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Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Category Archives: Paragons of the Week

Paragons of the Week – Collaborative Revision w/Google Docs, Learning Science, Story Home

Episode 36 >> Previous Paragons

1. Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs

Google Docs has recently partnered with Weekly Reader to come up with ways to help teachers teach collaborative writing to students. Two of the many features of Google Docs is the ability to have multiple people working on the same document simultaneously, and also, the intuitive ability to insert comments into a document. If you are new to Google Docs, they’ve broken this process down into four steps:

  1. Download a step-by-step tutorial [pdf] for Google Docs.
  2. Learn about the comments and revision features of Google Docs [pdf].
  3. Download, print, and share the following articles [pdf] with your students:
  4. Download the Educators Guide: Teaching Revision with Google Docs

EdTechIdeas: Google Docs is great for students to write collaborative poems, stories, book reports, movie scripts, essays, and more. Students can “hand in” their writing and the teacher can make comments and “pass it back” to the student for corrections and improvements. The nice thing about using comments is that editors can see who added what, as a time and date stamp, along with the users name is displayed along with each comment. Going further, a revision history can be accessed for any document to see who did what when.

2. Motion and Forces (Learning Science)

Part of Learningscience.org, this is great place to find games and activities that help students learn about and develop understanding of the fundamental concepts of principles of motions and forces.  There are 17 different activities listed here with explanations about what each learning tool teaches. EdTechIdeas: With high interest games like Simple Machines, Energy Skate Park (very cool), Galileo Drops the Ball, and Projectile Motion (Blast a Buick out of a canon – who wouldn’t like that?), Motion and Forces really come alive and are made understandable for students.

3. The Story Home

The Story Home is a site where students can go to hear free audio stories of original and classic tales. You can search for specific stories, or choose from the many different categories (animal stories, fairy tales, holiday stories, and a bunch more).   EdTechIdeas: The Story Home would be a great listening center. If you’re lacking in computers, subscribe to the podcast, put some stories on an iPod, add one of these, and you’re good to go. Have students write in their own words what they listened to. Re-write the ending to a story. After listening to a few stories, have your students record their own stories (original or classic) and turn them into podcasts for all to enjoy.


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Paragons of the Week: Mapeas, Sight Words with Samson, Qwiki

Episode 35 >> Previous Paragons

1. Mapeas

Mapeas is a Google Maps mash-up that shows news happenings from around the world. The hot-spots are divided into categories: Business, Entertainment, General, Science and Sport, so you can select which one you’d like to see, or simply see all of them at once. Each dot on the map represents a story and the numbers indicate how many stories from that particular area there are. When you click on a dot it opens up a quick description of the news event along with a video that can be played directly in the site. EdTechIdeas Social Studies teachers can use Mapeas when learning about current events and also help students understand world geography at the same time.

2. Sight Words with Samson

Sight Words with Samson allows students to learn and practice word spelling and pronunciation in a fun, easy to use way. In a four-step process students are challenged to learn words, build words, identify words, and finally, take a quiz about everything they have learned. Within each step there are 4 different levels of difficulty that contain 7 lists of high-frequency words.  EdTechIdeas: Sight Words with Samson is a fantastic site for English language learners and students in lower elementary. It could be used as a center activity as it is a very intuitive site.

3. Qwiki

Qwiki is an impressive new website that just recently rolled out their alpha phase, which means they are still in testing mode, working out some bugs. Currently, you can request access via email and they’ll send you login credentials within a day or two. What Qwiki is, is this: Do you remember the scene from Wall-e where the captain asks the computer to, “define earth?” The computer then displays tons of pictures, videos and maps while spewing out (in a pleasant sounding voice) various facts and information regarding Earth. This, in a nut shell, is what Qwiki is aiming to do, and they do it pretty nicely. Users simply enter a word into the search form and a 2-3 minute “information experience” is displayed. EdTechIdeas: Once this is out of Alpha, Qwiki will be a great research resource for quick and easy information for students studying a variety of subjects. This would also be a great example for students to mimic. Make a “Quiki” assignment where students create a short film about any given subject, pulling in a wealth of facts and media and create their own “information experience.” Below is a quick demonstration of how Qwiki works.


Paragons of the Week: PicLits, CyberChase, Incredibox

Episode 34 >> Previous Paragons

1. PicLits

PicLits is a site that allows users to choose a photo and then drag words onto the picture to create sentences.  There is a freestyle option that allows you to simply type on the picture, and keywords are suggested to help you out. When finished, you can save (free account required), email your piclit, or share it via Facebook, your blog, or other places. Soon there will be a print feature, a weekly contest, and the ability to search and tag photos. EdTechIdeas: This is a great site for inspiring struggling writers and for those times where you hear the complaint, “I don’t know what to write about.”

2. CyberChase

CyberChase from PBS is a fun place for kids with 45 games that focus on problem solving abilities. Challenging games like  Crossing the River, U Fix It, Tangrams, and more will have kids thinking out of the box in no time. EdTechIdeas: Fantastic site for problem solving and creative thinking. Would make a good go-to site for center time in your classroom or a fun activity to spend time on after working out difficult concepts. Use the lessons and activities section for ideas that are tied to the NCTM standards.

3. Incredibox

Incredibox gets my nod for the Odd Site of the Week Award, and I’m throwing it in, just because we all need a little obscure fun in our lives. Not sure of its educational implications, so I don’t have too many EdTechIdeas, but perhaps for music teachers, it could shed light on rhythm, vocal appreciation, harmonic structure, and polyphony. For the rest of us, it’s a great diversion and a good way to bring a little music into your life.

