Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Aviary provides an amazing suite of creative tools for free and in the cloud and given the unbelievably slow development of Microsoft Paint (I just checked it has a new layout but the exact same tools as I used in middle school) it is a tool that many students need to let their creativity and not software limitations dictate what they design. Aviary provides four types of image editors that provide students many of the basic tools they would find in an Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, two types of audio editors that allow users to create their own and edit audio tracks and a tool that allows you to capture screenshots of websites without installing any software.

The tools that Aviary provides allow students to create a variety of projects that lend themselves to all content areas. When I explore the suite I can remember times when students have asked me if they could create “photoshoped” images, tee shirt designs, their own website graphics, magazine covers, or radio ads and have been limited by the software available to them. Having a website like this to direct them to will allow students to channel their creativity however they see fit. I can certainly see teachers learning to use specific parts of Aviary and asking an entire class to complete a project using it but if you do not have the time or skill to do so it would be equally valuable to direct an eager student to where they can learn how the website works via video tutorials. Either way the Aviary Suite allows students to tackle almost any design project that they can dream up from any device with an internet connection.

  • Allows students to be very creative and develop graphics and audio files in almost any way they can think of.

  • Suite is available on tablets, phones and computers

  • It is free and there are no ads

  • A large community and tutorials available to help students trouble shoot problems

  • Students who have used Photoshop or Gimp will love to have a similar product available anywhere

  • Aviary has developed an education site that allows teachers to set up student accounts

  • Negatives

  • You must create an account to use many of the features

  • Creating graphic or audio files online takes a ton of bandwidth, with a slow internet connection this is a very slow process

  • All of the tools and options can look overwhelming to teachers and students
  • Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Brainpop, Brainpop Jr, and Brainpop Espanol

    Due to unforeseen circumstances our Wednesday blog did not happen this week.  But don't fret, we still have a great web tool for your use, Brainpop, Brainpopjr, and the Spanish version of Brainpop.  Brainpop is an award winning educational web tool that features videos and activities that go along with our curriculum.  Try it and you'll be amazed how the Brainpop team can take any subject and break it down in an easy to understand format.  Even better, students love it!
    Brainpop offers videos for free, but if you have a subscription you can enjoy the full range of services it has to offer.
    If in the Menasha School District, you can obtain the login information for Brainpop here.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011


    Zamzar File Converter
    I like free web programs and here is one that I use often. This is an online file converter. Sometimes you save files in one format but later need to use them in a different format. This program can convert images, documents, music, videos, e-books and other obscure file types. Click HERE to go to Zamzar.

    To use Zamzar, you need to have a file that you'd like to convert and an active email address. It's that simple.

    Watch the short video below for the steps to submit a file to be converted. When a file is done being converted you will get an email with a link that will allow you to go and download your newly converted file. This is a helpful tool to keep tucked away for any conversion situation.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Big Universe

    Our first ever Websday Web Day post is about Big Universe.  Big Universe is billed as an online reading and writing community.  Big Universe has a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books that can be used on the smartboard, computer, or any device with internet access.  Books can be searched by subject, curriculum area, reading level, grade level, interest age, foreign language, and much more.  It also has an area where students and teachers can create ebooks using clipart or their own images.  Big Universe requires a paid subscription (which Menasha school district has), or you can try it for free for 14 days.

    Big Universe from Jennifer Peterson on Vimeo.

    You can also view Big Universe's video about their site.

    If you belong to the Menasha School District, directions for how to login to Big Universe can be found here (you will need to be logged into your school google account to access this site).
    If your Big Universe login does not work, contact Jen Peterson.