Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Tech It Up with Thanksgiving Poetry Magnets


Magnetic Poetry kits have been around for about 25 years, providing individuals with the inspiration to create poems on refrigerators everywhere!

In fact, the informality and spontaneity of Magnetic Poetry has endeared it to educators since its inception, especially for students experiencing writer’s block. Ironically that was the impetus behind the invention of this concept in the first place. Read more about founder Dave Kapell’s ingenious idea here.

Fast forward a few decades… When a cool concept like Magnetic Poetry is smashed with classroom technology, such as Google Drawings, teachers now not only have a fun activity to utilize with students, but one that can provide struggling writers with a way to break out that inner Edgar Allen Poe in a more modern way!

So, here it is… Back by popular demand—An updated Thanksgiving Poetry Magnets Google Drawings activity containing 80+ words that can be manipulated into a holiday themed 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.

Check out a sneak preview below!

Click here to make your very own copy of the template. Then have at it!

Classroom Connection:

The Thanksgiving Poetry Magnet 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 shout out to edtech guru Kasey Bell, author of the Shake Up Learning blog, for the inspiration needed to develop this resource!

HBHM2013 ♥

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Get Fancy with the Cool Text Generator


Ever wish you could add some pizzazz to your Google Classroom posts? Well, now you can with the ᑕOOᒪ ᖴᗩᑎᑕY TE᙭T GEᑎEᖇᗩTOᖇ.

This nifty workaround is a copy and paste font generator that converts regular text to free cool fonts including 𝐛𝐨𝐥𝐝, 𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘤, ʄǟռƈʏ and 🅜🅞🅡🅔 that can be used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, blog posts and yes, gσσgℓє ¢ℓαѕѕяσσм.

How does it work? Access the ᑕOOᒪ ᖴᗩᑎᑕY TE᙭T GEᑎEᖇᗩTOᖇ, select a font, click the 🅳🅴🅲🅾🆁🅰🆃🅴 button and customize your text. Once you dig the output, click the 🅲🅾🅿🆈 button and then 🅿🅰🆂🆃🅴 your $цpёя cѳѳг text wherever you need some good stuff.

In addition to sᴛʏʟɪsʜ fonts, the ᑕOOᒪ ᖴᗩᑎᑕY TE᙭T GEᑎEᖇᗩTOᖇ also offers some pretty neat ★·.·´¯`·.·★ tєхt dєcσrαtíσns ★·.·´¯`·.·★ and symbols that can be added to the mix as well.

So, the next time you want to impress your students, colleagues and/or friends, dial up the ᑕOOᒪ ᖴᗩᑎᑕY TE᙭T GEᑎEᖇᗩTOᖇ—or if you’d prefer the mobile version, check out the Fancy Text iOS app or the Fancy Text Android app.

*•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:* Nօȶɛ: Fancy text may not be compatible with all devices, screen readers and translators. *•.¸,¤°´✿.。.:*

ᑕᒪᗩᔕᔕᖇOOᗰ ᑕOᑎᑎEᑕTIOᑎ:

Grab your students’ attention with information that ✤ ѕтαɴdѕ αpαrт ✤ from the rest by using the ᑕOOᒪ ᖴᗩᑎᑕY TE᙭T GEᑎEᖇᗩTOᖇ.

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Back in the Bloggoshere


Russin showcasing new signage in our Media Center.

Yep, I’ve unfortunately been MIA in the bloggoshere for awhile…

But that doesn’t mean I’ve been completely absent on the edtech scene. In fact, quite the contrary. The last five months have been super busy with all kinds of new adventures that have been unfolding in my journey as an educator.

From finishing a three-year media center project to opening a third high-tech makerspace to supervising a student-run escape room business to developing a new concept known as Xscape EDU, one that is geared toward promoting breakout activities in the classroom, I’ve been on the move. And that’s not to mention all of the conferences, trainings and workshops I’ve been attending or the classes I’ve been facilitating at Penn State Altoona. Plus, our district has partnered with Modern Teacher in an effort to shift our traditional classrooms toward modern learning environments across the K-12 spectrum—a very in depth, time-consuming but extremely worthwhile process.

All good stuff, for sure, and nothing I would change… But I must admit that I really miss writing on this blog. My goal is to get back to one of the things that makes me happy so hopefully I will be able to carve out some time in this crazy schedule to do so!

In the meantime, be sure to follow Edutech for Teachers on Twitter and Facebook, two spaces where I regularly share valuable edtech resources and information.

Until next time… Be awesome! ♥

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Tech or Treat: Spook-tacular Halloween Resources for the Classroom II


Looking for some fun activities to celebrate Halloween in your classroom? Then look no further! Listed below is a recently updated version of some really spook-tacular educational Halloween resources that are sure to creep out your students—in a good way, of course!

Whether it’s writing prompts, science experiments, Halloween candy math, Edgar Allan Poe videos or haunted vocabulary, there’s something ghostly awaiting you right here, right now…

» Create Halloween Rebus Stories with Emojis and Google Docs

Generated by Eric Curts, this Halloween rebus activity can be used for students to create and/or read. (BTW: Anyone who grew up reading Highlights magazine in the dentist office waiting room will quickly recognize a rebus. Basically, it is a story in which some of the words are replaced by images.)

» Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides

Also generated by Eric Curts, this fun, and educational Google Slides activity is a great way for students to be creative and to work on writing skills by describing the Jack-O-Lantern they build with shapes and/or drawings of their own.

» Haunted House Escape

For the Breakout EDU junkies… Check out this spooky, musical, holiday-themed digital breakout game created by Aubrey Yeh. (Designed for middle school students but could work for upper elementary or high school as well.)

» Breakout EDU: Halloween

Check out three challenging yet fun hands-on games with a Halloween twist located on the Breakout EDU site.

» 6 Halloween Paper Circuit Projects

In this project tutorial, learn how to make six different Halloween paper circuit creations. Using parallel and simple circuits, students can bring these templates to life with copper tape, LEDs and batteries.

» 100 Free Halloween STEM Activities

A collection of 100 Halloween STEM activities that are completely free via Nick’s Picks for Educational Technology.

» 31 Days of Halloween STEM Activities and Projects

The STEAM Powered Family gathered 31+ science, tech, engineering and math activities that capture a child’s interest and imagination during this spooky season. And so many of them are perfect for our young scientists! Be sure to check out this spectacular STEM adventure projects!

» Free Halloween Music, Images, Videos, and Clipart for School Projects

Another collection of Halloween goodies from Nick’s Picks for Educational Technology.

» Halloween Activity Set

Get your classroom in the Halloween spirit with these math and science activities, writing ideas and crafts. This site, powered by Scholastic, includes Halloween-themed book lists to find a perfect read-aloud title or scary stories to share with your students for independent reading.

» Halloween Classroom Activities for Any Grade

To prepare for Halloween in your classroom, check out these Halloween classroom activities from Teach HUB for new ways to sneak in some spooky lessons and ghoulish learning!

» Halloween Lesson Ideas

Math… Pick a Pumkin… Bats in the Classroom… And Historical Figure Day, an alternative to the traditional Halloween hoopla. If you’re ready to celebrate Halloween in “spooktacular” fashion, you’re sure to find a fun idea or two right here on the Education World site.

» 30 Halloween Activities for the Classroom

A collection of nearly three dozen hands-on activities (with accompanying pictures) from the Proud to Be Primary blog.

» It’s Halloween!

A Pinterest board containing 90+ Halloween sites to celebrate Halloween by Edutopia.

» The Best Sites for Learning About Halloween

A collection of all things Halloween by Larry Ferlazzo—A visual history, slideshows, vocabulary and spelling games, cloze activities, Halloween Around the World and Mia Cadaver’s Tombstone Timeout, one of the most favorite games found on the BBC site and more!

» Halloween Activities

A variety of educational sites for Halloween by 19 Pencils.

» Tech-Themed Halloween Costume Ideas

Check out and/or share some pretty neat tech-inspired Halloween costume ideas on the Tech with Us Community Facebook thread found here. A shout out to Julie Goode Smith for generating this fun post!

Classroom Connection:
Use these resources to teach and learn about Halloween in fun and hands-on ways.

