Elementary Education

My Brochure Maker

http://www.mybrochuremaker.com/

My Brochure Maker is an online tool for creating custom brochures or flyers that can be printed from your personal computer.  There is a nice selection of designs and layouts to choose from.  You can use the images provided by My Brochure Maker or upload your own images to insert into your project.  Text tools are available for creating and editing customized text to add to your project.  In addition, text can be uploaded if it has already been created in another location.  Projects can be saved online for later editing and can be accessed online from any computer.

My Brochure Maker is a great tool for creating travel brochures for social studies projects or for summarizing information or research for a science project.  This tool could also be used for persuasive writing and many other language arts activities.

Although there is normally a fee associated with using this site, it is FREE for educational use.

Photo Attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mynameisharsha/4344995931/

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http://www.voki.com/

Voki  is a free online service that allows users to create customized,  speaking avatars that can be shared.  The process is simple and fun.

The first step is to create and customize your speaking avatar.  There are a variety of characters to choose from,  including animals.  Customize characters by changing the clothing,  accessories,  and physical features.  There are several backgrounds available, or upload your own.  Users also have the ability to customize the player.  There are several ways to give your avatar a voice.  For the classroom setting, the most practical method may be the text to voice option.  Simply type the text in the box and choose a voice. You also have the ability to add your own voice through use of a microphone, by telephone, or by uploading sound clips.  Once your customized, speaking avatar is created, simply click the publish button, and you are ready to share!

Voki is a fun and creative way to use technology in the classroom.  Voki can motivate students to participate, improve  message comprehension, and can be used as a language tool through its text to speech capabilities.  The Voki website also has a lesson plan database where teachers can search for lessons by grade level and subject area.

The possibilities for classroom use of Voki are endless!

Photo Attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/allanahk/699180013/

I chose Engrade as my free educational technology. 

http://www.engrade.com/

Engrade is a FREE online toolset for teachers which includes gradebook, calander, and attendance records all in one place.  Data is secure and stored online, so teachers can have access to their important records from anywhere at anytime.  Students can log in to engrade to check on upcoming assignments, check grades, and submit homework.  Engrade promotes parental involvment by providing a place for parents to check on students’ progress and privately message the teacher. 

Engrade also includes options to give students online quizzes and engage students in online discussions.  Teachers can also create online flashcards to help students study important information.

Attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/45938935/

Podcast

   I listened to the Teacher Created Materials podcast, Episode 6, Building Vocabulary.  In this podcast, the three authors of the Building Vocabulary Series, Nancy Padak (Investigator for Ohio Literacy Resource Center and Director of the Reading and Writing Center for Kent State University) , Rick Newton (Professor, Kent State University), and Evangeline Newton (Professor of Literacy Education at University of Akron and Director of the Center for Literacy) talk with Editorial Director Lori Kamola about using Greek and Latin word roots to build students’ vocabulary.

http://www.teachercreatedmaterials.com/curriculum_files/podcasts/building_vocabulary_podcast.mp3

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TeacherCreatedMaterialsPodcasts/~5/67LJzYQB0-g/TCM_Episode6.mp3

This podcast discusses the importance of teaching vocabulary using word families and Greek and Latin roots, which can dramatically increase a student’s vocabulary, improve comprehension, raise test scores, and create a lifelong interest in word learning.

This podcast presented some very interesting information.  The speakers discussed the relationship between the level of a students’ vocabulary and the level of their reading comprehension.  The speakers note that the English language has the largest lexicon of words, estimated between 1 – 2 million words.  They also note that the number of words grows by about 20,000-22,000 words per year due to new research and technology.  At a time when the number of words in our language is growing so quickly, the number of words in the students’ reading vocabulary seems to be shrinking dramatically. 

Another interesting piece of information was that 90% of English words with more than 1 syllable are Latin based, and the majority of the remaining 10% are Greek based.  These findings lead the speakers to suggest that by learning the strategy of applying word roots, students will have more success with figuring out new words.  The speakers also suggest that by learning just 10 roots, students can increase their vocabulary by almost 200 words. 

The speakers also discuss that the more “traditional” approach of teaching vocabulary (by introducing a new word list to students and expecting them to learn them each week) is not the most effective practice.  Focus on definition alone is not effective, but vocabulary needs to be learned in context.

Finally, the speakers suggest several ways for teachers to improve their vocabulary instruction.  These suggestions include spending 10-15 minutes per day on vocabulary, developing routines, direct instruction of key words, and to teach word analysis strategies to students.

Utilizing RSS readers can be extremely beneficial for educators.  RSS readers save time and simplify retrieval of information.  When an individual subscribes to various blogs, news feeds, and sites through the RSS reader, the RSS reader brings the information to the subscriber rather than that person searching the web to find the information that they want to read and follow.  For educators, RSS readers can be a great tool to use with student weblogs and can be used to collect student work, rather than the teacher clicking through everything.  This process helps keep class content in one place.  RSS readers can also be beneficial in the classroom to track news feeds and topics of interest and to combine various feeds for classroom use.

I am using Google Reader.  I have subscribed to the blogs of all of my classmates that were listed on blackboard and/or tagged EDFIFA1101.  In addition, I am subscribing to a few other educator blogs that I enjoy following.