Friday, January 2, 2015

Engage Students in History With Fake Facebook and Fake SMS

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was the third most popular post in September, 2014.

Over the years Russel Tarr has developed and released a bunch of wonderful tools through ClassTools.net. Two of my favorite tools that he has developed are Fakebook and the fake SMS Generator.

Fakebook is Russel's tool for creating fake Facebook profiles. The latest version of Fakebook makes it easy to create a page by just clicking on a field and entering as much information as you like. In the profile picture field you can enter a name and Fakebook will search for images to use. For example, if you create a Fakebook page about George Washington Fakebook will search for pictures of George Washington.


The Classtools SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to log-in. To use the SMS Generator just click the left speech bubble icon and enter a message. Then to create a reply just click the right speech bubble icon and enter a new message. You can make the exchange as long as you like. To share the conversation click the sprocket icon and grab the embed code, direct link, or QR code for the exchange.


Applications for Education
Creating a fake Facebook profile could be a fun way for students to organize information that they know and or find about a famous person. You could also have students create profiles for characters in a novel that they are reading for your literature course. Take a look at the Fakebook profile gallery for more ideas about using Fakebook in your classroom.

You could have students use the Classtools SMS Generator to create simple conversations between historical characters as way to get them to think about those peoples' lives and the conversations that they might have had.

Socratic Smackdown - A Game for Learning and Practicing Discussion Strategies

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was the second most popular post in September, 2014.

Socratic Smackdown offers a fun approach to having students practice discussion strategies. Socratic Smackdown is a printable game designed to be played with up to forty students at a time. In the game students are awarded points for using each of six questioning and discussion methods. Students can lose points for interrupting or distracting others.

The play of Socratic Smackdown can be organized around a text-based question or organized around debate a question delivered verbally. During the game students can play the role of participant or "coach." A coach's role is focused on listening to the group and completing "coach cards" on which they write observations on what the participants did well and what they can do to improve.

Check out the video below for a short overview of Socratic Smackdown.


Applications for Education
Socratic Smackdown provides a great framework through which your students can develop discussion and debate skills. The game packet (a 23 page PDF available here) includes alignment to Common Core standards for middle school and high school classrooms.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Math Word Wall Posters for Elementary School Classrooms

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was the second most popular post in August, 2014.

As the new school year starts many elementary school teachers will be looking for new materials to add to the walls of their classrooms. Measurement Word Wall Posters from Mary at Guided Math could be just what an elementary school teacher needs. The set of ten posters illustrate units of measurement in terms that students can understand. For example, the poster for millimeters depicts a dime and states that one millimeter equals the thickness of a dime. You can find the posters on Guided Math and on Scribd.
Math Measurement Word Wall

H/T to Kelly Hines.

Two Good Random Name Selection Tools

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was the most popular post in August, 2014.

At one point or another every teacher has asked for volunteers and not had any hands raised. In that situation using a random name selection tool is an easy way to choose students to call on. And for those times when all of your students raise their hands for something fun like being the line leaders, the a random name selector is a convenient tool to have at your disposal too. Here are two good random name selection tools.

Random Name Picker is a free tool from Russel Tarr at Classtools.net. The Random Name Picker lets you input names and spin a virtual wheel to have a name randomly selected from the list. After a name is selected you can remove it from the wheel so that it is not selected again. Random Name Picker is free to use and does not require a registration on Classtools.net. You can save your lists by assigning passwords to them. You can re-use your saved lists. The Random Name Picker wheel can be embedded into your blog or website. The Random Name Picker was written in HTML5 so that it will run in the browser of your iPad.

The Random Name Selector from Primary Technology is a simple tool for picking names from a list you've created. To use the selector just type in or copy a list of names then hit "go." Once a name is selected you have the option of launching a two minute or seven minute countdown timer. You also have the option to remove a name from the list after it has been selected. Watch the video below to learn a little more and see the Random Name Selector in use.


7 Free Edmodo Apps to Try This Year

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was the second most popular post in July, 2014.

The integration of third party services is one of the things that makes Edmodo a good system for organizing and sharing content with students. The single log-in aspect of Edmodo gives your students access to excellent tools without having to keep track of separate user names and passwords. Whether you're thinking about using Edmodo in the new school year or you're simply looking for new apps to try, take a look at the following seven free Edmodo apps.

eduCanon is a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows teachers to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within eduCanon. To create lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within the eduCanon site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of your chosen video.

ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports. ClassCharts allows you to create online seating charts for each of your classes. Through those seating charts you can record attendance, give virtual kudos to students, and record negative and positive behaviors. The information that you record in ClassCharts can be shared with parents and students through special log-ins that you supply to them. ClassCharts offers a couple of features that I really like. These features make it different from other online behavior chart services. The first feature that stands-out to me is the option to upload pictures of students to your seating charts instead of just relying on cartoon avatars. The second feature that I love is the option to invite other teachers to collaborate on the tracking of student behaviors.

Subtext is an app that you can use to create online book discussions tied directly to the text of a book. The list of the things that you can do with Subtext is quite impressive, but the basic purpose is to provide a place for teachers and students to have digital book discussion. These are some of the many things that you can do with Subtext: using Subtext you can read ebooks, annotate ebooks, create quizzes about ebooks, and write blog posts about the ebooks you read. You can create private and public book discussion groups and build bookshelves for your groups.

CodeMonkey is a simple app designed to help students learn some basic coding principles. The app presents students with a series of challenges in which they have to help a monkey reach his bananas. Students help the monkey get his bananas by correctly programming the movements of the monkey.


CK-12 Science and Math Edmodo apps make it easy to find quality practice problems for your students. You can assign the practice problems to your students through Edmodo. Students scores on the practice assessments can be saved to your Edmodo gradebook.


eduClipper is a bookmarking and digital portfolio tool for teachers and students. Teachers can now use eduClipper to create assignment portfolios. Assignment portfolios allow you to assign projects or tasks to students. You can assign a start and end date for each project. Within the assignment portfolio you can include a project / task description, links to materials, and project files such as rubrics that you either upload as PDFs or insert from Google Drive. Students submit their completed assignments through the portfolio where you can then offer feedback in the forms of text, audio, or video comments.

Disclosure: I have a small advisory role with eduClipper and a very small equity stake in it.