Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blabberize: Part Deux

Back in March I blogged about Blabberize - a great tool for giving your pictures a voice. This week a teacher posed a question on Edmodo asking for technology integration ideas for kindergarten and first grade. Below is a sample from a fabulous first grade teacher's class. (Gotta love that cutie-patootie southern accent.) Thanks Kati!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thinglink: Images with Hot Spot "Tags"

Thinglink it a neat little web tool for collecting resources. You start with a picture - maybe a map, science experiments, or computer parts. Once your picture is uploaded, then you can begin "tagging" areas of your picture with resources like websites and videos. I can just see teachers with interactive whiteboards going from resource to resource at the front of the room with this tool. And I think that the placement of the tags on an image is much more effective/attractive than just a collection of links on a Word doc or Power Point. Below is a sample that I threw together for our GA Studies teachers; hover over the image to see the tags and click to open them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Animoto: Easy Slideshow Maker

If you are looking for a very simple slideshow maker that will make it look like you have spent hours putting the final product together, look no farther; Animoto is for you. Insert your pictures, choose from their music or upload your own, set a few preferences, and you are done! A basic free account only produces videos up to 30 seconds long, but with a free educator account, you can create full-length masterpieces! Sharing your videos will be a snap too. Around here, we like to embed class picture slideshows on our webpages or in Edmodo. Below is a family sample of mine - please share your links or ideas for classroom use!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Collaboration Time! Using Google Docs within Edmodo

Earlier this school year a teacher asked me how he could share a folder in Edmodo that others could contribute to. Well, at the time, that was not really possible. He could share, but the other teachers could not add or edit. No more! With Google Docs now seamlessly integrated into Edmodo, you can share collaborative documents to any group! Check out the how-to.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vokis Now Embed in SMART Notebook

I have always love the website Voki. Teachers can create talking avatars that tell visitors how to navigate around their webpage. Students can create book reports or other projects to display knowledge. With the release on SMART Notebook 11, Vokis can now be embedded into SMART lessons. Imagine the possibilities! A French character could speak times to students for an activity. A mouse could tell a story before students put the sentences in the correct order. Thinking of younger students, an avatar could give directions for an activity during center time. (I made that one - cute huh?)

To get started, make sure that you have SMART Notebook 11; it came out recently. You will need to download this Voki avatar file to your computer and make sure that it is added to your "My Content." Just do this once to use the tool as often as you like!

I thought this little guy would be neat for our middle school's Humane Society webpage. Click the play button and prepare to be heartbroken. If you are not familiar with Voki, click for my quickguide. If you make something great, share it with everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Science Website: 3D Toad

 A great website called 3D Toad has a free gallery of 3D objects from skeletons to dissections to molecule structures. Use your mouse to zoom in and out or rotate the objects. If you have access to 3D glasses, you can use them to view some of the images even more clearly. Just look for the red and blue glasses icon. The clip below shows a teacher using the dental hygiene section of the website. 

Monday, May 14, 2012


Feeling a void since Picnik was absorbed by Google? I know how 'ya feel, and we are going to change that. PicMonkey is a new web 2.0 tool that allows you to upload your pictures, make them awesome, and then download them back. (Similar to Picnik but no storage.) Why is PicMonkey so great? You can check out the details on the team here, but let me just point out that one of the software engineers and the #1 code-writer   from Picnik are in the mix. You're sold now, huh?

PicMonkey has your standard crop, rotate, sharpen tools, but you'll love the tabs that follow: photo effects, touch ups, text tools, shapes, scrapbooky items, frames, etc. Below is one experiment of mine. I will spare you the rest. (Weren't my twins cute when they were little??)

Try it out and post below with your thoughts. Share a before and after pic if you like! Want a printable guide to walk you through a few of the options? No problem. My colleague, Randi, has you covered.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

DoInk: Draw it Yourself Animation

While GoAnimate and xtranormal are old favorites of mine, DoInk is my new animation best friend. You can download the app for $5 or used the web-based version for free. I love that each step in the process of a DoInk animation is bite-sized. DoInk rep Melinda Shultz turned me on to a great sample and a few tutorials to get started, and I created a step-by-step guide as I went. If you give DoInk a try, leave a post on your thoughts!

