Friday, May 31, 2013

Month In Review - The Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from hot and steamy Greenwood, Maine. Earlier this week I had the heat on in my house and this afternoon I was outside in shorts. I know that many of you are already out of school for the summer. I hope that your first days of summer have been great.

This summer I'll be visiting a number of schools as well as running the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp (two seats are left). I am looking forward to meeting many of you this summer. Thank you for inviting me to your schools.

I plan to keep blogging on my usual schedule throughout the summer. That schedule includes a week-in-review every Saturday and a month-in-review on the last day of each month. So if you're taking a break from the computer or iPad screen this summer and you miss a few days of posts, you can always check in on Saturday to quickly catch-up on the biggest stories of the week.

Here are the most popular posts from May 2013:
1. Every Stock Photo - A Search Engine for Free Images
2. eduClipper Is What Teachers Want Pinterest To Be
3. 5 Tools Students Can Use To Create Alternative Book Reports
4. 5 Good Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
5. Still The Best Presentation on Copyright for Educators
6. Life On Minimum Wage - A Hands-on Economics Lesson
7. Video - How to Insert Images Into Google Forms
8. Play Games or Create Your Own Through YoYo Games
9. Shakespeare Uncovered - Videos and Lesson Plans
10. Five Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year

Would you like to have me visit your school? 
Click here for information about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
WidBook is a collaborative, multimedia publishing tool.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Fresno Pacific University offers online courses for teachers.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology. is hosting workshops in Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston this summer.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Join more than 57,000 others who subscribe via these links.
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
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Host and Document Collaborative Brainstorming Sessions With Realtime Board

Realtime Board is a nice tool for hosting online, collaborative brainstorming sessions. I've featured the service a couple of times since its launch last fall. The service allows to work with any information and visual content on one board individually or with the team. You can work with images, videos, PDF-files, write notes and comment everything, use colorful post-it stickers and work with files from your Google Drive. Recently, Realtime Board added a free education version. The education version provides schools with all of the features of the Pro version for free. That means you can create unlimited private and public boards, have an unlimited number of collaborators, and 3GB of storage space.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a free tool that your students can use to plan projects and create multimedia media mindmaps, Realtime Board is definitely worth giving a try. You can try it without creating an account. 

Making Videos In the Common Craft Style - Rubric Included

A couple of years ago I had students in one of my classes create Common Craft-style videos to tell the story of Lewis and Clark. I was reminded of the project earlier this when Jeffery Shoemaker mentioned on Google+ that his students are doing a paper slide video project. A paper slide project is a low-tech way of recording a video story. It's the way that Common Craft started too. In fact, if you look at a couple of the early Common Craft videos you will see a little string moving paper cut-outs. 

A paper slide video project begins with a story that is drawn on individual pieces of paper. Students then work in pairs to record the video. With a camera mounted on a tripod one student narrates while the other moves the paper slides. I had my students alternate roles. Wes Fryer has written an extensive post about paper slide projects. Wes's post includes this PDF that contains a rubric and a storyboard template.

If you want to take a little higher-tech approach to making Common Craft-style videos, here are a few tools that your students can use.

Wideo - A tool for dragging and dropping digital cut-outs on a blank canvas. You can animate those cut-outs then add an audio track to your project.

Powtoon - Like Wideo this is a drag and drop tool for organizing digital cut-outs on a blank canvas. After organizing your cut-outs you can add a soundtrack to it. The free Powtoon account limits you to 45 second recordings.

The free Knowmia Teach iPad app allows you to create video slide-by-slide. Your slides can include drawings or pictures from your camera roll.

How to Screencast On a Chromebook

I've reviewed a lot of screencasting tools over the years (a list of seventeen can be found here). The problem with most screencasting tools is that they require Java. Java doesn't run on Chromebooks. So if you're a Chromebook user and you want to record a screencast the way to do it is to use Google+ Hangouts. A Google+ Hangout On Air allows you to broadcast your screen (you can do this even if no one else is in your Hangout). The broadcast is automatically recorded and saved to your YouTube account. Brian Bennett posted detailed directions on the process here. There is a video demonstration at the end of Brian's post.

Mark Jenkins also produced a short video on the process. That video is embedded below.

Flask - Quickly Create and Share To-do Lists

There is no shortage of to-do list tools available on the web today. Some are parts of larger services (see Gmail and Evernote) while others are stand-alone services (see Remember the Milk). One new stand-alone service that I tried this morning is called Flask. Flask is a simple tool for making to-do lists and sharing them with others.

To create a to-do list on Flask just go to the site and start writing your list. You don't have to create an account to use Flask. Unique URLs are assigned to each list that you create. To share your lists click the share button to send the link to your list to others. You can also embed the list into a blog post or webpage.

Applications for Education
To-do list services are only good if your students actually use them. Simple services like Flask are good because they're easy for students to use without having to remember a username and password. If you want to have your students contribute to a group to-do list, embed Flask into a blog post.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

90 Videos That Will Help You Make Better Videos

Last week I featured the Vimeo Video School's series about stillmotion video creation. YouTube also has an extensive collection of videos designed to help you create better videos. The YouTube Creator Hub contains 90 tutorial videos covering all aspects of creating videos. In the collection of tutorials you will find video about things like white balance, webcam settings, lighting, and shot composition.

Applications for Education
Today, we have lots of free and easy-to-use tools for creating videos. But the difference between a good video and a great video still comes down to the operator of those tools. These YouTube tutorial videos can help you and your students make the most of the video creation tools available to you.

Create Slowmotion Videos Using the YouTube Video Editor

Want to understand why my dogs make such a mess when they drink water? Watch a slow motion video of the process and you'll see why right away. This week YouTube made it possible for anyone to create a slow motion video. The enhancements tool in the YouTube video editor now includes the option to apply slow motion effects to your videos. You can slow the action to 50%, 25%, or 12.5% of the original speed. I made a slow motion video of my dogs running in the snow. You can see it below.

