Creating Classroom Visuals – Four Great Sites for Teachers
Without a doubt, visuals are critical for kids when it comes to the learning process.
Thanks to some great “Techy Tips for not so Techy Teachers” we were recently reminded of four tech tools (web sites) that can help teachers create some very interesting visuals for their classroom, with the key being that one need not be a techy to put these sites into action.
Subject Specific Word Clouds
The use of tags and word clouds is becoming a web staple and a great way to introduce the concept to students is a web site that will generate “word clouds” from any text supplied by a teacher. With Wordle, teachers have access to a free web site to generate relevant word clouds for any learning task they are about to undertake.
Because word clouds give greater prominence to the words that appear most often in the supplied text, these clouds create a great learning visual for students by prominently displaying the most used terms. These clouds can be made into posters at the younger levels or used as a cover sheet to a course syllabus for older students.
With Wordle, the user can also modify aspects of the cloud through the use of different fonts, layouts, and color schemes for the letters and the background. Because the site is web-based, a user can save their creation to the Wordle gallery and access it from another internet connection.
And of course, with a little pre-teaching, students can have at it, creating their own word clouds for assignments and projects.
Turning Your Creation into a Poster
Once you have created a document or photo for classroom display, you may want to blow it up so as to make a large size poster for the room. Such a task is extremely easy as there are a couple of different web sites where you can easily rasterbate any creation to make a powerful, large image.
Rasterbating is the phrase used to describe the computer program printing feature called tiled printing. It is a process that enables the user to print extremely large images, those larger than a standard size sheet of paper. The computer program creates tiles, each equal to a standard size sheet of paper, and prints a section of the image on each sheet according to predetermined specifications. The individual pages can then be taped together or stapled to a bulletin board to create a large and powerful image.
At either BlockPosters or Rasterbators, teachers can create such tiled wall posters of any size. Totally free, each site allows you to upload an image where the user can then crop the image and choose how many sheets of traditional-size paper to use in creating the poster.
While the word cloud would make a great option, an even better one, especially at the elementary level, would be the periodic action classroom shot of the students involved in a learning activity. The sheer joy students experience upon seeing themselves in photos could only be enhanced by a large classroom poster of them in action within the classroom.
With older students, the visuals they can create could also greatly enhance an individual project or presentation. Blockposters offers some excellent samples of prior work including student project creations.
If you decide to turn some of this over to students, you may want to use another term other than rasterbate. We are not sure how either age group would do with such a risky-sounding term.
Glogging in the Classroom
Instead of just using the written word to create a blog, teachers can have students create some pretty amazing visual mash ups at Glogster.com (be sure with the younger kids you hit the edu site!).
Glogster again allows for the creation of posters, but in this case, creativity remains supreme. With Glogster you can mix all forms of expression: graphics, photos, videos, music and traditional text.
Not only a fun way to enhance learning and foster creativity, glogging is a perfect tool for visual learners who may struggle with traditional text-oriented classroom setting. Glogging also gets students using the power of technology and collaborating with one another on potential creations.
You will need a few more in the way of tech skills for Glogster than for our other suggestions (especially, if you want to download movies and images) manageable with even a modest effort. But as with our sites featured, Glogster is also a free resource, so you can familiarize yourself with the concept on your own terms.
Photos taken from Wordle.com, BlockPosters.com and Glogster.com.