Sunday, January 8, 2017

Otus - A Good LMS Option for Small Schools

During the weekend I received an email from a teacher who was looking for an LMS recommendation for his small, private school. The school has less than 200 students and a limited budget. Otus was the first LMS that came to my mind.

Otus is designed to be a complete LMS (learning management system) for teachers. In addition to the gradebook you have options for sharing assignments and delivering quizzes directly to your students' inboxes. Otus provides teachers with a library of instructional resources (videos, texts, interactive review activities) that they can share with their students. Third-party resource providers are integrated into the Otus LMS. A couple of notable third party applications are Khan Academy and OpenEd. OpenEd offers thousands of math and language arts practice assessments aligned to Common Core standards. Otus is free for individual teachers to use. Otus can also be purchased for district-wide implementation which includes additional reporting tools for administrators.

Storyboard That Offers Lesson Plans for Every Month

Creating a storyboard can be a good way to outline a story, to illustrate your own ideas, or to analyze problems. Storyboard That offers dozens of lesson plans for topics in language arts and history. You will find lesson plans developed around famous literary works like The Outsiders and The Red Badge of Courage. You will also find lesson plans for topics in history like the American Civil War, branches of U.S. government, and World War II.

Recently, Storyboard That published a calendar of free lesson plans. For every month of the year Storyboard That has a lesson plan related to a holiday or theme of the month. This month's lesson plan is about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last fall Storyboard That sponsored a webinar that I hosted called Telling Stories and Solving Problems with storyboards. The recording of that webinar is embedded below.

Storyboard That also owns the popular Photos for Class and Quick Rubric websites. At the end of the webinar we took a quick look at those tools too.

The slides used in the webinar are embedded below.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

Pass the Past - A Review App for History Students

Pass the Past is a free iPad app designed to help students review U.S. and World History. The app was designed for students preparing for Virginia's Standards of Learning exams, but it can be used by any student reviewing for a test on U.S. or World history. Pass the Past offers a large selection of multiple choice quizzes. Each quiz contains 25 questions that include visual prompts. There is a hint button that students can tap if they get stuck on a question. After completing each quiz, students can see their scores and see the correct answers to each question.

Applications for Education
Pass the Past isn't the slickest app that your students will install, but it does provide them with clear set of activities to review a variety of subjects common to high school history courses.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the air is cold, the snow feels crisp, and the sun is shining. In other words, it's a perfect winter day to go outside and play.

I hope that everyone had good first week of 2017. Some of you even started 2017 with a professional development session on Wednesday afternoon. Next week I'm offering two more online professional development opportunities. On Monday night Teaching History With Technology begins. On Wednesday afternoon we'll have Fun With Formative Assessments.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Best of 2016
2. Quick Rubric Offers an Easy Way to Create Rubrics Online
3. A Cute Video About Email Etiquette for Students - Best of 2016 
4. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom - Best of 2016
5. Two Ways to Create Book Trailers on Chromebooks - Video Demonstration
6. Discovery Education Announces New Virtual Events for Students
7. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise - Best of 2016

Need a speaker for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Two Tools That Help Students Analyze Writing

On Twitter Clint asked me for a recommendation for a tool that his students can use to analyze writing. Two tools immediately came to mind. Those tools are Hemingway App and Analyze My Writing.

To use Hemingway, found at, just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use to analyze your writing.

Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing.