Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cool Websites and Apps, and an idea from the Stanford d.School

Finally back from...wherever it is that I've been. Sacramento, Chincoteague, Bethesda, mourning. My friend Joan died a week before the Adventures in Homeschool Conference, and I spent that week in a bit of a tailspin. Then off to present my Reluctant Writers workshop and Poetry Haters workshop at the HSC, and off again to the East Coast to stay in rented houses with Tad's family on the humid, mosquito-infested tourist trap that is Chincoteague Island. The beach was great and I enjoyed spending time with everyone, but I will never go back to Chincoteague ever again if I can help it. 

One great thing about my Reluctant Writers workshop in particular was that I got suggestions for some very cool apps and websites. 

The Book Creator, an app which helps you make and publish e-books from your iPad, can be found here: http://www.redjumper.net/bookcreator/

FutureMe lets you write an email to your future self. The tone of their FAQ page alone makes me want to use this service; what founders of a company publish their Amazon wishlist to potential users? These guys: http://www.futureme.org/ 

Speaking of missives to one's future self, this video mashup of a grownup being inteverviewed by a video of his kid self (does that make sense?) is hi-larious. I mean actually laugh out loud funny. And smart. That boy was smart. I also love the portrait of Van Gogh in the background of the grownup. 

Fanfiction for kids! Here are two relevant websites:
The first site is a bonafide kids' fanfic site; the second is basically a place to publish kids' writing online. The fanfic website fanfiction.net has pages for kids' books (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, for example) but there's no guarantee that all of the posts are kid-appropriate.

The Stanford d.School (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford) does this thing with colored post-its, and a new homeschooling friend of mine used it with her 8-year-old reluctant writer to put together a presentation:
  1. He dictated his thoughts, ideas, and "learnings" on the topic he'd learned about (sharks, maybe?)
  2. She put the ideas on post-its.
  3. I missed exactly what happened in this next part--maybe she classified and categorized the ideas, or maybe they did it together--but in any case, the ideas got on different colored post-its depending on whether they were "main ideas", subtopics, details, etc. I love this. It's such a great way to work on thinking and organizing--and you can do it multiple times and change which color post-it an idea goes on depending on the point you want to make.
  4. The post-its get organized on a wall, with main ideas on big post-its, or on top, or whatever, and topics, subtopics, details, etc. arranged below or around the main ideas. This makes things visible, touchable, and changeable. Once you get the structure that makes the most sense to you, you can write it or speak it. Or see what your next step of the project will be, if it's an action or design project. Very cool.

It's a little like paragraph puzzles. Have I talked about that yet? Maybe not. Well, look for it in the future, and then I'll add a link.

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