Hi and thank you for joining us for the webinar on the best assistive technology tools for 2010. My name is Jeff McCormick and I am an administrator for OCALI. Presenting today’s session is Jim Earnhart and Nick Weiland, both assistive technology regional coaches. OCALI is the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. We service families, educators, and professionals working with students with autism and low incidence disabilities. Before we begin this session we would like to provide you with a few tips that will make your experience more rewarding and enjoyable. First, we would like to let you know that your microphones have been muted. We find it best that you do not click outside of the GoToMeeting’s Webinar window during the presentation. If you have any questions about the content of today’s presentation, please use the chat interaction tool located at the right portion of your GoToMeeting’s screen. For all locations that have more than one participant, we are asking that you take a moment right now to count the people watching this presentation. If you are not alone, please use the chat tool to indicate how many additional people are in a room besides the person who registered. If you are watching it alone there is no need to chat us. And at this time I am going to give the presentation over to Nick and Jim for the webinar series.
Hi. I’m Nick Weiland. I’m a regional coach for OCALI and I’m Jim Earnhart. I’m also a regional coach for OCALI. Jim and I keep an eye out for new and useful sites for teachers. These resources are our favorites. With inclusion of students with disabilities in mind. These sites are new or at least new to us. We started out with dozens of sites but whittled our favorites down into three categories. Reading and learning tools, resources that help students take in information, and we have writing and presentation tools, which are resources to help students show what they know and the third area is study tools, resources that help students organize and retain information. Now you can download a PDF with all resources and links on the OCALI homepage and that is www.ocali.org. And over here on the right side you will see Quick Links and a document archive when you click on that it will take to you to document page and the first item there is our Best AT Tools 2010 webinar, click on that and there is the document. The first item there is Prezi and what you are viewing now was created on Prezi. It is a new presentation tool. It is web-based and you use a single canvas instead of traditional slides. If I scroll out here you can see how everything is placed on a large canvass and when you click on an item it will zoom in and you can set the order in which you can view these. Prezi takes some getting used to but it is fairly intuitive. I recommend giving it a try.
Jim, what’s up next? Well up next is going to be our first section which is called reading tools. These are the reading tools that we are going to be studying and looking through during this first section. They include Tar Heel Reader, Simple English Wikipedia, read, write and think, flexbook, WatchKnow, and the 60 second recap. We are going to begin by looking at these reading tools in section one of today’s webinar presentation starting off with Tar Heel Reader. Tar Heel Reader is a collection of easy to read, switch accessible, online books that have text to speech support and they cover a wide variety of topics and if I didn’t mention it they are also free. This site is a result of a collaboration between the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and the department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You’ll notice when you open the site and come to this homepage, you are going to find that there are books by topic listed on the right hand side of the screen and we have over 10,000 books in Tar Heel Reader right now and the number keeps growing. By topic you can see that the numbers are divided up among the topics that have been designed within the website and you’ll also see how some of the books are also rated or categorized in different ways by audience rating, type, review status, and so on. So you could just dig down through a category and look for different titles. For instance if you were looking for biographies, you could start to go that way. Instead I’m going to today use the search feature because I was looking at a book the other day that had the words kitty cat in it and I wanted to see if I could find that book again to show you today. So I’m going to type in kitty cat and search for it and I’m looking over these titles and I think I see the one that I was looking at. It was called Kitty Cats are Special so I’m going to open that book up so you can get a view of what a Tar Heel Reader book looks like. Up in the upper left hand corner you will see that there are speech controls that allow you to assign a voice for text to speech. You have three choices, a child voice, a woman voice or a man voice. If we go to the setup menu for this book we can tell it a few other things besides setting the speech feedback we can also adjust colors so if we want a yellow background for instance and say blue text we can select that here and that will show up as we read the book and will continue to show up actually until we change it. Also this is the place you would go if you were interested in downloading this book say as a PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash file. Okay, I am going to go ahead and enable the woman speaker on this book and I’m going to return to reading.
“Kitty Cats are Special” and I can read the book by clicking on the button at the lower right hand corner. “ I like to play with kitty cats. Kitty cats are so cute. Kitty cats are so special to me.” And so that is a sample that continues for a few more pages but we are going to go back to the homepage for just a second and I just wanted to mention in closing this little talk about Tar Heel Reader that you need to know that there are some books that are intended for teenagers who are just learning to read, so some of them might be inappropriate for younger students. You want to learn about the favorites page, a way to present your students with reading choices that you approve, that can be found on the homepage in about the middle of about the fourth paragraph, you see the highlighted language favorites, that’s what you want to click on, that link to get more information about that. So one other thing if you are interested in creating books on Tar Heel Reader you will need to obtain a membership and that comes by invitation from Tar Heel Reader. So that’s Tar Heel Reader and you’ll want to explore it further.
