Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Get Your Edtech Game On with the March Madness Challenge!

March12

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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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

March11

Need some activities to ignite your math lessons? Then be sure to check out this week’s lineup of new Diigo bookmarks, sites that can be used to reinforce all sorts of math concepts!

» Boxed Rockets

A collection of math questions based on number, ratio and algebra concepts. Select a topic (or series of them), solve the problems and then check work with the built-in answer keys. An excellent independent practice or station rotation resource!

» SolveMe Puzzles

Explore. Deduce. Create! Use logic to solve visual, interactive mathematical puzzles in several categories: Algebra, visual, word and draggable.

» MathsBot.com

A comprehensive selection of tools for math teachers—including manipulatives, printables, interactives, question generators and more!

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

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Grab a Piece of the Pi Using Cool Classroom Resources

March8

Hey, math gurus! It’s that time of year again when teachers, students and mathematicians from all over the world honor the fun-loving irrational Greek figure pi (π).

That’s right! March 14—or Pi Day—is just around the corner so be sure you don’t miss this opportunity to make a lasting impression on your math students with this recently updated list of digital activities!

Let’s get the party started with a brand-new resource—a super cool digital breakout game designed by Dana Gehman. Check out Pi Day here!

Next up: TeachPi.org, a one stop shop on the Web for finding and/or sharing teaching and learning ideas related to Pi Day. You name it and TeachPi.org most likely has it: Lessons, stories, music, digit games, poetry, art and even tattoos!

My favorite part of the TeachPi.org web site? A link to the original gangsta rap, “Lose Yourself (In The Digits),” a parody of the well-known Eminem hit. Check out the video below created by students at the Fort Vancouver High School using the lyrics to this song.

Here’s another fun Pi video set to the tune of “American Pie” by Don McLean.

And now for some interactive fun… Check out this multimedia sensation created by ThingLink guru Mathy Cathy containing a variety of super cool activities and info related to Pi Day.

Other great resources for teaching and learning about Pi Day include…

» Edutopia: Classroom Resources for Pi Day

» Education World: Plan a Pi Day Party

» NEA: Math Resources for Pi Day

» The Last Minute, No-Prep Pi Day Activities Booklet created by Elementary Inquiry. Especially designed for students in Grades 5-8, this Teachers Pay Teachers freebie contains a list of 10 different Pi Day activities that can be completed with no prior planning and minimal materials. Choose just one activity—or do them all for loads of Pi Day fun!

And these just in…

» Pi Day: Huge List of Pi Day Activities for All Ages

» Pi Day: A Pinterest board filled with all sorts of classroom resources.

» Math: Another Pinterest board with Pi Day activities for students of all ages.

Classroom Connection:

Use the Pi Day resources and materials to generate some enthusiasm and appreciation for mathematics. And while you’re at it, have a piece of your favorite (chocolate peanut butter) pie!

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Get Lucky with Some St. Patrick’s Day Magnetic Poetry

March3

If you’re looking for a fun activity to complete with your students this St. Patrick’s Day, then all you’ve got to do is snag a copy of my holiday-themed magnetic poetry activity!

Here it is: A Google Slides activity containing 60+ words and phrases that can be manipulated into a fun-filled holiday poem, story, etc.

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 March adventure, here are a few additional items worth knowing:

» The background on the Google Slide is locked so students can avoid accidentally moving it, but 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 include this info.

Check out a sneak preview below!

St.PatricksDayMagneticPoetry

Click here to access 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 easily shared with students—especially if you’re using Google Classroom.

Classroom Connection:

The St. Patrick’s Day 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—although I think part of the challenge is to use the words provided.

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

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Make It Real with iFakeText

February18

Yeah, we all know how much students like to text… So, why not leverage this obsession by taking advantage of a web tool like ifaketext.com, a nifty online generator that mimics the real thing. Not only is it super simple to use, but it’s a visually engaging way to allow students to demonstrate what they know in a unique way. Plus, there’s nothing quite like using one of the most popular forms of social media to grab our students’ interest and attention, right?

