Saturday, 29 January 2011

Reading stories differently

I like to play with Wordle and admire the awesome word combinations this tool can generate. On one of such occasions I created a worksheet using Wordle clouds to mix together two stories about animals.
The students' task is to separate the stories and reconstruct them both. Of course, in the creative process of "sorting and combining words" new incredible stories may appear. That is what makes this method really exciting.
There are instructions for the students and some writing space. Finally there are both original stories which should be kept secret until the very end of the activity.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Online message boards with sticky notes

Many people like sticky notes. I love them too and use them as bookmarks or reminders.
Today we can use virtual sticky notes on virtual message boards. The choice of the tools is rather wide. Here are my favourites - all free to use.

The simplest message board is Corkboard which is what it says it is - a corkboard with plain yellow notes.
The tool is so down-home that it does not even have its own logo.
No registration is required. Open the page and start posting your notes. It can now be embedded on your site.

Another message board which does not ask for registration (and can be used instantly) is the well-known Wallwisher. It has a small range of features (variable background, changeable colours, the possibility to add links to images, videos, music.

One more message board which uses a virtual corkboard (and looks confusingly similar to Corkboard) is Listhings but it has taken one step towards more variable notes - you can change their colour.
You have to register to use Listhings.

The site for online stickies Linoit stands a level higher with its appearance (a variety of colours and shades) and features - you can add an image, upload a video and attach a document. You can create a group and use the canvas together, embed the canvas on your blog or send the stickies by email. To use it you have to register but it is neither complicated nor tedious.

Pindax is a fun real-time alternative to the traditional message board. You have to sign up for free and start posting. It has a lot of features, like posting images, files and polls in real time. You can send your posts by email.  There are various options for using your message board. 
As the creators have stated, Pindax can be used as
1) a forum for your website
2) a collaboration tool
3) a portfolio for your designs
4) a place to chat with friends
5) a place to exchange ideas
6) an internet clipboard
7) a comment collector
8) an event planner
9) an alternative to E-Mail.

Finally, my latest "discovery"  Squareleaf is a simple and intuitive virtual whiteboard, complete with all the sticky notes. It is not as versatile as Linoit or Pindax but it is perfectly usable for the usual purpose - to remind, organise, keep up-to-date, track things etc. Registration required.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

How to quote in style

There are some web tools that let you add a quote to your web page in an unconventional way.

One of them is Kwout which offers an add-on to your Firefox browser (which you have to download) and then you can start quoting any piece on any website you wish.

 Here is an example of a paragraph taken from the website mentioned below.

Another web tool for creating and publishing quotes is Citebite which works online. You have to copy a desired piece of text from a web page, paste the URL and you are given a unique web address which you paste on your website.
See the example.
It opens directly to your selection and highlights it.

These tools allow the teacher to attract students' attention to the page or paragraph they need to read or work on. Useful for doing research or gathering material for a report.