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks


Check out this flashback—one of the most popular Diigo bookmark posts to date… Five super cool resources that can be used to locate and/or enhance images for educational purposes. Check ’em out below!

» PicJumbo

Totally free stock photos for educational, commercial and/or personal use. No attribution needed!

» Pixabay

A treasure trove of royalty-free images for use in all types of multimedia projects and classroom activities.


High quality free clip art for use on all types of educational projects.

» PicResize

Resize, shrink, and crop pictures online for free before posting them to a blog, web page or social media site.

» Clipping Magic

Easily remove image backgrounds and/or create masks, cutouts and clipping paths with this quick and simple online tool.

The sites listed above are also excellent resources (my go-to places, actually) for locating background images to create all sorts of super cool quotes images such as this one…

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

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Print Custom Sticky Notes with Google Slides


Check out this flashback from about one year ago that includes an extra bonus—An image of actual customized sticky notes I created and printed as a result of participating in Tony Vincent’s Classy Graphics Online Workshop. Maybe you missed the class, but you don’t have to miss out on this useful resource so be sure to read on…

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!

Check out the examples I created as one of my projects for the Classy Graphics Online Workshop… (Yep, that means you can do it too!)

Here’s how these particular notes can be used…

  • Twitter: Way to collect feedback from students regarding a lesson, project, discussion, etc.
  • You’ve Got This: Note of encouragement for students and/or colleagues
  • Cool Vibes Only: Note of encouragement for students and/or colleagues
  • Get ‘Er Done: To Do List
  • Tech-Knowledge-y Lives Here: Way of sharing my edtech blog with others
  • #OneSmallThing: Another teacher (Mr. Trexler) and I are promoting this concept in my District (which reinforces the importance of being kind) so we are planning to use this sticky note in our Media Center Kindness Challenge as a way for students to share how they have demonstrated kindness to others.

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.

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

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Can You Spell with Flickr?


Spoiler Alert: The tool shared in this post is highly addictive… Read at your own risk!

In 2013 I shared a post regarding Spell with Flickr—a nifty web tool that generates a logo based on images of letters and numbers from flickr picture galleries. And due to the coolness factor, I’m bringing back tech-y almost five years later! Although it’s not the new kid on the block, this text generator is a useful and super fun classroom tool that can be utilized to add some swag to your next digital or print project.

Here’s how it works: Visit the Spell with Flickr web site, enter a phrase and within seconds, a pretty neat picture title of letters will be rendered. Don’t like the images that are returned? No problem—simply click on each individual image to swap it for another one. (This is the part that makes one psycho when using this tool!) Once you’re satisfied, copy the embed code to a web site, wiki and/or blog or drag and drop the letters to the desktop for later use. A screenshot can also be captured, edited and saved.

Check out the example I created:

Classroom Connection:

In addition to using Spell with Flickr for creating fun titles to enhance digital projects, presentations, reports, poems and more, this tool can also be used to create a number of classroom items: Bulletin boards, signs, banners, posters and word walls to name a few. Spell with Flickr could also be utilized to practice spelling words and/or to develop all types of books (i.e. alphabet, sight words, etc.).

If you’ve got any ideas as to how this web tool can be integrated into classroom activities, please share the love! ♥

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Diigo Weekly Bookmarks


What’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!

» Clips

A video editor app for iOS devices that contains filters, graphics, emojis, music and more! Use it to create multimedia projects, video feedback, short instructions for flipped learning and whatever else your imagination can create!

» ClassroomScreen

Project this online tool in your classroom and quickly access a variety of teaching resources including a timer, text area, drawing tool, name picker, work symbols, calculator, QR codes and more—all for free! Check out a demo shown below…

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

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Spring into Magnetic Poetry Activities


Looking 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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Area School Takes Up Tweeting


If you hear a lot of tweeting going on around the Bellwood-Antis School District campus, it’s not the birds of spring—it’s the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge.

Jamie Forshey, director of instructional technology and media, said she got the idea for the challenge from the Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo Conference in Hershey.

“Many of the sessions I attended involved the benefits of using social media in the classroom. I wanted to think of a way I could persuade teachers to give it a try,” Forshey said. “I designed the program in order to introduce social media to teachers and demonstrate to them how this tool can be effectively used in the teaching practice.”

