Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

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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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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April Fool’s Day Resources: Part IV


April Fool’s Day is probably one of those classroom holidays you can’t escape—no matter how hard you try. So why not embrace it and teach your students a few things at the same time!

Yes—this means you quite possibly will have to endure some of those harmless pranks and hoaxes associated with this day—spiders in your desk, a plastic snake on your chair, or some mystery student messing with your computer mouse via a USB remote. Of course, I’m speaking from experience.

That said, if you’re one of those educators who enjoys having a little bit of fun with your students, then check out the recently updated list of resources below.

» Fool Me Once: A digital breakout for April Fool’s Day created by Michael Davidson. This one is pretty tricky and will definitely fool you once… Or twice!

» Busy Teacher: Foolproof Fun Lesson Activities for April Fool’s Day—Reading activities, writing ideas, games and Just for Laughs videos

» Control Alt Achieve: The Best Google April Fools Videos—A collection of prank videos produced by Google which poke fun at current trends, technology and even Google itself

» Education World: Happy April Fool’s Day— Book suggestions, articles, fun facts and a WebQuest

» Teacher Planet: April Fool’s—You can also take advantage of their April Fool’s Day lesson plans, worksheets, clip art and English as a Second Language Resources

» Edutopia: April Fool’s Day in the Classroom: 8 Resources for Teachers—A ton of teaching ideas for bring this day into the classroom, including strategies for for engaging students with humor.

» A to Z Teacher Stuff: April Fool’s Day—Printables, scavenger hunts, worksheets, activities, puzzles and more!

» April Fool’s Day Teaching Ideas—A Pinterest board filled with resources galore!

» April Fool’s Day Lessons & Activities—Another Pinterest board jam packed with creative lessons, activities and crafts.

» Enchanted Learning—All kinds of crafts, riddles, reproducibles related to April Fool’s Day live here!

Check out the video clips below explaining how and why the tradition of playing tricks on people began on April 1.

A shout out to Richard Byrne, author of Free Technology for Teachers, for sharing these cool videos!

Classroom Connection:

Use these resources to teach students about the history behind April Fools Day. And while you’re at it, add some comedy to your day by having some harmless foolproof fun with your students and colleagues.

As Charles Dickens once said, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

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The Google Easter Egg-stravaganza: Volume III


Back by popular demand for the third consecutive year, it’s an updated list of Internet Easter eggs brought to you by Google…

If you’re a fan of these activities, then you won’t want to miss out on the hidden “Easter eggs”, or tricks, games and other fun stuff the programmers at Google have tucked away in their search engine.

How in the world do you find these super cool (and nerdy) treasures, you ask? Well, give some of these search tips a try and see what pranks you can locate!

Just open Google in your favorite browser and search…

  • Spinner—Choose between an endlessly spinning fidget spinner or a “Wheel of Fortune”-style number spinner.
  • Bubble level—Turns your mobile device into an actual working level.
  • Solitaire—Play a round of the classic card game.
  • Tic tac toe—Start the game and play against a friend or Google itself.
  • What sound does a dog make—Get ready to hear a woof! You can also try cow, pig, duck and a few other animals.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog—The beloved mascot will appear in the Knowledge Graph. Clicking on him will make him do his trademark spin, and eventually transform him into his powered-up Super Sonic form.
  • Do a Barrel Roll—See the results page roll over.
  • Festivus—Adds a Festivus pole to the left side of the screen. If you don’t know what that means, you must not be a Seinfeld fan so do a regular Google search for more info.
  • I’m feeling curious or fun fact—Snag random trivia and the chance to get additional fun factoids. Warning: This can be the beginning of an addiction!
  • Tilt or askew—The results appear slightly tilted to the right.
  • Google in 1998—The page will look like it did about 18 years ago.
  • Super Mario Bros—View an info card to the right with details about the game. Added bonus: Click the coin block to collect coins and earn a 1up.
  • Zerg Rush—Watch your search results get attacked by the Google Os, which you can defeat by clicking on them.
  • Flip a coin—Prompts a card with an animated coin flip.
  • Roll a die—Opens a card that randomly rolls a standard six-sided die.
  • Atari Breakout—Get your big hair on and play a version of the hit game Breakout from the 80s.
  • Play dreidel—Enjoy ten seconds of an interactive dreidel-spinning game.
  • Webdriver torso—Transforms the Google logo into a series of blinking blocks.
  • Anagram—Triggers a response asking, “Did you mean: Nag A Ram.” (Get it? Ha, ha!)
  • T-Rex Mini Game—We’ve all seen the dreaded “no network connectivity” T-Rex show up when the internet isn’t working, but what you may not realize is that this is also a game. It’s an endless runner where you, as T-Rex, have to run as far as you can, jumping over cacti and pterodactyls as they come your way.

