Posts Tagged history

Avatars – Your Virtual Self

Creating avatars in education can help get the creative juices flowing and create safe images to post of the students online.    Here is a list of ideas for using avatars in classrooms:

  • Create book trailers with the avatars representing the characters
  • Teachers can put their avatar in their powerpoints to get the kids attention.
  • Create a new character and create a story about it. (Great for the Build Your Wild Self website)
  • Write instructions on how to create a character – swap descriptions to see if they can recreate it
  • recreate characters from the novel.  What do you picture that they look like.
  • All about Mii poems with picture of the avatar attached
  • Use the avatar to represent the student online.
  • Put the avatars in famous places and points in history.  Have student write about the place and or event from a first person point of view.

Here are three kid-safe resources for creating avatars:

Mii Avatars

If you are a Wii user you have created a Mii before, the avatar that represents you in playing the games.  There is online option to create Miis that can be saved as jpgs or png files. Export the avatar as a transparent png file and put yourself in famous places. by placing the Mii on top of a photograph.  I’ve used PowerPoint for this since you can group the two images and then save the group as a picture file.

Create your own Mii –

Directions to create famous Miis:

Lego Avatars:

Lego AvatarMini-Mizer

Allows users to create a Lego Avatar complete with accessories custom and backgrounds.  To save the creation you have to do a Print Screen and then paste into another application like PowerPoint to crop the image and save it as an image file.

Become an Animal

Build Your Wild Self – Start off designing yourself as a human then you can add animal parts and set a background.  Final Products can be printed with information about the creature you created and a name for your creature.  Another option is to save a version as a desktop backgrounds.  You can right click on the print version and save the image as well as doing the print screen option as with the Lego character.

This was really my favorite one as the art work is beautiful and the ties into science are amazing.  One idea:  Have students create a creature for their habitat and explain how that creature lives.


I’ll be adding to my avatar resources at:

Any other ideas for using avatars in class?

Tags: , , , , ,

Olympic Lessons

The Winter Olympics are 10 days away.  Soon the TV airwaves will be full ofwinter sports, some of which we only get to see every 4 years.  So how can you incorporate this historic event into your classroom?  I’ve gone through several websites (listed at the bottom of this post) and grouped some ideas into different subject areas to get us started thinking about it.


  • Research the history of the Olympics
  • Compare and contrast the ancient Olympics with the modern day ones
  • Research the customs of different teams at the Olympics or of the Host Country
  • Tie Black History month in with the Olympics by researching African American Athletes – such as Jesse Owen and Muhamed Ali
  • Character Education lessons


  • Explore the engineering of a sport and the equipment that is used in the sport.
  • Anatomy of an Athlete – what makes some people “super” athletes?  Scientists study the human body to understand how it works and how  athletes can be better
  • Weather – track the weather throughout the area.  What influences the weather in that region?  What about the weather in that area makes it ideal for the Winter Olympics to be held there?
  • Check out –


  • Chart the results of the games
  • Use statistics from the games to work math problems.
  • Measurement – How far is it to travel to the games?  How much would it cost?

Language Arts:

  • Write biographies of Olympic Athletes (past and/or present)
  • Summarize the events of the game or the results of an event.
  • Research a sport and how it has developed over the years.
  • Cover an Olympic Event as a sports reporter

Art –

  • create posters to illustrate the history of the game.
  • Design icons for each event
  • Design a tickets to events to represent Canada and the sporting event.


More resources will be added here as I find them.  Be sure to check this Diigo account as we get closer to the games for more ideas.

Diigo Account:

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cartoons – Make Your Own

I ran across through my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and have been playing with the possibilities.   It requires no fees and no sign in or account to be created.  Of course the first place I start when playing with photos is my kids.



The process of uploading pictures is very simple:

  1. Navigate to the picture and upload it.
  2. Crop or rotate the image as needed.
  3. Choose the effect you want (effects can be changed and modified with the onscreen menu).
  4. Save the new image to your computer.

But then I started thinking what else could be done?  How about cartoons?

Cartoons and Cartoon Strips

The students could take pictures of themselves in various expressions, poses, run the picture through the web page and turn the digital photo into a cartoon version.  Those pictures could then be inserted into a PowerPoint and captions added to make your own cartoon strips.  This would be a great activity to summarize an event being studies, or a book they are reading.  Maybe give them the pictures and have them write in their own captions.  Students could also take historical images and make them “cartoonized” to tell the story of the event.