Under the Sea 2 by melanie_turner, made at

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SMART Exchange: Blue Ridge Mountain Region

Since SMART and Promethean boards gained in popularity a few years back, every Joe Schmo computer company has come up with some kind of whiteboard or  interactive projector or special funky pen. At the time, I looked into both SMART and Promethean products. SMART won hands down.

You see, it's not really about what the board itself can do; they pretty all much work the same. It's about what the software will do. SMART software allows the teacher to create something that is truly interactive. You can set up sorting activities, quizzes, and animations. You can embed YouTube videos and attach other files. And the best part? There is this whole community of teachers out there making and sharing their SMART resources on the SMART Exchange. While I've been a member of the Exchange forever, I just recently submitted my first file. After all, that's what collaboration is all about. Don't just lurk and download - add to the knowledge bank!

Monday, May 7, 2012


In the United States, 61% of middle school students say they’d rather take out the garbage than do their math homework. If you ask students why they dislike math so much they’ll often say, “I don’t know what it means or when I’ll ever use it.” To many, math is just a bunch of random steps to memorize and regurgitate. 
(excerpt from Mathalicious)

Mathalicious is trying to change this perception by tying together real-world, interesting questions with practical math concepts. For example: Why does everyone pay the same amount to buy Nike shoes online? Surely the cost of making a size 2 is much less than a 12. What would happen is Nike charged by weight? The common core standards are listed beside the topic slideshow and downloadable teacher guide/student handout.

Some of the lessons on Mathalicous are free. Others require a paid subscription. The suggested contribution is $20/month. However, they follow a "pay what you can" philosophy that would allow the strapped teacher to join for as little as $5/month. An annual school license is also available.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Animation in the Classroom

Animation projects can be a great way to check for understanding with students. A 5th grade teacher friend of mine uses Go Animate often, and the example below was created by one of his students.

the civil war by sherndon4 on GoAnimate

If you are not familiar with Go Animate for Schools, check out this printable quick guide. Go Animate's site also offers tutorials like this one on design principles. If you create an animation, link it up below!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Web Game: Semicolon Wars

Mr. Nussbaum's site has tons of educational games on it; my favorite is called Semicolon Wars. (You like that well placed semicolon, don't you?) The semicolons are tired of being pushed aside for the more plebeian punctuation like periods and commas. You must correctly place all of the punctuation in the game to defend semicolon honor!

Other great activities on the site include the ever-popular Tony's Fraction Pizza Shop, Cash Out, and General Tso's Spicy Synonyms.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Teaching Channel: Short Video Inspiration

Teaching Channel hosts hundreds of video clips designed to improve instruction and inspire new classroom ideas. I previewed a 7 minute language arts video about using personal anecdotes in narrative writing. (I think this is where I insert a story about how I used to teach this concept, but I will spare you.)

Browsing, I spotted a lesson idea for high school statistics and a middle school video on making edible cells. You can also search social studies and the arts. This would be a great (quick) way to get in a little PD when you are pressed for time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Phonics App: Tic Tac Toe

Lakeshore Publishing has a great free app for phonics called Tic Tac Toe. The first player chooses Xs or Os, and then chooses a space. Here are a few of the question types:
  • What are the first two letters of the picture below? (blends underneath)
  • Which of these words has a different beginning sound than the other words? (onset)
  • Which word doesn't belong with the others? (long and short vowels)
  • How many syllables are in this workd?
With each correct answer, the player marks her X or O in the square; incorrect answers get no mark.  Now, the app does not read the questions, so I have to play this with my kindergartner to help with the unfamiliar words. I could see this as a great small group activity for K-2.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Favorite Free App for Language Learners

Do you need help to parlez-vous fran├žais? AccelaStudy has an awesome app for drill and practice with foreign languages. I have playing around with the French version, and I'm pretty impressed. I can choose to study all of the words in the bank, or just certain categories. As I flip through the flash cards, I can select troublesome words (like those pesky days of the week or condiments) to copy into their own review batch. The app offers quizzes and statistics by category as well. Do you have a favorite languages app? Leave it in the comments section!

