Sunday, December 19, 2010

WordPress "Blogs" As Websites

My fiance, Ron, is something of a small-time web entrepreneur. He first found WordPress and subsequently showed me how to use it. Last year, after becoming increasingly frustrated with TeacherWeb (and its $42 pricetag this year) I bought a domain name of my own and set up shop using WordPress. Though it has many bells and whistles, it's very easy to navigate and use to make webpages. Though I do get criticism for not using TeacherWeb ("like all the other teachers here") I plan on using WordPress to deliver information to my students and parents of students throughout the year.

WordPress is free. To use it, you need a domain name and some hosting capabilities. Since I host it out of our own private domain hosting membership, I do not know if the county can host it for you, but I bet they can.

Check out my WordPress Blogsite:

I'd love to hear any feedback you have about the site (esp ideas or constructive criticism). Thanks!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today I created a Prezi info sheet to use with my students when we do our Alternate Energy projects in February.

I'm including screenshots here but I don't know how to provide you the file to download. Ideas?

I know, it's a busy document. And I'd love you to check it out and let me know of any errors. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prezi Example to Show Students

What do you think? Do you/would you use Prezi?

Here's the introduction for my Alternate Energy Resources. I'll show this to the students before beginning the project in the middle of February.

Facebook in 6th Grade

At the beginning of this school year, I contemplated opening a Facebook page for my class. I wouldn't use my own personal Facebook account to open in--instead I'd use my HCPSS account to open it and never connect to it personally. I thought this would be a great way to get the students to ask questions about things they don't understand, post interesting information, and work together. However, as you all know, the HCPSS system blocks Facebook from being used inside the classroom. A few years ago Facebook worked if you added the S to http:// and you were able get on in very limited use. This was the major drawback for using Facebook at school--not actually being able to use Facebook AT school. In the article we just read, I absolutely love the idea of students posting brief synopses of the class, listing the homework, and asking thought provoking questions of their classmates. I often wonder...Will Facebook ever be available at school as the county pushes for more technology in the classroom? Will there ever be a way for teacher accounts to access it but prevent student accounts from accessing it.

What do you think the answers to these questions are?

In my next post I will send you the link for the Facebook page I'm about to set up for possible use next year (introducing anything mid-year is disastrous, as far as I've found).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prezi for showing connections between body systems!

At the end of the second quarter, students in 7th grade will have covered 7 body systems. By the end of February, they will have covered three more. For a middle schooler, this is a lot of content in a short amount of time! This year I will be trying something new when we're done our body systems unit--a Prezi. Students will be completing a Prezi to show the information that they've learned over the previous 12 weeks. This will allow them to connect the body systems together to show how each one works with a variety of the others.

As I develop the documents for this project over the next few weeks, I will be sure to post them here. I will also post an example of a Prezi, but I will not make one that details the body systems. I have found in the past that showing my students a project example in the same vein as what I want from them allows them to copy it exactly and leave all creativity out of the equation. Developing a Prezi for a different topic will allow them to see how it works, but will leave the task up to them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Though I haven't used XtraNormal with my classes (yet!), I did make a video for our last class which, incase you want to watch again and again, I have posted here. Wow, that was a run on sentences wasn't it?

During our Alternate Resources unit in early March, we have our students advocate the use of one alternate energy source. In the past, I have used iMovie (mixed reviews), Powerpoint (they were junk), and a hand made, hand drawn brochure (the current medium, and least likely to end in yucky work.) This year, I am tempted to ask the students to make XtraNormal PSAs. Though early March is past the timeline of this class, I hope to have a student or two make a few of these for reviews for quizzes. If we do that, I'll of course post it here.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Web 2.0 Technologies

Hello All!
The first of a couple of Web 2.0 Technologies that I want to introduce you to is XtraNormal. You got a taste of XtraNormal with some projects in the final days of the last class. I think many of you would be surprised to see how easy and quick it is to create a short animated clip out of nothing besides text. In less than 10 minutes you could create a project to share with students.
This is a tool that could work well for students because there aren't a bunch of bells and whistles with the free starter version. There aren't many options to change and there aren't many options available with the free service. Visit to do a quick run through. Some pointers are below:

1. You choose one of 7 possible "themes" for your animated project. If you decide to change your theme later, this can be done effortlessly.

2. You have a choice of one or two "actors." These actors are robotic renditions of people, dogs, bears, office personnel, sketches, or for a little more money, celebrities and TV stars. Choosing one or two actors determines whether or not your project will be a monologue or a dialogue between two categories.

3. After choosing your theme and actors, all that's left to do is add your script. Just start typing in the textbox. When you want the other actor (if you chose two) to speak, hit the plus sign (+) and begin typing for the other actor. Go back and forth as much as you would like. As I have used the site, I have never noticed a limit to the amount of time your project can be.

4. Messing with the settings can take a bunch of time, but lucky for you, there's an autopilot method for camerawork. You can choose your camera angles or you can set it for auto and let the internet do your directing for you!

5. You can add music, special effects, and emotions to your characters. When you are done, play a preview for your project. Change the wording as necessary to make for smooth transitions in this text-to-speech world that you've just created.

6. Once complete, you can render your project and post it on youtube or leave it on the XtraNormal site for future viewing.

7. Enjoy!