readers is an abstract concept that will help neither you nor your students. You can give them examples of what fluent readers do, model reading in a fluent way; but they will not truly understand the idea until they experience it themselves.
Learn by Doing
To get this first-hand experience, I had a fifth grade class bring in a book they were currently reading. They recorded themselves reading 2 pages of the book using Audacity and exported the file as an Mp3. The next lab session, they opened up the file and listened to themselves, and while they were listening, they rated their fluency using this Fluent Reader Self-Eval checklist.
Some things the students found out about their reading fluency from this activity were:
- Pace – some found they read too fast or too slow
- Expression – hearing themselves enabled them to decide whether or not their expression conveyed meaning
- Punctuation Signals – a lot of students forget to pause at comas and periods
- Voice Inflection – when reading narration or dialogue, it’s often difficult for students to change their voice. When they hear themselves reading, they really pick up on this.
You don’t need to use Audacity to record your students. Portable voice recorders can be used. Another idea is to have the students record their voice directly in a PowerPoint presentation and use the check list to add details about how their fluency can improve.
PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2003)
PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2007)
Fluent Reader Checklist