Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Choruzz

I have not used Choruzz in my classroom yet, but I can see the possibilities.  This site allows you to create your own playlist of songs.  There is no sign-in or registration required.  Once you create a list, and “publish” it, you are given an embed code and a unique URL, so that anyone you would like to share it with can access it.  You can check out a practice playlist I created at this link.

Last school year, one of my more successful lessons included a center where students could listen to a playlist on my iPod, and choose the song that they would pick as a theme for the novel we had just read.  They really enjoyed it, and there was much discussion within each group about the pros and cons of the songs.  Their written explanations were very thorough.  I could see using Choruzz for this activity, so that more students could access the playlist – or even do the activity at home.

My cautions would be that the videos for the songs are included, and that there are some ads that run at the bottom.  I have not seen anything inappropriate in my short experimentation with this, but will be exploring it further before I offer it as an option for my students.  Another possible obstacle would be that district filters might block the site.

Choruzz has a lot of potential for classroom use.  If this particular site cannot be used educationally, I would love to see a similar one that could be used in a classroom setting.

Talk Typer

Talk Typer is a website that works best in the Google Chrome Browser.  Without installing any software, you can choose from several languages, then speak into your microphone, and Talk Typer will print the text of your speech.  You can then look at what it produces, make any corrections you would like, and then move it into the bottom portion of the page.  In this second level, you can e-mail it, tweet it, or even translate it seamlessly into another language.

This free tool could be so useful for ELL classrooms, foreign language classrooms, and even regular classrooms where students might use this as an aid or an extension.  For teachers who are looking to incorporate Universal Design for Learning into their classrooms, I think this resource is essential.

(Here is a link for speech to text options in OSX and Windows 7)

Wonder Project

image taken from Mr. Mundorf’s Wonder Project Wiki

Last week, I featured the topic of Universal Design for Learning.  You can learn more about it here.  One of the proponents of UDL, and a man who practices what he preaches, is named Jon Mundorf.  When he spoke at the UDL Institute at Harvard a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned something he does with his students called “The Wonder Project”.  His “Wonder Project” reminds me a lot of the Genius Hour idea that has been discussed on my blog several times.  Mr. Mundorf allows his students to research something which they have always wondered about (in the areas of science or social studies) several times a year.  On his site, he gives guidelines for the project, resources, and examples.  This is an excellent way to engage students in the learning process by allowing them to find out more about something that is relevant to them.

Book Builder

This post completes my week-long feature of Universal Design for Learning, a project with the mission to maximize learning for all students.  To read the earlier posts, you can click on these:  Universal Design for Learning, Variability Matters, Planning for All Learners, and Learning Wheel.

Sample page from The Tortoise and The Hare created on Book Builder

Another tool that is provided by CAST, the organization that created Universal Design for Learning, is Book Builder.  According to the site, “This wonderful and free online tool allows you to create your own interactive “books” to help young readers learn reading strategies to build comprehension. Enter your own text, images, and hints.”  To use Book Builder, you will need to create a free account.  Once you do this, you can create a book that has accompanying audio, “mentors” who can be clicked on for extra help or suggestions, and areas for students to respond.

CAST is working on a more robust version of this with its UDL Studio.  With this tool, students can highlight text that proves an answer, and then compare it to the teacher’s highlights.  The students can choose whatever modality they want to use for responding to questions built in to the book.  There are many other features that make this a very strong tool in the hands of the right teachers.  UDL Studio is still in Beta, from what I understand, but you can test it out for yourself.

I have started a Pinterest Board of UDL Links, and one of UDL Videos.

Finally, I would like to leave you with one more video.  It is an excerpt from Glee, in which a deaf choir performs “Imagine”, and the other students join in.  It is a very powerful reminder of how amazing all of our students can be when given the opportunity.

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for LearningVariability MattersPlanning for All LearnersLearning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Learning Wheel

My blog posts this week are all about Universal Design for Learning.  If you missed the first three, you can click on the following for more information:  Universal Design for Learning, Variability Matters, and Planning for all Learners.

image credit: http://udlwheel.mdonlinegrants.org/

UPDATE 3/18/2020: The interactive Learning Wheel does not seem to be online any longer.  Here is a downloadable version

If you are a teacher who is interested in broadening the accessibility of your curriculum by using the concepts of Universal Design for Learning, the Learning Wheel is a great interactive that has been made available for this purpose.  It shows the three principles of UDL, which are:  Provide Multiple Means of Representation, Provide Multiple Means of Expression, and Provide Multiple Means of Engagement.  Within each principle, there are different options, and the user can click on the arrows to turn the wheel until the appropriate option shows in a pop-up window.  There, the option is explained more thoroughly, and there are links to additional examples and resources.  The Learning Wheel is a great tool for teachers who are looking for different ways to incorporate UDL into their curriculum.

For a fun video explanation of the three UDL Principles, I offer you this creative video:

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for LearningVariability MattersPlanning for All LearnersLearning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Dear Photograph

Dear Photograph is not an educational site.  It is a collection of photographs of pictures.  In each photograph, the photographer is holding up a picture from the past in front of a scene from the present.  The juxtaposition is striking, and the submissions are accompanied by moving letters to the subjects of the older photos.  The emotions that you find on this site are varied and deep, from nostalgia to regret.  I like the idea of using this concept in the classroom because I think that it could help students to better understand their families.  And if you have some really creative photo editors, they could develop their own versions for historical settings that they are currently studying or for literature.  Using Dear Photograph for a project would be a neat way to encourage empathy and perspective.