**Stargate Middle School Grade Project ideas and Rubrics
As we all know, students already get plenty of tests, so why not let your students show what they learned creatively? Whether your students are reading independent books or your class has just finished a unit on space or pioneers, a culminating project can really cement that learning. Here are 72 fun and creative ways for your students to show what they know:
- Create a poster
- Make a PowerPoint Presentation
- Design a model
- Make a shoebox diorama
- Use a three-panal display board
- Make a timeline
- Create a board game incorporating key elements.
- Write a poem
- Write and perform a skit
- Make a TV or radio commercial
- Make a collage
- Make a mobile
- Create a test about the topic
- Make a word search
- Make a crossword puzzle
- Write a report
- Create a flow chart or diagram
- Write an interview of a relevant person
- Ask and and answer key questions
- Write journal/diary entries
- Write a postcard or letter exchange
- Create a scrapbook
- Create a photo album
- Make an instructional video
- Give a presentation
- Create an interactive notebook
- Create a set of task cards
- Make a pamphlet or brochure
- Write a newspaper article
- Perform a puppet show
- Hold a debate
- Hold a mock court case
- Create an episode of a reality show
- Create a game show
- Have a panal discussion of “experts”
- Compose a rap or other song
- Use a Venn Diagram to compare two aspects of the topic
- Design a comic strip about the topic
- Create children’s story about the topic
- Create a map
- Write a fable or myth about the topic
- Create a help-wanted add and a letter/resume to answer it
- Write a text message dialogue relevant to the topic
- Write a series of Tweets relevant to the topic
- Create a Facebook wall relative to the topic
- Create a Pinterest board relative to the topic
- Start a blog
- Decorate a box and fill with relevant objects
- Create a foldable
- Create a flip book
- Create a Cootie Catcher
- Create a cereal based on the topic (cover a cereal box)
- Assemble a time capsule
- Create several bookmarks about different aspects of the topic
- Write a recipe relevant to the topic (good for showing causes of an event)
- Do a newscast
- Write an acrostic poem
- Create an internet scavenger hunt
- Write an advice column with several problems related to the topic.
- Create flash cards or trivia cards
- Create a cheer relevant to the topic
- Make a short documentary film
- Create a museum exihibet
- Create a Top-Ten list relevant to the topic
- Create a video game
- Make a “Choose Your Own Adventure”
- Create a mini book with one fact/idea per page
- Create a glossary of relevant terms
- Make a paper chain with a different fact for each link
- Make a flower with a different fact for each petal
- Write a handbook or instruction book
- Create a newsletter
- I fake text
Comic strips on-line
I think having World Language Learners create short online animations is a great benefit the Web provides. Students can work individually or in a group very methodically by making well-thought-out storyboards and then implement them, or they can make “quick and dirty” ones right on the spot.
Their creations can then be posted for all to see and comment on, both online and in-person.
Because they can be so useful to English Language Learners, and to other students, I’ve decided to create another “The Best…” list — this time highlighting the sites that I think are most accessible to English Language Learners (and are free).
You can also find links to these sites, and to other animation sites that didn’t make this list, on my Examples of Student Work page.
All of these sites are very good (or else they wouldn’t be on my list!). However, there is one that stands-out among the rest. So even though I’m not ranking them all like I usually do, I will be highlighting one as the best.
Here are my picks for The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations:
I’ll start off with the site I think by far is the best (and which has appeared in other “The Best…” lists) — Dvolver Moviemaker. It’s so easy, no registration is required, and it can be done quickly. Very new Beginning English Language Learners have been able to use it very effectively. You can see many examples of their work here. The company also has a more advanced application called Digital Films. You can create a more complex animation, but it is far more complicated to use — so I stick with the first version.
Myths and Legends is a United Kingdom site where students can create animations of……myths and legends. It’s pretty neat and easy, and has the added great benefit of letting students record the narration for their story. Teachers have to register, and they’re very open to schools participating from around the world.
The Zimmer Twins are another popular animation site among ESL/EFL teachers. You have to register for it, but doing so is quick and easy. One nice feature it has is that you can make a movie from “scratch” or it gives you pre-made scenes and plots (I guess its the animation equivalent of sentence-starters or sentence frames).
