Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

The Noun Project: The Best Icon Collection on the Web


cameraWhile traveling here and there this summer, I’ve noticed more than ever that visual symbols are everywhere around us; they actually guide us through everyday situations—through signs, image, infographics, etc. And that got me thinking about how I should bring back tech-y with this oldie but goodie—The Noun Project—just to make sure my readers were aware of this tech gem.

The Noun Project is a site dedicated to providing users with standard clipart for every noun in the English language. Yeah, I know—it doesn’t sound very techie. But if you’re an infographic junkie like me, this resource is more than a must-have. Seriously, no more endless surfing for the perfect free icon or spending hours developing your very own. Instead just dial up The Noun Project and search the collection to your heart’s content for the one that will rock your next design project.

So, how does this super cool tool work? Access the site, enter the desired icon in the search box and boom—the fun begins! Within seconds, tons of choices will appear on your screen. To download your favorite(s), simply right click on the icon and this action will provide you with options to save a high quality png or svg file to your device. Next step: Have at it!

All of the thousands and thousands of images (and counting) in The Noun Project live in the public domain under a Creative Commons license—which means they are free to download as long as the designer is properly attributed. If that doesn’t work for you, royalty free icons can be purchased for $1.99 each.

No sign-up or registration is required to utilize The Noun Project; however, users can create an account in order to download icons to a personal library within the site and/or to contribute icons to the global library.

For a sneak peek at the various collections of icons, check out the snippet below of some of iPod images I snagged from a recent search.

ipod icons

But wait! There’s more…

As you can see, the icons featured in the The Noun Project are black and white, but if you would like to pimp them out with some color, check out this awesome post from Learning in Hand that shares some ways you can transform all of your favorite icons into colorful works of art!

color icons

Classroom Connection:

Use The Noun Project for any type of classroom activity that requires the use of icons—infographics, logos, brochures, illustrations, diagrams and/or multimedia projects.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, the symbols could be utilized in various storytelling activities. For example, create a fun scenario in which students develop a dialogue based on a set of icons.

Of course, the universal sets of icons could also be integrated into a foreign language class to teach vocabulary or practice basic phrases and sentences. The icons could very well lead the way to more profound language acquisition.

Actually, with a little imagination, the The Noun Project presents an endless list of possibilities in an educational setting.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks


diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some of the latest and greatest web tools that can be added to your edtech toolbox for the upcoming school year!

» Picjumbo

Totally free stock photos for educational, commercial and/or personal use. No attribution needed!

» Every Last Drop

An interactive website about conserving water. Scroll through the page to reveal how the average person consumes water on a daily basis and learn ideas for reducing waste.

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

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Create a Visual Travelogue with Photo Mapo


photo mapo 1Need a really cool summer vacation app that can double as a pretty powerful instructional tool?

Then Photo Mapo is a must-have digital gem that has countless classroom app-lications. That’s right! This really swell resource can transform photos into mapped masterpieces that can be shared with family and friends across social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.

Here’s how Photo Mapo works: Choose one of 23 template styles (Postcard, Treasure, Retro, etc.) and tweak the background color. Then select a favorite photo from the camera roll and add an optional description to the image. Other information that can be customized on each “postcard” includes date, time, latitude, city, state and country. Map type (terrain, roads, hybrid and satellite) as well as Map Zoom (how much detail is displayed) can also be determined in the settings. Another super cool feature is that Photo Mapo has the GPS technology to attach the actual location where the picture was taken or the user can enter a specific address. The latter is a very cool option, especially when third party photos are being utilized (Flickr, Creative Commons and the like).

Check out a few samples shown below. Hopefully they’ll get those wheels turning!

For fun…

One of my most favorite activities to do on vacation is finding the perfect spot to watch the sun set!

For the classroom…

The Great Sphinx is a mysterious marvel from the days of ancient Egypt. The body of a lion with the head of pharaoh, this monument has come to symbolize strength and wisdom.

Classroom Connection:

Do I even have enough space to share the ways Photo Mapo can be utilized in the classroom? Seriously, when I first saw this app, I immediately thought of the social studies angle: Historical figures, events, places and/or landmarks. But after giving it some additional thought, this cool tool has potential far beyond one content area—field trips, setting of a story or book, visual writing prompts or even the creation of graphics to accompany writing activities (favorite and/or bucket list destinations) and lit trips (similar to those created with Google Earth) to name a few. A Photo Mapo image could also be a nifty way to promote school or professional events—assemblies, conferences, trainings, workshops, etc.

