Monthly Archive for August, 2010

Interactive Reference Guide to converting tasks in Microsoft Office 2003 in Office 2007

Thanks to Michael French who shared the link to the following interactive tools let you click on a simulation of Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Access and Outlook – on whatever task you know how to do in the 2003 version – and then the online tool shows you how to do the same in the 2007 version.

Excel –

Word –

Access –

Powerpoint –

Outlook –

Publisher 2007 Help guides –

For a whole series of video tutorials on using Microsoft Office you might also find the following video tutorials helpful:

Interactive Word 2003 to 2007 Guide

If you have been used to using Microsoft Word 2003, and now have Microsoft Word 2007, it can take quite a bit of time to get used to where to find menus or tools, as the layout and structure is quite different.

An interactive tool which will be found useful is the “Interactive-word-2003-to-word-2007-command-reference-guide.”  Thanks to Stuart Lennie who shared this link.  Click on the link below to get to this tool.

This takes you to a simulation of Word 2003.  You then click on the menu or tool you are used to using in Word 2003 and the interactive tool then shows you how to do the same thing in Word 2007.

For a whole series of video tutorials on using Microsoft Office you might also find the following video tutorials helpful:

Comics in the Classroom – Online Tools

There are many teachers who now use comic creation software or online tools in the classroom to inspire Literacy across the curriculum, or to empower pupils to create visual narratives, pictorial reports, how-to guides and more in a visually engaging way.   They report that this process helps engage disaffected pupils to provide an immediacy of dialogue by developing visual literacy through the graphic novels style.

Charles Thacker provides a good rationale of why to use comics in the classroom here:

John Larkin provides examples of the use of comic creation tools in a classroom setting across the curriculum at:

Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools and Resources for Teachers is a superb resource collated by Kelsey Allen. This is grouped into various categories and each resource has helpful descriptive notes. There are sections on understanding how comics are beneficial in schools and ways they can be used; sources of information, tools, community, and more to help you use comics in your classroom; lists of comics which are both high-quality and age-appropriate; tools to help you get creative; examples of the use of comics by other educators; and lesson plans grouped by age-group.
HowToons is a great site partly to show examples of the comic style used in an instructional way but also to provide contexts of real guided texts. These are aimed at children. The stated aim of HowToons is to provide engaging content that teaches kids how to build things, combining instructions with storytelling in a graphic comic style. Howtoons has a foundation of science and engineering education, inspiring creativity through art and imagination.


Comic Life – commercial software

Falkirk Council purchased the commercial software Comic Life Deluxe for all Falkirk Council educational establishments.

Dianne Krause has created a Video Introduction to Comic Life and overview of features:
Andrew Churches has created a Video Comic Life beginner’s guide
Part 1 – Step by step guide to getting started:
Part 2 – Step by step guide to modifying  titles and captions, and saving options:
This link below provides a video Step by step guide to modifying speech bubbles and lettering in Comic Life:

Free Online Comic Creation Tools

There are a number of free online tools which can be used to create comic strips in the classroom or at home
As these make use of shared online resources teachers should familiarise themselves with the tools to satisfy themselves of the suitability of the resource for their pupils. Pupil supervision is required since there is sometimes content you may consider unsuitable uploaded by users.  Some of these tools may also be blocked by internet filters within schools. – choose from a range of characters, backgrounds, furniture, objects, and add your own text bubbles. You can create a variety of comic layout formats, resize and change positions of everything. – create characters, create stories, even whole books of cartoons. Chogger – education version available.  You can upload your own photographs, and edit within the tool. Using Lego characters you can create comics, choosing from a bank of backgrounds, characters and images, adding your own text in speech bubbles, and contriolling the size, position and angle of everything.
ArtisanCam Super Action Hero Comic Creator – lets you choose from a choice of super action hero characters, position them, add speech bubbles and choose their action position.

Cartoon Maker and Superhero Cartoon Maker from Cambridge English lets you create cartoons with your own choice of characters, in a choice of template styles.

British Council Comic Creator for kids>

You may find the following links also helpful:
ComicMaster is a free online graphic-novel creation tool, supported by Words for Life, encouraging reading at all ages. You can choose from a range of comic styles, backgrounds, characters and speech symbols to create writing in graphic novel style.
Cartoon Studies How To Guide is a free downloadable guide to creating cartoon comics, including tips on drawing techniques as well as techniques for creating various effects and for creating stories which engage the reader.

Countdown Timers and Random Name Selectors for Class Activities

Sometimes in a classroom situation it’s useful to have a countdown timer.  Whether it is for a bit of fun to focus the pupils on the time available while waiting for pupils to finish a task within a deadline, or to use within a class quiz.

There is a free online countdown timer from which can be displayed on a computer (or whiteboard) and which also lets you choose a piece of music from a selection.  These include television and film theme music (like Dr Who or Pink Panther) as well as a classical selection (such as Pachelbel’s Canon).  And in addition you can upload your own mp3 track (obviously ensuring copyright and royalty compliance).

When you click “Countdown” the timer plays for the length of time specified by the length of the music track (there are tracks from which to choose from 30 seconds to over 7 minutes and many choices in between).  The music plays, and the screen colour changes showing the proportion of time still left to go, with colour variations the closer you get to the end of the time.

