Sunday, 29 April 2012

Word Dynamo: Have Fun Improving Vocabulary!

Word Dynamo is the latest offering from that allows you to test and expand your vocabulary through a range of fun games. Registering allows you to track your progress and it's also possible to create your own word lists for games and submit them to the public library.

  • Create word lists for your own topics that learners can access in their own time for revision or learning before tackling a new topic.
  • Guide learners toward creating their own word lists for topics so they can have fully personalised games to improve their vocabulary.
  • Set up word lists and have a chart displayed in your room to track progress; a visual check may encourage learners to keep up with those ahead.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Free Hangman with Customisable Lists from Teachit

Teachit has just added this handy tool to their Whizzy collection. It's free to use although you have to sign up for a (free or paid) membership. You can enter your own list of words and then use it as a whole class or individual activity. The replacement of the gallows with a balloon-holding stickman takes away the gruesome element, and you can set the number of balloons he's holding to differentiate the level.

  • Use as a whole class activity by putting learners in teams. They then take turns to give a letter with a time limit (e.g. 5 seconds) to keep it well-paced. If they are correct, they get another turn. If incorrect, play moves to the next team. If teams know the word, they must spell it; they are not allowed to shout it out or play moves to the next team.
  • Embed on a website or wiki as a starting or revision activity for individuals.
  • As you can save word lists to your account, use these again and again for timesaving fun with a sound pedagogical aim behind them.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Instagrok: A 'Wow!' Search Engine for Education

There are a lot of organisations releasing ways to interrogate the web, but Instagrok is an immediate game-changer in the educational search-engine world. Not only does it generate multimedia results on one page - including the usual videos and images, but also the less usual key facts, quizzes and related concepts - but you can also use the on-screen slider to adjust the difficulty level of the results displayed. This means you can access the basic to the erudite without having to do anything more than dragging your mouse.

Among the other useful features is the ability to register and add findings to your Instagrok journal which you can supplement with other information. Teachers can create accounts for their classes to track what is being researched and pinned: great for monitoring to determine where support is needed.

For a full overview of features, take a look at Instagrok's PDF brochure or watch the video below:

This, along with Sweetsearch and Kidrex, offers a guided route through the web to school learners making research a whole lot simpler and more likely to yield useful results.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

10% off Everything at Book Depository (Free Worldwide Delivery)


Not my usual type of post, but as I use the Book Depository a lot, I thought I'd share. They are very reliable and have a great customer service program, so if you're looking for a bargain (particularly in an area Amazon doesn't deliver to, like mine), this is worth checking out.
(In case you're wondering, I gain nothing from your interest, just as I lose nothing from your disinterest - just carin' and sharin'!)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Draw it Live: Collaborative Doodling with Chat

Draw it Live allows users to create pictures on a simple canvas. Real-time collaborators can be invited via email or by sharing the link. At any point, there is a film icon which can be clicked to show the steps leading up to the current picture.

  1. This could be used by learners to reconstruct and label something collaboratively e.g. the structure of an atom; teachers could access the canvasses to check progress.
  2. The recorded steps feature could be captured using free software such as Screencast-o-matic or Screenr to demonstrate a sequence of any kind e.g. a timeline, a process etc.
  3. The finished results can be downloaded to insert into a document, website etc. as part of a larger text.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Synctube: Bring together Media from all over the Internet

 Synctube is a free service that enables users to create their own 'rooms' in which they can place media from all over the web, including videos, music, documents and more. You can make your room as private or public as you want, meaning you have control over how few or many people have access to your room. Once in the room, there is a chat box for viewers to discuss what they are watching. WARNING: Be very careful if directing learners to this site as there are chats taking place with highly inappropriate language. If your room is open to the public, anyone can access the chat feature so consider this before sharing.

  • Bring together media for a particular topic in one place, without having to worry about storage space; learners can then access the room and browse the contents.
  • For explanatory media, the chat function will be most useful for learners asking questions or noting difficult points (much like a backchannel), whether in or out of the classroom.
  • Synctube could be a good place to view Youtube content if it is blocked in your school; try and test before relying on it though!
  • Build a channel of resources every time you teach a particular unit; ask learners to contribute and rate they find most useful.

Bart Simpson Blackboard Generator

I came across this tool while setting up my latest Google Site. It's pretty simple: in their own words, "Write your own message on Bart Simpson's famous chalkboard! The message will be repeated over and over again just like the show!"

