Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Can You Spell with Flickr?

April18

Spoiler Alert: The tool shared in this post is highly addictive… Read at your own risk!

In 2013 I shared a post regarding Spell with Flickr—a nifty web tool that generates a logo based on images of letters and numbers from flickr picture galleries. And due to the coolness factor, I’m bringing back tech-y almost five years later! Although it’s not the new kid on the block, this text generator is a useful and super fun classroom tool that can be utilized to add some swag to your next digital or print project.

Here’s how it works: Visit the Spell with Flickr web site, enter a phrase and within seconds, a pretty neat picture title of letters will be rendered. Don’t like the images that are returned? No problem—simply click on each individual image to swap it for another one. (This is the part that makes one psycho when using this tool!) Once you’re satisfied, copy the embed code to a web site, wiki and/or blog or drag and drop the letters to the desktop for later use. A screenshot can also be captured, edited and saved.

Check out the example I created:

Classroom Connection:

In addition to using Spell with Flickr for creating fun titles to enhance digital projects, presentations, reports, poems and more, this tool can also be used to create a number of classroom items: Bulletin boards, signs, banners, posters and word walls to name a few. Spell with Flickr could also be utilized to practice spelling words and/or to develop all types of books (i.e. alphabet, sight words, etc.).

If you’ve got any ideas as to how this web tool can be integrated into classroom activities, please share the love! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

April15

What’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below to access two super cool and very useful tools can be utilized to engage students in the classroom!

» Clips

A video editor app for iOS devices that contains filters, graphics, emojis, music and more! Use it to create multimedia projects, video feedback, short instructions for flipped learning and whatever else your imagination can create!

» ClassroomScreen

Project this online tool in your classroom and quickly access a variety of teaching resources including a timer, text area, drawing tool, name picker, work symbols, calculator, QR codes and more—all for free! Check out a demo shown below…

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

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Spring into Magnetic Poetry Activities

April9

Looking 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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Area School Takes Up Tweeting

April8

If you hear a lot of tweeting going on around the Bellwood-Antis School District campus, it’s not the birds of spring—it’s the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge.

Jamie Forshey, director of instructional technology and media, said she got the idea for the challenge from the Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo Conference in Hershey.

“Many of the sessions I attended involved the benefits of using social media in the classroom. I wanted to think of a way I could persuade teachers to give it a try,” Forshey said. “I designed the program in order to introduce social media to teachers and demonstrate to them how this tool can be effectively used in the teaching practice.”

Forshey said Twitter is a valuable tool that teachers can use to find ideas.

“It is a great way for teachers to connect with educators in their field of study. Social media creates fear in some teachers. They are not sure what it entails, so they don’t use these tools. It is a valuable tool to add to their tool belt. Teachers have really embraced it,” Forshey said.

The challenge attracted a larger group than expected.

“My goal was to have 30 educators. I thought even if we had only five for the challenge, it would be pretty amazing. We have 55 educators from our district and seven others who learned about it on Twitter and wanted to be part of our group,” Forshey said.

Most of the participants were not familiar with Twitter, Forshey said.

“This is all about how to use Twitter for professional learning. A few individuals were familiar with it. For most of the educators, this is brand new for them,” Forshey said.

Mirror photo by Walt Frank Ali Stinson (left), a high school math teacher, and Jamie Forshey, director of instructional technology and media, look over a digital flyer that contains information about the Blue Devil National Twitter Challenge.

The challenge is comprised of two parts. In a nutshell, the participants learn how to use all 16 features of Twitter. Then they take what they have learned and use it in the classroom.

Superintendent Thomas McInroy is among the participants.

“I was not sure what to think when this program was brought up as a consideration. I only knew Twitter as something celebrities did. When I was shown the potential of how teachers could collaborate, I was impressed. Teachers and administrators can share information on pedagogy and leadership,” McInroy said. “I am still learning, but this is a really cool tool for educators.”

