Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Website Wednesday

Providing teachers with an interactive and easy-to-deliver vocabulary development application (put
out by the makers of BoomWriter).

This post on Edutopia provides practical classroom strategies to reinforce student autonomy, competence, relatedness, and relevance.

Educators are using Tackk in a wide variety of ways in the classroom. From daily announcements to
creating digital portfolios, the possibilities are endless. The ability to comment publically and privately allows for collaboration between teachers, students, or even with other classes.

Google Earth Tour of the Lincoln Assassination
The tour focuses on the last days of President Lincoln and his killer, the famed actor John Wilkes Booth.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Website Wednesday

Think "fantasy football for social studies, literacy standards, and world news. Great way to get students engaged in learning!

ePals is an ideal way to collaborate with other classrooms around the world. You can set-up communication through Skype or emails between students. Teachers can search for a class to connect with by age range, language and regions.
Geared toward middle and high school age students. Great way for students and teachers to learn about the world they live in.

Canva is a tool that makes design simple for everyone. Canva gives you everything you need to easily turn ideas into stunning designs. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations,
Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.

Canva EDU Lesson Plans on Pinterest
Collection of lesson plans for using the tool Canva with students.
tags: canva technology lesson plans lesson

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Website Wednesday

This blog post focuses on completing Word Work on the iPad with elementary students. Thanks to Kayla Long for sharing this link!

Science Experiments For Kids | The Quirkles
Quirkles is the Science/reading book series that comes with 2 experiments to do at the end. They can be taught in any order so teachers could read the book or books that go along with the letters while they introduce them. Thanks to Renae Hukill for sharing this resource.

This site is loaded with articles, resources and book recommendations geared toward the 4-8 grade educator. Topics are wide and varying.

"Classrooms can Skype with a Yellowstone National Park ranger to learn more about geology (geysers, hot springs, volcanoes), ecology (fire; wildlife--bears, bison, elk, wolves, and more), or cultural history (Native American, world's 1st national park, tourism). Students can interview a park ranger or try to guess which park the ranger works in."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Website Wednesday

Ten Reflective Questions to Ask at the End of Class
Provides some basic observations about reflection along with 10 reflective prompt questions you can use with your students or for yourself. Great questions for wrapping up the day, a project or a lesson.
    What educators should know about the human brain..
    Nice collection of articles and infographics on the human brain and the impact in learning.
      5 Free Tools for Creating Whiteboard Videos
      These whiteboard video creation tools are great for those exploring or working with the Flipped Classroom. They are also a great way to create concept videos to share with parents and students as homework helpers. Tool recommendations from FreeTech4Teachers.
        5 Ways to Make Professional Looking Google Documents | Teacher Tech
        This post by Alice Keeler focuses on tips to make you Google documents look more professional. Those tips include invisible tables, fonts, headers, painter, and graphics.
          Google Tools for Science & Math
          Includes Chrome Extensions, Google Doc Add-ons, Graphing & Calculators, and Google Drive Apps connected to Science and Math

          Wednesday, March 25, 2015

          10 Features of Google Keep

          I am a Post-it© note fiend.  I use them for reminders, phone messages and quotes for inspiration.  When Stickies showed up on the Mac computer, I started using those to remember key information.  The sad thing about Stickies is you can't access them from any other computer or device.  As a result, I stopped using them and resorted back to the paper Post-it© notes, but the sticky only lasts so long, especially if you move them frequently.

          Last summer, I came upon a new tool called Google Keep.  I liked it better than stickies because I could access them on any computer, but the features were limited and I couldn't access them on my Apple devices.  Just this week I discovered that Google Keep has an Apple app and I've been taking a fresh look at this tool.  Here's what I like about this tool:

          1.  It's free!  Who doesn't love free resources?

          2.  It's tied to your Google account.  You know what that means?  No additional username and password to remember!  Because we are a GAFE district, students can also use this tool for reminders, notes and checklists.  This becomes the perfect digital agenda for students.

