Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THE Webtools of 2011

I realize that tech tools are the last thing educators are thinking of as we prepare for Winter break.  However, I want to leave my fellow blends with a new tool to try every day for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year.  Many of these tools have been featured on TTWIT but I hope you return in 2012 and read the features on the ones new to you. Enjoy!
1. Thinkfinity: http://www.thinkfinity.org/
2. National Geographic Xpeditions: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/
3. Culture Grams: http://www.culturegrams.com/
4. Asia Society: www.asiasociety.org/arts-culture/asia-society-museum
5. BBC for Kids: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
6. New York Times, Lesson Plans: www.learning.blogs.nytimes.com/category/lesson-plans
7. Teacher Corner: http://www.theteacherscorner.net/
8. Slide Share: http://www.slideshare.net/
9. Free Rice-Vocabulary Site: http://www.freerice.com/
10. Free Poverty-Geography Site: http://www.freepoverty.com/
11. Learner: http://www.learner.org/
12. International Reading Association: http://www.readwritethink.org/
13. OWL at Purdue U: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl 
14. Blue Grammar Book: http://www.grammarbook.com/
15. ESL Flashcards: http://www.eslflashcards.com/
16. Spellanywhere: http://www.spellanywhere.com/
17. Rick Walton: http://www.rickwalton.com/
18. Fires in the Mind: http://www.firesinthemind.org/
19. Edhelper: http://www.edhelper.com/
20. RubiStar: http://rubistar.4teachers.org/ 
21. Byrd Seed Gifted Lessons: http://www.byrdseed.com/
22. Imagination Soup: http://www.imaginationsoup.net/
23. TED: http://www.ted.com/
24. Professional Garfield: http://www.professorgarfield.org/
25. Kid Blog: http://www.kidblog.org/
26. That Quiz: http://www.thatquiz.org/
27. Academic Skill Builders: http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/
28. Circle the Cat: www.members.shaw.ca/gf3/circle-the-cat.html
29. Sheppard Software: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/
30. Storyline Online: http://www.storylineonline.net/
31. ABCya!: http://www.abcya.com/
32. Study Zone: www.studyzone.org/testprep/index.cfm
34. Super Teacher Worksheets: http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/
35. Discovery Education Streaming: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/
36. Busy Teacher’s CafĂ©: http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/
37. Global Tech School: http://www.globaltechschool.com/
38. Diigo: http://www.diigo.com/
39. Vocabulary and Spelling City: http://www.spellingcity.com/
40. Making Curriculum Pop: http://www.mcpopmb.ning.com/
41. English Champion: http://www.englishcompanion.ning.com/
42. National Council of Teachers of English: http://www.ncte.org/
43. Web English Teacher: http://www.webenglishteacher.com/
44. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: www.rockhall.com/education
45. College Board: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/prof-dev
46. Technology in Class: www.technologyinclass.com/blog
47. PBworks: http://pbworks.com/
48. Challenge by Choice: http://www.challengebychoice.wordpress.com/
49. McQuality Education Services: http://www.mcqualityeducserv.com/
50. Learning Centre: http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/
51. Dream Up the Future: http://teachers.egfi-k12.org/
52. Ten Marks: www.tenmarks.com/tmother/teacher-index
53. Quizlet: http://www.quizlet.com/
54. Voice Thread: http://www.voicethread.com/
55. 8 to Great: http://www.8togreat.com/
56. Learn Me Project: http://www.learnmeproject.com/
57. Hands on Math: http://www.handsonmath.blogspot.com/
58. Edmodo: http://www.edmodo.com/
59. Tween Tribune: http://www.tweentribune.com/
60. TregoED: www.tregoed.org/teachers/new-to-scan.html
61. Middle School Science: http://www.middleschoolscience.com/
62. Science Spot: http://www.sciencespot.net/
63. Animoto: http://www.animoto.com/
64. Prezi: www.prezi.com
65. Buck Institute for Education: http://www.bie.org/
66. Eduhound: http://www.eduhound.com/
67. How Stuff Works: http://www.howstuffworks.com/
68. Flash Card Machine: http://www.flashcardmachine.com/
69. Class Jump: http://www.classjump.com/
70. ABCteach: http://www.abcteach.com/
71. EPALS Global Community: http://www.epals.com/
72. EdHelper: http://www.edhelper.com/
73. TeAch-nology: http://www.teach-nology.com/
74. Survey Monkey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/
75. Scholastic: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/home.jsp
76. iKeep Bookmarks: http://www.ikeepbookmarks.com/
77. Enchanted Learning: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/
78. Eclipse Crossword: http://www.eclipsecrossword.com/
79. Math Snacks: http://www.mathsnacks.org/
80. Wikispaces: http://www.wikispaces.com/
81. World Digital Library: http://www.wdl.org/
82. Library of Congress for Teachers: www.loc.gov/teachers
83. SocialMaestro: http://www.socialmaestro.com/
84. Spellingcity: http://www.spellingcity.com/
85. Report Card Comments: http://www.reportcardscomments.com/
86. EDSITEment!: http://www.edsitement.neh.gov/
87. Khan Academy: http://www.khanacademy.org/
88. Teachinghistory.org: http://www.teachinghistory.org/
89. National Archives - Teachers: www.archives.gov/education
90. Smithsonian: www.si.edu/educators
91. Jibe: http://www.jibemix.com/
92. Glogster Edu: http://www.edu.glogster.com/
93. PD 360: http://www.pd360.com/
94. Enter The Group: http://www.enterthegroup.com/
95. assessmentfocus.com: http://www.assessmentfocus.com/
96. JewelBeat: http://www.jewelbeat.com/
97. NWP Digital Is: http://digitalis.nwp.org/
98. Gapminder: http://www.gapminder.org/
99. Facing the Future: http://www.facingthefuture.org/
100. Curriculum21: www.curriculum21.com/clearinghouse
101. World Mapper: http://www.worldmapper.org/
102. Collaborize Classroom: http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com/
103. SweetSearch: http://www.sweetsearch.com/
104. LearningReviews.com: http://www.learningreviews.com/
105. Genetic Science Learning Center: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/
106. Enter The Group: http://www.enterthegroup.com/
107. Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology: www.hudsonalpha.org/education/digitaleducation
108. Knovio: http://www.knovio.com/
109. Splashtop Inc.: http://www.splashtop.com/  
110. Root-1: http://www.root-1.com/
111. MyClassTalk: http://www.myclasstalk.com/
112. BenchPrep: http://www.benchprep.com/
113. World Digital Library www.wdl.org/
114. Library of Congress for Teachers www.loc.gov/teachers/

