Have you ever asked students to research a topic, or read a passage and find them struggling to understand what they are reading? Do your students need assistance in defining terms or concepts they are reading?
Are you looking for ways to help your students explore information and simplify the process for them? Today I have a couple resources that are designed to assist in students in information processing.
The following tools I have found to be good resources that provide assistance for students engaging in textual materials.
Read and Write -
A Google Extension you are able to add through the Chrome Store that provides tools for many online resources. You open the page (webpage or Google Doc) and click the Read and Write Icon to access the tools. You are able to have Read and Write Read the passage to you. If you highlight the passage, it will read the selection. If not, it starts at the top of the page which isn't as user friendly on websites. I signed up for a teacher account and was given access to "Premium" features. Beyond having it read a passage, you can highlight words and click on the vocabulary tool and it will create a new page with descriptions of the word or words you highlighted.
I worked with a teacher in a bilingual class to assist her students especially with the vocabulary tools. We asked the students to highlight in pink words that were unfamiliar to them. They could also highlight parts of speech using other colors. When you click the multi-color circle icon in Read and Write, it tracks the highlights you have made so you can get a list of what students selected and quickly assess their understanding of the passage or parts of speech. I am sure there are many other applications to this and I hope others will share how they use it. I made a quick screencast video showing how to access Read and Write and some of the basic functions mentioned above.
This site allows users can copy and paste a passage into Rewordify and click Rewordify Text and the program analyzes the information and creates a simplified version-
Original: The list of known carcinogens now includes a chemical called ortho-toluidine, which is used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides and dyes. Recent research has linked the substance to bladder cancer in people.
Rewordified version: The list of known (cancer-causing things) now includes a chemical called orthotoluidine, which is used to make rubber chemicals, bug-killing chemicals and dyes. Recent research has linked the substance to (urine storage sac) cancer in people.
As you can see terms that could be difficult for students have been defined to assist in making the entire passage more understandable.
This post comes from an email I sent to teachers in the buildings I work with to provide them with support in technologies that are available and ways to use them in their classrooms.
I have been talking to teachers recently about using Augmented Reality/QR codes with students. One conversation has been about having students create audiobooks and share with other students. We could record the student reading the book and then create a link to that recording that would connect to a QR code or other augmented reality program. This could be shared with other students who provide feedback, or younger students as listening centers. I have a few teachers interested in starting this project, and am excited for the results. If you are interested in this, please let me know. (Note- I was reminded to be careful of copyright issues when proceeding with this project-)
I have included an example of using the technology for a parent teacher conference. The student drew a picture that became the QR trigger for the video she created talking about what she has learned in school so far. It was really cool hearing about her school year in her own words as we waited to meet with her teacher.
Augmented Reality Example
Another use that could connect the AR example to the book example is to have students create video or audio critiques of the books they have read. You could then use AR like Aurasma to connect to the book in the LMC and when students scan the book they could read a short review from their peers. Just remind students not to SPOIL the story in their reviews.
Connecting with the world
We are ever increasing our access to technology, and with that our world is shrinking. Ever want to connect your classroom to the world beyond your building? Ever want to learn about far off places? Have you considered Virtual Field Trips, or Mystery Skype or using Google Hangouts? The link below has a great list of potential activities for connecting your classroom to the world. The author has written a book about using technology in the classroom, and I met him at a conference this summer. Global Connections
Random Name Selectors
Ever find yourself selecting the same students when having class discussions, choosing groups, or assigning tasks? Well the three tools I have linked below all help with these issues. They are interactive and quick tools to help you select students for various activities.
Additional Application: We want all students to participate and demonstrate their level of understanding. We also have a finite amount of time for discussions and instruction. A method I used is to put the main questions on the board and then use the Random Name selector to choose 3 students per question. I tell them these 3 students are responsible for answering the question. Student 1 responds and 2 and 3 add details to help pull it together to make a complete answer. If they have an incomplete response, then the rest of the class will be called upon. This gives the students lead time to think about their assigned question. This is just one method of pulling students into discussions that can be utilized.
Random Name Wheel With this tool, you can edit the names on the wheel and save your finished product. It creates a unique URL that you should copy and paste into a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet to have easy access. You could also add the URL to your bookmarks bar to be able to access right from Chrome without having to open a file.
Random Name Picker This is a quick name selector that you could copy and paste your class list into and it will select a random student. This does not create a saved version of your list, unlike the wheel example above. You would have to enter names each time you wanted to use this.
Random Name Selector - This version allows you to add your class list as the others, and like the first one allows you to save your updated class list with a url. You can also change the time the selector uses to choose the next name and determine if you want a choice removed during this session. It will not delete from the original list, but prevents repeat picks.
Google Drawing is a great way to create visuals for a multitude of applications. It allows you to pull images into the program using the Research tool (under the tools tab) and dragging and dropping the image. You can layer images, add text and shapes. There are a multitude of tools available via Google Draw. I wanted to share 2 things that have come up for me this week. Cropping and Saving.
Google allows you to crop images you insert. Cropping is a function that I am sure most people have heard of, and is included in many products, including many camera phones. What I recently came across is the ability to crop an image into a shape. You click on the image- then the crop icon appears with a drop down arrow next to it. Click the arrow and you will see shapes appear. Choose a shape and you will change your image. See Below-
Saving Google Draw images
I was asked about sharing/emailing images to the print center. The image that we were looking at wasn't able to be saved as a PDF which is the preferred method for the print center. We inserted the image into Google Drawings and then clicked File Download As and chose a PDF. This allows the image to be emailed to the print center.