Posts

Showing posts from 2012

How to Use Technology to Bring Experts in the Field into Your Classroom

Guest speakers always add another dimension to teaching; however, getting an expert to come into your classroom may be a little more challenging. Speakers often have work schedules, travel schedules and other responsibilities to navigate. Educators have class schedules, late starts, parent conferences, etc. to deal with. Sometimes finding the right time to meet is impossible.  Here are a few creative ways to get experts into your classroom, using the power of technology: iTunesU has been available to educators for several years, but many teachers still do not know what the big deal is. iTunes U gives educators the opportunity to download classes and lectures from leading experts and universities all around the country. Do you want to learn more about management? Why not learn from Peter Drucker?  If you are the type of teacher who wants to create your own course, you can use the iTunes U app to do so. Skype is a tool that I have been using in my classroom for several months. In Oct

Share Files with File Dropper

Image
Have you ever wanted a student to share a file with you and it was too big? Before you scramble to find a flashdrive or create a Dropbox account, there are many ways to solve this problem. Some are time consuming, while others require another username and password to keep track of. Personally, I am not one for usernames and passwords. If this is a problem that you have, you might want to check out a free file hosting sites like  File Dropper . File hosting sites give users the ability to upload a file and share a unique link, when opened will allow another person to download your file. Many hosting sites offer this free service with the agreement that the link to your file will only be active for a limited amount of time. There are many sites like it, but it is probably one of the easiest file hosting sites to use. Simply choose your file and click on Upload File. File Dropper will create a unique URL that you can share with others to download your file. I really like the fact that

Minutes.io

Image
Everyone loves meetings right? Just kidding. In every meeting, there is at least one note taker. Here's a great site that I learned about from a blog the other day. It's called Minutes.io . Perhaps you can use it in your situation to record meeting minutes. Check it out!

Create Your Own Chat with TodaysMeet

Image
When snow is in the forecast, it always makes me remember one graduate class that I taught in the middle of February. We had a major snow storm hit the east coast that year and it prevented us from meeting. I had to scramble to "have class" without actually "having class." Many years ago, it was very difficult to come up with some options. I recently stumbled upon an article that mentioned a free back channel site called TodaysMeet . If you are not familiar with what a back channel is, the term was coined to describe everything that is going on in a room without the instructor knowing it. Think about it as passing notes back in our day! In today's world, a back channel isn't necessarily a bad thing. We are creatures of conversation and using a back channel actually enhances and stimulates conversation of a particular topic.   TodaysMeet is a great way to create a temporary chat room  which anyone can join without a username and password. It's been

Using the Internet to Help with Pronounciation

Image
I know that I say this often, but I love getting the chance to work with other teachers when I teach a graduate class. I almost feel guilty because I learn new ideas every time I teach and I get paid for it! In all seriousness, I do learn many great ideas from my graduate and high school students alike. One of the most recent ideas that I learned about came from one of my students from New Jersey, Christina. She was doing a project for my class and introduced me to a site called Forvo . It is a site that claims that it has "all of the words in the world. Pronounced." She was having her class read a story, which contained many Hebrew words. She decided to use the site to help correctly pronounce the words to her class, so that they would get a better understanding of its meaning and usage. I decided to check it out and found it to be a useful site for any classroom in any subject area. Users have the ability to search through a library of audio files, which offer the corre

Give Your Eyes a Break and Try Blackle

Image
How can a search engine save energy? That was a question that I pondered yesterday when one of my students (Kat) explained to me the idea behind a search engine called Blackle . It works very much like Google because it was created using a Custom Google Search Engine (I have blogged about this in the past). The search engine serves as a reminder to us all that we all have a part in saving energy, even when searching the Internet! How does it do this? The majority of the website's screen is black; therefore, it doesn't need a large amount of energy to appear on your screen. Blackle not only saves energy, but could helpful for students who have certain learning or visual disabilities. Many students struggle with the glare of a white screen on black text. This could be a great alternative to the bright and colorful Google search engine that most of our students use. If you have a learning disability like Dyslexia  a darkened screen may help reduce the shear number of colo

