Category Archives: Free

It’s not a mirage, there is a site helping students transition to college!

As we are entering into the lovely spring days of May and early June, many seniors are preparing to go to college as first time freshman. This can be a daunting situation, especially for someone who is the first person in their family to be attending a college or university.  Luckily there is a free Website to help them make the transition – Transitioning to College.  This site is run by Kent State University and is a sister site to the TRAILS Program – a real time assessment of a person’s information literacy skills from grades 3 – 12.

Transitioning to College provides text and video compilations to help students do the best they can as they move from high school to the college environment.  It has sections on what to expect when going to college; college libraries and what they offer from studies to socialization; tips for college research and projects; learning modules where current students provide advice and discuss what they learned from their own experiences as first time college students; resources for teachers working with high school seniors on how they can help prepare their students for college; free assessment tools to determine a high school student’s current information literacy skills and a section where users can share and/or view other favorite Websites on what it means to be a college freshman.

There are also videos on how to use academic libraries and their databases.  This is a skill not many students will be fluent in when arriving at college; but will be expected to use for their projects and reports.  For someone who has limited or no experience, using these services can be an intimidating task.  By visiting this Website and watching the videos, students have a resource where they don’t feel put on the spot or embarrassed to find ways to fix their lack of knowledge in this area.

Users also are taken step by step on how to develop the type of research paper their college professors will be looking for.  Some of these steps are acted out by college students in a more accessible manner than by just reading the text alone.

Links are provided to other aspects of college life.  There is a section on the steps one needs to take to get to and pay for college.  Users can find links for information on different aspects of life experiences one may encounter on a typical college campus.  Links to study guides and study strategies are a great help for first time students and are easily found on the site.  Time management skills is a big hurdle for many freshman who are on their own for the first time.  Information and links are provided to ease a student’s way into learning these skills.  There is also a section for students with disabilities.  Tips, videos and a list of disability friendly colleges are provided.

Finally, if users have additional questions – e-mails and phone numbers are provided for staff members at Kent University who might be able to solve the problem.  You can find someone at Academic Advising; Career Services; Computer Labs; Counseling; the Disabilities Office; the Health and Wellness Center; the Library; the Student Life Center; the Tutoring Center and the Writing Center.  Whatever your question is, there is someone who can help you find the answer.

So whether you are an educator, a student, a parent, a guardian or a friend helping someone who is going to college for the first time – Transitioning to College may be the free, reliable resource you are looking for.

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Filed under College, Free, Information Literacy, research

It is such a relief when our students use Make Belief.

Make Belief is a wonderful tool for a variety of activities, both in an educational setting as well as for personal use.  The site is free and very easy to use.  Creations can be saved and used in presentations, e-mailed, stored on individual servers, printed out for projects and be uploaded to YouTube.

Make Belief allows users to create 2, 3 or 4 panel comic strip representations.  You can choose the characters, backgrounds, text bubbles, thought bubbles, expressions, etc.  Users can create comic strips in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Latin.  There is a Special Needs section for teachers, educational therapists and parents on ways the site can be used to help those with a variety of disabilities.  There is also a lesson plans page with accompanying standards for educators to utilize.

Here are some examples of projects you can use Make Belief for:  life skills practice, e.g. – a college/job interview or dealing with a bully; autobiographical comix; imagery; practicing new vocabulary words; collaborating as a team; political cartoons; applying conversation skills; practicing social skills scenarios for people with autism; showing a bias; foreign language practice; introduction to creative writing; daily diaries; serialization in writing; an alternative for students who have difficulty writing in the traditional sense; persuasive writing; commentary on current events; how to show empathy; public speaking practice (students show and read their creations in a group setting); reflection on conflict resolution skills;  daily theme tie-in; story boarding and character perspectives.  Of course the site could be used just for a fun experience :).

So whether you are looking for a tie-in to a lesson idea, want to give yourself and your students a creative pathway or looking for some safe and clean fun, Make Belief might be just the site for you.

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Filed under ELA, English Language Learners, Foreign Language Learners, Free, Language Acquisition, lesson planning, Social Studies, Special Education, The Arts

Make Science Come Alive with the Website ARKive!

