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24 Aug 2011
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Adobe Reader X Offers "Read Out Loud"

Web 2.0 Tools for Revising & Editing via Scoop.it

I have been working on assembling and updating a list of tools that could be used for brainstorming, revising, and editing in the secondary ELAR classroom. A particular interest of mine is the text to speech feature on a Mac (“Voice Over”) as it is a great way to review a paper in an auditory manner to catch mistakes you may have overlooked in previous revisions. It is also a wonderful tool to use with ELL/ESL  and SE students. But what happens if you don’t have a Mac or an iPad?

Well, my initial suggestions were HearWho which will turn any text into mp3 for free using text to speech technology but it has limitations of 400 characters without a login. Google Translate is another tool but sometimes the translations and text to speech features are a bit wonky.

Then I came across Adobe Reader X which I use on a daily basis. As most users, I never truly explored all of the functionality of this free tool. Did you know that Adobe Reader not only allows you to comment, and highlight…. but…wait for it….

Adobe Reader X: Highlight, Annotate, and "Read Out Loud"

 

… offers text to speech (“read out loud” option found under the view tab)! I was floored and had to share it immediately with the world… or at the very least my global community. I immediately added it to my Scoop.it page for Web 2.0 tools for Revising & Editing and set to compose a post to share my new yummy tech morsel.


08 Jul 2011
Comments: 0

Scoop.it!

As I was searching for iPad-related education sites, I kept coming across pages that were composed of various articles and sites on a particular topic (e.g. iPad in de Klas & iPods & iPads in Education) that were made to look like a newspaper. Intrigued, I decided to request a private beta account. Less than 24 hours later, I had my very own Scoop.it! account and could begin curating my own news topics.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnr6QKKcsII?rel=0]

Since I have iPad terrets, I immediately dove into the process of creating an iPad Lesson site. Unfortunately, while there may be many relevant posts and articles on “lesson learned about the iPad”, there are very few available that are actually devoted to iPad lessons and apptivities. I am hoping to gather more sites that house and generate iPad lessons from suggestions and the Scoop.it! web crawler. In the meantime, I found it best practice to choose a topic that has a wealth of information available to curate. Once you have a prolific and meaty topic, it is fairly simple to initiate the process. When you create your topic, be mindful of the title, description, and keywords that you choose as they will not only drive the information and topics that Scoop.it! and other users suggest to you but how useful and apparent your site is to those looking for information on your topic. Scoop.it! also offers some aesthetic options such as uploading a topic icon image, and customizing you background color and image if you are so inclined.

Choose a Meaty Topic

After compiling one scoop, I had a better vision for how the next one would be assembled. With Scoop.it!’s plugin installed in my browser, I was able to locate sites I had already reviewed and compiled on a topic and then click on the site’s url in the address window and have it populate my Scoop.it! window. If a site did not provide its own information and a usable or relevant image, I would take a screenshot and upload it and give a brief description of the site before posting it. Between the sites that I had compiled and the ones that Scoop.it! suggested from its web crawls, I felt pretty confident I had a meaty and healthy portion of Web 2.0 sites and resources. (My vision for this page was to house sites that gave reviews and categorized lists of Web 2.0 tools so I could quickly locate specific tools and my favorite sites faster.)

Uses for education

Since you have to create a login and the sharing capabilities are linked to Facebook and Twitter, I envision Scoop.it! as more of a tool for educators and less of a product for students. While I think their intent was to create newspapers that were more composed of articles and relevant blog posts, the tool lends itself to thematic study, resource repositories, and professional development:

  1. Thematic & Guided Study: teachers can create a page for articles and sites for the Civil War or Geometry (citing discussion questions or assignments in the info box for the site).
  2. Resource Repository: teachers can create a page housing lists of SMART resources, Web 2.0 tools and reviews, student projects, or even interactive Math sites for students to practice with at home
  3. Professional Development: schools and districts can compile available professional development opportunities (e.g. online learning communities, webinars, Atomic Learning, Region 20, TCEA, etc…) into one place. Or even create a page that is a learning opportunity: my next venture is a “Cartoons in the Classroom” page highlighting all of the Web 2.0 tools for cartoon creation with a few words and tips about each to guide teachers. I have also been working on a Web 2.0 tools for Revising & Editing page for secondary ELAR.

Why use Scoop.it! over a static website with hyperlinks? Good question. First reason, the interface allows a more graphic output of each scooped site (which can be customized) as well as user input towards the description or focus of that site. Second reason, Scoop.it! has a built in “curating” feature which suggests content based on the original content and tags you have created and compiled thus fostering future and continued learning opportunities. And if I haven’t given you tweachers reason enough to Scoop.it!, the sharing to Twitter capabilities are first rate!


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