Can your students search the internet effectively and safely?

chromebook-kids2One of the most important skills we can teach our students – and ourselves – is effective Web searching. For almost any project  a Web search is an integral piece, yet how skilled are students at finding accurate and relevant information quickly? The volume of information – Web ‘hits’ – is overwhelming and most searches don’t go past the first page of results.

When we teach students to search, it takes more than a single lesson. It’s a learning process where skills are developed through trail and error and the searcher paying attention to how they approach the search.  Using appropriate keywords and phrases is a skill to be developed, along with learning how to vet search results – are they accurate, authoritative, and credible, and how would you know that?  It’s not always easy!

UntitledGoogle has a very useful web site for educators in helping student learn these skills.  Their Search Education site offers you and your student many resources, such as lesson plans, short online courses, Google a Day Challenges, and recorded webinars.  Using these resources to help your students learn the art of effective Web searches will help them save time and improve the quality of their research results.

iPads – It’s all about the Activity!

We all know that the key in using technology in the classroom is to use it to enhance student learning and provide opportunities for students to creatively express what they have learned.  Since the value of an app is in it’s application to learning, how can we find apps that match our learning objectives?  Here are two sites that may help you. has a  list of activities – and the apps you can use – to get you started in the right direction.



edtechteacherThe site has a page where you can search by the kind of activity – and even device – not limiting you to the iPad.

Use Ted-Ed to create your own interactive lessons using a Youtube video




Would you like to create a lesson based on a great YouTube video?  TED-Ed is a free educational website for teachers and learners.  You will find carefully curated educational videos created by other educators on just about any topic.   This platform also allows you to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. You can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact a class, or an individual student.  Creating an account is free and no account is required for students to view your lessons.

6 iPad Apps for Creative Writing

A post on 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 ?  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 ?  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! 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 ( 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.

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

50 Free Online Tools for the classroom

50 Tools logoWith so many online tools available to teachers, where do you begin to look? This simple site with a list of some of the most popular tools is a good place to start. Created by the folks at eMints, there are two listing – one categorized by function and one categorized by blooms taxonomy.  50 Free Tools