From what I can see, the resulting image is hosted on the site, although you may want to download it in case the site ever goes down.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Screenr: Screen Capture without Hassle

Screenr is another free screencasting tool, with no downloads or signups required. Record up to 5 minutes of on-screen action ad then embed and share on any sites, social networks or blogs of your choosing. The buzz about this tool is its simplicity of use with almost zero IT skills required to create successful screencasts.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Facebook Templates: Online, Offline, Interactive, on Paper...

Image from
Many teachers have already cottoned on to the phenomena of Facebook and how to harness it for learning, and one of the most popular uses is creating templates for people, real or imagined. I've even seen FB profiles for countries and inanimate objects so imagination is your only limitation when it comes to using these. It's great that so many have come up with customisable materials so here are few options from hi-tech to lo-tech.

Some learners have actually made the effort to go online and warn teachers not to over-use this type of activity. Once it's been done in one subject, the novelty (and therefore the engagement) can wear off pretty quickly. On the other hand, plenty of learners have also gone to the bother of posting on teaching blogs to say how much they enjoy this as an alternative to essay-writing or other traditional responses to literature, history etc.

Fakebook (from offers an online editable template for creating a profile and posts on a Facebook-like page. A video is included for instruction although it's pretty intuitive to use. On the downside, it is covered in ads - but then again, so is Facebook so perhaps a bit of authenticity? You could also try for a similar tool.

I came across this Facebook video for Romeo and Juliet while attending ASB Unplugged in Mumbai earlier this year, and I was blown away by the creativity of the learner concerned. Have a look at the video and consider tools like Screencast-O-Matic or Screenr to guide your learners in creating their own.

Tech Tools for Schools provide this presentation-based template for creating a series of  Facebook pages. It can be edited as a Google Doc or downloaded, opened with Powerpoint or Keynote and edited offline. Alternatively, it can be downloaded as a PDF, perhaps for display. Once finished on screen, it can be presented and viewers can click on the links to navigate around this mini-Facebook site.

TeachOneToOne has a selection of editable templates for use in word-processing programs. This is a good option if access to computers is not readily available.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Get Writing with Elastoplast Stories

Elastoplast Stories offers another way to encourage writing among younger learners. Kids are offered a blank template with boxes for each scene of their story. They can write the story and then add pictures with speech bubbles and other media, including animated elements. Once finished, they can submit their stories to the public gallery for all to share.

Click to enlarge
Learners can peruse the gallery to promote excitement about writing and to see what the finished results could look like, and there is a kids' adventure pack to download for exploring the great outdoors which could be great inspiration in itself.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Stupeflix: Online Video Editor

A couple of days ago, I blogged about WeVideo which allows online collaboration for video projects. Another tool to add to your video kit is Stupeflix, which offers a range of features for enhancing your video. From their theme gallery to adding text, overlaying your video from any one of their 130 music tracks to adding maps and text-to-speech, Stupeflix offers a variety of ways to make your videos more 'wow' before sharing them via social media sites or embedding them. This is a great service for those looking for a multi-feature video editor without the need for downloads.


  • Learners can use Stupeflix to enhance their video projects and easily bring in other tools such as maps
  • The text-to-speech feature could be useful for SEN learners who would benefit from an audio experience of any on-screen text, or for those who prefer this to their own voiceover

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

WeVideo: Collaborative Video Editing

WeVideo offers the chance to upload clips from any device and not only share, but also edit, them with your friends. With a free account, you can invite up to 5 people to collaborate on your video project, and because it's all in the cloud, there's no need for any software; it can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection.


  • This is like the Google Docs of the video world - great for learners to work together on projects from different devices from any physical location with an Internet connection

Monday, 2 April 2012

Qwiki: The Information Experience

Qwiki is an award-winning knowledge portal which brings together media from all over the web to create a unique "information experience." The audiovisual nature of the search results makes it a particularly useful tool for those who have difficulties navigating large chunks of text. Summaries are read by a text-to-speech application or creator, so it enables users to employ their listening skills too - good for those developing their language skills. An iPad app is also available.

I just noticed a feature at the bottom of the Home page saying that it's now possible to create your own Qwiki, so this could be useful for giving learners a platform to publish findings from their own research or expertise.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Draw a Stickman 2

It's the holidays so time for a bit of a break. In case you missed the first installation of this adventure, here's my post on the original Stickman.

And now...part 2! If you can't think of an educational use for this, why not just let your learners have a break for 5 minutes, exercise their creativity and spark their imaginations? And of course, you could always take a break yourself...(Go on, click it - you know you want to!)