Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Tech It Up Tuesday: The Myth of Average

February16

tech it up tuedayIt’s Tuesday again and that means it’s time to roll out another tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series.

This week we’re shaking things up a bit. Instead of sharing an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting, we’re highlighting a very inspiring video—one that has the ability to impact your perspective, and consequently, your learning environment.

Check out this TEDx talk featuring Todd Rose, a high school dropout turned Harvard faculty member, who speaks about how a different way of thinking—known as banning the average—can become key in nurturing potential and talent in every single student.

Classroom Connection:

Consider Rose’s theory of revolutionizing learning in your classroom by banning the average and designing to the edges. Even though it’s a bold statement, it has the potential to make the most profound impact on all of your students!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: The Coolest Dictionary Known to Hombre

February2

tech it up tuedayIt’s Tuesday again and that means it’s time to roll out another tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting.

Seems like a great day to learn about the coolest dictionary known to hombre, right? So, that’s the plan! And the tool’s name is Lingro, an online dictionary that converts an ordinary web page into one that transforms all of the words on the desired page into interactive definitions! Yep, just like magic this resource immediately displays a definition when any word on the page is clicked.

Having trouble wrapping your mind around all of that? Then check out the example shown below. First, I located a page of interest from the web (info about Groundhog Day from Scholastic.com), snagged the URL, pasted it into the Lingro interface and here’s the outcome… As you can see, I clicked on two words and for each one, I received a box containing the part of speech and multiple definitions.

lingro snip

Oh, and in case you’re wondering—Punxy Phil did not see his shadow this morning, so it looks like spring will be arriving in about six weeks (or less—at least I’m hoping so)!

Anyway, a really cool feature about Lingro is that it does not alter the appearance of the original web page. In fact, it looks exactly the same, except the words on the page are now clickable. (Is that even a word?) Basically, Lingro hides in the background until students need it.

In addition to being an online dictionary, Lingro can also be a translation tool as well. Just select one of the language options from the drop-down menu located at the top of the page (i.e. English to Spanish) and follow the same process as previously described. The result is now users will be able to click on a word and see its translation in another language along with its part of speech. Lingro can currently translate to and from English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish, Swedish, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch and Chinese with more languages to be added in the future.

Another great feature built-in to Lingro is that students can add newly learned words to customized lists. This action can be done without logging into the web site, but if users have accounts, they can keep track of their words and even play various flashcard games with them in the Games section.

Classroom Connection:

A few words sum up this tool: Simple solution, big impact. Even though Lingro is a pretty simple tool, it packs quite a punch! Besides its “wow” factor, it ranks pretty high with the usefulness factor—especially for ELL, learning support or students who are struggling readers, particularly when they utilize internet sites above their reading level. It’s also a great resource for foreign languages students as well.

If that’s not enough of a reason to give Lingro a try, just remember that vocabulary influences fluency, comprehension, and student achievement. And it’s also essential for effective speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Oh, and by the way—for those of you who have no clue as to what hombre means: It’s Spanish for man. So now you can say that you just learned all about the coolest dictionary known to man!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Create Useful Scoring Guides with Quick Rubric

January19

tech it up tueday

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time to roll out my first tech-isode of “Tech It Up Tuesday” in 2016. Yep, it’s back! The weekly series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting.

So, just about this time last year I shared a post regarding the benefits of utilizing rubrics in the classroom. (Check out Do You Rubic? here.) Within this article I included a list of some of really cool and useful digital tools that can assist educators in the development of rubrics. Many of these resources offer pre-made templates and examples that can be tweaked to suit your academic needs.

One of these tech super stars to get the job done is Quick Rubrics, a super simple site that provides users with a space to create, edit, copy, save, share and print rubrics from their favorite web browser.

Brought to you by creators of Storyboard That and Photos for Class, this free web-based application has an intuitive interface that allows teachers to completely customize criterion-referenced rubrics for performance-based assessments such as oral presentations, essays, research papers and/or multimedia projects with ease.

Check out an example of a rubric that was generated utilizing Quick Rubrics:

quick rubric example

Classroom Connection:

Basically, rubrics can make the life of an educator simpler. Rather than adding an arbitrary grade to an assignment, rubrics streamline the scoring process by eliminating the guess work that is sometimes associated with determining the quality of project based assessments. In other words, these valuable and worthwhile tools make evaluating student work efficient, consistent, objective and quick.

Rubrics are also beneficial for students as they provide them with a clear understanding of what is expected as well as concrete directions regarding what makes a good science project, a good persuasive writing piece, etc.

Be sure to visit Quick Rubrics to get started on your first (or next) digital scoring guide!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: The Flubaroo Google Add-On

December8

tech it up tueday

It’s Tuesday again and that means it’s time to roll out another tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting.

So, let’s begin this week with a question: Do you Flubaroo? If the answer is no, you really don’t know what you’re missing—especially if you’re already a Google Apps user. And here’s why: This tool is a free Google add-on for Forms and Sheets which allows teachers to quickly grade and analyze student performance on multiple choice, true/false and fill-in-the-blank assignments that are administered via Google Docs.