Yeah Jim, I had a conversation with a teacher just last week. She had a student with cerebral palsy who couldn’t manipulate the pages of a book and she was looking at a page turner that was thousands of dollars and we said send her to the Tar Heel Reader site and he’s able now to use a switch to just click and turn the pages. Right and there’s a link on this page for click here to learn more about alternative access methods. I know that there are switch accessible and there are intellikeys overlays that are designed specifically for Tar Heel Reader that can be downloaded here. So all in all they covered all the bases. Cool.
Next up is Simple English Wikipedia. When you type a word in goggle, Wikipedia is often one of the first sites that’s listed. Articles in Simple English Wikipedia use simpler words and grammar than standard Wikipedia and there are currently 61,322 articles and counting. So let’s compare the regular Wikipedia, if you notice here this is its own site and it starts with simple and if we go back and just type in en that’s the regular English Wikipedia site. Here we go, that’s the homepage for Wikipedia and let’s search for photosynthesis. We’ll have a look and see. Ah there we go, lots of information, lots of diagrams and visual, good information but tons of it. Now if you go over to the languages, Simple English is considered a language here that’s how we get to that. Click on Simple English and it changes. You see we are back on the Simple English site and look at the length of this, much shorter and condensed information for your students. When writing in Simple English Wikipedia, writers are encouraged to use Basic English 850 and something that I learned about the voice of America 1500. Jim, I didn’t know that that the voice of America broadcasts trying to keep their vocabulary limited to 1500 English words. Back on the homepage they even have a Wiktionary, I recommend that you bookmark this Simple English Wikipedia page for your students and they can start their search right there.
Here’s another great resource for reading, writing, and thinking I guess, readwritethink. We showed this site in Best AT Tools 2009 but it’s been revised to be easier to navigate and search for what you want. Readwritethink is a project of the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. So let’s just go in. Let’s say you want to have your students to do some writing and you want to use a story map. So we can search for that term and we got 36 results and there’s a story map on the third page. Um, notice over here you can refine your search by grade level, the resource type or your learning objectives or the theme. Let’s have a look at the story map. It gives you a little description there, click on it and it gives you even more of an overview and lessons that use that interactive. All of these are set in Flash. They’re written in Flash and now you’ll get a pop up screen, so let’s go into this story map and I’m going to write about Best AT Tools of course. Good topic choice. By Nick and these are a set of graphic organizers, let’s look at the character map and see the character’s name, Jim, you’re quite a character so I’m typing you in. Oh, great, thank you. And see what you get, here’s the prompt: what does the character look like? Ah, you don’t want to know. Ah, handsome, oh I better spell that right, handsome and a mustache character. Let me hit return and I’ll get the next prompt: how does the character act? He’s inquisitive, always looking for those good AT resources and here’s a next, how do the other characters react to this character? Ah, don’t tell me that. Oh, they ask lots of questions. There we go, at this point you can print that out or pull down another character map and help you with the writing process and then when you are finished you can pop that away. I want to point out lesson plans, we were just in student interactives, there are calendar activities and even printouts here graphic organizers and things that you can use on paper instead of online. Lots of information for teachers and I wanted to point out parent and afterschool resources so you can send these links in particular home with your students so they can work on things at home. Readwritethink.
This site is called CK-12 flexbook. CK-12 is a non-profit corporation based in California that is committed to reducing the cost of K-12 educational materials in the United States and actually across the world and they do that by making flexible online textbooks available really to anyone who wants to use them. If you take a look on the front page here you can see a listing of some of the current books in the library and if I scroll through these you’ll see some titles, I mean they all look like typical textbooks you would find in a school. The subject areas primarily are focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, although I saw some history in there and maybe some social studies as well. There are popular categories listed here on the front page as well. Now if I wanted to browse through the collection there is a browse tab at the top that gives me the opportunity to see letter by letter through the alphabet the different topics that are covered in the CK-12 series um and I should mention we’re going to go back home for a minute that these books that we are talking about here are freely downloadable and they are authored and reviewed by subject matter experts who follow state and national standards.
Now besides browsing, there’s also, you can always find the search window, and that’s probably where you would begin if you were to want interested in developing a book by collecting resources from this site. So I’m going to type in to my search um volcano. I’m going to see what I can find in CK-12 at in terms of resources on volcano and it doesn’t take long for that to come up. There are five books in the CK-12 collection as you can see from this tab. There are 35 chapters written about volcanoes in this chapter and then there are ten additional web resources that can be used to support your study of volcano. Um, notice over to the right we have what’s called a flexbook editor, now to use this you are going to need to sign in and set-up an account and actually begin to design your own flexbook, but what you can do is you can pull content from any of these resources that you would want and you could put them in your own flexbook. For instance, let I would probably begin might be by viewing the first chapter that was listed here on volcanoes and just take a look at how this is laid out, to me it looks very much like a typical textbook, we’ve got graphics, good graphics and we have chapter arrangement and figures to look at so it looks like it’s pretty well put together and notice that at the top this says that this material has been reviewed by the CK-12 panel and that’s once again that panel of academic content experts who are behind the formation of this site. So, I’m going to close this momentarily and go back to where we were looking at the search. Let’s say that I thought that was an interesting chapter to add to my own flexbook as I’m going to make one on volcanoes. I would drag it over to my flexbook editor and drop that chapter into my own book and what I could do is after I found the content that I wanted to add into my book, I could go to the edit tab and then actually dig into that content and select the content that I want to keep and get rid of the content that I don’t want to keep and I can also add my own content to that flexbook. So this is really an all around great resource.