Have a safe and happy holiday season. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Note About Success

This morning the Library Ladies met with our intern for the Spring 2012 semester.  She expressed an interest in helping teachers be successful in integrating technology into their curriculum.  Intern Jess caused me to think about our idea of success when it comes to both ours and our students’ class performance.  We get so bogged down in finding the best technology that that the true success lies in trying something new or not giving up when things go wrong such as the LCD bulb burning out.  Thomas Edison once said that "success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration." 

image What do you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tweets for Teachers

Educators, do you have a Twitter account?  If not, what are you waiting for? If you think Twitter is only for the Kardashians and Ashton Kutchers of the world, you're wrong.  Twitter is a useful tool for everyone to share ideas, links and news.

For eductors, Twitter can be used:
  • to reate a Q&A feed for students.  This is especially beneficial to keep a running record of tips the night before a big exam.
  • as a form of communication between teachers and parents.
  • a live Tweet session for extra credit
  • upload photos and links that will increase engagement in your content area and boost the self-esteem of your students.
  • You'll find additional tips here.
One of the greatest tools for teachers are Twitter feeds for advice.  There are numerous experts in the education field who research educational trends and the only thing you have to do is follow their feed. You will find countless list of super educators online but the following link breaks up feeds by subject area.

Another valuable Twitter tool are hastags.  A hastag is simply "a convenient way of tagging and organizing ideas simply by sticking a number sign in front of any word. In Twitter, hash tags automatically become links to the entire stream of Tweets that share the same #hashtag." Source 
There are in infinite number of hastags and starting with A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags is a lovely place to find exactly what you're looking for.

As you can see, Twitter goes beyond Beyonce's unborn child @BeyonceJayFetus ("I AM… Baby Fierce").  Twitter is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to students, parents and colleagues. 

Please follow me on Twitter @HolisticTechie should you have any questions about this or other posts on TTWIT.

READER RESPONSE: Please list your Twitter handle in the comments section. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Big Thinkers

Big thinkers are not lacking in education. What’s lacking are big mouths. I have chosen a person who is not afraid to speak his mind as my Technology Education Hero of the Week. Professor Henry Jenkins of USC’s School of Communication and Journalism explains why it is important for teachers and schools not to shut out important instructional tools such as YouTube, video games and social networking in their classroom.
Thank you, Professor Jenkins for being a big thinker.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Can't Google This

You willl never guess in a hundred years the receipient of my Tech Hero of the Week award.  I have chosen this technology innovator not because of what he has accomplished in education, but for his bravery.  View the video to find out why MC Hammer is a technology hero.

Good luck to you, Hammer.  Please accept my personal thanks for not wearing the gold harem pants as you made the announcement. 
Visit the Wiredoo website for more information on the launch of Hammer's new search engine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are you too cool for school?

Do you feel like you're the coolest teacher on your team?  If not, would you like help bringing the boys, uh, students to the yard?  Then look no further because today's Heros of the Week will allow you to wear an 'S' on your chest.
Meet Barbara and Chris.  These two professors are geeking out all over Boise State University where they record The Cool Teacher Podcast.  A word of warning, their conversation can at times be manic but it is always interesting. 

