Thursday, June 4, 2009

Looking for Easy-to-Print Awards? Try My Award Maker

It's the end of the school year and award season is upon us. This is the time when teachers and schools look for ways to recognize their students' accomplishments with field trips, ceremonies, graduations...and awards.

What is it?

My Award Maker is a free and very easy website that allows you to download and print personalized awards for your students and colleagues. This site takes the hassle out of using programs like Microsoft Publisher because the template is completely finished--all you have to do is enter the name of the recipient!

How do I make an award?

  1. Go to
  2. Choose an award category and find an award you'd like to use
  3. Download the Award
  4. Open the award (it's a PDF file) and change the personal information (name, date, etc.)
  5. Print!

Anything else I should know?

  • While you can modify the personal information (names, dates, etc.) on the downloaded awards, you can't modify anything else (clipart, font, colors, etc.). Basically, WYSIWYG.
  • There is a section called "blank templates" that allows you to have a little more freedom with the award (they're not set up as specific awards--you customize them).

Good Luck!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Siftables: Hands-On Technology of the Future

Every once in a while, as I explore the Internet for the next great tech tool, I come across something amazing, something that blows my mind, something that is leaps and bounds ahead of everything else. A few days ago, I followed a link from one of the people that I follow on Twitter and discovered Siftables.

What is it?
Siftables are independent, wireless digital blocks that can communicate with each other. David Merrill, an MIT doctoral student and one of the developers of Siftables, was challenged with coming up with a way to make technology more "physical". He believes that people are skilled at using their hands to sift and sort through items to develop higher level thinking skills, but most technology devices don't lend themselves to that type of interaction. Siftables can be manipulated to play videos, spell words, solve math problems, create music, tell stories, and more. Watch this video of David presenting Siftables to a group in California.

The applications for education are obvious. Once Siftables are realeased and are available for purchase (hopefully they'll be affordable for schools!), they will change the way that we teach and the way that our students learn...again. I think that the thing that makes Siftables so unique and desirable is that they add a new layer to technology integration: making it hands-on. There are so many incredible websites and tools out there, but few of them allow users to physically interact (Those that do are incredibally popular--the Nintendo Wii--or expensive). I can't wait to try out Siftables with a group of students!

I know that there isn't really anything that you can take from this post and use with your students right now, but I thought that you might enjoy seeing (what I think is) something awesome.

Start planning would you use Siftables with your students?