Jim, I like when I see on this site on that chapter was modified May 13, 2010 so this information can stay current being uh, digital format. Absolutely and the magic of it is that it’s free and you can pull whatever parts of it you want and customize your own book. Now if you want to learn more about how to do that there’s a brief video, actually it runs about eight minutes and it’s on the homepage and I would recommend that you watch it, it’ll show you how to set-up your free account to access the materials and to create your own custom flexbooks. If you are interested in learning more about flexbooks, you want to watch this video. You know Nick this is a really a brave new site that pushes us towards the future. I really like what they are doing at CK-12.
Well the next site that we are going to have a look at is WatchKnow, videos for kids to learn from, organized. And we’ve all experienced the flood of videos out there today, lots of good stuff. YouTube just had its 5th anniversary and exceeds over 2 billion views a day, it’s amazing, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute but how do you sort and find the best videos to support your students’ learning. Well WatchKnow has indexed 15,000 online educational videos for children putting them into a directory of over 3,000 categories so very searchable. Video titles, descriptions, age level information and the ratings are all edited by a panel of experts and in the search you can search by the filter, you can type in a term. Let’s scroll through and do a little surfing on the site. You can see in science there are 3,352 videos and up comes science and 790 subcategories. Let’s just look at life sciences and drill down here and find something on plants. I like, I think this first one’s pretty interesting, how the fig tree strangles other plants for survival in the rainforest and when that comes up you’ll find a short summary about that and who it’s appropriate for, the ages, as you see this is a BBC Worldwide is the owner but look there’s that YouTube tag, it’s been posted on YouTube. Now you’ll have to return and watch this video to find out for yourself just how a fig tree strangles other plants. Now, Nick I have a question about that YouTube, what if it’s blocked in my school? I have many teachers that have told me that, there are a couple of tools we have put on the resource list, Tooble and Download Helper and they’re both active links on there and they make it easy to capture video, save it for student use. I understand like Tooble is an application I believe and Download Helper requires, it works with Firefox, yes, if you’re using a Firefox browser, yes it works with Firefox.
Well Nick our last reading tool that we’re looking at today is called 60 Second Recap and I call it a great tool for video learners, that is learners who really like to watch video and find it is a learning tool for them. Another group that might benefit from this site would be high school learners particularly, high schoolers, male high schoolers who do not like to read or for any students who struggle with junior high or high school literature assignments. This website offers a video version of what we commonly refer to as cliff notes for selected literary works such as the ones that you see listed for instance, there are some of them on the title page here, A Streetcar Named Desire, you can see Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, I counted about almost thirty books and they are still in production, they continue to add them as we go along. Within each title you’ll find a number of videos, I’m going to go to Frankenstein to open it up, now each of these videos runs for about 60 seconds because that goes along with the name of the website. So you have about 10 videos that explore different aspects including the plot, the main characters, the themes, the motifs, the symbols and the conclusions. I’m going to scroll back up to the top of this window to view one of the 60-second videos about Frankenstein. Um, I think the one I was looking for is the overview, let’s look at that one.
[60-second video example] “I wouldn’t call Mary Shelley a political writer but she was definitely interested in the issues of her day. Up next, a look at Frankenstein’s hidden and not so hidden meaning. So on the surface, Frankenstein is the tale of a monster and his creator and how in creating a monster, the creator himself turns into a monster. This book has it all, a mad scientist, dark and stormy nights, a beast with a lust for revenge and more philosophical and political issues then you can count, that’s right, Frankenstein is actually better suited to the election season then it is to Halloween, that’s because it asks questions about the role of science. It takes on evolution and abortion; it’s concerned with the environment, with religion and with the welfare of society and if that wasn’t enough Frankenstein is also an exploration of creation, about the role of the artist in our culture. As Victor Frankenstein worries about what he has unleashed on society, he wonders what havoc his monster will wreak, you can almost hear Mary Shelley wondering how people will respond to her novel, to her creation. Will they find it beautiful or horrifying? I’m sorry were you just looking for a creepy but compelling story, don’t worry Frankenstein is that too, just click on the next recap to hear all about the plot.”
So Nick can I ask you does that motivate you to want to read Frankenstein? Really, I didn’t know that, I learned something. Yes, you did. So that’s 60-second recap, it’s another free resource on the web. We encourage you to check it out.
