Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Creating beautiful interactive timelines

Tiki-Toki is an excellent website for getting your students to create interactive timelines.  I have used this for a few years now and have found it to be to very helpful in engaging my visual learners.

To sign up you need an email (my class use their google emails and a separate password).  The free account only gives you the ability to make one timeline.  It won't allow you to embed your timeline, but you can share it via a link to your e-portfolio etc. With a paid teacher account, timelines can be embedded in a class or teacher website.  Along with the teacher account, students can create accounts using a class code and can collaborate on timelines.

What I really like about tiki-toki is that students are able to embed text, images and videos into their timelines giving them a very professional look and feel.

To create a timeline, students needs to first choose the start and end dates for their timeline.  They then need to select a background image (copying / pasting link to image).  From there, students can enter specific dates, add text and other media such as youtube videos.

Tiki-toki is an excellent resource, intuitive and fun to use and guaranteed to get your students excited about sharing their learning via this medium.

Click the link to see Paige's biographical timeline on Stan Lee.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Using Angry Birds to Engage Writers

My class is currently working on persuasive writing.  They have completed all the usual tasks associated with learning the skills of structuring their writing correctly, selecting appropriate language to support their arguments and publishing / sharing their writing. I sensed throughout this unit that many of my kids weren’t as engaged as what they could have been, and I wondered whether my choice of writing tasks wasn’t really targeting their interests.  

In my search for new writing ideas, I recently came across the website  It is filled with a range of excellent ideas, resources and examples that will help support your classroom literacy programme.  One idea I have used  from this site that really engaged the class and produced some positive writing outcomes, was based around an ad for the Angry Birds app.

The task I set my class was to write a persuasive letter from the perspective of either an angry bird or one of the pigs.  If they were a bird they had to argue for their eggs back or if they were a pig - to get the birds to stop attacking them.

Having watched the video, we brainstormed all the various reasons as to why there was conflict between the birds and pigs.  Some of the ideas the kids came up with were very insightful.  I also supplied the class with a wide range of a words they could choose from to use in their writing to help persuade their audience.  I asked my slower writers to choose  between 3 - 6 of those words and my more capable writers to use as many as they could.  One of my students used 25 out of the 26 words!

In terms of engagement, I felt this was a task everyone of my students had bought into.  Everyone of them had played angry birds and enjoyed the game.  This was evident in the writing that most of my class produced.  I was really impressed by their efforts, a direct reflection in their engagement of the writing task.