Paper Rater: A Great Writing Tool for Any Grade

Image
Writing is often a difficult task for many of our students because they find it difficult to express their thoughts through written words. A great tool to help our students develop their writing skills is through a free website called Paper Rater. Students simply copy and paste their essay, research paper, or journal entry and choose get report. I want to thank one of my seniors (Joel) for offering me this idea for an article! Students will receive a detailed report checking spelling, offering grammar suggestions, analyzing word usage, rating transitional word usage, measuring sentence structure, providing a vocabulary usage score, and generating a grade for your paper! Although it is not completely perfect (no technology is), it does provide an excellent option for students needing another "set of eyes" to look over their paper and offer suggestions. Check out my "What to Do in a Few Video" on how to use Paper Rater below:

Edutopia's Parent's Guide to 21st-Century Learning

Image
If you are a parent in the 21st Century, its hard enough to keep up with our kids, let alone the latest technology developments! I won't even ask about being a teacher and a parent!  :) Understanding how our kids are using technology is one piece of the puzzle. Having a conversation or creating a memorable technology experience with our kids is the next step. We often complain that technology always changes and we can't keep up, but there are many organizations that are doing the work for us.  A great resource developed by Edutopia may help you  (as a teacher and a parent) keep track of both the latest trends in technology and how to become part of your child's learning experience. The George Lucas Foundation developed a site called Edutopia , which is an excellent resource itself. However, just recently the organization developed a free PDF called A Parent's Guide to 21st-Century Learning .  Inside you will find resources K-12 on using Skype in the classroom, 21s

StoryBots are Amazing!

Image
My 3 year old son and I were having some quality time this morning. We were watching cartoons, he was playing Angry Birds on my iPad, and I was checking out Twitter. Boy how quality time has shifted into an exercise in multitasking! As I was going through Twitter, I came across a cool site called Storybots . I have heard about it in the past, but never really had the time to explore it. Storybots is an easy to use websites for teachers and parents to use with their elementary aged students. It gives you an opportunity to make your own videos starring "you" and the Storybots . Simply upload a picture of yourself and provide a name and a parent / teacher's email address and you are off and running. This would be a great tool for students to use to summarize a book that they read. If you are not so interested in creating your own videos because your kids aren't old enough or you don't have enough computers, there are always the other resources on the site. There

Presidents versus.....Aliens????

Image
Now that the election is over, how do we recapture the attention of our history students? A good friend of mine, who is a history teacher, alerted me to a game called Presidents versus Aliens . There are two versions of the game, one is free and the other in 99 cents. The object of the game is to answer as many questions correctly about past US Presidents as possible. When you get the question right, you get the chance to "flick" the President (just like the game Angry Birds) to destroy aliens, who are hovering over famous US Landmarks! When you have destroyed all of your aliens, you get the chance to "earn" Presidents to your profile. When I played the game, I found a variety of challenging questions, which would be useful to make learning History more fun. From my past experience, I would say that this app would be a great tool for late middle school and high school students. As a side note, when I played...I went 4 for 4. Thanks Mr. Hatfield!

Surprising Trends in the World of Education

Image
A few weeks ago, I read that schools were buying more iPads than PC's. Apple has always had a position in the educational realm, but why? After viewing this infographic (shared with me by one of my regular subscribers. Thank you Tess!), I began to realize that this trend stems way beyond a school's technology budget. Apple's influence is becoming a social trend.  According to research from the Pearson Foundation, 55% of schools are allowing students to bring in their own devices to school. You hear about more and more schools going to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model, but does this work in education? I worry about kids who come from poverty, who actually do not have a cell phone. They do still exist. The attitudes of our students are shifting too. According the Pearson Foundation, 87% of high school students believe that tablets, like the iPad, have an educational purpose. Perhaps this is why more schools are turning to Apps and the iTunes store to purchase the

Our iPads Section is Slowly But Surely Coming Along!

Image
A few months ago, I announced that I would be focusing on adding more articles on iPad Apps to Learn - Lead - Grow's website and blog. Several months later, I would like to announce that our new section of the website and blog is coming along. Check out apps that will help you in your classroom ! As always, if you have suggestions for apps that are free and would help students learn, please contact me! I appreciate the number of messages I receive on a daily basis from all of my followers! Without you, this blog would not be possible! Thank you!