So now we’d like to talk about writing and presentation tools and these are the tools that Jim and I get most excited about. In universal design for learning terms, these are the tools that help students show what they know and what we have here is one of the tools is Glogster.edu and I have made a poster if you will or a Glogster as they call it and what I’ve done is copy their logo and put it on this corkboard background and embedded a link behind, so let’s click and go. Let’s look at what I created this on, Glogster.edu. So Glogster.edu is a free website where teachers and students can create virtual posters, so the glogs can include hyperlinks, audio and video as well as text and pictures. Glogs are published online in a private and safe platform, monitored by teachers who set up a virtual class for students to save their glogs on. So let’s look in the categories and students are uploading these all the time, you can see 16 hours ago, a day ago somebody loaded an earth science, let’s look over here at palm oil. This was updated 6 days ago. I use this as an example because here’s a typical poster, but look we have the background, not so typical, full color you can put in the background, you can enter text, you can put in video, you can put in links, hyperlink those pictures and here’s palm oil products and the weekly shop. Boy, there’s a lot of palm oil in a lot of the things we use. Pictures that you put in can be expanded and text that you put in, if you have more than will fit on the page you can actually put in a little scroll and have that all embedded there. Lots of cool things you can do, certainly better than the posters I used to make. There are tons of glogs on here, students can get ideas on how to create their own. Back here on the homepage there are resources for teachers, tutorials and a new resource library that has a database of outstanding examples and some lesson plans, how to include it in education. I want to make one final comment that Glogster.edu is a project off of Glogster.com, which is really not appropriate for school consumption and that’s an open form with some controversial content.
Okay, our next site uh, from your Glogster menu here that we’ve created for writing and presentation tools is a site that allows you to make comic strips it’s called MakeBeliefsComix and actually I went in earlier and we made a comic strip using some of their characters, which remarkably we found characters that slightly resemble Nick and I. As you can see in this little cartoon that we created and I would read the first part here on the first frame that says, “Gee, Nick, they want us to show the Best Assistive Technology Tools of 2010. Where do we begin?” “Oh, that’s easy, Jim. I think we should start with something simple.” Ah, okay, good idea, we’ll go to MakeBeliefsComix right now and take a look at it. This is a free tool that’s easy to use. If you’re looking for a creative outlet for your students who are getting bored with doing multimedia presentations, look no further than MakeBeliefsComix. This enables a student to write and produce a comic strip that can deliver a multitude of messages and all there is to it is you just click on enter here and you’re making your comics right away. All of the tools that you need to build a comic strip are right here on this page, starting with panel choices down in the lower right corner. I can choose two, three, or four panels. I’m going to go back to two and notice when I want to work in a panel, I can select the panel individually. Of course I can name my comic and I can put in an author’s name if I’d like to but for now we’ll skip that and go right on to putting in a character, notice there are about, I guess, looks like about 20 characters that you can choose from and really just randomly pick anyone of them and when you click on one it goes into this menu window and notice there are two arrow keys below the window, when you click on an arrow key it changes the emotion of the character. You have about four different choices of emotion that you can pick for uh putting the character into the comic strip. When you’ve decided on the one you want click on it and it moves the character into the highlighted frame of your comic strip. I can move it around, I can also use some tools over in the left hand side if I want to scale a character’s size, I can click on the scale tool then click on the character and a little guide pops up next to the tool and I can change the size of the character from large to small just by sliding the scale, so that’s pretty neat. When I want to move the character again, I need to click back on the move tool and place the character where I want them in the frame. The next thing that I would think of adding to a comic strip would be a talk balloon or a thought balloon and they’re located over on the right hand side of the menu. Let’s go with a talk balloon this time. When I click on it, it brings in several different options for me to choose from in the menu window if I click through the choices, there are about 8 and they’re usually orientation and size are the variables in these choices. I’ll find this one and it plops right into the frame and then I click in the middle of it and I can type something in, in terms of the text and let it go and that’s it. Then I can move it around and position it where I want it. I could add another character to the same frame. Uh, also notice that we can put background colors in and we can put panel prompts in, those are other additional tools as well as other objects that could be added. So I could add any number of objects here and I know a palm tree is not going to look right in there but if I click on it we can put one into that frame, maybe I should’ve put it in the next frame but you get the idea that’s the main thing. The tools on the left hand side are fairly self-explanatory but they will require a little bit of trial and error experimentation. Most users are going to be up and running with MakeBeliefsComix within just a few minutes. When you finished your comic strip you click on the next arrow that brings you to another page where you see your comic displayed. You have three options from this page; you can go back and review the comic and change, make changes in it, you can print your comic from here or you could also print to PDF or you can email the comic from yourself to another person or from yourself to yourself obviously. So that’s MakeBeliefsComix, you don’t need to set up an account to use this site but remember that the only way to save your comics would be these options that you have of printing and email. If it’s real Nick it must be MakeBeliefsComix.