Utilizing ifaketext.com works something like this: After accessing the web site, just enter a name, choose a carrier (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) and insert a conversation. Once you’re finished with these steps, click the “Submit” button and voila! An image showing the text chat as if it appeared on a smart phone is all yours. Download your masterpiece, share it via your favorite social media networks and/or embed it into your online spaces. Is that way cool or what?

Oh, and did I mention that this resource is a freebie that requires no registration? Yay!

Check out an ifaketext.com example shown below.

Classroom Connection:

ifaketext.com can be utilized in a variety of ways in any content area to allow students to practice reading and writing dialogue. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

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

» Formative assessments for independent reading

» Displaying vocabulary and definitions in a fun way

» Writing prompts

» Poetry activities

In addition to these literacy activities, ifaketext.com could be used to teach students proper texting etiquette and digital responsibility.

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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics: Going for the Gold!

February16

For sports fans like me—and many of our students—the next few weeks will be an exciting time as we cheer on our favorite skiers, skaters and bobsledders to the gold medal stand during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea! I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to get enough!

That said, why not capitalize on the Olympic hype by using the educational activities listed below to tap into your students’ interests as they discuss and/or learn about one of the most celebrated sporting venues of all time.

» PyeongChang 2018: The official web site of the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Games… Stayed tuned in to all of the latest info related to the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.

» NBC PyeongChang 2018: You won’t want to miss the unprecedented coverage of the Winter Games via live TV as well as top news, highlights and related stories located on NBC’s site dedicated to the 2018 Olympics.

» The Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) Toolkit: A set of free resources designed to enrich any educational curriculum with Olympic-themed activities, teaching strategies and inspirational materials.

» Teaching the Winter Olympics Across the Curriculum: For two weeks this month, the world’s attention will focus on PyeongChang, South Korea, to marvel at the incredible athletics performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This teaching resource—developed by the New York Times Learning Network—suggests a variety of ways teachers across subject areas can turn the Olympics into learning experiences for their students.

» Countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games: The Winter Olympic Games is a “teachable moment” that comes along only once every four years, so the Education World team has gathered lesson ideas to help educators teach to the moment.Included are lessons to teach history, vocabulary, decimals, sportsmanship and more!

» 15 Tech Tidbits To Bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Into Your Classroom: Educators have a terrific opportunity to expand their students’ learning during the Olympics. The games provide excellent moments to teach them about many subjects, including history, science, physical education and social studies. Find out how this can be done via this article sponsored by the School Library Journal.

» The Winter Olympics: ReadWriteThink offers teachers a variety of lessons and activities centered on the 2018 PyeongChang Games to engage K-12 students.

» 2018 Winter Olympics Classroom Activities and Resources: Stepping outside of medal tally mathematics and the symbolism of the Olympic rings, what can kids learn from the Olympics? The folks at Teach Starter say, lots! This page lists just a few things you can explore with your students during the 2018 Winter Games.

» The Best Sites for Learning About the PyeongChang Winter Olympics: Compiled by Larry Ferlazzo, this comprehensive site contains links to some of the best Olympic resources on the web!

» 2018 Winter Olympics: A Pinterest board filled with all things Olympics—STEM Challenges, BreakoutEDU activities, videos, games, bulletin board and more!

» 12 Olympic Lessons & Classroom Activities: Check out some teacher-favorite, Olympics-inspired lesson ideas, classroom management techniques and fun classroom activites from TeachHUB.com.

» Olympics Lessons and Teacher Resources: Tons of lesson plan ideas to learn about the Olympic Games from HotChalk.

» The Perseus Digital Library Project: An exhibit that can be used to compare ancient and modern-day Olympic sports. Visitors can also tour the site of Olympia as it looks today, learn about the context of the Games and the Olympic spirit and/or read about the Olympic athletes who were famous in ancient times.

» Olympic Challenge: A collaborative project in which students (or schools) can compete against one another in a series of Olympic themed challenges. This site is actually based on the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the activities can be adapted accordingly. Since the challenges were tech-related, I thought they were too cool not to share!

