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
The Technology: ClassTag
ClassTag is a free website that allows you to easily email all your student’s parents at one time. You can use it to send announcements, event information (along with an RSVP link), requests for volunteers, or parent/teacher conference details. ClassTag also makes it possible for you to quickly email photos and weekly updates.
You can also use ClassTag to organize volunteers. Simply send parents an invitation to volunteer. Then, once they receive it, they can choose to click to sign up, and their commitment will appear on both their dashboard and yours.
Begin by signing up for a free ClassTag account. Then, create a class and populate it with your students’ names and their parents’ email addresses.
In Your Classroom
“I’m working on a design for the Apple Pencil holder.”
“I need to print a poster that I designed.”
“We’re designing logos for the Israel Experience trip.”
This is what I hear as my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students gather in our new Innovation Studio for their innovation exploration specials. They can’t wait to spend time learning how to use the new iPad Pros with Apple Pencils, GoPro cameras and green screen, poster printer and electronic paper cutter, and especially the 3D printer.
While the tech staff had experimented quite a bit with 3D printing over the summer, we had only worked with designs that were sourced ready-to-print. When I created “Innovation Go,” a game designed to teach my colleagues about the new innovation studio during faculty planning week, my tech colleagues assisted by finding and printing various Pokémon Go characters for prizes. That was easy—designing and printing our first “from scratch” project has certainly proven to be much more of an interesting challenge.
Our first student-designed project is most definitely an ambitious one. We discovered right away that the Apple Pencil styluses are really cool but cumbersome to store when being charged. They kind of look like an electronic octopus, and it’s been difficult to keep them organized. So my Innovation Studio co-teacher and I posed the challenge to our 7th and 8th grade students: could they design and print an attractive, functional holder?
One of my 8th graders rose to the challenge. He began by using 123D Print to design a holder. After spending a couple days (and evenings) working on his design, we were ready to print our first project. We were shocked at the length of time that it took to print! 7th and 8th graders regularly popped into the Innovation Studio on their way to other classes to check on the progress, peering into the 3D printer to watch the tiny thread of filament build the object.
Three days later, when we returned from the Labor Day weekend, we found a beautiful, structurally sound, perfectly printed Apple Pencil holder. It was everything we hoped it would be…except it was too tight for the Apple Pencils to fit properly!
My students aren’t daunted in the least. We explained to the class that this is simply the first step in learning how to engineer. One 8th grader led the class in a spirited discussion of the process, including what worked and how we can improve on our design and building skills. The students debated important questions like how we can better test designs before committing hours of printing time and how we can avoid the 3D printer having to create wasteful supporting structures. Having seen a design go from an iPad Pro screen to an actual item that you could hold was powerful, and we could not have had the discussion before we had actually gone through that process.
We explained to the students what going “back to the drawing board” really means, – and off they went!
In the meantime, these 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are learning how to use the iPad Pros to design for the 3D printer, and we’re excited to see their ideas coming to fruition. We’re carefully planning how to test, test and test before printing, and how to continue to build on what we’ve learned to ensure future successes. Stay tuned for updates on our design and manufacturing processes as we continue to collaborate and innovate our way to 3D printing success.
Cross-posted from Solomon Schechter of Metropolitan Chicago
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: