1/10/14

Typing Club for your classroom



With today's implementation of the Common Core, the skill of becoming a proficient typist is more important now than ever. But where do you begin? And at what age?

At the beginning of my professional career, I taught preschool children (3 and 4 year olds) computer education in a daycare setting. During that time I had made it a part of their daily learning activity by playing typing games; and practiced word and letter recognition by having the students type sight words and his or her name. Just the simple introductory at that age is very important. However, as they become older, students need more of a "formal" approach to learning the keyboard. I have posted in the past typing exercises and Websites for you to use (click here to check them out). Recently I have introduced Typing Club to my third grade class.

Typing Club is a free site that offers a basic version and a school version. While the school version does have a small fee associated with it (that I honestly did not select due to budget constraints at my school), it has a free, basic version as well. Why sign up for the school version? Simple- you can easily track your student's progress!

What I liked about using Typing Club is that it starts out very basic- focusing only on two keys at a time (lessons that you can customize and choose), which is perfect for younger students. Students are rewarded with the ability to see their progress and are able to challenge one another with their typing scores that are displayed on a classroom scoreboard. This definitely kept my third graders engaged. Games are included in the free version while typing tests are not.

I also found the interface to be extremely easy to navigate for both teacher and student! Make sure to check out Typing Club and place it into your teacher tool box for safe keeping!

12/27/13

Website Spotlight: Symbaloo for Education


Tablet. Chromebook. iPad. Smart Phone. What do these tech tools all have in common? Apps. Children are often excited when they see a colorful square with a fun icon nestled inside. For years I have been listing hyper-linked words on my classroom Website for students to endlessly search through until they found the exact link I was directing them to. Then I stumbled onto Symbaloo and was able to make the list of links into colorful "app-like" clickable boxes.

You can get Symbaloo for free in both "public" and "education" versions as well as use the paid version with more features. Easily bookmark and share your Websites with ease- as well as make it visually appealing!

Symbaloo can turn your list of hyper-linked Web Words and make them into fun app-like bookmarks. Have your students sign up and create their own Symbaloo's for a research project. Create a Symbaloo and post it to your classroom Website or have the Symbaloo be the first Web page that opens when your students click on their Web Browser!

Symbaloo's are also easy to share or borrow from other educators. I have shared with you my Symabloo for Third Grade- it is still a work in progress, but please feel free to grab it for yourself. Enjoy!

Please Note: I changed the width of the Symbaloo for it to fit inside my blog post as it is also displayed on my classroom Website as well. You can change the size of your Symbaloo when you are logged into your account to accommodate for the width of your Webpage..


12/15/13

Make Word Clouds and Shapes with Tagul

Word Clouds. Those popular little word clusters that make text fun and visually appealing. But how can I use them in my classroom- and where can my students not only create a Word Cloud- but save it as well?

Let's start with the later. Tagul is a wonderful Website for your Tech Toolbox that has taken those Word Clouds a step further by allowing the user to not only select the shape, but text color, font styles and animation as well. And best of all it is free and (here's the kicker) unlike Wordle, you can save your work. Your students will need an email to create accounts.

What can I do with Tagul and Word clouds?

Sight Word- Word Cloud Taguls!
As part of my curriculum, Kindergartners are introduced to the Keyboard. My lessons start off basic: understanding that the letters on the keys are in QWERTY order and to slowly become familiar with where they are located- and not so much on form.

Anyway, we typically practice typing our names and then I slowly introduce sight words into the mix. We first type them in Microsoft Word (using a pre-created form like this one here) for formatting reasons, and since it may take the little ones a few classes to generate a good list. We start off slow, typing words like "we" {simply because the letters are next to each other on the keyboard} 5 or 6 times and then eventually add longer sight words, typing them 10 or 12 times.

When their list is complete, I will copy and paste it into the editing section of Tagul and have them select their shape, up to three colors and font style. I typically print and save their Tagul Word Clouds as well.

Aside that, you can use them for spelling and vocabulary units, character names in novels, Character Education, key terms in Social Studies and Science classes, writing classroom or personal goals and expectations, create a gift for your student's parents etc.

How would you use Tagul?
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