Here are five technology infused ways for kids to show their thankfulness as we head into Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Canadian friends can file this one away until next Fall.
The great thing about each of these activities is that thoughts and ideas are not only shared with the whole class but also an authentic audience across the web. Publish a link in a newsletter or on a class blog and invite the outside world into your classroom and the hard work of your students.
1. Blog Comments: One of the fastest ways for kids to give thanks is on a class blog. Create a post as a writing prompt and then open up the comments to your students. In Blogger and other platforms there are various settings to allow anonymous comments but have students sign each one with a first name. It is a good idea to watch each new addition closely to ward off any pre-holiday hi-jinx or silliness. It is neat to see all of the ideas in one group spot. Students can also comment on each other's thoughts.
2. Build a Shared Class Slide Deck: If your students all have Google Apps for Education accounts, you can create a presentation that has a blank slide for every student. Just share the deck with the entire class and each student can work in his or her own little corner of the collaborative project. It is a proactive idea to designate each slide ahead of time with a student name or class number. This greatly reduces students interfering with one another. Each can create a slide that has textual and visual expressions of what makes them thankful. The finished deck can be embedded on a class webpage for everyone to easily view.
[caption id="attachment_881" align="alignleft" width="251"] Haiku Deck helps you makes stunning slides.[/caption]
3. Get Artsy with Haiku Deck: Students will need an account in Haiku Deck, but they can do that with their Google Accounts as well. Haiku Deck is available free as an iOS app or on the web at HaikuDeck.com. There isn't the option of all collaborating on the same deck of slides like in Google Apps, but there are a number of sharing options that easily let students email links or embed codes to a teacher so all of the work can get compiled in one publicly accessible spot. Students can upload their own background photos or select from the beautiful free collection that Haiku Deck offers.
4. Create a Pic Collage: This a great free app available on iPad and Android devices. It has an easy to use interface for dragging and dropping a number of pictures into a collage and accenting with text and borders. A number of frames are available that makes the maneuvering even easier. Non-linguistic representations of concepts are often the most powerful connections to really understanding something. A collage showing thankfulness really gets kids thinking about what they have special in their lives, but also how to effectively communicate that visually. Collages can be saved as images and then posted by the teacher.
5. Let Them Show it with ShowMe: ShowMe is a great whiteboard recording app for the iPad. Students can upload a picture or draw one and then create a voice over track telling for what they are thankful. One advantage that ShowMe has over some of the other whiteboard apps is that if logged into a teacher account, the quick movies generated can all be easily posted to webspace that ShowMe provides.
None of these techniques take a tremendous amount of tech skills and don't require a lot of planning on the teacher's part. Give one a spin this week and you are likely to wind up thankful you did.
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