No Keyboard for Your iPad? Dictation Made Easy

Image
Yesterday I was sitting in a waiting room, using my "waiting" time as a chance to complete some of my "homework" (I am currently enrolled in an Instructional Technology Certificate program). As part of the class, we had to read a few articles and provide a written response on a discussion board. I jotted down my answers in the spiral notebook that I brought with me to later type on my PC. Then my mind started thinking...hmm...there has to be a better way. After some searching in the iTunes store, I came across the free Dragon Dictation App . I remember Dragon Naturally Speaking from my days as a middle school computer teacher, when it was naturally viewed as our "arch enemy." I decided to let go of the past and download it! I was pleasantly surprised by the capabilities of this speech to text app. You simply touch the screen and speak. When you are finished, the  app will take what you said and translate it into text. I started reading from my spiral n

Common Core Resources

Image
As the landscape of education is shifting, we need to keep up to date with resources which will help us make the necessary changes in our classrooms. With most states shifting to the Common Core Standards, many teachers are left scrambling for resources, ideas, and implementation strategies. Many organizations are offering webinars, workshops, etc. to help ease the transition for teachers. A good friend / administrator of mine, shared this excellent Common Core resource from America Achieves  If you don't know much about the AA, they are an organization that helps shape educational policies and provides educators with quality educational resources to meet today's toughest challenges. America Achieves Common Core website is a work in progress, which is starting to become populated with valuable tools for educators to use when implementing the Common Core. The site is starting to accumulate a library of rubrics, lesson plans, and instructional videos by educators in the fiel

Edmodo Updates

I have been using Edmodo for quite some time. In fact, I just wrote about a way that your students can cast their votes in next week's Presidential Election. Edmodo just recently received a face-lift and has added some really unique features. For example, you now have the ability to Schedule a Post. In the past, whenever you made a post, you couldn't hide it from students. It automatically appeared. With the new update, you simple have to type your message and click on "Schedule." Edmodo will allow you to choose a date and time (by the hour) to send your message. In the teacher view, there is a window available to see recent student activity. You can see which students logged on and when. You can even see what they were up to. I also like the updated student planner. In the past, by default you had a monthly view calendar. Edmodo has made some changes so that you can filter dates and assignments by the week. I really like this update because it is not as crowded

Who Says You Have to Be 18 to Vote? #edmodovotes2012

Image
Students all over the country are in our classrooms and learning about the upcoming Presidential Election. Wouldn't it be great to actually use the information that you are teaching and give them a chance to vote? Edmodo is giving students and teachers a voice on election day! If you use Edmodo in your classroom, there is now an option through Edmodo Votes 2012.  If your students already are using Edmodo, this is a quick and easy task.  Simply log into Edmodo and create a poll for your students, using the hashtag  #edmodovotes2012.  For more detailed instructions, click here . There's only one catch! You have to run the poll by FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND! Votes will be shared with Edmodo users on election day. 

Class Dojo is a Great Classroom Management Tool

Image
Part of being a teacher is handling discipline issues. None of us really enjoy dealing with them (maybe unless you are aspiring to be a future assistant principal), but it just comes with the territory. We always hear about the importance of documentation  but for many of us, we get consumed with other things and forget. Maybe we don't even know where to start or what to record. Just this past week, I had to meet with a student and several administrators over a discipline issue. I had developed a behavior rubric, shared my observations, and documented incidents. Even though I have a behavior rubric and had items documented, I knew that there had to be a better way. Class Dojo could be a helpful addition to your classroom management tools. It allows you to quickly document both positive and negative behaviors from the comfort of your laptop or iPad . If you have multiple periods, it gives you the opportunity to create multiple classes. As students participate in your course

Stack the States

Image
More and more teachers are turning to educational games to motivate and engage students in different ways. There is just something about a great educational game and learning to get your students fired up!  The other day at lunch, a good friend of mine suggested that I check out an App called Stack the States . It is an interactive game that asks you trivia questions about each of the 50 states. As you answer each question, you get to drop the shape of the state on a platform. Your goal is to stack the states as tall as you can without having them fall off the platform. It reminds me of Tetris in a way. I had my iPad with me at lunch that day, so he and I downloaded the free lite version. It was very entertaining and the questions were very challenging! There were questions about state capitals, historical figures, and state flags! I got tripped up by Arkansas' state flag. As you play, instead of earning points, you earn "states."  It was a really great way o

