Thursday, November 2, 2017

Use the ClassTools Power Search to Find Educational Games is one of my favorite places to find free educational games and templates for creating educational games. Russel Tarr, a history teacher and developer of ClassTools, has made so many games that the site now needs a power search function. You can use this search function to find games and templates according to the topics that you teach. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find free educational games on

Applications for Education
All of the games that you find by searching on can be modified by you to match your students' needs. Use the search function on to find games for the topics you teach. But if you don't find an exact match to what you need, use the games you do find as a template for making your own through the tools on

Providing Every Student in Your Class With a Voice

I was the quiet student who always sought out the back row. I never willingly participated in class discussions, not because I didn't have anything to contribute, but because I preferred to communicate my thoughts in writing. Many of our students sit in class quietly as their peers dominate the discussions, wishing they could add to the conversation. Some might lack the confidence to speak in front of their peers while others prefer to formulate their thoughts in writing.

There are plenty of digital tools that allow all students to have their voices heard. Sometimes we refer to these tools as backchannels because they allow conversations to happen at the same time as the main conversation or event that is taking place. This is a common practice at events like conferences where attendees use platforms such as Twitter to have discussions about what they are learning while they are learning it. The attendees usually include a specific hashtag in their tweets to make their tweets visible to others who are following the backchannel. Using Twitter as a backchannel can work with students, but there are numerous tools that are specifically designed for this purpose.

Two of my favorite tools for backchanneling are TodaysMeet and Backchannel Chat. You can use either service without creating an account which means you can start a chat and be up and going in less time than it took me to type this sentence. Both platforms are free, but Backchannel Chat does have a premium version that cost $15 per year. The added features make it worth more than with the small cost.

Applications for Education
Backchannels are an alternative to answering questions during a video. They are a great way to get students to think about the content and make connections to their lives. Backchannel "chat rooms" can be left open for long periods. Teachers can use them to create a virtual community for their classes where students can go to get (and give) help. No matter which of the numerous platforms are used, all backchannels serve the very important role of providing all students with the opportunity to participate and have their voice heard.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Presentation Design Guide from Visme

Visme is a design tool that allows everyone to create beautiful graphics that help tell a story and engage an audience. You can use Visme to create presentations, infographics, graphics, charts, and reports. The folks at Visme have compiled over two years of research into a free 125-page digital design guide that you can download for free. The guide is especially useful for non-designers! Check out the video below to learn more about how you can use Visme to create some awesome projects.

Improvements in Google Classroom

Google Classroom has released a few updates recently that are small, but make it a little easier to use. Let's take a look at three of them. Google incorporates suggestions from users on how to make the product better. Make sure you let the Google Classroom team know if you have any suggestions for changes or improvements.

Decimal Grades You are no longer restricted to using whole numbers when entering grades. This is very helpful when students earn partial credit for an answer.

Display Class Code It never fails. We read the class code loudly and clearly, but someone doesn't hear it or we write it on the board, but some students can't see it. Now we have the ability to display the class code in huge letters that are large enough to read from across the room. 

Rearrange Class Cards Prior to this change, we were stuck with the cards in the order in which they were created. Now we can create the classes then drag them into any order we want. Arrange them alphabetically? No problem! Arrange them in the order we teach them? Why not! 

Can't get enough Google Classroom? Read about how to enhance your Classroom experience

Resources to Learn About Outer Space

Outer space is one of the most fascinating topics for students of all ages. Whether your students are learning about the moon or exploring a distant solar system, these resources are sure to pique their interest.

  • Planets- This website from NASA has beautiful imagery and diagrams of each of the planets, information about different missions, and resources for kids and teachers.
  • Black Holes- Find out anything you have ever wanted to know about black holes.
  • NASA Black Holes- The information in this article is written for students in grades 5-8 and it answers different questions about black holes.
  • National Museum of Air and Space- This site has resources for online activities for students, online exhibits, and information about different projects that involve space and flight.
  • Outer Space View by Google- Explore the ISS using Google Street view and read articles about the impact that living in space has on the human body.
  • Tour the Solar System- Explore the solar system through an interactive model. There are also links that take you to articles where you can learn more about outer space.
  • KidsAstronomy- Resources are geared toward younger students who are interested in learning more about outer space.
  • American Museum of Natural History- The Digital Universe collection contains downloadable software that allows you to fly from the sun to the edge of the observable universe.
  • Space Weather- Learn about weather in space and how it impacts us here on our planet. 

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