Suggested in the World Languages group on Edmodo by Mrs. Brenda Bennett: Memrize online, Busuu and LearnBots for iPad

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Website: Phonics Training Ground

Here's one for the babies: Phonics Training Ground is a cute little site for PK or K students. It starts off with showcasing certain letter sounds and blending together those sounds into words. Next students may be asked to identify the picture with a word and fill in the missing letter. Last, the officer in charge chants about letter substitution and makes new words. That's it - the site is very basic, but my PKer loves it!

Here are a few more early learner sites. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments section!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Use Edmodo to Text Students

Free use photo from morgueFile
While some high schools do not allow cell phone use during the school day, many teachers would like a way to reach their mobile students after school hours. It would be a HUGE pain to try and collect all of these students' cell phone numbers and a nightmare to continuously update them. Edmodo offers a great solution: Students can log in and choose text message as the mode of notification. They enter the number and they update it as needed. Now all you have to do is send out message through Edmodo, and teens at the mall, Walmart, and baseball practice alike will get an alert like...

"Don't forget to turn in your character analysis tomorrow."
"We will hold a study discussion at 6pm on Edmodo for everyone who can attend. Bring your questions!"
"Check out the two links I posted to the group for more practice on Algebra."

You get the idea.

I do have one suggestion though: I would advise students (especially those who may be in several Edmodo groups) to choose to only receive "alert" notifications. These will only be text, so students will not accrue any unwanted data charges. It also cuts the number of texts they receive to the short ones from you. If you'd like to give it a shot, check out my quick guide! If you are new to Edmodo, here is a collection of resources to get you started:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Google Lit Trips

There is a plethora of research out there supporting cross-curricular education, and Google Lit Trips are one marvelous example. Created using Google Earth, the trips are a collection of links and pictures that follow a particular path. For example, you could follow the Joad family through The Grapes of Wrath (created by Jerome Burg - founder of Google Lit trips) or Possum Magic's Hush through the Australian Outback (created by yours truly).

Under the hood: You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to begin with. The trips download as .kmz files - which you can open inside Google Earth. You can choose the "play" the trip and have the slides advance automatically; or you can manually click through the path locations to allow for more discussion time. If you'd like to create your own trip, click on download and then "Lit Trip Tips." Once it is complete, submit it to Mr. Burg for publication!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SMART Game Board: Sight Words

The SMART Exchange is fabulous place to find resources or spark ideas. (Sometimes it is daunting to look at a blank SMART Notebook file and get creative.) If you have never used the site, just sign up for a free account to get started.

I ran across this game board while searching for review activities. Kids love game boards, but are generally resistant to practicing sight words. Students click the dice, read the words, and move the appropriate spaces. Since I'm a little OCD, I tweaked some of the pages. I also changed out the original Dolch words for the words du jour in South GA: Fry. There is not a big difference, and if you'd like the Dolch file, I'll be glad to email it to you. Just message me.

The dice are located on the last page and can be copied as much as you'd like. You can make your own board easily by using shapes and Gallery items. Below is a board that I threw together for my little girls' school reading theme: Reading Rocks! Or click to get my full Fry Words gameboard file. Feel free to use it or make it your own!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quizlet: Virtual Flash Cards

There a lot of virtual flash card sites out there, but I think Quizlet takes the cake. You can enter your own terms and definitions or search the huge database for ready-made sets. (My daughter, who is in 9th grade, found that the terms from every chapter of her healthcare science class book were already created. Score!) Once you have a set of cards, there are five different learning modes to try including scatter and space race. Your sets are share-able with a regular old link or you can embed them - great for webpages, blogs, and Edmodo! See my sample below and check out the quick guide if you are new to Quizlet.

Blabberize: Give Your Pictures a Voice

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. With Blabberize, your pictures can speak their own thousand words! Literary characters and historical figures can tell about themselves. Coins can tell you how much they are worth. Animals can tell you what kids of habitats they live in. Just think of the possibilities! If you've never tried Blabberize, click for my quick guide. Below Abe Lincoln poses a math question. What will you create?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Online Reading Resources

Are you an elementary teacher looking for a resources to work on the "big 8" reading comprehension strategies or phonics? Or maybe a middle school teacher who needs ideas for responses to literature or literary devices? How about a high school teacher working on vocabulary? Check out my collection of reading resources here. Leave a post if you have an idea for an addition! (Like that alliteration?)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Slideshow Creator: Slidestaxx

My favorite slideshow creator right now Slidestaxx. You can upload pictures, add links and YouTube videos - it's great. Want to know the best part? You are only allowed 130 characters in text on each slide. Heck, this post is already 234 characters, so you get the idea. Less type - more talk. We all hate to watch presentations or webinars where the presenter reads from a Power Point.

