Brief warm up: Ask each participant to think of a time when their students were incredibly engaged and using a myriad of their skills. If they are not an educator yet they can think of a time when they were a student.Ask everyone who thought of an activity which involved technology to raise their hands.Ask everyone who thought of an activity in which students created something to raise their hands.Ask everyone who thought of an activity which would be performed or shared to raise their hands.This is the beauty of the four tools we will look at today. We are providing our students in which they will use technology to create products for an audience. They will be engaged and synthesize their knowledge and skills into amazing products.
Hi! My name is Anna Balazs, I’m the library media specialist at Cale Elementary School in beautiful Charlottesville. Today we are going to focus on four amazing internet resources that allow you and your students to create products which engage the mind and the collective audience. Each tool is designed to get the students focusing on an end product for an audience. They need to think, polish, review, and refine. No longer is it sufficient to simple parrot or paraphrase information. The concept of an “audience” is infused with the work of a life long learner. The skills, strategies, findings, and even opinions the student wishes to convey are best presented and communicated when synthesized into a cohesive piece. Moreover this type of work is the most meaningful. Let’s get started!
Big Huge Labs is one of the simplest, versatile websites available. It can easily transition from a ten minute warm up activity to a collection of photographs with captions for a presentation.It is a digital, photo playroom – there are over a dozen ways to manipulate photos.
There are a variety of posters available. Some are as simple as an image and one word and others can hold up to three sentences. This would be a wonderful way to start off the year by having every student or staff member make a poster. You can use this feature to make book summaries, class rules, or recommendations.
You can upload a collection of photos to create mosaics or slideshows. This are great for introductions as well or comprehensive review of a book or unit. There are many manipulation features for photos. It is a little difficult to layer one manipulation on top of another (you have to save after each change) but the effect is interesting.
Because of the requirement to upload photos and use tools which are not totally intuitive this is better suited for second through fifth graders. The older students will be able to use some of the more complex tools such as cubes and slideshows.
The site links with Flickr so you can be sure your students use open source images. The how-to’s are embedded into the tools so that even students with limited English will have an example of what change will happen right there on the page.
An account is a difficult area to navigate.Most of the sites we’ll use need an account. I suggest setting up four or five class accounts for students to share in groups with your direct supervision.Some tools are there purely to manipulate the image, but poses less instructional value. You will want to guide your students to the meatier choices or model limiting time manipulating a photo.
For example, third graders are familiar with ancient Mali, Greece, Rome, China, and Egypt.Put those civilizations on one cube with a free space and add the words continent, time era, political culture, major inventions, ruling person, and free space. Children roll the two dice and name the item for the ancient culture.
For the classroom I recommended using your classroom accounts and then saving the image as a Pdf. If you have a class Facebook account you can share the pictures that way. You can use your own Dropbox account to house what your students create. Keep in mind you may want to keep all classwork private instead of sharing it on the BigHugeLabs forum.
QR codes are modern and simple. A QR code is a 10cm by 10cm digitized square. When photographed with a QR code reader like I-nigma it links to a site, image, or other media hosted on the web. They only require a device with a camera attached. I know many school only have a few such devices but they are relatively cheaper when compared with laptops. QR codes provide a quick and easy way to share projects. They are easy for the youngest user.
The most basic fun of I-nigma is to read other QR codes. If you are new to these codes there are already some great projects out there on the web. Many new picture books and novels have a QR image for the student to link to for author talks or more information. You can easily link to a website and create an interactive learning experience for your students.
Even better is to have you and your students create pieces which are linked with QR codes. In this image the librarian has added a QR code to the new arrivals display which links to a list of new books, the authors, and their websites if applicable. Your students can create a QR code for any project they make which is housed on the web without privacy settings.
QR codes can be used by any age group on some level. For younger students it might be as simple asusing the Inigma tool to snap pictures and be taken to a site or image. For older students they can create QR code scavenger hunts, write their own book reviews or create videos to novel studies and attach them to books in the library.
In the simplest form, this is a novel and easy way to display information. It can created an interactive learning experience for the child. In a digital “click on this” world a take along iPod to go with a novel or artifact merges the physical with the virtual. QR codes are abundant, used by advertisers because of their versatility. Why not advertise some education?
You will need some devices.You can look to your PTO or community to donate old devices.These devices are far cheaper than laptops.Anything a student shares by QR code will need to be open source, i.e. without a log in required.
There are endless QR code scavenger hunt possibilities.Many of these are already made only or part of picture books.You will need to teach responsibly clicking, using QR codes on approved items.
I recommend creating a place to house all of your QR codes. A simple spread sheet with the hyperlink, the QR code, and a brief descriptor will be invaluable.Laminate QR codes only once. Too much plastic makes it too shiny for the QR reader to work. You can also use matte tape.
Pic Lits embeds vocabulary into images. It offers a drag and drop option so students have easy access to words.It is incredibly simple to use so that even the youngest student can focus on the new vocabulary.
Pic Lit has a wealth of open source images. The student picks an image or has one picked by a teacher. Below the image a list of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions appears. The student can drag and drop appropriate ones to the image. There can be any parameters you see fit. For instance, only words with Latin roots or three or more syllables.
With an account you can upload your own images to use.It has tips for turning a few pieces of vocab into sentences or paragraphs.You can create a class account and have students use the same image as a friend or add to a previously made creation.
