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Showing posts from 2013

Rethinking and Recharging Your Battery for 2014: Do What You Can...Where You are At (Part 1)

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I always enjoy how the holiday break gives us a chance to reflect, recharge, and re-engage at the halfway point of the year. Many of us use this time to catch up with family, read a great book, or plan some new technology ideas for the new year. Here are some ideas on how you can become more tech-savvy in the new year! 1. Join Twitter Twitter has literally changed the way that I operate as a teacher. Whenever I needed ideas in the past, I would spend hours searching through Google. Now I ask my PLC on Twitter! There are literally millions of other like-minded educators like yourself, sharing ideas, participating in Twitter chats, etc. Why not try it out? There are some great chats out there! I personally love #21stedchat on Sunday evenings from 8 - 9 pm EST. Who knows? You might learn something! :) 2. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Teachers are creatures of habit. We often feel the need to  have all of the answers and maintain control at all times. In a fast-paced technology-dr

Are You a One and Done? Using iPads to Get Learning and Get Social (Part 3)

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Are you a one and done? Are you an educator who uses only one App per educational experience, meeting the needs of some and ignoring the needs of others? In this series, I am continuing to explore how you can use multiple Apps to address the needs of ALL learners. In other words, how do you Universally Design an iPad experience? My previous post discussed how to provide options for reading on an iPad . Today I want to show you how to turn learning into a social activity through a recipe of three free Apps.  Ingredient # 1: Get Brainstorming with iBrainstorm Making connections with new material often begins with activating background knowledge. Recently, I had my students use a free App called iBrainstorm, to generate  a list of three things they already knew about a particular topic.  Students used the App to write ideas by hand or create typed post-it notes.. When they were finished, they got up and began to mingle with other classmates, swapping and sharing their ideas unti

Are You a One and Done? Using iPads to Help ALL Students READ (Part 2)

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Are you a one and done? Are you an educator who uses only one App per educational experience, meeting the needs of some and ignoring the needs of others? In this series, I am continuing to explore how you can use multiple Apps to address the needs of ALL learners. In other words, how do you Universally Design an iPad experience? Let's begin with a topic that we all have to do in our classrooms. How do you use iPads to give reading assignments that meet the needs of all learners? Ingredient # 1: PDF Copy of Text I had a student named Omri, who had difficulty seeing text. Whenever we had an article to read in class, I began creating a PDF copy of the text for him. I noticed that many other students liked this idea too. Why not use the tools associated with Adobe reader to help students zoom, highlight, and add notes? Ingredient # 2: Voice Record Pro  I had another student named Jamar, who had trouble concentrating whenever reading assignments. He found it easier to liste

Are You a One and Done? Using iPads to Help ALL Students Learn (Part 1)

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On Monday, December 16th, I will be making a presentation at the Capital Area IU (Harrisburg, PA) for their 2nd Annual iPad Summit titled Don't Be a One and Done. This presentation has inspired this series! I hope you find the ideas helpful! Introduction :  iPads have been a game-changer in education for many years, but the way that you use this device can have lasting impacts on the way students learn. How would you describe your "iPad Philosophy"? Are you using iPads as a tool to help ALL students learn? OR are you just trying to keep up with the latest fad? Be careful how you answer! You might be a One and Done or an educator who takes a one-size-fits-all approach to iPad usage.  You might use only one App per educational experience to address the learning needs of some, but neglect the needs of others. Are you thinking of the needs of some or all of your students? Are you Universally Designing your iPad experience? Avoiding the Mistakes of a One and Done

Tools for Reflecting: 5 Web Tools for Reflecting #UDL Style

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How do you have your students reflect? Reflecting on learning is extremely important at any level. Many teachers turn to journal reflection, which is an excellent way of promoting student thought. Here are a few of my favorite reflection tools: Penzu – is a free online journal students can use to reflect on their thoughts through text and adding pictures. Their journal can be password protected and shared via email. Wikispaces – many of the graduate courses that I have taken in the past have used this platform as a reflection tool. I like the fact that you can reflect and also multimedia to your reflection pages. VoiceThread – have students add their thoughts and comment on other student’s thoughts through the power of voice, pictures, and text. The only thing that I don’t like is that there are limits on how many free threads you can make. AudioBoo – have students reflect on their learning through the power of voice. They can use AudioBoo to voice their thoughts and

Guest Blogger Rob Donatelli - An Hour of Code? You Game?

