Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Randomizer

We use C-Scope curriculum.  The 5th grade Science curriculum called for the students to create a brochure on an animal, plant, and scientist. The curriculum offered up a list of choices.  My 5th grade Science teacher didn't want to assign the topics, she didn't want the students to pick only animals, plants or scientists they already knew about, and she didn't want the students spending a lot of time agonizing of their choices.  Enter The Randomizer:

It's actually a tool in the SMART Notebook software that comes with SMART Boards - Random Word Generator.  The Random Word Generator is part of an add on called Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0. You can download it here.

I add three Random Word Generators to one page.  I loaded the animal names in the first, plants in the second, and the scientists in the third.  I clicked "No Repeat" on each generator. This keeps more than one student from getting the same animal, plant, or scientist in the same class.

I loaded The Randomizer on the Science teacher's desktop and my laptop.  We each called students up and had them click the Select button.  The Randomizer makes a fun little noise and highlights choices until it lands on that student's choice.  We did reset each generator after each class. 

The students thought it was fun and the teacher loved that everyone had a different combination for their brochure.  And it wasn't boring liking drawing choices out of a hat!

Have you used the Random Word Generator?  I think it would be fun a writing activity to build a story using the Random Word Generator.

Do you have favorite tools from the Lesson Activity Toolkit?  Let's hear about them in the comments!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Capzles Timelines

My 8th grade History teacher wanted his students to create a timeline of some Civil War events.  For one of the events, he wanted the students to do an eye witness account.  It's the eyewitness account video that led me to Capzles.

Capzles is billed as a Social Storytelling site.  Students can upload pictures, videos and documents.  Capzles also creates a URL that they can email their teacher for grading.  Students do have to be registered with a unique email but they don't have to verify their membership through the email.

Our students had 7 events to choose from.  For 6 they found images and had to add information from their research and History notes to the image.  For the 7th, they recorded an eyewitness account.   First, they wrote a script that was approved by their teacher.  Next, they recorded their script using PhotoBooth (we're a Mac school).  They uploaded their PhotoBooth video into their Capzles.

For the eyewitness accounts, I set up 4 recording stations with laptops.  I have 2 science fair boards that are cut in half.  I put a laptop and a board on a desk to create a semi-private recording studio.  Students worked on their Capzle until their teacher sent them to record.  Our network is set up so that students can sync their work to their network account.  All they had to do was sync and their movie was in their documents folder and ready to upload to Capzles.

The project took 2 days in the computer lab and went very smoothly.  I did register the students for their account ahead of time to save lab time.  If you have your students create their own account, you may need to add some extra time.  I did create a how to sheet for the students. Click here to download the how to sheet.

Have you used Capzles?  What kind of projects did your students create?  Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I decided a while back that I wanted to start blogging about EdTech.  It took a while to pull it all together.  But here it is...Plugged In Educator

Why Plugged In?  Our students are plugged in to something outside of school.  Is it fair that we ask them to unplug when they walk through the front door?  Not if that 'something' will help them learn! (I was inspired by this Alan November article)

I'll be blogging about projects my students are doing.  I wouldn't be sharing student work but I'll tell you what we're doing.  My students are 5th - 8th graders in Texas.  Somethings work, somethings don't.  I'll try to share it all!

Ready? Let's get Plugged In!