Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Language "tapes"

This is not exactly a "web app", but for those teaching French, either in the core program or even Immersion, it's great to have good language models that kids can listen to. For teachers too, especially if you find yourself doing your own French, and you're not a French specialist! The site is called "IE Languages" and features audio from a number of European languages.

The French section (which interests me) has an extensive list of topics, verbs and expressions. While the emphasis is European, rather than Canadian, there's a lot of variety and could be very useful. Here's a listing from one of the units:
101. Camping
102. Special Uses of Devoir
103. Cosmetics / Toiletries
104. Medicine and Hospital
105. Present participle
106. Abbreviations / Slang
107. Past Infinitive
108. In the Ocean
109. To Die
110. In Space
111. Possessive Pronouns
112. Simple Past
113. Make-Believe / Fantasy
114. Religion
115. Music and Art

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writeboard - another collaborative writing space

If you liked Etherpad (posted last week), then you will probably like Writeboard as well. Setting up a space is much like the other service: 1) Pick a name for your "board", 2) assign a password, 3) and give an email address. You can then email people you want to join, or in the case of a class, simply give out the URL and password so students can log on and begin collaborating.

The "tour" page lists the features of this web-app, and there are a few! For example, you (and others with the PW) can edit the writeboard, (or mark it), export it as plain text or email it. There doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of "invitees". Version tracking is quite good: every time you save a change to a writeboard, a new version of that writeboard is created in the sidebar. (They use an ingenious "dot" system to keep track of the size of the changes.) Not only can you merge and compare changes, but you can discuss the document by leaving remarks in the comments area.

And you can even "subscribe" to the writeboard in RSS and be notified anytime anyone makes a change.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Etherpad - collaborative writing space

NOTE: Unfortunately, Etherpad has been acquired by Google and is no longer active! PiratePad is an open-source clone.

Piratepad (Piratepad.com) is a shared web-based writing space that students can use to collaborate "instantly". (Think Google docs without the set-up time.) Multiple people can edit the same document simultaneously, with any changes showing instantly on everyone's screen. When you visit the page, you have the option of creating a team site or a public pad. The public item is free, and you are setup as soon as you click on the button. Simply direct participants to the URL that is generated and you're in business! The Public pad will handle up to 16 people at a time. (So, for a full class, you'll need to create 2 public pads.) There is a Pro Edition with more features and better security for $8/user/month, and free for 3 users.

How could you use Piratepad in a class? Students could use it for "instant" collaboration on a script or outline. The resulting work can be emailed, posted on a class blog or saved in a Word document. (You could even paste the text into a Wordle generator to create a visual take on your brainstorming.) Get instant feedback on what is important, or bothersome or inspiring in a lesson by having all students type into a common Piratepad at the end of a class, or at the start, as a warm up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Working with your Pictures

Many people (teachers too!) are using Flickr to store and share their images. What many don't know is that "Big Huge Labs" has a 'huge' number of extras that you can do with your pictures. There are a great many options for creating an assignment, or for creating image based material that will liven up your classroom or make your projects a little more fun! You can use photos from your Flickr account or upload them from your computer.

Here are some of the fun things you can do:

Make your own inspirational, funny, parody, sports or other motivational poster. (This is a great way to make "targeted" classroom decorations.) Make a magazine cover. (This could be a first page of a writing assignment or journalism unit.) Make a mosaic from individual images. (Art class?) Make a movie poster. (You choose the photo, titles, and credits. Great for Booktalks or Booktrailers.) Create jigsaw puzzles from your images. (Could be fun for the primary classroom...scan student art and use it!) Create (and print) a pocket-sized photo album. Make an ID card, press pass, name tag, etc. (For clubs, or role
playing.) Create monthly calendars from your class photographs. Turn your student pics into a trading card! (or draw characters from a novel and turn them into trading cards.) Generate a harmonious color palette based on the colors in a photo. (Perfect for an Art assignment.) Choose up to six images, print and fold to create a photo cube. Make a unique CD or iMovie disk cover. (Great for Garageband projects.) Add comic book style captions to your photos.
Check out the link and discover other intriguing applications.