Monday, September 21, 2015

Life on Minimum Wage - An Economics Lesson

Personal finance and economics has long been one of my favorite social studies topics to teach. A few years ago I created a hands-on simulation for teaching students about the difficulty of trying to survive on a minimum wage job. My students loved it! I've now made the activity available in the TES Marketplace. Click here to download it for free or read on for more information about the activity.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not yet determined) at Life on Minimum Wage students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one business slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects that a business closing has on a small town's economy.

MoocNote - Add Timestamped Questions and Comments to Videos

MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify.

Applications for Education
MoocNote could be a good tool for high school teachers who want to organize playlists of videos for their students and add some clarifying information to those videos. You could also have students use MoocNote to annotate videos to demonstrate an understanding of the topic at hand.

One of the drawbacks to MoocNote is that it can only be used by people who have registered on the site with an email address. Even if you just want students to view the notes you've added to a video, they will have to create MoocNote accounts.

Help Teaching - Create Puzzles and Quizzes Online

Disclosure: Help Teaching is currently running a banner advertisement on

Help Teaching is a service that offers some good tools to help teachers write tests and create puzzles online. The free plan on Help Teaching allows you to use their Test Maker, Game Creator, and printable Worksheet Generator.

In the Help Teaching Test Maker you can create tests and quizzes by selecting questions from a massive bank of pre-made questions, many of which are aligned to Common Core standards. You can also write your own questions and save them in your personal bank of questions to re-use in multiple tests. After selecting and or writing questions to add to your test, you can save it online and or print it.

The Help Teaching Game Creator and Worksheet Generator provide a handful of formatting options. I chose to try the word search template. To use the word search template I simply pasted a list of words into the template then Help Teaching generated the word search scramble for me. I was then able to print the word search as well as save it as a PDF.

Applications for Education
Using Help Teaching could be a time-saver for teachers who like to have things like word searches and bingo games on hand for students.

How to Create and Edit Rubrics on Quick Rubric

On Friday afternoon I wrote a short post about a new tool called Quick Rubric. That post quickly became popular on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page where I was asked a few questions about how Quick Rubric works. To answer those questions I recorded the short screencast that you should see embedded below.

Disclosure: Quick Rubric is owned by the same people who own Storyboard That and advertise on

Learning With Liquid Text

This is a guest post from Jennfer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

I was recently introduced to a new and innovative document annotation tool for the iPad. LiquidText allows you to import PDF files, web pages, Word, and PowerPoint files from websites and cloud services (like DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, and more). Similar to traditional annotation tools, you can highlight and take notes in the margins. However, LiquidText goes so much farther! In addition to traditional comments, you can make a comment apply to two sections, connect comments into groups, or even comment on other comments! You can highlight and then pull out excerpts of text for further comment. You can “scrunch” documents so that you can compare text on different pages side by side, and “pinch” the document so that you can see all of your highlights and comments on one page so that you can quickly find your notes.

When you finish annotating a document, you can share the file in different ways. For example, you can export it via email or a cloud storage service. You can share it as a PDF with both the document as well as your comments, or share just your notes as an RTF file (it will open with any word processor). Additionally, you can share a LiquidText File that will open in the LiquidText App with all of your interactive notes, excerpts, and more available to the reader. LiquidText is an amazing annotation tool that can help you take your reading even deeper!

November 16-18, EdTechTeacher will be hosting their fourth annual iPad Summit in Boston. The conference will feature hands-on sessions as well as speakers from across the country.