If you wish to be introduced to new Web 2.0 tools or simply use them in a different way, navigate yourself to their website right away.  If you need a morning jolt energ, download the podcast and find the energy to sustain you past Hump Day. 

Click the link above and be treated to a podcast that is sure to add that sparkle and leave the kids thinking you're one cool dude.

Follow the cool teachers on: Facebook and Twitter. You'll be happy you did.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Google+: The Educational Game Changer

For the past few years educators have sought a way to utilize social networking to communicate and collaborate with other teachers, parents and students.  From Twitter to Facebook teachers have created streams to alert parents of upcoming assignments, Q&A pages and be available for students long after the school doors have closed.

The problem with most social networking sites is they are blocked by most K-12 institutions.  Attempting to keep Tweets current is next to impossible when sending them from home.  imageSecurity and privacy issues have run amuck with teachers ‘friending’ students on Facebook.  In fact, teachers have lost their job for placing school administratively deemed inappropriate photos on their wall. My school district has mandated that educators follow certain guidelines for teachers to adhere to when students or their parents attempt to become our social network friend. Some people may call this extreme but I view said guidelines as a form of protection for all involved.

image With Google+ these issues are a thing of the past while adding a new spin on how to foster excitement in and out of the classroom.image

  • The use of circles makes it simple for teachers to separate their personal and professional lives.
  • Collaboration is easily fostered with the use of circles.  Check out this idea from the folks at Stanford.
  • Form a Hangout with office hours to answer questions from parents and students.
  • Share ideas with teachers
  • Engage introverted students
  • Unlike Twitter, conversation streams are archived should discussions need to be accessed months later.

The future of Google+ in education remains to be seen.  This tool can be amazing if K-12 institutions do not block the service.  Additionally, teachers need to be trained on how to effectively utilize Google+ with stakeholders.  According to Ashley May, a teacher in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and my former employer, “(HISD) even purchased Google Apps accounts for the kids last year.”  When the nation’s larger school districts start something, others will follow.  Jump on Google+ by viewing the video below and start building your circles today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Really Smart Friend

Have you met my friend, Salman Khan?  I don't mean to brag but Salman is a real life Superman when it comes to assisting everyday people with the things that confuse us. 

Salman is not my personal friend but after watching his Khan Academy videos you will feel like he is a person you cannot live without. Salman Khan has created videos to help people struggling with:
  • All forms of math from Basic Math to Calculus
  • Banking
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Civics
  • Credit Crisis - yes, mortgages are explained
  • SAT prep
  • and so much more
This guy is a BIG THINKER and he makes that problem that left the 15 y/o me crying during Algebra II easy to understand.

Did I mention that all of my really smart friend's videos are free?  Start using them for yourself.  Better yet, add the videos to the Guided Practice portion of your lesson, your teacher website, or just brush up on Chemistry so you can help your child.  There is no need for your child to spend evenings frustrated at the kitchen table.

Visit the Khan Academy or Salman's YouTube channel today. You may also follow my hero of the week  @khanacademy on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

YouTube at School

The biggest complaint my collegues voice is the unavailability of YouTube videos at school.  The reasons for using YouTube on campus are plentiful.  Here are a few tips for utilizing the site from the YouTube Teacher Channel:

  1. Spark lively discussions: Engage students by showing a video relevant to their lives. Video clips can bring in different perspectives or force students to consider a new viewpoint, helping to spark a discussion. Check out this Science video as a great example.
  2. Organize all the great video content you find: Playlists are YouTube's way of allowing you to organize videos on the site: a playlist is a series of videos you put together - they don't have to be videos you uploaded, and you get to choose the order. When one video ends, the playlist plays the next video without offering 'related videos', thus creating a curated environment for your students. Therefore, by creating playlists of videos you can select which YouTube videos you want your students to view. Watch the Dynamic Earth Processes playlist for a good example.
  3. Archive your work: Capture and save projects and discussions so you can refer back to them year after year. This will also help you save time as you can assign old videos to your new students. For example, this teacher created a video explaining a plot diagram that she drew. Because it is video, it is archived on YouTube and can easily be shared with other teachers.
  4. Allow students to dig deeper into a subject: Give students the option to dig deeper into a subject by creating a playlist of videos related to that concept. By creating playlists of relevant videos you allow students to pursue their interests without wasting their time searching for information (or finding potentially objectionable content). Here is a sample playlist a teacher created for their students on Math Story Problems.
  5. Get struggling students up to speed, and push strong students ahead: Videos (or playlists) can help supplement in class teaching for struggling students. Students can review them at home time so you're not forced to teach exclusively to the middle 50%. YouTube user piazzaalexis created videos aligned with the state standards so students who needed to review a particular standard could get the help they needed. Watch it now.
  6. Review for upcoming exams: Turn test review and flashcards into easy-to-watch videos. This way students can hear your explanations as they study. Watch an example of a review for a Medieval Japan test. You can also create a "test review" video students can use to study the night before the big test.
  7. Create a YouTube center in your classroom:  When working in stations or centers, have students use your YouTube channel to complete an assignment, freeing you up to work with small groups of students. Divide your class into groups and have them rotate through different stations. At the YouTube station, introduce students to new information, allowing you to help students practice their new found skills.
  8. Create quizzes to accompany videos for instant feedback: Create a Google Form that students complete after watching a video.You can use this quiz to get instant feedback on what they're learning. Embed your quiz on a class blog or site so students can watch a video and complete the quiz at the same time. View an example of this in action.
  9. Create Interactive Video Quests: Use YouTube annotations to create "Choose your own adventure" style video quests. View an example now. You can also create a video guide.
  10. Flip your classroom If your students watch a video of the basic concepts at home you can focus in class on applying those concepts, working collaboratively with their classmates rather than simply listening to you lecture. View an example now.
If your campus allows any form of YouTube (i.e. GaggleTube) then you are set to create exciting content connections for your students.  If your school does not allow any form of the video channel then allow me to introduce Zamzar.