Forshey said Twitter is a valuable tool that teachers can use to find ideas.

“It is a great way for teachers to connect with educators in their field of study. Social media creates fear in some teachers. They are not sure what it entails, so they don’t use these tools. It is a valuable tool to add to their tool belt. Teachers have really embraced it,” Forshey said.

The challenge attracted a larger group than expected.

“My goal was to have 30 educators. I thought even if we had only five for the challenge, it would be pretty amazing. We have 55 educators from our district and seven others who learned about it on Twitter and wanted to be part of our group,” Forshey said.

Most of the participants were not familiar with Twitter, Forshey said.

“This is all about how to use Twitter for professional learning. A few individuals were familiar with it. For most of the educators, this is brand new for them,” Forshey said.

Mirror photo by Walt Frank Ali Stinson (left), a high school math teacher, and Jamie Forshey, director of instructional technology and media, look over a digital flyer that contains information about the Blue Devil National Twitter Challenge.

The challenge is comprised of two parts. In a nutshell, the participants learn how to use all 16 features of Twitter. Then they take what they have learned and use it in the classroom.

Superintendent Thomas McInroy is among the participants.

“I was not sure what to think when this program was brought up as a consideration. I only knew Twitter as something celebrities did. When I was shown the potential of how teachers could collaborate, I was impressed. Teachers and administrators can share information on pedagogy and leadership,” McInroy said. “I am still learning, but this is a really cool tool for educators.”

Teachers who are participating are enjoying the program.

“I found some good ideas I would like to incorporate into my classes. I am excited. I keep finding new stuff every night. It will help my students. It is learning in a different way. You get a different perspective on things,” said Ali Stinson, a high school math teacher.

Susan Bouslough, a third-grade elementary teacher, admitted she didn’t know much about Twitter.

“I have become connected to other educators from within this school district and around the world. There are a lot of talented teachers in our district, and if you are not teaching in the same building, you don’t always get to interact and collaborate.

“Through this challenge, I am able to see what is going on in other teachers’ classrooms. It motivates me to become better at what I do. I follow others with the same teaching philosophies, but I am also able to see ideas that challenge my thinking as well, and help me to grow as a teacher,” Bouslough said.

Bouslough has started using an app called “Flipgrid” in her classroom.

“Students can use video responses to posed questions. It is a short video, but it allows all students to have a voice. It provides a different way to assess students’ thinking as they explain their answers rather than through paper and pencil tests where they might just answer the question.

“Students are also able to interact with each other through this app as well. I’m still learning and experimenting with ways to use this in my classroom, but my students love it,” Bouslough said.

Teachers are always looking for new ways to reach students and improve their own teaching, said Matthew Elder, a high school social studies teacher.

“That is what was at the heart of my decision to participate. When I had been student teaching a few years ago, the ‘take’ on social media was to avoid it at all costs. Education in the past five years has been changing so rapidly that social media is now beginning to be looked at as another tool and not something to be afraid of. There’s a wealth of information out there just waiting to be tapped into.

When Jamie proposed the Twitter challenge, I immediately saw the opportunity to both improve my own teaching by connecting with other educators across the world, as well as an opportunity to reach my students in a more effective way,” Elder said.

Elder said the challenge has been beneficial to him as a new teacher in the district.

“It has helped me connect with teachers across the district that I don’t work with directly and see on a daily basis, so that has been amazing, too,” Elder said.

Forshey is pleased with how the challenge is going.

“I am impressed with the activities that are going on in our classrooms as a result of finding information on Twitter. Educational technology has exploded. Some teachers are on fire taking in this information. They have learned and are implementing it in their classrooms,” Forshey said.

Those who complete the challenge will earn a 10:30 a.m. early dismissal on May 25, a professional learning day.

“That is the reward we presented to get them to buy into the challenge. Many are finding the reward is the information they have learned and to share information with educators,” Forshey said.

For more information about the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge, check out the official site here.

This article, written by journalist Walt Frank, appeared in the Altoona Mirror on March 22, 2018. The original version can be found here.

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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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