Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Get Your Edtech Game On with the March Madness Challenge!

March18

Are you ready for some March Madness—edtech style? Then read on to learn how you can make “IT” (Instructional Technology) R.E.A.L. for your students!

How in the world are basketball and education even remotely related, you ask? Well, for some teachers, determining how to best integrate technology into a lesson can be as overwhelming as picking a winner of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Just like there’s a science to determining the odds of a #16 seed knocking off the #1 pick, there’s an equally logical rationale behind deciding what type of technology will most effectively impact the learning process.

The Great Tool Debate

With a myriad of web tools and apps available to teachers, it’s sometimes mind-boggling trying to identify which are the most effective for classroom usage. With educational resources spanning from audio recordings to collages, comics, posters, digital books, narrated slideshows, movies, animations and screen casts, there’s never a shortage when it comes to innovative ways to showcase student knowledge and skills. Seriously, if you can imagine creating it–whatever “it” might be, there’s… Yep, you guessed it! An app for that! Actually, there’s most likely two or three or nine of them…at least! So, the burning questions become which one should a teacher choose? And most importantly, why?

The End Game

If the game plan is to integrate technology for the sake of doing so—as opposed to infusing devices and tools to create meaningful learning experiences that are connected to real-world experiences, then expect an upset in the opening round. Instead, the quest for a championship should focus on pedagogy and strategy, not the tool.  

That said, there’s no official selection committee in the ed tech world; however, much like the job of an NCAA representative, the teacher’s role is to ensure the learning resource meets a certain set of criteria. The content, design, and testimonials are all important to consider, but only after the purpose of the integration has been clearly determined. Always ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish and why? Does the learning outcome support the curriculumAnd in the end, will the students come away with something “real” that will teach them a new skill or knowledge that will stick?

By carefully reflecting upon these questions, teachers can ensure that technology is not the main event, but instead just part of the process that enhances the curriculum. This way of thinking and planning will lead to students acquiring the modern-day information literacy skills that are necessary to compete in a high-tech global marketplace.

Tech-knowledge-y Matters!

Representing the schools of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, here are 14 slam dunks for incorporating a digital activity into the classroom lineup. One of these buzzer beaters from the ed tech playbook are sure to make the highlight film! 

Brack-tech-ology Infographic

Click here to view and/or download a high resolution version of this infographic.

The R.E.A.L. Deal

During your next lesson, challenge students to complete one or more of the activities shown on the poster to see who becomes a champion of your unit of study. You’ll be surprised at the real-life tech skills they’ll pick up along the way while engaging with your learning goals.

Relevant… Engaging… Authentic… Lifelong… The way instructional technology should be!

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April Fool’s Day Resources: Part III

March28

April Fool’s Day is probably one of those classroom holidays you can’t escape—no matter how hard you try. So why not embrace it and teach your students a few things at the same time!

Yes—this means you quite possibly will have to endure some of those harmless pranks and hoaxes associated with this day—spiders in your desk, a plastic snake on your chair, or some mystery student messing with your computer mouse via a USB remote. Of course, I’m speaking from experience.

That said, if you’re one of those educators who enjoys having a little bit of fun with your students, then check out the recently updated list of resources below.

» Busy Teacher: Foolproof Fun Lesson Activities for April Fool’s Day—Reading activities, writing ideas, games and Just for Laughs videos

» Control Alt Achieve: The Best Google April Fools Videos—A collection of prank videos produced by Google which poke fun at current trends, technology and even Google itself

» Education World: Happy April Fool’s Day— Book suggestions, articles, fun facts and a WebQuest

» Teacher Planet: April Fool’s—You can also take advantage of their April Fool’s Day lesson plans, worksheets, clip art and English as a Second Language Resources

» Edutopia: April Fool’s Day in the Classroom: 8 Resources for Teachers—A ton of teaching ideas for bring this day into the classroom, including strategies for for engaging students with humor.

» A to Z Teacher Stuff: April Fool’s Day—Printables, scavenger hunts, worksheets, activities, puzzles and more!

» April Fool’s Day Teaching Ideas—A Pinterest board filled with resources galore!

» April Fool’s Day Lessons & Activities—Another Pinterest board jam packed with creative lessons, activities and crafts.

» Enchanted Learning—All kinds of crafts, riddles, reproducibles related to April Fool’s Day live here!

Check out the video clips below explaining how and why the tradition of playing tricks on people began on April 1.

