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Digital Book Talk: Book Trailers for K-12

What it is: There is a new trend in reading: book trailers.  It seems that lately book trailers are popping up on all of the video sharing sites.  Digital Book Talk is a collaborative effort from the University of Central Florida where Dr. Robert Kennedy and Dr. Glenda Gunter have completed...

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Eliademy: Democratizing education with technology

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Interactive book, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 19-11-2013

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ilearn Technology: Eliademy- Democratizing education with technology

What it is: Eliademy has a wonderful mission of democratizing education with technology.  The tool makes it easy for anyone to create an online classroom, for free!  Eliademy makes it easy for educators to create, share and manage courses.  Eliademy is a free learning management system and course content created by you.  Educators can engage students through discussion boards, videos, images, news feeds, visual notifications and calendar with a fast and easy to use interface.  Eliademy is available everywhere: Mac, PC, tablet, smart phone. Very handy!  Even better, you can create a course from your tablet (not available in a lot of LMS/online classroom options).

How to integrate Eliademy into your classroom: Eliademy isn’t just for offering distance-learning.  It is a great way to connect your students in new and awesome ways in a blended-learning environment.  Keep all of your digital classroom resources in one, easy-to access place.  Make sure that your students can always be connected to what is happening in class with a shared calendar. Extend classroom discussions with discussion boards, video, and news feeds.

I’ve long been a fan of blending online experiences with offline.  Students begin to see that learning can happen anywhere, not just in your classroom.  They also connect in different ways online.  I’ve found that kids are willing to have deeper, more vulnerable conversations in an online environment.  This is especially true when the relationships are established first in the classroom.

Host your “flipped” materials using Eliademy.  Not only can students access video, they can extend the experience with access to additional classroom materials, the ability to discuss and share resources online, etc.

Challenge students to create their own course to share.  What are they passionate about?  What can they offer to teach others?

Tips: Eliademy makes the promise that it will always be secure, without advertisements, and free.  Outstanding.

What do you think of Eliademy?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.

Unitag: Custom QR Code Generator

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 06-12-2012

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What it is: QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent in education and everywhere else (advertisements, TV, your bag of chips, soda, etc.).  These codes are easy to make and can lead to some fun learning opportunities.  Unitag is a QR code generator that lets you customize the look of the QR code.  First, choose a type of QR code to generate.  This can be a weblink, text, a business card, an email, a geolocation, a text message, a phone number, a calendar date, a wifi network, or a mobile page.  Next, you can customize the QR code with pre-made templates, personalized color palette, a special look, a logo or picture, “eye” colors, and more.  When you are finished, the QR code can be downloaded or shared on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  This process could take seconds (it is SO fast to create) or several minutes depending on how fancy you like to get with your customizations.

How to integrate Unitag into the classroom: So, what in the heck can you use those codes for?  A lot!  Use Unitag to create customized codes for back to school night; instead of sending parents with stacks of papers, offer a QR code by the door where they can snap a picture that takes them to your expectations/important dates/syllabus/special projects.  Include QR codes next to parent teacher conference signups so that parents can instantly upload the date to the calendar on their phone.  A QR code linked to your business card helps parents and students know what office hours you keep and how to keep in touch.

For older students (who have a phone) offer QR codes to help them remember important dates, homework, special projects, etc.  This could be posted next to the door so that on their way in or out they can instantly snap a picture and have all of the upcoming assignments in their calendar.

QR codes can be used by students to create choose your own adventure type stories.  The codes can link to different twists and turns within the story.  This would be fantastic for student created fiction but could also make a really cool book report.  Students could write one version summarizing the story as it was, a QR code could lead to an alternate ending that they created themselves.

When studying history, QR codes could be used to show different angles of the same event, different outcomes depending on population…and how cool would it be if those QR codes were included on a map where the events took place?!  Students can link the QR codes to different views of the same event.  For example, one from the viewpoint of explorer Christopher Columbus and another from the point of view of Native Americans.  A QR code classroom timeline would also be very neat.  Students can create reports/content that is linked to a QR code that gets placed on a giant timeline.  Customize the code with images that are related to the event or colors that represent the event in some way.

Create a bulletin board with a map of the world.  Place QR codes over different places for an interactive board.  Students can use the QR codes to reveal the name/capital/key features of the place.

Have a secret clue or math problem each day that students can reveal using a QR code.  It sounds so simple, but honestly, students love the mystery and hidden challenge!

In science, QR codes can be used at different stations to reveal the steps that students should follow for an experiment.  How about a periodic table of QR codes that reveal what each element does or a video that shows the element in action?

At the beginning of last year, we created a school wide school scavenger hunt that used QR codes to help students learn where different classrooms/resources could be found.  It was great fun!

Anytime you have a center activity, include a QR code that links to instructions, supplementary videos or websites.  This saves students from having to spend learning time typing in URLs or looking for directions that the last group wrote on or piled things on (or does that only happen to us?).