Applications for Education
Student-athletes and their coaches might find the slow motion editing tool useful in helping them analyze plays from a game. Physics teachers might find the slow motion tool helpful in creating videos that help students see things that the naked eye couldn't see. For example, you could film a bouncing ping pong ball them slow it down in the YouTube video editor to help students see how the ball bounces.
Click to view full size.

PDF Mergy Makes It Easy To Merge PDFs

PDF Mergy is a free tool for combining PDFs. The service does not require you to register unless you want to select files from your Google Drive account. To merge files just select them from your desktop or your Google Drive account and PDF Mergy does the rest. When your merged files are ready you can download them. The video below shows you how the service works (the video does not have sound).

There aren't too many times that I've had to merge PDFs, but the few times that I have PDF Mergy would have made it a heck of a lot easier for me.PDF Mergy is available as a Chrome Web App.

One safety note about PDF Mergy; I would not use it for PDFs that have sensitive student information in them.

Create Infographics With Piktochart

It seems like every day I find a new infographic on at least one of the blogs that I follow. This is because a good infographic can deliver a lot of information in an easy-to-understand format. If you would like to have your students try their hands at creating infographics, Piktochart is a good tool to use.

Piktochart provides seven free infographic templates. Each template can be customized by changing the colors, fonts, icons, and charts on each template. If you need more space on the template, you can add more fields at the bottom of the templates. If you need less space, you can remove fields from the templates.

Applications for Education
Piktochart could be an excellent tool for your students to use to create infographics based upon data that they research or gather on their own. Some student infographic projects that I've seen include comparing development data and community demographic data.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Room Recess - Educational Games for Kids

Room Recess is a free and advertising-free educational games sites developed by an elementary school teacher. The site currently features fourteen games. Room Recess offers seven math games and seven word games. Some of the games are one player games while others are two player games. All of the games can be played without creating an account on the site.
Applications for Education
The games on Room Recess aren't going to teach students any new skills, but they could be fun review and practice activities for elementary school students. One of the games that I like on the site are "Fool's Gold" in which students try to separate irregular verbs from regular verbs. Another game that I can see students liking is "Snowball Fight" in which students throw virtual snowballs at the correct answers to math problems.

Go On a Virtual Trek to Everest and Learn About Glaciers

Glacier Works, Microsoft, and David Breashears have collaborated to develop a great new site called Everest: Rivers of Ice. Everest: Rivers of Ice is an interactive site that takes visitors on a virtual trek to Mount Everest base camp. There are eight stops along the way to base camp. At each stop viewers can explore panoramic images of valleys and glaciers. After completing the virtual trek to base camp viewers can compare the size of Himalayan glaciers in the 1920's to the size of those same glaciers today.

Applications for Education
As David Breashears says in the opening video, Everest: Rivers of Ice is designed to raise awareness of the shrinking glaciers of the Himalaya. Those glaciers provide water to nearly two billion people. Everest: Rivers of Ice could be used as part of lesson in which students learn about the formation of glaciers and rivers.

Gooru Adds a Common Core Standards-Based Search Tool

This morning I was a guest on NCompass Live. During my appearance I talked about Gooru. Gooru is a great place to find and or create collections of educational videos, texts, and images. This afternoon I learned that Gooru's new interface includes the option to search for materials according to ELA Common Core standards.

Another new feature of the revamped Gooru interface is dragging and dropping items from your search results to your collections. Now you can also create quizzes to go along with each of your collections.

Applications for Education
The option to create quizzes to include in your collections is probably the best feature of Gooru at the moment. To help your students review a topic you could create a collection of resources and include short quiz items that they can use to test themselves. Your students could also create their own collections to share with each other.

If your students are using iPads, Gooru has a free iPad app that you may want to try.  I reviewed the app here.

22 Frames - News Videos for ESL Students

Last week I published 5 Good Places for Students To Learn About the News. In response to that post I received a few emails from people looking for news sources that are accessible to ELL/ ESL students. The resource that I recommended in my replies to those emails is 22 Frames.

22 Frames is a service that provides a central location for locating captioned videos for learning English and for Internet users who have hearing impairments. 22 Frames provides more than just captioned videos. Along with the videos 22 Frames provides a list of idioms, slang words, and commonly mispronounced words in each video. Viewers can click on any of the words in the lists provided by 22 Frames to find a definition for each word and to find pronunciation tips.

Applications for Education
22 Frames could be a great resource for ESL/ EFL teachers and students. The videos found on 22 Frames range from current news stories to videos from popular culture. Using a current news video on 22 Frames could be a good way to combine an English lesson with a social studies lesson. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Free Two Week Course on Google Maps and Earth

Earlier this month Google announced that a new version of Google Maps is coming. Some of us have been lucky enough to get invitations to use the new version. If you want to get guaranteed access to the new version and learn all about how to use it for more than just virtually stalking your neighborhood getting directions, you should consider taking Google's free course Mapping With Google. Mapping With Google, announced today on the Google Lat Long blog, is a self-paced course beginning on June 10. The course will feature video and text tutorials on the features of Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Maps Engine Lite. The course does offer the option to use your new skills to complete projects to earn a certificate.

ThingLink Launches a Free iPad App

Cross posted from iPad Apps for School

ThingLink is one of my favorite tools that I've reviewed on Free Technology for Teachers. The free service allows you to make any image interactive by adding digital pinmarks to it. Those pinmarks can include text, links, videos that are revealed when some touches those pinmarks while viewing your shared images. The service previously worked in your iPad's web browser, but now this great service is now available as a free iPad app too.

The new ThingLink iPad app allows you to import pictures from your iPad's camera roll and or take new pictures to turn into interactive images. You can start using the app without creating a ThingLink account. To get started just import a picture from your iPad or take a new picture with your iPad. After selecting a picture tap it to add interactive pinmarks. Each pinmark that you add through the app can include text and or video links. When you've finished adding pinmarks you can publish your image publicly or keep it private in your ThingLink account. ThingLink accounts can be created using an email address or a Facebook account. Evernote Camera Roll 20130528 103734

Applications for Education
A few of the ways that I’ve seen ThingLink used by teachers is to have students add multimedia labels to diagrams of cells, to label geographic features, and to label historical images like that of the signing of the declaration of independence.

