Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

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


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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Freeze Frame II: The BAMS Mannequin Challenge


freeze-frameAfter watching B-A’s first-ever Mannequin Challenge video, my middle school Tech Club students vowed they would not be outdone by their high school counterparts. And so they put their minds and creativity to work and planned their very own rendition of the super popular trend that has hit the social media scene.

So here you have it… Frozen in time from the set of the Bellwood Buzz, our morning announcements program, here’s the BAMS rendition of the Mannequin Challenge!  Yeah, there are a few blinks and some legs swinging, but it’s still pretty sweet! Check. It. Out!

Props once again to junior Kermit Foor for filming the BAMS freeze and then producing another YouTube sensation! ♥

Classroom Connection:

Sure, generating this video was alot of fun, but there’s always educational value when students have the opportunity to collaborate, plan and create a finished product that is shared with an audience beyond the four walls of the classroom.

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Freeze Frame: BAHS Jumps on the Mannequin Challenge Bandwagon


clapper-boardA few of my colleagues and I caved to the latest social media craze and at the same time had a little bit of fun with our B-A BluePrint and Tech Club/SWAT Team students by producing our very own Mannequin Challenge video.

Check out our one take, one hit wonder below!

Props to junior Kermit Foor for filming the BAHS freeze and then producing our YouTube sensation! ♥

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Veterans Day Video Tribute: Honoring Those Who Have Served!


veterans day thank youIn the words of Elmer Davis, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

These words cannot be more true—which is why my Tech Club students and I chose to utilize them at the beginning of the Veterans Day video tribute we produced for an assembly program that was held at our high school yesterday to honor the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.

Check it out below…

A shout out to Kermit, Alex and Aubree for working with me to complete a very worthwhile project!

Classroom Connection:

Use the video to remind students of the importance of honoring and remembering past and present members of our military.


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The Hour of Code is Upon Us!


code.orgHere it is that time of year again: The week in which the worldwide Hour of Code initiative (sponsored by and Computer Education Science Week), is being held to introduce computer programming to 10 million students and most importantly, to hopefully encourage them to pursue further knowledge in this area—a field that is projected to have 1,000,000 more jobs than there are students to fill them by the year 2020! Seriously!

My rationale for participating in this event? Besides the fact that students can hone computational thinking (problem decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking and automation) and programming concepts (repetition, conditional logic, computer drawing, handling keyboard input and creating apps), those who have the knack and/or desire to choose a career in this market are going to be able to pretty much name their job and even their salary.

In addition, not only does coding help students learn problem solving and creative thinking skills, it teaches them to be risk-takers, persistent and to persevere in the face of frustration—skills that are relevant in all sorts of other activities in both school and the “real world”. Furthermore, even if students do not wish to become die hard computer scientists for a living, they can become adept at developing games and apps by starting with some of the basics. Wouldn’t it be super cool to find one of their creations in the iTunes Store someday? I mean, do you even need any more of a reason to provide this opportunity for your students?

photo (4)So, why just use technology, when you can build it, right? That was my line when I began discussing the importance of acquiring basic html or java skills with students as we kicked off the Hour of Code in our district this morning. Unfortunately, most of the 86 students I met with already today had no clue that they could easily learn and utilize basic programming concepts in every day life—for a job or for fun. But the good news is this: The flame in some of them has been ignited—including a few of them whose mugshot I included to the left. ♥

Need some resources? Besides, the following sites are also curriculum providers for the Hour of Code: Tynker, Khan AcademyCodecademy and Code Avengers—all of which I will be utilizing throughout my coding adventure this week.  Can’t find what you want or need? Just Google the Hour of Code. You’ll find more info than you’ll even know what to do with!

Classroom Connection:

The founders of Google, Microsoft and Facebook all started their journeys with just one line of code. Like these successful entrepreneurs, our students should have the opportunity to create the technology of the future, not just use it! That said, join over 54.7 million students in classrooms spanning the globe as they venture into the language of computer programming by participating in the Hour of Code.

And by the way—I realize that coding sounds intimidating to some, but the activities on the sites mentioned above literally require no computer programming skills at all. If your students can type, they can code! And you know what? You can even learn, too!

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The Ultimate Photo Challenge


mugshot_smiley_photo_background-other_largeIf you’re looking for a fun way to spark student creativity while encouraging them to take unique pictures, then consider developing your very own Ultimate Photo Challenge similar to the one I recently completed with my Multimedia I students.

It went down something like this: Students were challenged to complete various photo tasks using a mobile device or digital camera. For example…

  • Objects arranged to look like a smiley face
  • A shadow/silhouette shot of one or more group members
  • A group selfie.  The more creative, the better!
  • A hand-made heart photo (because they just ♥ this class!)
  • Dress up an object and place it in a unique setting
  • A human pyramid
  • A sidewalk chalk drawing
  • Holy Batman! Got superhero t-shirts?
  • A photo bomb (Yeah, I know it’s not spontaneous, but it’s still funny!)

Once students staged the necessary photos for the project, they were required to compile a digital presentation capturing their most excellent pics utilizing a tool, app or program of their choice. Then they shared their best stuff with the rest of us—and the world via their wikispace.

This project—it was like a good ol’ fashioned scavenger hunt with a funky tech-based twist!

Check out the example I created using the Pic Collage app.


Classroom Connection:

So, why did I create this project? Besides working with classmates on a super cool team building activity, I wanted students to use a variety of tech skills in an innovative way. Yep, this was me checking out the digital side of my multimedia peops, and it turned out to be a pretty awesome experience!