Nick, we’re back to your glogster and we are looking at the writing and presentation tools and the third tool on our list is shown here by this representation and it’s called Word Magnets. Let’s go out and take a look at Word Magnets. It’s a free tool unless you opt to pay for the expanded Word Magnets version 2.0, which is announced on this first screen. But today, we just wait until the next appears at the bottom and we can click on next and go in and do our own with the free version. For this demonstration we are going to type in the names of some wild animals and some pets. I’m going to start with dog, cat, lion, tiger and I’m just separating them with a space, elephant, hamster, snake, I think that’s enough for this exercise. We are going to do a little sorting activity with the word magnets. I’m going to click on the next button and the next thing to do is to choose a background for your word magnet board. Well, as I click on the selectors I can get different options for backgrounds. I really like that first one so I’m going to click back to it, which was the single vertical line because this activity is just going to be a simple sorting activity so I’m going to select it then I’m going to click done and then well there are my magnets right there they fall into place but I need a couple more so I can add a magnet here from the top. I’m going to type in the name of the magnet, and that’s not pat it would be pet and I’ll add it and then one more for not a pet, add that one and then I’ll put these in their place. I’ll put one at the top of each of the two columns that we formed with the vertical line; another neat tool is that we can color the tiles or the magnets by clicking on the color bar and then clicking on the magnets that we want to color, if we don’t want to color a magnet when we click it we just click on the x and leave that in position for any others that we are clicking on. Also interesting to know that you can change the size of all your magnets, smaller or larger with the two up and down arrows and I’m going to stay with this size, certainly big enough to read. Now, I can go to the magnets down below and begin the sorting activity. The student just needs to place each animal in its proper category, so we’ve got a pet here, we’re not going to do the whole thing, I think uh, Nick, I think you understand that an elephant is probably not a pet but that’s our exercise for today with Word Magnets. I recommend that you take a look at this one. It would also work very well on interactive whiteboards, that would be something to explore, I’m sure it could be a lot of fun. Word Magnets.
Next up is voicethread. Voicethread is a collaborative, multimedia slideshow that holds images, documents and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments so it’s really a great resource for sharing thoughts. Here’s a little introductory video.
[Intro video] “So what is a voicethread, well it’s a tool for having conversations around media, whether it’s images, videos, documents, or presentations or any combination of them, voicethread can securely capture and hold an entire group discussion on one simple page. When people make their new comments, they will fill in around the edges and the participants can even draw while they’re talking which is a very efficient way of getting your point across. Down here, behind the comment button are actually five different ways for people to comment by telephone, by webcam, by microphone, by text, or even file upload which means that if you can load this page at all you can participate in this conversation period. Now let’s take a quick look at how you get around in a voicethread.”
That’s the basics of voicethread. Single accounts are free. There’s a pay site, a pay version called Ed.voicethread and it’s restricted to K-12 educators, students, and administrators. In their description they say it’s a network for students and teachers to collaborate and share ideas with classrooms anywhere in the world. This is part of a movement called digital storytelling and it’s another way to show what you know.
We’re back on Nick’s glog page and we’re looking at writing and presentation tools and the next one we are going to take a look at is called My StoryMaker. And I’m going to jump out there to that site and just tell you that this is a site that’s hosted by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburg. My StoryMaker introduces young students, very young students, to story writing with minimal typing of text, so very young students, early readers can benefit from this program. The program generates most of the text in the story based on the choices that are made by the student writer. Let’s click on the My StoryMaker button to begin writing our story. I’ll show you how easy it is. You click to begin and there’s music in the background. I’m going to write this one to be authored by Nick, so I’m going to put Nick as the author of this. Now I’ll be able to choose a main character, let’s pick the genie and what is your main character’s goal, let’s say to make friends and uh, make friends with who, let’s pick the little ghost there. Then click okay and now it says the title is the genie who made friends with the ghost by Nick, let’s start the story and we need to click on the arrow in the lower right hand corner of the book to begin to turn to our first page. “Hi, I’m a story helper. I’m here to help you write your story, so what would you like to do?” Asks us if we want to hear the instructions or just start the story. Let’s start. Our main character arrives on scene and when you highlight a main character you of course you can move him around on the screen but you can also add emotions and actions to that character. So we’re going to make the main character happy today and we’ll say that he is jumping. He’s happy and jumping around. Okay, so that could be our first page and notice how the text has been written into the bottom. Once upon a time the genie was happy. The happy genie jumped. Let’s go to page 2. Notice we have the same background and the character; all of these things are retained on this next page. We can change the scenery if we want to just by clicking down at the bottom, we have settings to choose from and there are several different ones that we can pick, I’m not sure what that one is but that looks pretty good for this next one. Now we can bring in the other character, for instance on, on the next page, and we can have the other character maybe positioned in another part of the frame and if we highlight that character we can add emotion to that character, let’s make that character sad. So it says the ghost was sad and what was the ghost doing? The ghost was sleeping. The sad ghost was sleeping so notice that the text reads that the ghost was sad. The sad ghost slept. From here we can add animations and we can add interactions between these characters. It’s really a lot of fun to put these stories together because as you click it writes the story and it acts it out for you. Notice there are thumbnail pictures up above that will keep you, that will give you the ability to navigate back to say page one if you wanted to check something out or if you wanted to go to another page. So when you are finished writing your entire story, you’ll, you’ll be able to preview it as a PDF and that’s the way it will look. You can continue to view frames and you can go back to the story itself. When you’re finished with the story, you’ll click on the end button. I’d suggest that you say that you’re going to share it with others. The program will publish the book for you and in just one moment you’ll have the opportunity to print it, preview it, or create a new story from this page. Also, pay attention to what your magic number is. You want to write that down. That enables you to access this story when you login to the site later. The genie who made friends with the ghost. You need to know though that once you have left this story behind you can never recover it in the actual animated state that you had, that you enjoyed when you were writing it. You’ll only be able to recapture the PDF but it’s still a lot of fun and a lot of fun can be had with My StoryMaker.
