New Discoveries!

This week I was lucky enough to attend a technology conference for teachers.  I’ve been able to attend three times in the last four years.  I missed a year when I was in the hospital recuperating from surgery.  It’s a pretty good conference, even for the one day I get to attend.  I’ve won a technology award each of those years which allowed me to get a free registration otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go.  This year we had a few teachers involved in the project (a student video productions club) so a large group of us was able to get the free tickets.  I always find at least one thing that I get pretty excited about and can’t wait to try out at school (or home.)   This year was no exception.

But before I get to that…have you seen WORDLE? You can make your own customized word cloud art.  You’ve probably seen something like this framed in a store and it’s really expensive.  This is cool because you can use your own chosen terms and keep changing the display until you find the perfect one.

Here’s what you do:
Go to http://www.wordle.net
Click “Create Your Own”
Paste in your text, from a poem, speech, etc. or type your own words in.  I’m going to do one for Nina and Billy (our cats)

The more frequently a word is included in the list, the bigger it gets in the final arrangement.  There are lots of customizable options too, including fonts, colors, fills, background colors.  This could make a nice gift for someone, provided they are not annoying cats who eat everything in sight and make lots of noise when you’re trying to sleep in in the morning.  Just saying.

catswordle

The really cool thing I wanted to talk about is something called VoiceThread.  I’m still working out all the details, but basically you upload photos or video clips and you make an initial recorded comment about it.  Then you throw it out there for other people to comment on.  (They have to make a free VoiceThread username.) The photo/video collects various audio comments from people and displays them around your photo. It’s really cool.  Here’s a quick tutorial.

You can have a free account, but are limited to 3 VoiceThreads only.  The yearly subscription rate is $60 which isn’t bad if this is something you’ll do to keep in touch with family.  Either way…it’s a neat way to make photos a little more interactive.  Another digital scrapbook, I guess.

VoiceThread has a school safe site as well, which I’m looking into.  I’d like to enhance a project I do with the 5th grade students/teachers.  It’s a Superhero unit where we study elements of the fantasy genre and superheros which culminates with the creation of a superhero of their own, complete with powers and costume.  Then, I take their photos on a blue screen and we import them into a drawing program and they draw their costume over their photo.  This would add one step where the students could comment on each other’s projects (about elements of the assignment, not random comments)…anyway, I digress.

I wanted to have a VoiceThread made so I could post it here and you (all four of you that read my blog) could comment on the photos if you wanted too…but I didn’t get around to it today.  Check back and I’ll probably have one up sooner or later.

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