Google Drive on Your iPad

Image
For those of you who may not be aware, Google Docs has been renamed Google Drive. This has been for a few months, but many of us are not aware. Google Drive recently launched an App that allows you to access, edit, and create your documents all from your iPad. I have been experimenting with using the App for the past several days and like some things and dislike others. Here are some of my thoughts: The Pro's It is very easy to use and navigate. In order to use it, you obviously need a Gmail account. Obviously with Google Drive being an app, there are several differences from the web-based version of Google Drive. The interface is similar, but has a few minor differences. For example, editing is different than with the web version. In the web version, you simply open the document and can begin typing. With the Google Drive App, you have click on an icon labeled "Edit" and when you are finished, you need to click done. I really liked the ability to be able to acce

Simple Ways of Presenting with an iPad

Image
The other day, I had my students complete an assignment, where they had to research a particular topic and provide information using only pictures. The topic was specific, but the means to complete the project were broad. I did this intentionally to see how my students would utilize an iPad to solve this problem. Not only did they solve the problem and create excellent presentations, but they taught me a few tricks along the way! Here are some tips for creating iPad presentations without fancy programs and using only pictures. Use Jot! and Save Pictures to the Gallery My students used Jot! to import pictures and add a limited amount of text (for labeling purposes only). They took the pictures that they created and saved them in their gallery. My students wanted to place their pictures in a specific order, so that they could create a modified slide show. How did they do this? They saved the pictures, went into their photo gallery and chose the pictures they wanted to add to their

jabberPad on your iPad

Image
Just using iPads to use them is not very effective. Unfortunately, I have fell victim to this in the past. There has to be a purpose and it has to be more than a glorified laptop. Many educators want to use iPads in the classroom, but they don't feel comfortable using them effectively. They may feel that they need to know how to use multiple apps at a time to create a truly interactive lesson. Let's get rid of the "dog and pony show" mentality and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple....well you fill in the blank!). Perhaps you are introducing a lesson and you want your students to list what they already know about the topic. Then you want them to work collaboratively to brainstorm answers to a question. Maybe you also want to have students summarize what they have learned through a diagram. Then you want to wrap up your lesson by having your students create a "bumper sticker, defining a key concept and term with a picture and a slogan. You don't have to have multipl

Don't Forget About Me....Venn Diagrams That Is

Image
Do you have a reading assignment for your students this week? You may want to think about using an interactive graphic organizer. ReadWriteThink has a Venn Diagram tool , which makes it easy for your students to compare and contrast a particular topic. This past Friday, I gave a professional development presentation on web tools to enhance learning. The teachers in my group were really excited about this tool and reminded me of its importance! Venn Diagrams have been around since the beginning of time and we have made our fair share of copies for our students. However, paper copies of Venn Diagrams often limit the number of responses or the quality of our responses. ReadWriteThink's tool allows you to write a response and provide a detailed explanation in a user-friendly printed format! Do you want other ideas to enhance learning in your classroom? Check out my professional development page from this past Friday! 

Haiku is Not Just a Poem! It's an App!

Image
There aren't many options when making presentations on iPads. One free option is called Haiku Deck , which allows you to create dynamic presentations in an easy-to-use format. It allows you to "pitch an idea" in a fast and simple way.You can save / share your presentations on a computer by simply logging in, very much like Prezi. It also gives you the ability to share via Twitter or Facebook.  Haiku Deck is very similar to PowerPoint and Prezi because it allows users to manipulate the themes and layout of slides. The only thing that I didn't like was that the free version only contained five free themes. If you like a certain theme, then you have to purchase it. Most of the themes that I saw were $1.99.  If this seems discouraging, you can still add pictures by using the built in Internet search or taking your own picture on your iPad. When it is time to present, you simply hit a play button and slide your screen! It's a very user-friendly and easy way t

Do Games Really Have a Purpose?