Give it a try, and your students will love Slidestaxx as much as you do. To link pictures, videos, or websites users must enter a web address - instant citation! No wondering where a picture came from when it's time to publish and present. Click to download my quick guide. (My district encourages using NetTrekker for student image searches, but you could easily use Creative Commons or another site.) You can check out my sample on Paul Revere here. If you create one, post it in a comment!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Great New Survey Tool

Pinnion (now in beta testing) is a fabulous new survey tool. I registered for a free account and whipped up a quick survey on our county webpage program. The interface is very easy to use and allows pictures upload for the overall survey and for each question.

What I love the most is what I can do with the web link and embed code. I made a tinyurl for the survey link and asked a coworker to take the survey on her smart phone; it looked great. We took the survey our computers also to get a bit more data. (Participants can see the survey results after completing it too.) Then I could browse the results or download then to Excel.Can't wait to show this to my teachers and admins. Try mine out here if you like.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gaming in Education

I was turned onto Purpose Games by a blog post on Twitter recently. There are tons of games to peruse on the site already, but you can also upload your own images to make more. The elementary teacher in me wanted to make a game for Mem Fox's book Possum Magic. The plot includes a lot of travel, so it was perfect.

First, I chose a picture of Australia (that included the cities I wanted to focus on.) Then I basically chose the locations and clues that make up the game. (It really reminds me of the "hot spots" activity in SMART Notebook Software.) The result was so easy to make a fun to play. Give it a shot if you've read the book! Or if you haven't, but you're curious about how it works. I also noticed games where you identify bones on a skeleton, capitals, layers of the earth, or even Twilight characters. :0)

Social Networking for Education

I really do. If you haven't heard, Edmodo is a free social networking platform for teachers and students. (Think Facebook for school.) I learned about the site at FETC last year, and my ITS department loves it for professional development and classroom use. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Teachers can use Edmodo to ask questions, post resources, collaborate, etc. professionally. We have several district groups here, and the Edmodo community has groups by interest.
  • Teachers can set up a controlled social space with students to have discussions, post and receive assignments, give polls and quizzes, and more. (The embed feature is great. Students can share videos, animations, and digital flash cards easily.)
  • Students join groups with the code from the teacher. They can private message the teacher, but not other students. 
  • Students join and leave groups themselves - there's no management for the teacher on setting up student accounts. (They can also enter a phone number to get text updates or use the app.)
  • The teacher can moderate the feed for any group they create several different ways.
Training: Here is a comic-style poster that I made as an intro to my district, Edmodo's help page, and a Power Point on Netiquette. Feel free to use anything you need. Got a question about Edmodo or our district rollout? Leave a post.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just for Fun: Clay Yourself

One of the ways that we encourage professional development is through a social learning network called Edmodo. Well, you know teachers (especially women). "I don't want to put my picture on here! I don't have a good one!"

Problem solved: Make one. I've used a couple of avatar creators, but I came across this one recently. Clay Yourself is sponsored by and lets you create little Playdough versions of yourself. Check out mine. (Yes, my hair is always that cute and my arms are that toned.) I really love this for student Edmodo accounts too. Like this idea? Check out three alternative programs here!

Monday, February 27, 2012

No cutting, pasting, or poster paper

Want an eco-friendly, no-mess poster solution? Glogster is it! One of the 7th grade social studies teachers that I work with has students create posters on people or topics that they cover throughout the year as a review. I threw together this quick example to see how it works.

 I love that I could embed a You Tube video and some great audio. The text box sizing had me puzzled for a minute (you must double click before you can resize), but otherwise I found the site very easy to use. Here is a 90 second overview or you could try this link to see how a fourth grade teacher in Massachusetts uses it with her students. For quickie tutorials on each step in the process (education version), try Bay Shore Middle School's page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


My kids refuse to listen to any more of my ranting (Jaycut just left me, and Picnik is on the way out) and raving (I heart Edmodo) about web 2.0 tools and such any more. Alas, I must seek out a new audience. I hope that you find something helpful here, and please post with your ideas!