More Cool Tools for Schools

8297369596Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I learned about some great tools and upgrades that I am happy to share with you.

First off is Pixiclip which I heard about from Richard Byrne’s Practical EdTech Guide. Pixiclip is like a marriage of an online whiteboard and Screencastify or Quick Time or Jing. You get my point. It is your online tool for making whiteboard explainer videos. What is great about it is that it starts recording as soon as you start working on the whiteboard. You can type, draw, and record yourself or your microphone. You can upload your own images and then mark them up while recording your mouse movements. It’s not only great for teachers to use but for students as well.

Next up are two great extensions from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller, two names you should remember from my previous post about the #DitchSummit among other mentions. From Alice Keeler comes Slideshot, a Chrome extension that takes a screenshot of your work once a minute (or you can do it manually) and then creates a slide presentation of those images. For your students, it is a great way to see their progress in a time-lapse sort of way. You may remember my mentioning Slideshot before the winter break but it is worth mentioning it again because it works so nicely with this next extension created by Keeler and Miller. DriveSlides takes photos from a folder in your Google Drive and automatically creates a Slides presentation with them. Miller explains how it can be used and gives great, step-by-step instructions in both video and text formats that you can read about here.

This afternoon, at precisely 12:03 when my TechCrunch email arrived in my inbox, I heard about a new FREE digital storytelling app from Google called Toontastic 3D. Yes, that’s right, 3-D. Using Toontastic 3D kids can draw pictures, animate, insert images, and narrate while moving their characters around the screen to make their story come alive. What makes this app even more exciting are the story arc options kids can choose from to plot our their tale. From “family flicks” to “social lessons”, “cooking shows” to “documentaries” and more, there are a variety of ways for students to tell their story. In just a handful of steps – literally 5 – you can go from ideas to export.

Just when you thought Google couldn’t get any better comes an upgrade to Google Classroom that I think teachers are going to love! In the past teachers had to post assignments to everyone in their class; now teachers can assign to individual or small groups of students. This is something that I personally know my colleagues love about Edmodo, now they can differentiate in Classroom as well.

Coming Soon: Classroom-Changing Learning Opportunities

10066382993Beginning Monday, January 9 the HyperDocs girls, Lisa, Sarah, and Kelly, are hosting a one month HyperDocs bootcamp. Learn about planning, designing, building engaging blended lessons for your students so you can free up your time for more classroom interactions. Click here for more information and to sign up.

For those who missed the #DitchSummit during the winter break, for a limited time only, the videos and supporting materials will be available for 1 week beginning January 12th. Click here to subscribe. Watch 1 or 2, or watch them all, but hurry before time runs out!

Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning and the MCIU are hosting four Google Edu classroom and content-specific workshops starting the end of January through the end of February. Great for elementary through secondary education teachers.

Make time for awesome!

Happy New Year of Learning!

75052863082016 came to a close with an inspiring list of educators brought together in what was called #DitchSummit by Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook. As mentioned in my pre-break post, each day between December 18-24 a new video was released along with notes and relevant links.

Speakers I viewed included

  1. Mike Soskil who spoke of the importance of giving students opportunities to solve real problems and making global connections by Skyping or doing the 5-Clue Challenge;
  2. Alice Keeler who discussed homework and asked,”Does homework inspire kids to love learning?”;
  3. Kasey Bell who discussed the creative ways you and your students can be using the GSuite for Education tools (formerly known as Google Apps for Ed) and how GSuite makes it easy for parents to stay connected and informed;
  4. the HyperDocs Girls- Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, and Kelly Amick Hilton (while I did not watch this particular presentation, I did watch their recent presentation during Google Edu On Air and they are always worth mentioning);
  5. Paul Solarz who challenged teachers to give over some control to students for a student-led classroom, and allow our students the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Additionally, Solarz talked about beginning with the end in mind, part of The Leader in Me program.
  6. John Spencer who wrote the book, LAUNCH and discussed making and creativity using the LAUNCH cycle, a design-thinking process in your classroom; and
  7. Dave Burgess , the original Teaching-Pirate, who talked about teaching with passion, making our content sizzle, and creating a classroom our students want to enter each day.

Each speaker shared their passion for educating children and will motivate you to be the best you can be so that your students can be the best they can be.

These days I use Twitter for the dual purpose of taking notes and sharing information and then pull it all together using Storify. You can view my Storify here.

Happy New Year!