A shout out to Richard Byrne, author of Free Technology for Teachers, for sharing these cool videos!

Classroom Connection:

Use these resources to teach students about the history behind April Fools Day. And while you’re at it, add some comedy to your day by having some harmless foolproof fun with your students and colleagues.

As Charles Dickens once said, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

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Spring into Magnetic Poetry Activities

March27

sunLooking for a super cool and useful spring-time activity to utilize in your classroom? Then all you gotta do is snag a copy of my Spring Magnetic Poetry template!

This Google Slides resource contains 75+ words and phrases that can be manipulated into a fun-filled poem, story, etc. for you and your students.

As with my other creations, the word boxes are actually images and cannot be edited; however, they can be deleted. Plus, additional words can be generated by creating a new text box and filling it with a white background.

Before you get started on your adventure, here are a few additional items worth mentioning:

» The background on the Google Slide is locked so students can avoid accidentally moving it. However, it can still be changed if you wish to allow them to do so. Just right-click on the slide and select the “Change background…” option.

» Some teachers have requested that I provide a word list for each activity so I have created additional slides that includes this info.

Check out a sneak preview below!

Click here to access the template. You will be prompted to download your very own copy of the original to save to your Google Drive. It can then be shared with your students in a variety of ways—with Google Classroom being the easiest and slickest.

Classroom Connection:

The Spring Magnetic Poetry template can be utilized as an independent or collaborative writing activity. Utilize the “magnets” included and/or add your own text boxes to extend the activity—although I think part of the fun/challenge is to just use the words provided.

Have fun… And be sure to share your own classroom creations with us!

Spring is a time when you find out who you are and where you’re going… So hold on and enjoy the ride! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

March26

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below to access some super cool digital resources that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» Madmagz

A platform for collaboratively creating online magazines for free.

» PrepFactory

The best test prep money could buy… Except it’s free! A great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.

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

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The Edtech Smackdown: Volume I

March25

Welcome to the first edition of The Edtech Roundup—a collection of digital resources containing a few of my most favorite activities curated from various social media spaces throughout the past week.

Check out some super cool edtech gems right here, right now and get ready to use these ideas to support learning and engage students in your classroom!

» Technology Task/App Challenges for Teachers—These are a.w.e.s.o.m.e!

» How to Create an eBook with Google Slides

» How I Teach Map Skills Through Amusement Park Design

» 15 Great YouTube Channels for Social Studies Teachers

» 11 Excellent Earth Science Apps & Websites for Teachers

» It’s not necessarily an edtech concept, but if you and your students dig bottle flipping, check out a pretty neat idea for a review game here.

And there you have it—this week’s smackdown! Stay tuned for additional resources coming your way in the next round…

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Hope Changes Everything!

March21

In the event that you don’t tune in to my YouTube channel or social media pages, I didn’t want you to miss a super cool video a few of my Tech Club kids produced earlier in the year—one that contains a positive message from our middle and high school teachers to the student body.

Plus, it’s just that time of year… I’m sure you know exactly what I mean—that long stretch between winter and spring breaks when we’re all waiting for the sun to shine again. That time when the natives become restless. And so do we! So now is as good of a time as any to send some positive vibes your way in the form of a B-A Hope video.

Use it for some inspiration… To get your mojo rolling again… To smile because there’s always hope… Or maybe it will move you to generate a similar video for your own space… Whatever the case may be, enjoy the view!

We hope… You are inspired. You feel appreciated. You realize your potential. You thrive! At school—and beyond!

A high five to Aubree, Quintin, Tina, Adisyn and Kermit for joining forces to create a very motivational video! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

March19

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below to access some super cool digital resources that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» A.nnotate.com

An online annotation and collaboration tool for reviewing documents and images. Compatible with all common web browsers, with no software or plugins to install.

» Podcast Garden

A web tool that allows users to upload content to the internet making it available to various downstream distribution outlets. Each podcast is assigned a unique RSS feed URL that is compatible with the iTunes Store and Google Play.

A Windows OS download that allows users to convert files to different formats so they can be easily shared with others. Free to use!

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

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Make a Visual Statement with QuotesCover.com

March16

quotescoverIf you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you have probably noticed that I often share tools and resources that can help teachers spark student interest in writing. And that’s because I am a huge proponent of teaching visual literacy skills. Considering the mass media society we are immersed in, I feel it’s imperative that students have the ability to interpret, negotiate and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, which extends the meaning of literacy beyond printed text.