Kerpoof is a great site where you can make an animation and a lot more. You have to register here, too, but the process is also easy. Up until recently you weren’t able to get the url address of what you’ve created, but they’ve now developed that option.
Fuzzwich is a new site that is in the process of developing a full-blown animation process. Right now, though, you can easily create a “mini-animation” called Minivids. One advantage they offer is that, in addition to providing their url addresses, you can embed your Minivid in a blog or website.
DoInk is slightly more complicated than some of the other animation tools I’ve listed here, but English Language Learners should be able to make simple animations pretty easily. I especially like what sounds like a strict and pro-active policy at ensure classroom appropriate content on the site.
I certainly wouldn’t place any bets on YouTube getting through most school district content filters anytime soon, if ever. But they’ve just announced a great new ability to make videos and animations on the YouTube site itself using GoAnimate, Stupeflix, or Xtranormal and then posting it there. The YouTube feature is called YouTube/create. I can see myself using it sometimes to illustrate a concept for a lesson, or pointing out the idiocy of the latest school reform fad. I suspect that it’s a super-cool tool that, outside of the two ideas I mentioned and potential use in adult ESL classes, won’t have much K-12 impact. But, because it’s so cool, I’m still adding it here.
Go Animate is a really neat site to create animations. Another is the creation of a site called “Domo Animate.” Content on this version is constantly reviewed, it has an automatic filtering feature, and people can’t upload their own images. For me, at least, I think going the Domo Animate route is the easiest way to go.
Disapainted may be just about the easiest tools out there to make simple “stickman” animations. Registration takes less than twenty seconds, and you are given a link to your creation.
Make It Share It lets you make simple animations. And it provides an embed code for your creation!
I decided to create another quick “The Best…” list today rating sites that allow you to create online comic strips.
These can be excellent opportunities for English Language Learners to be able to focus more time on developing language, writing, and storytelling skills instead of having to focus on creating drawings. Of course, I’m not denigrating the role of art in the classroom. It’s just that there are a number of online sites that make that part easier, and might make both writing and reading a little more engaging and attractive.
I’m differentiating “comic strips” from cartoons. There are many sites that let you add speech balloons to single images off the Web. You can find links to several of them on some of my The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly lists.
The sites here let you tell a story in several frames.
My criteria for including a site on this list include it being free, accessible to English Language Learners, and appearing to have some monitoring of its site to help monitor content so it appears to be appropriate for classroom use. In addition, the user’s creation is hosted on the site indefinitely.
I wasn’t really able to rate them in order of preference because many of them are so similar, though I do highlight a few. They can primarily be divided into two categories:
1) Ones that require no registration; are extremely simple to use; and don’t create a potential problem with inappropriate content since you pretty much don’t have access to other comic strips created on the site. The downside to this sites are they only allow you to link to the comic strip, not embed it. In other words, you can’t actually place the comic strip itself on a blog or website — just a link to the strip. In addition, most of the sites in this category generally don’t offer the same level of creativity that the next group does — most here have a smaller number of pre-set templates for the strips.
2) Ones that require registration, are more complicated (though they’re all certainly accessible to even Beginning English Language Learners with a few minutes of instruction) and have many more options for creativity. These also allow you to embed your creations in a blog or website. The potential downside (and upside — there are plenty of examples to use as models) to these sites is that there is easy access to strips created by others. The sites I’ve listed in this category seem to monitor for appropriate content, but there is always the possibility, however slim, that something might slip in. Of course, after you embed student creations on a blog or website, that dramatically reduces the possibility of their accessing other non-student creations, anyway. The risk is when they’re at the site creating them. There’s a risk in everything we do, of course, and I’ve had my students access these sites without any problem at all.
Here are picks for Category 1:
Make Beliefs is a fairly well-known site that has a variety of characters that can be used in pre-made templates. It’s already popular in schools — both in mainstream and ESL/EFL classes.
Bubblr! comes from the extraordinarily creative people at Pim Pam Pum, who have developed a number of sites that work well with English Language Learners. Bubblr! lets you search for images from Flickr and create a comic strip slideshow with speech bubbles. They seem to have some sort of “safe search” control in place because in the four years I’ve used their various web applications none of my students have ever found an inappropriate image.
(Editor’s Note: Jay Bennett wrote in the comments section that he was able to pretty quickly discover an inappropriate image using Bubblr!, so perhaps the site isn’t as “classroom-safe” as I have thought.)