Zamar is a FREE file conversion website.  I've used the site:
  • To help those students still utilizng WordPerfect at home. Zamzar will convert the file to a .doc extension.
  • Prior to the PDF feature of Office 2007, I used the site to turn .doc, .ppt, etc. into PDFs
  • There are a host of extensions to chose from.  Visit the site and check out how Zamzar will benefit you.
  • Here's the best part - you can convert YouTube videos to .wmv (or other video files) and insert them into your PowerPoint show.  Just make sure you click the DOWNLOAD VIDEO tab.
Over the past few years I have yet to go a week during the school year without using Zamzar for myself or a colleague.  I have a feeling that you will be using it frequently too.

READER RESPONSE: Which YouTube for education tip will you try? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stop Robbing Students

John Dewey once said, "If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow.”

It is my hope that the ideas and tools presented encourage you to become the Robin Hood of the classroom.  Rob from your colleagues and nourish students with their great ideas.  Enjoy the two presentations that follow. You will find a review of the tools covered plus a few more. 

Click here to view the Prezi presentation.

Click here to get Spicy!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Come back soon as I continue to profile technology trends and tools in education.

READER RESPONSE: Which tool did you enjoy the most in the series?  Please continue to post your original works and ideas in the COMMENTS section of the tool discussed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Quick Response

A funny thing started to appear in magazines a couple of years ago.
Initially I had no idea what to do with this barcode.  I tried to snap a picture with my phone and you know what happened?  Nothing.  Well, I had a new .jpg file taking up space on my phone but not much else.

Today people understand by downloading a Quick Response (QR) app to your phone that when you snap the picture a whole new world is opened up to us. 

As a teacher you can use today's site, i-nigma, to create QR barcodes that will link your students to website links and more. This is a great treat of the week for your students to discover something new in your content area.  A few other ideas include:

  1. Vcard: For starters, you might consider updating your business cards to include a QR code, which would upload your contact information directly into another person’s contact list. Hand your cards out to parents at back to school night and show them how to add you to their address book if they have a mobile device. Here’s an example of the QR code I am putting on my new business card (try it out and see how my contact information will display on your mobile device): 
  2. Interactive Back to School Night: Post QR codes throughout the classroom, with titles about various student work. QR codes could access student videos, projects, blogs, and many other ideas only teachers can envision. Hand out devices (iPod Touches, for instance) to parents who don’t have a mobile device and show them how to read the QR code and access the materials.
  3. Resource links on class handouts: Include QR codes that link to online resources, your contact information, articles, YouTube channel/playlists, your email, phone, SMS, Facebook link, Twitter, and any other resources students will need to access. Remember to include the URLs and text-based information as well, for those students who might not have a mobile device.
  4. Mobile Assignment Reminders: As your students leave the classroom, post a QR code on the door, with the title “Assignments for this Week.” Students could quickly scan the QR code and have that information instantly visible on their mobile devices. They won’t lose this as easily as a piece of paper.
  5. Self-Assessment: Create flashcards with the QR codes on the back, which would provide the answers. You could get very creative with this and incorporate links to websites that would provide additional information about the questions.
  6. Guided Tours: Students could create a guided tour of their school, a historical site, museum, or public building–researching the site, creating mobile webpages, videos, audio files, or any other type of appropriate media to provide more information–creating and posting the QR codes to the various locations.
  7. Mobile Class Newsletters: Include a QR code along with the printed URL that would direct parents to a mobile version of your class newsletter. Make sure you include directions on what the QR code is and how it can be read by a mobile phone.
  8. School News: Have students create weekly videos on school activities, publishing them to their school Intranet or other private location, then post QR codes that link to these updates with the notice “What’s Happening in School This Week!”
  9. Code Quest: Create a cooperative learning “Code Quest” by posting QR codes at various locations. Each QR code will ask a question that will require the retrieval of an object. Once the object is found, another QR code will send students to another location, to locate yet another object. This Code Quest involves teamwork, cooperation, thinking, and moving around!
  10. Instant Surveys or Quizzes: Create a survey or quiz using a Google Docs Form and create a QR code link to that form. Students, parents, whoever, can easily access and complete the survey or quiz on the mobile device.
Try this QR Code now to see what I want for Christmas:

Similar sites include: Kaywa, Create QR Code, Mobile Barcodes, and Snap Vu.

