Summer Vacation!

I love summer vacation for obvious reasons.  I treasure the rest and relaxed pace but I also find it a great time for learning, becoming energized and finding inspiration for the upcoming school year.  For those of you who share this excitement, I’ve created the following list of websites, guides and blog posts to hopefully inspire you for trying something new next year. Enjoy!

1. Review  77-Things-for-Teachers-to-Try-This-Summer. This guide features web tools and technologies organized by subject areas.
2. Consider  networking with other teachers by joining the Twitter conversation!
3.  Read Edutopia-Top10Tips-NewMedia-2011 for practical uses of technologies in education.
4. Create a Diigo account and join a group of educators with the same interests.


77 Web Resources for Teachers

Free Technology for Teachers is a blog I love to read because it’s chock full of fantastic free resources available to use in the classroom.  It’s a great resource because Richard Byrne, the author, finds tools for teachers and also offers concrete examples for using them in various contexts.

This guide published by Richard Byrne lists 77 web resources for teachers. He has organized it by subject area and there are some great web tools highlighted. Read it below!

Flip the Video!

TED-Ed recently announced a tool which gives educators the option to “flip” any YouTube video. The concept of flipping the video is based on the “flipped classroom” idea and refers to including extras such as a description, questions, quizzes, additional resources and closing thoughts to any TED-Ed or YouTube video.

Watch the following video for a tour of this online tool and try it for yourself!

Socrative Student Response Tool

Socrative is a great student response system that is extremely easy to set up and use. The beauty of this tool is that it transforms practically any electronic device (iPad, iPhone, laptop) into a “clicker” type tool, allowing instant feedback from students. The whole set up process only takes 2 minutes.  Here’s how it works:

  • Sign in for a free Socrative account.
  • Go to and register.  You will receive a registration number.
  • Students then visit, enter the registration number and click join.

Ways to use Socrative in the classroom:

  •  Use it for real-time formative assessment. Ask a question and have students enter their responses via multiple choice, true/false or short answer.
  • Use it as an exit ticket to assess learning at the end of a lesson. Results are emailed to you in a report.
  • Create “space race” games where teams of students have to compete to answer questions .

What do you think?

So Many Tools, So Little Time..

I recently attended the CAIS workshop titled, “So Many Tools, So Little Time” at Hamden Hall.  It was billed as a “speed dating” for tech tools where teachers listened to brief presentations with the hope of sparking interest in a new tech tool. The following is a brief synopsis of the topics offered; one or all may spark your interest! Links to the workshop presentations may be found here.

Scratch, not just for games!

Scratch is a program developed by MIT in order to teach kids about programming concepts.  Kids are engaged in problem solving and creative experiences as they use the program to create games and beyond. The following is a list of applications for this program in your classroom.

  • Students can use Scratch to animate creative writing assignments
  • Students can use Scratch to explain concepts and teach concepts taught in class
  • Students can create games to test the knowledge of classmates


iPad Apptivities

Lee Bruner, (tweet him at #ipaded), academic coordinator at St. Luke’s School, shared his wisdom and top apps for learning.  He began his session by asking teachers to think about the following questions when considering using the iPad in the classroom.

1.  What is the wow factor vs.  the educational factor of an app?
2.  How will success be measured?
3.  How much time will be spent learning how to use the app?

Find Lee’s great list of must-have apps here:

Collaborative Projects Using Twitter

Nikki Cingiser, a kindergartner teacher from The Children’s School, excitedly spoke about how Twitter has changed her professional life.  She described her journey using Twitter to make connections with educators all over the world and how she has been able to collaborate with kindergarten teachers to create meaningful projects for her students.

Mathematical Explorations

Wolfram Alpha  is a “computational knowledge” engine which helps you “answer questions, do math, instantly get facts, create plots, calculators, unit conversions, scientific data and statistics, help with homework—and much more”.

Mathematica is a technical computer program which offers students a deeper exploration of mathematical concepts.

Blogging to Think –

“Blogging may be the most important kid of writing we can do in our classrooms.”

Jeff Schwartz, an English teacher at Greenwich Academy, began his session with the statement above.  He stressed how writing promotes learning and thinking and feels that blogging should be:

  • writing to learn
  • writing that gets lost
  •  personal
  • reflection

He suggested designing blogging assignments to address the following:

  • open ended questions
  • explain concepts to novice readers
  • task asking kids to take on different perspectives
  • what did you learn?

Twitter for Teachers – On Demand Professional Development!

If you ever thought twitter was only good for following the lives of celebrities, think again! Educators all around the world have begun using this form of social media to collaborate, connect and learn from one another. You can find thousands of teachers online each week participating in “chats” around various topics and questions.   If you are not available to participate in the live chat, chat archives are always available online.

