Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

May1

diigo iconWhat’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!

» Zero Noise Classroom

A free Chrome extension that displays noise level and a stopwatch. An excellent tool for cooperative learning activities as well as a way to leverage gamification techniques.

» Kupiter

If you enjoyed playing Asteroids as a kid, then you’ll love this online assessment tool in which students answer questions by playing the old school game. Teachers can add questions by entering text, uploading via a spreadsheet or importing from Quizlet. An engaging game-based way to study anytime, anywhere!

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

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The Weekly Edtech Smackdown: Vol. VI

April30

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Edtech Smackdown—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 to engage students in your classroom!

This week kicks off with more Google goodness you won’t want to miss…

» The Teacher’s Guide to Google Classroom eBook (including a free bonus: Student Quick Guide)—By Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning

» Play Connect 4 Asynchronously with Google Drawings—By Alice Keeler, Teacher Tech

» Creative Google Slides Uses for Students—By Eric Curts, Control Alt Achieve

» 8 Awesome Reasons to Go Incognito in Google Chrome—By Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning

Another geeky gadget worth checking out…

» The first-ever mini robotic printer—By ZUtA Labs 

Good reads…

» Can schools punish students for off-campus, online speech?—Written by Matthew Lynch, The Tech Edvocate

» Why don’t kids speak up about bullying?—A guest post by Jennifer Fraser; Featured on The Tech Edvocate

Other cool stuff…

» 50 Fabulous EdTech Blogs to Follow—Compiled by Eric Curts, Control Alt Achieve

» PicCollage & PicKids… What’s the Difference?—By Ann Kozma, Tech.Travel.Teach

» A super cool quote graphic shared by Erin Flanagan, erintegration.com

And there you have it—this week’s smackdown! Stay tuned for additional resources coming your way in the next round…

In the meantime—if you’ve missed any of my previous edtech collections, check ’em out here:

» Volume I

» Volume II

» Volume III

» Volume IV

» Volume V

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No Coins Needed: Retro Arcade Game Project Update

April28

A few weeks ago I shared the scoop about a few of my high school independent study Tech Club students—also known as the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology)—who are working on one totally awesome DIY project: Building and programming a tabletop retro arcade game—completely from scratch!

For the first two weeks of this ed-venture, they—Kermit, Corey and Bailey—worked on programming the Raspberry Pi (a credit card-sized computer), connecting it to the monitor, wiring the buttons, assembling the buttons and joysticks on the control panel and building the casing. You can read all about that here.

Since then, they have been busy completing other aspects of the project. Check out the progress we’ve been making on our ultimate tech-infused hands-on activity shown via the visual timeline embedded below…

OK, so I get that I’m kind of like bragging about them. Actually I do that a-lot! Mostly because each day I’m amazed at their hard work, dedication and perseverance to make this project come to life. And honestly… I’m just super proud of them—even though they totally kick my butt at every game they have installed on the console, including Ms. Pacman, my all-time fav. (Um, yeah… We have competitions!) ♥

Here they are in action…

Tweaking the coding that operates the power button and wiring the lighting strip for the marquee.

Using the Cricut to generate the vinyl logo for the marquee and assembling other parts of the wooden cabinet.

Additional work on the wooden cabinet…

Testing the lighting for the marquee and making sure it fits within the cabinet.

Prepping the wooden cabinet to be painted.

Continuing to prepare the electronic components for our arcade game.

Stay tuned for additional updates as we finalize our swanky project!

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Reinventing Education with Makerspaces

April26

Last summer my good friend, colleague and our elementary principal, Dr. Terri Harpster, and I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh FabLab hosted by Dr. Todd Keruskin and the Elizabeth Forward School District. This four day event exposed us to the super popular maker movement sweeping our country and more importantly, inspired us to reinvent learning for the students in our district.

Upon our return from this experience, we developed a blueprint to transform some of our existing spaces into modern-day learning areas that encourage students to become makers, inventors, coders and responsible digital citizens. And then we actually worked with a number of individuals—the B-A School Board, administration, the BASD Foundation, community members, teachers and students—to make the vision become a reality!

This is our story…

Getting into the Zone

The concept of makerspaces has been around for quite some time. However, within the past few years educators have realized the potential of the Maker Movement in revolutionizing education—to move from consumption of information to creation and then transforming knowledge into action.