Use this project idea to spark an idea that will unleash the digital creativity within your students. Trust me, there’s nothing like seeing them work together to develop a finished product they are really proud of—especially one they really enjoyed completing.

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A Veterans Day Video Tribute


Veterans-DayIn the words of Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

Two thumbs up for this guy because in my opinion, there’s almost nothing more important than teaching our students about the importance of showing gratitude for and toward others. That said, a few of my Multimedia students, one of my colleagues and I teamed up to write and produce a Veterans Day video tribute that was shared during assembly and morning announcement programs throughout my district yesterday and today.

Our goal was to develop a visual powerful enough to create understanding about the countless sacrifices the men and women who serve(d) in our nation’s armed forces have made to ensure we have the opportunity to live in a democracy. Most importantly, we wanted to encourage and/or remind our student body to be appreciative of those who have provided the liberties and freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis.

Again, my opinion, but I think we accomplished our goal—or at least that is the feedback we have received since sharing our video. Check it out for yourself below.

A shout out to Kermit, Jack, Meghan and Ms. Trostle for working with me on a very worthwhile project!

Classroom Connection:

I realize Veterans Day is officially over for this year, but it’s never too late to teach students the importance of honoring and remembering past and present members of our armed forces. At the very least, I hope this video will become a resource you can bank for future references.

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Three Word Thursday: A Weekly Multimedia Mash-up


twt 1-24-13-2

You know what day it is, right? Nope, it’s not Throwback Thursday—although it could be. Just not in my Multimedia I class. Instead this day of the week means it’s time for another edition of our weekly project known as Three Word Thursday.

So, here’s how it works… Every Thursday my students are responsible for taking a photo or shooting a video clip. The rules for doing so are pretty simple: Their job is not only to create original media, but to add three words to the visual as well. This text can be about any topic of their choosing including but not limited to how they feel, an activity, person/people, an event, etc.—as long as it’s G-rated, of course!

Words for the images can be included in the original photo, or students have the option of adding text after the fact with photo imaging software, apps and/or Web 2.0 tools (i.e. Photoshop, Gimp, BeFunky, Skitch, etc.). Words for the video clips should be creatively incorporated into the original video.

So what do students do with their Three Word Thursday images? Well, for starters, they upload them to their wikispaces so they can be shared with their classmates and the rest of the world! Then at the end of the semester, they will combine these original creations to develop a Three Word “mash-up” utilizing a digital storytelling tool (i.e. Movie Maker).

Here are a few examples from what has turned out to be an activity my students really enjoy:

TWT 4.11.13

Three Word Thursday - Alyssa


Smile 4-4-13

TWT9  4.18.13

Classroom Connection:

The Three Word Thursday concept is a pretty simple one, yet powerful—in my opinion—because it encourages students to think and be creative with images, video and a variety of applications and software.

Feel free to hijack my idea and tweak it for your students. The only request I have in return is to share any ways you might incorporate this activity—or a spin off of mine—into your classroom. And of course, a shout out on any social media networks would be appreciated too!

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The Monster Trash: A Recycling Video Sensation!


Slide9Last spring my Tech Club students wrote and produced a video about the importance of recycling in our school and submitted it to a contest sponsored by the Intermunicipal Relations Committee of Blair County. Not only did their work earn top honors in the local competition, but the winning video was automatically entered into the State Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania FilmFest Contest for a chance to win statewide recognition as well as a cash prize.

Well, the votes have been tallied and you guessed it: We recently received word that “The Monster Trash” won first place at the 7th annual competition which was held this past July in Washington, PA.

How cool is that? Even better, the video will be used in future public outreach and educational programs around the state.

When asked about the victories, Aubree Reiter stated, “I am very proud that the Tech Club won the video competition because I think our video really explained the point of the recycling contest.”

Fellow techie Kermit Foor added, “I think that out of all of the videos we have made, this one was the best one yet. We worked for many hours during and after school to make this video. Without the help of our teachers and friends, it would not have been possible.”

A shout out to my Tech Club crew—especially Aubree, Kermit, Alex, Blake, Corey and Quintin—for your dedication to this project. It’s proof that hard work really does get noticed and rewarded! I am beyond proud of your efforts, and you should be too!

Be sure to check out “The Monster Trash” below.

So, is that video just awesome or what? My most favorite parts are those in which these trashy students used stop animation to create various scenes! And yes—doing so was their idea!

As I’ve previously mentioned—I love, love the skills my girls and boys continue to learn and/or hone as they create these kinds of projects! Can you say rigor, relevant and real-world? Does it really get much better than that? I don’t think so!

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BAMS Tech Club: Producing Media for a Real-World Purpose


photoA few weeks ago I shared a local newspaper article about the partnership my Middle School Tech Club students and I have formed with the Mending Hearts Animal Rescue located in Central Pennsylvania. Since establishing this community service project, the students have been busy creating content and media to promote the adoption of dogs and cats that currently live in the shelter. Our latest project—a video entitled “Mending Hearts Animal Rescue: Saving Lives One Fur-ever Home at a Time”—was added to the group’s Facebook page earlier this week. Check out one of our most meaningful videos ever below. ♥

Classroom Connection:

Besides learning the importance of volunteering their time and talents for a greater cause, students are honing a myriad of digital literacy skills by planning, writing and producing digital stories that are having a real-world impact. Education really doesn’t get much better than that!

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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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