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This week's guest post comes from a good friend of mine, Rob Donatelli, who is a Business and Computer Science teacher at Dallastown Area High School .    He teaches accounting, entrepreneurship, sales, web page design, and life skills. Connect with him on Twitter @DTown_MrD and say hello! December 9-15 marks computer science education week in our nation. Computer Science Education Week.org has partnered with Code.org, Scratch, Tynker, LightBot, and other successful programming and coding wizards such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and others alike to create fun, engaging, and interactive web based tutorials that teach students the basics of programming and coding. Their mission is for ALL teachers during the week to take ONE HOUR of CODE time out of their usual lessons to let students walk through the tutorials and learn how to program a game, app, holiday card, and much more! At the end of the hour, students can print a certificate that states they completed one hour of co

Tools for Reflecting: Creating a Positive Classroom Environment with a Post-It Note?

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How can you use post-it notes and mints to create a positive classroom environment? A few months ago, a student of mine asked to have a mint from a jar in my room. After letting this student take a mint, I noticed that this became a daily habit for many of my students. I soon ran out of mints and many of these students demanded (rather nicely) that I fill my jar with more. Being the softy that I am, I caved in an bought more mints; however, I had an idea of how they could "pay" for the mints that they took (this is where the post-it notes come in!). I decided that I would make a thankful tree in my room with one simple rule: if you take a mint, you have to write something that you are thankful for. I would have the students put the notes on the door of my classroom and soon it began to fill. Where did I get this idea?  Several years ago, I was a teacher at another school and was inspired by a student of mine. This student's world was falling a part, leaving her

Tools for Reflecting: Create a Thankful Garden with AnswerGarden

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In the month of December, I want to continue sharing inspiring ideas in 140 words or less!  I'm also continuing Clicks for a Cause because I want to help raise more money for Ayden and his family!  I wanted to a moment to wish all of my readers a happy holiday season.  Many of us use this time of year to reflect and give thanks! Why not incorporate this theme into your lessons? Over the next few posts, I want to share some ideas to create an atmosphere of thanks and reflection. The rewards are amazing and can change an entire classroom environment. Jamie teaches French and wanted to give her students a way of practice using the language (in a creative way) to share what they were thankful for. She used an online brainstorming / word cloud tool called AnswerGarden to engage hers students in a different way, inspiring them to share and brainstorm answers. Not only did her kids enjoy the activity, it provided students with the “hook” needed to practice using the la

140 or Less: Changing Action and Expression with Tellegami (Part 2)

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The last five minutes of class can often a difficult time period to plan for because students often use this time to complete homework, pack up materials and socialize. One teacher has artfully combined exit tickets with Tellegami to use this time more effectively. Students use this free App to record a 30 second Gami of the top three things they learned from class that day. Their Gami, a combination of a cartoon and voice recording, can be shared via email, social media, or embedding into a website. Students email this Gami to their teacher as a way to check for understanding; however, the best part is that the “best” Gami is reused. This teacher embeds it on their website and shares with students who might have been absent, didn’t understand the topic, or just needed a brief reminder.  NOVEMBER IS CLICK FOR A CAUSE MONTH! Check out a recent article about Ayden! Posts for the month of November are dedicated to a little boy named Ayden Murray from Wrightsville, P

#UDL + Del Val + LiveBinders = Creativity

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It's always fun going back to your old stomping grounds. Tonight was especially fun because I got to meet a group of future teachers at my Alma Mater,  Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I quickly grew attached to this group of college juniors and seniors. It was refreshing to see such a young group of adults, so passionate and willing to invest their own time to attend a free workshop designed to help all students learn. I applaud their efforts to impact their future students. So what did we do? We played "chef" and cooked up some recipes on how to use LiveBinders to help all students learn. From reading assignments to providing supports, we looked at ways to eliminate barriers and provide students with access to learning. If you would like to see some of the recipes we "cooked" up, check out my website . Do you have more ideas on how to use LiveBinders? Email me some of your ideas! NOVEMBER IS CLICK F

