I don’t think I’ll ever escape the wonderment and awe of using google to help create, fix or do something that you have absolutely no idea how to AND having it work! It’s a real sense of achievement that you figured it out – but it wouldn’t be possible without some good ol’ google search magic!
Enter (Insert saviour music) Google Search to the rescue! You totally hummed dah, dahdah, dah, dah, dah dah dahhh didn’t you?? In less than 3 seconds I had a recommended plug in (well two actually), Google Apps Login & Google Drive Embedder.
Although I wasn’t really after the Google Apps Login bit, I quickly discovered that without it, the Google Drive Embedder (which I really wanted) wouldn’t work! After installing the plugins & activating them in my wordpress blog, I got a nifty little message pointing me to instructions to set everything up. (Love that!)
Those instructions included a video option if preferred but I just followed the written instructions. Less than 10 minutes later, wa-lah, CV embedded beautifully! (Note Jan 2018: I have since updated my website and no longer use the embedded google doc for my CV)
Thanks Google! Thanks WordPress Plugins Installer! Nicely done! (Insert little fist pump to myself!)
Over the past few days I’ve been working with Grade 4 students who are either creating Top Ten Lists (and requiring more research information to justify their top ten) or are researching topics for their Non-Fiction Feature Articles in Writers Workshop. In order to find (and evaluate – that’s next week’s focus) information on the web, we looked a few different Search Engines for Kids.
Before we even got started with Search Engines, I needed to make sure that the students understood a little more about how search engines work. We watched the video below from the very good Common Craft Plain English series on Web Search – Strategies in Plain English
Next, I introduced four different Search Engines especially designed for Kids. Each one offers something different from the other, so we talked about how there is never a search engine that’s perfect for every search we will ever do in our learning!
Librarians, teachers and parents have told us how hard it is for students to understand web searching. Boolify helps students bridge that gap by visualizing the process and letting students interact with the abstract concept behind the search process in a tangible and hands-on way.
SquirrelNet is a kids only search engine that has Google SafeSearch activated. From the homepage itself, you can also access the Google directory of websites relevant for children.
Dib Dab Doo & Dilly Too!
The search engine is again based on Google Custom Search and it tries to keep the content as children friendly as possible.
A web search site designed for kids by librarians – with kid-friendly results!
For the classroom teacher, I left these resources also for them to introduce to their students over the next few days.
Search Engines for Kids
– and what they search –
- Awesome Library – 14,000 carefully reviewed resources
- Britannica – websites, magazines, books and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Dibdabdoo – metasearch DMOZ – Yahooligans – Kids Click
- INFOMINE – scholarly internet resources in K-12
- KidsWeb – Mid-Continent Public Library kid’s directory
- SuperKids SuperSearch – selected sites
(adapted from: Ivy’s Search Engine Resources for Kids)
No Search Engine is entirely 100% safe. Custom search helps to keep out a lot of unsavory links, but it is definitely not foolproof. Most of the search engines for kids also display ads with some undesirable ones sneaking in. Parental control software in combination with these search engines can help to keep children shielded from the bad side of the web. It is a tough battle but at least with these sites, parents and teachers can worry a little less.
As with any use of technology, our lesson included strategies for what to do when the “undesirables” sneak in. Although I “modelled” good and bad examples of what to do when faced with something “icky” (for the sake of time as I only had a 45 minute slot) – if I was to do it differently – I’d have the students work in pairs and come up with little demos of what not to do (scream at the top of your lungs) and what to do (lower your lid and raise your hand). Kids seem to love it when I model the “what-not-to-do” examples!
Information also adapted from: Make Use Of: 10 Search Engines for Kids with Safe Browsing
Today I’ve been playing around with Cooliris Express trying to create a 3-D photo wall to embed in my blog. The cool thing about this photowall is that it will update as pictures are added to my flickr photostream. For the photowall below, I’m using the 366 2012 set to pull photos for the Cooliris Express. I think for another wall, I will use “cooliris” as a tag for the photos I want to be picked up by the feed.
It is possible to pull content, not only from flickr, but from picassa, facebook, YouTube and Media RSS. You can customize a few things in your 3-D photo wall such as colour, how many rows of photos (1-5) and there’s a choice of 6 themes for your photo wall.
It’s relatively simple to set up (log into Cooliris Express using your facebook or google account) and you can save your wall. Filtering is easy too as you can name a particular set or tag of photos you want displayed on your blog. As I write this, I’m just wondering if you can embed the 3-D wall in the sidebar – I guess you can but it would be pretty small, and I kinda like the flickr app I already have in my sidebar.
Flixtime – it’s been in my “lookatlater” list on delicious for a while and now that it’s Summer Break here in Thailand, I’ve got some time to check out everything on this list. Some changes have been made to Flixtime since I first bookmarked it and I think that those changes will push Flixtime ahead of PhotoPeach and Animoto for digital storytelling. It’s easy to create an account and I like that you can create 60s videos for free.
Flixtime is very simple to use. Create new video, name your video, add a description, upload your photos/video, choose your title image, add music (it automatically adjusts the time to the length of your images/video) add text, save and render.
You can either upload your recorded voice or you can record on the spot. I like that feature too.
A few photos, no captions, a bit of music, no voice over (but I will get my son to make his own video about this) and a few minutes (it was very quick), here’s my finished product. All the transitions are done automatically by flixtime.
Update: Unfortunately this tool is no longer available and with it went any videos saved in this format.
Since we’ve just returned from a fabulous first ever trip to the South Island, what better subject with stunning photos to try out PhotoPeach. And I’m impressed.
It’s FREE, and super easy to use. (Grade 5’s will find this a breeze). You have the option of choosing from the generous list of free audio for background sound or you can upload your own music. You can’t record voice audio each photo but you could record your voice using GarageBand (macs) or Audacity (PCs) as you have your PhotoPeach story playing (so you get the timing right). You would have to forfeit the background music option though. The sharing options include Facebook, Twitter (url), html code (for embedding in blogs) MySpace, email or Copy Link. Images can be added from your computer, Picasa, Facebook or Flickr.
I really like the editing feature – you can edit captions, add photos, swap the order of photos etc even after you’ve published it – when you’re working with students I think this option is a must – since it provides an opportunity for students to evaluate, reflect and then make improvements (if necessary) to their work without having to start again.
Use in the Classroom
I will introduce PhotoPeach to my class at the beginning of the year (August 2009) using it as a way for them to introduce themselves to me and the rest of class. I’d have them take photos to represent themselves, (no identifying photos, since we will be sharing the stories on our blogs).
It’s a presentation tool to be added to our classroom “toolbox” for digital storytelling.
Steps to Setting Up a Story
I found the adding the captions easy at first, but when I wanted no caption I wasn’t sure if missing a line would result in no caption. (Someone else can try this). It was much easier to add/edit captions after I was finished.
Using the editing option I was able to add in more photos (from my computer this time) adjust the speed (slower) and edit the captions.