Monthly Archives: March 2013

Animated Movies Made Easy

We know that cartoons and animation gets the attention of our students, so why not have them create their own animated movie.  But have no fear….being able to draw is not a requirement.  All you need if you computer and your text, the rest the site will take care of. is  animated movie creation site that brings your stories to life.  There are simple steps, create a story, share a story, watch a story.  The site has preloaded scenes and characters. Select the elements you would like to  use and then add your text or story with different text assigned to different characters to create dialogue.  The site uses a text to speech feature but you can upload or record your own sounds.  Change the camera angle to cretae a more dynamic and lively movie. 

A great tool for presentations and group projects this provides the opportunity for teachers to create their own classroom, share the link with their students, and allow the students to create their own accounts under your classroom so they are not seeing any videos that might be deamed inanopropriate.  You can cretae assignements, view students work for assessments.  This is a great site for student what woul might be more visual learner.

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Filed under Cartoons, Digital Story Telling, Movie

Canstruction – sculptures for a cause

I wanted to take a moment to step away from technology and introduce an amazing program that is helping fill food banks around the world.   Canstruction is a non-profit organization that has been holding competitions around the United States for over 20 years that focuses on creating unique and interesting sculptures using only canned goods.  All cans used in the sculptures are than donated to local food banks and food drives. 

Canstruction is open to both “pro” teams such as architects and designers; as well as “amateur” teams which include schools and educational groups.  The teams collect donations, put together blueprints and have a few hours to build their very own “canstructure.”  Since its beginning in 1992 more than 17.5 million pounds of canned food have been donated. 

The canstruction events have been held in more than 140 cities in both North America and Europe.  If you are interested in starting your own, or to find one in your area visit


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Filed under Uncategorized

Pictures + Music = Stunning

Ever wish you can give your pictures a little something extra?  Why not add some music?  How about a cool background design or graphic? With you can.  Upload your own pictures and images, use their custom designs, and original music to create slideshows, collages, scrapbooks, cards, calendars, newsletters, invitations and more.  Then share the link on your school or classroom website, or with your student’s families.  You can even upload the link to a blog, Facebook, burn to a DVD or share on a photoframe.  Smilebox has 100’s of designs and music to choices, however, if you want to get even more personal, upload your own music and videos to your project for that added touch.

Think how cool it would be if you could make a newsletter of the happenings in your class to share with your student’s parents that is more than just text.  Or how about an end of the year collage celebrating all of the accomplishments of your class.  Students will love the easy-to-use features that will help make their reports and project stand out even more.  This is another site that would be perfect for digital storytelling by allowing the students to move beyond the standard practice of PowerPoint and keynotes, regular poster presentations, a typed up reports.  Smilebox provides the opportunity to the students to get creative.  Download is required but it is free to use.

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Filed under Digital Story Telling, Presentation

A picture is worth a thousand words…literally.

How cool would it be if we were able to capture Mona Lisa’s voice, and have the recording playing next to the famous painting so we can actually know what she was thinking and what is the meaning behind that infamous smile?  Well with ThingLink you can now integrate, voice recording, videos and text into a picture for interactive learning. 

How it works: Upload an image of your choosing.  Create “hotspots” that can be text  or brief narration or a short video clip.  Share the image with your class and let the learning beginning.

Think about it, now a science teacher, and you are discussing the planets, how interesting would it be to have a short video showing a star exploding.  Or a sound recording from a NASA scientist explaining why Saturn has rings.  Or even use short text to act as additional talking points that might have been missed in the lecture.  Use this for a flipped classroom as well.  The interactive element provides that opportunity for the students to access the information as often as need be.  ThingLink truly allows for the images to speak for themselves.  A perfect site for any area of study.



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Filed under Flipped Classroom, Technology

Using Haiku Deck for Story Tellling

Haiku Deck, sounds like a poetry app doesn’t it?  Well it sort of is, and not really. Haiku Deck is an amazing app that is standing out from heard of digital presentations.  As we all know presentations, especially those using slides and images,  can sometimes become too wordy.  In turn this is turning off the viewers. Haiku deck looked to change all that with an app that focuses more on keeping the slides clean and  simple and beautiful.