Easily adapted for any grade. Even the complete computer novice could do this assignment with a teacher. It is especially great for ESOL students and Sped students who need extra vocabulary work or who struggle to find the words they need to write.
This would make a great word work center for Daily 5 or stations in the library.It is incredibly easy to use.The words are sorted into categories which reinforces the skills of nouns vs verbs vs adjectives.It provides words the child didn’t know.
I really wish that the words linked to a dictionary so a student could instantly look up a new work, but that is easy enough to teach.You have to use a grab tool to save a hard copy.Some images are darker than others and it would be great to change the font.
There are endless possibilities for vocabulary work. The freestyle section is a great place to start for brainstorming and then the student can add more from the provided words.English SOL K.2 - Understand meaning, use descriptive wordsESOL students use Pic Lits to pull vocabulary to use with images and then write sentences or paragraphs.Students upload their own photographs such a friend for an interview.Practice using only verbs, nouns, or adjectives to describe an object.
Saving is still a bit tricky.You’ll need to train your children to use the account or get help from an older student to work with younger ones who are not ready to save their work.
This is our most advanced tool, but the most powerful. An infographic combines data and images to make an image report. They are full of information and ask the “reader” to draw his or her own conclusions from the plethora of data. They require data be had so the student will need to have some provided or have time to gather.
With an account you can access a large variety of public infographics.I recommend pulling a selection and letting students have time with them, creating conclusions and learn to read them.This is a great tool to start to use as a group.
Vhemes are visual themes which have spaces allotted for information. You can assign a particular vheme to students or teach them to choose one which matches the data they have. They can also start fresh with a blank vheme. This is the most challenging.
The tools are less intuitive.Students need to be able to read data, gather information, and manipulate small objects to create many graphs and images on one poster. It requires patience and dexterity.
This is the height of synthesizing information and skills.Students put together research, project creation, math, main ideas, and drawing conclusions.There is a large museum of other infographics so any student can get some ideas.
This is a relatively new tool so the choices of vhemes, fonts, and objects are limited.It takes a chunk of time to learn how to use the tool and another chunk of time to make a project. You will need to dedicate mini-lessons and work sessions to this tool.The beta form does mean there is a possibility that the free version will give way to one with a subscription. It hasn’t yet, but keep an eye out!
Even if a student is just reading an infographic he is synthesizing thoughts and conclusions. From the get-go, infographics demand that the reader or creator be fully engaged.
Again, you will need some class accounts.Save frequently, it is possible to exit the project without saving although it does prompt you.The embed links are wonderful for staff to use on their webpages.
Allow yourself and your students time to play with tools and share what tricks and tips they have found.They will be the best teachers for each other, especially when trouble shooting.Create class accounts. Try not to write off a program simply because it needs an email account. Be brave!Create a product along with the students. They will be inspired by your work and you will become more proficient with the tool
Putting 21st century learning
skills together to create
Who, What, and Why?SynthesizeMe!
Library Media Specialist at Cale
Elementary School in Albemarle
Access photos from Flickr or upload
Easy to manipulate
Lots of examples for visual learners or
Requires an account
Front page layout is busy
Some tools better than others
Create introductory posters at the
beginning of the year
Make a magazine or movie cover as
a book summary (VA Language SOLs
Create review cubes
(History SOL 2.1, 3.1)
Saving and SharingBigHugeLabs
Download as a
Does not require login
Simple to use
Current technology seen all over the
Provides easy access to materials
Requires an iPod, iPad, or
Items which are made need to be
housed on a cloud server or
external hard drive.
QRCoes Curriculum Connections
History SOL 2.11
Students write clues about a famous American in
their biographies unit. The QR code connects to
the correct American.
Students create movie or written book reviews
which are housed online and attached to the
inside of books.
At the beginning of the year each student brings
a special object, baby picture, or other share. A
QR code links to the student talking about his or
Saving and SharingQRCodes
Right click and save as an image on
Print copies for books or objects
Provides words in categories
Large collection of images to use
Easily upload your own images
Requires an account
Hard to save a hard copy
Cannot change font color
BigHugeLabs Curriculum ConnectionsPicLit
English SOL K.2 - Understand
meaning, use descriptive words
ESOL students use Pic Lits to learn
Upload their own photographs for an
Use only one type of word
High levels of Blooms taxonomy
Target math, language, computer
Easy to “undo” mistakes
Many premade examples
Requires an account
Requires time to learn the tool
and to create items
Limited fonts and graphics
Currently in beta form
BigHugeLabs Curriculum ConnectionsEasel.ly
History VS SOL 3 and 4
Mao infographic of Virginia to show
regions, agriculture, and trade
Turn math surveys into
Compare and contrast two cultures,
historical events, books, or friends
with the “vs” infographic
Saving and SharingEasel.ly
Requires an account
Easy to share on the site
Tricky to save as an image without a grab tool
Time to explore
Create email accounts
Create with the students
Please email Anna Balazs
with further comments or questions
Kimberly KC All About Me Mosaic: Arizona 2008
BigHuge Labs Icon, FX examples, and cube sample 2013
Download I-nigma 3GVision 2013
Jones, Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne QR_MediaBlog_Display 2010
PicLit screenshots PicLit: Inspired Picture Writing 2007-2013
Balazs, Anna Teachers on Summer Vacation 2013
Other easel.ly images