Image
Some educators still cringe when they hear the word "games." It conjures up memories of when they were in school and their teachers berated classes with axioms like  "school and fun are not synonymous." Some educators feel that many games do not have a purpose. I agree. Do games have a purpose in education? In my opinion, absolutely. They have to be designed with for a purpose to have a purpose. Fast forward to the 21st century and many educators think games are the equivalent of a Jeopardy PowerPoint template. I hate to break it to you, but our kids are past that! Many of our students feel that PowerPoint Jeopardy is the equivalent of trading in their iPod for a Walkman. It's old school! Purpose Games is a site that allows you to create your own custom games or play existing games. It's free and all you need is a username and password. Do you want to create your own Geography game where students identify African countries ? Do you want your students

NOTE TO SELF: Try Evernote

Image
I've been hearing about Evernote for awhile now, but never had much of a use for it. The other day I downloaded the Evernot App, because I thought that I would see what all of the "hype" was all about. After spending about 15 minutes playing around with it, I was thoroughly impressed with its capabilities. Don't have an iPad? No problem! You can use the web-based program, download it to your iPhone, Android, or PC. Have you ever had a good idea and didn't have a piece of paper to write it down? Evernote gives you the ability to type it and save it. Did you ever have a good idea, but didn't have the time to write it or type it down? It allows you to speak your ideas and saves it as an audio file. Have you ever wanted to take a picture or video and save it for another day? Evernote allows you to record or take a picture and store it online. Evernote allows you to create and share notes, pictures, or videos and share them through Facebook, Twitter, Email, a

Jot! Down Your Ideas on Your iPad

Image
Just this past month, I read an article stating that schools are starting to buy more iPads than PC's . This isn't surprising. In fact, if you have been following Web 2.0 experts on Twitter, blogs, and other means of social media, you probably realize that this trend has been a long time coming.  I have been a little hesitant to discuss specific Apps on my blog because many schools are still holding out from buying iPads; however, like many of those other Web 2.0 experts, I am going to begin sharing different Apps than can be used in the classroom. As I begin to implement iPads in my classroom, I am going to try to share with you different Apps that might help. Hopefully we can learn together! Jot! is an iPad whiteboard that allows students to draw, diagram and collaborate on concepts on a whiteboard feature on their iPads. Students can share their diagrams and pictures with other students by clicking on "Live Sharing." It will prompt you to give it a "s

The World of Assistive Technologies

Image
I am currently going back to school again to learn more about Educational Technology and its impact on student learning. This past week, I explored the topic Assistive Technology and had an assignment to write for my class. I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone and share what I wrote with you. I had never given much thought to how AT could be used to not only provide access to the curriculum for students with disabilities, but all students as well. A good example of this is a program called Wynn Read. Wynn Read scans and reads text to students, highlighting the words it “reads” to help students follow along and increase readability. It can also be customized to meet student needs, such as changing the background to different colors, so that students to be able to concentrate and see better. All students can benefit from this program, particularly students with visual difficulties and reading difficulties. Cowrighter is a word prediction word processing pr

Newseum: A Tool for Current Events

Image
During my senior year of high school, I took a course called Contemporary Studies, which discussed weekly current events and how they impacted the US government and legal system. I remember one of the most enjoyable parts of the class was coming in and tearing into the newspapers to search and read about current events. My teacher was a legend and was known for bombarding his students with current events through newspaper and we loved it! I still have a fondness to the newspaper to this day. As I have moved into the classroom myself, I have always appreciated the value of a front page and the story that it tells to readers. Recently, I came across a site called Newseum , which allows you to browse the front pages of newspapers from around the country. Want to see what's the political climate in Alabama versus California? This site could help enhance your typical current event discussion and allow students to see firsthand the climate of the country. A Math teacher could have

Presidential Debate Materials and Lesson Plans

Image
As we enter the Presidential Election season of 2012, there are many issues to discuss and many decisions to debate. A perfect site to help lead the discussion in your classroom is from Lynn University (FL) called Debate2012 . The site offers a K-12 2012 debate curriculum options through its site. You can access all of this information on any Internet device, including your iPad. There are specific lesson plans available by grade, simply by clicking on this link . I really like that the site gives you lessons, activities, and materials, that are "kid" friendly and easy to use. There are video clips from NBC Learn that are of high quality, which do a great job at explaining the particular topic. If you teach at any grade level with anything dealing with American history, government, or economics, then this site is a must!