As a creative twist, students can get busy with an app smashing project by doing the following: Create a mash-up of several photos utilizing the Pic Collage app and then import that image into a Photo Mapo to create a unique geographical masterpiece.

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Edu-fun Friday: Edtech Fears


fears of edtechAs 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. After all, there’s nothing better than ending the week on a positive note! Plus, do we have the best topics to provide us with some comic relief or what?

OK, seeing one or more of those icons during a lesson really doesn’t prompt a giggle, but since it’s summer, this image did make me laugh! At least we don’t have to worry about a Plan B today! Have a great one!

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The 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly Infographic


You-Had-Me-At-Your-Proper-Use-Of-YoureYour or you’re? There, their or they’re? I suppose it’s the eternal teacher in me, but there’s nothing that makes my head spin like the Exorcist more than seeing the inappropriate use of these words—in the classroom and beyond! As much as I appreciate gadgets and the digital world in which we live, I would probably have to say that I believe all of the quick and casual codes that are often associated with texting, email and social media have somewhat contributed to the massacre of the English language.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m guilty of using my own form of communication when I’m banging around on my mobile devices, but when I need to write formally or effectively, I can and do. I sometimes wonder: Can our students do the same?

But enough of that totally serious stuff… This was supposed to be a lighthearted post not a debate about technology and its potential effects on grammar. Or is that it’s and affects? Just kidding! Check out the infographic shown below depicting 15 of the most common grammar goofs. It made me laugh (OK, sorta!). If nothing else, learn how you can help your students avoid looking like total hillbillies!


A shout out to the Copyblogger for creating and sharing this useful infographic.

Classroom Connection:

Although this visual certainly does not contain all of the grammar goofs that our students (and colleagues!) are guilty of making, this infographic could be used as a quick reference guide and/or as a fun classroom poster that displays some of the most common grammatical errors.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks


diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some of the latest and greatest web tools that can be added to your edtech toolbox for the upcoming school year!

» Permission Click

Create permission slips using an existing process or from a template in the easy form builder. Once generated, parents simply click a link which takes them directly to the digital permission slip anywhere, anytime!

» Wowed

An iOS app that can be used to create word clouds from Twitter, Facebook, webpages and more! Choose from a range of different fonts, colors, and layouts to customize the appearance of the clouds that are generated.

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

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Create an Almost Famous Chat with the SMS Generator


classtools logoYeah, we all know how much students like to text, right? So, why not take advantage of the SMS Generator, a nifty online generator that mimics the real thing. This cool tool—part of the suite of educational resources available on the web site—is super simple to use as well as a visually engaging way to allow students to demonstrate knowledge in a way that is super familiar to them. Plus, there’s nothing quite like using a gimmick to grab our students’ interest and attention, right?

Working with the SMS Generator goes something like this: After accessing the web site, use the toolbar shown below to create your masterpiece.


Click one of the gray or green text messaging icons to begin formulating a conversation. Then continue to click on one of them to add dialogue to the chat. Once the mock exchange is complete, users can do the following with the remaining items on the toolbar:

The blue save button does just that—allows users to save the project in order to access and/or edit the message at a later time.

The blue gear icon provides users with multiple options including a URL Link, Embed Code, QR Code and/or the ability to Download a Web Shortcut. From here, users can add the image of the text messaging convo to a project, web site, wiki, blog or favorite social media outlet. Is that way cool or what?

Oh, and did I mention that this resource is a freebie and requires no registration? As an educator, that’s what I’m talking about!

Check out an SMS Generator example shown below—one between characters in a popular novel.  Can you guess which one?

sms_hunger games

Here’s another sample—one between two historical figures.


And finally, encourage students to add some wit, humor or sarcasm to a conversation between concepts being discussed in a particular content area—science, math, computers, etc.


Classroom Connection:

The SMS Generator can be utilized in a variety of ways in any subject area to allow students to practice reading and writing dialogue. Here are some additional ideas to help get you started:

» Conversations between two famous people, book characters, animals, friends discussing a movie or event, etc.

» Formative assessments for independent reading

» Displaying vocabulary and definitions in a fun way

» Writing prompts

» Poetry activities

In addition to these literacy activities, the SMS Generator could be used to teach students proper texting etiquette and digital citizenship.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks


diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some of the latest and greatest web tools that can be added to your edtech toolbox for the upcoming school year!

