Welcome to the Tuesday Tech Talk, bringing you some of the best web sites I’ve looked at recently, that you can really use! Great sites for this week include:
Tar Heel Reader
The Tar Heel reader site is the result of a collaboration between the University of North Carolina’s Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and the Computer Science department. This interesting site, shared with us courtesy of Maureen Briggs, lets students create their own eBooks, or read those created by others. It has the option for text to speech, and students just have to click a button and the story will be read to them. Books are organized by topic, audience rating (some are not for young children), language, and more.
Please be sure to note the page warning that some books are intended for teenagers just learning to read, and have content that may not be appropriate for younger students.
Wordle is an online tool for generating word clouds from text that students (or teachers) copy and paste into a given field.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a word cloud, Wikipedia describes it as, “a visual depiction of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, used typically to describe the content of web sites. Tags are usually single words and are typically listed alphabetically, and the importance of a tag is shown with font size or color.” Look to the right on this page, you’ll see a word cloud of tags I’ve selected to describe the topics for each blog entry.
Wordle is a great way for students to see the most common words used in their writing. To do so they simply copy and paste their writing from a word processing document into the Wordle text box. They could also create a Wordle cloud to describe themselves at the beginning of the year, or to create a display of words that are connected to a specific topic. This could be a teacher directed activity on the SmartBoard for younger students, or teachers who want to do this as a whole class lesson.
I would recommend that teachers exercise caution in letting students freely explore the gallery of posted items. Any and all words appear to be possible to use, and therefore inappropriate material may be encountered. It’s probably best to stick with having students directly input their words, and then print or screen shot (shift + apple/command + 4) their word cloud. Screen shots of word clouds can be inserted into a variety of documents including Pages, Keynote, OpenOffice, and KidPix.
If you like these sites post a comment and share your thoughts with other teachers. What did your students like about the sites? How do you think they helped you and/or your students?