Google Search Tips

Having children research a topic on the internet can be a nightmare for teachers. The children either find too much information, not enough information or end up on sites you would rather they would not be. A fantastic way to improve your students, and your, internet searching skills is to learn search operators. These operators make searching much easier and unleashes the hidden power of search engines. I generally have my students use Google to search the internet because I am familiar with it and like the clean search page. I find my students get too distracted with the Yahoo! search page. Windows Live is also very good although I have not used it very much myself.

I have summarised commonly used operators and created a “Google Search Tips” sheet for the children (and staff) at my school. These tips have dramatically improved the children’s searching skills. Please feel free to download and distribute it.

Google Search Tips.doc

AudibleKids

AudibleKidsFor a number of years teachers have used books on tape and CD as an effective educational tool. These audiobooks have been used in a number of ways, such as exposing children to books above their reading age, developing reading skills and, of course, enjoyment.

The online audio book store Audible have over 45 000 audiobooks, predominately for adults. With the help of parents and educators Audible has launched AudibleKids. AudibleKids has over 4 000 children’s books by authors such Morris Gleitzman, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Christopher Paolini and John Flannagan. These books are generally downloaded as one file which makes them easy to use and store on a computer or mp3 devise. Audible has certain geographical restrictions. So please check to see if the book you want is available in your country before you sign up. Audible audiobooks can be played on an iPod and on over 230 other devices. Audible is also working with Reading Is Fundamental and as a result are offering some books for free.

I have recommended that parents of the students in my class use audiobooks at home. Audiobooks can be enjoyed as a whole family and by a child while they are travelling or playing.

If you have any comments or questions please email me.

BrainPOP – Teaching Using Online Videos

There are many ways to engage children and foster their love of learning. A wonderful online resource that not only engages children but encourages them to explorer a variety of topics is BrainPOP www.brainpop.com. Brainpop is an innovative website that uses animation to teach children about a vast array of topics. Two animated characters, Tim and Moby, explain many topics through humorous and informative animations.
brainpop
The children I teach really enjoy watching these videos and retain a lot of what they see. BrainPOP is available on a subscribtion basis in a variety of options. There is a free 14 day trial you can subscribe to and review the site. BrainPOP Español and BrainPOP Jr. are also available.

BrainPOP also offer teacher resources that help implement BrainPOP into your classroom. www.brainpop.com/support


Remove Text Formatting

During my ten years as a teacher I have spent many hours reformatting lesson plans, assessments, reports and countless other documents. The re-formatting of text can not only be time consuming but also frustrating as occasionally fonts seem to have a life of their own and will not do as they are asked. I have used the “Paste Special” function in Microsoft Word numerous times and it has been effective, however, I have found a fantastic software that I now can’t live without.

The software is PureText 2.0 and it can be found at www.stevemiller.net/puretext/ . Instead of using Ctrl+V to paste I now use Windows+V and PureText removes a large amount of formatting which makes creating and modifying documents much easier. I needed to tweak the settings to suit my preferences which was time well spent.

Atomic Learning

atomiclearningAtomic Learning is simply an amazing educational resource. The Atomic Learning website states, “Atomic Learning provides web-based software training and curriculum resources for more than 100 applications learners and educators use every day.” Basically Atomic Learning contains thousands of screencasts (screen recordings) that help staff and students master different software packages. The layout of the AL website is very easy to use and the tutorials are short and concise. Our school subscribes to the AL website and we use it as the foundation of our staff IT training. I am currently using AL’s Blogging Workshop to help me put this blog together. It also has many lesson accelerators that teachers can use in their classrooms as student projects. I believe that access to AL is a must have for all educators who are looking to develop both their own IT skills and the IT skills of their students.

You can learn more about Atomic Learning by visiting their website at http://www.atomiclearning.com/.