READER RESPONSE: Tell us which idea you plan to use to integrate QR codes into your classroom. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ideas Worth Spreading

Some of you know of my adoration for Ted.  I've posted several Ted videos on this blog over the past year so my hope is to introduce others to the wonder of Ted. 

Ted presenters deliver interesting subjects in a way we all wish we could engage our munchkins.  The best part of Ted is that the speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in innovative and engaging ways. The 18 minute limit is perfect for students because it's just enough to convey a point but never too long to bore them. 

Ted videos may be limited to 18 minutes but in addition to finding videos by themes you can limit your search to 3, 6, 9, 12 or 18 minute talks. 

Enough of my gibberish.  Enjoy this fascinating video by one of my favorite Ted presenters, Sir Ken Robinson.
READER RESPONSE: Which Ted video is your favorite?  Post your links below.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You Are What You Read

As a librarian I totally agree with this statement.  Are you junk or nutritious goodness?  I read a lot like I eat.  I combine books that fuel my brain but add a bit of spice and sweetness with the occasional romance novel or tabloid fare.
Scholastic takes the idea of being what you read further with You Are What You Read.  Here's the premise as printed on the Scholatic site: "Once you sign up, you’ll be able to input your Bookprint – the five books that most influenced your life. You’ll then be able to connect with others through your shared Bookprints, interact with a global community of readers, and discover new books to enjoy."

This site is similar to Good Reads but with the added zen factor.

The uncharacteristic part of the site is that Scholastic has created but an adult and youth site. This is a great way to bring the world into the lives of your students.  Sign up today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You're Invited to a Party

If you could not tell by the title then you should know that our final week of the series is about social networking. We will not cover Facebook or Twitter but I will share fantastic tools to utilize not only in school but in life.
Today's social networking tool review is timely due to a conversation thread by the fellow librarians in my school district.  A few of the ladies (and few guys) were upset that they could not view a patron's history.  This feature was removed from libraries by the Homeland Security Act which adds a level of protection to what you checkout.  The downside for school librarians is that we cannot help students when they want to reread a book or read the one their besty read a few months ago.  Today's tool eliminates that problem so allow me to introduce you to your next favorite book by way of Good Reads. 

Good Reads is the social networking tool for book nerds. 
  • The site allows users to connect with friends via Facebook, Twitter, etc. 
  • You are able to read a synopsis of the book your friends have/are reading  as well as read their recommendations.
  • Once you rate 20 books, Good Reads will recommend others based on your ratings.
  • Good Reads is your personal bookshelf.  The title of that book you read months ago is always within reach.
Due to the Facebook connection, many school districts may not allow students to access the site on campus.  However, this is a tool that you can use outside of the classroom for extra credit by creating a Facebook fan page or connect with your class Twitter account.  This is an excellent way to connect with your students and find out what they're reading.

Similar sites include:  LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari, aNobii and BookJetty.


Friday, September 16, 2011

This is a stix up!

Once upon a time I killed trees.  Before you bash me please understand that it was for a good cause.  I used to allow my class to brainstorm on the whiteboard by utilizing Post-Its. 
The kids loved it and the ideas flowed.  However, the need to remove a hundred little stickers from the board and compile them in one central place is a thing of the past thanks to Stixy.

Today's interactive tool allows students to post all of their ideas on one site and refer to it even when class has ended.  Students may also copy and paste from and link to any websites.  Don't you just love when learning never ends?  I do. 

A similar site is Edistorm.  Unlike Stixy, Edistorm allows you to export your ideas to a PDF which is great for handouts or posts on class blogs. Edistorm has a free service but I recommend buying the basic package to get the most out of the tool.

READER RESPONSE: How do you plan to use Stixy or Edistorm in your class?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dipity Do Dah

I have a feeling that my friend Mortie will LOVE this tool.  Dipity is such a fantastic tool that it will make you want to sing.
Dipity allows users to create interactive timelines that include video, images and web links.  Your students can also embed their creation on your class blog which makes it easy to share and assess.  Check out this Dipity which provides a historical review of 9/11/01-9/11/11. 
Of course Social Studies is the content that comes to mind but Dipity is for all subjects.  English teachers can utilize Dipity to show the course of events in a both fictional and expository text.  Math, Science, Music - don't be afraid to try something new.  I promise that this tool is a winner.

