May 31

This week our third graders did a scavenger hunt for simple machines. We divided each class into 6 groups,  gave each group a digital camera, and set out across the school looking for simple machines. Students took turns snapping pictures of each simple machine they discovered.

I used a new site called Stupeflix to generate this movie using some of the best pictures. This site is similar to Animoto. (My teacher account at Animoto keeps downgrading, so I couldn’t use it for this project because I had many photos to upload.)  At Stupeflix there is no limit to how many images that you upload or the length of the movie that you can  generate. It is easy to add text and music files, however they have no music choices at the site. I thought it was fairly fast to upload the images and generate the movies.   I was able to easily remix the movie to tweak some things that I didn’t like. You may download the finished movie.  It offers you ways to link to Twitter or Facebook, but I couldn’t find a way to use an embed code.  I ended uploading the video to Schooltube and getting an embed code from there.  Here is the video:

May 05

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This week I had one of those rare days in the computer lab where I wasn’t in the middle of some big project with my fourth graders.  At first I thought that maybe we could make cards for Mother’s Day using Print Shop. But then I remembered a recent post by “Mrs. Smoke”on Mother’s Day Photo Gift Project Ideas and her suggestion to use Wordle to make a word pictures of adjectives describing their mother.

I’d never used Wordle with students, so I asked my plurk buddies if they had any suggestions.  Several mentioned that sometimes there might be creations with objectionable words on the main page and they said it is helpful if you go straight to the “create a Wordle” page.  I had my fourth graders type in “wordle.com/create” into the address bar – most mananged that without difficulty.  If I were working with younger students or wanted to save a bit of time, I would create a link so they could go directly to the correct starting page.

After everyone was at the right page, I locked their computers using Apple Remote Desktop and demonstrated all the steps of how to use the site. This is what I instructed them to do:

1. Type the word Mother, Mom, Mama, or Mommy 5 times, so that it would be the primary word on the page.

2. Then type at least 10 adjectives (they must be individual words, not phrases) that described their mom. I liked the fact that misspelled words were underlined in red so I was easily able to assist them with their spellings. This activity also allowed them to practice the skills that they had learned in the keyboarding lessons that we recently finished.

3. When all the words are entered, click “go.”   It takes 15 – 20 seconds for the “wordle” to appear.

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 4. Use the Randomize button to generate different designs.5. Use the Font, Layout, and Color buttons to customize the look of your design.  Lots of fun to play with this!

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6. Click the Print button at the bottom of the page when done – this will print your wordle alone without any of the other items on the webpage.  (We found we had to click it 2 times before it actually sent the picture to the printer.)

The designs looked wonderful.  It took about 30 minutes for most students to do the entire assignment and few had any difficulty.  A huge success – I will use Wordle again!

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