          3.  Color!!!!  I'm all for using a variety of color!  Google Keep allows you to change the color of your notes.  I like to use this as a means of organizing my notes.  For example, red notes relate to my website, green ones are informational reminders, and teal notes relate to the Intel Courses.  Students could use different colors for different classes to help them stay organized.

          4.  You can change notes from a regular note to a checklist with one click.  This is great for projects or daily to-dos, especially for those of us who like to see what we've accomplished and what is left to complete.

          5.  You can add reminders on your notes by clicking the reminder icon (finger with a string tied on it).  Customize your desired date and time on your reminder and you are all set to receive notification reminders.  No more missed deadlines!

          6.  With a simple drag & drop action, you can rearrange your notes and put them in any order that works for you.

          7.  You can search and filter your notes by words, color, sharing, lists, images, and more.

          8.  You can add images and websites to your notes.  This would be great for collecting images and websites for a specific lesson, unit or project.  You could also take a photo at a workshop of a key slide or information being presented and add it to a note.  Students could take a photo of the work for the week if their teacher posts it in the classroom.  This feature would also help students keep track of online photo locations for images they use on a class project.

          9.  You can share notes with other people by clicking on the share icon.  They will receive an email message with a link to the note.  This would be great for sharing project responsibilities or sending out assignments to students.

          10.  There is an app!  Android users have always had a Google Keep app option for their devices, but until recently Apple users had to just use the Chrome web browser on their devices.  Now you can see you notes and receive notifications on the go by installing GoKeep.  App Drawbacks - too many ads and no search or filter option!  Hopefully that will be an upcoming update.  There is an alternative app option called TurboNote for Google Keep.  You still have ads at the bottom of the screen, but they are not popping up over the top of your notes.

          Some additional tidbits:
          • You can download the Google Keep app onto your computer from the Chrome Web Store.
          • There is a Google Keep extension - Category Tabs for Google Keep - that allows you to assign specific categories to your note colors.  However, there are some glitches with filtering the colors.
          • This app runs offline!
          Check out this video for a quick visual tour of this tool!

          Website Wednesday

          This blog post by Kasey Bell focuses on using Google Maps, Street View and Google Earth.

          53 ideas for checking student understanding.

          The Key Differences Between Summative And Formative Assessments | Edudemic
          This short article from Edudemic provides a simple definition between summative and formative assessments. They have also included a handy infographic for those of us who are visual learners.

          10 edu-books to inspire and stimulate
          Looking for a book to help you go to the next level as an educator? Matt Miller, author of Ditch the Textbook, offers his top ten list.
            75 Practical Ed Tech Tips Videos
            Educational 'how-to' videos created by Richard Byrne, FreeTech4Teachers, covering a variety of topics such as storyboarding, blogging tools and tips, audio recording tools and more.  (See playlist below)

              Wednesday, March 11, 2015

              Digital Learning Day + Pi Day = Engaged Learners

              Digital Learning Day and Pi Day are fast approaching, but maybe you've never heard about these two days before.

              Digital Learning Day was started to showcase how technology can improve student outcomes and

              support teachers.  Many online education programs provide special activities for Digital Learning Day that emphasis the use of collaboration, sharing of best technology practices and boost technology learning for teachers and students.

              Here are some resources that will assist teachers and students as they explore Digital Learning Day:

              Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi).

              • PI Day (official website)
              • Plan a Pi Day Party - Education World provides a list of lesson plans and activities for celebrating Pi Day with your students.
              • Dunk Tank!: Circles - A fun interactive quiz show all about diameter, circumference, radius and pi created by PBS Learning Media.
              • Teachπ.org - Find Pi Day videos, book recommendations, activities and more.
              • 7 Classroom Resources for Pi Day - List put out by Edutopia
              • Exploring Pi - This article from Scholastic provides some history on Pi as well as links to lessons geared toward elementary students.

