Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

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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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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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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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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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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The New Periodic Table of iPad Apps for Primary Aged Pupils

March11

This just in… An updated list of some pretty amazing apps for enhancing teaching and learning. Yep, ICT Evangelist Mark Anderson is back with another Periodic Table of iPad Apps—this one focusing on tools to support younger learners.

The must-see infographic includes a variety of resources that can be used to provide students with the opportunity to become producers of technology, to creatively express themselves and to share and publish their work for a wider audience. The apps are grouped in the following categories: creativity, demonstrating, learning, workflow, teaching, collaboration, numeracy and literacy.

As you take a look at 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. 

Click here to view and/or download a high resolution file of this image.

Classroom Connection:

Use this collection of tried and tested educational apps to help you determine which ones might be the most beneficial for you and your students.

H-appy exploring!

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Breakout into Some Media Center Madness

March9

I recently shared a post about about the Breakout EDU movement—a concept that challenges students to work collaboratively in order to solve a series of puzzles to open a locked box (or a series of them) within a designated time frame.

As mentioned, teachers can access the Breakout EDU site to locate all of the info and resources needed to become a breakout junkie—kits, 250+ pre-made games, tutorials, facilitation tools, timers, signs and more. There’s even a place for teachers and students to design and post their own games using a template that is provided.

After checking out the hands-on and digital games linked to the Breakout EDU site, two of my Tech Club students and I decided to develop our own activity, one that would be used in our media center. Yeah, we’re crazy like that. So for the last two weeks we have worked on developing a fun but challenging game that can be played by students who come to our space during study halls.

The Grand Experiment

Before we released our game to the student body, we decided that we should take it for a test drive. So we asked our superintendent, building principals and the instructional technology specialist from our IU to be the very first individuals to play our game.

Named Media Center Madness, this quest required the team of administrators to work together using QR codes, hidden messages and puzzles to unlock six boxes within a 45 minute time frame. The last clue led them to the cafe where they found out more about the meaning of life (well, according to us, anyway).

Here’s the gang participating in B-A’s first-ever Breakout EDU game…

By communicating effectively, working together and demonstrating a great deal of persistence, our admin team escaped—and with time to spare. They had a great time engaging with our activity, and we really enjoyed watching them trying to “breakout”.

Mission Accomplished

After the game was complete, we spent some time discussing the development of the game as well as the game itself, the strategies and skills that were needed in order to “breakout” and the benefit of integrating these types of activities into the classroom setting. We even brainstormed some ideas regarding the creation of games for professional development sessions in the upcoming year.

The Next Steps

In addition to releasing the Media Center Madness game to the student body and planning a district-wide breakout activity for teachers, we would like to begin developing curricular-based games for classroom teachers.

Kudos to Kermit and Bailey for teaming up with me to design a really neat game. I look forward to working with you to create additional activities for our teachers and students!

Classroom Connection:

The Breakout EDU concept incorporates critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and inquiry-based learning into the educational setting. It can be used to introduce a new lesson, reinforce a concept and/or to bring closure to a lesson taught—all in a meaningful and engaging way. This tool can be integrated into any curricular area, for any grade level.

It really is time for something different. Get ready to unleash your students’ inner Sherlock Holmes. It’s time to let them breakout!

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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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