GradesK to 12
NOTE: Our editors regret that PicLits occasionally allows advertising on their home page to include images that are not classroom-friendly. Teachers should preview to determine whether or not your students can ignore the ads.
"Learn It" provides learning opportunities and examples for creating captions, compound sentences, or paragraphs. Advanced lesson plans for teachers are viewed in the "Learn It" tab as well. "View the Gallery" to see already-created PicLits as well as comments and ratings. After selecting a picture (or using the one they provide) and dragging a word onto the screen, choose different forms of the word by using the drop-down menu next to the word. Move your words anywhere on the screen for creative writing. You can also click "freestyle" instead to type in your own words instead of choosing from their list. Word lists change, depending on the image selected. Note: Advertisements run alongside the PicLits screen. Caution students to ignore these. Here is an example:
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In the ClassroomUsers of PicLits must be able to navigate tabs on sites, manage logins, and use URL's and embed codes to share results on websites and blogs. Play to learn the tools before or after joining. Help also provides a short-and-sweet text explanation of the tools.
Registering for a PicLits account requires the use of an email address. PicLits can be used without an account but users are unable to save or blog about their creation without an account. A class account can be created instead of individual student accounts. However, it does not show which work is attributable to which student. You may want to require that students initial their contributions in order to get credit. All work on the site can be seen without a login. All projects are public.
You may want to create a word doc, Favorites folder, or other "collection" of the URLS to all your students' projects in one place for easy work at grading time. Some teachers use a class wiki or blog with links to all projects from there. You may allow students to self-register, but be sure to keep a written record of their passwords for when they "forget." It may be worth your time to do advanced registration for your younger students or simply use a whole-class account.
Share a PicLit on your interactive whiteboard at the start of a grammar or writing lesson to discuss word choice, figures of speech, or vocabulary. Use the visual picture prompt for journal or blog writing, allowing each student to compose a unique poem or haiku. Even science classes can write about concepts illustrated in the many nature photos. Emotional support teachers will love the chance to discuss feelings and how to describe facial expressions in the pictures. Make a collection of PicLits for a curriculum topic or as a literary magazine online. ESL students can create PicLits to learn new vocabulary. Have students create PicLits for special occasions and special people (mom, dad, grandparents, school nurse, or others). Use the embed code to place your creations on many other sites, including your class wiki or blogs. Share your PicLit by using a URL or code for an embedded widget.
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Includes Interaction w general public/ public galleries with unmoderated content
Includes social features, such as "friends," comments, ratings by others
Requires registration/log in (NO email)
Products can be embedded
Products can be shared by URL
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to "spruce" up Earth Day or your study of plants and trees! The Teacher's Guides are basically ready-to-go units of study. Some of the activities are more interactive than others. If you are looking for a more "technology" friendly activity, consider having students create a wiki guide to the various trees in their hometowns (or around their school). Or have them create a video "Tree Tour." Share the videos using a tool such as SchoolTube (reviewed here).
Grades4 to 7
In the ClassroomYou may want to list this link on your website for parents and students to use at home (to create some "unique" costumes). Challenge your students to create some additional "Word Play Costume" ideas. Plan a Punny Costume day as a culmination of your idioms unit! Be sure to share pictures (unidentifiable) on your class wiki or have students vote for their favorite costume picture using an embedded polling tool such as Poll Junkie (reviewed here).
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThe possibilities at this site are endless! Take advantage of the grade-appropriate activities, interactives, lesson plans, and printables. Have students work with a partner to try out the Brainstorm Machine. Use this site to create a writing station. After studying the genre, wy not have students create illustrated virtual books of their own using a free tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Grades3 to 9
In the ClassroomThis "Teacher's Guide" is ready to go and easily adaptable to various grade levels. Project the discussion questions on your interactive whiteboard or projector, have students write responses to the questions or have a class debate. Print out the activities, and use this site as a mini unit. Have students interview a family member for the "Oral History Interview," and have students learn the meaning behind their own names with the lesson, "What's In a Name."
GradesK to 12
Teachers who desire professional development and fresh ideas will want to include this site in their repertoire.
In the ClassroomUse this site to help ANY grade level create original books. Have students work with a partner to create a book together. With older students, challenge them to create a book as a culminating project for a research assignment. Have younger students create books at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves to the class. The possibilities are endless at this creative site! Use some of the ideas to make online books using a tool such as Bookemon, reviewed here.
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomNo matter what subject you teach, you can find something to fit in your plans for Presidents Day or the Lincoln Bicentennial. Use these ideas and adapt at will. You can even email an idea to your teacher colleague to save a friend time!
Grades6 to 8
tag(s): grammar (216)
In the ClassroomThis lesson plan is ready to go, includes interactive elements, and is even linked to national standards. English and history teachers could team up on this lesson and discuss the grammar and history behind King's famous speech.
Grades5 to 8
In the ClassroomUse this ready-to-go lesson plan with your students. Share the visual interactives on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Have students work with a partner to research other famous monuments and present multi-media presentations to the class.
Grades3 to 12
In the ClassroomStudents may be paired or work individually to explore the activities found at this site. Make sure your computers are fairly fast or the games may be too slow to use.
To spice up a writing lesson or add interest to a writing center, have students send colonial postcards, via email (or blog), to classmates. Content of messages may require extra supervision. A safer way to send messages to fellow classmates would be to use the Colonial Card Creator where the students must print out the card, then handwrite their message in the cards. A printer needs to be accessible for the card creator. Older students can explore the interactive draft of the Constitution on an interactive whiteboard or projector.