Scrible - Bookmark, Annotate, and Create Bibliographies

Scrible is a free service offering a nice set of tools for highlighting, annotating, and bookmarking webpages. Scrible offers browser bookmarklets for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. With the Scrible bookmarklet installed, anytime you're on a page just click the bookmarklet to launch a menu of bookmarking tools. The Scrible tool set includes highlighters, sticky notes, and font change tools. When you annotate and bookmark a page in Scrible it is saved as it appeared to you when you were done altering it.   And as you would expect from a web-based bookmarking tool, you can share your bookmarked pages with others. Students can get a free Scrible account that has double the storage capacity of the standard free account.

Scrible recently added an options for formatting bibliographies as you bookmark. Scrible also has a new feature that allows you to compile your article clippings into one package. 

Applications for Education
Tools like Scrible are excellent for students to use when they're conducting online research. The benefit of using a tool like Scrible is that students can take notes on their bookmarks and bookmark only the parts of a website that they need to reference in their reports. Saving bookmarks in this manner saves time when you go back to visit a site because you'll immediately see what it was that promoted you to bookmark it in the first place.

Tropical Ice - A Climate Change Story

When we think of climate change we often think about the shrinking polar glaciers. There are other places in the world that have glaciers too. In this Untamed Science video we learn about tropical glaciers in Uganda. The video is a quick overview of how glaciers can form in tropical regions. The most valuable piece of the video is the imagery comparing the size of tropical glaciers 100 years ago to the size of those glaciers today. The video is embedded below.

Under H20 - A Nice Video Series from PBS Digital Studios

This morning on Google+ the Google Science Fair page shared a neat series of  videos from PBS Digital Studios. Under H20 is a series of three videos that feature high definition underwater imagery captured in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. The three videos in the series are When a Volcano Erupts Underwater, Night Diving with Manta Rays, and WWII Corsair Wreck Dive.

Applications for Education
When a Volcano Erupts Underwater is a good video for students to watch to learn how lava and gasses interact with sea water. In Night Diving with Manta Rays students learn how manta rays feed on plankton. Students also learn why the video had to be captured at night. WWII Corsair Wreck Dive shows students how coral animals grow on an underwater object.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5 Tools Students Can Use to Create Alternative Book Reports

This afternoon someone emailed me asking for some suggestions for tools for creating book trailer videos. It has been two years since I last wrote about the topic so I created a new list of tools for creating book trailers. Book trailers are short videos designed to spark a viewer's interest in a book. Having students create book trailers is an excellent alternative to traditional book report projects. A great place to find examples of book trailers is Book Trailers for Readers.

Animoto makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, video clips, and text. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto. Animoto's free service limits you to 30 second videos. You can create longer videos if you apply for an education account.

WeVideo is a collaborative online video creation tool. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes WeVideo collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. The WeVideo Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Pixntell is an iPad app for quickly creating simple narrated photostories. To create a story using Pixntell all that you need to do is start a new project, select some images, place them in order, and then start talking about each of your pictures. You control the timing for each image. If you want to talk about your first picture for twenty seconds, your second picture for just three seconds, and your third picture for fifteen seconds, you can do that. When your project is complete you can upload it directly to YouTube, share it on Facebook, or send to friends via email.

Narrable is a neat service for creating short narrated slideshows. To create an audio slideshow on Narrable start by uploading some pictures that you either want to talk about or have music played behind. After the pictures are uploaded you can record a narration for each picture through your computer's microphone or by calling into your Narrable's access phone number. You can also upload an audio recording that is stored on your computer. Narrable projects can be shared via email, Facebook, or by embedding them into a blog.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos. Wideo could be used by students to animate the highlights of a book that they've read.

Make Beliefs Comix Offers 300+ Printable Comic Templates

Make Beliefs Comix, a multilingual comic strip creation service that I've featured in the past, recently released some new printable comic strip templates. These printable templates are in addition to the online Make Beliefs Comix creation tool. The templates are divided into dozens of thematic categories including history, holidays, and civil rights. There is even a category of templates titled Emotions which is designed to help students express how they are feeling through comic characters.

Applications for Education
The printable templates from Make Beliefs Comix could be excellent resources to use as creative writing prompts. You could have students start a simple story by using the templates then expand the story into a longer narrative.

Problem Attic Expands Again - More Practice Problems Than Ever

Problem Attic is a free service that allows you to quickly create practice tests and flashcards for social studies, language arts, mathematics, and science. I've featured it a couple of times since its launch last year. Problem Attic recently expanded again to include 4600 more practice questions from tests in Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Jersey. Problem Attic also has a new set of 1700 math challenges from UNC Charlotte.

If you have been creating problem flashcards in Problem Attic you'll be happy to know that the interface has been tweaked to ensure that problem cards will always fit on the size screen that you're using.

In the next few weeks Problem Attic will add more services including support for free-response math questions aligned to Common Core standards.

Applications for Education
Years ago one of my colleagues used old exam questions as review activities with his students. Problem Attic takes that concept and makes it easy for any teacher to build review activities based on problems from actual tests that students have taken. Students can also use Problem Attic to find a big collection of questions that they can use to help them prepare for tests in mathematics, social studies, language arts, and science.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Week in Review - Learning About Sea Turtles

Good evening from San Jose, Costa Rica where I've just wrapped a week in which I was able to observe students learning about sea turtle conservation at the Pacuare Nature Reserve (I'll post some pictures next week when I've sorted through them). Going into the week I knew that I would have very limited Internet access so I the posts that appeared on Free Technology for Teachers this week were things that I wrote last week and last weekend. I also had one guest blogger this week, thank you Rachel Langenhorst. If you're in the U.S. I hope you have a great long weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Good Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
2. 10 Good Sites & Apps for Learning a New Language
3. Still the Best Presentation on Copyright
4. Study Jams - Elementary Math and Science With Music
5. Five Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year
6. The Top 10+ Sites for a Successful 1:1 Laptop Program
7. Design Squad - Engage Kids in Hands-on Engineering Projects

Would you like to have me visit your school? 
Click here for information about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
WidBook is a collaborative, multimedia publishing tool.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Fresno Pacific University offers online courses for teachers.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology. is hosting workshops in Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston this summer.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Join more than 57,000 others who subscribe via these links.
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Every Stock Photo - A Search Engine for Free Images

The next time that you need to find some high resolution images for a slideshow skip the Google Image search and head over to Every Stock Photo. Every Stock Photo is a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web. If you click on an image in your search results you will be taken to a larger version of the image, a link to the source, and the attribution requirements for using that picture.