You can check out the User Guide here, but basically here’s how it works: Download the Flubaroo add-on from the Google Chrome Store. Then create your quiz using Forms in Google Docs. Take the quiz yourself and then have your students do the same. (Forms/quizzes can be embedded into a web page and/or blog or students can access the direct link you provide for them.) Enable the Flubaroo script by selecting it from the “Insert” menu on the spreadsheet associated with your Form. Once the Flubaroo add-on is inserted, just select it and your quizzes will be graded for you!

Yep, it’s really as simple as that! And in fact, within a minute of executing the add-on, users will be able to do one or more of the following:

» Get scores for each student, and identify students in need of extra help.

» View average score of assignment as well as a histogram of scores.

» Quickly identify questions which a majority of the students missed.

» Email students their scores, along with optional notes to the class and/or to each student.

» Assign your own score to open-ended questions.

But wait! There’s more… Now as a result of a recent update, teachers can also share grades, answers and the answer key with their students through Google Drive. When grades and answer keys are shared via this manner, Flubaroo will create a folder in your Google Drive containing all student grades and answers. In addition, students will also receive individualized documents that contain their responses, their grades, and the answer key—if you elect to enable this option. This is an especially helpful feature, particularly if your school/district does not permit the use of student email. Click here for more info regarding how to share grades from Flubaroo.

Another updated feature is a new option for printing grades. Once “print grades” is selected from the advanced menu in Flubaroo, the add-on will create a document in your Google Drive account containing each student’s answers and grade. A page-break will also be generated in between each student’s name so that teachers can distribute a single, individualized page to each of their students. Click here for more info regarding how to print grades from Flubaroo.

Classroom Connection:

Sure, setting up Flubaroo may initially take some time, but the most significant use of this add-on (and many others) is that in the end, they are definitely time savers. Of course, tools like this won’t change the way you teach; however, they can streamline some processes for you—i.e. grading certain assignments.

Flubaroo was designed by a teacher, for teachers so be sure to give it a test drive for assignments, quizzes, assessments, or even an exam. To date, over 360,000 Google Forms are graded each month. Make yours the next one!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: How to be a PowerPoint Power User Infographic

November24

tech it up tueday

Got a upcoming presentation to prepare for? Want to avoid “Death by PowerPoint”? If you’ve ever asked yourself one of these burning questions, then this week’s edition of “Tech It Up Tuesday” is just for you…

The folks at Best STL polled some PowerPoint experts for their tried and tested PowerPoint tips then generated the How to be a PowerPoint Power User infographic to help others take their next presentation to the next level. This nifty visual even includes tips about how to smash PowerPoint with some really cool productivity apps to ensure you are prepared for any occasion.

Check it out below!

how-to-be-a-powerpoint-power-user

Click here to view a full screen version of this visual.

Classroom Connection:

You and/and your students can utilize the seven tricks mentioned in the infographic to help your next presentation stand out from the competition.

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Snappy Words

November10

tech it up tuedayIt’s Tuesday again and that means it’s time to roll out another tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting.

This week’s selection focuses on Snappy Words, an online visual dictionary and thesaurus that assists users with finding the meaning of words and connections to associated words via an interactive graphic.

Here’s how it works: Just type the desired word into the search box and click Go or simply hit Enter, and the interface will generate a web of related words, phrases, and definitions. To explore additional info within the word web, complete one or more of the following: Hover your cursor over any word or phrase to read its definition; Click and drag any node to discover other branches of the web; Double click on a node to generate new web branches; and/or scroll the mouse over words to view words and meanings more clearly.

Still not quite sure what this “cool tool” does? Then check out the example shown below based on the keyword journey

snappy words 1

Snappy Words also provides the user with a key to explain the colors and lines on the visual.

snappy words 2

Pretty nifty, eh? Oh, and did I mention that besides being simple to use, Snappy Words is free, no registration is required, no software installation is needed, and there is no limit on the number of searches a user can conduct.

Classroom Connection:

Snappy Words provides students with a fun and easy to use digital alternative for locating definitions and alternative word choices for their writing assignments.

There is no finish line so love the journey! ♥

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Tech It Up Tuesday: ViewPure

October27

tech it up tuedayTime for the next tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting. And here it is…

Looking for a way to watch YouTube videos with your students minus the distracting and sometimes inappropriate advertisements, comments, and other extraneous information that is included on the page? If so, ViewPure is the perfect tool for you!

ViewPure allows users to copy the URL of a video into the “purifier”. Once this link is inserted, the “Purify” button can be selected and bang! Your video is displayed on a clutter-free background.

Videos can also be “purified” through the use of the ViewPure bookmarklet. Simply install the applet to your favorites toolbar, then click the “purify” button while on the YouTube page of the video you wish to filter and voila!

Check out the example below showing how ViewPure works:

» An Ancient Egyptian video from YouTube before using ViewPure:

viewpure2

FYI: The actual URL for this video lives here.

» The same Ancient Egyptian video from YouTube after using ViewPure:

viewpure1

Click here to view the unique URL ViewPure generates for each video that is “purified”.

Classroom Connection:

Use ViewPure to eliminate unnecessary distractions from YouTube videos so students can better focus on the content at hand.

