Timelines Made Easy with TimeToast

When I was in third grade, my family and I moved during a snow storm from upstate New York to Corpus Christi, Texas. It was quite a culture and weather shock! Just imagine doing your Christmas shopping in shorts and a t-shirt! However, I really enjoyed living there, but eventually moved away in the fall of my fifth grade year. I will never forget the fact that they didn't teach American history. Instead, they taught Texas history! Give me a date and I'll tell you its significance to Texas...1836, 1845, etc. anyone? 

I smile at it now, but memorizing dates was not a very fun task. Drawing a timeline was one of the best ways that I could learn the information. My classmates and I would often grab a piece of construction paper to draw out a timeline and populate it with dates of significance. Do you remember those days?

Timelines are still effective for understanding the sequence and significance of certain dates, but the tools have changed. Tools like TimeToast are giving teachers and students the ability to create a simple timeline that is easy to create.  Its simple interface give students the ability to quickly add dates, provide a brief description, and add pictures. I really like the unique feature to switch between the timeline view (traditional timeline) or go to the text view (chart). The timeline view is filled with dots that represent each date. Students can click on a date dot and even expand the event title for a more descriptive analysis of the event. The text view create an organized chart that gives an event title, description, date, and even picture.

You can search through existing timelines or you can create a brand new one. Try this easy to use timeline out and let me know what you think. Also, please let me know of other timeline sites that you have already tried.

Make Math Fun With Math Games

It's tough to motivate students at times, but motivating Math students can be even more difficult. Using games is a great way to motivate students, while teaching them valuable math skills. Here are a few resources to help our Math teachers:

1. Mangahigh is a game-based-learning site that teaches students valuable math skills, while playing games. According to the site each game adapts to the needs of students in order to appropriately challenge students according to their needs. The site contains a variety of Math games for students in elementary to high school. Although there is a paid version of the site, it contains a free version that can help students learn.

2. CarrotSticks is an online multi-player gaming site for Math students in grades 1 - 5, where students can compete against others or play an individual game. The free version gives students the opportunities to practice basic math skills, while the paid version does have some more advanced features. CarrotSticks is very unique because it combines social learning with a structured step-by-step approach.

Flip Through Virtual Pages with These Tools

I love the sound of the crisp pages of a book flipping. In fact, it's what caused me to hold off reading eBooks. I finally succumbed to the convenience and flexibility of my iPad and the iTunes store; however, a part of me wants to still feel the nostalgia of flipping pages. I came across a site called FlipSnack that converts PDF files into a "flipping book."

First, upload a PDF file or a URL to FlipSnack. You could take a workbook, article, or set of directions and convert them into a book! Next, you can customize your book in many different ways. Do you want to change the background color, size, or even allow your PDF to be downloaded? Finally, it's time to publish and share with others. In the free version, you can share your book via URL, Facebook, Twitter, or email. In the Premium version, you can embed or download the document.

After doing some research on similar tools, I found another site called Issuu that does the same thing; however, it gives you the opportunity to convert PDF files into magazines! How great is that? I can just imagine some of you using this for class projects or sharing newsletters with parents!

Try it out and let me know if you like it! What will you use it for?

PETE&C Technologies

PETE&C has not been a disappointment this year. We have had several experts presenting on a variety of different topics. Here are some of the cool technologies that some of the experts have discussed.

  • Learn.st - is a great alternative to Pintrest because it is geared toward education. Many teachers love Pintrest, but have found that it can contain some non-educational distractions. Learn.st is a great free alternative to use. 
  • Jogtheweb -is a web tool where you can create a "synchronous guide to a series of web sites." It has a unique approach of taking users through websites, allowing the author to "annotate and ask guiding questions."  It is very similar to webquests. 
  • Nearpod - is a unique way to create interactive presentations. As a teacher, you create a presentation and use the Nearpod App to share it with students. Students can interact with your presentation and submit responses via a mobile device like an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. Nearpod gives you real-time feedback from students, which essentially guide instruction and discussion. 
  • Dlvr.it - want to schedule tweets or posts? Dlvr.it allows users to schedule postings or tweets with a click of a mouse. Not only does it schedule posts and tweets, it also provides statistics and up-to-date information to see who is seeing and not seeing your content. Check out some other things it can do here

Unfortunately, this was only a small portion of the great information shared by presenters! On a personal note, I was very impressed with the caliber of presenters this year @ PETE&C. Great job presenters and organizers!