The next tool that we’re going to look at for writing and presentation is Wordle. Wordle, although not brand new this year, is still an incredible tool and we really like it. It’s created by Jonathan Feinberg. Wordle analyzes any body of text and creates a visual representation in a way that reflects the underlying theme giving more emphasis to words that occur more frequently in the text. Note that there area few examples of wordles on the homepage. Let’s create one right now because it’s really easy. So we click on the create button and this is where you put the text that you want. You can type it in or you can paste in and I have to, happen to have the Gettysburg Address of Abraham Lincoln on my clipboard and I’ve just typed it in. I’m going to click the go button and right away I’ve got a Wordle made. If I want to see some other design options I can click on the randomize button and notice the words that are larger, those are the words that are used more frequently in the Gettysburg Address. So uh, there are multiple uses for a tool like this I would think and I can keep randomizing or I can go to the menus themselves and I can change the color combination. I can change the layout to straighter edges. I can change the orientation of the words and I can of course change the font, so uh it just goes on and on. You can make lots of combinations. If you’d like to you can save it to the public gallery and other people can view your Wordle. You can also print it right from here or open it in a window, uh a separate window. Uh, once again I’ve taken screen shots of these and saved them as PDFs or jpeg files and I can use them in other applications. Great little tool, Wordle. We love it. Hope you do too.
Before we move on I wanted to mention speaking of Wordle that uh there is another tool out there that we’re not going to look at today that’s just as interesting in many ways and has other features that you won’t find in Wordle and it’s Tagxedo. Uh, if you go to Tagxedo.com, T a g x e d o, you’ll find another tool that has a lot of similar options but not quite the same as Wordle. And we invite you to explore that; it’s on the resource sheet that Nick talked about at the beginning.
Our next tool is Blabberize and I’m going to click on the link and move out there right now. This is a tool that can provide lots of fun while learning as it enables the animation of still photos so that one’s voice or any audio recording can appear to speak through the face or faces in the photo. I’ll show you an example as soon as I login to my own account. When I view my own account I can see things that I made and I’ve made a couple of blabbers here as they call them but I also can go out and browse and explore and find things that I like and save those. And that’s what I want to show you today. This is something that was put together by a student, a young student I believe, uh I’m only guessing, but created a voice over of a report on the life of our nation’s first president and uh, I was really surprised and pleasantly surprised actually to find this. “My name is George Washington. I was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732. After my father died in 1743, I went to live with my brother in Mount Vernon.” And that goes on a little bit from there but this is just an interesting way for a student to submit a report. Kind of like a multiple means of expression if you’re thinking in UDL terms. So that’s Blabberize in just a minute and I want you to know that making them is really easy. That little guy there made the one with Washington with no problem. So enjoy Blabberize.
Well the last of our presentation and writing tools is SAM ANIMATION. It’s a downloadable software that allows the user to make stop action movies using a webcam and whatever props you like. This is a project of the Tufts Center for Engineering, Education and Outreach. And let’s just have a look at this what is SAM Animation video.
[SAM Animation Intro Video] Music playing.
And there we have some samples of SAM Animation. The software is both Mac and PC compatible and free but you must register to download. I’ve tried to make my own animation. It takes some careful planning but it’s very intuitive to use and I think even a third grader could do it, if I can do I, maybe a fourth grader.
Jim, what’s next? Well we are going to be looking at our study skills tools next, Nick. Uh so that’s what’s happening. We begin our review of part three of our webinar and this part is about study skills tools. By looking at my Webspiration, which is a visual thinking tool that is currently available as a free online resource. My Webspiration is pretty much an online version of the well-known graphic organizer software, Inspiration. Take a look at some of the examples, uh, we might see. We might see some examples that would remind you of Inspiration, especially if I go to the educator’s section. Um these are the kinds of graphs and diagrams that you can develop with Inspiration but now you can do them for free online with my Webspiration as long as you get yourself an account. You’ll also be pleased to find a rich collection of clipart that’s available in Webspiration. This is really a paradise for visual learners. I am going to now launch Webspiration. I’ve signed into my account and as the program loads I’ll mention that by the nature of it being online it enables two or more users to actually share a document and collaboratively develop it to its final draft. The way Nick and I shared the document that I’m about to show you, the one that we developed for this webinar. Much like Inspiration the opening screen provides options to begin with either the diagram or an outline of a document.