Combine that notion with the super popular quote images that are now splashed all over the place—social media, the Internet, billboards, etc.—and what do you have? The opportunity to develop the perfect activity to integrate pop culture with the skills students need to communicate in a highly complex world. Yep, I’m talking about the creation of a project that combines images, text, writing and even classroom discussions or debates. And the tool to get the job done? None other than QuotesCover.com.

It’s no secret that one way to make pictures more memorable is by making them pop off the page. But designing elements such as typography, shapes, color combinations and composition can be a complex process. Well, that is until now…

QuotesCover.com has now become one of my favorite go-to web tools for taking one of my very own photos, adding text and then generating a graphic to represent exactly what I am thinking or feeling. Not only does it transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, this nifty application is pretty simple to use.

Check out one of my most favorite designs I created with QuotesCover.com.

a good song quote1

Want to make your own “eye candy”? Then check out QuotesCover.com and start your design by following three easy steps:

Select your text by either adding your own or choose a famous quote, proverb or greeting from the online collection. Next, use the graphic editor to determine the type and size of image you would like to create. Finally, experiment, tweak and play with the font and color combinations, drawing tools, effects and customizable background image to create your masterpiece.

Once you’re satisfied with the result, just download it for future use—on blogs, the web or social media sites and/or utilize it in print projects such as newsletters or brochures.

Classroom Connection:

The use of quotes combined with images used to motivate and inspire students is not a new concept. As a classroom teacher, I personally incorporated both on a regular basis and can honestly say that this strategy was one of my most favorite ways to kickstart class, regardless of the content area.

That said, QuotesCover.com is a fabulous tool for teachers who are looking for a quick and easy yet powerful way to create their own quote images and/or who want their students to do the same.

As previously mentioned, we live in a world in which our students are constantly bombarded with images; thus, it is essential for them to have the skills to recognize, interpret and understand the context of these signs, pictures, graphics and symbols in order to make meaning of their environment.

So, if you’re going to use this particular visual literacy teaching strategy to generate writing and/or thought-provoking discussions, why not add a layer of technology to the process by having students create their own quote images with a tool like QuotesCover.com?

Finished products can be utilized for writing prompts, classroom conversations or both. For example, students can jot a thought and/or discuss in a small or whole group setting what the quotes actually means to them.

#nevergiveup ♥

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iPadpalooza: Ready… Set… Learning on the Go!

March14

Greetings and Congratulations! This e-mail pertains to your 2017 iPadpalooza proposal:

Project iLearn: Our Ed-venture from No Tech to Anytime Tech

We are very excited to invite you to present at iPadpalooza 2017 this coming June in Austin. We received more than 200 outstanding proposals so being selected for the event means that your idea was one of the best of the best. Congrats and thanks for putting together such an outstanding proposal! With your session, iPadpalooza will continue to be an engaging and innovative learning festival!

This the message I received the other day from Carl Hooker, Director of Innovation & Digital Learning in the Eanes Independent School District as well as the founder of iPadpalooza, a three-day event slated for June 5-8 at the Westlake High School in Austin, TX.

Of course, I’m beyond ecstatic to have the opportunity to speak and learn at a national conference—a very first for this geeky girl. Besides that, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Tim Yenca, my district’s Apple Professional Learning Specialist, in his workplace. What’s more—I’ll finally get the chance to get up close and personal with some of his colleagues, a group of super cool edtech gurus I’ve only known to date via social media—Lisa Johnson (The Tech Chef) and Cathy Yenca (Mathy Cathy). I’m also pumped about participating in the App-mazing Race, tuning into the live music and eating at the food trucks as well!

With the focus on creativity, social collaboration, engagement and the compelling ways schools have integrated mobile learning into their classrooms, an app-solutely awesome ed-venture awaits me as I journey to the Lone Star state in a few months!

But wait… There’s more! You can be a part of this 6th annual event too! Check out additional details—schedule, registration and travel info—by clicking here.

iPadpalooza… It’s not a conference, it’s a learning festival!

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

March12

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some super cool digital resources that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» CoolMath4Kids

An amusement park of games, manipulatives, brain teasers and more, all designed to teach math and make it fun!

» Funbrain

A smorgasbord of classroom-friendly games for the K-8 crowd. Challenge students to the Reading Arcade, play board games where math is the solution, check out the Video Zone and more!

A suite of phonics-based learning games and math activities that align with Common Core Standards.

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

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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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