Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

March5

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!

» TweetBeam

A web tool that projects selected tweets in the form of an interactive presentation. Real-time tweets can be displayed via hashtag, topic or a Twitter feed. A great way to visually engage an audience!

» Adobe Spark

A suite of graphic design apps which allow both web and mobile users to create and share visual content, including posts for social media, graphics, web stories and animated videos.

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

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

March3

lucky-st-patrick-dayYou need some luck? Then all you gotta do is snag a copy of my St. Patrick’s Day Magnetic Poetry activity!

Here it is: A recently updated 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 shared with your students.

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 huge shout out to Alex, one of my Tech Club kids, for helping to create this activity! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

February26

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!

» Robo Boogie

A neat web tool that allows users to make robotic dancers move and groove to the music by editing variables in the coding.

» Steller

An iOs and Android app that allows users to create short stories interlaced with text, videos and images. A great digital storytelling tool!.

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

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It’s Time for Some Breakout EDU!

February25

If you haven’t already done so, you really need to join the latest craze that combines logic, problem solving skills and teamwork with an engaging series of challenges, riddles and mysteries in a quest to beat the clock—all in an effort to…..Breakout!

Similar to an Escape Room, a set of real life games where individuals follow clues to solve puzzles in order to get out of a area before time runs out, Breakout EDU is the educational version in which students work collaboratively to solve a series of problems to open a locked box (or a series of them)—or in the case of Digital Breakout EDU, a Google form.

Still not sure what this concept is all about? Then check out this video overview created by Breakout EDU co-founder James Sanders…

As Sanders points out, every classroom needs a Breakout EDU kit. Here’s why this challenging yet fun hands-on approach to learning should be utilized in education…

Be sure to dial up the Breakout EDU site to locate all of the info and resources needed to become a breakout junkie—kits, 250+ 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.

And remember: Although the official Breakout EDU kits are super cool, educators do not have to purchase them from the site. In fact, there are numerous online resources where users can find, build or purchase equipment to create their own experiences. There are also tons of expert educators on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest who share a wealth of ideas.

Moving Forward with Breakout EDU

Last week I introduced the Breakout EDU concept to the middle school faculty in my district. Following an overview, teachers worked in small groups to experience the concept firsthand. As previously mentioned, there is also a digitized version of Breakout EDU involving the use of Google Sites, locked Google Forms and other web tools to solve various challenges.

Here is the BAMS gang participating in Catch the Bus, their first-ever Breakout EDU digital game…

With time left on the clock, all groups escaped—and they had fun doing so!

If you looking to kickstart Breakout EDU activities in your school, the digital versions are a great place to begin. Check out the site here to locate featured games, a sandbox filled with community-created games and tons of resources to assist you with designing your own game.

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 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.

As co-founder James Sanders said, “On the surface, it is a simple box. But when combined with the power of imagination and creativity, the possibilities are endless.”

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

On a side note, I had the opportunity to visit an Escape Room while in Hershey, PA last weekend. It was a most excellent adventure, one I will definitely schedule again. It’s a must-have addition for every bucket list!

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Create Wall Art with Block Posters

February22

Ever wish you could take a really cool image, infographic or flyer and transform it into a classroom poster?  If so, you’re about to meet your new tech crush! Check out Block Posters, a free web-based tool, educators (and students) can utilize to create huge personalized posters using a standard inkjet or laser printer.

Here’s how the magic happens: Upload an image to the Block Posters interface (jpg or gif format only), determine the desired printing preferences (number of pages, paper size, orientation), click the “Create My Poster!” button and voila! You’re ready to download the file containing your poster. All that’s left to do is print the file and assemble a giant poster that will rock your classroom! It’s that simple! No kidding!

Check out the example I created using the SAMR Model Apps graphic shown below.

View the printable PDF generated using the Block Posters web site here: SAMR Model Apps Block Poster

This poster could be used to ensure that apps are being used in the classroom to transform teaching and learning.

Classroom Connection:

Whenever you’re in need of a poster—as an instructional tool, to promote school services or events, to create displays of student projects or maybe to add some “eye candy” to your classroom—Block Posters is the perfect solution for you!

This tool could also be used to create a giant jigsaw puzzle. How cool is that?

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Google Slides Go Gradient

February20

Google Apps for Education, the best collection of educational tools on the planet, just added another awesome feature to Google Slides, the ability to create gradient backgrounds. This sweet new addition can also be applied to shapes and is now available in Docs and Drawings as well.

OK, so maybe it’s not anything very revolutionary, but if you’re a design guru, you’ll love this new way of pimping out your slides. And gradients also create a really great background for animated gifs too!

The G Suite… It just keeps getting better and better!

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

February19

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 and resources that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» Parapara Editor

An online animator that is simple and fun to use. Draw a frame, choose next canvas and repeat! Then run the show to animate and share with others!