With the simple text, pre-stocked images the user can create a straightforward presentation without getting bogged down with too much of everything.  CEO Adam Tratt wanted to reinvent the process of making presentations by creating a clear-cut format that would not overwhelm even the most novice of users.

So how can this be good in a classroom.  Well here’s how, this is another avenue for students to use when creating a story or project.  Use this in language arts for fiction writing. Try using the slides to help with oral reports.  Allow the students to create their own story using the images, or upload your own images. What’s that you say? Upload my own images.  Yes use images they provide or pull images from your gallery to create a one-of-a-kind story.

We are actually using this app with our book club.  We are currently reading the book Wonder (if you have not read it yet go out and get it now) and at the end of the book club we will ask the students to write their own precepts (a large theme within the book). Than I will take these precepts, choose images to accompany them, and then create our slides that we can share with parents, teachers and administration.  It is really an amazing app.

Also the app is free! What’s better than free?!

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Filed under apps, Digital Story Telling

Storystarters for Young Writers

Young writers often don’t know where to start when it comes to a writing assignment.  Their inspiration might be failing and they are not sure which way to go.  That where some cool sites can help propel their writing. 

The Story Starter

A site that provides the writer with either a first sentence or the idea for story.  Named one of Top 101 websites for writers by Writer’s Digest Magazine in 2012, it was also named the Best of the Best for Creativity. There is an also a Story Starter Jr. for younger writers.

Story Starters provided by Scholastic, Inc.

Brought to you by the popular Scholastic teacher site, this fun and interactive site creates quick writing prompts to help students dive into the creative writing process.  Choose from the four themes, enter your name and select your grade level and story starter provide you with style of writing anything from a story to a biography, a character and situation.  Take each suggestion, or only one or two to create your one of a kind story.

Story Spark app ($1.99)

A tool to generate ideas for plot, character, and setting.  With a simple tap, get a new spark of inspiration. Great for writers, young and old.  Worried about what people may say or think about your original story idea, let Story Spark help. Express creativity by expanding on the Story Spark prompt. Build your creative writing skills by elaborating and embellishing on the trillions of prompts contained in Story Spark.

Silly Story Starters  app (Free)

Featured on Huffington Post: “Start your child along… to fearlessly leap into a lifelong habit of writing for pleasure, discovery and joy.”  Perfect app for home and school. Generate millions of creative story starter ideas for elementary school students.
Who it’s for:
✔ Teachers who want to introduce creative writing ideas in classroom settings.
✔ Kids who want to improve their typing and writing skills.
✔ Parents who want to help develop the creativity of their children.

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Filed under apps, Digital Story Telling, Technology

Collaborating with Popplet

Teachers do it all the time.  Students work in groups constantly.  Teachers and students even blend ideas and concepts.  Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of the education system, and mapping out ideas is a simple way to see what each individual is thinking and how what insight they bring to the project. And POPPLET allows for groups to collaborate in a more visual way.

Looking very much like spiderweb of ideas, POPPLET offers the chance of individuals or groups to map out their lesson, or project through the use text, color, images and video.  Projects can be shared through social networking sites, embedded in blogs and other websites, saved as pdfs or jpegs, or emailed to members of  a community for a more team focused effort.  This sites enables the users for an interactive way to collaborate even while not being in the same room.  This is perfect for students working on group projects from home.  Teachers working with educators from other states or countries.  And for the teacher and student to cooperate together in order to review and revise work.  Students can create projects that can then be printed as displayed around the classroom or put in portfolios. Teachers and other educational professionals can use this for grade level or subject specific meetings, as well as district initiatives.

POPPLET can be used through their website or iPad app. The lite version of the app is free however for $4.99 you will able to access more items and comment easier with the full version.

I suggest checking it out to see how this can work in your class or school programs.



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Filed under Mapping, Presentation, Technology