Something New Every Day

There are so many wonderful free tech tools these days. It is overwhelming at first to look at my list of fabulous resources. When asked what my favorite tool is, I guess my answer would depend on what I have used recently and what I have just discovered and is fresh on my mind.
I am blessed in my district to have computers in every classroom (5) as well as access to mobile carts with 25 on each cart. We have plenty of software on our laptops (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Comic Life, Pixie, Kidspiration, Google Earth, Activ Inspire, Garage Band, Audacity, just to name a few.) There are many web 2.0 sites that are blocked by our district filter like Wall Wisher, You Tube, and most blogs so when I find a web based application that I like and can use I get very excited.
Lately, my new favorite tool is ZimmerTwins for making movies. I made a school log in started experimenting with just a few students. They caught on so quickly and had creative ideas in less than a moment. I have even used this site whole group with exceptional education students who did equally well with making a movie. I like that there are characters with talking bubbles, actions, title/end pages etc. in the four different tabs at the top.
The second tool that has caught on with the students has been Wordle, and Tagxedo. Both are word cloud sites, but Tagxedo lets you save your work as a .jpg file, and Wordle does not. We have used these for vocabulary review, copied and pasted expository writing to find overused words, and just simply for fun.
I don’t want to overwhelm my teachers or students with new things constantly since they seem to be already frustrated with technology in many cases. I try to keep it simple, and give people what they ask for so that I don’t add to their feeling that they are always “behind”.
If teachers need to start small and not get overwhelmed, I highly recommend both of these on line tools.
by: Suzanne Whitlow
ITRT Henrico County Schools

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