              Website Wednesday

              Speedometry – Learn Math and Science | Hot Wheels
              Register for your free Hot Wheels kit and download the lesson plans that address STEM integration.
              tags: stem physics math science lessonplans
              Free games for helping students learn about place value.
              tags: place value math mathgames
              Place Value lessons and games by Sheppard Software. Students will identify the digits, compare numbers, learn different ways of showing a number, and more. Geared toward elementary students.
              tags: place value math mathgames
              "...the following series of fill-in-the-blank prompts can be used by teachers to create lessons, students to create projects–or teachers to collaborate with students to create lessons–or projects. Or, well, you get the idea. I use these sorts of stems to create “learning blends” for students–either with them, or for them. I couple these prompts with other components–technology like apps or social media channels, texts from literary classics to postmodern non-fiction, creativity, or even local matters of citizenship." -from Terry Heick, author of this resource
              tags: prompts projects PBL questions collaboration resources
              Kid-friendly songs teaching students about similes & metaphors, prepositions, prefix or suffix, perimeter, triangles, and more. Most seem appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students, but the high school students might enjoy similes & metaphors.
              tags: videos grammar math resources

              Monday, March 9, 2015

              New Tools & New People from TIG

              New Tools and Resources

              Mango Languages - This tool, available for FREE thanks to our Kansas State Library, will help you learn over 60 languages.  You will walk through practical language lessons that provide pronunciation practice, grammar lessons, cultural information, and more.  Did I mention there are English courses for non-English speakers?!  Take a tour with the video below.

              There is also an app for Mango Languages (available for Apple and Android devices).  Once you create your account using the online website on the KS State Library page, you can log into the Mango Languages app and continue working on your lessons.

              Buncee - A digital canvas where you can add content that can then be shared through email or social media.  Students and teachers can use this tool to create more engaging and interactive presentations and lessons.

               *Make sure you go to the education link -

              eMaze - This HTML5 presentation maker allows teachers and students to create slideshows, video presentations, infographics and 3D presentations.  Need a quick tutorial?  Check this one out from eMaze -

              Visme - This another tool for creating presentations, infographics and banners.  Your final products can be published via social media, on a website or downloaded.

              Canva - This easy to use graphic design program will allow you and your students to create awesome graphics to share via social media, your website and blog or by downloading & printing.  Get tips and ideas via the Canva Design School or create using the Canva iPad App.

              Tapp Roulette - This is a "random picking" app.  Need to decide who goes first in the game or who
              Tapp Roulette
              gets to return the computer cart?  Use Tapp Roullette.  Each students puts their finger on the screen and then you click 'Pick a Finger.' Tapp Roullette randomly chooses one of the fingers.  You can have up to 11 fingers on an iPad and 5 fingers on the iPhone/iPod.

              Common Sense Media - This resource provides ratings and reviews on apps, games, books, websites and more geared toward children ages 2-17.  They also provide media and technology resources for educators, including a whole curriculum for digital literacy and citizenship.
              All the resources on this site are FREE!

              New People to Follow

              Needing to build up your PLN?  Check out some of these great educators and educational supporters!

              TechChef4U - This is the twitter handle used by Lisa Johnson, an educator and tech integration guru.  She has done extensive work on iPads and apps in the classroom, including the publication of the TechChef4U app and the Hot Apps 4 HOTS iBook.

              TED Ed Lesson
              @259tech - This is the Wichita Public Schools Instructional Technology Twitter handle.  They have resources, tools, and ideas from the classroom.

              @TED-Ed - Provider links to their short, captivating educational videos and other educational resources.

              @TeachingLC - The Twitter handle for Teaching with the Library of Congress.  Their tweets contain primary sources, inspiration, ideas and opportunities for teachers from the world's greatest library.

              @TodaysDocument - Tweets from Today in History & Daily Historical Documents from the US National Archive include loads of primary source photos that will enliven and engage your social studies classroom.

              Tweets from PSNTPS
              @DocsTeach - Follow the online tool for teaching with documents from the @USNATArchives.  Use resources shared in their tweets to create interactive lessons with primary sources to foster historical thinking.