The Holidays are Coming Early: 8 Great Gifts for Teaching & Learning

29142130081_c3b12cb7af_mWith this being the last post before the winter holiday break, I am packing a lot in to this week’s share. Please read and enjoy over the break and think about how you can try to incorporate some of these into your classroom in the coming year.

Monday was a great day! I opened my inbox to see a message from Alan November about his most recent TEDx talk, “What is the Value of a Teacher”. I love to read or listen to anything from Alan November so I spent the first 20 minutes of my day watching the video and tweeting several points. You can see my Storify here.

“It is the job of the teacher to redesign the assignment to harness the power of the web” ~Alan November

One of the topics Alan spoke about is making thinking visible and he used Prism Scholars Lab as an example. Prism Scholars Lab is for “‘crowdsourcing interpretations'” and allows you to paste text and then ask three interpretive questions (facets) about that text. Your students then work synchronously or asynchronously and anonymously (so students may feel more comfortable sharing) using three different highlighters on that text based on how you have set the parameters. In real time you can see how the text changes based on how they are responding. You will literally see their thinking.

You can watch this video from the EdTech Teacher about how teachers can use this in their classrooms and how to get started. You can also view this tutorial from the people at Prism.

Next is exciting news from Khan Academy. Yesterday they announced a new addition to their vast range of subject to include grammar for native and non-native English speakers. Students, teachers, and anyone interested in honing their skills will be able to explore the videos and practice what they learn. Topics range from parts of speech to punctuation and syntax. This will be a great addition to your classroom bank of resources.

There is always something good coming from Richard Byrne and this week is no different. In this week’s Practical Ed Tech Guide, Byrne shares three different web-based collaborative whiteboard tools. I can see students working collaboratively to solve math problems, design their maker-space project, or brainstorm ideas. Of course they can work individually as well and then you can combine one of these tools with Screencastify or other screen recording device so students can share their thinking and problem solving as well as create Khan-style videos.

Who doesn’t love magnetic poetry?! So I saw this next post on Twitter the other day and thought it was definitely one I wanted to share because it is so fun and it’s pretty cool too. Wintertime Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings. You can share this with your students and have them create their own individual winter poems or create them as a class. Either way you can’t go wrong.You can visit Kasey Bell’s blog, ShakeUpLearning here for more magnetic poetry templates. She is quite the creative whiz!

This just in (meaning, I just saw this on Twitter about 5 minutes ago): a Chrome extension that takes screenshots once a minute in Google Slides then saves them as a Slides presentation right in your (or your students’) drive. It’s called Slideshot and it is from none other than Alice Keeler, Google Innovator extraordinaire. Read on for more on how this can be helpful in visualizing the progress one minute at a time!

Next, is a FREE online teaching conference, Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. It begins this Friday, December 16 and runs until December 24th. There will be one recorded presentation released each day along with key takeaways for you to download, print, keep,  and share with your colleagues. You have until December 31 to view them as much as you want. You can read more about it here.

Last, but certainly not least are a few books that I have heard a lot about, seen tweeted and retweeted, and hashtagged in Twitter chats (#tlap, #llap, #DitchBook). They are the books I am going to put on my kindle and start reading. In fact, these books are how I came to learn about the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. They are, Teach Like a Pirate, Learn Like a Pirate, (which was inspired by TLAP), and Ditch That Textbook.

Wishing you happy holidays and a Happy New Year!

See you in 2017

photo credit: alh1 Detail via photopin (license)

Lots of Awesome


It has been a great week of learning beginning with Google Education on Air last Friday and Saturday, December 2-3. It was amazing to be part of a global education experience learning from inspiring educators. In one of the sessions What is your spark, I learned about Classroom Bridges, a way for teachers to connect their classroom with classrooms around the world. Just sign up and start connecting! If you are looking to connect your class with others around the country and around the world, this is as easy as it gets! Another fantastic session was the one on HyperDocs which I have written about before. Here is the link to the recording and this links to the resources from the session. You can view all keynotes and sessions on demand by clicking here.

The next thing I want to share is this article about which research and evidence-based teaching strategies effect student learning, “8 Strategies Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree On”. Clear focus, overt instruction, and student engagement with the content are the top 3; read on for more!

This week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition has some excellent articles, tips, and ideas.  I think you will love this idea for your English classes- Memes Everywhere wherein you will learn how one teacher has his students create memes for literary characters while reading novels. It is a fun way to engage students with content while reading. Though I shared this a couple weeks ago, Book Snaps is another way your students can interact with text while reading.

