Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Thunder, Lightning & App-oholics

July28

app collageSo totally unforgettable summer storms, power outages and digital addictions? Say what? Um, yeah, that’s what I experienced a few weeks ago when I had the awesome app-ortunity to co-facilitate an iPads in Education 2 course with edtech rock stars Jim Gates and Theresa Bartholomew in Lewisburg, PA.

Throughout this four-day app-venture, 50+ teachers learned how to utilize an iPad and a variety of apps to engage students in the learning process.

From out-of-the-box set up to creating digital stories, presentations, movie trailers, e-books and formative assessments, these educators were not only immersed in utilizing the latest and greatest educational tools, but they also received training related to effectively integrating devices and resources into the curriculum via the pedagogical foundations of Understanding by Design, ISTE NETS, TPACK and SAMR. After all, it should never really be about the tool, but how it is used. That’s what really makes the impact. Just sayin’…

So, go ahead—release your inner geek… Crack open that tech-box and add the resources located within the interactive image embedded below to your bag of tricks. Transforming your classroom into a modern learning digital wonderland is just a few clicks away!

Be sure to hover over the image to reveal the “hotspots”. A must see: #13. It’s my new fav!

Click here to view a full screen version of this interactive image.

For my colleagues, the participants and especially for me personally—the week was a game changer, for sure… Thank you, Jim and Eduspire, for the chance to be a part of something pretty cool.

Check out additional Eduspire course offerings here.

Let’s roll…

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Diigo Weekly Update

July27

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some of the latest and greatest tools that can be utilized in your classroom during the upcoming year.

» Noisli

A background noise and color generator that can be utilized by teachers to create a relaxing atmosphere during writing activities, role playing and more! iPhone and iPad apps are also available.

» Ampville: The Electric City

A virtual village where users can learn about electricity, circuits and electrical safety.

» Wizenworld

A cool Zelda-like game in which 3rd to 8th graders can practice math skills aligned to the Common Core by battling through a range of adventures.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links can be found here.

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Edu-fun Friday: Prenatal Email?

July25

photoAs Quincy Jones once remarked, “I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, “Ain’t that the truth.”

That said, Edu-fun Friday is a series devoted to adding some humor to the lives of teachers who visit this blog. Even though it’s summer, there’s still nothing better than ending the week on a positive note! Plus, do we have some of the best topics to provide us with some comic relief or what?

I’m pretty sure this kid would qualify as a digital native, eh?

Thanks to cartoonist Randy Glasbergen for the really good laugh!

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Easily Convert Files with the PDF Converter

July23

pdf converterNeed a quick and easy way to convert PDF files to another format? Then look no further than the PDF Converter, an online utility that allows users to transfer their documents to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and images.

Yep, no downloads, installations, registration or other gimmicks… Just select the file to be converted, choose the output desired (docx, xlsx, pptx, png, jpg, tif, etc.), click the “Convert” button and wait for the tool to do its thing. Once your new file is processed, it can be downloaded to your computer or saved to Google Docs.

I discovered the PDF Converter while vacationing out of the country when I needed to edit a few PDF files because I did not have access to the original Word documents. Not only did I find this utility to be very reliable, but it is free as well—although there is a membership option for users interested in converting an unlimited number of files without delay between conversions.

And there’s even more good news—PDF Converter can also convert Word, Excel, PowerPoint, images and web pages to PDF using the same steps previously mentioned.

Classroom Connection:

Because it allows teachers to better utilize PDF files they acquire from any number of sources, the PDF Converter is an excellent administrative tool—one that can be used to create all sorts of handy classroom materials for instructional purposes,  including booklets, e-books, presentations and interactive quizzes to name a few.

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Positively Smashing Part II: Where in the World?

July20

app smashSo, last week I shared an app smashing student project idea using Photo Mapo, Pic Collage and ThingLink. It received such rave reviews that I decided to have at it again—only this time I’m smashing some vacation photos with Pic Collage, ThingLink and Google Docs to develop an interactive learning journey.

Dubbed “Where in the World”, this creation will challenge students to use information that identifies an unknown geographical location. In the process, they will  hone their ability to read for details, conduct Internet searches and complete an online form as well.

Be sure to check out the interactive “hotspots” by hovering over the collage shown below.

Click here for a full screen version of this interactive image.

And BTW—in case you’re wondering… I did actually create this masterpiece while sitting on one of those beaches pictured in the collage using my iPad. And yes—I know… I need a tech-free intervention. I’m fully aware of my addictions, but the idea came and well, I just couldn’t let it go!

Classroom Connection:

Affording students with the opportunity to utilize interactive activities engages them in learning that is meaningful, relevant and thought-provoking. Plus, completing a project of this nature allows them to demonstrate the use of a variety of digital skills in the process.

This particular app smash was created for student use, but of course—they could also design their very own Virtual Destination mash-up to share with classmates.

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Diigo Weekly Update

July20

diigo iconLive from Cozumel, Mexico—two super cool interactive games that teach students various programming languages. Be sure to check ‘em out as the ways in which they can be utilized in the classroom  to teach and/or reinforce real-world skills are endless!

» CodeCombat

You’re a wizard and your spells are JavaScript as you battle in a medieval realm to learn programming using a live multiplayer strategy game. Begin with easy challenges and build to higher levels of programming skill.

» Code Hunt

A browser-based game for learning how to code by advancing through various levels using Java, C# or both. As players progress, they learn about arithmetic operators, conditional statements, loops, strings, search algorithms and more!

A shout out to ICTmagic wikispace for sharing these edtech gems!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links can be found here.

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Edu-fun Friday: Excel Saves the Day!