» Localingual

Listen to the voices of the world by clicking on the interactive map to see and hear what languages are spoken in a specific destination. Users can also add their own audio phrases to the site.

(Disclaimer: Although this is a really cool resource, use caution when utilizing it with students. Users can upload their own content, and I have found some of it to be very inappropriate.)

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

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Get the InsideStory with Flashcards

February14

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of “Tech It Up Tuesday”, a weekly series in which I share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting, then you’re going to love this week’s resource!

This week’s edition is live from the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) in Hershey, PA, the sweetest place on earth, and it goes something like this…

Forget boring vocabulary activities! InsideStory Flashcards bring the English language to life through engaging photos and matching definitions to provide students with a total visual experience. In addition to the simple but attractive pictures, users can click on a speaker for the correct pronunciation of words which are categorized into four levels: Basic/Kids & ESL (i.e. elephant, button, toothbrush), Easy/Vocabulary Builder (i.e. rant, apparel, stagnant), Medium/SAT Vocabulary (i.e. imposing, ominous, ambidextrous) and Hard/GRE & Beyond (i.e. dishabille, boreal, prescience).

InsideStory Flashcards can be downloaded, printed and/or users can simply improve their vocabulary by utilizing the online tool. Although the site is free to use, flashcards sets are also available for purchase via the InsideStory Flashcards online store.

Spend a few minutes on this site and you will not only get the idea that learning words can be a lot of fun, but you’ll also see why the creators of InsideStory Flashcards dub their product “the world’s most interesting way to learn words”. Check out an InsideStory Flashcards example is shown below.

Classroom Connection:

Since images used to supplement learning can help to present and define information in a more meaningful context, InsideStory Flashcards are a great addition to any classroom! Not only is this tool an excellent resource for visual learners, but these flashcards provide a fun and engaging way to learn new words and/or practice vocabulary terms.

Give some of these ideas a try:

» Project the site to a screen or interactive whiteboard and utilize the flashcards as the “Word of the Day”. Challenge students to use the word in an assignment and/or conversation.

» Divide students into pairs or small groups to see which team can create the most original sentence using a new vocabulary word.

» Use the flashcards as a creative writing prompt.

» Print the flashcards and use them in a writing inspiration station/center.

» Practice SAT vocabulary.

» Assist ESL students with learning the English language.

So, these vocabulary words don’t pertain to your content area? No worries! Use the InsideStory Flashcards concept and have students create their own vocabulary projects using the Motivational Poster or Trading Card utilities in Big Huge Labs—one of my most favorite web tools of all time! These activities will enable your students to learn, understand and utilize vocabulary in a more meaningful way. A sixth grade example is shown below.

For more information about the value of using images in your classroom, check out my “Big Huge Labs: Using Images to Enhance Reading, Writing & Thinking Skills” wiki page here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s to spending it with the people that mean the most to you! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

February12

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 and resources that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» Grammar Bytes!

An interactive web site that offers “grammar instruction with attitude.” Covering terms and usage through exercises, handouts, presentations and YouTube videos, this resource teaches grammar in engaging and unique ways!

» Scrumy

A super simple web tool that can be utilized to manage project-based learning. Enter the tasks (called stories) and assign students to complete them. A virtual bulletin board with stickies is then generated in order to be able to visualize all jobs that must be done, who should be doing them, and how much progress has been made.

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

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Get Inspired with Automotivator

February7

If you’re ready for the next edition of “Tech It Up Tuesday”, a weekly series in which I share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting, then you’re going to love this week’s resource!

It’s one I snagged from the archives, but definitely one worth a look—especially if it’s not already part of your tech toolbox.

Automotivator is an online poster generator that allows users to create super cool motivational posters. Besides being free (although there is an option to professionally print your final product), users do not need to register for an account to utilize this edtech favorite.

The process of creating a poster is a fairly simple one. Users can upload an image from their computer or another web site, select the font style and color, and then type the motivational message. Once completed, posters can be saved, printed and/or uploaded to other online spaces (i.e. blogs, wikis, Flickr, social media, etc.).

Check out a student example shown below:

Classroom Connection:

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective way to integrate technology into a lesson, then Automotivator is just the tool for you! This nifty application can be integrated with various instructional strategies at any grade level and in any content area—particularly with bellringers and exit tickets, especially if the activity is designed to review a concept, skill or vocabulary learned in a lesson, chapter or unit.

Another idea: Instead of creating posters with the latest music or sports stars on them, photograph students from your class to create motivational posters with “real people” in them.  This would be a great way to promote classroom and/or school rules, slogans and mottoes.

Whatever the nature of the actual assignment, once students submit their individual projects, a visual dictionary for the class can be created and shared.

Even though the Automotivator site does not allow for much student creativity, the task of actually locating or taking a photo that matches a concept and then summarizing thoughts on the image can help to sharpen critical thinking skills.

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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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