We’re going to actually open up something that we have recently opened. Uh it’s uh a tool that we developed for section, for this section about study skills tools. And this will be kind of our guide through the products that we’re going to be examining during this last portion of the webinar. And the first one is the one I’m going to put into place for My Webspiration, what we’ve created here is a system of tiles that is sort of a puzzle that we will be, on which we will be matching up characteristics with titles of websites and I see that now that My Webspiration is finished for now, uh the number 2 site is something that is designed to help you find the right word at a glance. Uh, any ideas on that Nick? What that would be? Uh, I think that would be the Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online. The one over here? The one over there. So let me drag that over and put it in place with number 2. And I’ll give it a click and we’ll take, take a look at it. So this is an online dictionary with 20,000 terms with contextual definitions, 6,000 full color images and a wide variety of objects. If you look down here there’s all a matter of subject areas but with any good dictionary, you can search and find it. And let’s look for ear. And we have a number of search results there. Let’s go down and look at the structure of the ear. There we go. I’m in Speech and Hearing so this is a real familiar, all the time showing parents a diagram like this. Help them understand why their child wasn’t hearing. Starting with the outer ear, the pinna. Jim, did your mom ever pull on your pinna? I can’t recall but I think that that may have happened a couple of times. Well my wife continues that tradition to this day. Um, all of the terms that you see in the visual section are defined below. So it’s very handy there. And everything that has a red speaker by it is an auditory link and you can hear it pronounced. Great resource for the visual learner.
Well thank you Nick for that information about the visual dictionary. Looking at our puzzle back to it we have another clue for number 3. The number 3 site is a vocabulary-learning site for English Language Learners. Uh, it’s hard to see these tiles. It would be VocabAhead. Okay, I see it. VocabAhead, we’ll drop that on to title number 3 and we’ll head out to VocabAhead. So this site offers videos that give an active demonstration of vocabulary words as well as an audio of the pronunciation, the definition, various uses and synonyms and lots of different resources. Let’s go to the study room. Let’s get to some studying. Let’s just pick a word, abstain and see what they have to show. “The word abstain means to hold back from something, avoid or quit. I had never abstained from eating meat, but I decided to be a vegetarian for a while to see what it was like. To help improve his physical fitness, Bill decided to abstain from anything unhealthy such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Three members of the city council abstained from voting because they were friends with the people who were involved in the dispute. Abstain. To hold back from something. I’ll point out that all of that text is embedded below. So they have quizzes and flashcards, so if we were to look at abstain here in a flashcard they’ll have a term and we flip it and there’s the visual reminder. I know some kids that that’d be very helpful to recalling that kind of information. You can keep track of your own lists of vocabulary and for teachers there’s how you can use VocabAhead in your classroom and you can enter lists and have your students work on them and there’s a VocabAhead Widget. Jim, do you any widgets? I have a couple of widgets. It sounds uncomfortable. Uh, I went to the doctor and had it removed.
Back to our study skills puzzle Nick, we have item number 4. The clue is that it creates an interactive web-based study blank blank and shares them with others. Well the blank blank stands for something like flash cards, so that’s what it would be and I believe it would be the Flashcard Machine is the tile that would goes on that block number 4. So let’s move it in place and let’s go out and explore the Flashcard Machine. This uh site hosts a collection of over 116,000 online flash card sets and they contain over 23 million flash cards in topics ranging from simple addition to the history of architecture. You will need to set up an account in order to view and use the collection. I have my account in place right now. I’m actually logged in, so I’m going to show you what I’ve got under MyFlashcards, uh because you’re able to create your own sets. There is a whole section on creating a new flashcard set right here, we’re not going to do it but I need to mention to you that you can create textual flashcards, which we’re going to see in just a minute, but you can also add audio and graphics to your flashcards, images, audio actually it’s covered right here so you upload your images and audio and then you can play with them in, within your flashcards. Right now I want to go out and explore the database of those millions of flashcards that are out there uh and let’s just take a look at how you can locate something for study purposes uh what you’ll need to do is for searching you’re going to want to identify a subject area so let’s uh let’s go with science this time and let’s pick a grade level of uh say like 3rd grade and then we’ll just do a search, see what we come up with. Wow, what do you know, we’ve got 58 flashcard sets that are found just from that search and one of the most recent ones uh is uh weather and that sounds like an interesting topic for me so I’m going to go out and take a look at it. I’m going to start a study session using the weather flashcard set. You, you always have the option of configuring your setting and what order do you want to get the cards have them presented to you. Do you want it random or ascending or descending? I’ll just stick with random and then you have uh, do you want to hear the term first or the definition first and I’ll just leave it with the term first and I’m going to leave it manual so that I, it’s not a time thing, I can just flip it manually as I’m ready to see uh, reveal the back of the cards. So let’s begin the study session and it brings up our first card and so there’s the term, Weather Map, and if I know the definition, I have an idea what it is but I’m going to flip the card to see the definition. If I had trouble with this one and I wanted to repeat it later all I need to do is click this button and it’ll come up again in my study session. Also there are buttons for going back to the last flashcard that you viewed or moving ahead to the next one otherwise if you want to stay in sequence just continue to click this button and when you’re finished with your session just end your session. I want to also mention that flashcard sets can be exported to an iPod. You need to download an app, which is called I study to go, and that is uh one that would have to be purchased but for study purposes it could be well worth your money. So that’s the Flashcard Machine.
