Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thinkfinity Field Trainer - Day 2 Notes

In day 2 of Thinkfinity training, we created a list of WoW resources from the content partner websites and then created a customized training plan for presenting Thinkfinity to teachers in our districts.

The best website (unrelated to the content partners) that I learned about from the presenter, Lori Gracey, is searchme which is a visual search engine. Since this website shows the landing pages of websites related to whatever topic you're searching, it may not be the most appropriate site for children. I LOVE how you can search for images or videos in this search engine (see top left on their homepage). Another cool website that she shared is Wordle where users can create free word clouds such as this one on Web 2.0 (click to enlarge). Some back to school ideas we discussed at this workshop were having all of your students names in Wordle and displaying the cloud with your projector as your students walk in the first day or at open house. Another idea I liked was displaying topics your students are going to learn about throughout the year in Wordle. Other ideas discussed were using Wordle for word wall words, vocabulary, prewriting brainstorming, etc. A word of caution....do not scroll through the gallery of Wordles with your students as I ran into several that were inappropriate for classroom use.
A free website that I was unaware of before this training is Natural Reader , which converts text to speech. I can see where this would be a good resource for ESL teachers. For each of the activities we did during the training, the presenter used this freeware timer.


Lori used many inspirational and humorous videos throughout the two-day training sessions. Here are a few that I would like to use when I train teachers.











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Sarin Samuel said...

The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation, reads anything on your screen, and it even has talking reminders. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. Voices are available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and more. Easily converts blogs, email, e-books, and more to MP3 or for listening instantly. Also perfect for proofreading.