I am taking a class through my school district called “16 Things on a Stick.” It’s so much fun! By the end of it, we’ll learn about 16 new things using four computer applications. We’ve had two classes so far, and I’m sad there’s only two more left! I’m having a blast implementing the “things” in my classroom, and thought you guys might be interested, too.
(The title of the class, by the way, is a reference to how things “on a stick” at the fair are cool. Yeah, I don’t quite get it either.)
This Web site lets you bookmark other sites and label them with tags. I’ve used it in a few different ways. My class was doing a unit on our home state, North Dakota, so I tagged some sites that would be useful for facts and research. My students could go to my Diigo account (just by knowing my user name, no registration required), click on the “North Dakota” tag, and then select the Web site of their choice within that category.
This had some major advantages: I knew they were on appropriate Web sites that contained the information they were looking for, and they didn’t get frustrated searching all over the Web for specific information. Also, they could just click on a link instead of having to type in a super-long URL.
We used Diigo again during a unit on characterization. Students had to describe a person based only on how they looked in a painting (fabulous way to talk about body language and facial expressions for students with autism!). I bookmarked a few good museum Web sites and had the students use them to find great pictures of paintings for the assignment. We looked at happy people, sad people, mad people, and (literally) blue people. It was really a blast.
Warning: This site is very addictive! In a nutshell, you type in some words, click “go,” and Wordle makes a word picture. The more times you include the same word, the bigger that word appears in the picture. To connect two words, like a first and last name, put a ~ in between with no spaces (example: Joe~Smith). The fun part is you can make the same Wordles over and over; it will change the colors, font, and arrangement until you find one you love.
We’ve used this a few different ways in the classroom. I made a Wordle with all of the vocabulary words from our characterization unit. I had the students create Wordles about themselves, making what they thought was most important about themselves the biggest words in the picture. Then we used it to brainstorm traits about characters we were inventing. Once they came up with 20 words to describe their invented character, they knew enough to start writing a story. One student even made a Wordle of the alphabet. Printed in color, it would be beautiful framed and hung in a child’s room. I made one about my three-year-old son . . . it really is addicting!
These two “things” were definitely my favorites so far, so I’ll stop there for now. Maybe I’m weird, but when I come across a list of 50 great Web sites, I can’t decide which one to check out first, so I don’t click on anything. :o)
Have fun playing around with Diigo and Wordle — I hope you love them as much as I do! Tell us about the things you use in your classroom. I love hearing from you!