Using Bubbl.us to Collaborate

Image
Just this past week, I had the opportunity to work together with someone on a collaborative project using Bubbl.us . I've written about Bubbl.us in the past and have mentioned its capabilities as a brainstorming tool. No login or password is required. Simply go to the site, create, and export as a JPEG file. I never had a reason to work on a collaborative project using the site. Just recently I was able to work with another person as we compared and contrasted two topics. It was very simple to use and very easy to collaborate. What do you need to do this? Before you can begin collaborating, both people will need to have a Bubbl.us account. I show you how to set everything up in my latest installment of "What to Do in Just a Few"

ChemCollective

Image
When I was in school, I have to admit that I didn't take Chemistry very seriously. I was more concerned about lighting things on fire with a Bunsen burner than understanding the ins and outs of Chem 1. One of my colleagues (thanks Heather!) is an excellent Chemistry teacher, who gave me the link to a site called The ChemCollective , which was started by a group of staff and faculty from Carnegie Mellon University. It is a very unique site, which allows you to conduct "virtual labs." This may be a great way of doing more labs without spending too much on chemicals or a great way to reinforce a lab you have already done. All you need is the most up-to-date version of Java on your computer and you are ready to delve into the realms of Chemistry. Click on "Find and Activity" and you can explore labs on Chemical Equilibrium, Acids and Bases, and Thermochemistry. I noticed another section where you can watch video lectures and take online courses. Need a tutorial

Increase Your Gnowledge

A few months ago, one of the teachers that I worked with approached me about finding a website that gives online tests. We investigated a few different options, but always came up with the same problem: either it was free and you could only take a limited number of tests or you had to pay. Gnowledge allows you to create tests online for your students to take. You can generate tests online with or without a timer feature. It gives you the opportunity to analyze test results or use tests already created. The website says that as of 2012, there are over 2,000 tests available for users. Creating a test is very simple and just requires a log-in. I haven't had the chance to explore it too much, but tell me what you think!

You Are Your Words!

Image
How many times have you heard the expression "Watch what you say" or "You are your words!" When we think about these expressions, we often have a negative connotations of what the speaker is trying to say. We have to "tame our tongues" and "shut our traps." :) But what if the expression "You are your words," meant something different? What if kids got excited when you said this to them, instead of rolling their eyes? Well, today may be the day! You are Your Words is a very unique word cloud generator, giving students the chance to create a self portrait illustrated by words. Essentially, you become your words or your words become you.  The site makes it easy for you to combine the perfect picture with the perfect essay. Simply upload a picture of your choice and combine it with a text and you are ready to go. If you like Wordle or Tagxedo , this may be a great site for you to check out! I remember doing something very similar i

Putting the "Cool" Back in School

Image
As teachers, we are constantly trying to find ways to make our subject matter interesting, fun, and engaging. Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can't. Many of the science and math teachers that I know, struggle with this. They want to add some "fun" to class, but how can you make PEMDAS fun? It is what it is, right? Many of our old college professors gave us the advice that we shouldn't smile until November and by no means should we even laugh in class! School shouldn't be fun. Our kids must just deal with the fact that school is boring at times. I don't know about you, but I always struggled with this advice. Perhaps I'm not a good teacher or my personality isn't compatible with this approach. As I was exploring Pinterest this past weekend, I came across a site called Rhyme 'n Learn . It is created by a guy named Joe Ocando, who has taught hundreds of students math and science. He created the site to help create a different approach to learning

50 Best Apps for Back to School

It's back to school time! Our students will soon be filling our classrooms and schools with books, school supplies, and their SmartPhones. With all of the emphasis in the world of education on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), many schools are turning to students to bring their own laptops, iPads, or phones to use in school. So how can we better use that "pocket computer" that almost all of our students have? A great article was passed along to me by Jasmine called The 50 Best Smartphone Apps for Back to School . Maybe your school supports BYOD and maybe it doesn't, bu the information contained in this article is relevant to all. If you would also like to be featured as a guest blogger or have a story idea, please  email me  for details.