Applications for Education
Often when students are told that they need to use Creative Commons or Public Domain images they moan about it because they only think of Google when they search for images. Every Stock Photo is a fantastic alternative to using Google Images to look for Creative Commons and Public Domain images.

Get Help With Name Pronunciation from Hear Names

Hear Names provides guides for pronouncing names. On Hear Names you will find recordings of native speakers pronouncing given names and surnames. You can search for pronunciations by language or look through an alphabetical listing.

Applications for Education
I'm sure we can all think of time or two when accessing Hear Names would have been helpful when calling home or meeting a parent or student for the first time.

FatURL - Share Bundles of Links

FatURL is a handy little tool to use when you need to share a group of links to someone. To share a group of links through FatURL just copy and paste or type URLs into the bundle box. You can add comments to each link. After creating your bundle hit the share button to send it.

Applications for Education
If you don't have a blog on which you can post the links that you want your students to use, FatURL could be a good way to send links to them. You can have up to three dozen links in one bundle on FatURL.

5 Good Places for Kids to Learn About the News

When I was a student in Mrs. Simmons's second grade classroom one of the things that I looked forward to every week was the arrival of the Scholastic Weekly Reader. I loved read the stories about news from other parts of the world (I guess I was destined to become a social studies teacher). Today, students don't have to wait for the Scholastic Weekly Reader to appear in their teacher's mailbox. Here are five student-friendly news sites to use in your current events lesson plans.

Go Go News is a news website designed for elementary school students. The site features many short news stories that can be read and listened to. The stories that Go Go News covers aren't hard, breaking news stories. The stories are more of a interesting and educational nature.

Teaching Kids News is a news site developed for use in elementary school and middle school classrooms. Teaching Kids News features timely and relevant news stories written on a level that students can comprehend. Each article is accompanied by a set of discussion questions, writing prompts, reading prompts, and vocabulary words.

Youngzine is an online source of news, sports, and entertainment stories for elementary school students. Students will find stories to read and videos to watch in each of the information categories. Each news story is accompanied by a Google Map that has a placemark indicating where the story takes place.

CNN Student News is an excellent resource for middle school and high school current events lessons. The roughly ten minute episodes feature US stories, a world news stories, a "shout out" to a classroom, and a quick quiz. Transcripts for each show are available for download as are suggested viewing questions to cover with your students. 

One of my favorite features on the BBC New website is the Day in  the Day in Pictures. The Day in Pictures displays a small collection of photographs from around the world. The pictures capture a mix of  serious news stories and lighter cultural stories. The Day in Pictures collections are part of a much larger resource from the BBC simply called In Pictures. The In Pictures resource provides hundreds of images in a variety collections and slideshows about current events throughout the world. Some of the slide shows even include narration. All of the images include captions explaining what is happening in the picture and a little background knowledge about the event being photographed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Harvest of History Helps Students Understand Farms

Harvest of History is a website produced by the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York (also the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame). Harvest of History is designed to help students and teachers explore the origins and development of modern farming practices. The basis for Harvest of History is to explore the question, "where did your last meal come from?"

Applications for Education
Harvest of History is designed with elementary school students in mind. The teachers' page provides 16 lesson plans for use with students of fourth grade age. The question, "where did you last meal come from?" and some of the content of Harvest of History could also be used with older students to spark discussion about the development of modern agriculture.

5 Good Resources for Teaching & Learning About Shakespeare

Last week I shared Shakespeare Uncovered from PBS Learning Media. That is a nice resource for helping students understand the things that influenced Shakespeare's writing. If you're looking for some other resources to help your students understand the works of Shakespeare, take a look at the materials below.

Shakespeare Animated is a YouTube channel containing twelve playlists ten of which are animated adaptations of Shakespeare's most famous plays. Some of the animated plays that appear in the Shakespeare Animated playlist are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, MacBeth, and The Taming of the Shrew.

John Green's Crash Course videos about English literature includes two videos about Romeo & Juliet. I've embedded the videos below.

TED-Ed hosts a lesson titled Insults by Shakespeare. In addition to explaining the insults used by Shakespeare the lesson also explores some of Shakespeare's other uses of dialogue.

L.A. Paun used LiveBinders to create and share a nice collection of Shakespeare resources. The LiveBinder has a section for Shakespeare in general and sections devoted to Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare's Original Pronunciations could be a good resource to support classroom readings of some of Shakespeare's works. Take the guess work out of the pronunciations by hearing them.

Kids Can Bowl for Free This Summer

Just as they have for the last few summers, bowling centers around the U.S. and Canada are offering students two free games every day. To bowl for free students (or their parents) need to register on Kids Bowl Free. On Kids Bowl Free you can find the bowling alley closest to you.

Applications for Education
Kids Bowl Free is awarding 80 $200 grants to teachers every month through July 2013. The grants are for classroom supplies. You can apply for a grant here

5 Great Activities from Read Write Think

If you're an elementary school teacher who has not bookmarked Read Write Think, you absolutely should do that today. Read Write Think produces and shares a wealth of outstanding materials and lesson plans for elementary school language arts lessons. Five of their great, free resources are featured below.

Cube Creators provide templates designed to break the writing process into six distinct parts. There are templates for writing biographies, mysteries, short stories, and a blank template that you can customize. Students enter the required information into the online template. When the template is completed, it can be printed with lines for cutting and folding to create an actual cube.

