Engage your students with interactive web sites

Whether we are using a Smartboard, iPad, or computer, we can
address multiple learning modalities (visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic), along with multiple intelligence’s and learning styles by using interactive web sites. Here is a wonderful list organized by subject, where you can find “all of the best K-5 online, interactive, educational games and simulations in one place!” Check some of these out – students love them.

6 iPad Apps for Creative Writing

A post on Edutopia.com has a list of 6 ipad apps that you can use with your class for Creative Writing.  A few of them could be used as classroom activities (by showing your iPad screen via your digital projector) to show steps in the writing process as well as modeling it.  All the apps listed cost a modest amount, yet for kids who have trouble putting pen to paper, just might inspire them to get started on a great story.

Internet Search Tips for Students

End of year projects can be challenging for the kids as they look for information on the web – and are overwhelmed by the volume of information and difficulty in finding useful sites.Teaching them how to narrow their searches will help save time, reduce frustration and distraction, and empower them to find relevant information.
Here are some resources that may help you help them:

Here is a pdf file on Tips&Tricks for Web Searches  that you could print for students and/or discuss as a class activity to help them learn searching shortcuts.

Another printable pdf fille called Google Search Ninja is another good handout for students.

Here is a short movie explaining in simple terms how to focus a search.

sweetsearchHave you heard of www.Sweetsearch.com ?  It’s a search engine for students that filters out a lot of useless sites – it’s worth a try rather than using Google all the time.

How about www.easybib.com ?  Students enter the url of the web page where they found info and the citation is created to copy and paste into their document.

I hope you will spend a little time with your class on some of these tips. Having student web searches be more productive is worth it!

Resources for teaching the Academic Word List

la_vocabularyLanguage Arts teachers know that the Academic Word List (AWL) is a list of words which appear with high frequency in English-language academic texts – and state assessments! The list was compiled by Averil Coxhead at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and contains 570 word families divided into 10 sublists.  Many of these words are frequently encountered in newspapers and magazines and can be heard on television, radio, and movies or in everyday conversation. There are many resources on the web to help us teach our students this essential vocabulary:

This website from Nottingham University will allow you to take any electronic text (cut and paste from Word or a web page for example) , and automatically highlight AWL words. You can then create an activity using this highlighted text –  teaching the content and standard originally planned, but embed the direct teaching of vocabulary.  Instructions are here.  The site has other AWL resources too!

Englishvocabularyexercises.com has vocabulary exercises for the Academic Word List (numerous exercises that could be done as a class activity, along with a link to a dictionary definition for each and an audio of the pronunciation) . Each Exercise could be done in just 3-5 minutes, and there are dozens of exercises.

This site, RMIT University, uses the Coxhead list as well, with pre and post assessments, printable word/definition lists, and a variety of activity types.

This site (UEfAP.com) may be useful for student practice. It has 56 exercise – each has a long reading passage on a topic with the vocab words highlighted (offers good contextual application of the words).  The exercise then shows the passage with the vocab words left out and the student places the correct word in the sentence.

We’re all teaching Digital Citizenship to our students, right?

Our students use digital devices every day – or at least most of them do. Smartphones, iPads, and computers are common place, and even in our classrooms iPads, Chromebooks, and computers are being used much more widely as we begin to implement blended learning and on-line learning in our classrooms.

An important aspect of student access to technology – at home or at school – is to educate them about Internet Safely and Bullying. It’s the responsible thing to do, and for schools that receive e-Rate dollars, it’s required.

There are many great resources available on the Internet that we can use with our students, and they are free. Here’s a great blog article that lists many of them and is a great place to begin gathering materials for your Digial Citizenship lessons.




