You Are Your Words!

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 in art class years ago. In a way I think its really neat how much technology has changed. In another way I am a little upset because my hand still hurts from all of the writing I had to do in high school!

Putting the "Cool" Back in School

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 through rap.

Many of you may not be big "rap fans," but this site has a lot of potential to reach many of our students. Going back to my PEMDAS example....I found a video that was created just for the topic. I have to admit that it was hilarious and educational at the same time! The video provided the lyrics at the bottom of the screen and showed how to work through the problem.

As I continued to work through the site, I found great examples for science and math students of all ages. Even if you are not a math or science teacher, it may be worth the time to go through the site. I know as a business teacher, I am planning on using many of the math videos. One health teacher I know is planning on using a video created about how the heart works.

If you would also like to be featured as a guest blogger or have a story idea, please email me for details.

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!

If you would also like to be featured as a guest blogger, please email me for details. 

Tools for Tutoring Students

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. How do we make it work in our situation?

I recently got an email making me aware of an article about the 25 Tools that Will Take Tutoring to the Next Level (thanks Larry!).  In the digital age that we live in, it's very important to think about reaching students in different ways. Have you ever thought about using Skype, Google+, or Face Time as a tutoring tool? This free technology is now making it possible.

Have you ever heard of IDroo, a free online whiteboard, where you can diagram and share information over the Internet? Have you ever thought of providing your students with an online social learning community called EduFire, where students can chat with tutors, study flashcards, and watch educational videos about different topics? Are you a foreign language teacher and in need of a valuable teaching resource? Perhaps you may want your students to use Interlangua, where they can learn and interact with your language in different ways?

Learning in the 21st century is continuing to evolve, but the goal is still the same...helping students learn! How we help our students may vary according to their needs, ability, and background. By providing different opportunities to represent, interact with, and engage in material, we are giving our students valuable opportunities to succeed.

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 Match Quiz Game - we always hear that games make learning fun and provide the necessary engagement to help kids learn. The Speed Match Quiz Game is a tool to help you create your own customized game, where students match questions and answers.

4. Time Me - I know that I have already written about this tool, but one of my former students Margaret shared this tool with me. It's a free online timer that requires no software downloads and is very easy to use.

5. Class Dojo - my most recent graduate class put this tool on our "Cool Websites" section of our class website. Class Dojo is a unique way of keeping track of the individual performance and behavior of students in your class. You can instantly record data on your phone, laptop, computer, or iPad. This is a great way of helping students manage their behavior, while effortlessly keeping track of documentation for parents, teachers, administrators, and your records.

If you have any ideas or would like to serve as a guest blogger, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Full Steam VocabAhead!

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 search or you can have your students head to the SAT/ACT study room, where they can watch vocab specific videos, test their knowledge with a quiz, or review vocabulary words in the form of flashcards. There is even a GRE list teachers preparing to go to graduate school!

There are extra features to help enhance the learning experience too! Teachers can even embed a widget to their website or blog. They can even receive a "word of the day" daily email.

If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to serve as a guest blogger, please email me for more details!


Wiggio is a Great Collaboration and Study Tool

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 sending a massive amount of text messages, Facebook messages, or making a large number of phone calls, you can use Wiggio's message feature.

This is a really unique tool that allows you to impact learners in many different ways, as well as giving your students tools to enhance the learning/studying process. It is very easy to use and very easy to set up. Check out how people are already using Wiggio here! 

If you would like to be a "guest blogger," please feel free to contact me

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