Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trading Cards on Any Concept in Minutes--Really!

This is the easiest online application you will ever try with your class.  No kidding!  Big Huge Labs offers an application to create professional-looking, printable trading cards in just a few simple steps.  There's no need to register or sign in, though you can if you choose.  Simply go to their page, upload a photo,  Choose a color for the card, and enter text.  There's a place for a title, sub-title, and a description.

Big Huge Labs's Trading Cards Screen

Now how many ways can we think to use trading cards?
  1. Make cards for science concepts.  Find photos online representing concepts like erosion, weather changes, steps in the water cycle, types of rocks, elements, landforms, and the list goes on.  Right click on the photo and save it to your computer, then upload it to the application.  Use the description area to describe the photo or to list facts.  Try using the document camera to take photos of steps in a procedure that could be sequenced on cards as well.
  2. Make cards to highlight events in history.  As above, find photos that illustrate those events, or let students draw and illustrate themselves.  A document camera or digital camera could be use to digitize their images for uploading. 
  3. Create biographical cards for famous people students study.
  4. Let students summarize their books in the text area, and use a book cover photo or a personal illustration in the photo section.
  5. Students can take photos to represent math vocabulary or concepts and explain them in the description area.  Also they can use the document camera to photograph their solution to a problem, then explain it in words below.
  6. Would your students be able to make cards for Learner Profile traits?  Certainly!  Find a photo or create and digitize a personal illustration to show what it means to be open-minded, for example, then explain or give an anecdote to tell about it in the the description area below.

Learner Profile Card for Risk-Takers
Can you think of more ways to use this super-easy application?  Use the comments section to add your ideas!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Storybird: An Inspiring Resource for Young Writers

New & Noted books from the Storybird library
"Storybirds are short, visual stories that you make with family and friends to share and print." This collaborative resource allows students to choose books already illustrated by professional artists to inspire their own stories.  The beautiful art helps writers to create stories quickly in a collaborative environment.  Use Storybird with small groups of students, or as a whole-class activity with the teacher.  This provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about storytelling with students and to share stories with the class.  Each story can be printed, viewed on-screen, or contributed to the Storybird library where students can read each other's work and share with their families at home.  Teachers may want to ask students to focus on classroom themes, on grade-level curriculum, or specific vocabulary as they invent characters and events. Reluctant writers may find this site engaging and easy to use. Take a look, then remember Storybird as you plan your next creative writing lesson.