Friday, May 21, 2010

Take a Virtual Tour of the Louvre

The Louvre is offering virtual tours through the following website link

Click the image to enlarge

Virtual tours are available for the following departments:

Virtual Tours
Near Eastern Antiquities
Egyptian Antiquities
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Islamic Art
Decorative Arts
Prints and Drawings
Architectural Views
Medieval Louvre

Students can navigate their way through the hallways. By right clicking you can zoom in on a display. This is an amazing opportunity to visit one of the most well-known museums in the world.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Comic Writing With Make Beliefs Comix

Have you ever thought about introducing comic strip writing into your classroom? If you haven't you may change  your mind after you take a look at  Make Beliefs Comix was introduced to me by Dan Papa, MS Social Studies teacher in our district. After spending some time exploring this new resource i felt compelled to share it with you.

Click on Images to Enlarge

This site allows any user to create a multi-strip comic. There are a number of characters, emotions, thought bubbles,speaking balloons and background colors to choose from. Students can organize the characters on each strip and add text. They have some controls with regards to layout of the characters within the strip.

After adding the content to the comic the students have the option to print the final comic or email it. By using the print screen command on the keyboard the students can also paste the comic into word or PowerPoint.

This site has a number of applications for education. The website has a page of resources that lists 21 classroom integration ideas. Some of my favorites are listed below:

  • Have students create a comic as a first day back project to discuss their summer.

  • Students create a comic that depicts a conversation between characters in a story or historical figures.

  • Teachers create comics with various emotions to teach behaviors to special needs students.

  • Students create a comic to kick off a creative writing assignment.

  • Students create a comic using new vocabulary words that are being taught.

  • Students in a world language course may create a comic that contains text written in the language studied.

  • Have students create a comic to demonstrate knowledge of life skills such as speaking with a bank teller, ordering at a restaurant, speaking with a doctor or going on an interview

I hope you enjoy this great resource. I would like to thank Mr. Papa for introducing it. If you use this site please let us know how you used it by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Create music tracks and learn about copyright - Digital Story Resource

MYBYTES is an interactive website sponsored by Microsoft. It contains a free and easy to use Music mixer that allows for the creation of your own music track. The finished track can be downloaded as an MP3 to be used in a digital story. Completed tracks can also be shared on the site for others to listen to or re-mix. The creator of the track must determine the usage rights that her or she will assign to their work.

Click on the images to enlarge

The software is very easy to use.  In order to save and share your work you must create an account. An email address is not required for account creation. That makes it very student friendly. Students can select and mix together various instruments to create their own track. The music can be composed for a digital story project or podcast. By adjusting the instrument choices and tempo students can create a specific mood for their story.

Upon completion on the music track the student is presented with a number of publishing options. He or she must decide on the usage rights that will be applied to the work. This offers an opportunity for a discussion on copyright, digital content and file sharing. The site offers a full curriculum on these topics as well as interviews from subject experts.

The shared tracks can be downloaded or saved as a ring tone. If published for others to download, share or remix, the website will track the number of requests. This provides a very authentic experience for students to learn about file sharing and usage rights.

The use of student created music in digital stories simplifies the publishing options for student stories. We do not have to worry about the presence of copyright protected music.  Students enjoy the process of developing music to fit their stories. This adds a level of excitement as well as depth to the final product.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Google Safe Search and Usage Rights

There are two search features that Google offers that I would like to introduce. These features are found in the Google Image Search. We all know that Google is the primary website that our students go to conduct just about all Internet searches. Google Image search is their #1 location for images.  Unfortunately, many of our students do not know the copyright and usage rights associated with images that are found online. We have also found that the images available through Google Image Search are not always appropriate for a school setting or the eyes of a child.

Google has included two search setting located in their advanced image search that can help address these issues.  If you visit and click on Images on the top left of the screen, you will be directed to Google Image Search. Once there you will see a link titled advanced image search located to the right of the search bar. Clicking on this link will direct you to the advanced search menu.

Within the advanced search menu you will see two settings that are of interest to this topic.

Click on the Image to Enlarge

1. SAFE SEARCH - Students can select to use Strict Search Filtering.  By enabling this setting you are filtering out images that are deemed innapropriate.

2. Usage Rights - The default setting for usage rights is to not filter by license. This  means that all of the images that are returned by a search may be subject to copyright. If you would like to limit the search to images that are free to use (not protected by copyright), you can select"Labeled for Reuse". This will return only images that are allowed to be used.

3. Once you select these settings you can type your search terms in any of the find results boxes.

It is important that students are aware of these settings. They must be educated on the fact that it is against copyright laws to publish images on the Internet that are copyright protected. Digital Stories and Digital Posters are published online. Students working on these projects must use images with the proper usage rights.

For more information about images, videos and text that are free to use visit


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Digital Posters Develop Higher Order Thinking

Have you taken a look at a Glog yet? The website is a free Web 2.0 site for educators. The site allows for teachers to create an account and then within that account create up to 100 managed student accounts. The entire setup takes about 3 minutes to complete. On my wiki page I have provided instructions for accessing and setting up an account on Glogster.

A Glog is a digital poster that may contain text, images, clip art, videos, audio files, backgrounds and hyperlinks. All of these items can be arranged  in a very creative and artistic way. There is not a template that is forced on the user. Glogs are designed to be presented to an audience upon completion.  This is where a Glog separates itself from other presentation tools such as PowerPoint.

We have all sat through a number of PowerPoint presentations delivered by students and our peers. How many of these presentations have been dreadful? How painful is it to sit through a presentation in which the presenter has slide after slide of text that he or she continues to read word for word? In many cases students are copying and pasting text from the web and then reading it out loud to the class. This is not an exercise in higher order thinking. Students are not synthesizing the information they have uncovered. They are just reading information that they found on the web.

Glogster can change the way you and your students deliver presentations. A Glog is a one page digital poster. All of the content for your presentation must be contained in one page. It is designed to be populated by primarily images and short text labels. By limiting the space allocated for content the presenter must provide meaning and depth to his or her presentation by offering explanations and descriptions for the content they have added to their Glog. The presenter must have a clear understanding of the topic and be able to offer explanations in his or her own words to explain their content selections.

Example: The Glog that I have linked to below is a digital poster assignment in which the presenter is stating a case for a President that she believes a monument should be built for. It was designed by Mrs. King in our Middle School as an example for a class project. Each image has a full explanation that provides justification for her argument. Mrs. King must provide this explanation to her class. This explanation is verbal. Ther are not large text boxes of content that is being read. Mrs. King provides a verbal justification to her class and uses the images to support and add meaning to her content delivery.

By providing our students with a presentation tool that steers them towards reflective analysis, verbal explanations, public speaking and creativity we are not only preparing them for the 21st century, but we are providing them with an avenue for synthesis of ideas and information. This type of assessment will have a positive impact on student learning that exceeds what we are currently experiencing with MS PowerPoint.