READER RESPONSE:   How will you use Dipity in your content area? If you create a Dipity, please post the link below.  You can also browse other timelines on the site and share in your class. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You can't handle the truth!

Ahh, the joy of arguing is a blood pumping activity for some.  Why not get your student's blood pumping with Debategraph.  Debategraph is a collaborative mind-mapping tool which tackles the issues of public policy. 

Debategraph is a tool for older students.  Can't you just imagine the level of Bloom's your munchkins will reach as they research issues in Government?  It may not be the Harry Wong classroom we read about in school but synthesis and evaluation will be the word of the day.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

Yesterday’s tool, Mindmeister, catered to the mind mapping capabilities of older students.  Today I bring your Bubbl.us.  Bubbl.us is geared toward our sub-high school students.  This easy to use tool allows students to brainstorm quickly, easily and in five easy steps.
  • Step 1: Push the button – There is a START button on the home page to help you begin the brainstorming process.
  • Step 2: Fill in the essentials – This is where you sign up for your account but this is optional.  Signing up for an account allows users to connect with other users. 
  • Step 3: Start with a central thought. 
    • Press ENTER to continue that thought OR
    • Press TAB to begin a new set of thought bubbles.
  • Step 4: Save your work.  Always remind students to save their work because technology is great but you never know when the PC will freak out.
  • Step 5: Share with others.  This is essential for content collaboration.  Yay for cooperative learning!!!
Enjoy today’s screenflow that give you more detail to make your map pop:
Technorati Tags: ,,

Monday, September 12, 2011

NFL Spirit

Yesterday the nation paused not only to recognize the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, but the return of Sunday football.  There is something special about the NFL spirit and the sense of collaboration that brings people of all races, cultures, genders, etc. together to support a common goal.  I cannot think of another fan base as supportive as NFL fans.

At times it feels that the urge to collaborate in the classroom is lacking.  Some educators shy away from cooperative learning due to classroom management factor.  It can be difficult to set six groups of five free to work and maintain the quiet that will please your neighbor.  Despite the noise, uh, organized chaos, there are many benefits to cooperative learning as opposed to students working alone.  They:

  • can receive more peer input as they plan and carry out their work
  • must be able to verbalize their thoughts and reasoning processes
  • may need to worth through differences of opinion
  • can learn how to take advantage of different group members’ strengths
  • support each other in areas in which there are weaknesses
  • bring different learning styles, prior knowledge, and abilities to bear on the task they share
  • learn skills that have important real-world applications in many family and work situations


Cooperative learning is a skill that will aid students in becoming leaders, supporters, innovators and yes, great sports fans.  As we delve into Content Collaboration week I urge you to go outside your realm of comfort and utilize one of the tools shared on TTWIT.  Today, we’ll start with Mindmeister.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wanna see something cool?

I have been racking my brain trying to tie this resource to a lesson plan but alas, I cannot.  I will attribute my lack of creativity to the remaining sedative and current pain killers in my system from yesterday's surgery.  My former Full Sail classmate, Amille, posted this site on her Google Buzz page.  IWDRM is a gallery of living movie stills. Here are a few (click on each photo to witness the cool):

As my discipline falls in the realm of literacy, all that comes to mind is to use the stills as writing prompts.  However, there are stills that can be used for the sciences, social studies, technology, etc.  Perhaps students can identify weather formations or periods in history.  The stills are also great for student blogs. You could use the follow still when you have to leave the room:
Walk out with the phrase, "I'm leaving Mr. __ in charge.  He's watching you."

In order to show the still on a non-web based format simply:
  • right click on the image
  • save image as 
  • ensure it saves in a .gif format
  • insert the photo on a PowerPoint slide.
READER RESPONSE: What other ways might you use this resource in your classroom?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Smartphones in the Classroom

This past Saturday I made a purchase that has turned my little world upside down.  I bought an iPhone and it is fabulous. 
I don't know if you can be in love with a phone but I feel that we are on the verge of something special.  I was able to early upgrade from my Droid which is great because I was about to get our relationship annulled.  Laugh if you want but my Android powered phone was a horrible investment.  NEVER BUY THE FIRST GENERATION OF ANY PHONE. However, I found a great solution for old phones in the classroom.

Monday night I noticed that my old phone had a Twitter notification.  I realized the notification was not there earlier. Despite not having phone service, my Droid is still a working connection to the Internet when wi-fi is available. That means that all of my apps, Pandora, Twitter, Facebook - THE INTERNET, etc. are still available. 