Teachers who are participating are enjoying the program.

“I found some good ideas I would like to incorporate into my classes. I am excited. I keep finding new stuff every night. It will help my students. It is learning in a different way. You get a different perspective on things,” said Ali Stinson, a high school math teacher.

Susan Bouslough, a third-grade elementary teacher, admitted she didn’t know much about Twitter.

“I have become connected to other educators from within this school district and around the world. There are a lot of talented teachers in our district, and if you are not teaching in the same building, you don’t always get to interact and collaborate.

“Through this challenge, I am able to see what is going on in other teachers’ classrooms. It motivates me to become better at what I do. I follow others with the same teaching philosophies, but I am also able to see ideas that challenge my thinking as well, and help me to grow as a teacher,” Bouslough said.

Bouslough has started using an app called “Flipgrid” in her classroom.

“Students can use video responses to posed questions. It is a short video, but it allows all students to have a voice. It provides a different way to assess students’ thinking as they explain their answers rather than through paper and pencil tests where they might just answer the question.

“Students are also able to interact with each other through this app as well. I’m still learning and experimenting with ways to use this in my classroom, but my students love it,” Bouslough said.

Teachers are always looking for new ways to reach students and improve their own teaching, said Matthew Elder, a high school social studies teacher.

“That is what was at the heart of my decision to participate. When I had been student teaching a few years ago, the ‘take’ on social media was to avoid it at all costs. Education in the past five years has been changing so rapidly that social media is now beginning to be looked at as another tool and not something to be afraid of. There’s a wealth of information out there just waiting to be tapped into.

When Jamie proposed the Twitter challenge, I immediately saw the opportunity to both improve my own teaching by connecting with other educators across the world, as well as an opportunity to reach my students in a more effective way,” Elder said.

Elder said the challenge has been beneficial to him as a new teacher in the district.

“It has helped me connect with teachers across the district that I don’t work with directly and see on a daily basis, so that has been amazing, too,” Elder said.

Forshey is pleased with how the challenge is going.

“I am impressed with the activities that are going on in our classrooms as a result of finding information on Twitter. Educational technology has exploded. Some teachers are on fire taking in this information. They have learned and are implementing it in their classrooms,” Forshey said.

Those who complete the challenge will earn a 10:30 a.m. early dismissal on May 25, a professional learning day.

“That is the reward we presented to get them to buy into the challenge. Many are finding the reward is the information they have learned and to share information with educators,” Forshey said.

For more information about the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge, check out the official site here.

This article, written by journalist Walt Frank, appeared in the Altoona Mirror on March 22, 2018. The original version can be found here.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

April3

What’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for a variety of 3D resources that will bring learning alive in your classroom!

» Polyup

An iOS, Android and Windows app that provides users in Grades 3-12 with a 3D coding platform for building programming skills as well as the understanding of basic algorithms. Teachers can create game levels and share them with students via a QR code.

» Mecabricks

Build virtual 3D LEGO® models online. No plug-in, no installation required. Everything happens in your browser wherever you go!  Build your own project and/or browse the bank of existing projects. Great for creating objects for lessons!

The world’s largest network of museums has introduced a web portal to create 3D renderings of its vast and fascinating collections of more than 137 million objects. Explore these treasures in your classroom like never before!

An iOS and Android app that can be used to learn, teach and explore different types of 3D solids and to help students explore and understand geometry in a convenient and easy way.

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

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April Fool’s Day Resources: Part IV

March27

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.

» Fool Me Once: A digital breakout for April Fool’s Day created by Michael Davidson. This one is pretty tricky and will definitely fool you once… Or twice!

» 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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Get Your Easter Magnetic Poetry On!

March25

If you’re ready to get your Easter on, then I’ve got the perfect edtech resource for you and your peeps—a magnetic poetry  activity containing 70+ words, or “magnets”, that can be creatively manipulated into a holiday themed poem, story, etc. via Google Slides.