I am surprised that I have not run across ARKive before.   I recently learned about this Website through my librarian listserv.  I am so glad that this information was shared with me so I can in turn share it with you.

ARKive is a not-for-profit initiative from the charity Wildscreen.  Its purpose is to use information contributed by the world’s best wildlife filmmakers, photographers, conservationists and scientists and present the material in a fun and interesting manner.  You do not need to create an account and the site is free.  Material is presented across age groupings from 5 through 18.  Of course adults can find plenty on the site to stimulate their interest as well.

You can search for information by species, places or topic designation.  Each category has multiple sub-categories so you can broaden or narrow your search as much as you need.   Photographs, news articles and videos are available to all users.

In addition to the prior methods of presentation, ARKive endeavors to make learning fun as well.  There is a blog where readers can read about and view quick facts with up-to-date news about wildlife from around the world.   You can sign up to have the blog sent to your e-mail whenever there is a new post.  The blog can be searched by recent posts or by category if there is something specific you are looking for.

ARKive also presents Team Wild.   You can join this “squadron of superheroes” as they work to protect and conserve the plant and animal species on our planet.  There are four teams you can join:  6 or under; 7-10; 11-13 and 14+.   Information is presented in an interesting and interactive manner.

Users can also choose to play Survival  – an endangered species game.  Players race against the clock as they go through a number of mini-games to discover the identity of our most endangered animals.  The game has beautiful color photographs and users will have to use all their skills in order to become a top survivor.

For those of you who are “arts and crafty” there are even activities that you can download for fun.  Be able to create origami of different plant and animal species, go on treasure hunts, create a shoe-box habitat  and  find links to other safe hands-on adventures.

So whether you are  looking to learn about science, have a fun interactive for your students or child or just having some fun while viewing spectacular images from around our planet, ARKive may be just the site for you.

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Filed under Free, games, lesson planning, research, Science, Videos

You Don’t Have to Work too Hard, Check Out Screenr.

Many people have enjoyed using Jing from one of my prior entries, but were looking for something that allowed for a increased recording time without a great deal of additional effort.  Never fear, Screenr is here.

Screenr allows you to video capture what you see on your computer screen and create a voice over audio file to accompany it.  The site is free and easy to use.  This is a great site for sharing lesson ideas with colleagues, teaching online skills to your students or sharing experiences (perhaps pictures you took and now can add the accompanying story) with friends online.

When you go to Screenr you are given a choice to make an account, or you can sign in with an existing account you have on Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  The choice is yours.  The site is free, no payments required. This is a Web based program, so you are not required to install or download any software.  The only things that is required is that you have Java capabilities on your computer.  Your computer will also need to have  a microphone if you wish to record your voice.  The site works on both Macs and PCs.

When you are ready, click the “record” tab.  A frame will open up on your computer screen.  You can enlarge the frame or minimize it.  You have the capability of recording your entire screen if you wish.  Once you have your size set up, open up the window of the information you wish to record.  The Screenr page disappears, but the frame you wish to record with remains.

Once you have what you wish to record on the screen and know what you want to say, click the “record” button.  The screen will count you down as “3…2…1” and then recording will start.   You do not have to speak throughout the recording, only at the parts you wish.  Whatever you do on the screen within that frame will be recorded for your viewers to see.  You can record from 5 – 15 minutes worth of material.

When you are done recording, hit the “Alt” and “D” key at the same time.   You will then be taken back to Screenr  where you can play the recording  to see if you like how it came out.  Then you can choose to delete it, publish it and/or save it.  If you want to save it, you’ll need to publish it first.  Just click on the button and a little over a minute later you are ready to go.   If you still want to save the video to a device,  just click on the “save” button and choose where you want the video to be saved.

You can also choose to share your video in other ways.  You can upload it to YouTube, but you will need to have a registered YouTube account to do so.  You can e-mail your friends the link, or embed the video into an online Website you have (Facebook, Jupiter Grades, etc.).  Once you embed the video, your viewers will be able to click on the page and watch it right there instead of having to go to Screenr‘s page to view the information.

So whether you are looking to share vacation memories, lesson plan ideas or information you wish for your students to view at home – Screenr might be just the tool you are looking for.

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Filed under Free, lesson planning, Websites for sharing