              @coolcatteacher - This is the brand name used by Vicki David, a full time teacher and IT director in Georgia.  She shares thoughts and tips on using new technology in teaching.

              @justintarte - This is the twitter handle for Justin Tarte, an administrator with a passion for learning
              and technology.  He shares thought provoking articles and photos via his Twitter account.

              @PSNTPS - This twitter handle belongs to the TPS-Barat Primary Source Nexus, an online community support resource for the TPS-Barat Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Resources Program.  These send out interesting tweets ideas for combining primary resources and technology to create engaging learning for your students.

              @PenguinClass - This handle for the School and Library Marketing department of Penguin Young Readers provides tweets to author interviews, book & poetry lesson ideas, book trailers and more.  They will also do Skype author visits with your classroom for free.  Email them at and tell them what you want.  For example, you want to Skype with a poet or an author who writes nonfiction, preferably about bugs.

              Travis True (on Google+) - Travis is an educator in the Topeka Public Schools.  He shares a lot on Chromebooks, Chrome extensions, and all things Google.

              Wednesday, March 4, 2015

              Website Wednesday

              From Free Technology For Teachers - This blog post features a short video created by Minute Physics on how modern light bulbs work and how the design has changed over the last 100+ years. it also provides applications for classroom use.
              tags: light bulbs electricity activities teaching videos
              Great resource for teachers - provides definition, key words, actions, outcomes and questions for the thinking skill levels in Bloom's Taxonomy.
              tags: teaching instruction bloom's taxonomy assessment
              Collection of story starter ideas for writing assignments or digital storytelling activities.
              tags: writing prompts storytelling digital storytelling resources
              From PBS Learning Media, this 5 minute video relates the history behind single women homesteaders and the 1862 Homesteading Act. You can opt to stream or download the video. You can also see the standards tied to this content.
              tags: social studies classroom resources pbs videos
              As you explore the various demographical information available, the country size will shift to indicate the data being depicted. This is a great for visual learners! With one quick glance you can see which country has the highest number in a specific area. When you hover your mouse over a country, you will get the country name and actual numbers.
              tags: maps demographics geography interactive web2.0 resources technology

              Monday, March 2, 2015

              Getting my art on at TIG

              This month at TIG we took a different exploration direction and did something totally non-techie.  Well, you could turn it into a techie thing depending on the tool you used, but I'll talk about that more later.  A 'new' educational trend is Sketchnoting.  To look at a sketchnote, you would say 'Oh, that's just someone doodling while they are taking notes.'  True, sketchnoting is a form of doodling, but it is doodling with a purpose.  Basically, sketchnoting is a visual method of note taking.  It is a combination of writing and drawing to create more visually appealing notes.  There are many methods to choose from when sketchnoting.  You can use a mind mapping approach, a linear approach or even a boxed approach.


              My first Sketchnote experience
              Since most of us at TIG had heard of sketchnoting, but hadn't really explored or experienced it first hand, we dove into a variety of resources.  We looked at everything from tools for getting started to video tutorials on sketchnote doodling.  We also jumped in with both feet and did our own sketchnotes over a 20 minute TED Talk.  I have to admit that while I didn't see much of the session, I was keyed in on what the speaker was saying.  Although I've always been a note taker, it helps me focus, adding the visual of sketchnoting really planted the ideas in my mind and helped me recall the information.

              Now, I am not an artist by any means.  My middle school art teacher told me to give up the craft because I was too much of perfectionist.  I've never even been much of a doodler even when we use to have the old corded telephones in our homes.  It wasn't for lack of trying, but I never could think of anything to doodle.  However, after experiencing sketchnoting first hand, I found myself buying some colorful pens and a sketch book.  I've started practicing my doodling skills with some assistance from online resources and the Sketchnote Workbook by Mike Rohde.