July18

photo (11)As Quincy Jones once remarked, “I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, “Ain’t that the truth.”

That said, Edu-fun Friday is a series devoted to adding some humor to the lives of teachers who visit this blog. Even though it’s summer, there’s still nothing better than ending the week on a positive note! Plus, do we have some of the best topics to provide us with some comic relief or what?

I’m pretty sure this is what the lesson would look like if we let the digital natives run the show! You have to admit—he does have a point!

Thanks to cartoonist Mark Anderson for the laugh!

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10 Ways to Integrate Mobile Phones in Class

July16

mobile smiley facesPhones, tablets, iPads and e-readers… What do these mobile devices have in common? It’s probably a pretty safe bet to say that most students own at least one of them in this day and age. So, instead of continually confiscating these items or telling students to put them away, why not take advantage of the handheld gadget craze and leverage these tools for learning?

Allowing students to utilize their own devices provides them with access to a variety of digital activities, essentially creating a 1:1 environment with a tool they already know how to use.

Furthermore, with many schools experiencing limited budgets, the BYOD concept is one that should be seriously considered. Without devices to complement learning, students are missing out on a modernized education as well as the development of important life skills. Yeah, that means actually having the know how to use technology beyond gaming and social media!

Sure, I know what you might be thinking: That sounds great, but what about privacy, security and safety? Yep, the concerns associated with implementing mobile devices in the classroom are legitimate, but they can be addressed by developing clear expectations and guidelines and by teaching our students the importance of digital responsibility.

Check out the infographic shown below outlining ten simple yet effective ways to impact the learning process with mobile device and real-world activities. Perhaps the tips included will entice you (and your administration) to give it a shot!

phone-inclass

A shout out to Splash Math for sharing this nifty visual.

Classroom Connection:

Use the ideas mentioned in the infographic/visual to kick start or further enhance a mobile movement in your school and/or classroom.

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Diigo Weekly Update

July13

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some of the latest and greatest apps that can be utilized to create some really neat video effects for all types of digital storytelling activities. Are these tools going to raise test scores? Um, maybe not directly. But they will surely spark imagination and creativity while engaging students in learning—all of which prepares them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. And now we’re talking improving skills and therefore, achievement—not just for test taking purposes but for life. Isn’t that what it’s really all about anyway?

» InAWorld…Drama

A neat iOS app that allows users to create and star in their very own movie trailers.

» Mojo Masks

Add fun and realistic face paint effects to photos and videos with this iPhone and iPad app.

» Creatures FX

An app that allows users to create awesome action movies with seriously cool creatures with any iOS device.

» Action Movie FX

An app that allows users to add Hollywood effects to iPhone and iPad movies that they shoot.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links can be found here.

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Positively Smashing: Photo Mapo, Pic Collage & Thinglink

July7

app smashApp smashing: The art of merging content from a variety of apps to generate a unique finished product. Sounds pretty cool, right? That’s because this latest edtech craze is an app-solutley amazing way for students to really unleash their creativity… A way for them to not only demonstrate information about a particular topic but an opportunity for them to show off their tech-knowledge-y skills in a unique manner… To be innovative with mobile devices and digital media!

Still not sure you’ve wrapped your mind around this concept? Then follow along as I explain how I created the embedded example to demonstrate how app smashing can enhance learning while maximizing the potential of digital tools by combining their features and functions to create a pretty sweet final project—one that should be published to the web. After all, digital presence is the new resume!

The learning objective: After a unit on ancient civilizations, students would be asked to complete a culminating activity by selecting an aspect of culture and then highlight what they’ve learned. I chose to focus on architecture/history.

photo mapo 1The process: First, I selected a famous building from each civilization—Egypt, Rome, Greece and China—and located a picture for each. Each image was then imported into the Photo Mapo app to create a postcard that included a map and brief description of the structure.

pic collage iconAfter saving each new image to the camera roll, I imported them into the second app—Pic Collage—to generate a postcard mashup. Again, I saved the finished product to the device (in this case an iPad).

thinglink app iconFinally, I imported the collage into the ThingLink app and created hot spots within each monument image containing links to resources that can be used to explore additional information. Besides super cool interactivity, ThingLink also has multiple options for sharing—as you can see by checking out the collage shown below.

Now is that cool stuff or what? But the learning doesn’t just end with the app smashing. Think about the various ways students could benefit from experimenting with each other’s masterpieces!

BTW—There are really no hard and fast rules when it comes to app smashing, although consider this: In order to be able to merge content, you do needs apps that are capable of both importing and exporting media to and from the camera roll.

Classroom Connection:

App smashing encourages the meaningful use of technology to meet a chosen learning objective. It promotes critical thinking and problem solving in a challenging yet fun and engaging manner as well.

I know it sounds cliche, but the possibilities are pretty much endless because really, there are no restrictions! And that’s because with app smashing—if you can dream it, chances are—you can also bring that vision to life with the number of apps that exist!

Oh, yeah… Did I mention that this hot edtech topic has its own hashtag? Yep, check it out at #AppSmash for lots of great ideas and resources!

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Hey, edu-tech gurus!

Looking for some technology integration ideas to enhance your classroom lessons? Then be sure to check out my "Tech Tips" for the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools, applications and web sites that can be incorporated into activities and/or projects. Although some posts may not be applicable to your content area or grade level, be sure to check back often as I will be varying ideas in order to provide resources across the K-12 curriculum.

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sitting on stool with computerThis blog, created and maintained by Jamie Forshey, geeky girl, instructional technology specialist and teacher at the Bellwood-Antis School District in Central PA, is dedicated to innovative teaching and learning through the use of technology and digital media that engages students in learning while providing them with a 21st Century educational experience.

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