Story Map is a free interactive story planning tool from Read Write Think. Story Maps provides four templates for outlining stories. To use the templates students title their stories then choose one of four templates to outline their stories. The four template choices are conflict, setting, character, and resolution. Students can print their completed templates.

Read Write Think's Trading Card Creator on the web offers the same creation features that are found in the iPad app of the same name. I used the web version of the Trading Card Creator to create an Abraham Lincoln trading card. To create the card I found a public domain image of Lincoln, uploaded it to the template provided by RWT, and completed the fields that asked for information about Lincoln's life. When my card was completed I was able to download it to my computer. I could have also emailed it to myself or to a friend.

Word Mover is another nice, free iPad app from Read Write Think. The app is designed to help students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year

The end of the school year is here or soon to be here which means it's a great time to reflect on what your students have done this year. Here are five ways that you can create some digital celebrations of the year.

Make a video. Animoto makes it very easy to cobble together a set of pictures and add some music in the background to show off what your students have created throughout the year. Try to use pictures from the fall, winter, and spring to show how much your students have changed. If Animoto is too basic for you try WeVideo or Pixorial to create longer videos that include your voice-over commentary.

Create collages about the year. Pic Collage is a free service for quickly creating picture collages on your iPad or Android tablet. The app does not require you to register or connect a social network profile in order to create a collage. If you do connect a social network profile to Pic Collage you can pull in pictures from those accounts. Otherwise you can upload pictures that are stored on your device or take new pictures using the Pic Collage app. The Pic Collage user interface is easy to use. Just tap the blank canvas to import pictures from your device, from a social network profile, or by taking a new picture. To arrange the images in your collage just touch and drag them. You can expand or contract the images by pinching on them.

Collaboratively create a slideshow about the year. If you're working in a school that uses Google Apps for Education create a Google Drive slideshow and have each of your students share one favorite memory of the year on one slide.

Collaboratively create a classroom portfolio. Silk is a free service for creating webpages organized around a theme or topic. Silk is intended to be a place where you can share collections of materials as well as write text directly into your webpages. Your Silk dashboard provides a place to organize your materials into collections and sub-collections. Your collections can include documents, videos, images, charts and graphs, and links to other sites. Take a look at a sample Silk site here. You can create multiple sites within your free Silk account. Your Silk sites can be public or  private. Creating collections on your Silk site can become a collaborative activity by inviting others to be editors or administrators on a site.

Invite distant relatives to virtually celebrate with you. As an uncle who lives far away from my nieces I know that I would be thrilled if I was able to virtually attend my niece's preschool "graduation." Skype and Google+ make this possible. 

The Dictionary of Numbers - Putting Numbers in Human Terms

Dictionary of Numbers is a neat Chrome extension that "translates" large numbers into terms that are easy to visualize. When you have the extension installed any time that you encounter a large number on the web you can highlight it and get a simple explanation of just how big that number is. For example, if you came across the number 238,900 you would quickly find out that that is the average distance in miles to the moon. The one minute video below shows you everything you need to know about the Dictionary of Numbers.

Get Creative Commons Savvy With These Activities

Yesterday, I shared the EFF's lesson plans for teaching copyright. After using those plans you may want to move your students on to understanding Creative Commons. Peer 2 Peer University hosts a four module unit called Get CC Savvy. Each module contains a short video about the topic followed by a suggested activity to complete to help students understand Creative Commons in practice.

Applications for Education
Get CC Savvy from P2PU could be an excellent resource for any high school or college student to use on his or her own to gain an understanding of what Creative Commons licensing means in practice. Don't overlook the discussions that accompany the activities as the comments there add value to the exercises suggested by Get CC Savvy.

How to Use eduClipper

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a long review of the visual bookmarking service, eduClipper. eduClipper is a great place for teachers and students to collaborate on the creation of visual bookmark boards. It's kind of like Diigo with a very visual element. If you haven't tried it yet, I recommend giving it a go after taking a look at the short how-to videos below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 Good Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a set of comprehensive lesson plans about copyright simply titled Teaching Copyright. Teaching Copyright contains five lesson plans. Each lesson plan includes printable worksheets, readings, and suggested activities. For teachers looking for a little more information than is available in the lesson plans, the EFF has a good list of additional resources including videos on the topics of copyright and fair use. To stay up to date on new developments in copyright and fair use, you may want to follow the EFF blog.

Applications for Education
Copyright can be a confusing topic for adults as well as children. The EFF's Teaching Copyright lesson plans provide teachers with the materials and resources needed for teaching appropriate use of copyrighted materials.

Teacher Turned Entrepreneur - An Interview With Adam Bellow

Two weeks ago Adam Bellow relaunched eduClipper. Unlike a lot of new ed tech services, Adam comes from a teaching background not a tech developer background. Last week I sent Adam some questions about the transition from teaching to ed tech entrepreneurship, how eduClipper got started, and his plans for the future of eduClipper. Finally, Adam offers advice to those wondering how to take their ed tech ideas to market.

1. Who are you? What’s your background in education?

I am a passionate, creative, curious educator. I, like you and your dedicated following of awesome educators, am a hardworking person who wants to make the world a better place in some way. I grew up in the 80s and was (am) a big nerd before it was cool. In addition to being an educational technologist, I am also a proud father to two wonderfully awesome boys and a loving husband.