So, if you’re ready to combine a little bit of Easter fun with Google Apps, then be sure to check out this must-try project in your classroom! Here’s how it works…

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 holiday-themed 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 make your very own copy of the template. You will be prompted to download your very own copy of the original and save it to your Google Drive. It can then be shared with your students. My favorite way to do so is via Google Classroom.

Classroom Connection:

The Easter Magnetic Poetry template can be used in a variety of ways as either an independent or collaborative writing activity. Utilize the “magnets” included and/or add your own text boxes to extend the activity.

A shout out to Kasey Bell for inspiring me to create my own version of magnetic poetry. And a shout out to Alex, one of my Tech Club kids, for helping to create this super cool resource. ♥

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The Google Easter Egg-stravaganza: Volume III

March25

Back by popular demand for the third consecutive year, it’s an updated list of Internet Easter eggs brought to you by Google…

If you’re a fan of these activities, then you won’t want to miss out on the hidden “Easter eggs”, or tricks, games and other fun stuff the programmers at Google have tucked away in their search engine.

How in the world do you find these super cool (and nerdy) treasures, you ask? Well, give some of these search tips a try and see what pranks you can locate!

Just open Google in your favorite browser and search…

  • Spinner—Choose between an endlessly spinning fidget spinner or a “Wheel of Fortune”-style number spinner.
  • Bubble level—Turns your mobile device into an actual working level.
  • Solitaire—Play a round of the classic card game.
  • Tic tac toe—Start the game and play against a friend or Google itself.
  • What sound does a dog make—Get ready to hear a woof! You can also try cow, pig, duck and a few other animals.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog—The beloved mascot will appear in the Knowledge Graph. Clicking on him will make him do his trademark spin, and eventually transform him into his powered-up Super Sonic form.
  • Do a Barrel Roll—See the results page roll over.
  • Festivus—Adds a Festivus pole to the left side of the screen. If you don’t know what that means, you must not be a Seinfeld fan so do a regular Google search for more info.
  • I’m feeling curious or fun fact—Snag random trivia and the chance to get additional fun factoids. Warning: This can be the beginning of an addiction!
  • Tilt or askew—The results appear slightly tilted to the right.
  • Google in 1998—The page will look like it did about 18 years ago.
  • Super Mario Bros—View an info card to the right with details about the game. Added bonus: Click the coin block to collect coins and earn a 1up.
  • Zerg Rush—Watch your search results get attacked by the Google Os, which you can defeat by clicking on them.
  • Flip a coin—Prompts a card with an animated coin flip.
  • Roll a die—Opens a card that randomly rolls a standard six-sided die.
  • Atari Breakout—Get your big hair on and play a version of the hit game Breakout from the 80s.
  • Play dreidel—Enjoy ten seconds of an interactive dreidel-spinning game.
  • Webdriver torso—Transforms the Google logo into a series of blinking blocks.
  • Anagram—Triggers a response asking, “Did you mean: Nag A Ram.” (Get it? Ha, ha!)
  • T-Rex Mini Game—We’ve all seen the dreaded “no network connectivity” T-Rex show up when the internet isn’t working, but what you may not realize is that this is also a game. It’s an endless runner where you, as T-Rex, have to run as far as you can, jumping over cacti and pterodactyls as they come your way.

And my all-time favorite:

  • Pacman—Returns a card that that links to a pop-up screen of the famous 80’s arcade game
And there you have it: A few of the thousands of lines of code hidden in popular software around the web. For more of this geeky goodness, just… Yep, you guessed it: Google it. You’ll probably be pretty amazed at how many of these secret gems are waiting to be discovered!
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The Easter Resources Collection: Part VII

March24

Hop on over and check out a recently updated collection of Easter resources that can be utilized to bring some holiday learning and fun into your classroom. So, whether you’re in need of some lessons that contain a spiritual theme, or maybe you’re just looking for some seasonal fun, there’s a little something, something for everyone.