Be sure to include this one on your teacher web page for students to continue to access from home.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomThe world is open on this site. Choose any activity your students are interested in and this site can help you mold it into what you want for your curriculum. Students interested in fantasy? Have them investigate and write from the "Fantasy-Myths and Legends" prompt. Trouble with grammar? Have them print off the worksheets from "Gorgeous Grammar" and play online, interactive, Grammar Gorillas. This site's use is only limited by your imagination! From virtual site studies to student web projects-- it's all here!
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomThis lesson plan is ready to go and offers step by step instructions! Divide your class into five groups (based on the roles listed above). Allow them time to research and prepare for the debate. Consider having students tape the debate using YouTube or TeacherTube (explained here). Why not have each group (or student) write a blog defending their position (role).
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomTeachers can pick and choose easily from among several strands of thought among these lesson plans, either to supplement a unit on the Civil War, for use during Black History observations, or in an English class focused on story telling and personal voice. It could also provide interesting materials for reading comprehension practice using content area materials. All the plans follow a pretty regular format: link to the Times article, read it and discuss, but this kind of break from the use of a standard textbook can be refreshing. Many plans include a vocabulary list, ideas for extension activities and focus on making the lesson as interdisciplinary as possible. As you celebrate Presidents Day (especially Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2009), check out this site for Lincoln resources!
Grades5 to 8
Be aware: a Scholastic Word Wizard box appears on the screen, click the minus sign to shrink the box. Then drag the box to the top of the screen. It will still be there, but it shouldn't interfere with your reading of the text. This site requires Real Player. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomIf you have students who need word support (spelling or vocabulary), the Word Wizard Box might be helpful. This is also a site that students could work on in a writing lab as they develop their own speeches with teacher supervision. Because the pages are sequential and refer back to each other, they can work at their own pace. Have students tape their speeches and share the videos on YouTube or TeacherTube (explained here).
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomThere are many 100th day sites out there, but this one includes middle school grades too. Check out the activities in the areas that you teach. Most require minimal preparations. Use the writing prompts as the starting point for your 100th Day celebration. Share all of the prompt options on your interactive whiteboard or projector, then allow students to choose which prompt to write about. Why not share the lesson ideas with your class a few days before the 100th day and allow students to vote for their favorite lesson idea. Or allow cooperative learning groups to try the activities on their own.
Grades1 to 12
Be sure to check out "What's New" for recent additions. Go to "Main Page" and try the search box; it's a good place to try to find the links you remember from awhile back but have lost track of.
In the ClassroomProvide this link on your class website. Use this site for vocabulary ideas with your ESL and ELL students AND in your world language classes or mainstream language arts classes. The variety at this site offers something for every classroom learning English or another language.
Grades2 to 12
There is a submission option at this site. You are able to submit articles or projects, suggest websites with FREE learning content, creativity journey blogs, or inspiring success stories. Before you submit any students' work, be sure to check with your school's Acceptable Use Policy and always get parental permission.
In the ClassroomUse these writing prompts with your ESL or ELL students to get them to incorporate new vocabulary into a written piece. Share the on your teacher web page for all students to use as starters for blog writing or journaling. Have students share their own ideas of writing prompts, drawings, and photos that they feel may help others start writing. Submit students' work and ideas, after the proper precautions have been taken.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site would best be used by a teacher working with students on an interactive whiteboard or projector to review key elements of persuasive writing. The inactive links might prove frustrating for students, but you can check them ahead of time. Once students know which links are active, you can use them to assign students various aspects of rhetorical debate and create argumentative theses based on each appeal. Share some of these resources on your teacher web page as you engage students in a real world task such as writing to persuade local politicians on a hot issue.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomSince each site has its own directions, our review team will not explain the how-to's of each here. Some require access to install a plug-in on your blog, such as wordpress. Many school blogging sites do not provide this access. Others permit embedding an image simple by copy/pasting code into your blog or wiki. Two are actually extensions you add to Firefox or Internet Explorer and may require tech department authorization or installation on school computers.
If you do allow students to join a site, be sure to adhere to school policies. As always, we recommend previewing the content available on each site before recommending it to your students. These images sites are NOT education-only, so some image content may not be classroom-appropriate. Have a policy and consequences in place before turning your students loose.
Art teachers or writing teachers can use the abstract images from the GumGum option as writing prompts or to launch discussion on design principles. If your students have individual blogs, allow them to personalize the "look" using these legal images. Be sure to model thinking aloud about why you are using a legal image source. Use news images or videos from Vixant Newsroom as prompts for current events discussions on your blog or wiki, or assign students to select a news story and write an in-depth analysis of it to accompany the image/video. English or social studies teachers teaching persuasive writing can assign students to use their multimedia skills as they present arguments both verbally and visually on a class "issues" wiki. Younger students can help select images to include on a whole-class wiki or blog then add their own writing about them. A teacher can embed a sequence of photos and ask student to tell the story that explains it. Be sure to include this link on your teacher web page for your tech-savvy teens to use as they generate projects with LEGAL images. Of course you will require them to document their sources.
Grades6 to 12
Membership is free and has many perks. You are able to comment and/or grade the video clips or even submit your own video. Registration does require some personal information: a username, password, email address, and date of birth. ALL USERS MUST BE OVER 13-years of age! Check with your administrator about allowing the students to register for this site using fictitious names. You may wish to set up a class registration instead of entering true data into the registration site. Another option is to create a free Gmail account to use for memberships. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.
Warning: not all videos are suitable for the classroom. Be sure to preview what you wish to share. If you choose to allow your older students to navigate this site on their own (for research or a class project), be sure to set boundaries on which videos to watch, consequences for going elsewhere, and WATCH CAREFULLY! Some videos explain "how to" do things that are unsafe or inappropriate for school-ages audiences. Wonder How To does include unobtrusive advertisements. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.