Classtools mobile-ready timer lets you add music or YouTube video and have multiple timesr which you can save according to your preferences for classroom use. can be used by a teacher to randomly select pupil names from a class list.  This can be used perhaps where a pupil is to be selected to report on a lesson or task, or to give a demonstration to the class. is an alternative countdown timer tool created by John McLear of Primary Technology which would work well in the classroom.  This is a random name selector. So it is designed specifically to provide the teacher with a tool for choosing a pupil’s name from a class, and then setting a timed task for that pupil before repeating with another randomly selected name.

A teacher simply enters the names of the pupils in a class (by clicking “Change Names”). Then to save this as a unique class list simply click on “Save and Share” and copy the generated website address.  This can then be saved as a link in a document, email or website or blog.  There is also the option to copy the embed code to embed the random name selector into the website or blog. Having done that simply click “Go” and the random name generator scrolls through the names, accompanied by a soundtrack. When the scrolling stops a name will be highlighted.  The teacher chooses the length of time the pupil has to now complete their task (perhaps a plenary report on a lesson) from 1 to 7 minutes. On selecting the stopwatch time a visual countdown timer appears on screen showing the time counting down. As it finishes the timer changes colour to red. The teacher can then choose to keep that pupil on the list or remove the pupil’s name before repeating the random name generator as often as required. This tool would be useful where the teacher wishes to randomly select pupils to present a report, give a demonstration, or undertake tasks, all within a pre-selected time. 

Random Name Picker wheel –  ClassTools provides this free online tool where you can add your class list then click on the wheel to randomly select a name. You can choose to remove names which appear so that they don’t appear again, or leave if you wish them all to remain in the choices.

Triptico is free downloadable software which is a suite of classroom tools designed to work with any interactive whiteboard as a classroom tool which can be adapted for use in many classroom situations. Click here for a detailed description of all of the tools by  Jose Picardo.  This software includes random name selector and countdown timer as part of the suite of tools available. The tools also provide for options to randomly group your pupils, or to have team scoring. There are gaming applications and task-specific applications which would be useful in many classroom situations.

Online Stopwatch is a site with a whole range of timing tools which can be used for a variety of classroom applications, whether timing activities or providing a countdown to signal the end of an activity. In addition to a very large countdown timer stopwatch there is also the option to present different screens displaying the timer such as egg-timer, chess-timer (two player timers), alarm clock, fused explosion, cash clock metronome and others. Each of these tools can be individually embedded onto a webpage or blog, making ease of access for a regularly-used tool possible for a teacher.

In addition to being able to be used online the tool can be download to your PC as flash files (which will work in recent versions of Powerpoint, Smart Notebook or via internet browsers) which will work without the need to then be connected to the Internet.

TimeMe is a free online timer tool which lets teachers customise how the timer appears on screen, so you can change the colour of the numbers or background, you can choose from a range of audio messages which will be heard at the end of a countdown or choose a pop-up on-screen message.

An idea which can be adapted from end-of-task selector to random pupil selector (or indeed combined to randomly select a pupil name combined to a random task) is Max Rayner’s Plenary Tool which is a Powerpoint template which can be downloaded. When displayed the Powerpoint has links from the coloured numbered squares – clicking on a square reveals an end-of-task activity (designed as a fun way of presenting different ways of pupils summarising the learning which has taken place at the end of a lesson or activity). Since it is downloadable as a Powerpoint presentation it can be edited by the teacher to have the number choices linked to a pupil name (perhaps also with an activity).

A6 Training has made available for use by teachers Powerpoint timer templates by David Foord. This is a single Powerpoint presentation which can be downloaded for free. Instructions at he start of the Powerpoint presentation explain how to use and how each timer can be adapted. So you can open and use a selected timer without need to change, or if you wish you can copy a chosen timer slides from this presentation into another presentation (each slide provides the link to provide attribution credit to the original site).

Where there is a wish to have a random selector based on numbers in a group Simon Haughton has created a Powerpoint student selector which has concentric circles and a simple start/stop pointer. So start it, then click stop and the pointer will slow to a stop on a number. If your group is made up of only two pupils then you look at the number the pointer stops at within the innermost circle. If groups of three then you look at the next circle outwards. If 4, 5 or 6 then choose the appropriate circle and the random pointer tells you the number of the pupil selected for the given task or activity.

Powerpoint Timers created by Jeff Ertzberger comprise free to download Powerpoint templates. Each can be adapted to use with your own class, changing text and images as required. The site provides instructions to adapting the Powerpoints to your own needs.

Smartboard and Powerpoint Timers –  these are free to download timers in different styles (eclipse or egg-timers in different time durations)  which can be used offline as part of a Powerpoint presentation or Smart Notebook presentation.

Need to Edit a PDF? Free online Tool

How often do we all find a pdf that requires us to fill in boxes or which needs a small amendment?  The PDF is a convenient way for websites to share documents with us regardless of whether we have the software which created it on our computer.  The PDF can be opened on computers and the document will look the way the original creator wanted it to look.

A handy free online tool to then fill in boxes with your own text or white-out sections is PDF Escape:

PDF Escape lets you upload a PDF document without having to register or save the document (but you can do so if you wish to save a draft version online to work on later).  Then you can choose the text tool to add text wherever required or use the whiteout tool to cover up information you wish removed.  Then simply save the completed edited document back to your computer.

Neevia Compress PDF – so, having created a PDF you find the file size is too big to email elsewhere or upload online? Then this free online tool, Neevia Compress PDF, will let you upload your PDF file and reduce the file-size (you can make choices as to quality) for instant download. The tool also has the facility to convert documents to PDF online, and to merge or change the print size of PDFs.

Sejda lets you upload one or more PDF files and then merge, split, protect or rotate them.

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