I know that this week is about management and organization but I need you to do something - START A SMARTPHONE DRIVE at your school. You can use these tiny computers in a multitude of ways:
  • watch on demand educational videos
  • do fast on the spot research
  • practice multiplication tables
  • communicate with friends about ongoing projects
  • fact check
  • add content specific bookmarks to each phone
  • camcorder
  • digital cameras!!!!
  • SMART makes several great interactive student response systems that teachers can use to deliver assessments and gage the progress of student learning in class. However, not all schools are lucky enough to have enough of these class sets to go around. In cases like this, more and more teachers are turning to web based solutions like Poll Everywhere. The teacher places an assessment or discussion question online, and the students can text their responses to it for an immediate survey of a class opinion. Students with smartphones and data plans can log straight on to the website and answer without paying for a text. Teachers can set up a class of 32 students for free, Similar services include Text The Mob and SMS Poll.
I hope you are starting to think of ways to engage your students with old and current Smartphones. The tools listed above only need wi-fi, not an active phone plan so start asking parents to donate their old phones and power cords today. The list above is simply a starting point. I cannot wait to hear how you use cell phones in your class.  Which bring us to today's...

READER RESPONSE: How can Smartphones benefit your class? Please share your cell phone drive success story.

Lastly, I hope you enjoyed this week of management and organization. Come back next week for Content Collaboration. 

Have an awesome weekend.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today’s post is written by guest author, Cindy Brock.  Cindy is a Technology Coordinator in Memphis, TN who writes her own blog, Tech Tips for Teachers.  Check it out and enjoy her post about something I know you’ll love – Symbaloo.

Our classrooms all have laptop carts and I've been looking for a way to organize sites our students use on a regular basis. Through the power of twitter, I found Symbaloo.  Symbaloo is a simple start page that allows you to organize and access favorite sites on one page. It has a great look for kids (as well as adults). Symbaloo allows you to create various webmixes, so I created one for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades as well as a subject area for the main subjects. Our school uses Google Apps, so using Google Sites, I create a home page for each grade level. I made that page include the webmix with more general sites (our school homepage, AR, IXL, etc.) I then created a Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Keyboarding, and Just for Fun site for each grade level. Click here to see our 2nd grade example.

Symbaloo is very user friendly. You can increase or decrease the size of your webmix. You can personalize the icons for each individual square. You can add or delete sites on your webmix any time. You can also embed it in another site, email the link to anyone, keep it private, or share with the world.

I have shared this with our teachers and they are excited about how easy it will be for their students to access web sites. We also plan on sharing the google site for each grade level with parents so they can make it their homepage on home computers.

Symbaloo is free, but there are paid accounts as well.  Check it out! I think you will be pleased.

View out today’s video to learn more:

Thanks, Cindy!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spicy Nodes

I bet you read that title as Spicy Noodles and thought I posted on the wrong blog.  Unfortunately this is not a great recipe for something yummy but this is a great post about another great 21st Century tool and it will add a bit of pep to your lesson.  The tool is SpicyNodes and it takes the “ugh” out of concept maps.
imageSpicyNodes is another great management tool that allows users to organize visually and by category. What makes SpicyNodes better than what you see above is the ability to link each node to media such as text, links and photos.  Social Studies teachers can bring history to life as students link their nodes to the actual footage discussed in class.  Math teachers can use SpicyNodes to create algorithms.  The possibilities are endless.  However, if you need a shot of inspiration visit the site’s education page. Here’s today’s video to tell you more: 
Finally, for those of you who navigated to TTWIT seeking spicy noodles, here is a recipe for you.  Let me know how it turns out.

READER RESPONSE: Please post the link to your SpicyNode here.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3-Ring Binders are for Wimps

Yesterday I brought you Evernote.  Today’s tool will help you group and classify the information you found and share the sources with others.  I can already see the wheels turning because you are one of those awesome educators not afraid of cooperative groups.  Your students are so lucky to have you.  Next week I want you to consider using adding LiveBinders to your ever-growing line-up Web 2.0 tools.

Here’s a 90 second video that explains the wonder of LiveBinders:
The LiveBinder community is vast and there are many resources for teachers:
READER RESPONSE: Now that you’ve experienced LiveBinders, try it for yourself.  When you do, post your link in the COMMENTS section for others and share your greatness.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Never Forget Again

Do you know what drives me crazy about secondary students?  It’s their inability to organize. I believe our expectations of students need to be raised. It is time to go beyond stuffing their notes in an overloaded Trapper Keeper (Do they still make those?) and move toward the tools in their pockets.
This week we will delve into managing and organizing information.  You will find that the five tools shared this week will not only benefit the munchkins but you, your family and friends. The best thing about the tools is that they are easily accessible on both your laptop and phone. 
Today’s tool was introduced to me a few weeks ago by my colleague, Jeremy.  He asked if I ever heard of Evernote and from that point on it’s as if this little app started to storm through the world of education.  Evernote allow users to organize their thoughts, notes and sites from a variety of sources such as your ideas, things you heard, see in passing, websites, store PDFs and more.  The great thing about Evernote is that it is available on every format imaginable: Mac, PC, Android Market, iTunes, etc.  This allows your ‘notes’ to be where’ever’ you need them.  Cool, right? Evernote is your personal assistant and one that never needs a potty break of a day off. 
With Evernote you will never forget a lesson plan idea that strikes you in the oddest of places like using the song you heard in Zumba in your classroom.  Here’s my challenge to you, educators: Ask your students to pull out their Smartphones in class and download the app the next time you have a research assignment.  Show them how Evernote can help them share their tools with their group.  The goal of utilizing Web 2.0 tools in the classroom is to turn 21st Century students into 21st Century innovators.  It is vital to put the tools in their hands now so it will become a part of their college and professional lives.
Stay tuned for a lesson on how Jeremy shares his Evernotes with his fellow teachers.  Until then, check out Ron’s Evernote tips on Tumblr.
READER RESPONSE: How will you use Evernote?