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Resize Your Image

October20

tech it up tuedayHey, tech gurus! It’s “Tech It Up Tuesday”, so hopefully you’re ready to learn about another resource that can be utilized in your classroom. This week’s feature, Resize Your Image, is not a new web app, but it’s definitely a very simple yet useful one that should be added to your tech toolbox.

Whenever you need a quick and easy way to resize an image without having to use a full-size image editing tool like Gimp or Photoshop, then be sure to check out Resize Your Image. This utility allows users to upload an image, specify the desired dimensions and then download the resized image. Resize Your Image also provides users with rotation and zooming tools as well as the option to save in one of three file formats: jpg, png and gif.

Not only does Resize Your Image allow users to modify the size of an image (in pixels), the tool also reduces the size of the actual file itself.

Classroom Connection:

Use Resize Your Image when you (or your students) want to reduce the pixels and/or overall size of an image for print, email and/or use in web sites, wikis and blogs.

My Multimedia Journalism students and I love, love this tool! We utilize it frequently when preparing pictures for upload on our online school newspaper site. Be sure to check out The B-A BluePrint sometime!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: The LIFE Photo Archive & Document Analysis Worksheets

October13

tech it up tueday

Are you ready for another round of Tech It Up Tuesday, a series devoted to sharing an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the classroom setting? This week’s shout out goes to the LIFE Photo Archive powered by Google, a collection of unpublished historical images from LIFE Magazine that span from the 1750’s to present-day.

This database containing millions of images—a joint venture between LIFE Magazine and Google—is completely free and very simple to use. Just access the site and then select a category of photos to browse (decades, people, places, events, etc.) or use the search option to locate the desired image. Once a photo is found, it can be downloaded to your device and utilized in multimedia projects, documents, presentations, etc.—so long as it has an educational/non-commercial use.

Here’s an example of one of the really cool never seen before images I found after conducting a search using the key words John F. Kennedy.

john f kennedy life image

If you would just prefer to use the Google Images search engine to locate photos from the LIFE Photo Archive, then you can bypass the actual site by simply adding “source:life” to any search. The result? Only images located within the LIFE Photo Archive will be returned. (i.e. John F. Kennedy source:life). Give this advance search option a test drive!

Classroom Connection:

The LIFE Photo Archive is a great place to snag images that can be used for a variety of purposes: To introduce a historical topic and/or to spark a conversation about an event in history. These photos (or any photo as well as other media types) could also be utilized in conjunction with document analysis worksheets. Besides strengthening visual literacy, this concept is a great tool for use as bell ringers, pair share activities and exit tickets—all of which help to ensure that students are actively engaged with lesson content.

Examples of Document Analysis Worksheets:

The document analysis worksheets listed above were designed and developed by the Education Staff of the National Archives and Records Administration. You may find these resources to be valuable classroom tools as the use of images combined with instructional strategies and/or technology can…

  • Spark interest and enthusiasm
  • Engage the learner
  • Provoke thought
  • Provide clarity
  • Encourage interaction
  • Stimulate discussion
  • Make connections to learning
  • Address the four lenses of learning (meaning-centered, language-based, human, social)
  • Enhance critical thinking skills
  • Inspire creativity
  • Strengthen literacy, including information and visual
  • Promote a variety of 21st Century skills

And the best part: Lessons, activities and projects using images can be designed and utilized in all content areas across the K-12 curriculum!

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Tech It Up Tuesday: Knoword

September15

tech it up tueday

Time for the next tech-isode in my “Tech It Up Tuesday” series in which I will share an edtech tool, app, site or other resource that can be utilized in the educational setting.

This week the focus is on Knoword, an online word game that can help boost vocabulary, spelling, and speed of thought while increasing analytical, observational and typing skills as well.

Knoword is a pretty simple and straightforward web resource to use. Begin by selecting the level of difficulty from the menu at the top of the home page—Novice, Hotshot or Wizard, click the big blue “Let’s Go!” button, and let the fast-paced fun begin!

When users begin a new game, they are given one randomly generated dictionary definition along with the first letter of its corresponding word and one minute to solve the problem. The object of the game is to fill in the remainder of the word as fast as possible. Points and and additional time is earned based on how accurately and quickly the answers are provided.

Don’t know the word? No problem! Just hit the skip button and a new definition will appear.

The initial screen looks something like this:

knoword screenshot1

Since I entered the correct answer (Boom!), here’s what happens next:

knoword screenshot2

At the end of a game, users receive the following data:

knoword screenshot3

Perfect! Of course, I don’t hear that word very often so I was more than happy to receive these results—even if it was after only one round of play!

Anyway, users do not need to register for an account to play Knoword, but creating one provides users with the option of keeping track of game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances.

Classroom Connection:

Whether this site is used independently, in small groups or as a competition in a whole class setting, Knoword is a fun yet challenging game that can be used to reinforce students’ vocabulary, spelling and keyboarding skills. It would also be a great resource for students preparing to take the SATs.

FYI: Based on the difficulty of the words I’ve encountered while experimenting with this resource, I would recommend that Knoword be utilized with middle and high school students.

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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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