All in a picture

Images can be so powerful, as Murcha suggests in this week’s Teacher Blogging Challenge. And I completely agree – as you can probably tell from the number of posts I have done on using images.

So here are another two websites which are great for using images in your classroom.

Flickr Poet

Flickr story

Simply write your poem (or it will work with a sentence also) into the text box and it converts the text into photos. It is fabulous to see the poem come alive with photos sourced from Flickr.

5 Card Flickr

Flickr 5 story

On the other side of this you can take a series of randomly selected images and turn these into a story using 5 card flickr.  On this site you select one picture from a group of five (repeat this to select up to 5 images).  Then you can write and submit a story related to the randomly drawn photos.

Both of these are great tools for encouraging writing in the classroom. You could use both sites – make a poem using 5 card flickr and transfer it to Flickr poet.  It would be interesting to see if any of the same images come up!

How do you use images in your writing?

Do you have any experiences to share from using these sites?

Spelling

I am always on the look out for different strategies to teach spelling and I thought I would share a few that I use in my classroom.

Wordle is a wonderful tool for spelling.  It is a particularly good way of having children practise new spelling patterns.  Wordle works by inserting a number of words or text into a cloud.  The more the words are used, the bigger they become in the cloud.  This allows children to practise the correct spelling of words when they need to repeatedly enter the word.  When learning a specific letter pattern I have children enter words and take a screen shot of the final product.  This gives them a great refernce to look back at when writing.

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An alternative to this is Tagxedo, which makes the clouds in different shapes.

Along the lines of repitition being a tool for learning spelling, I was taught these two tricks at a PD many years ago and they are both popular in my classroom.

1. Using a tricky word (commonly confused words or those with irregular spelling) of the week children are given a small piece of paper.  They need to write that word, with correct spelling, as many times as they can in 1 minute.  The competition certainly gets them motivated and it is always amusing to see how small they can write their words!

2. Writng a silly story using the same letter pattern.  Give children a time limit to use as many words from the same letter pattern as many times as they can in a story.

I went to the station to begin my vacation.  It seemed the whole nation was there so it was a commotion.  I stepped forward with caution to find a weird creation. It was some lotion with an addition sign.  With some ambition I went to information to ask about it.  The man said it was a formation of portion.

After spending some time in the UK, I did some profession development with Pie Corbett, who has some wonderful spelling activities.  One that I always pull out when teaching compound words is to make a silly story by turning the compound words around.

I went to get the papernews along the pathfoot.  Mum gave me her baghand, which she had got from her boardcup.  On the way I played some ballfoot but got an achehead.

I was recently shown Google scribe. This website predicts the word you will write from the letters you are entering.  From the first entry a drop down menu appears with a list of words you may be using.  Although not specifically teaching spelling I find this is great for children who have spelling difficulties which impedes their ability to write.  It has been wonderful to see reluctant writers proud of what they have written and to see that these children have good writing structure, something I may not have seen if they were asked to write a paragraph.

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What games or activities do you use for spelling?

What are your thoughts on how spelling should be taught?

Please leave a comment.

Handwriting v Typing

I have fond memories of handwriting in primary school.   I still remember my prep teacher showing the class how to write the letters in the air.  Later in school we practised everyday and the teacher would give us a mark out of ten.  My aim was to beat Juliet, the girl who consistently got 10/10 while I only got 9½.

handwrit1

I now wonder where it has gone?  Don’t get me wrong, I still do handwriting once a week. But it doesn’t seem to have the importance it did when I was growing up.

And now comes the question of the 21st century!  With 1:1 technology do we replace handwriting with typing?

One of my deepest regrets is not learning to touch type.  I can type quickly and sometimes I come close to touch typing but I still stand in awe when watching my doctor’s receptionist!  But watching the children in my class, the digital natives, using their index fingers to search for keys makes me shudder.

That’s why I do teach typing in my class.  We use a wonderful site by the BBC in England.  Some of the characetrs have very amusing English accents, but considering most of us were brought up on the twang of Big Bird I don’t think it will harm them too much!

On BBC Dance Mat Typing, you follow the animals advice as they show you the home row and sing songs about the letters you need to find.

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It has certainly helped me in trying to touch type and I can now see children finding the home row and squinting to get their fingers to reach rather then searching for the correct key.

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What are your thoughts about handwriting and typing?

Do you know any other great typing websites or programs?

Leave a comment.