Sunday, September 4, 2011


As we lounge around and commemorate Labor Day with BBQ and beer, I invite you to consider one last Digital Storytelling tool to add to your dynamic curriculum.  This week consider adding a pop of wow with Zooburst.  Zooburst adds a new dimension to storytelling by adding a 3-D component. 

Zooburts also offers a huge library of clip art to help your students get their point across.  If a Zooburst photo does not fancy your charge, no problem, have her upload her own picture.  Students adore adding their own image in an assignment.  Zooburts allows them to personalize their 3D story which will make everyone take notice on presentation day.

I want to end Digital Storytelling tools by encouraging teachers of all content to think outside the box.  These tools are not just for the English classroom.  Math teachers, have students explain how to solve problems.  Social Studies educators, retell an event in history.  Foreign language teachers, I cannot think of a better tool for students to put their newly learned words into practice.  Visit the Zooburst gallery for more ideas or even add one of the stories to your lesson. Digital Storytelling is a great way to escape from the ordinary.  Keep your students guessing what may happen next in your class and watch their attentiveness soar.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tapping into Creativity

There are six levels of Blooms Taxonomy.  Unfortunately due to the ‘T’ word it is not uncommon to find teachers moving beyond levels 1-3 in hopes of retaining formulas for end of grade test. Moving to levels 4-6 require illustration, supporting and creating.  Today we are going to tap into the higher levels by creating a Storybird.

Storybirds are art-inspired stories that impact everyone from Miss. Smartypants in the front seat to our reluctant readers in the back row.  Here’s how it works:

In science have your students create a Storybird to illustrate the Scientific Method.  Social Studies students can retell the events leading to WWI.  The possibilities are endless for all content areas.

Empower your students to reach their highest high.  Sign up for your free Storybird acount today.

READER RESPONSE: How will you use Storybird in your class?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How the heck did you do that?

I believe in learning by doing especially when it comes to performing computer tasks. One of the most beneficial tutorials online are those that offer recordings of users navigating websites, using features in MS Office, etc.  As both a Mac and PC user I found this issue frustrating when my Mac and the Screenflow program are not around.  I am not interesting in spending more money on Camtasia to have this feature on my PC so what is a girl to do?  A girl is to sign up for Jing right away.
I must let you know that Jing and Camtasia are from the same tech gurus.  The major difference is the ability to make polished videos with Camtasia while Jing is very basic.  The upside is that you will get your point across easily.  Here are a few ways to use Jing according to their website:
  • CollaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • CollaborateShare a snapshot of a document
  • NarrateNarrate your vacation photos
  • BugsCapture that pesky bug in action
  • Show HowShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • CommentsComment on students' homework
  • Post TidbitsPost tidbits on Twitter or Facebook
Additionally you can share your video instantly via e-mail, IM, Twitter, blogs, etc.With the addition of Lync on school campuses this is especially good news.  Here is a sample of a web snapshot to start the wheels turning in your noggin.
A picture truly paints a thousand words.  Why not lessen the confusion when adding technology to lesson and use Jing.  Your students will thank you.
READER RESPONSE:  How will you use Jing?

Monday, August 29, 2011

4,400+ Free Books

I bet that title got your attention.  If it did then you should know up front that this post is not about giveaways or a place to steal books and not get caught.  Today as we delve into Week 2 of Best Websites for Educators I want to share a site that can be used for students ages 1-100.

The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) provides thousands of books in 54 different languages from around the world.  From well known authors such as Walter Dean Myers to a French folktale favorites, you’ll find all sorts of interesting stories to share with students. 

As a classroom teacher I was a huge fan of using picture books to teach literary elements. With ICDL you now have access to books even when the copy is checked out at the school library media center.  All you need is an LCD projector and a working internet connection to share literature and beautiful artwork with students. 

image Are you a parent wondering how to use ICDL with your child?  Download the free app on your iPad. We have one last summer vacation coming up and I cannot think of a better way to keep Junior entertained and save space in the car. 

ICDL is truly captivating and I hope that you find a way to integrate this into your content for many years to come.

READER RESPONSE: Search for a book on the ICDL site.  Please share how the book is connected to a specific content area.  Think outside the box English teachers.  We need to help our math, science, social studies and elective teachers use this resource in their classes today.