              As I started writing this blog post, I started thinking and looking at how sketchnoting might be used in the classroom.  First, I want to say that sketchnoting might not be for all learners, however, it's not a bad thing for all learners to experience new forms of learning.  Why?  Well, it gives us new perspectives into learning and you never know when a new form of learning might actually work for you.  One idea we did talk about in TIG was having students watch a content video created by yourself or someone else and sketchnote the key points.  Then put the students into small groups and have them compare their notes and reflect on the experience.  What key points stood out to them?  Did they miss anything?  Do the visuals help you understand the concept?  What did you draw and why did you draw it?

              As sketchnoting is still fairly new on the education scene, I did some digging to find other ideas for using this form of note taking with students.  Check out these examples:

              Mindmapping - This activity combined low-tech and high-tech to create a completed product.

              Unit Summaries/Reviews -  Great way to sum-up the key concepts over specific units

              Book Review/Summary - Take the traditional chapter summaries and add a visual flare

              More ideas:

              Learn more about Sketchnotes:
              Sketchnoting - visual note taking tips, pointers and practice

              What do think?  Are you game to try some sketchnoting personal?  Would you be willing to try this with your students?  I'd love to hear about your experiences with sketchnoting!

              Wednesday, February 18, 2015


              Draggo is a bookmarking tool for those websites you want to remember or use on a regular basis.  You can group your bookmarks with topic specific tabs and then into various categories on each tab.  Bookmarks can be moved and edited as needed.  A couple years ago I created Draggo accounts for each school building (except Westside - sorry) in our district in an effort to provide links to tools and websites that the students would use regularly - or for a specific teacher - throughout the course of the school year.

              In the elementary buildings, teachers have their students set the building Draggo page as their homepage whenever they get on the Internet.  This makes it easier and faster for students to access the websites they need during class.  Students have no need to log into Draggo.  They just choose the tab they need and find the bookmark in the category given to them by their teacher.  Here are the links to each building Draggo page:

              I have encouraged teachers to take ownership of their building Draggo page by giving them the log in information so they can add and remove links, categories and tabs.  I do ask if a specific grade or teacher has a tab that you not edit or remove their tab.  We are limited to seven tabs, so if we are running out of tabs, let me know so I can assist in making some modifications.  If you never received the log in information for you school's Draggo page, please email me and I will send that out to you.

              Draggo is not the only bookmarking tool available, but at the time it was highly recommended.  If you are interested in exploring other visual bookmarking tools to use with your students, you might check out:

              "How-To" Edit Draggo

              Website Wednesday...for February

              I just realized today that this month has been so full I haven't had time to post any of the great Website Wednesday resources.  So here is the collection for February.  I hope you enjoy!

              This chart provides examples for shifting your traditional homework assignments to engaging, learning tasks for students.

                Although the designated Random Acts of Kindness Week is over, there are some excellent resources and ideas to continue encouraging Random Acts of Kindness in your classroom, school and community.

                  Great resource for geography!

                    Get a basic understanding of Augmented Reality (AR) along with some printable interactive resources that you can use right way in your classroom.

                      Take this Internet Safety test from the Safer Internet Centre. Students are given different scenarios and must determine the best course of action. Good resource for digital citizenship.

                        Explore and study the Middle East - the past and the present - with these 40 various maps covering political borders, demographics, religion and more.

                          On historypin, history is recorded with photos from the past and present. As a teacher, you could use this site by having students explore and interact with photos from specific time periods and/or locations. There are photo collections and tours that you could use as a whole class or individually. These are great primary sources for studying history. Check out this video to a short intro to historypin -

                            Fun Facts for Kids on Animals, Earth, History and more! Please note that this link is beta mode right now, so feel free to give them feedback so they can improve this fun fact resource.

                              View the Common Core State Standards in one convenient FREE app! A great reference for students, parents, and teachers to easily read and understand the core standards. Quickly find standards by subject, grade, and subject category (domain/cluster). This app includes Math standards K-12 and Language Arts standards K-12. Math standards include both traditional and integrated pathways (as outlined in Appendix A of the common core) and synthesizes Language Arts standards with the Corresponding College and Career Readiness Standards (CCR's).