Do your students create a LOT of digital work like ours do?  One of the challenges we face at Anastasis is the lack of worksheets going home.  I know…it doesn’t seem like that would be a challenge, but it is.  Parents aren’t quite sure where to look for their child’s work since it is all digital.  QR codes could go home in lieu of a Friday folder that link to student work.

This time of year, it would be really neat to create a QR code advent calendar where students reveal some new piece of learning every day.

Tips: I hope that your mind is racing with the possibilities these little codes offer.  There is something to the mystery of them that appeals to students, they are like unveiling a surprise.  Don’t keep all the fun of creating them to yourself, students can easily create these and use them within their work.  I honestly can’t think of a subject or discipline that these wouldn’t be useful in.

Art: Share some art history or steps to an art project through a QR code.

Foreign Language: Create a word bank wall that has QR codes that reveal the translation of the word.

Geography: Create a map with QR codes that reveals additional information about the place.

Government: QR codes that lead students to political cartoons and related learning.

History: Exploring multiple points of view within a historical event.

Language Arts: Choose your own adventure story creation.

Math: Problem of the day.  Multiple methods for solving a problem.  Instructions for a math center activity.

Music: An exploration of world music through QR code link/videos.

PE: Links to examples of different exercises/warm ups.

Phonics: Video library of phonemes through QR code.

Science: Periodic table of QR codes with links to element information or videos.

Apps for scanning QR Codes: QR Reader, Qrafter, QR Scanner, Scan, Red Laser, Quick Scan Pro, Quick Scan, ATT code scanner.  There are hundreds of these, search your app store for “QR code” and find the one that best fits your needs and device.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Unitag in your classroom.

Be the Beat: Interactive heart and virtual CPR simulation

Posted by admin | Posted in Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, PE, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-04-2012

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What it is:  The American Heart Association has a new set of heart interactives on their site, Be the Beat.  On Be the Beat, students can explore the heart, view a healthy vs unhealthy heart and perform virtual CPR during a cardiac arrest.  The interactives have extremely life-like graphics and can be manipulated to view the heart under a variety of circumstances.  Students can speed up heart rate or adjust layers of the heart.  The CPR simulation is excellent.  It leads students through a scenario where a friend collapses.  It is up to students to decide how to administer CPR and use an AED to help the friend.

How to integrate Be the Beat into the classroom: Be the Beat is very well done.  I’m impressed with the level of information, the interactive graphics and the ability to manipulate how the heart is reacting.  Be the Beat would be a great site for students to visit when learning about the heart.  This could be as part of a science class, health or PE class.

On the interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, students can take turns adjusting and manipulating what is happening to the heart.  As they take their turn, they can play “scientist” and describe what is happening to the rest of the class with the help of the captions on Be the Beat.  The CPR interactive would be a great whole-class activity.  As a class, students can make decisions about what to do to help their friend who has gone into cardiac arrest.  They can take turns calling for help, administering CPR and using the AED.

Be the Beat would make a fantastic hands-on center on classroom computers as students are learning about the heart.  Students can stop by the center and explore the different areas of the heart.  Assign each student to study a different area of the heart so that they can take turns explaining the functions to each other.

Tips: The American Heart Association has a whole new program where students can learn to save a life in the School Challenge.  Learn more about it here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Be the Beat in  your classroom!

3D Toad- 360* images worth more than a thousand words

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 16-04-2012

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What it is:   3D Toad is a site I learned about from @rmbyrne‘s fantastic blog, Free Tech for Teachers.  This is like hitting the lottery of educational image libraries.  It goes beyond your typical image library and has 3D images that students can spin all around and explore from every angle.  Stinking awesome!  Even better? (Yes, it gets better.)  It works on mobile iDevice browsers! There are great images to explore on a variety of educational topics including: dissections, animal skeletons, human skeletons, music, geology, dental hygiene, coral, yoga, ballet positions, fossils, history, chemistry, emergency preparedness and computer networking.

Our students are learning all about earth systems right now so the fossils, geology and coral are especially exciting!

How to integrate 3D Toad into the Classroom:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If a regular picture is worth a thousand, these 3D images are worth at least 360 times more.  The 3D images on 3D Toad let students examine all 360* of an image.  Students can examine, discover, and analyze images from various angles.  3D Toad helps students really visualize learning in new ways.

Use 3D Toad as a visual glossary on classroom computers.  Students can visit this “visual glossary” center to explore objects and new vocabulary that they are learning.  It would also be great on an interactive whiteboard or classroom computer where students can examine objects together.  3D Toad has a video on their site that shows a teacher using 3D Toad with students.  I don’t love their example because the teacher is at the center of a review time before a test.  The best use of this site would be to let students loose on it so that they can explore the images on their own.