140 or Less: Changing Action and Expression with Tellegami (Part 1)

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  I love getting ideas with other like-minded educators, who are passionate about UDL and technology. Earlier today I was emailed by Scott, a principal from Minnesota, who told me about an App called Tellegami. Over the next few posts, I will share with you some ideas on how you can incorporate this cool App into your classroom. In 140 words or less, of course!  What is it? Tellegami is a way to share animated messages (called Gamis) through your Smart device through Facebook, Twitter, Email, or texting. You can customize your character, change their mood, customize the background, type a message, and record up to 30 seconds of your voice with just a few swipes.  Hmm…  To show you how easy this is to use, I created my own Gami (below)! Check out my future posts! Thanks Scott!   NOVEMBER IS CLICK FOR A CAUSE MONTH! Posts for the month of November are dedicated to a little boy named Ayden. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is at Hershey Medical Cen

140 or Less: Collaborative Note Taking Through PowToon (Part 3)

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Collaboration is a buzzword in education and with good reason. It helps our students prepare for tomorrow! In the past, I have created collaborative note taking experiences through Google Presentations. I assigned each group a slide containing a particular set of questions and they were supposed to add to the slide. Due to permission difficulties within my school, this experience is no longer a possible. With this same idea in mind, I creatively substitute PowToon as a way for my students to collaborate.  I broke students into groups and assigned each trio the task of creating a brief presentation on a section of our outline. They shared their link on Edmodo and presented their material to the class. Their classmates filled out their note outlines and I acted as a facilitator, asking questions, and highlighting major topics. 

140 or Less: How Fox Sports 1 Changed How I Use PowToon (Part 2)

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If you ever watched Fox Sports 1, you may notice that they have a news feed that is titled “3 Things You Should Know,” which communicates a brief summary of the 3 most important sports happenings of the day. It made me think some ways to use PowToon and the “3 Things You Should Know” idea in my class: Create a PowToon about 3 current events currently happening in your subject area. Play it at the beginning of class as students begin taking their seats. You will be amazed by the engagement! From getting a pencil out to handing in homework, communicate beginning of class instructions through PowToon!  Have your students create their own “3 Things You Should Know” about the topic covered in class that day. It is a great way to gauge understanding! NOVEMBER IS CLICK FOR A CAUSE MONTH! Posts for the month of November are dedicated to a little boy named Ayden. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is at Hershey Medical Center receiving treatment.  For ev

140 or Less: #PowToon (Part 1)

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For my next couple of series, I plan on inspiring you to use new technologies in 140 words or less, because I want to challenge myself to say more with less. Start counting now! A few weeks ago, I had discussed putting together a toolbox of UDL friendly tools for students to use. Powtoon is a new presentation tool I plan on adding to my toolbox.  What Is It? Think of Powtoon as a completely online cross between PowerPoint and Movie Maker, where you can add many of the same presentation elements (text, pictures, animations, sounds, etc.) into your presentation. A New Way of Engagement Several weeks ago, I had given my students and assignment. Create a presentation using any medium of your choice. One of my students created a knock out presentation using this free program. Not only is it easy to use, but it engages students in a new way. Now everyone wants to try it! How can you use it? Stay tuned!  NOVEMBER IS CLICK FOR A CAUSE MONTH! Posts for

You Don't Have to Be an Expert, But Know Where to Look - iPad Apps to Help (Part 2)

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In this series, I would like to continue sharing some more simple ideas to bring experts into your room without much time or effort. Skype OR FaceTime  Engaging our students differently requires looking at different pathways to gauge their interests. For example, you could read about a particular topic or you could find someone to serve as a guest teacher through Skype. Which method will engage the most students? My students and I are discussing the importance of how entrepreneurs capitalize on simple ideas. Instead of reading about it, I chose to take a different approach. I reached out to 1800 GOT JUNK CEO Brian Scudamore and asked for his help. I wanted him to share his story of how he started all three of his companies. Not only did he tell his story, but he also took Q & A from my kids. It is amazing how using Skype or FaceTime is much more appealing to experts in the field. It is easier for them to take 30 minutes out of their schedule to talk versus three hours t