I come from a family of educators. My dad was a 30+ year science teacher at Cardozo High School in Queens. My mom was an English teacher who became a High School Librarian for 26+ years at Mepham High School in my home district. When I was young I never thought I would be a teacher. I wanted to be a superhero and then when I realized this was not a feasible career choice I decided to become a filmmaker. But after college I realized a career in film was not likely so I went out looking for a job. I had been a camp counselor and taught several workshops for kids throughout my High School and College years and so I thought I would like to do something to impact young people. I applied to and got a job as an Assistant English Teacher at a wonderful school in New York City for students with language based learning disabilities. It was a truly wonderful place to learn from master teachers and try my hand at helping to craft learning experiences for students. After my first year at the school I went for a dual masters degree in general and special education. During my second semester of classes, I was asked by the Dean of the program to teach the educational technology course (under the radar) as an adjunct. I happily accepted and it was for this class that I created the version of eduTecher. After two years as an HS English Assistant, I got a job working as a “head teacher” at another school for 3 years. It was there that I really started to learn what it was like to be a teacher. In 2007 my two passions collided as I found a job and got hired as a technology training specialist for a school district on Long Island. It was the best job. I worked with over 400 teachers throughout K-12 and helped them create lessons infused with technology, shared great tools for their students, and both modeled and assisted using technology as part of a lesson. I also worked on semester long projects with administrators and students. It was a wonderful job. Budgets were getting very tight and my role was changing in the school so I decided to find another job. I took a role as the Director of Educational Technology for the College Board Schools. This was a job where I got to work with 18 schools across the country and help them plan for and infuse technology successfully. It was a challenging role and led to the opportunity to take a role elsewhere in the company as a Senior Director of Educational Technology and AP Student Services. Basically I was asked to help students who chose to take an AP course have a successful experience. It was a new role for the company and was rife with challenges. I won’t go into details here, but I am glad I had the opportunity to leave and focus on eduClipper full-time.

2. You wrote EduTecher for years before starting EduClipper. When did you decide to build EduClipper?

eduTecher was always a passion project. But as you know, you and I are not the only ones curating the web for great resources. For years I had been posting content that I found and aggregated. But when I started in 2007/2008 it was a different world. It was hard(er) to build a site and share. In 2011 I saw the new crop of community curation tools beginning to gain popularity, like Pinterest, and asked some of my close edtech friends what they would want to see built that they felt was missing in “the space” and it was clear that a visual curation platform for teachers would be a hit. But what has made me so excited about working on eduClipper is to get students to collaborate with their teachers and for students from around the globe to collaborate together to curate, share, and post the best resources. They are sharing the things that they find on the web, but also the great and valuable content that they are creating both for school assignments and out of sheer passion and interest in learning.

3. What did you learn about ed tech while writing EduTecher that you applied to the design of EduClipper?

I think eduTecher taught me a lot of things that went into the design of eduClipper. For example, how to treat users. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned, which is applicable to edtech as well as many other fields - is to listen. People choosing to explore a site or platform need to know that there is a person listening to and respecting them. There are sites being built by people that think they have a good idea for educators or students and so they build something and throw it out there online hoping that it works. Sometimes it does, which is great. But a lot of these tools don’t really address pain points or build a tool that is of true value to the “customer”.

I spent a lot of time brainstorming with teachers and kids both virtually and face-to-face to talk about what they wanted and needed before even beginning to have the site coded. As for respecting the users, I personally answer all Emails in a timely fashion - even when I am super-busy - because I know what it is like to need that help right now. There are a lot things that I formed opinions around on how to position the tool as well. I am aim to be very respectful when I approach teachers and students. I don’t want to push something on people. It is a great platform and is getting better each day, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect and for me to be successful, it doesn’t mean I have to (nor have the right) to bash others who are working hard on their platforms. Being involved in an education company, my goal is simple - I want to make teaching and learning better. eduClipper aims to enhance the educational experience in and out of the classroom and I think that in order to do this, we must produce a tool of value rather than of distraction.

4. What makes EduClipper different from other social bookmarking services on the web? I’ve described EduClipper as “what teachers wish Pinterest could be” and “like Diigo with a visual element.” Are those appropriate descriptions?

I think both of those descriptions are accurate for part of what we offer now. The homepage does currently resemble the cascading content view that was made popular by Pinterest and does have a “save anything” idea that Diigo and Delicious before it popularized. I aim to keep the social aspect of Pinterest, but make the platform safe and compliant for schools and classrooms of students as young as 5 years old. People say it is the Edmodo version of Pinterest, which may be somewhat accurate as well. We are uniquely positioned in the education space as we are both open as a network of content, but allow educators to control how much of the social features their classes/schools have access to. One difference that will be emphasized by new features we will be rolling out throughout the next few months is our focus on self-curation. I think Pinterest and Diigo mainly grab content from around the web to share. eduClipper wants to support student and teacher created content as they build and share public learning portfolios of content.

5. It seems that every teacher has a story of being burned by a free service that either shuts down or starts charging for use. How is EduClipper funded? How do you plan to keep the service running for the long term?

Being a teacher and having both been burned by sites shutting down while my students were using them and also having to pony up money to get the needed or wanted features for certain sites, I can certainly understand user’s hesitancy to explore the options before digging into a new tool. Especially when it is one that asks you to give it your data. As someone who has experienced this personally I can say that what we have launched at eduClipper thus far (and many new features on their way) will be free. Period.

eduClipper is currently funded by two VC funds, Learn Capital, an investor in Edmodo amongst other big EdTech offerings as well as WTI which was a 1st round investor in Facebook. We are going to be looking to secure another round of funding to help us accomplish a number of our other goals and initiatives.

My personal goal is make eduClipper the best resource it can be for teachers and students. While we have plans to make a profit and sustain our free offering, we won’t be going after teachers and students to make money here. The service will launch new features and grow based on the needs and wants of the users. We are working on a robust dashboard that can aggregate and oversee the usage data of a school and feel that schools may want to implement and that may be at a school or site license. However, teachers will always have the tools they currently to to both set up, monitor, and moderate their students on a class level basis.

We are also exploring partner content relationships with several major educational publishers to see how adding their content to our site may prove to be both educationally and financially enriching for eduClipper.

And while my plans are large in scope for eduClipper - I don’t know the future and can only promise to respect and support the users of our site in any way possible. That is why we launched with a feature to Export My Stuff - where you can click a button and download the content that you posted to the site. Transparency is a big deal for me and I hope the users know that.

6. How much of the design and coding of EduClipper did you do? How much did you outsource? When did you realize you couldn’t do it all?