Analytics InfoGraphic

How do analytics and student data even relate? A few days ago, I was approached by Tess to feature an infographic that she created on this very topic. I was amazed to find that analytics, which I normally associate with ecommerce and business, can be used in an academic sense. So the question is, how does it work? Tess' infographic gives an indepth analysis of this important feature of our children's education in the future. It's an interesting way of seeing how the future will look. Check it out! http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/learning-analytics-infographic/ If you would also like to be featured as a guest blogger, please email me for details. 

Tools for Tutoring Students

Image
Tutoring and helping our students achieve has always had a focus in education. When I was in school, the main focus was on "peer" tutoring or on the dedicated teachers who would stay after school to help you. When I first started getting into teaching, organizations like Sylvan Learning Center were starting to gain a lot of steam to help students "catch up." We also live in the age of the "super-involved" student, who may not be able to tutor on a  regular school schedule. Due to the needs of our students and society, tutoring has evolved and is continuing to evolve. The emergence of technology has improved the opportunities we are giving our students, but in many ways we are still trying to figure it out. Opportunities exist everywhere! From cell phones to iPads to laptops, our students can now "view on demand" lessons to receive that extra help. It's what has made Khan Academy, such a valuable resource in the educational community today

Resources for Teachers from Teachers

It must be the nature of teaching, but we enter the year with an anticipation and willingness to try new ideas and technologies. Then December hits and well....we begin to lack motivation! With this eagerness and anticipation of a new school year, here are some resources for you that have been passed along to me from some of the best in the field:  1. 100+ Video Sites Every Educator Should Bookmark - Emma Taylor found this excellent article written by Alvina Lopez, which gives you tons of resources for sharing video in class. Does your school block YouTube? This may be a great article to check out, so that you are able to show video clips without taking the YouTube route! 2. Instant Classroom - Heather Dougherty shared this cool classroom management tool with me. Instant Classroom provides a way of randomly making groups, randomly calling on students with a random name generator, and provides a tool for making seating charts (if you need the software to do this). 3. Speed Ma

Full Steam VocabAhead!

Image
As we begin the school year over the next few weeks, many of our students are studying for their SAT's or maybe they have forgotten some of their vocabulary words over the summer. Imagine that! :)  How do we help these students remember or study for their SAT's? Research has shown us that representing materials in multiple ways is an effective strategy to reinforce knowledge and learning. Research has also shown us that students need to have at least 6 meaningful interactions with vocabulary words to reinforce its use and meaning. A great resource for you to use is VocabAhead . There are several unique features to this website. Although mostly geared to a secondary audience, there is a feature to create your own customized vocabulary list for your students (according to grade level). Vocab ahead provides a short video explaining the definition of a word and an example explaining its use. You can pick individual vocabulary words to show to your students through a simple

Wiggio is a Great Collaboration and Study Tool

Image
Education is shifting from a five day a week 8 am to 3 pm venture to a 24-7-365 enterprise. How do we give students options to learn beyond the school day? How can we give students opportunities to collaborate with study groups? How can we give students in our classrooms opportunities to learn through working in groups online? Wiggio may be a great tool to accomplish all of these things. You can set up private study groups, where students can collaborate, review, and learn material. You can use Wiggio's calendar feature to create a group calendar. You can help groups of students manage tasks through the To-Do List feature. You can give your students the opportunity to have virtual meetings, where they can meet from home instead of the local coffee shop. There is a polling feature that allows you to quickly poll a group about options for tomorrow's class. Instead of sending 200 emails, you can use the Shared Files feature to share documents, PowerPoints, etc. Instead of sendin

A Great Site for Worksheets

Image
The summer is always a great time to recharge and get ready for the next school year. We may catch up on our reading, attend workshops, or find new resources to use in our classrooms. One such resource was passed along to me by a colleague (Thanks Eric!). It is called WorksheetWorks , which offers you hundreds of free worksheets in a variety of subject areas (Math, English, Geography, Misc.). There are worksheets on writing, parts of speech, addition/subtraction, geography, word searches, etc. This site allows you to create customized PDF worksheets from existing templates and even provides a key! This seems to be a great resource for elementary and middle school teachers, however, high school teachers may want to check this out too!