» NEW! An Easter-themed breakout game lives here.

» NEW! Check out another Easter-themed breakout game here. (This one was created specifically for elementary students.)

» NEW! The Educator’s Spin On It provides teachers with 12 Easter STEM activities for kids.

» NEW! TeacherVision can hook you up with all sorts of bunny and egg-themed lesson plans, printables, art activities and more!

» NEW! Easter brings to mind eggs, bunnies, chicks and candy—perfect topics for teaching science, graphing and creative writing! Join Education World for some spectacular activities fit perfectly for Easter fun and learning.

» NEW! Hop on over to TeachersFirst and check out a variety of Easter activities to incorporate into math classes, social studies lessons, writing workshops, and more! Activities for all grade levels included.

» Kids will not only love this egg-citing science activity, they will also learn about the cool chemical reaction that makes it happen. Check out the Easter Egg Rockets, a super cool experiment brought to you by The Stem Laboratory.

» Get your Easter on with 25 quick and fun activities from ThoughtCo.

» Need some secular and/or Easter activities and teaching ideas? A to Z Teacher Stuff has you covered!

» Lots of Easter games, puzzles, stories, crafts, poetry and more live here: Apples4theTeacher.com.

» The Busy Teacher provides educators with 64 Easter-related worksheets that can be incorporated into classroom lessons.

» Easter Teaching Resources is a Pinterest board filled with arts and crafts ideas, educational activities, and printables to help you celebrate Easter in the classroom.

» The abcteach Easter category page features hundreds of fun, educational activities for classroom or home use, including coloring pages, crafts, board games, readings, puzzles, interactives, and much more!

» Teaching Ideas offers an extensive range of ideas and resources to teach and learn about Easter—poems, stories, puzzles, curricular activities, images, banners, fonts, videos and Easter Egg Hunts.

» Poetry activities, interactive games, scavenger hunts, sequencing cards, puzzles, a variety templates and more await you on TES Connect—the largest teacher network in the world.

» Larry Ferlazzo’s Web Site of the Day is another site packed with online resources for teaching and learning about Easter and Passover. A few that stood out for me include a variety of Easter videos and articles from the History Channel, the Easter Bunny Rap, How Easter Works and Easter by the Numbers—a fun infographic about this holiday.

The Activity Village: Easter Activities has a huge selection of Easter activities to explore with elementary students, including coloring pages, printables, jokes, crafts, puzzles and more!

Brought to you by About Education: Easter Resources, this collection of 25 quick and easy Easter resources are sure to keep you and your students busy throughout this spring holiday!

» Harry Kindergarten: Check out this video entitled “The Bunny Goes Hop”, an Easter pattern song for kids, produced by my colleague, Pete Harry. (For additional educational videos and songs, visit the Harry Kindergarten YouTube channel and/or website.)

» And my favorite resource to date? A recipe for creating a really cool and yummy dessert with one of the best holiday treats money can buy! Check out Easter Peeps Casserole here. Your students (and family) will just love, love it! ♥

Classroom Connection:

Use these themed lesson plans, activities and materials to teach students about Easter and Passover.

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The Periodic Table of iPad Apps: Volume II

March23

Need to pimp out your iPad with some pretty amazing apps for enhancing teaching and learning? Then check out this fun (and recently updated) infographic containing a variety of resources that can be utilized in the classroom. They are categorized in areas such as creativity, demonstrating, computing, collaboration, numeracy, literacy and more! And better yet—the majority of these apps are totally free!

As you check out this super cool resource, remember… It’s never just about the apps. Instead effective technology integration is all about how tools support curricular goals in a meaningful, relevant, student-centered manner. With that said, hopefully this compilation of tried and tested educational apps will be helpful as you try to determine which ones might be the most beneficial for you and your students.

Click here to view and/or download a high resolution file of this image, which was created and compiled by the amazing ICT Evangelist Mark Anderson.

H-appy exploring!

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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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