Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

The New Periodic Table of iPad Apps for Primary Aged Pupils

March11

This just in… An updated list of some pretty amazing apps for enhancing teaching and learning. Yep, ICT Evangelist Mark Anderson is back with another Periodic Table of iPad Apps—this one focusing on tools to support younger learners.

The must-see infographic includes a variety of resources that can be used to provide students with the opportunity to become producers of technology, to creatively express themselves and to share and publish their work for a wider audience. The apps are grouped in the following categories: creativity, demonstrating, learning, workflow, teaching, collaboration, numeracy and literacy.

As you take a look at this super cool resource, remember… It’s never just about the apps. Instead effective technology integration is all about how tools support curricular goals in a meaningful, relevant, student-centered manner. 

Click here to view and/or download a high resolution file of this image.

Classroom Connection:

Use this collection of tried and tested educational apps to help you determine which ones might be the most beneficial for you and your students.

H-appy exploring!

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Breakout into Some Media Center Madness

March9

I recently shared a post about about the Breakout EDU movement—a concept that challenges students to work collaboratively in order to solve a series of puzzles to open a locked box (or a series of them) within a designated time frame.

As mentioned, teachers can access the Breakout EDU site to locate all of the info and resources needed to become a breakout junkie—kits, 250+ pre-made 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.

After checking out the hands-on and digital games linked to the Breakout EDU site, two of my Tech Club students and I decided to develop our own activity, one that would be used in our media center. Yeah, we’re crazy like that. So for the last two weeks we have worked on developing a fun but challenging game that can be played by students who come to our space during study halls.

The Grand Experiment

Before we released our game to the student body, we decided that we should take it for a test drive. So we asked our superintendent, building principals and the instructional technology specialist from our IU to be the very first individuals to play our game.

Named Media Center Madness, this quest required the team of administrators to work together using QR codes, hidden messages and puzzles to unlock six boxes within a 45 minute time frame. The last clue led them to the cafe where they found out more about the meaning of life (well, according to us, anyway).

Here’s the gang participating in B-A’s first-ever Breakout EDU game…

By communicating effectively, working together and demonstrating a great deal of persistence, our admin team escaped—and with time to spare. They had a great time engaging with our activity, and we really enjoyed watching them trying to “breakout”.

Mission Accomplished

After the game was complete, we spent some time discussing the development of the game as well as the game itself, the strategies and skills that were needed in order to “breakout” and the benefit of integrating these types of activities into the classroom setting. We even brainstormed some ideas regarding the creation of games for professional development sessions in the upcoming year.

The Next Steps

In addition to releasing the Media Center Madness game to the student body and planning a district-wide breakout activity for teachers, we would like to begin developing curricular-based games for classroom teachers.

Kudos to Kermit and Bailey for teaming up with me to design a really neat game. I look forward to working with you to create additional activities for our teachers and students!

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 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.

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

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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!

Let’s get the party started with TeachPi.org site, 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

And this just in… 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!

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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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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B-A Tech Club Students Rock the PA Computer Fair… Again!

March4

What: The Regional Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair, an annual event that highlights students’ application skills and computer knowledge.

Where: Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center

When: March 1, 2017

Who: Six of my Tech Club students

Why: To provide students with the opportunity to unleash their creativity via the development of various projects and then use these finished products to compete against other high school students.

The Outcome: A lot of learning and some way cool bling: Two gold & one bronze medal!

The Media: All images and videos shown below tell the rest of the story. ♥

» Jasmine, Alivia & Kiley: Computer Fair Logo—1st Place (see graphic at top of post and top right image in collage)

These seniors rallied from a second place finish a year ago to capture top honors in the logo category. Their unique design also included a QR code linking their logo to the PA Computer Fair web site.


» Quintin: Animation—1st Place (middle right image in collage)

This sophomore spent close to 30 hours creating this stop motion animation using legos. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Quintin also creatively embedded a message of hope and perseverance into his video.

» Aubree, Karson & Alana: Computer Fair—3rd Place (bottom right image in collage)

These girls worked collaboratively to generate a pretty neat logo incorporating technology and the symbol of our state. This was their first appearance at the Computer Fair.

Because of their first place finishes at the regional competition, Alivia, Jasmine and Quintin earned the chance to attend the state-wide competition being held at Dickinson College on May 23.

A huge shout out to these students for representing our district at this year’s competition. We are B-A proud of you!

And props to one of my most favorite edtech mentors, Jim Gates of Gates Ideas, for sponsoring this event so that students from all across our Commonwealth have the opportunity to showcase their digital talents! ♥

For more info about the Pennsylvania Computer Fair, click 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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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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