Tag Archives: Software tips

Snippy – make cut out screenshots

Have you ever wanted to grab a bit of a website, document or picture from your computer screen and use it in a PowerPoint or on a worksheet?

You could take a screen shot with the print screen button, but if you don’t want the whole screen you then need to crop it in some way. A better solution is to use a screen capture utility that allows you to capture only part of the screen, or even better any free form area you like. Windows Vista has a built in tool called the ‘snipping tool’ that does that, but if you want that functionality on Windows XP you need a program called Snippy.

Snippy is a very small free program that when running has a little scissors icon in the task bar at the bottom of the screen. When you want to capture a screen snip you click on the icon and then draw around the area you want to capture.

You can choose whether to have a line around the snip as well as the colour and thickness of the line. A rectangular area can be captured by holding down the shift key whilst dragging.

Once you have made your snip, the picture is placed in the computers clipboard to be pasted into whatever program you want. You can also save the picture in one of several picture formats (bmp, jpeg, gif, tiff, png) by right clicking on the icon and selecting save as.

Snippy can be downloaded free from its website.

Live web pages in PowerPoint

So you have your lesson all set out in PowerPoint with your explanations ready. Now you want to show a website as part of your lesson. Normally that would mean closing the PowerPoint show and switching to your web browser to show the page you want, which takes time and could detract from your flow.

There is an alternative. Using a special PowerPoint plugin it is possible to have a live web page appear in a PowerPoint presentation. This is not just a screen shot, but acts just like your web browser and allows full navigation of whatever web sites you want.

The plugin is called LiveWeb and is available as a free download. When it has been installed (which is done as with any other program) you will see two new options at the bottom of the ‘Insert’ menu in PowerPoint. It is then easy to add a web pages to your Presentation as follows.

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Create interactive games, activities & quizzes with Contentgenerator.net

Most children love playing games and flash based games are very popular. There are lots of educational flash games available and they can be a useful tools in the classroom for reinforcing or revising topics. They can be used with the whole class or for individual pupils on computers.

The problem with the many of the games I find for use with pupils is that they never do quite what I want them to. The questions may not be all on the topic I want or the website they are based on may have too many other distractions that make if difficult for pupils to concentrate on what they should be doing.

A solution to these problems is to make your own games that are based on the questions you want to focus on and that can be run from a school network or a website that you have control over. Unfortunately developing games in flash requires a lot of skill and knowledge that most of us don’t have the time or skills to develop. That is where Contentgenerator.net comes in. Contentgenerator.net provides a series of programs that make it easy to create your own flash games to use with pupils. Many of the programs are commercial, but are priced reasonably, while others are free.

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Using sound effects in lessons

Kerr-ching! The use of sound in the classroom (except teachers’ and pupils’ voices) is often overlooked. Almost everywhere that our pupils go they are used to hearing things and sound is used to reinforce messages all over the place. Try watching a TV game show and listening out for the sounds that accompany whatever the contestents are doing.

Obviously our classrooms aren’t TV studios and our lessons aren’t gameshows, but we can use sound to reinforce what we are teaching, or just to add another dimension to some of the things we do. One possiblity is to play music to the pupils while they are working, but that is a topic for another post. What I want to talk about is using sound effects rather than long pieces of music.

I sometimes like to play games with my classes to help introduce or reinforce a topic, maybe as a starter or plenary. It might be along the lines of a TV quiz like Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Countdown, or something like a simple team head to head quiz. I want the pupils to enjoy these and find them fun so I use the interactive whiteboard to make them visually engaging and I can use sound effects to add a further dimension. Nothing complex, maybe a ‘Ding’ for a correct answer or a round of applause at the end of a round.

There are lots of sound effects freely available on the internet. I have collected a few together in Mp3 format that you can download from here (Zip file – 1.17Mb).

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Using timers in lessons

1 hour? 50 minutes? 30 minutes? Whatever the length of your lessons, you will probably want to divide them up into several shorter sections or tasks. Making your pupils aware of the timing of your lessons can encourage them to work with more purpose and focus than when they’re not sure how long they have. The other advantage of sharing timings is that it can help to keep track of the time when you are focused on the lesson and helping pupils.

Timing can rely on a normal clock on the wall, or on your watch, but in order to make everyone on the room most aware, a countdown timer is very useful. Using a timer in lessons is nothing new and a physical timer can be effective, but if you have a projector in your classroom then a software based timer may be the best option.

There are a number of different timer programs available on the internet. Some are very simple and do nothing more than count down from a set time, while others have loads of bells and whistles like multiple timers and reminders.

The six timers I am going to highlight are all simple to use and are ideal for the classroom. They all have the basic function of counting down from any time between a few seconds to several hours, but they each look different and work slightly differently. Some are more complex and need to be installed on your computer. Others are flash based and will run without being installed. They are simpler, but do have the advantage that they can be run full screen. Continue reading