ThingLink does exactly what it sounds like it does: it links your stuff to, well...things on the web. Think of it as an interactive poster: you choose an image and create "hot spots" on the image that launch you to related information (e.g., websites, video, audio) about that topic.
And did I mention it's free and user-friendly?
Last year, I collaborated with the art teacher, who was (a) teaching a unit on Impressionism to the 5th graders, and (b) looking to incorporate technology as an extension of their learning. I was (a) looking to create a cross-curricular unit, and (b) eager to have a class play around with this new application I had discovered. And thus, our Impressionist ThingLink unit was born.
We started simply. The kids each chose one of three artists whom they were studying in art class: Renoir, Cassatt, and Monet. After a brief introduction to age-appropriate keyword searching, students were directed to find websites with the following requirements: (1) biographical information about the artist; (2) 2-3 examples of the artist's work from a museum; (3) a video or audio spot that provided additional information about the artist; (4) any other cool stuff that an eleven year-old kid would enjoy. Here's an example I provided for the students to use as a model.
Of course, the kids loved it--and asked if they could create their own on a topic of their choosing. I was already devising ways to utilize it with other subject areas.
Before you get started, take a quick and closer look at ThingLink's features and to get some ideas. If your students don't have their own email accounts, teachers can set up classroom accounts here, and you can view these examples of ThingLinks that have already been created by students and teachers.
Here are some quick and easy ways for you to get started in your own classroom:
1. Interactive Book Report
Students download a Creative Commons image that represents the author/theme/protagonist of the book. They then add information specific to the usual book report.
2. Interactive Map
Using a map as a base image, students add links to the history of the location, attractions, important historical events.
3. Multimedia Definitions
Find an image with a vocabulary word specific to the subject area. Students add links to websites, photos, videos, and audio that demonstrate the meaning of the word.
4. Periodic Table
For each element of the Periodic Table, students provide links to, again, websites, photos, and videos that further explain the element.
5. Study Guide
Students download an image related to an upcoming quiz/test and provide links to sites related to vocabulary, concepts, historical dates, etc., to help them prepare. They're simultaneously learning while they create.
ThingLink works on iPads and iPhones, too, if your school has a BYOD policy.
What things can your students link? Please share your ideas!
Digital Learning Coach in Cleveland, Ohio, sharing innovative technology ideas.