Tuesday, April 29, 2014

StoryJumper --- Digital Publishing Tool

Recently a 3rd grade teacher asked me about using StoryJumper as a way create digital storybooks for her students' fairy tale writing they had been working on during Writer's Workshop.  Even though we had not used the tool before, we found it very easy to set-up and also easy for students to navigate.  In the past, I had used tools such as Little Bird Tales and Story Bird.  Although I like these tools, I believe that StoryJumper is the best choice for students who have already written the story and then are looking for a way to digitally publish with an easy to use layout, backgrounds, and a plethora of props to enhance their story.

StoryJumper Classroom Account
StoryJumper also allows teachers to set up a classroom account.  The classroom account allows teachers to pre-load their students.  When students are ready to begin creating their stories, they simply go to the login page and type in their class code to gain access.  Teachers then have access to all student stories and are able to moderate progress and provide feedback along the way.

Working on StoryJumper at Home
Using the classroom account, students are only able to work on their story at school when their teacher has "started" the class session.  If you would like to allow students to access and work on their books at home, parents will need to set-up a "Home Account."  The instructions for parents to follow to get the home account are easy and can be printed off each students.  Some of the benefits of creating a home account are:
  • More time to work on their stories at home (their home account is linked with their school account)
  • Keep their stories after the school year ends (otherwise, students who don't create Home Accounts can't access their stories after school ends)
  • Parents can enjoy their child's stories
  • Parents can purchase a hard copy of their child's book for $25.95 (must be at least 16 pages)

Sharing Your StoryJumper Book
You can share your StoryJumper book with anyone by simply clicking the "Share" button when you are finished with your book.  By default, your book is shared with "only me." If you would like to share with others, click on "Friends & Family" to receive a link that can be sent via email.

StoryJumper is a great digital publishing tool. Below I have included a short tutorial video that was created for younger students.  The video is great, but I suggest you just sign up for an account and discover StoryJumper's simplicity for yourself!



Thursday, April 10, 2014

SoundCloud for Audio Tracks and Podcasting with Students

Heard of SoundCloud? I hadn't until just recently when I was using other web tools that claimed they could embed "SoundsCloud Tracks."

After some investigating,  I found that SoundCloud is an awesome resource that allows users to upload and/or record audio that they can share on various social media sites including blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Jam, or email for friends, fans, or followers.  Musicians can use Soundcloud to share their music. Authors can record audio books. Podcasters can record directly in SoundCloud. The possibilities are really endless.

After creating a free account with Google, you can search for thousands of audio tracks from other SoundCloud users or record and upload up to 120 minutes of your own audio material. If the 120 minutes isn't enough, go ahead and move to an account upgrade. There are some great pricing options for everyone!

As an educator, I would most likely use SoundCloud for me and my students to record short audio tracks right from our computer.  Students could embed these tracks into tools such as ThingLink, SMORE, & Blogger.  Since SoundCloud simply produces a link, you can share this link virtually anywhere!

Once your account is created, click "Upload." From here, you are a few short clicks away from uploading a previously recorded track or making your own track right on SoundCloud that can be shared privately via a link or publicly in the SoundCloud search.

Happy Listening!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Skype in the Classroom

Education is changing.  No longer are students expected to "sit and get" their knowledge from lectures or books.  We want them to be active learners and use 21st century skills to gain the knowledge they need and to do so in authentic and meaningful ways. One of the best ways to make a lesson authentic and meaningful to students is to bring in outside professionals in the current field of study to talk with students and answer questions they may have.  Another great way to do that is to take field trips to those famous places students are learning about, rather than to simply read about them in books.  While in the past these amazing opportunities required lots of expenses to make it happen, today it much easier to make these fabulous learning experiences come to life...and for free.  Enter, Skype in the Classroom--the world's biggest classroom.  

Skype in the Classroom allows you to collaborate with classrooms across the globe (over 66,000 teachers are currently using Skype!) by participating in Mystery Skypes, being or finding an authentic audience for student writers or by having students collaborate and work together on a project.  It is breaking down classroom walls and allowing children to be a part of experiences from around the world by granting them unprecedented access to new experiences.  Students can chat with Yellowstone National Park Rangers, Skype with scientists from the top of Mt. Everest, and have NASA scientists show students firsthand how to prepare a space vehicle for takeoff.  

Best of all, Skype in the Classroom is easy to use!  Teachers can search by subject, age or what they are looking for (guest speakers, lessons, etc...).  Simply visit:  https://education.skype.com/ to get started!