I’m adding Make Your Own Sam and Max Comic Strip to this category, too. You can quickly, and without registration, make a short strip starring these famous, and weird, dog and rabbit partners. You’re given a url address for your creation that you an post on a student or teacher website/blog.
Chogger lets you easily create a comic, with no registration required. What’s particularly nice about it is that you have a choice of drawing it or searching the Web for images you can insert.
And now for my choices in Category 2:
I have four sites in this batch, and I have to say — in my eyes at least — it’s difficult to distinguish between them. The four are:
Pixton, a newer site that, if you make a series of comic strips, lets you put them into a virtual “book.” It also seems to have a very overt and pro-active (at least it says it does) policy on ensuring that only appropriate content remains on the site.
Comiqs, which lets you make comic strip slideshows with photographic images — very similar to Bubblr!. Their content seems classroom appropriate, but it’s not clear to me what their policy is.
Toonlet, where, like Pixton, you “draw” your comics. Like with Comiqs, their content seems appropriate, but I’m unclear on their specific policy (Thanks to Damianne President, I’ve learned that it’s now clear they don’t have a strong policy, and inappropriate language is not uncommon on the site. I would no longer recommend it).
The final one on my list is ToonDoo. When you go to their site, at the top you see something that says “Safe Search On.” All you have to do is click on that to gain access to mature content, apparently, but I’ve done that and haven’t actually found anything inappropriate.
Comicbrush is the latest addition to this list. It seems pretty accessible to English Language Learners. There’s a gallery of created comic strips, but I couldn’t find anything objectionable with a quick look. The site says it has pretty strict policy on inappropriate work, but I don’t know what amount of energy they put into enforcing it.
Story Top is the newest addition to this list. It has a very simple “drag-and-drop” menu (including text boxes) for a multi-frame strip, and you can post the url on your website or blog (or use Embedit.in , a free web tool that makes pretty much any url address embeddable). You have to register for the site, but it takes seconds and doesn’t require an email address.
Creaza has a number of student tools, including ones mindmapping, moviemaking and audio recording. I’ve posted about them in the past, and wrote that I thought their apps were just a bit too complicated to be included on any of my “The Best…” lists. I took another look this past week and, though I still feel that way for most of their tools, the one for making cartoons appears to have been simplified.
At the “Dilbert” site, you can register and add your own dialogue to any Dilbert strip. It gives you three choices — create dialogue for the last box, all the boxes, or do it for one of the boxes and send the others to friends to contribute. You can then embed or link to the final product.
Other Helpful Technology
I usually just do a year-end list on The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly and many other topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a site appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…
This list brings together what I think are this year’s best ways to create online content easily and quickly. These web tools are excellent ways for English Language Learners, and others who might not be very tech-savvy, to have a good experience working with technology.
In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:
* accessible to English Language Learners.
* available at no-cost.
* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.
* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.
* appropriate for classroom use.
* accessible without requiring registration.
A very small number of the applications that have made it on this list are viral marketing tools. You can read this article about how I use these in the classroom.
Here are my choices for The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2012 — So Far (Not in any order of preference):
CREATE YOUR OWN STAR: At Light Up The Sky, you can create your own virtual star with its own message in the sky, and share the link to your creation.
WRITE A HAIKU: At Haiku For Humbugs, you can write a haiku that gets sent anonymously to someone who needs “cheering-up.” Plus, your haiku can get hung in the “gallery” so anyone can view it.
WRITE A FAKE SIRI CONVERSATION: I Fake Siri lets you create a fake conversation — in text — with the new iPhone voice feature Siri. You can then link to, or embed, your creation. It’s just another fun opportunity for ELL’s to practice writing, reading, and speaking.
DEVELOP A COLLABORATIVE DOCUMENT: QikPad lets you write collaboratively with anyone you want, and you can then link to, or embed, whatever you come up with….
Make Some Music: If you’ve ever tried Incredibox, you know why I call it the easiest and most fun tool to create music on the Web. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it now! They announced major improvements recently, including letting you save your compositions. You can now give them a title and post a link on your blog or website, or share in other ways.