Special Guest Post: Jeff Swisher on KidBlog

Image
Over the past few weeks, I have been on the road.  Today I am going to be in Columbus, Indiana to make a presentation! Because of this busy schedule, I have asked several of my UDL students to make guest posts. Jeff Swisher is one of my former students. Jeff is a young teacher who is passionate about incorporating technology into his classroom. He really has some great ideas! Take it away Jeff!  One of the great challenges I have always faced in teaching is finding enough time to have my students reflect on what they have read.  I can never get through as many guided reading groups as a plan to in a day because my students are so eager to share their thoughts on our current book.  While that is a great problem to have, it does slow down our progress through books.  So how can I allow students to reflect in a structured environment, and still get through guided reading groups at a faster pace? The best solution I have found so far is Kidblog .  Kidblog is a website that allows

Special Guest Post: Lora Varvel and iPads

Image
Here's a special guest post from first grade teacher,  Lora L. Varvel! Lora was one of my graduate students who has an exciting opportunity to lead an iPad initiative! Check it out:  About mid way through the 2011-2012 school year, my classroom was given one iPad to use with my students. I decided to use it with various reading and math fact practice apps in a center during guided reading time. This worked out well and my students enjoyed it.             But, as we started our unit on safety I began to think about how we could use the iPad in a different way. I decided to group students in pairs to create an iMovie safety video as a culminating activity. I created a form that the students used to record their idea. Once they wrote their idea they came to me for approval. They then used the form to create dialog that the two of them would say to show an instance when their safety rule would apply. At the end of each skit they had to say together while looking in the came

Simple Chat Room Service

Image
A few years ago, I was teaching a graduate class and had to cancel a full day due to snow storms. I was looking for a way to have class virtually through a chat room. At the time, there weren't many free services out there. In fact, finding a service without paying an arm and a leg was virtually impossible. I just recently came across a site called ChatFoo , which creates a temporary chat room for you to use. Simply go to the website and click on the "Start New Chat" icon, you will be able to create your own private room. This may be a helpful place to have study help available for your students. It could also be useful if you wanted to facilitate an online discussion with your students in a computer lab setting. It may also be useful if you wanted to chat with a guest speaker. In order to get others to participate, they will need to have the link to the chat room. This appears in the top-right-hand corner of your screen under "Share this Room." You are also

Create Your Own Virtual Field Trip

Image
Many of us are traveling all around the country / world this summer. Why not use your photos to provide your students with a virtual field trip? Mapwing is a site that allows you to take your photos and create an interactive virtual tour. You can add interactive maps, images and comments. There are many examples of virtual tours in the Explore section. There are many different examples in this section. There are photos of Apple's Corporate Headquarters and even a tour of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. You could even use this for personal use. There are several virtual tours of homes that are for sale! Creating your own tour is very simple. Just keep in mind that you do have to have a username and password to create your own personal tour.  Even if you don't have your own photos, you may want to even consider using Google images to help your students.

K-W-L Charts Made Easy

Image
KWL Charts are nothing new. In fact, many educators use them on a regular basis because they are excellent tools to recruit student interest and help students take responsibility in their learning. Like any classroom tool, the more "on the ball" the teacher is when monitoring its use, the more successful the learning outcome will be. Engaging students in our classrooms is critical to their success. Sure, we can't make everything a "dog and pony show" or do a song and dance, but we can teach them how to develop as a learner. A KWL chart is a great way to help students organize their thoughts and summarize information. If you are not familiar with what KWL means: K - What I already Know (about the topic) W - What I Want to Know/Learn (great questions to ask before learning / reading about the topic) L - What I Learned (a great post-assessment question to be completed after learning has taken place) The low-tech way of creating a KWL chart is by usi

Power Paragraph Organizer

Image
You either like it or you don't. What am I talking about? I am talking about writing. Many of our students struggle with writing prompts and writing assignments, due to the nature that they do not like or understand how to write a paragraph. I was listening to a Wall Street Journal podcast the other day and they had mentioned that many employers are concerned about the deterioration of writing in the workplace. We live in the era of texting, emails, and tweeting. How in the world do we get our students to write a simple paragraph? Here is a modification that you could make for ALL students in your classroom. I have modified the original document to better fit students within my classroom. I call it the Power Paragraph Organizer. It is a color coded sheet of paper that ALL students could use, not just our learning support students. It is divided into 3 different sections: Red = where students write the main idea Green = where students write the details of the paragraph  Blue