Okay, back to our Webspiration diagram here. Our next tool, number 5, the clue Nick is that it lets you highlight text on web pages and gives you a link to the highlighted page. I happen to know it’s the one over here on the right hand side, it has got to be Awesome Highlighter, so let me move it into place, click on the link and let’s go out to Awesome Highlighter very quickly. Uh, I’m going to need to log in but I am logged in already in fact and uh in order to try this page um basically I’ll say it again this is a web-based highlighting tool that enables the user to highlight text on almost any website, extract the highlighted text to an e-mail or to the clipboard. All that I need to do here is paste in a url address and I happen to have one stored that will take me to a Wikipedia site just to use as an example. This is one about baseball. Let me see if I can make this a little larger so you can read it better and notice at the top of the screen here, I’ve got this, this tells me that I am working from within Awesome Highlighter, I’m loading this site. I’m going to highlight some key points about the sport of baseball, uh played by two teams, 9 players and uh one team throws a round ball called a baseball and I’ll get, that will be enough points really for now and uh when I’m finished highlighting I’m going to click done and I’ll come back to Awesome Highlighter and you’ll see the items that I highlighted now show up on this page. From here I can e-mail these to anyone including myself. I can copy them to my clipboard so I can paste them into another document, uh that is if I’m on a Windows computer. If I’m on a Mac computer I can just select them and copy them to my clipboard and then paste them into another document so it’s not really that much of a disadvantage to being on a Mac for this. I can also share these highlights to another website such as delicious or facebook or twitter. So uh there’s a lot you can do with Awesome Highlighter. I really like the tool and uh going to recommend it that at least you check it out.
Back to our chart Nick, clue number 6 is Lively Learning Guides by Experts and Educators. Must be Shmoop. Shmoop. Okay, I’ll drag Shmoop into place here and send us out to Shmoop. Tell us about it Nick. Well Shmoop despite its uh, silly name, it provides learning guides, teaching resources and was written by educators and doctoral students at Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley and they claim that uh, our guides have a balance of an approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives so that’s certainly a worthy endeavor. As you can see across here, they have 3,000 titles across literature, poetry, Shakespeare, bestsellers. We’re going to stop and look at the US history and lots of titles there, let’s look at The War of 1812. One that I, I got to tell you the truth Jim, I don’t know too much about, neither do I. Ah, I love this, in a nutshell, The War of 1812. In a nutshell. And check out these resources and the next title, why should I care? Have you ever had a student ask you that? Oh, yes. Um, summary and analysis, its there, it’s pretty solid but brief. They have a timeline, people, facts, photos. Were they taking photos in 1812? No, but probably some paintings, some paintings and they’ll have those and my favorite is the best of the web. Other websites that have information, books, movies, music and let’s look at historical documents, The James Madison Papers, War of 1812 Documents. Good things. So lots of resources here to answer that question, well why should I care? They even have a test review section on each one of these, gives you a summary of people and events. So, Shmoop, I really like it because it’s so all-inclusive. Yeah, it’s got everything. And as they say, Shmoop will make you a better lover of The War of 1812. Okay, I’m game.
And our final clue today Nick is your 3-ring binder for the web. Must be, well it has to be the last one that’s left which is Live Binders. Let me put it in place and please tell us about Live Binders. So Live Binders enables you to do with digital information what you do with the papers on your desk, organize them into containers. So it’s primarily a way to collect and catalog websites. You can also upload documents, images, videos, and combine them with your links in an organized way. Let’s look at featured binders. Lots of resources here already for you and there’s lots of categories too. Let’s look at Favorite Ed Tech Tools, well Jim, that’s about what we are doing here today. Sure is. Here is a live binder and they put a picture in there but most importantly, here are all the tabs and all these links. Hey look, VoiceThread. Wow, what do you know and I see Wordle over there. Wordle. Prezi. Pretty Cool. Glogster. Oh these guys have good taste. Yes they do, just like us. So when you drop down a tab the site appears within the Live Binders site and so it’s easy to surf and organize your information there. This is the free version um you can upload any file size up to 5 meg and the total upload storage is 100 meg per account. It’s pretty sizeable. So Live Binders, get organized.
Well Nick, our time is just about up and it looks like you made really good use of a perfectly good hour. That’s good. And thanks for spending this time with us while we shared our favorite AT Tools. We hope you found some useful resources for your work and for your students’ support and be sure to download the PDF from the OCALI site, www.ocali.org. We’d like to close with a video that we created on Flixtime which is another website that allows you to create video with your pictures and your music and uh a few other things that you can add but they do it all for you at Flixtime.com. Try it out and uh hope you enjoy our video.
[Video & Music]