Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Monthly Archives: July 2008

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Newspaper Generator adds Engagement to Activities

I just finished doing a session on using technology to motivate writers and came across this cool website. It’s called the Newspaper Clipping Generator. It’s purpose is to generate what looks like a newspaper clipping out of whatever you have your students write. They can choose the title of the newspaper and download an image of the completed product to print off and hand in or include in their blog or website. It does have a couple of shortfalls, namely it’s inability to show the full text of the newspaper title or the article itself. But then again it is a clippings generator, not an entire newspaper generator. My colleague, Lisa Shaw, mentioned how this is a great strategy for teaching students how to generate leads for feature articles.

Podcasting and Podcatcher Options

For those that aren’t aware, a podcatcher is a software application used to collect and play podcasts. By far, the most popular podcatcher is iTunes. However, not everyone wants to rely on only one software application. In addition, there are many schools or entire districts that do not allow the use of iTunes. So what exactly is a podcast and are there options for those wanting to subscribe to podcasts other than iTunes? That is what this post hopes to answer.

To start with, a podcast is simply an audio or video file that is syndicated, which means people are able to subscribe to it using a podcatcher. Why would you want to subscribe to a podcast? Let me use an example that I think will help. Imagine there are 5 podcasts that i am really interested in. They are on various topics, maybe Spanish lessons, technology, financial information, music, and math strategies. All of these podcasts contain great information, but it is a time consuming task for me to visit each site every day just to see if a new podcast has been posted. If I find that there is a new post, I then have to download and store it somewhere before I can listen to it on my computer or on a portable media player like an iPod.

Now let’s look at using a podcatcher, such as iTunes, to make this process more efficient. Instead of visiting each site everyday, I only visit it once. While there, I find the feed information for that podcast (usually by clicking on a link that says “subscribe to this podcast”). I take that link and copy and paste it into my podcatcher (if using iTunes go to Advanced – Subscribe to Podcast) and viola, I am now subscribed to that podcast. I do the same with the other four sites and now every time I open my podcatcher it searches to see if any new posts have been made. If so, it automatically downloads and organizes them for me. Is that cool or what! iTunes also offers an extensive list of podcasts you can search and subscribe to without ever leaving the application.

So moving on, are there other podcatcher options than iTunes? The answer to this is yes, but you may need to spend some time exploring the options to find which works for you. Below is a list of a few options you may want to try:

I figure this list will do you for awhile. I personally use iTunes, but if I didn’t I would probably give Juice, MediaFly or ZiePod a try.  If you have tried one of the options above feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.