And my all-time favorite:

  • Pacman—Returns a card that that links to a pop-up screen of the famous 80’s arcade game
And there you have it: A few of the thousands of lines of code hidden in popular software around the web. For more of this geeky goodness, just… Yep, you guessed it: Google it. You’ll probably be pretty amazed at how many of these secret gems are waiting to be discovered!
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The Easter Resources Collection: Part VII


Hop on over and check out a recently updated collection of Easter resources that can be utilized to bring some holiday learning and fun into your classroom. So, whether you’re in need of some lessons that contain a spiritual theme, or maybe you’re just looking for some seasonal fun, there’s a little something, something for everyone.

» NEW! An Easter-themed breakout game lives here.

» NEW! Check out another Easter-themed breakout game here. (This one was created specifically for elementary students.)

» NEW! The Educator’s Spin On It provides teachers with 12 Easter STEM activities for kids.

» NEW! TeacherVision can hook you up with all sorts of bunny and egg-themed lesson plans, printables, art activities and more!

» NEW! Easter brings to mind eggs, bunnies, chicks and candy—perfect topics for teaching science, graphing and creative writing! Join Education World for some spectacular activities fit perfectly for Easter fun and learning.

» NEW! Hop on over to TeachersFirst and check out a variety of Easter activities to incorporate into math classes, social studies lessons, writing workshops, and more! Activities for all grade levels included.

» Kids will not only love this egg-citing science activity, they will also learn about the cool chemical reaction that makes it happen. Check out the Easter Egg Rockets, a super cool experiment brought to you by The Stem Laboratory.

» Get your Easter on with 25 quick and fun activities from ThoughtCo.

» Need some secular and/or Easter activities and teaching ideas? A to Z Teacher Stuff has you covered!

» Lots of Easter games, puzzles, stories, crafts, poetry and more live here:

» The Busy Teacher provides educators with 64 Easter-related worksheets that can be incorporated into classroom lessons.

» Easter Teaching Resources is a Pinterest board filled with arts and crafts ideas, educational activities, and printables to help you celebrate Easter in the classroom.

» The abcteach Easter category page features hundreds of fun, educational activities for classroom or home use, including coloring pages, crafts, board games, readings, puzzles, interactives, and much more!

» Teaching Ideas offers an extensive range of ideas and resources to teach and learn about Easter—poems, stories, puzzles, curricular activities, images, banners, fonts, videos and Easter Egg Hunts.

» Poetry activities, interactive games, scavenger hunts, sequencing cards, puzzles, a variety templates and more await you on TES Connect—the largest teacher network in the world.

» Larry Ferlazzo’s Web Site of the Day is another site packed with online resources for teaching and learning about Easter and Passover. A few that stood out for me include a variety of Easter videos and articles from the History Channel, the Easter Bunny Rap, How Easter Works and Easter by the Numbers—a fun infographic about this holiday.

The Activity Village: Easter Activities has a huge selection of Easter activities to explore with elementary students, including coloring pages, printables, jokes, crafts, puzzles and more!

Brought to you by About Education: Easter Resources, this collection of 25 quick and easy Easter resources are sure to keep you and your students busy throughout this spring holiday!

» Harry Kindergarten: Check out this video entitled “The Bunny Goes Hop”, an Easter pattern song for kids, produced by my colleague, Pete Harry. (For additional educational videos and songs, visit the Harry Kindergarten YouTube channel and/or website.)

» And my favorite resource to date? A recipe for creating a really cool and yummy dessert with one of the best holiday treats money can buy! Check out Easter Peeps Casserole here. Your students (and family) will just love, love it! ♥

Classroom Connection:

Use these themed lesson plans, activities and materials to teach students about Easter and Passover.

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The Periodic Table of iPad Apps: Volume II


Need to pimp out your iPad with some pretty amazing apps for enhancing teaching and learning? Then check out this fun (and recently updated) infographic containing a variety of resources that can be utilized in the classroom. They are categorized in areas such as creativity, demonstrating, computing, collaboration, numeracy, literacy and more! And better yet—the majority of these apps are totally free!

As you check out 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. With that said, hopefully this compilation of tried and tested educational apps will be helpful as you try to determine which ones might be the most beneficial for you and your students.

Click here to view and/or download a high resolution file of this image, which was created and compiled by the amazing ICT Evangelist Mark Anderson.

H-appy exploring!

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Join the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge!

Hey, edtech gurus! Are you ready to expand your professional learning network (PLN) while learning how to effectively utilize a super popular social media platform? If so, I am calling upon you to join 40+ Bellwood-Antis School District educators in the Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge!