» Lucidpress

A free online poster maker that can be utilized for designing, printing and viewing posters. With a library of templates and a drag-and-drop interface, anyone can create an attention-grabbing poster in no time!

» Stupeflix

Make beautiful videos, online, easily! Just add photos, clips and music… Then watch your creation come to life!


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

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Edu-fun Friday: No Escaping the #


your name would be fineAs 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. After all, there’s nothing better than ending the week on a positive note! Plus, do we have the best topics to provide us with some comic relief or what?

#toofunny #thewayit is #everywhere #can’tescapeit

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by posted under Edu-fun Friday, Humor, Misc | tagged under , ,  |  No Comments »    

Hidden Gems: 20 Awesome Web Tools for Teachers


hidden gemsMost teachers today use technology in the classroom. Many are eager to utilize more tools to enhance their lessons and give their students more opportunities to learn and create. Web tools can be used in so many ways and can make keeping up with assessments easier for the teachers while making work requirements easier. And since students today use web tools and apps on a regular basis in their personal lives, adding web tools will engage your students, and help prepare them for work in the future.

One problem is that there are so many web tools available, and it can be confusing to find the right ones for your classroom. A few of them are well known, but that still leaves a vast amount of lesser known ones that may be perfect for your class. It can take hours to hunt down the tools that fit your needs and those of your students, and then you still have to research the tool to make sure it does what you want, test it, and see if it works with your technology permissions.

Life may be a little easier if you use this list of valuable web tools for teachers and students. Teachers can use this list to find tools to introduce topics, to assess students’ knowledge, to collaborate on projects, to differentiate assignments, and so much more. Students can use this list to find cool web tools to use for their collaboration and final products.

With so many choices, from “click and go” to “might want to read the manual,” teachers can easily add more web tools to their classes and truly immerse their students in their learning. If you are one of those teachers or students looking for more web tools for your lessons, dig in!


Blendspace is a great web tool for creating a virtual classroom. You can use Blendspace to create projects and assignments, present lessons and information, share videos, and much more. Students can use Blendspace to review information, take assessments, and post questions or answers.



BookWidgets is a super-easy-to-use tool for creating your own engaging interactive lesson material. You can choose from a broad library of activity types (including quizzes, worksheets, word games, flash cards, bingo games, jigsaw puzzles, interactive math plots, arithmetic exercises, and much more), personalize each activity with your own content, and send the activity to your students’ devices. After students finish their exercise and submit the results, the results are automatically graded for you to review.

You can create and preview widgets without registration, but need to register for a free 30-day trial to share your widgets with students.

book widgets is a brainstorming web tool. You can use it in classes to capture ideas during brainstorming sessions. Students can collaborate with group members and create maps or webs of topics or create individual maps or webs. Their work can be printed out instead of saving the maps. has a limited free plan, but requires registration with email if you are going to save your map.


Chatzy is great for creating a back channel in your class. A back channel allows your students to use their personal devices to interact during a lesson by sending comments and questions in real time. You can also use it to ask questions and check for understanding.

Chatzy is free, and your students do not have to register to participate.


Collaborize Classroom

Collaborize Classroom is your “go to” web tool for the classroom. You can register for free and create a virtual classroom with the opportunity to create blogs, assessments, assign projects, store grades, and keep a library of pertinent information. Students will not need email to register for your class on Collaborize Classroom. You can provide differentiated assignments, students can work on collaborative projects, and so much more.

Collaborize Classroom is a free tool that requires registration.


With Looseleaves, you open up a leaf and start creating thoughts and writings. You can use Looseleaves to create a document with assignment instructions, images, and links to related materials. You share your link with your audience, and they can revisit it as often as they need. Post your class syllabus or rules, and parents and students can refer to it all year. Students can use Looseleaves to create documents that summarize their learning and share links to references they used. This is a great, quick and easy web tool for any writing purpose.

Looseleaves is a free web tool that does not require registration.



Mqlicker turns your students’ phones and other devices into response devices. You will have to register for this free web tool. After entering your questions, you provide your students with a session key or code. Once students enter the code into the site, you can begin the quiz or survey. Results can be shown in graphic form and can be saved, so you can measure growth over time.

Mqlicker is free, but requires teacher registration.



