S is for Skype!

Want to connect for free (or cheaply) with people all over the world?  Want to make video phone calls?  Skpye is a free way to do that!  All you need is your computer, a web cam (and East and GWC each have one you can borrow), and a free download!

Here are the steps:

1. Download and install Skype here.

2. Follow directions to create a Skype account!

3. Start calling.

For a step-by-step how-to guide, click here.

How do you use this in the classroom, you ask?  Lots of ways!

  • call another class in a different area of the world to find out about their home
  • call an “expert” on a topic you are studying
  • have someone dress up as a famous person or book character and call your class
  • play a game with another classroom at a different school
  • write riddles for other classes to guess
  • share writing

Can you think of other ways?

A few of our classes have been using Skype to connect with classrooms in different areas.  Mrs. Barnett’s Fourth Grade at East talked with students in Virginia Beach to learn more about the Tidewater Region of VA.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Mrs. Hall’s Fourth graders at GWC answered the questions of a couple of students in Wisconsin who were doing state reports.

Created with flickr slideshow.

A is for Avatar

In the technology world, and avatar is a representation of you (many times a cartoon). Many people use them instead of pictures of themselves in profiles because it adds a little anonymity. If you have students blogging or creating other online projects, you might want to have them create an avatar.

The Build Your Wild Self section of New York Zoos and Aquariums website is great site to use to make avatars and to learn about animals at the same time! Here’s my Wild Self!

After students create their “Wild Selves,” they can choose to save the picture to their computers. To do this, choose Get a Wild Desktop. Then right click on the picture and choose save! It’s that easy!

A is for Audacity

Need to record students reading?  Need to record a podcast?  Want to archive a class song?  Then check out Audacity, a free utility that allows you to record sound, edit it, and save it as a mp3.

You can download Audacity (a free program) here.

If you want to save files as MP3s, you will also need to download the Lame encoder here.  When you save your file as a MP3 the first time, follow the directions to install the Lame encoder.

There’s a pretty simple Handout to follow on the ITRT site.

And of course, if you need help, let me know!

A is for Animoto

I love Animoto (and have blogged about them in the past here and here).  It’s an incredibly easy way to create a sophisticated video from still pictures.  While you can create 30 second videos with a basic account, they also offer accounts for educators which allow you unlimited access.

It’s very simple to use.  Just upload your pictures to the site, add text (if you want), and pick your music (they have a lot to choose from).  Then Animoto does of the work for you by putting your music and pictures together in a professional looking way!  Here’s a quick animoto of some of the younger grades at East Salem using technology.

I’ve blogged about Animoto in the past.  To read more or see other examples, click here and here.

A is for Accelerated Reader

Access AR Directions

Did you know you can find simple directions for Accelerated Reader on this blog?  All you need to do choose AR under Categories (to the Right) and you will see a list of posts all about this software.

To Add A Student to the Database

One of the big things that also comes up at different points throughout the year is what to do when you have a student you need added to the AR database.  All you need to do is fill out a help ticket (can only do this from school).  Make sure to include student’s full name (including middle name) and his or her student ID number.  I’ll take care of it from there!