When Printing – Choose to print the handout page with 6 slides per page.

(Sorry the text is very small in this image- but the story line is lacking a bit.  :) )

Cartoon Movies

I then took it another step by pulling the images into Photo Story 3.  Instead of a paper cartoon, why not a video?  Students would process their pictures and then bring them into PhotoStory 3 where they can add text, narration and music.  The images could be zoomed in or out in the movie and the still photographs have come to life.


Any other ideas for using in the classroom?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blogging in History

Several years ago I attended training at the University of Texas on Telecollaboration.  Most of the ideas presented in the training seemed so labor intensive that there was no way as a teacher or now as a Instructional Technology Specialist that they could be implemented.  Or I felt like I needed to know professors from all over the country before I could begin.  So I filed those ideas away and thought maybe some day I could attempt what I had learned.

Those ideas have come back to mind lately and I wanted to explore a few of those here.

Have an online conversation with a historical figure.

The original plan was to use email as the main means of communication.  Questions over access to the information in the emails and how the class could actively participate in conversation stopped me from trying this.  But with web 2.0 tools this could happen easily by substituting email for blogs.

This is not a new idea and you can find some examples of teachers already doing this online.

Basic premise: A Historical figure could begin keeping blog about the major events that happened in their lifetime.  Students could pose questions to the person to get a deeper understanding about how things worked.

  • Teacher(s) could write the posts and students could ask questions through the comment section.
  • Students could research the person and create the journal entries to be posted.  Other students could read the postings and ask questions about the information presented.


  • Harriet Tubman –
  • World Was II – – blogs are not based on actual people but on historical events and fictional people

Other Ideas:

  • Students could research a part of the world and write a blog entry as a person who lives there explaining what life is like.  Other students could comment on the entries and ask extension questions.
  • Create a blog that represents a side of revolution.  The Texas rebels could use the blog as a way to communicate the latest in the war effort against Mexico and what has happened.  Students could write the entries or the teacher could also post entries that the students have to respond to.

This is just basic ideas to get the ball rolling.  More ideas?



Tags: , , , ,

Web Wandering Wednesdays – April 16

Need Pictures:CompFlight

Comp Flight –

  • What is it?  Searches Flickr for photos for the term you give it.  The results are returned on one page in thumbnail form instead of a list of images that you have to page through in Flickr.  Hold your mouse over an image and you can see the image resolution information. 
  • What are applications for it in the classroom? –  Great if you need pictures for a presentation, but don’t want to spend forever looking. 
  • Tips:  Don’t save from the results page -those images are thumbnails only and the resolution is VERY low.  Not kid friendly on the searches so be careful about terms and who is searching.

NARA on Google:

  • What is It? – The National Archives has teamed up with Google Video to digitize it’s file collection.  Includes footage from NASA, United Newsreels and Department of the Interior.
  • What are the applications for the classroom?  Videos can be added to any presentation or be used in a teaching just as you would United Streaming.  Example: You can stream or dowload video from the past to show students what was happening when the novel you are reading was set.

Library of Congress Pictures on Flickr:

  • What is It?– The Library of Congress teamed up with Flickr earlier this year to make it’s collection of photographs available.  You can search within this collection to find historical photos on sports, lifestyle or political events.
  • What are the applications for the classroom?–  Anywhere you need pictures to illustrate a point being taught.  Great for Powerpoints, PhotoStory presentations, etc.

Timeline Software:

Mnemograph – – Instructions:

  • What is it?– Creates online timelines that are interactive. Mnemograph Photos and text can be imported in.
  • What are applications for it in the classroom? – 

 XTimeline –

  • What is it?– Create your own online timelines or view those that have been created.
  • What are applications for it in the classroom? – 
  • Has pre-made timelines for viewing
  • Editors can be added to the timeline
  • Create a class time lines (see above)
  • Thanks to and for sharing these resources!

    Attention Ridgeview Middle School Subscrbers:  If you let me know you read this before I send it out to the campus, there are prizes for having subscribed!   Leave a comment about one of the resources, or send me an email to claim it.  Thanks!

    Tags: , , , , , ,