Show Some Love for Symbaloo

Let me tell you a quick story. When I was in high school, I was unsure of what profession I wanted to go into. I thought that I would go into hotel management like my dad and took a few business classes during my senior year to get a head start. It was during this time period, when I fell in love with Business Education. With the encouragement and support of my teacher, Mrs. Jerry Guttman, I took the plunge and majored in Business Secondary Education. 

I am pleased to say that Mrs. "G" still has a major influence on my career today. In fact, I was able to visit her amazing school store at Manheim Township High School (Lancaster, PA) just a few years ago to get some ideas for my own school. Without her help, I wouldn't be half the teacher I am today. Thanks Mrs. G!  Just recently, she contacted me to let me know of a cool site called Symbaloo, which is a great alternative to Delicious, Google Bookmarks and Diigo.

If you are like me, you want something that is easy to use with an easy to use interface. Symbaloo incorporates both in its "tile interface." You can categorize your tiles into collections called Webmixes. For example, if you wanted to create a Web 2.0 webmix, you can add your own sites or add sites from others. When you bookmark a site, it becomes a tile. When you click on the tile, you will be able to access your site. The drag and drop tile interface is very easy to navigate and interact with your bookmarks in a visual way. 

It also incorporates a widget called Centerbox, which gives you the opportunity to conduct a Google Search from the page. I have only used Symbaloo for a few days, but I can say that I may delete my Delicious account. 

View Pure: A Great Way to Watch YouTube Videos Without the Junk

I love meeting technology integrators from various parts of the country. Today I was able to spend some time with some incredible educators at PETE&C. It is through these dedicated educators that I learn so much!

My new friend Anne told me about a site called View Pure, which allows you to watch YouTube videos without all of the junk, meaning without comments, suggestions, and other stuff. She said that it was a great way of bypassing a filter to watch only the requested YouTube video.

How do you use it? There are two basic ways. Copy and paste the YouTube URL to ViewPure. Click Create and it generates a unique URL.

There is a "Purify" button that you can drag onto your bookmarks toolbar. When you visit your YouTube page, click the button and you will generate your ViewPure URL.

So put it on your website, share it through a tweet, and get your students watching!

Socrative + Edmodo = Cool Classroom Discussion

A few weeks ago, I had talked with @linlin8  (who by the way is an amazing teacher and blogger!) on Twitter. She gave me the idea of using an App called Socrative for my classes. It gives teachers the opportunity to poll and quiz students in real time, simply by having them use a computer, iPad, or mobile device. Teachers set up a unique classroom, where they can get a variety of responses from students. I like the fact that you can either prepare questions in advance or use it on the fly. The best part is that you can have the program send feedback, responses, etc. to your inbox! I finally got to use it today and I used the short answer feature, which I will explain below; however, you can use the multiple choice, true / false, and even design quizzes.

My students just finished a reading assignment from yesterday, where they completed a graphic organizer to keep track of significant sentences and phrases from the text. As students came into my classroom today, I had them bring their graphic organizers and divide into discussion groups. Each discussion group was assigned an iPad, where they documented their conversations and favorite quotes on the Edmodo App.

As groups finished writing their responses on Edmodo, I had each group read the recorded responses of other groups. As students were finishing, I had them use the Socrative App to "vote" for the best quote and provide a reason why, which they recorded as a short answer question in the App. This provided a way of stimulating conversation among the class and enhancing learning!

We did this for several rounds and had each person take turns using the iPads (since we only have 10 in my room). It was a unique way of not being a "one and done" aka only using 1 app and then let the iPads gather dust.

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