The first version of eduTecher was built by myself in iWeb. That was when the intended audience was 23 students. As the site grew, my brother-in-law took on more and more of the coding responsibilities and I did all the design and content. When we built the social platform for eduTecher in 2011, I did all the design work, but hired a team to code it. It was tough letting “my baby” go a little. I still did all the design and content for the site, but the code was no longer solely mine. I think there is a lesson in there - know what you don’t know and know when to ask for help.

eduClipper is a much more complicated animal than eduTecher. The MVP (minimum viable product) was mocked up by myself in Keynote and largely coded by an offshore firm in India. I would do some coding and bug fixes, but I was working full-time during this build and also was not proficient enough to do the heavy lifting. When I received funding to build the new eduClipper (which has been completely with different programming languages in addition to the new look and features) I knew I needed and yearned for a collaborative process between a team of developers here in New York City as well as a designer to help understanding user-flow and help create some custom iconography. As it turns out, I wound up doing a lot of the design work myself in the end because I am one of those detail oriented people who wanted it to look a certain way. For example, the emails and a lot of the site’s personality was designed by me. I love doing that work as it let’s me be creative and challenges me, but couldn’t do it all myself. But as I said before, I know what I don’t yet know. And eduClipper required a deep understanding of computer science and helping to build an elastic system that can support more than a million users, which we hope to accommodate by next year.

We are currently looking to expand our team, we need technical and non-technical people that are passionate about positively impacting education to join us and help make eduClipper even better as we take our next steps.

7. What advice can you give to a teacher reading this who has an idea for a new educational technology service/ application that they want to take public?

I think that teachers often times come up with wonderful ideas! After all, teachers are working in the classrooms every day and feeling the pain points of their peers and students. I think that edtech needs better and more genuine ideas to come from need and so I encourage educators to explore ways to build these out. My entrepreneurial side was born while working as a teacher so I know it can be both exciting and challenging to create and explore ideas that matter and can hopefully make things better for the classroom.

Rule number one - don’t do this for the money. I have thought long and hard about why I have found success (measured more in people finding value in my tools than monetary success) and the answer is motive. If you are solving a problem - do that. Try to figure out a way to make things better and not focus on becoming the next big thing. I think that this is helpful to get people started with creating valuable tools.

Rule number two - Work - Life - Balance. Read pretty much any article about people driven to create their own business and there is a common thread that is either explicitly called out as a lesson learned or a word of caution to the people that follow behind them. It is simply to ensure that you know the price you often pay. It’s true that nothing worth doing is without risk and it is seldom easy, but it is worth noting that one ought to prepare themselves (and their friends/loved ones) for fact that they will be working harder, longer, and more hours than they may be used to. I say this not to dissuade people off from doing it, but if you’re about to have a baby or have a lot of stress in other areas of your life it is worth considering before diving in too deep.

Rule number three - Reach out to someone who you trust to think it through and talk about next steps. That can be a close teacher friend who might benefit from the idea, students, or a person from an edtech company or tool you like or respect. You can ask them to sign an NDA if you are worried about them taking your idea and running with it - or can even ask if it is something they would want to develop with you as they might have more experience in that part of the space than you. There’s a lot to learn from people who have been there and done that. Know what you don’t know and when and who to ask for help.

Either way - never stop coming up with ideas to make education better - technology-based or not, that is what makes a valuable educator.

The Story of Photosynthesis and Food

A few weeks ago I suggested having students use the Crash Course videos as review materials to view before the end of the school year. There are Crash Courses in Biology and Ecology. As a supplement to those videos consider the TED-Ed lesson, The Simple Story of Photosynthesis and Food. The video could make a good review of or introduction to photosynthesis.

Tips for Leading Google Apps Trainings - Part 3

Yesterday, I shared a couple of tips for leading successful Google Apps training activities. Here's the third installment in my series of tips on the topic. These tips are based on my experiences gained from leading dozens of Google Apps trainings over the last few years.

A Clean Slate
When I lead a training for people who are just beginning to learn to use Google Apps, I use dummy accounts (my dogs have their own Google Accounts) that are stripped-down to look as if they were just created. I do this so that I will be projecting a screen that is identical to what my training participants see on their laptops. I do this because I already have a bunch of folders, labels, and other customizations applied to the Google Apps products that I regularly use. I know from experience that if I project my personal account, some participants in my training session will be distracted by or at the least be curious about what I've done to my account. That curiosity is good, but it also can lead to questions that delve into advanced options that participants may not be ready to try yet.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Top 10+ Sites for a Successful 1:1 Laptop Program: Experiences from the Trenches

 Greetings from Rock Valley, Iowa, the land of cows and corn! As we wind up our school year this week, I have begun reflecting on just how much our approach to educating kids has changed since becoming 1:1 in our middle and high schools.  A year ago, I had a classroom of 6th graders.  This year, I have transitioned to the role of the district's Technology Integrationist.  I was once worried about switching jobs because I might not be busy enough (I'm a type-A, first born).  Certainly I must have had a moment of insanity? Some temporary dysphoria? In an exhilarating blur, I look up and our year is done.  I have seen teachers completely transform their teaching, provide students with extensive higher order thinking tasks, and offer challenges that weren't possible a year ago.  That being said, let's cut to the meat of this post...the Free Tech 4 Teachers!  While this in no way covers all of the wonderfully useful free sites we use on a daily basis, here are the top sites we wouldn't be without in a 1:1 environment.

1.This open-source software has been our platform on which each teacher is to put his or her classroom information, coursework, links, etc...  Having a common 'playground' for all student academics is easier on everyone.  Click here for a link to the Moodle site. Even teachers with other collaborative sites like Edmodo still link back to their district Moodle page. Kids always know where to go for their work first.  This, first and foremost, is essential to a successful 1:1 environment.

Google Drive and Google Apps have been a dream.  Through the use of the forms, spreadsheets, and docs, our teachers and students have been successfully collaborating like never before.  Through Google Apps, students and teachers are issued a school email account with which all correspondence takes place. Teachers can send out work via a link.  As that original document gets updated, so does the information contained in the link.  Teachers are able to easily assess students in the moment using the Flubaroo script (found in the script gallery). It also seamlessly links with Moodle via the URL uploads.  Teachers and administration are also using Google Drive for virtual meetings, feedback, class officer and other voting procedures.  I use it to maintain the RVTechPD Google Site for professional development, tutorials, and helpful hints for our teachers. We wouldn't be functioning the same without Drive. Three cheers for Google!

