Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

PETE&C Recap: Day 2


Valentine’s Day at PETE&C brought with it five “sweet” sessions regarding a variety of technology integration topics.  Check them out below…

» Educational Games – Meaningful, Mobile, Multiplayer:  Because I’m not much of a “gamer” myself (unless you count Words with Friends :)), I decided to begin my day with this session.  What I found is that because I am not that involved in the whole gaming craze, I was somewhat lost in the discussion used to explain the effective integration of this concept into the classroom.  Sure, we have all utilized games into our content areas at one time or another to review skills, practice vocabulary and test knowledge; however, the whole idea of educational “gamification” – which refers to applying game mechanics to any non-gaming process like education – is so much more than that.  Rather than merely recalling facts, this type of gaming involves being immersed in virtual worlds to problem solve, interact, and think critically about classroom content.  Even though all of this seems like a foreign language to me, I do see the benefit of utilizing popular games such as Minecraft or Plants vs. Zombies as primary sources in the classroom to engage students in content.  However, as with any teaching technique, one must fully understand the strategy before putting it into practice.  In other words, I have much to learn about gamification before embarking on this journey with my students.

If you would like to learn more about games and how they can be effectively integrated into classroom activities, be sure to visit the following resources page provided by presenter Jeff Mummert from Hershey High School:  (Copy and paste this address into your web browser.)

In the meantime, Angry Birds anyone?

» Inept to Adept – Student Produced Videos:  This session, facilitated by Brooke Langan and Joseph Martin from the East Stroudsburg Area School District, focused on using American Film Institute lesson plans and resources (courtesy of Discovery Education) to teach students how to produce red carpet worthy videos for classroom projects.  By introducing moviemaking to students via AFI’s “The Door Scene” technique, students learn simple yet essential components (planning, storyboarding, recording, editing and reflecting) involved in creating a quality video.  Once students gain filmmaking skills through this five step process, they can transfer this knowledge to creating authentic projects (movie trailers, visual book reports, music videos, etc.) to express their understanding of any classroom content.

What I like best about the materials from the AFI is the fact that they are basic enough for even the least tech savvy teachers to utilize.  In addition, the AFI not only stresses the importance of engaging all students, but they  focus on mastering visual literacy skills throughout the video production process – essential elements of 21st Century learning!

In addition to the AFI resources available on Discovery Education, Brooke and Joseph have created a Moodle page with tons of resources, handouts and examples to help teachers enter into the world of moviemaking with their students.

» Common Core and Technology:  Guess what?  There is no escaping technology when the new Common Core standards are officially implemented!  Yep, it’s true!  While these new standards focus on math and English language arts, they also emphasize technology as a means to learn knowledge and skills in these areas.  With that said, K-12 educators are going to be responsible for integrating technology into core content areas instead of teaching this topic in isolation.  Although the standards include basic skills students need to know in order to succeed (i.e. keyboarding), they also call for students to learn academic content through the use of technology and multimedia.

To illustrate what I mean, take a look at the following Grade 2 ELA Standard:  Use information gained from illustrations and words in a print of digital text to demonstrate understanding with a variety of tools.

So, where do you start?  Well, begin by checking out the presentation materials created by Instructional Technology Specialist Tanya Dynda and Curriculum Specialist Cindy Murphy from Seneca Highlands IU9 located at  Here you will find a toolbox of free resources that can be used to  address the technology standards that are embedded within the Common Core Standards.

This one definitely one of my most favorite – and super practical – sessions I have attended thus far!  Awesome stuff!

» BYOT – How to Boost Your Overwhelmed Teachers:  I attended this session because my original choice was “sold out”, but I am actually glad I was able to listen to Chris Stengel and Duane Lewis explain how they have successfully implemented a “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) initiative for teachers and students at the Mount Lebanon School District.  Although there are obviously many aspects to consider when adopting a program of this nature, the advantages of incorporating devices that students already own into classroom lessons and projects are many.  For one, BYOT is a new way to approach the integration of technology into the classroom, and secondly, providing access to students affords them the opportunity to learn in a more authentic, real-world environment.  With that said, I plan to have a conversation with the leaders at my school to discuss the possibility of embracing a similar idea.  I’m envisioning a cyber café in the library!

» Engage Me! Web Tools for the Elementary Classroom:  It’s true!  Creating digital projects with elementary students – even first graders – can be a reality.  Be sure to check out the following site to view some really cool tools and corresponding project examples that were produced by students in the East Penn School District:

Glogster, Wordle, Animoto and Voki are still teacher favorites, but I also learned about a few new tools that would be perfect additions to the elementary setting.  They are as follows:

  • Zooburst:  A digital storytelling tool that is designed to allow the user to create his/her own customized 3D pop-up book. Using ZooBurst, storytellers of any age can create their own rich worlds in which their stories can come to life.
  • Study Stack:  A flashcard creation tool. Users can utilize pre-made flashcards or create their own. In addition to studying the flashcards, users can complete other activities such as matching, crossword puzzles, hangman, scramble word or bug chase with their flashcards.
  • Creately:  An online diagramming and brainstorming tool that allows user to easily generate visual aids of all kinds – flowcharts, mindmaps, wireframes and more!

Thank you Beth Fair for all of the great info and resources!

So, there you have it…  More great ideas and tools to turn your students on – both literally and figuratively!  Enjoy! 🙂

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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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