3D Toad would be a great place for students to practice their observation skills.  Each student could choose an object to explore in depth, write a detailed description and observation of the object.  Working with a partner, they can describe their object and see if their partner can identify the image from the description alone.

These 360* images can be used for introducing new concepts, as a visual aid for students who are presenting learning, and as a place for further exploration of a topic or object.

Tips: Double click to zoom-in on an image.  ***Some of the images have alternate 3D views that can be viewed with 3D glasses!  The Giraffe skull is a good example of this.  How cool would it be to outfit your students with some cheap 3D glasses for this lesson? I’ve asked local theaters to share leftover glasses in the past, they are usually very willing/happy to help out!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using 3D Toad in your classroom!

Stretch Break for Kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, PE, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Software, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 16-06-2009

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What it is:  As computers and one to one environments become more prevalent in schools, it is important to remember proper ergonomics.  Stretch Break is a free software that is downloadable for both Mac and PC platforms.  The software is designed to help prevent computer related strain injuries by reminding students to take breaks while using the computer.  Every 30 minutes the software asks students if they would like to stretch.  Full animated figures lead students through simple stretches.  Then the software returns students to the task they were working on.  Teachers can designate how long to wait between stretch sessions and how many stretches to lead students through in a session.  Stretch Break for Kids was designed by a team of health care professionals.  The stretches focus on the neck, arms, hands, back, legs, and wrists.  The software also includes some important eye exercises.  There are 20 stretches total, many that focus on prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

How to integrate Stretch Break for Kids into the classroom:  Stretch Break for Kids is a must for every computer lab.  Any time that students are using a lab computer they should be reminded of proper ergonomics and learn how to properly stretch for health.  Load Stretch Break for Kids on classroom computers and even on the computer that is connected with the Interactive Whiteboard.  Throughout the day (you determine how often and how long) set Stretch Break to pop up and encourage students to stretch as a class.  Even if they aren’t working at the computer all day, these stretches will help them get some blood flowing and release tension that can build up while they are doing their school work.  This is a great one to download to your own computer, you need to be reminded to stretch too! 

 

Tips:   Stretch Break for Kids contains Ergo hints for healthier computing in addition to the stretches.  Spend some time teaching your kids healthy computing habits, as technology becomes more and more available in the classroom, these healthy habits become more important.  The free Stretch Break for Kids software is network compatible.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Stretch Break for Kids in your classroom.

ActivInspire

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Software, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 05-03-2009

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What it is:  ActivInspire is a new software from Promethean that is free!  The free edition is a ‘personal’ license that can be used by anyone.  The ActivInspire software works with ANY interactive whiteboard (SMART, Mimio, Wiimote Whiteboard, eBeam, etc.)  and even for those of you who do not have an interactive whiteboard, use the software with just a computer and projector!  The Promethean Planet website has thousands of lessons and resources that are free to access and can be used with ActivInspire to engage your students.  ActivInspire has two launch options, the first is to launch in Primary function.  In Primary, ActivInspire is very user friendly for primary elementary students.  The second option is to launch in Studio with tools that are perfect for older students.  ActivInspire works on Windows, Mac, and Linux based machines.  Some of the goodies in ActivInspire include interactive protractors, rulers, clocks, grids, and more.  New power tools include intelligent shapes and handwriting recognition.  There are themed templates for fast and easy lesson building.  ActivInspire supports flash files that can be embeded in Flipchart lessons.  ActivInspire can open SMART and PowerPoint files, making it quick and easy to pick up any lesson and improve it.

How to integrate ActivInspire into the classroom:  ActivInspire is software that can keep students engaged in any lesson in your curriculum.  The software is incredibly intuitive and makes it easy to create amazing interactive lessons.  The lessons (flipcharts) can be saved and shared among colleagues.  Begin building a library of interactive lessons for your students.  Be sure to visit Promethean Planet for thousands of ready made (FREE) flipcharts and activities to use with the ActivInspire software.  

 

Tips:  To see the possiblities of the ActivInspire software, take a look at Flipcharts created by the developers of ActivInspire.  Promethean also has a great set of support tutorials that will have you up and running in no time! 

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using ActivInspire  in your classroom.

Bestest PE Teacher

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, Middle/High School, PE, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 13-02-2009

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 What it is:  Our PE teacher just started a blog of her own!  The blog is called Bestest PE Teacher, her hope is that it will be a place to start a conversation with teachers, students, and parents about physical education in schools, reminisce about PE memories, and advice for parents and students. 

How to integrate Bestest PE into the classroom:   This blog will be a great place to converse about physical education in schools.  Pass this blog on to the PE teacher at your school and join in the conversation to encourage this new edublogger!  

 

Tips:  If you are wondering where the name Bestest PE came from, the kids call our PE teacher “Bestest PE Teacher in the Whole Wide World”… I tend to agree she is the bestest!  

Do you follow any other PE blogs?  Share them here so I can pass them along!