Classroom Connection:

If you have a few minutes in the day to light the Olympic torch, use these teaching and learning resources to guide the way to medal-winning lessons.

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Doodle with Google for Valentine’s Day

February9

If you’re looking for another super cool Valentine’s Day activity for your students (the first being  Valentine’s Day Magnetic Poetry, which can be found here), then a must-see is the ‘Create your own Google Logo’ activity developed for students to design and code their own Valentine Doodle using the programming language Scratch.

This edtech gem is a standalone activity that can be completed in just one hour. It can be used in a classroom setting, at a conference or at an event. Anyone can teach the concepts to students as no computer science experience is required to do so.

Check out a variety of teacher resources including lessons plans, informational flyers, certificates, sticker badges and more located here or explore the activity yourself here.

Classroom Connection:

Help students code a Google logo about something or someone they care about this Valentine’s Day!

What is a Google logo or doodle? They are special logos that appear on the Google homepage. They celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists. Check out more info about Google Doodles here.

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Love Me Some Valentine’s Day Magnetic Poetry

February7

All you need is love… And a copy of my Valentine’s Day Magnetic Poetry activity!

So, here it is: A Google Slides activity containing 60+ words and phrases that can be manipulated into a fun-filled holiday poem, story, etc.

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 February adventure, here are a few additional items worth mentioning:

» The background on the Google Slide is locked so students can avoid accidentally moving it, but 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 include this info.

Check out a sneak preview below!

ValentinesDayMagneticPoetry

Click here to access 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.

Here’s an example of what students can create using the template:

Valentine's Day Magnetic Poetry - Maliah Hassler

Here’s a mashup of fifth grade students working on the activity:

Valentine's Day Magnetic Poetry Collage

Classroom Connection:

The Valentine’s Day 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—although I think part of the fun/challenge is to just use the words provided.

A high five to Alex, one of my Tech Club kids, for helping to create the word boxes for the slide. And a shout out to Kasey Bell for inspiring me to create my own version of magnetic poetry. ♥

Stay tuned for another Magnetic Poetry template coming to your Google Drive in the very near future…

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

January23

What’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below for some super cool resources for the tech-infused classroom!

» Vocal Recall

An iOS and Android app that allows teachers to provide audio feedback to their students via QR codes—and students can even reply. This tool can also be used for many applications outside of  the classroom (i.e. note taking, personal memos, greeting card messages and musical ideas).

» Loom

A Chrome extension that can be used to capture videos of a user’s computer screen, webcam or both. The screencast is automatically copied to the clipboard and ready to share and/or download for offline use. Why? Because video is a faster communication tool than typing!

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

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Teaching & Learning Resources to Remember the Life of MLK

January14

martin luther king jr collage“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

This quote epitomizes why I have always admired Martin Luther King, Jr. As a pastor, activist, humanitarian and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, he not only advocated for the equal treatment of our fellow man, but he also supported the fair and humane treatment of animals—a personal passion of mine as a rescuer, adopter, foster and sponsor of shelter and puppy mill dogs.

In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor this great man. The holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near King’s birthday (January 15). Depending on your school calendar, you may have or had the day off.

But when students return next week, don’t miss the opportunity to share some MLK information with them so they can learn about the life and legacy of this true American hero. There are tons of teaching and learning resources available online, but out of all of them, I highly recommend the video “My Friend Martin”, especially if you teach middle school students. It’s a cool mix of animation and actual black and white video footage that is extremely effective and captivating—one that can be used as a springboard to discuss Dr. King and his accomplishments. The use of kid “lingo” and voice overs from famous actors such as Whoopie Goldberg and LaVar Burton as well encouraging messages about  how one person can make a difference and standing up for what is right even when it’s difficult makes this video a perfect choice for the classroom!

Even though I’ve seen the video dozens of times, it’s still my all-time favorite MLK educational resource. Check it out below!

For additional educational resources Martin Luther King, Jr., be sure to access Larry Ferlazzo’s Best Websites For Learning About Martin Luther King, Jr. page.

Classroom Connection:

Use the Our Friend, Martin video and other resources mentioned to teach students about the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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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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