Update on May 9th:  Found this great website with lots or resources:  DigitalCitizenship.net

Animate your lessons with Stop Motion Video on your iPad

Lego MovieTurn your students into budding animators! There are a variety of easy to use animation apps, some of which are free, to capture and stitch together photos of characters and objects into seamless, fluent animated movies. Best of all, the process of designing, scripting and staging animations has tremendous educational potential, and can be a wonderful mix of art, science, history, language arts, and even math. Using these iPad apps, and materials such as clay, Lego’s, drawings, or toy figures, students can create short animated sequences illustrating or teaching a concept – all while involving student teams in collaborative discussion, collective imagination and creativity, problem solving, critical analysis and a lot of teamwork. Students will be completely engaged while you observe learning outcomes that they are not even aware of!
Here’s a few apps you can take a look at:

LEGO Movie Maker –  Free  (my favorite – can add sound effects, music overlay, and voice overlay, and save to photoroll)
Animate it 2.99
iStopmotion  9.99
StopMotion  Free
Stop Motion Studio  Free (has in-app purchases)
Stop Motion Recorder  .99
sMovie  6.99
Ostanovca   Free
Stop Motion Café  Free
Osnap  2.99  (Lite version is free)
MyCreate  4.99 (Lite version is free)

Where can I find Copyright Free music?

When creating a presentation, smartnotebook lesson,  or a video that uses music tracks, the sure way to avoid any concerns about copyright infringement is to use music you created. Unfortunately, often that is not a reasonable option for a lot of folks, including me! You can however find royalty free music on the internet that you can download and use in your creations.

soundzaboundSoundzabound.com is a site made for education that has free clips, though the full collection is only available with a license fee.


royaltyfreemusicAnother site to look at is  Royalty Free Music, which charges the general public for their downloads, but students and teachers can download quite a bit of the music for free. To request an education account go here.

There are many other sites out there you can take a look at – here’s a site that lists a number of them and also has basic information on creative commons licensing.

powermylearningLooking for digital content for your ipads or chromebooks? PowerMyLearning is a collection of engaging free activities including academic games, interactives, and videos that are searchable by subject, grade, and Common Core standard. Curated by a team of educators, PowerMyLearning also includes several sets of tools for creating a class site, such as playlists, a student dashboard, and other tools. Quiz Packs, available for select content areas and topics, focus on a specific Common Core State Standard and contain one of PowerMyLearning‘s top digital learning activities plus two short quizzes.

PowerMyLearning Resources come from a number of well-known educational content providers such as ReadWriteThink, PBS, BBC, and LearnZillion. Teachers can set up level and interest-appropriate activities, or students can direct their own learning by choosing activities of interest to them. Both adults and students also have access to reports that monitor progress.

Digital literacy is integrated into PowerMyLearning by providing students the ability to choose avatars, create profiles, and tackle special challenges to earn more power for their “Wizmos.”
The PowerMyLearning collection is constantly growing and adding new activities and features. Create a free login and explore activities for your students at at http://powermylearning.org/


Use Youtube safely for your classroom

YouTube-TeachersYoutube has a wealth of resources for using in the classroom, yet you may be concerned about having inappropriate suggested videos’, or ads, popping up on the screen.  To remove those problems use YouTube EDU by going to www.youtube.com/teachers

Once there, an easy way to search by grade and subject is to scroll down a bit and look for the “Classroom Videos” tab just right of center, below the featured video.  Not only will your search be focused on educational videos, those ads and images you don’t want to see will not be there.  Find engaging videos to introduce a topic or present a concept for class discussion – make it visual!

Have you upgraded to the new iOS 7? Look it over before you make the change!

ios7The new OS (operating system) for the iPad is version 7.  It offers a very different look and feel from version 6, with some new functions and differences in where options are found.
Here’s a good summary of some of the changes with respect to many of the basic features.

Perhaps you’ve not yet, but are considering updating to iOS7 ?  Read some reviews first and be sure that’s your best move!  It may not be for everyone (although at some point it may necessary as new apps come out that run only on 7)
OS 7 – The Basics
  (from Apple)
Apple iOS 7 Reveiw
7 Worst things about iOS 7