Little Tools that Do Big Things


Do you ever want to do something with your class and the whole technology thing is just too much?  I get that a lot so I’m always on the hunt for tools that “take the mystery out of things” and just work.  Remember that we are also in a world of constant change so there are people out there who are creating new and different tools all the time.  More importantly, how would you use it to support learning?  Here are some that I’ve used in classrooms:

iPiccy – my latest image editor (simple, simple, simple).  Oh did I say simple?  The online tools allow you to apply special effects, add text or paint to jazz up images.  Registration is not required; upload images from anywhere and download the completed masterpiece when completed.
How would I use it?  Have students take images (camera) for their blog writing or other powerful messages; decide on a visual message and edit using iPiccy accordingly; use in a blog post to enhance or support writing or in powerpoint or Glogster presentations.  In any of these circumstances, the goal is to use images to convey a deeper level of communication beyond words. See some examples from Mrs Comeau’s class of grade 3 bloggers – they will tell you that they’re writers!

Vocaroo – This extremely simple online sound recorder is a must-have for recording anything.  I first wrote about this in November, where I explored the importance of developing oral language.   
How would I use it?   Record a practice speech or ideas – use it as a memory jog for writing.  Or instead of writing, record a blog post by audio and post. Voice recorders also give students the independence to self-assess their achievement by capturing and freezing words in time.  Capture another recording at a later time and compare the two recordings.

Spell with Flickr – I love this when I’m in need of some kind of catchy block title images. It stands out better than relying on fonts.

How would I use it? Select words out of writing or connect those words using a visual thesaurus like Lexipedia.  In Spell with Flickr, generate the letters by clicking through a selection of alphabets pulled from Flickr images.  Capture the image and use in blog writing or other writing pieces that need a word to boldly stand out.  In the example above, I chose the word ‘imagine’ to represent all the possibilities of creativity.

Draw a Stickman – This creative site tells a story by including your sketches.  Sketch a “stickman“.  Watch how the story unfolds.
How I would use it?  This provides a twist for those moments when you’re stuck in writers block.  Rather than have students wander the room,  create something and watch the wheels turn. Who knows, it may launch the desire to learn flash animation or programming.

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