Apr 17 2011

Free Animated Storybooks at Story Time for Me!



This nice website provides FREE animated storybooks for primary students! Though it has a limited library, it is sure to grow and the concept is quite nice. The book is animated and narrated- and phrases are highlighted as they are read aloud. Students can also click on any word to hear its pronunciation. The characters are somewhat animated on each page spread (though their mouths don’t move or anything like that). You won’t find any Disney princess stories or mainstream books, but these original titles are sure to meet the needs of students. Here’s a screenshot inside one of the books:


It is Flash-based, so forget about viewing these on any iPad or iPod for now. Stories automatically play in full screen with automatic page turns, but there are controls at the bottom for pause, play, next, etc. Overall, I nice site- go check it out for yourself!

BTW- the site also offers FREE personalized activity books to download for teachers and parents. Enjoy!

Mar 27 2011

Little Bird Tales



When I found Little Bird Tales I couldn’t stop playing with it. Little Bird Tales allows your students to create a story, animate it, narrate it, and publish it! It’s strong point is simplicity! You do have to register for an account, but I discovered that the piggyback method with a gmail account works just fine. After you create an account, you are ready to create your story.

You can then create the cover either by uploading an image, or drawing one using the built-in drawing tools. You can even draw over or annotate on your uploaded image. How cool is that?

Continue reading

Aug 23 2010

Storybooks to read and personalize- MeeGenius!



I came across this really cool site recently. It allows you to select a storybook and either have it read to you, read it yourself, or best of all- customize it!

That was my favorite feature. After you select a book, you can select the personalize button and it will ask for the name of the main characters.

Continue reading

May 17 2010

Five Card Flickr



I know, it sounds like one of those websites that should be blocked at your campus, but take a closer look. We all know and love Flickr (see our previous post). This site monopolizes some “random” images to get students writing! Here’s how it works:

The user (no registration required) is shown five images from which they must choose one. This is repeated four times so that the user ends up with five images. Then the user writes a story based on the sequence of five images. The story and images are saved to the site where others can read it (or use the same images to write their own stories).

Here’s a story I completed: http://web.nmc.org/5cardstory/show.php?id=5101

Some ideas:

  • Create a story using at least one simile and one metaphor.
  • Write a story in the first person, then re-write it in third person.
  • Write a story using nothing but passive voice, then re-write the story using active voice.
  • Create a story based on the images and weave three of this week’s vocabulary words in it.

May 6 2010

Publishing Like a Pro!



Recently I presented a workshop, and I needed my participants to be able to view some documents that we would be discussing and working with. I made paper copies (I know, how old fashioned of me!), but I wasn’t sure how many people would be attending. I didn’t want to bring a lot of extra copies just in case, so I decided that I’d hand out what I had and anyone who came in late and didn’t get one could retrieve the materials online.

Then came the dilemma of “where do I post them?”. I already had the documents in .pdf form, but I didn’t have a quick easy place to store them. I looked around and found www.issuu.com.

Continue reading

Mar 29 2010




Today I received an email from the folks at www.piclits.com (along with everyone else who attended CA CUE I guess!) telling about their Web 2.0 product. I decided to check it out, and really enjoyed working with it.

The idea is to select a photograph from their collection, then use the suggested words to write a sentence, a poem, a haiku, or whatever about the photograph. There is wide variety of photographs and each one has a range of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs specific to the photograph, as well as an assortment of universal words such as a, the, has, my, etc. Think of it as refrigerator poetry on steroids! Continue reading

Jan 15 2010

Scribd- Put your documents out there!



OK, so I kinda already worked this into the blog a few months ago (see the Letterpop entry) but never really addressed the tool that I used to display the document. So if you haven’t seen or heard of Scribd by now, you’re probably not wasting enough time on the web- or maybe you just haven’t noticed. Here’s the deal- you have a document you want users to be able to view but don’t want to bother them with downloading it and using some kind of reader or third-party application (unless they just really want to). Just put it up on Scribd  and embed the online viewer into your blog or website like this:

Geocaching Activity Types

As you can see, you can view it in full screen, download the document if you want, or link to the Scribd page and leave a comment. Not bad for a cool, free tool, right?

Nov 23 2009

Newsletters that pop… Letterpop!



This is the place to go to create snazzy online newsletters that can either be mailed or printed! These aren’t your standard newsletters from Microsoft Office templates! No- rather they have their own set of 289 templates (arranged by theme) for you to use. You simply upload some photos (from say, Flickr) then let the dragging & dropping begin.

Here’s a curriculum sample:

You can also see the actual page here: http://www.letterpop.com/newsletters/jholland/94439/

“So what’s the point? I could do this in Microsoft Office,” you say. Yes, you can. But Letterpop… Continue reading

Oct 1 2009

Etherpad- Really real-time collaboration with a document!



OK, so we all know and love Google Docs. As a matter of fact, that’s how Susan and I collaborate on our book outlines, planning sessions, workshop outlines and such. It does what it says- and for the most part what we need. Etherpad is so cool! When I say real-time collaboration, I mean that if you and I were on the same pad (the same URL) I would see exactly what you type when you type it!

etherpadSo you talk about motivating kids to write together! This is the greatest thing ever! Imagine three students editing or revising a paragraph together… brainstorming… elaborating… writing! This will kick the dust off some of those boring lessons! And that’s not all…

Continue reading