Padlet is an excellent web tool for creating class lists, sharing ideas, sharing resources, collaborating, and collecting information. You can start a wall in Padlet instantly, share the wall link with your students, and they can view it on Padlet and add their own comments, questions, and resources. Student groups can use it to collaborate on a project design or as the final presentation of their work. Padlet is an extremely easy to use web tool.

Padlet has a free plan, and requires no registration.



Piratepad is a web tool that allows you to instantly create a collaboration site for writing and editing. Once you open your pad, you share the link with your students, and you begin writing and sharing in real time. You can use this web tool to post questions, start discussions, or assign group collaborative writing activities. Students can use Piratepad to create documents for group work, take notes or create lists, or start a discussion thread.

Piratepad is free, and requires no registration.


Popplet can be used on a computer or on an iPad through an app. You can use Popplet as a web or mind-mapping tool to organize ideas for lessons. Students can use Popplet to create webs that show their flow of ideas and for brainstorming ideas or completing projects. Popplet is a simple web tool that is a great resource for your class.

You can register and use Popplet on the web for free, but you need to buy an app to use it on mobile devices.


Prezi is a web tool that allows users to create presentations on any device or computer. You can then share your presentations through a projector or online for students to access later. Students can use Prezi to create presentations and can also use Prezi for collaborative work.

You can register and use Prezi on the web for free, but you need to buy an app to use it on mobile devices.


Smore is a web tool for designing nice looking newsletters, flyers, and posters. It is simple to use and provides you and your students with a different way to present information that is visually appealing. You can use it to create monthly newsletters for the parents and community or to create a more visual lesson for your students. Your students can design posters or flyers as part of their summative assessments.

Smore has a limited free plan, and requires registration. There is an educator account for a yearly fee that allows your students free access without registration. is a QR code generator. There are numerous ways you can use QR codes in your classes. Students will need a QR scanner, easily available as an app, to access the information. You can create QR codes for documents, videos, images, websites, and so much more. Post the QR code on your webpage or your classroom wall. Students scan the code, and it takes them to information you selected. This would be a great way to randomize assignments or differentiate instruction. You can add QR codes to pages in your textbook, and students can scan the code to go to related information or a quick quiz. will also track how many times your codes are scanned. is a free web tool that requires registration.



Socrative is a quiz, exam, and survey web tool, which students can access on a pc or device. Socrative will provide you with class and individual progress reports to use for adjusting teaching methods.

Socrative is free and requires teacher registration. Students do not need an email to register.


Storybird is a digital book making web tool.You can create books on topics related to your classes. Storybird provides students with a safe environment to express their creative writing. They can create picture books, stories, and poetry in Storybird. Students can also read and comment on their classmates’ stories.

Storybird is free for teachers.


Testmoz creates simple quizzes, tests, and surveys for you to use with your students. Testmoz will supply you with reports on student progress, which can be used to individualize instruction, for reteaching, and adjusting your lessons.

Testmoz is free and does not require any registration.


Twiddla is another immediate web tool. You can use Twiddla to do almost anything. It can be used as a blank slate for collaboration with a group. You can import pictures or webpages and start a conversation. You can ask your students to analyze a picture or cartoon. Students can use Twiddla to create their own pages and share pictures or websites on class topics and insert their comments right on the image. Other students can join the page and comment on the work done.

Twiddla has a limited free account.



Wiggio is a web tool that provides a collaborative environment for groups and projects. You can use it to share class calendars and files, create polls and surveys, and send emails and messages to the class. You can even use Wiggio to host virtual meetings.

Wiggio is free.

Wikispaces Classroom

Wikispaces Classroom can be used for just about anything for your classes. Teachers create a classroom where they can post announcements, assignments, resources, videos, and more. You and your students can discuss topics and comment on the work of others. Students can collaborate on projects with students in their class, or you can connect with other classes and interact with students from around the world. You can see what the students are creating as it happens and make comments and suggestions for the work. Wikispaces Classroom is an easy-to-use web tool that you can turn into something powerful for your students.

Wikispaces is free.


Zaption lets you add pictures, comments, and questions to videos. You can share your videos with a link or post them online for your students to access. Zaption creates a more interactive experience for your students than traditional educational videos. Students could use Zaption to make comments on videos that they create, that they want to share on a topic, or that you assign.

Zaption requires registration, and has a free limited plan.


About the author

Natalie Mroz is an award-winning retired teacher holding a BS and MA from The Ohio State University. She currently resides in Florida where she enjoys working as an independent consultant, reading on the beach, and learning and sharing new information.

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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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