If we want our students to have 21st Century career awareness and opportunities, they need to have authentic experiences that allow them to critically think, create, collaborate, and communicate.

One of the most effective ways for students to develop these skills is to provide them with a space to imagine, plan and “make” with their peers.

Welcome to the Imagination Zone, the new makerspace located at Myers Elementary School, a room where students can explore interests and learn to use a variety of repurposed materials and tools, both physical and digital, to develop innovative projects.  This low-tech place also contains Little Bits kits and Osmo robots which give students the chance to learn circuitry and computer programming skills through hands-on activities.

Since its inception at the start of the 2016-17 school year, K-4 students at Myers have designed and created a number of projects that include state floats, dog houses, boats, windmills, parachutes and a Sioux Native American village.  All of these tasks are part of Pennsylvania Common Core standards-aligned units; however, instead of taking a test, students are demonstrating their knowledge by creating museum artifacts and solving problems, which requires the use of higher order thinking skills.

Scenes from our recent ribbon cutting ceremony in which groups of elementary students demonstrated their makerspace knowledge and skills with our School Board, parents and other community members…

Media Center Makeover

Project Reimagine provides the same functions as a library but with a modern twist intended to encourage digital citizenship and more informal avenues of learning.  Our recent makeover included…

  • Café – A place where students can purchase drinks and snacks; Managed by our Life Skills and Autistic Support Classroom teachers and students as well as other members of the student body
  • Book Lounge – A place for collaboration and social interaction.
  • A Student Help Desk – Members of the high school’s SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology) assist teachers and students with use of the iPads, troubleshoot issues and develop digital projects to highlight school activities. Students are currently building and programming a tabletop arcade game for the media center.
  • The addition of contemporary furniture and a splash of vibrant colors to promote creativity.

Project Reimagine opened at the start of the 2016-17 school year.

Tinkering Forward

In order to continue providing students with real-life, engaging, authentic and lifelong learning experiences, plans are being formulated to open a second makerspace at Myers during the 2017-18 school year.  This area will include high-tech equipment such as laser and vinyl cutters, 3D printers and additional robotic programs.

Proposed changes to the existing middle/high school media center for the 2017-18 school year include:

  • Revamp the section of the media center which currently houses reference books into a makerspace for middle school students, one that is similar to the Imagination Zone at Myers Elementary

This area will include low-tech and high-tech equipment that provides students with the opportunity to experiment with 3D printers, robotics, circuitry, computer programming and gaming software/hardware.

  • Convert the library classroom into a TV/Movie Production Studio

This room will be used to broadcast the high school and middle school announcements each morning. This space will also be utilized for the filming of curricular-related videos and presentations as well as the recording of podcasts, music and audio for multimedia projects. Green screen technology will also be leveraged in this area. Plans to incorporate STEM Labs and the Escape Room concept into these areas are being made as well.

  • Add additional TVs to display current events, replays of sporting events, concerts and other school activities (similar to a digital billboard containing school news, info, etc.)
  • Add study carousels and charging stations to the existing areas
  • Update the current computer lab area with new furniture
  • Extend the new ceiling, flooring and paint colors to match the remainder of the media center

Stay tuned to see where our next maker ed-venture leads us!

In the meantime, check out some of the wicked cool activities our elementary students have completed in the Imagination Zone with the assistance of my high school Tech Club/independent study students.

Ms. Longo’s class learning about circuitry via Little Bits challenges…

Ms. Longo’s students building a dog house for Chadwick, their stuffed class pet…

The final product…

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

April24

diigo iconWhat’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!

» Illuminations

A platform in which teachers can locate hundreds of lesson plans, activities and strategies for improving their teaching practices in math. Educators can select grade specific games and content, ensuring that students are on par with standards set by The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Activities align with Common Core State Standards as well.

» Vsauce

A YouTube channel featuring videos relating to various scientific, mathematical and philosophical topics as well as gaming, technology, culture, and other topics of general interest. Great for class use or for some inspiration!
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links can be found here.

 

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The Weekly Edtech Smackdown: Vol. V

April23

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Edtech Smackdown—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 to engage students in your classroom!

This week kicks off with more Google goodness starting with this epic new release…

» Welcome home to the new Google Earth—It’s everything you love about Google Earth, plus new ways for you to explore, learn and share. Zoom in and see what adventures await you!