                                View the Next Generation Science Standards in one convenient FREE app! A great reference for teachers, parents, and students to easily read and understand the standards. Quickly find standards by various topic arrangements or keyword search.

                                Wednesday, January 28, 2015

                                Website Wednesday

                                Search apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android using a variety of search methods. Select a specific category from general categories to specific topics. Use the filter to only see apps that are free, have no in-app purchases and are for a specific age grade. Great resource when looking for apps to use at school or home.
                                The quick and safe way to find and cite images for class! Searches through the Creative Commons photos on Flickr. *Please note that the students will not be able to see the images at school, but they could use this tool at home to find photos for their school projects. They still need to give credit.
                                Provides math games geared toward specific concepts at each grade level for K-6. You can access four games without registering. Teachers can join for free, which allows teachers and students to access all the games for free while at school. You must pay for students to use these games at home.
                                Great resource for information on President Lincoln. Provides activities, research topics, critical thinking questions, vocabulary, lesson plans and more.

                                Help students understand the human body - including the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory and nervous system - with these 14 StudyJams! activities.

                                Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

                                Thursday, January 8, 2015

                                Blogging with Primary Students

                                This school year, a few of our elementary teachers ventured into the world of blogging with their
                                students.  They have been using their class blog to have students demonstrate how to do a math problem, explain what they know about a specific topic, and share their projects (artwork, tech projects, etc.).  These teachers have been using Kidblog as it was the only tool we had available at the time.  However, this fall, we purchased the app Easy Blogger Jr. (now referred to as Blogger Jr.) for the primary grades.  This tool allows students who can't type or are slow typists to post photos with an audio recording and videos.  So a Kindergarten student could collect a group of items starting with the letter for the week, take a photo, and record themselves saying the letter and identifying each item.  Blogger Jr. is a good tool for allowing young students to experience the world of blogging.

                                Blogger Jr. connects to Blogger for posting your student's photos, videos and typing (should your students be ready to venture into the world of typing).  As a result, you will need to do some prep work setting up a blog and activating a YouTube account for the student videos.  Fortunately, you can use your school email account to activate YouTube and set-up Blogger.  If you have never accessed the YouTube channel associated to your school email, they you will need to follow the instructions on this website - Creating a Google/Gmail and Activating YouTube.  If you are using a school email account, then begin with step #4.

                                Once you have your YouTube account activated, you are ready to set-up your class blog in Blogger.  The following video (click the link below the image) will walk you through setting up your class blog where students will post via Blogger Jr.  It will also show you how to add students to in the Blogger Jr. app.  Adding students into the Blogger Jr. app becomes the one time consuming task of the whole process.  You must set-up the app on each device so it connects to your class blog and you have added the student or students who will be using Blogger Jr. on that device.

                                Easy Blogger Jr
                                Prior to setting up the Blogger Jr. app, you might want to take a photo of the student(s) who will be added on the device.  For example, if Susan and Marcus are going to use iPod #1 for completing their blog posts, then I would use that iPod to take a photo of each student.  When I add them to Blogger Jr., I will put in their first name and photo.  This allows them to see their photo on the login screen of Blogger Jr.  This student photo is not posted out on the class blog, it is only for the use of the Blogger Jr. app on that one device.

                                Before students begin blogging, you will want to cover the basics of blogging and any rules that you would like them to follow.  This might include how to use the app, not blogging unless the teacher has asked you to, not using their name in a post, don't say anything hurtful or untrue, etc.  I'm not as artsy as my elementary teachers, but you might create your own poster with the class blogging rules as a reminder for your students.

                                So, you're all set-up with Blogger Jr., now how can you use this tool with students?  Here's a list of things students could blog about:

                                • Photo of their artwork
                                • Something new you learned today
                                • Your class pet
                                • Math problems using manipulatives
                                • Counting Practice
                                • Book Reviews
                                • Reading practice
                                • Making patterns
                                • Tell what you know about a specific topic

                                Needing some additional assistance with Blogger Jr?  Here are some quick links to their support resources: