Ideas to Inspire

What it is:  Ideas to Inspire has been a favorite of mine for years, it recently got a design boost that makes it even more useable!  Ideas to Inspire comes to us from @markw29, Mark invites teachers from around the world to share their inspiring ideas for using technology in the classroom.  These are pulled together as a presentation that teachers everywhere can benefit from.  Ideas to Inspire has a handy new filter tool that let’s you find the exact resources and ideas you are looking for easily.  Inspiring ideas include: Amazing art, A to Z of ITC, audio, books to engage boys, ideas for classroom blogging, games to enhance learning, creative geography, geography gaming, get to know your new class, GIS and GPS, Google forms, Google maps, Google search, ICT control and modelling, ICT in the early years, interesting images to use in the classroom, incredible science, inspiring writing, interactive math, Internet safety, iPad, iPod Touch, learning platforms, making your lessons ESL/EAL friendly, mobile phones, Moodle, netbooks, Nintendo DS and DSi, Non-tech strategies, ways to present Internet research, Prezi, Primary Pad, Purple Mash, QR Codes, student voice, super science investigations, super snow day activities, supporting math, supporting spelling, techy tips for non techy teachers, things to do with digital images, Twitter, using backchannels in the classroom, using video conferencing to support the use of quality texts, Wallwisher, webcams, web conferencing, Wii, wikis, Wordle, document cameras, supporting writing, search engines, marvelous music, interactive whiteboards, Google docs, ICT shopping list, creative curriculum topics, pocket video cameras, teaching reading comprehension, Voicethread, YouTube and (if you can believe it) more!

The new filter let’s you filter by curriculum linked presentations or interesting ways to use: hardware, software or online tools in the classroom.

This great resource is not to be missed!

How to integrate Ideas to Inspire into the classroom: Sometimes we could all use a little inspiration.  Ideas to Inspire is just the place to stop for some guaranteed inspiration! I love that the ideas shared on Ideas to Inspire are collected from classrooms and teachers around the world.  That tool you have been using forever in your classroom? Someone, somewhere has thought up a great new innovative way to use it in your classroom for learning!  Does not get better than that!

For those of you who are enjoying the last few weeks (gulp) of summer, be sure to stop by Ideas to Inspire while you have some time to be inspired and make plans for the upcoming school year.

Tips: Fair warning: this website will suck you right in and make you want to spend hours exploring. ūüôā


12 Tools for Blended Learning- The Apple

A year ago I wrote this article for The Apple, it just got published yesterday ūüôā ¬†I have a few tools I would add to this list. ¬†The first is Wiggio, you can read more about it here. ¬†The second is Vyew, you can read more about it here. ¬†Since the article was written a year ago, some of the tools are no longer available or have changed a little bit. ¬† just got bought out by Facebook and the service has been discontinued so that is no longer an option.

Read the original 12 Tools for Blended Learning article here.  If you are unfamiliar with The Apple, they are a social network platform for teachers that is connected to  The apple shares educational news stories, education articles on every topic, forums, collaborative areas, educational job postings, lesson plans, resources, and more. Definitely worth checking out!

Kelly Tenkely |

With H1N1 lurking in our schools and the possibility of pandemic illness, there has never been a better occasion for blended learning. Blended learning occurs when schools and classrooms mix traditional face-to-face teaching, with online instruction and interaction. Aside from the flu, there are other great reasons to create an e-learning environment for your classroom.

Natural disasters, weather, school closings, long term student illness, struggling learners, English language learners, and students who are entering your classroom mid-way through the school year would all benefit from a blended learning environment. This type of e-learning brings a continuity to learning that is not otherwise possible.

Additionally, a blended learning classroom prepares students for a future that is largely virtual. Students are able to go back and review lessons and learning at their own pace. Students who may lack support at home from parents or family members will have access to on demand learning. Parents will gain a better understanding of what is happening in the classroom and, as a result, will be more equipped to assist their child’s learning. Blending your classroom can save you time and energy by making your classroom more effective and efficient.

Making the transition to a blended learning classroom doesn’t have to happen overnight. Post teaching and learning materials online a little at a time, systematically increasing your offerings. This makes the progression for students, teachers, and parents seamless. Begin by providing instructional materials that were used throughout the school day online. Gradually add extra options such as online collaboration, assignments, grading, and lesson materials. Should your school need to go completely virtual due to school closure, the groundwork will have been laid to make it possible.

There are several free programs that help make e-Learning possible, choose the one that best meets your classroom and school needs.

1. Edu 2.0

Benefits: Edu 2.0 is a complete e-Learning solution. It is completely free to use with no hidden costs or advertising. Classes can be taught public (open to the world) or private (specific to the students in your classroom). A comprehensive gradebook is provided complete with weighting, statistics, and graphs. Online quizzes can be created that include a variety of question types. Messaging is built in and has the option of email integration. Within Edu 2.0 students and teachers can create public or private blogs and wikis.

Students have the ability to network with other students and teachers in your school. Each user has a personalized homepage with a to-do list where students and teachers can easily track to-do items. Since Edu 2.0 is web hosted, it can be accessed from any browser, there is no download or install required. It is easy to create and share lesson plans. Assignments are equally easy to give, track, and grade online. Online debates are hosted to spark discussion and encourage critical thinking. Threaded discussion forums have email and RSS integration. Edu 2.0 has a great privacy policy, it was clearly designed with schools in mind. An integrated calendar displays upcoming events, lessons, and assignments that are due. The site is intuitive and a relatively quick learn. The resource section of the site contains 15,000+ community contributed resources and lesson plans to use. Built in rubric builders make it easy to quickly and consistently score projects online.

Attendance gets tracked and teachers can optionally award points for consistent online attendance. The built in chat feature allows for real time group discussions. Create custom news feeds for classes with the built inRSS reader. Each student can create and keep an online portfolio of their best work. The site is multi lingual and available in 10+ languages. If you have a student user who has their language set differently from yours, all messages are automatically translated through Google Translate. Transcripts of all student grades are available and pull directly from the built-in gradebook. Conduct surveys from within Edu 2.0 and collect results. Multimedia can be added to any lesson including audio, video, photos, and slide shows. The format for building lessons is very simple to use, if you use a word processor you can use Edu 2.0.

Drawbacks: Edu 2.0 may be difficult for students younger than third or fourth grade to navigate independently. Younger students would require some adult assistance.

2. Hot Chalk

Benefits: Hot Chalk’s free learning management system generates daily teacher and student activities while providing a safe and secure online environment where teachers, students, and parents can interact. Hot chalk offers a grade book, online lesson creation, automatically graded quizzes, and an extensive library of digital content. Search Hot Chalks large database of pre-made lessons or create your own. Students can complete and turn in assignments online in one easy stop. Teachers can comment directly on student assignments. The digital content in Hot Chalk’s library is aligned with standardized curriculums and comes from sources such as Globetrekker, National Geographic, PBS, VEA, and more. Hot Chalk is easy to learn and use for both students and teachers.

Drawbacks: Hot Chalk doesn’t contain as many built in options as some of the other e-learning solutions. This is not an all-in-one solution if you are looking for collaborative projects, blogs, wikis or more complex quizzes and tests. Hot Chalk does not advertise to students during the school hours, however the site is advertisement driven to keep it free.

3. Moodle

Benefits: Moodle is an open source course management system that provides a virtual learning environment. Moodle is made up of action modules that include forms, wikis, databases, etc. that allow a teacher to build richly collaborative communities of learning around a subject matter. It can be used to deliver content to students and assess learning through assignments and quizzes. Moodle is a robust system and has nearly endless options for customization and implementation. It is comprehensive in its offering of gradebooks, collaborative tools, lesson building abilities, and assessment. Teachers have the option to fully conduct online courses, or simply augment face-to-face class time. Moodle works on all computing platforms including Mac, PC, and Linux. Moodle has extensive documentation and knowledge communities to learn from.

Drawbacks: Moodle is an open source software that has to be downloaded and installed on a web server. It is not as intuitive as Edu 2.0 or Hot Chalk. Moodle would be difficult for younger students to navigate and understand.

4. Think Quest

Benefits: Oracle’s Think Quest is an online environment where students can learn, work together, and manage an online presence in a safe environment. Teachers can assign learning projects for students to work on collaboratively. Other teachers can easily be invited to participate in the online learning projects. Each teacher and student has their own pages where they can create an online presence using text, pictures, multimedia, votes, debates, messaging, and brainstorming. These pages are simple enough for even very young students to create and contribute to, and offer a great introduction to blogging. Think Quest has a library of 7,000+ ready made projects created by teachers from around the world. Think Quest was created for students in k-12 and has no advertising. It is password protected and teacher monitored. Teachers can set up their class to be private so that students can only view other pages of students in their class or public to see what other students from around the world are doing. Think Quest promotes critical thinking, teamwork, communication, creativity, the use of technology, and self-direction. This is a nice option for elementary schools or primary students. It is browser based making it accessible to anyone with an Internet connected computer.

Drawbacks: ThinkQuest is limited in its offerings as a virtual school. There are limits set on file sizes of multimedia that can be used on student pages. There is no built in gradebook and no central location for students to submit work.

The above e-Learning solutions can be supplemented with additional opportunities for one-on-one interaction between teachers and students. Record the live class activities, lessons, and tutorials for on demand learning.

5. Skype-

Benefits: Skype is an excellent way for teachers to connect with students over the Internet. Skype provides a free platform for chatting, audio or video messaging, and screen sharing. Skype sessions can be recorded and saved for future reference. A Skype session would be an excellent way to connect with students to deliver teaching, read a story together, or discuss learning.

Drawbacks: Skype does require a download and students must register with a username and password to use Skype. Skype is not a closed network, this means that students could use Skype to communicate with people outside the classroom.

6. Pal Bee-

Benefits: Pal Bee is a free online service where you can set up meetings in real time to collaborate online. Pal Bee offers video and audio abilities and provides a virtual whiteboard where students can share ideas. Sessions can be recorded and stored online with Pal Bee.

Drawbacks: Pal Bee limits meetings to 9 people at a time so you may have to split your class into sections.

7. UStream-

Benefits: Ustream allows you to stream video live. Create a UStream channel for your classroom and stream your lessons live. Students can tune in to view teaching and ask questions or add input via text chat within the UStream channel. You can record your live boradcast for future viewing.

Drawbacks: If you don’t direct your students directly to your UStream channel, they will see feature highlight videos created by other users. These are not necessarily education friendly.

8. Wall Wisher-

Benefits: Wall Wisher is a fantastic little web application that provides a virtual bulletin board of sorts. Teachers can pose questions or ideas for students to answer or think about. Students are sent the unique wall URL and can leave virtual sticky notes answering the question. Students do not have to login to use Wall Wisher, a simple double click allows them to add any thoughts they need to the wall. The platform is very simple to use but provides the opportunity for discussion and collaboration between students.

Drawbacks: Each sticky note is limited to 160 characters making in depth answers difficult on this site.

9. Screen Toaster-

Benefits: Screen Toaster is a browser based screen recording tool that allows teachers to create detailed screencast instructions in minutes. This free to use application can take a video of anything that is on your computer screen. Audio can be included (or not) for any screencast. The screencast video is given a uniqueURL that can be embedded on a webpage or blog or sent to students via email. This is a great way for teaching students how to use e-Learning tools or any online assignments.

Drawbacks: This site requires a robust Internet connection for video creation.

File sharing websites make it easy for your students to access large files, word documents, or pdfs. They are also an effortless way for students to turn in assignments.


Benefits: makes it easy to put anything (pictures, audio, or documents) in an online environment where it can be accessed by others to collaborate and share. The documents can be accessed from the web, email, fax, or as an embedded widget. In just two clicks users are able to create personal sharing points, upload content via web, email,¬†MMS, phone and fax. Each ‚Äėdrop‚Äô is non-searchable and non-networked, does not require an account and can be password protected and set to expire after a period of time. This makes it very convenient for teachers and students to exchange files and documents online.

Drawbacks: Although offers a free account, some of the functionality of a premium paid account would be useful in the classroom.

11. Google Docs-

Benefits: Google Docs is an online document, spreadsheet, presentation, and form creation tool. Google Docs are all stored online and can be easily shared with other Google Doc users for collaboration or to turn in an assignment. The layout of Google Docs is very intuitive and closely resembles office suites that students would be familiar with. Google Docs is a free online office suite.

Drawbacks: None

12. Zoho-

Benefits: Zoho offers a complete range of free online productivity and collaboration applications. These include email, word processor, spreadsheets, slide shows, document management folders, wiki, note taker, online organizer, group chats, web conferencing, database, project collaboration, and a repository to share documents with other users. All Zoho applications work together seamlessly. This is an excellent alternative to software based office suites. Students and teachers can create and share documents online easily.

Drawbacks: None

Even if you never have a need to take your classroom or school into a completely virtual environment, blended learning will allow your students self guided learning opportunities where they can build communication and collaboration skills. These free tools will organize your classroom in new ways and provide learning that extends beyond the confines of the classroom.

15 Tools to Help You Go Paperless

Cross Posted at The Apple

Kelly Tenkely |

Schools are notorious for enormous copy budgets.  Between parent/home communications, student work, and staff communication, schools are drowning in a sea of paper.  Transforming the school into a paperless environment is eco-friendly, budget friendly, and can increase productivity.  With all of the free online options, going green is easier than ever.

Paperless students and teachers:

1. Spelling City

Spelling city is a free online environment where students can practice and study spelling words.  Instead of handing out a paper spelling list at the beginning of each week, give your students a link to Spelling City where they can find the weeks spelling words.  Sign up as a Spelling City teacher (free) and enter spelling lists.  Students can get onto Spelling City and find spelling lists by searching the teacher name.  Spelling city will teach your students the spelling words by saying the word and then using it in a sentence.  Students can practice their spelling words by playing games with the words, there are several games to choose from.  Spelling city will even give practice spelling tests to students.  For a small fee, teachers can set up record books and give the final spelling test online.  Put an end to copies of spelling lists and send your kids online.  You will save trees and students will get great practice with their words.

2. Tut Pup

Every month teachers all over the world print out hundreds of fact practice worksheets. ¬†Tut Pup is an outstanding free math-fact practice website. ¬†It is a competition between students from around the world. ¬†As students practice their math facts, they can see how they measure up with other students, motivating them to work at their math-facts and speed up. ¬†Students are matched up with other students from around the world where they play fact games and compete in real time to see who best knows their stuff. ¬†There is nothing more motivating than a little healthy competition! ¬†The site doesn‚Äôt collect any personal information from students, they are provided generic login information. ¬†Tut Pup helps students build math fact skills in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, algebra, or a mixture of those skills. ¬†Tut Pup is highly motivating, takes into account different learning levels, and builds a variety of math-fact skills. ¬†Each student can work on math facts at their ability level. ¬†Lower level students are engaged and feel successful, and higher level students are challenged. ¬†This site will have your students asking, ‚Äúcan I play this game at home too?‚ÄĚ ¬†When have you ever had a student ask to practice math facts at home? ¬†Students truly love the competition of this site and get the added benefit of increasing their math-fact recall skills without running up the copy quotient.

3. Popling

Popling‚Äôs motto is ‚ÄúLearning without studying‚ÄĚ. ¬†This website allows you to create virtual flash cards that pop up on a computer screen every few minutes (teachers determine how often) while students work on the computer. ¬†Classroom computers can be set up with Poplings about any subject. ¬†As students are working on the computers they can also be practicing math facts, vocabulary, geography, etc. ¬†These flash cards are a great way for students to study without creating sets and sets of 3√ó5 notecards.

4. Knowtes

Knowtes is a flash card based learning community that allows teachers and students to build flash card decks online. ¬†The flash cards can then be studied online. ¬†When cards are added to a Knowtes deck, it becomes due at optimized intervals. ¬†The Knowtes ‚ÄėAdaptive Learning Engine‚Äô adjusts how frequently cards should be studied based on how well students know them. ¬†Knowtes decks can be easily shared between teachers, students, and peer groups. ¬†Each student gets their own study room where they can organize their decks and study. ¬†The study rooms include helpful tips for studying. ¬†Cards can be created with text, images, audio, and video. ¬†This is a great way for students to study sans 3√ó5 note card. ¬†These are truly smart flash cards, if a student consistently gets an answer wrong, it requires them study it more than those that they consistently get right. ¬†What paper note card can do that?

5. Soshiku

Soshiku is a web tool for students that helps them manage their assignments.  Soshiku keeps track of when assignments are due and can even notify students by email or SMS (text message).  With each assignment students can save notes, manage tasks, attach files, and share messages with assignment partners.  Soshiku is organization for this generation, paper planners are so 1996.

6. mySchoolog

mSchoolog is a free web-based application that helps students organize their school life easily. ¬†Students can organize and share notes, to-to lists, appointments, store documents and files, and add lessons. ¬†Students learn valuable responsibility and organizational skills without toting around extra papers and purchased planners. ¬†Students won‚Äôt have the ‚ÄúI lost my planner‚ÄĚ excuse any more!

7. Live Binders

Live Binders is an online 3-ring binder. ¬†It allows students and teachers to combine web content with PDF and word documents in an online binder. ¬†The binder can be organized into tabs and subtabs and be embedded on blogs and other websites, or downloaded to a computer desktop. ¬†Live Binders can be used as an online digital portfolio for students. ¬†Because the Live Binder is online, students can access their binder from school, library, home, or any Internet connected computer. ¬†Teachers can use Live Binders to create classroom ‚Äėtextbooks‚Äô that combine relevant online content, teacher created worksheets, and notes. ¬†Assignments can be added to classroom Live Binders that contain all of the instructions, related materials, and links to related content. ¬†Students can easily access the binders from home, no more lost papers or assignments turned in looking like they went through World War III. ¬†Students can create a Live Binder to keep themselves organized as they complete a research project. ¬†When the project is finished, students can turn in the final project as a Live Binder that includes all web research, notes, and the final written work. ¬† School handbooks for staff and parents can be saved as a Live Binder. ¬†Rather than making paper copies of school handbooks, they can be distributed by a single link and easily updated as needed.

8. Zoho and Google Docs

These online services allow teachers and students to create and share documents online.  They also provide the ability to collaborate on documents.  Online document creators are fantastic for student writing and lesson planning.  There are no papers to store and sort through, and they can be easily accessed by any Internet connected computer.

Paperless communication:

9.  Sign app now

Sign app now makes it easy for schools to create online signup sheets.  The site is so simple to use; in 3 easy steps teachers can create signup sheets for classroom volunteers, field trips, lunch orders, school duties, committees, and a myriad of other tasks that require a signup.   Create a sign up sheet by giving the sign up sheet a name, filling in the email address that the signup sheet should be sent to, and your name.  Sign App Now creates a unique link that can be emailed to everyone that has the option to signup.  When parents or other staff members receive the form, they click on the link and fill in their name.  That is it!  An email is sent back to the signup sheet creator with those who have signed up.  No more shuffling paper signup sheets around!

10.  R Campus

R Campus is a great one-stop shop for everything school related.  R Campus is a collaborative environment that utilizes the Open Education Management system that makes it easy to build personal and group websites, manage courses, e-portfolios, academic communities, build rubrics, connect students with tutors, and host a book exchange.  All of these tools are completely free for students and faculty to access.  R Campus is an excellent way to organize classroom life and to help keep students organized.  Everything in R Campus is integrated, making management seamless.  Students stay well informed and communication opportunities grow…all without paper!  Students can showcase their learning with the e-portfolios.  Teachers can easily communicate, assist, and assess throughout the year as the e-portfolios grow.  Rubrics creation is fast and can be shared online with both students and other teachers.  This collection of resources is excellent for communicating with parents and students, grading, and organizing your classroom without hundreds of copies.

11. Twitter

Twitter has become more popular lately with the addition of tweeting celebrities.  Twitter can also be used as a communication tool between home and school.  Create a classroom Twitter account where students and parents can quickly get information about your classroom.  Tweet homework assignment directions, reminders about upcoming class events, short memos about the happenings in your classroom, etc.  Twitter should put an end to the little paper notes that travel between school and home.  Those little notes often get lost in the shuffle anyway!  Twitter is also an outstanding place for teachers to build a network of educators that share ideas and best practices in the classroom.

12. School Notes

Teachers can use School Notes to quickly create notes for homework and class information and post them on the web in seconds.   Parents and students view notes by entering the school zip code.  This is a great way to stop the flow of little notes that get sent home for daily updates.


Qlubb will change the way you communicate and interact with parents. Qlubb is a free site that features event calendaring, signup sheets, to-do lists, automatic event and task reminders, photo sharing, member rosters, and a bulletin board. Everything is very intuitive to use, parents and teachers will have no problem jumping in and using Qlubb for home/school communication. This all inclusive communication site will keep you from sending papers home.

14.  Shelfari

Shelfari is a virtual bookshelf where teachers can recommend books to their students.  Instead of sending home paper reading lists, create a virtual reading list with a virtual bookshelf.  Shelfari goes beyond book recommendations, it is a great way to discover new titles, discuss books, start an online book club, and share what you are reading with others.  Teachers can share lists with students.  Students can create bookshelves of their own where they can display what they are reading, leaving comments and a rating for the book.  Shelfari is the perfect place for students and teachers to connect about reading without paper reading logs.

15.  Engrade

Engrade is a free online gradebook and record keeper that allows teachers to manage their classes online as well as post grades, assignments, attendance, and upcoming homework for parents and students to see.  The Engrade suite provides a gradebook that automatically calculates grades and provides tools for custom grading scales and weighting assignments, an attendance book that automatically emails parents with absences, a homework calendar for students and parents, and online reports where students can view their grades, homework and attendance in real time.  With paper versions of gradebooks, assignment and attendance keepers, the printed copy is the final word.  Because Engrade is web based, teachers can update grades and homework assignments from any Internet connected computer.  Less to carry between school and home equals happy teachers.  Engrade is a secure, password protected site so there are no concerns about privacy or security of grades.

Going paperless doesn’t have to be a chore, in fact these tools will make classroom management and communication significantly easier to keep track of.

How do you go paperless? Share your ideas below!

Related Articles:
5 Best Virtual Field Trips
10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports
Top 10 Technology Tips for Teachers

Ideas to Inspire


What it is:  Ideas to Inspire is a truly wonderful site and wealth of resources for teachers.  On this site you will find a collection of Google Doc presentations that include a number of ideas for engaging lesson activities in a variety of curriculum areas.  The collection comes from inspiring teachers from around the world.  You can find Ideas to Inspire on Writing, Interactive Math, Incredible Science, Amazing Art, Marvelous Music, and learn interesting ways to use Google Docs, Pocket Video Cameras, Interactive Whiteboards, Google Earth, Twitter, Netbooks, Webcams, and Visualizers.  Ideas to Inspire also has great tips for non-techy teachers (I remember being one of those once-upon-a-time).  Ideas to Inspire is very easy to navigate and each presentation is jam packed with truly inspiring ideas.

How to integrate Ideas to Inspire into the classroom: It happens to the best of us, we get settled in our ways and fall into a teaching slump where we can’t come up with a creative lesson idea to save our lives.¬† Sound familiar?¬† Ideas to Inspire is the place to go, here you will find inspiration, helpful tips, and get those creative juices flowing again!¬† Take a few minutes and look through some of the presentations, you will be happy you did. ūüôā


Tips:  This is my last post for the day, head over to Ideas to Inspire and be inspired today!


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Ideas to Inspire in your classroom.