» 4 New Video Options in Google Slides That Will Make Your Day—By Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning

» 100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators—Compiled by Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher

» Free Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings—Lots of awesome digital pattern block ideas and resources by Eric Curts, Control Alt Achieve

For the Chrome Extension gurus…

» Sticky Notes: A Chrome extension for quickly and easily taking notes while browsing—Tip shared by Julie Smith, the JG Techie Teacher

» Reinventing Math Class with the EquatIO Chrome Extension—Post written by John McGowan, Math Product Manager, Texthelp

A few geeky gadgets worth checking out…

» iPad Cases: Bluetooth & Backlight ClamCases from Incipio—By Monica Burns, Class Tech Tips

» Go Adventuring with this Underwater Microphone—From KitHub, By KitHub

Other super cool stuff…

» 10 Best Sites That Offer Gorgeous Free Images for Blogs—By Lifehack… Great places to snag images for classroom projects too!

» Student-Created Breakout EDU Games—Post written by Mari Venturino

» Another great sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth…

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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Introducting…The PicCollage Drawing Tool

April21

This. Just. In… Teachers asked for it… PicCollage delivered! Yep, a few days ago PC Headquarters released a brand-new feature—the Drawing Tool. And it’s all that! Check out the details below to get the latest scoop…

» Update to the latest version of PicCollage.

» After importing photos for a new collage, tap the “+’ button and select “Add Drawing” to begin doodling.

» Users can even select the color and thickness of designs.

» Once the masterpiece is complete, the drawing is transformed into a scrap that can be moved around, resized and rotated on the collage.

Check out a few screenshots showcasing this simple yet powerful addition to an already amazing educational tool!

Classroom Connection:

The Drawing Tool allows teachers and students to personalize collages with original artwork, adding another layer of authenticity to activities and projects.

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Print Custom Sticky Notes with Google Slides

April18

What do you get when you combine sticky notes with Google Slides? A super cool idea from Tony Vincent that shows teachers how to create customized messages for all kinds of classroom uses: Personalized notes, reminders, to do lists, paper tweets, exit tickets, motivational remarks and more!

There’s even a wicked awesome template for generating sticky notes containing customized avatars using the Bitmoji Chrome extension.

Get the scoop, including step-by-step instructions, design tips and templates, by visiting the Learning in Hand blog right here, right now!

In the meantime, check out this instructional video demonstrating how educators can make this concept happen!

A high five to Tony for giving me the thumbs up to highlight his innovative idea on my space!

Classroom Connection:

As simple as they are, sticky notes are powerful educational tools that can motivate and inspire students before, during and after all sorts of classroom activities that span the K-12 curriculum.

Use the resources found within the Learning in Hand blog post to create personalized learning experiences for your students.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks

April16

diigo iconWhat’s new this week in my Diigo bookmarks? Check out the links shown below to access two super cool and very useful iOS apps that can be utilized to engage students in your classroom!

» Write About

Use visual prompts via this web tool to engage students in digital writing activities. Educators can upload images, choose from keywords in the database or set specific writing tasks. Easy marking and editing allows teachers to provide honest feedback in a safe space.

» Quizalize

Pinpoint classroom progress in real-time with this formative assessment tool which allows teachers to turn classroom quizzes into exciting multi-player games. Students can participate in activities during class or they can be used for interactive homework assignments. Educators can create customized quizzes or select from 20,000+ premade options.

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

Many Easter blessings coming your way! Here’s to a day filled with love, laughter, hope and spending quality time with those that mean the most to you!

Matthew 28:6 ♥

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The Weekly Edtech Smackdown: Vol. IV

April15

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Edtech Smackdown—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 to engage students in your classroom!

This week kicks off with more Google goodness… Be sure to check out the latest tips and tricks!

» 8 Fantastic Ways to Find Anything in Google Drive—By Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning

» Stop Animation with Google Slides Examples and tutorials by Eric Curts, Control Alt Achieve

» Claim Evidence Reasoning with Google Forms… Use the Autocrat add-on to create color-coded paragraphs! Idea created by Mari Venturino

» 9 #Edtech Tools to Try—Compiled by Matthew Lynch, The Tech Edvocate

» 10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching—Post written by George Couros

» How to make a colorful Venn diagram in Google Drawings or Slides—By Tony Vincent

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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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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