I’ve liked the National Geographic for Kids web site for a long time and when I was in the classroom always showed my 2nd graders what could be found there. But until recently I didn’t realize that they had their Young Explorer magazine online. I recently spent a class period with each of my six 1st grade classes to show them how to use this resource. They were enthralled and mesmerized for a number of reasons. It’s real. It has wonderful pictures. You can turn the pages and it reads the text aloud if you click. They spent 30 minutes – no one talking going through the pages of issues. Some kids listened to it all and some read it themselves. It’s a perfect place to introduce young kids to non fiction and a perfect resource that works with the wide range of reading levels you find in a typical 1st grade classroom. It’s also now a permanent link on the list of read aloud sites on my school web site.
My 4 5th grade classes had a ball with the photo efects available for free on BeFunky. We spent one class session doing crazy things with pictures! First they took one regular picture of themselves using Photo Booth. They uploaded the picture to BeFunky, played around with the effects, and then saved it back to a folder I’d set up on the server. The next class session I wanted them to learn about using the Publishing layout view in word, not terribly exciting of course but with the opportunity to add the pictures they’d created they loved it and practiced using text boxes, inserting pictures and using Word Art to create a page layout. So….what do you think of my new portrait?
What We’re Doing in 4th Grade Technology
I started a project in December with 4th grade. There is a focus in the late fall on kindness and 4th graders every year have a full day kindness retreat where they talk about bullying, sing, play games and at the end get to apologize to classmates if they want to. This year I decided to focus a big project on the kindness theme. It’s a collaborative project. I used the “name picker” page in Notebook software for the Smartboard and picked groups of 3 that way. some complaints at first of course if there were 2 boys and a girl or the other way around but only one group out of 4 classes has had any real issues with it. In fact since we started this project they haven’t even been working individually on computers during their tech classes. We’re in the process of creating….. from script to finished iMovie. Their scripts are done, they’ve broken them down into recording chunks. Some are telling about the retreat, some are working on a story of their own about bullying, and others are doing kindness tips. They’ve also planned what pictures they need for their movie and are using pictures from the retreat, taking pictures around the school, or acting out a scene and taking posed pictures. Some are drawing pictures in Tux Paint and others are designing pages in Comic Life. They’ve had free reign. During my last 4th grade class half the class was out of the lab with cameras or out sitting in a quiet spot recording their voices with their scripts. It’s been great to see them huddled around one computer, talking, typing and planning. This project has gone much better than I ever expected and I’m anxious to get them started putting it all together. Watch for an update when I’m done and the projects are public!
Here’s another great online place for editing photos – Picnik – You can fix photos, add frames, text, and other special effects. You can get a premium version but there’s enough there to use that you can even get by without registering. I made a Jing tutorial on how to use Picnik if you’d like to watch it. You’ll get a good idea on how easy it is to use. It allowed me to “fix” a 25 year old photo and add a few extra touches. If you want to view the tutorial click HERE.
It’s a rather strange name – Dumpr – but it’s a great place to do some very special effects to your photos. What kid wouldn’t like to see their face on a Rubik’s cube for instance! Dumpr is one of many sites that are popping up that let you upload a photo, work on it and save it back to your computer all without having to buy a piece of software. Give it a try for some mind boggling effects. You can even hang yourself on the wall in an art museum!