I was interested in reading this next article, “PD Should Model What You Want to See in the Classroom”, since I recently read and wrote about best practices for professional development.This article is a recap of how the presenter designed the PD day so that he incorporated modeling various ways to teach while presenting on creating lessons incorporating and using primary sources from the Library of Congress.This post comes completely loaded with both ideas for different ways to teach, AND complete lessons for teachers in this PDF The Student as Historian. In it you will find the PD piece and lessons from 4th grade through high school including lessons on Lewis & Clark, the Civil War, and Native Americans of Oregon. You will need time to digest this one but it is worth it!

Continuing along the history path is this recent post by Richard Byrne, “Two Good Sets of Animated Maps for U.S. History Students” . Here you will find Byrne talks about two sites: one that shows animated maps of historical battles, and the other that shows map changes over time. Both are great supplements to your history and social studies classes.

For more great articles, visit the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.





Math and More!

banner-1183443_960_720This week I am focusing on sharing some great math sites and articles since that appears to be the subject of all but one of my open tabs.

It started with an email from PBS Learning Media (you know I love that site) about some fun math videos like this one, “I ❤ Math”. Of course I cannot stop at just one click so I looked at some of PBS Learning Media’s other math offerings and found their Math Club which is geared towards 6th -9th grade math and aligns with Common Core Standards. They even have InstaCram sessions– 15 second videos for 4th -9th grade students on various math topics like integers and the commutative property.

I love the articles from KQED News and this one on making math more emotionally engaging for students is excellent as it talks about reducing math anxiety, having students work collaboratively, and showing math’s usefulness to students’ lives. This article referenced, Annenberg’s resource site and what a find that was! When I visited Learner.Org I found it is the Annenberg Learner site with resources, lesson plans, videos, professional development offerings from kindergarten through college, the arts, foreign language, and all other core subjects including literature. It is a site worth spending some time browsing.

Math anxiety also came up in this article, “Fluency Without Fear” which highlights the importance of understanding and number sense over memorization and timed tests.

Math anxiety has now been recorded in students as young as 5 years old (Ramirez, et al, 2013) and timed tests are a major cause of this debilitating, often life-long condition. But there is a second equally important reason that timed tests should not be used – they prompt many students to turn away from mathematics.

Marilyn Burns discusses number sense and shows its importance in this one hour EdWeek webinar, Developing Students’ Numerical Understanding and Skill.

If you have been reading my blog, you know I often reference Alice Keeler as she does amazing work with Google apps, add ons, and scripts. This week I am sharing her Upgrade the Worksheet: Place Value and her Math Puzzles, Get Students Thinking posts. Both offer fun, authentic upgrades to traditional worksheets and Keeler supplies the templates for you to then use/modify for your class. Since Keeler often references Depth of Knowledge in her posts, I am including a link here to downloadable DOK charts for the content areas as well as a link to her post on DOK conversations she has been having with teachers via #DOKchat.

While searching around for some math games for one of my third grade colleagues, I came across this jackpot of fun learning games for ALL subjects from the Arts to the Sciences, and ALL grades from elementary through high school. Bonus!

Lastly, another interesting article by KQED News, this time on the benefit that regular quizzing has on making information stick. The article references a psychology professor from my alma mater, Washington University. Professor Roediger is “obsessed” with memory, particularly how and why people remember things.

“Roediger said, ‘We don’t get information into memory just to have it sit there. We get it in to be able to use it later. … And the actual act of retrieving the information over and over, that’s what makes it retrievable when you need it.'” ~Freemark

Image from Pixabay

Read, Snap, Doodle, Share, Repeat

Sometimes I read something and I immediately want to share it. This morning while looking through my Twitter feed I saw several posts with the hashtag #booksnap. Since I had never seen that before and certainly had no idea what it was, I clicked on it. I scrolled through several tweets with pictures from pages of books that were written on, drawn on, and typed on until I found one that had a link to what this was all about.

#Booksnaps are a perfect blend of what teachers want students to do with books- read, engage, connect, find meaning- and what many students love to do- take and share pics via snapchat.


When ideas and related concepts can be encapsulated in an image, the brain remembers the information associated with that image. ~Katrina Schwartz, Mineshift KQED

Part of what makes this such an exciting idea, is that the snapchat app allows users to add fun doodles, emojis, and stickers to the pics they snap. Sketchnoting and doodling are great ways to help move information to long-term memory. When your students (or your colleagues) find text they want to snap, they can add their own text, drawings, doodles, arrows, or stickers on top of it making their own mini sketchnote of the idea and thereby making it meaningful and memorable. A #winwin for everyone!