What is a word cloud? A word cloud is an image that is formed from typed words, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. Here is an example of one:
Tagul is a free site that can help you create your own word clouds. You simply import your words, either one at a time, or by pasting a body of text. And, you don’t have to limit yourself to English: Tagul will also work with Hebrew type, as long as you import a Hebrew font by going to “fonts” and then uploading your Hebrew font to it.
(Note: I had greater success with Tagul when I used Hebrew that had no vowels or cantellation marks.)
You can also customize your word cloud by choosing from a menu of possible shapes, colors, fonts and layouts. After you’re happy with the graphic, you can print it, download it, and share it with others.
To use Tagul, create a new account, or use your Google or social media account. There is no charge to sign up and it is free for personal use.
In Your Classroom
The Technology: Booktrack
The Booktrack website gives users the ability to add soundtracks and sound effects to written text, creating a unique reading, listening and immersive experience.
Creating a new booktrack is simple. Just click on, “Create new booktrack” and choose:
Then, enter your text. It can even be a Hebrew text! (When I tried, I was successful copying a Hebrew text from an existing file and pasting it into Booktrack).
Once your text is in, choose music clips and sound effects from the Booktrack library and connect them to different pieces of the text, so that when readers come to that portion of your story, they will hear that music.
Once your booktrack is complete, select a title, category and rating and publish it. You can choose to have your story available publicly in the Booktrack library or you can choose to keep it private.
To read a booktrack, simply click on the book and read it in the browser window. (If you are having several students read booktracks in your classroom, I highly recommend you ask that they use headphones!)
To start making your own booktracks, visit the website and create a free account. Teachers can create a class, and add students manually or by class code to it. Students can create an account and then join the class to view or submit books to the class’s bookshelf.
In Your Classroom
One of my goals for my time at the ISTE Conference was to practice sketchnoting on the iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil and the Paper app. I had a great time doing it! I found that I was significantly less distracted when sketchnoting than if I was typing into a word processor, and thoroughly engaged (even though I was internally debating over which color to shade the box and how large to make the title).
I also attended two great sketchnoting sessions. One was presented by Matt Miller and the other was a panel facilitated by Vicki Davis and featured Kathy Schrock, Sylvia Duckworth and Carrie Baughcum talking about how they got started sketchnoting, how they use it with their students, and about some favorite resources.
My first attempts at sketchnoting during the conference appear below, in reverse order. I feel like I can already see how I improved, and that was just in a couple of days. Check back for more attempts (sketchnoting at URJ Camp Newman, anyone?) and for my thoughts on how I’ll teach this to actual students this fall.
Sketchnoting in Education session:
Using Games, Play, Digital Media to Build Your Own Maker Culture session:
Matt Miller’s Sketchnotes: Tools and Tactics for Visual Notetaking Session:
Sketchnoting Exercise from Matt’s session:
Innovation and Tradition in Jewish Education Jewish Educators’ Network
Innovative Learning Spaces session:
I’ve been doing more experimenting with our new Silhouette Cameo and discovering ways that my colleagues will be able to use it. One of our upcoming Yom HaAtzmaut projects is decorating challah covers for lone soldiers in Israel and we wanted to create stencils for the students to use.
Enter the Silhouette!
I created a series of shapes and words for the students to put on the challah covers and we used the Silhouette to cut them out of laminated thin cardstock. This is a cost effective (even with the laminating) way to provide custom stencils. We were able to get four stencils out of each piece of paper.
This summer, we’re repurposing a computer lab into an innovation lab and I could not be more excited! The new lab will be a collaboration and creation space, with movable furniture, writeable walls, and awesome equipment. We’ll be sporting iPad Pros and Chromebooks in there, a poster printer, color printer, 3D printer, and a Silhouette Cameo machine.
What’s a Silhouette? It’s a crafty teacher’s dream – a machine that hooks up to your laptop or computer, and cuts where you tell it to cut. Essentially, it’s a die-cut machine on steroids. You can buy designs for it, or create your own. The machine will cut paper, cardstock, sticker paper, and fabric.
I spent a couple days playing with it (sigh…the tsuris of a tech ed director), and I really think this will be transformative for my colleagues. I’m seeing creative uses for bulletin boards, classroom aids, bookmarks, stickers as well as a myriad of possibilities for student work.
One of the projects I’d like to see is teaching stop-motion animation using an iPad app. As preparation, the students will create a background (set design) using the poster printer, print inanimate objects using the Silhouette and then create articulated characters using the 3D printer. Imagine we were retelling “Little Red Riding Hood” – students would print the forest background on the poster printer, trees and grandmother’s house on the Silhouette, and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf using the 3D printer. How cool would this be?
One of the features I think will be most exciting to my colleagues is print and cut. With this feature, you print your design to a regular printer using the software-supplied registration marks. Then, you put the printed piece through the Silhouette and the machine magically reads the registration marks and knows exactly where to cut. It’s magic, I tell you! Check out the image on the right – how amazing is the detail cutting around the music notes at the bottom and the waving hand at the top?
Stay tuned for more creative uses for the Silhouette cutting machine and our innovation lab adventures!