You can find a group (designated by the # sign, known as a hashtag) dedicated to all types of teachers , examples including #engchat (for English teachers), #midleved (for middle school teachers), #isedchat (for teachers in independent schools) and #5thchat (for fifth grade teachers).

You may be asking yourselves, this sounds great but how can I use it for professional development?

  • Do you have a question about a particular topic? Send a tweet to your subject’s  hashtag for instant feedback from other teachers around the world.
  • Are you looking to collaborate with a teacher? Send a tweet asking for volunteers or for collaboration partners.
  • Are you interested in learning about what other teachers are teaching? Follow the hashtag to read about what others are  sharing about their teaching experiences.

Read these articles for more information on how teachers can use Twitter for instant, on demand professional development.  “Teachers Teaching Teachers, on Twitter: Q. and A. on ‘Edchats”
Twitter for Professional Development
List of weekly education chats


A Screencast is a picture or video recording of your computer screen.  You can use screencasts to record lessons, lectures, demonstrations or anything else you wish to capture on your computer screen. These files can then be saved, uploaded to Moodle or emailed to your students as a way to “flip” your classroom.

I think an even more powerful feature of screencasts is the opportunity for students  to demonstrate their learning through teaching. The entire class  can build a resource library of videos pertaining to content they are learning and use it as review or reference throughout the year.

The following are some tools to use for creating screencasts:


Examples of the power of screencasts in the classroom: 

Google Earth in the Classroom

Did you know that your students could visit the sky, moon and mars, view historical imagery and 3D buildings, draw and measure and create a tour all with Google Earth?

Google Earth requires a free download.

The following are some ideas for using this tool across the curriculum:

English: Students can create Lit Trips to map out the storylines of books or the biographies of authors. Visit this website for some examples.

Math: Real World Math offers a nice collection of math lessons using Google Earth. Some ideas include measuring distances, angles and elevations of real world locations.

Science: Google Earth has many built-in layers applicable to teaching science. The sky, moon or mars modes offer students the ability to visit these places and explore! It also includes access to earthquake data, climate data and animal tracking information.

History: Use the timeline view to compare views of cities from past to present. Students can create tours of military campaigns or explorations or go on virtual field trips around the world.

Art: Use Google Earth to explore inside actual art museums around the world!   This is currently available for 17 galleries, including places such as the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the National Gallery in London.


Additional Resources to Explore:
Google Earth for Educators
Google Earth Blog



QR Codes

qrcodeYou have probably seen QR codes everywhere, from magazine pages to billboards. The QR in QR code stands for Quick Response. Any phone or other mobile device with a camera has the capability to act as a barcode scanner, reading the information in the code.  Once a user scans the code with a smartphone, iPad or computer, they are directed to a website with more information.  Try scanning this code, where does it take you?

These QR Codes can be easily created and printed or posted to a website. There are many free QR Code generator programs available which ask you to input a website, click create and the code is generated for you!

QR Code generator programs:
QR Droid

Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom:

  • Add QR codes that lead to book trailers or book reviews to the backs of classroom books.
  • Add QR codes to math worksheets with websites or videos that help explain the concept.
  • Add QR codes to reading material that lead to an audio recording of the material.
  • The following examples were found on the website:
    • Create a page on your wiki or blog, or craft an email or a handout to give to parents that includes links to student work.  Along with the links, put a QR code for each of the virtual projects.  This way, viewers have the option to view immediately via their smartphone, and if they are viewing a print version, they don’t have to enter the URL into a computer.
    • Put QR codes on all of the elements on your periodic table poster, link them to a wiki page or better yet, a fun video showcasing that element.   Challenge your students to come up with a better idea, and have them bring in their own QR code.
    • Inspirational quote up in your classroom? Include a code that brings up a photograph of the author.
    • Have a classical poem up instead of a quote?  Use a code that takes you to a podcast of the poem.
    • Music teachers can create codes that link to podcasts of classical music.  When you’re playing a particular piece in class, attach the related code on the music itself, so students can listen to the recording at home.


A Voki is a customizable, speaking avatar.  Students begin by choosing a character style and then may begin changing the look using different clothes, accessories, hairstyles and even background scene.  Once the avatar has been created, students can then give the character a voice by either recording or typing in a script. Vokis can then be saved to a blog or website or sent via email.

How to use Voki in the classroom:

  • Students can use Vokis in the world language classroom as a way to practice their speaking.
  • Students can create Vokis to represent characters in books.
  • Students can create a Voki of a historical figure and record a script.
  • Students can create a Voki as a digital representation of themselves and record any oral presentation.
Click here for more lesson plans.