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Symbaloo December 14, 2007

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Lots of different sites try to get you to select them as your homepage. Symbaloo is certainly well worth a look as it allows you to create an extremely streamlined page where your favourite websites and feeds have their own buttons.

You’re given a very useful set of starting icons and it’s extremely easy to add your own links. If you’ve got a lot of sites you want to include (or just want to categorise things a little more) then you can use multiple “desktops”. There is also a very cool news wall where stories are presented as picture buttons.

I’m definitely going to give it a try…


Paint.net November 30, 2007

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I’ve been using this piece of software for absolutely ages but I’ve only just realised that I’ve never linked to it before on this site.

Paint.net is a brilliant free image package that runs on Windows XP SP2 (or later). It contains many of the features of expensive packages including layers, special effects, bezier curves, magic wand, clone stamp and recolouring tools.

If you don’t have a decent image editing program on your laptop or desktop PC then Paint.net is well worth downloading.

Daftdoggy October 30, 2007

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This is an interesting new web resource that is currently in beta. The creator of the site emailed me the following details:

Daftdoggy is a website that allows you to record a websurfing session and then save it as a link to share with others. So, if you want to give someone a guided tour around the Intenet, from a single link, then now you can.

But what makes Daftdoggy really useful for teachers is that, after you saved your session, you can then edit it to add comments and teaching notes. On playback there is a small blue box at the bottom of the page which, when you place your mouse over, gives a translucent screen containing whatever you’d like to say about a particular webpage. So now you can tell people why you want them to see a certain webpage. You can point out what’s good and bad about the page before moving on the next one.

I would think that the site would be very useful for webquests or project work. You could put together a question for the children to answer about each of the websites that they visit. Here’s a very simple example of a WWII webquest.

It’s important to remember that Daftdoggy doesn’t stop students from navigating elsewhere so the usual care at selecting suitable sites and monitoring Internet use still apply.

You could also use Daftdoggy on training courses. Here’s an example tour of the Primary Resources websites that I’ve put together.

Thumbalizr October 29, 2007

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This is a useful site if you want to make thumbnail screenshots of websites for training materials or presentations. Just type in the URL, choose whether you want the site to grab a screen sized chunk or the entire length of the page and click the ‘thumb it’ button. The resulting image can be downloaded at a variety of different sizes.


Google Docs: Presentations September 18, 2007

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The Google Docs service, that allows you to create and share documents and spreadsheets online, has just been expanded to include presentations. You can choose to create a new presentation, upload one, email one in or grab one from a website location. At the moment there are no fancy (or even basic!) transitions accessible but it’s still a good tool for simple slide creation, especially if you’re working collaboratively. As usual, you’ll need a (free) Google account to access the service.

Online Photo Editing September 7, 2007

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http://www.picnik.com/ & http://www.wiredness.com/
These two sites are great if you want to tweak a digital image on a computer that doesn’t have a decent photo editing program loaded. Both Picknik and Wiredness allow you to upload and edit an image online. You can fix image problems (such as red eye), change the dimensions, apply special effects, add text and more. There’s even support for importing directly from FlickR and Picasa albums.

WobZip September 7, 2007

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I had an email this morning asking whether there was a way to access some of the zipped files on our site if your computer doesn’t have a decompression utility.

The latest versions of Windows all have an unzip facility built in (just double click to open the contents). If you’re running an older OS and haven’t installed an alternate unzip utility (or can’t, due to your school network) then take a look at the WobZip website. This free program runs over the Internet and will uncompress a zip archive on your computer or directly off a website if you feed it the URL. Very useful.

Zamzar – File Conversion September 7, 2007

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A user of the Primary Resources site kindly let me know about this excellent Internet resource. Zamzar allows you to convert different types of text, image, music and video files. There’s no need to download any software to your computer as everything is done online. It’s free and seems to work very well. I tested it out yesterday with several of the PDFs from our site and they were all converted to Word documents without any problems.

Scratch September 7, 2007

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MIT’s Media Lab in the US have just made this brilliant piece of software available as a free download. It allows students to make their own animations and games by slotting together program building blocks. It’s graphical interface is incredibly easy to use, there’s a full set of help and examples on the website as well as printable instruction cards that students can use to learn new features of the software. It’s perfect for KS2, especially Years 5 and 6. Why not get some of your class to look at it after the SATs?

(See the article the BBC wrote about the software by clicking here)

Riddles Software September 7, 2007

Posted by admin in : English/Literacy, Software , add a comment

The University of Sussex has just released some free software that was originally developed for use as part of their Riddles Project. There are three titles available to download. ArcShark is a numbers game. WordBird allows students to explore stories sentence by sentence. ClassiCat involves arranging words into groups.