Send A Native-American Audio Postcard: Our Mother Tongues is a very impressive site that’s designed to support and preserve Native American languages. It’s very engaging, and includes a “language map,” videos and more. One of its very neat features is that it allows you choose a virtual audio postcard with a Native American greeting that you can send to someone. You can also write a personalized message on it. You’re given a unique url address, and it can be posted on a student/teacher website or blog.
“Artisify” A Video: Grab the url address of any YouTube video, paste it into the Artistifier, type in your name and title, and the site will “artistify” the video in the manner of the Oscar-winning silent movie “The Artist.” As the video plays — with no sound other than the music provided by The Artistifier — you can type in captions at appropriate times. Once you’re done, click save and the captions will show up during the movie in the manner of an old silent movie. For English language learners, it’s similar to Bombay TV (and its “sister channels”), which lets you choose a scene from a B movie from Bollywood and have fun creating subtitles for the clip. With the Artistifier, though, you can choose any YouTube you want.
Take A Poll: Kwiqpoll lets you easily create a poll — and no registration is required. You’re give the poll’s url address, but it’s not embeddable. It has no frills, but it’s easy as pie.
Create A Musical Playlist: Choruzz lets you — without needing to register — search for music videos and create a playlist of them. You’re then given a unique url address for your list that you can share. It’s very easy to use, and it meets my “Raffi” test — in other words, plenty of songs are accessible that you can use with English Language Learners.
Make Your Own Unique (& Fake) CNN, NY Times, Etc. Website: With News Jack, all you have to do is paste the url address of any website and you’re immediately given the tools to easily transform its homepage into looking however you want it to look. Without having to register, you can make the New York Times highlight photos and articles of your great basketball-playing ability; have CNN focus on covering what was happening in 1776, or The Huffington Post reporting on the first Thanksgiving dinner. You can easily grab images off the web or your computer to insert, as well as text. You can then click “publish” and you’re given the url address to your creation so it can be shared with the world.
Get Your Message Spelled-Out By Galaxies: “My Galaxies” lets you spell out anything you want, using real galaxies that are shaped like characters. You can read more about it at the site and/or at this MSNBC story. The site does what I describe — you write a message and then it uses images of galaxies that look like the alphabet to spell it out. You can then send the link or post it.
Record a Thirty Second Message: Croak.it lets you easily record a thirty second message with a computer microphone. You then get a unique url address that you can share. No registration is necessary.
Make A Face: Fantastic Fun Face lets you search for an image, adds lots of crazy effects to it, and then save and share it. English Language Learners could create a face and then describe it in writing and orally as a language development activity.
Make A Website:Check This is the latest in a long line of tools that let you create webpages quickly, without registering, and that let you also paste images into them.
Collaborate With A Famous Dead Author: Try out Google Docs new demo that lets you write collaboratively with your favorite dead famous writers. Then you get to save and share your creation. As Next Web explains:
A “famous writer” will start typing and then it’s your turn. Once you’ve typed in the next line, the writer takes over
Write A Six Word “Stump Speech”: The National Constitution Center lets you compose your own six word political “stump speech” and post it.
Create A Piece Of Art: Though I’m not convinced the world needs another online drawing tool, doSketch is an easy one where you can draw and save your creation with no registration needed.
http://penzu.com/ – on-line diary
Here are a couple of creative, but simple video techniques that perhaps students could pull off for a project.
Hu hu hu- Natalia Lafourcade con Julieta Venegas
Rayuela cap. 7 (fragmento)
make 3D pop-up books, using clip art & sound (!) or upload your own pics and sound
re: Xtranormal, it does have Spanish and should not cost anything to do your basic stuff.
And if you really want to kick it up a notch by making the output spontaneous, give this one a try:http://pechaflickr.cogdogblog.com/
Mini-book directions and template
Your Story Template
Your Story Map
Hints to creating an original story.
- Do not use an online translator.
- Work around the story with words that can take the place of ones you don’t know
Ex.: “goes” can be “walks” or ” runs” instead.
- Use the above template or map to plan ahead.
- Use the free vocabulary in the story section of your spiral.
- Avoid English and creating in English then changing to Spanish. Create in Spanish right from the beginning.
- Use your imagination. Don’t limit yourself to situations, because of your limited vocabulary. Remember you can get around it with other words.
- Use real people, places, etc.
- Exaggerate: Abraham Lincoln come 10 mil tacos instead of El chico come un taco.