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Monday, 30 May 2011

Free Online Professional Development

There are great online professional development courses out there on the web for teachers with initiative who want to further develop or learn new skills.

I’ve listed a few of my favourite sites/courses below.

TeacherChallengeTeacher Challenge - this is a free blog that is all about 'connecting teachers through professional learning.'  The great thing about it is that it is free.   The PD sessions are focused on supporting students and teachers in the use of web  2.0 technologies.   These PD sessions are called Teacher Challenges.  These are free 30 day professional development challenges where participants are stepped through weekly tasks that increase their skills while working together as part of a global community.  They are currently doing one on Free Web Tools for the classroom. Their upcoming professional courses will cover:

  • 30 days to a whole new PLN
  • 30 days to use the best of the web’s free resources
  • 30 days to ensuring privacy and student safety on the web
  • 30 days to increased parent involvement

Think-tutorial-27j3pl4Think Tutorial is a  site providing over a 1000  free, easy to follow tutorials on a variety of web services, software, and mobile applications.


 Think Tutorial could be an excellent resource to send to friends and colleagues who aren't as proficient with technology as you are. The next time you're about to create a software tutorial for the faculty at your school, check Think Tutorial first and you could possibly save yourself from trying to reinvent the wheel. Along the same lines, you may want to check out Learn It In 5 for some good web services tutorials designed for use by teachers.

AnnenbergMediaLearnerLogoAnnerberg Learner contains educational video programs with printed materials and focuses on professional development for American Teachers.  The majority of the resources can be accessed for free. Click here to view resources on teaching Literature and Language Arts

174841_195275390492669_3828018_nPanhandle Area Educational Consortium has made a variety of U.S Teacher workshops. Click here to view resources on teaching Literature and Language Arts.



Thursday, 19 May 2011

5 Free Resources that you can use when making films!



JellyCam – Free Stop Motion Movie Generator is a website that contains free software that students students can make stop motion films using photo’s or a webcam.  This program is free and easy to use, however it does require Adobe Air which is free to install. Click here to watch a demo.


Animoto is a site that allows you to turn photos and music into video slideshows.


Go!Animate is a site that provides free and easy to use tools that students can use to create their own animations.


Flipbook is a free site that lets you create flipbook style animations.


Cool Tools For Schools – Videos – want to find even more free tools? Check out the Cool Tools for Schools page on videos.

The Ruby Skye Project–Interactive narrative storytelling

So just what are interactive narratives? Simply put, interactive narratives are stories that involve the participation of the reader. I really enjoy teaching this genre as the stories are engaging, and I love how they create an environment that fosters interaction, discussion, and learning.

It’s exciting to see that interactive narratives are becoming more accessible for teachers.  A great example is the Ruby Sky Project.  This web based comedy series is about Ruby, a 15 year old girl who is determined to solve all the mysteries she sees going in her city. With her sharp senses, determination and a healthy dose of curiosity she sharpens her detective skills with the help of her side kick and friend.

The videos are of a high quality, the storyline is engaging and it fosters constant interaction with the viewer.  There are lots of teaching resources from storyboards, blog posts by the director and behind the scene footage.
Check out the first episode below!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Free Instructional Videos for students, parents and you

What do you do when a student is away and they miss your key lessons on essay writing? Or when you revise a particular grammar rule? Sure a worksheet is easy, but how do you insure understanding? Or that they do it?

Instructional or tutorial video’s are the key.


WatchKnow is a free site that was created by the same creator of Wikipedia. It’s a vast collection of all the best free educational videos from a variety of sites like TeacherTube, Google Videos, National Geographic etc.  Not only are they indexed in an easy to find manner, there are over 20,000 videos on a variety of subjects.

So next time students have a test or need to revise a certain skill, you can link them to tutorial videos to help them brush up on their skills.

Some other handy sites are:

Grammar Girl: is a great website that has short and simple podcasts on grammar. They are styled as short helpful tips.

Grammarbook: contains helpful rules, real-world examples and fun quizzes. grammar-book2

Sense-Lang: is an online touch typing program. It includes free typing games, key board tutorials and the ability to add a class and set homework tasks. 500x_2010-07-14_100238

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Social Websites centred around reading


As an English teacher I often feel that half of my problems could be solved if children read more. It’s not because I want them to cultivate the same love of literature that I have developed but because it helps them further develop a variety of important skills. Reading, inference, understanding grammar and syntax, character analysis, critical thinking, creative writing etc.

The key to getting children hooked on reading is to get them hooked on the right book. Easier said than done. Which book? Which genre? Where to start?

Luckily enough there are already social networking sites on the web that have the solution to these problems.

You Are What You Read is part of Scholastics global literacy campaign Read Every Day. Lead a Better life.  This site is a book recommendation service for young readers and a social networking site. 

You are what you read

Students can share information on their favourite books and discover people who share similar interests and through this further discover other books that might interest them. There are also excellent resources that you can access without signing up for an account.

One of the most notable is the list of celebrities and famous people who have listed their favourite age appropriate books. So even if you don’t know where to start when recommending a book to a student ask them who their favourite celebrity or star is and there you go.

If you join you are invited to submit five book titles that have helped shape who you are which is called a “bookprint.” This is helps get students on the path to discovering fellow book lovers, new titles and you can also encourage them to write reviews.

Also included on the site is a Sample Letter for Parents that you can use to let parents know about this program and how they can support your classroom activities at home.