Check out the details below about the first event of its kind in my school—one that is being organized by yours truly!

WHO: Any educator who would like to learn how to use Twitter as a professional development tool. It would be super cool to have participants tweet with us!

WHAT: The Blue Devil Nation Twitter Challenge (In case you missed that one!)

WHEN: The challenge kicks off on Monday, March 5, 2018.

WHERE: It’s online so you can tag along on your favorite device from anywhere in the universe!

WHY: Become a connected educator and learn more than you can imagine about any educational topic that interests you!

HOW: Check out the digital flyer embedded below to become the next participant. (The full screen version of the newsletter lives here!)

Personalization…Relevant…Fun!  Take charge of your PD starting on March 5!

Hope to see you there! In the meantime, follow the action at #BDNPLN!

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Get Lucky with Some St. Patrick’s Day Magnetic Poetry


If you’re looking for a fun activity to complete with your students this St. Patrick’s Day, then all you’ve got to do is snag a copy of my holiday-themed magnetic poetry activity!

Here it is: A 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!


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 easily shared with students—especially if you’re using Google Classroom.

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 shout out to Kasey Bell for inspiring me to create my own version of magnetic poetry. And a high five goes to Alex, one of my Tech Club kids, for helping to create this activity. ♥

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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics: Going for the Gold!


For sports fans like me—and many of our students—the next few weeks will be an exciting time as we cheer on our favorite skiers, skaters and bobsledders to the gold medal stand during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea! I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to get enough!

That said, why not capitalize on the Olympic hype by using the educational activities listed below to tap into your students’ interests as they discuss and/or learn about one of the most celebrated sporting venues of all time.

» PyeongChang 2018: The official web site of the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Games… Stayed tuned in to all of the latest info related to the Games of the XXIII Olympiad.

» NBC PyeongChang 2018: You won’t want to miss the unprecedented coverage of the Winter Games via live TV as well as top news, highlights and related stories located on NBC’s site dedicated to the 2018 Olympics.

» The Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) Toolkit: A set of free resources designed to enrich any educational curriculum with Olympic-themed activities, teaching strategies and inspirational materials.

» Teaching the Winter Olympics Across the Curriculum: For two weeks this month, the world’s attention will focus on PyeongChang, South Korea, to marvel at the incredible athletics performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This teaching resource—developed by the New York Times Learning Network—suggests a variety of ways teachers across subject areas can turn the Olympics into learning experiences for their students.

» Countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games: The Winter Olympic Games is a “teachable moment” that comes along only once every four years, so the Education World team has gathered lesson ideas to help educators teach to the moment.Included are lessons to teach history, vocabulary, decimals, sportsmanship and more!

» 15 Tech Tidbits To Bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Into Your Classroom: Educators have a terrific opportunity to expand their students’ learning during the Olympics. The games provide excellent moments to teach them about many subjects, including history, science, physical education and social studies. Find out how this can be done via this article sponsored by the School Library Journal.

» The Winter Olympics: ReadWriteThink offers teachers a variety of lessons and activities centered on the 2018 PyeongChang Games to engage K-12 students.

» 2018 Winter Olympics Classroom Activities and Resources: Stepping outside of medal tally mathematics and the symbolism of the Olympic rings, what can kids learn from the Olympics? The folks at Teach Starter say, lots! This page lists just a few things you can explore with your students during the 2018 Winter Games.

» The Best Sites for Learning About the PyeongChang Winter Olympics: Compiled by Larry Ferlazzo, this comprehensive site contains links to some of the best Olympic resources on the web!

» 2018 Winter Olympics: A Pinterest board filled with all things Olympics—STEM Challenges, BreakoutEDU activities, videos, games, bulletin board and more!

» 12 Olympic Lessons & Classroom Activities: Check out some teacher-favorite, Olympics-inspired lesson ideas, classroom management techniques and fun classroom activites from

» Olympics Lessons and Teacher Resources: Tons of lesson plan ideas to learn about the Olympic Games from HotChalk.

» The Perseus Digital Library Project: An exhibit that can be used to compare ancient and modern-day Olympic sports. Visitors can also tour the site of Olympia as it looks today, learn about the context of the Games and the Olympic spirit and/or read about the Olympic athletes who were famous in ancient times.

» Olympic Challenge: A collaborative project in which students (or schools) can compete against one another in a series of Olympic themed challenges. This site is actually based on the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the activities can be adapted accordingly. Since the challenges were tech-related, I thought they were too cool not to share!

Classroom Connection:

If you have a few minutes in the day to light the Olympic torch, use these teaching and learning resources to guide the way to medal-winning lessons.

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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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