3. This little sweetheart became my new best friend this year.  As the only Technology Integrationist for our district, I have a wild schedule that can have me teaching preschoolers one class period and working with seniors the next.  This requires a beastly organization system!  YouCanBook.Me allows you to sync with your calendar (in my case, a Technology Integration Google Calendar) and share in a wide variety of ways (QR code, link, and embed to name a few).  Teachers can then book your time according to your determined "slots".  See the screenshot below... (Can you tell which day is our last full day?)
4.  Wikispaces has been a gem.  Because of its ease of use and versatility, many teachers are using it to create everything from their own personal and student portfolios to entire novel units and ways for students to demonstrate their learning.  The possibilities really are endless. 

5. I suggest this site for those who are willing and able to help those less tech-y.  This is the easiest way to capture your screen and all you're doing in video format that is easily uploaded to YouTube or downloaded to your computer to send to others.  This is the site I use for making mini-tutorials for teachers.  It sure beats reinventing the wheel when a person asks the exact same question a week later!  The free version offers up to 15 minutes of video time, there is no software to install, and it works like a dream.

6.   Probably the coolest, free journaling web tool I've run across.  Unbelievably realistic, it functions just like a notebook.  As a district, we are always looking for new ways to foster the development of writing with our students.  Penzu has been a great venue for journal writing, reflection, and curricular writing.  Pictures and files can be attached with ease, and notebook pages can be shared with teachers as needed. Penzu is used by myriad teachers in the district.

7. Formerly Wallwisher, Padlet is an incredible site used by many teachers in a wide variety of ways.  It is a powerful virtual pinboard, of sorts, that allows you the luxury of making your space into whatever it needs to be: timeline, interactive storyteller, visual book report, assignment planner, and the list goes on.  Here you can see just a few samples of things that can be done on Padlet.

8.  From comes Word Dynamo... a vocabulary treasure if ever there was one. We were reaching a stale-mate with vocabulary, being sick-to-death of the rote memorization and regurgitation that was happening with standard vocabulary books.  Students weren't learning the words, they were working to be tested over them only to watch them flitter off into oblivion the second the test was over. Word Dynamo is helping to change that.  Not only are there quality, pre-made word lists ready at any time for any subject area, there is the built-in ability for students to make their own cards and interact with them.  Now students are empowered to create their own curricular word lists in any and all subjects.  This serves as an excellent bell-ringer! Instead of the wait time until the bell rings,  students are quickly getting to work on relevant material and working daily with "real" words they are seeing and learning about in context.  Win-win.

9.   What started out as a neat way for me to bookmark sites for my own work quickly became a great way to build and store an on-going library of curricular sites by grade level.  We now have an elementary Symbaloo with a tab per grade level.  Teachers are given the username and password to the Symbaloo and are encouraged to add sites to their grade-specific tab.  Since it is embeddable and user-friendly, even for the youngest on the web, it is now possible for teachers to embed this onto their school webpage as well as utilize them on the iPads that are available for check-out within our district.  Teachers are still encouraged to do their own bookmarking of sites for their teaching or personal use on Draggo, my absolute favorite social bookmarking site.

10.  Quizlet provides a fantastic place for teachers to create their own quizzes, games and activities to suit their curriculum.  Already widely-known by many, Quizlet offers a way to practice skills in a variety of ways.  Nearly every teacher uses Quizlet in our building in some way.  It is a great means of avoiding the traditional, scary paper study guide and engages kids much like a video game would.  By linking specific Quizlet activities to the course's Moodle page, students can begin working on them as soon as the teacher posts it or allows it to be seen by students.

++++++(Just a couple of curriculum-specific sites I couldn't leave out)++++++

  Suggested by our foreign language teacher as a must-have for practicing a new language outside of the classroom, Duolingo offers excellent, individualized practice for students studying a variety of foreign languages. Its combination of verbal and written language work makes it a free find worth delving into.

AAA Math is a site recommended by our middle school math teacher as an excellent supplement to her teaching.  Compatible with the student laptops, as well as the Smartboard, it serves as a great place to find additional resources for nearly every math concept from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"I couldn't live without this in my science room," was a comment made by one our science teachers about PhET.  From the University of Colorado at Boulder comes this fantastic simulation site.  It is unbeatable in what it provides to students in an interactive way. As you can see in the screenshot below, however, it strolls down many avenues of science and math curriculum.

I am a big fan of StudyLadder.  Many of our teachers in elementary and the middle school are utilizing this excellent resource.  It is a multi-subject interactive site that allows you to differentiate for all levels of students through grade six. With the ability to import entire class lists, you can set up individualized, interactive work for your students.  What I especially appreciate about this site is the color coded leveling.  While teachers are shown which color represents which grade level, the students are not.  In addition, StudyLadder is Common Core aligned.

Whether you are 1:1 now or thinking of going that route in the near future, I offer some advice to you.  Gather up those who are not afraid to take risks, to try something new, to realize that their device will not spontaneously combust if you push the wrong button.  Together, explore the far reaches of the curriculum and how technology can and should be integrated into it.   The tech-tentacles of those people are the ones who will light the fires of your other staff members.  Provide support, provide an integrationist, and offer solid professional development opportunities. Just know that there will be hiccups your first year.  Expect them.  Call it version 1.0.  

Rachel Langenhorst is the Technology Integrationist for Rock Valley Community Schools in Rock Valley, Iowa and has been in education for 18 years, holding a BA in Elementary Education with a reading emphasis and a M.Ed in Education Technology. As a child and grandchild of former educators, she shares a life-long passion for learning and helping those around her push themselves to reach their full potential. She is a wife to Deric, mother to Alex, Mason, and Ella, and owner of an insane black lab, Howard.

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