Paragons of the Week – PinDax, Library of Congress, Google Things to Do

Episode 33 >> Previous Paragons

1. PinDax

Pindax is an online message board similar to Wallwisher, where users can add post-its about any given topic. You begin by creating a free account and then build a new board with a name and specific directions about what you want posted on the board. As a teacher, you can create a board and direct your students to the URL to have them each add their thoughts and opinions about the subject of the wall.

2. Library of Congress for Kids and Parents

The Library of Congress family section is a nice collection of online activities and resources. Use this site in the classroom to help kids learn about history, geographyliteracy, fine arts and more.

3. Google Things to Do

Google is a lot more than just a search engine. With Google Things to Do, you can learn how to instantly convert currencies, check flight arrivals, read a book, even search the web like Elmer Fudd! Now, who doesn’t want to know how to do that??!

Paragons of the Week – BibMe, Professor Garfield, Amateur Science Sites

Episode 32 >> Previous Paragons

1. BibMe

BibMe is a quick and easy to use bibliography maker that allows you to cite books, magazines, newspapers, websites, journals, films, and more. You begin by searching for a book (or any other media you choose). Once the book is found, you select it, make any changes (annotations, whether you are citing the entire book or just a specific chapter, etc.) and add it to your bibliography. You can choose a citation format (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian), and voilà, you are done.

2. Internet Safety with Professor Garfield

Professor Garfield helps kids learn about online safety with several great videos, activities, and games. The site is broken down into the following categories: Online Safety, Cyber Bullying, Fact or Opinion, and Forms of Media. The “watch, try, apply” method keeps kids engaged and insures that they are learning the content. There are Teacher Materials, Parent Tips, a printable Internet Safety Certificate, and a printable Classroom Poster.

3. Amateur Science Sites

FunSci has been around for a long time, and I don’t think the design has changed since around 1997. What the site lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in content. There are so many great resources here for young scientists to learn about and discover new things. It makes it a worthwhile visit.

Paragons of the Week – Zoo Burst, PocketMod, Doppelme

Episode 30Previous Paragons

1. Zoo Burst

Zoo Burst is a digital storytelling tool that allows you to create lively pop-up books with sounds and actual pop-up effects when you turn the page.  You first create a free account, and then use the simple interface and tools to begin creating your book.

2. PocketMod

PocketMod is an interesting site that lets you create a little 8-page printable book with all kinds of information that you add. Some of the ready-made widgets include: weather, calendars, lists, images, conversions, games, emergency information, and more. To use in the classroom you could have students make a little book recapping major events of a story they just read; write a pocket story book; create mini vocabulary books; design a health and exercise journal; or create a quick guide to a country they are studying. The uses are endless.

3. Doppelme

Another great avatar creator, Doppel.me allows kids to create themselves without creating an account. When you are finished building your avatar, you simply right-click on the picture, and save the image to your preferred storage folder. If you do create a free account, you get access to many more options when building your avatar.

Paragons of the Week – Scale of the Universe, Nobel Prize Edu-games, Antarctica ”Street” View

Episode 29 >>Previous Paragons

1. Scale of the Universe

Scale of the Universe is an amazing journey in scale. The site allows you to zoom out from quantum foam all the way to the outer universe.

2. Nobel Prize Educational Games

The Nobel Prize Educational Games are a series of well thought out games based on Nobel Prize achievements. You can learn about blood typing (my personal favorite), lasers, diabetes, DNA, Conductive Polymers, and more!

3. Antarctica “Street” View

Google maps has just released imagery of Antarctica that allows you to take a walk around parts of the white continent. A very small portion of Antarctica have been covered (for obvious reasons), but the views are amazing!

Paragons of the Week – Cloud Canvas, Dot-Dash, Word Search Maker

Episode 28Previous Paragons

1. Cloud Canvas

Cloud Canvas is a powerful in-browser drawing program that allows users to utilize layers, filters, clip art and other graphics, brushes, textures, and many other features normally found in Photoshop-like programs. You save directly into your Google Docs account or you can export as a .png file onto your computer from the drawing.

2. Dot-Dash

Dot-Dash is a brainstorming creator from the BBC that allows quick and easy thought connections that teachers can create with an entire class together, or as individual students. Not as robust as Inspiration, but a nice, free, web-based alternative. If you’re looking for something for older students, try bubbl.us. Hat tip to Susan Sedro for the find.

3. WordSearch Maker

If you are a fan of word searches, you will like WordSearchMaker.net.  They are easy to make, printable, embeddable into websites (does not work within a WordPress site however), and interactive. Just type in all the words you would like to use and either embed the finished word search or direct students to the URL so they can work it out online. TIP: I did notice that it puts a space in-between words like North America, so as you create it, keep your words together.

Paragons of the Week – Family Safety Center, The Learning Edge, Answer Garden

Episode 27

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Google Family Safety Center


Google Family Safety Center is a quick and easy page with pertinent information for parents about how to keep their kids safe while online. The 2+ minute video (above) has some simple tips from experts in the field. There are many other resources on this site as well that will help keep parents informed.

2. The Learning Edge

The Learning Edge is a newspaper-based site that would be great for younger students and English Language Learners.  Navigating the site is as easy as clicking on a headline within the newspaper and then beginning the activity. There are numerous activities within each newspaper that help with concept understanding, reading fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and much more.

3. Answer Garden

Answer Garden is a quick and easy brainstorming site that allows you to create a question, send out the url, and have others reply. The answers that are most common show up the largest and if you hover over an answer it show the number of replies. No registration or email is necessary, which is always a bonus. Teachers may want to use this for vocabulary building (see above), brainstorming ideas, or general question/answer activities.

Paragons of the Week – Talking Pets, Many Things, Build Your Wild Self

Episode 26

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Talking Pets

This is kind of a weird site, and some may even find it creepy. If talking animals and strange voices bother you, stay away from this site. In a nut shell, Talking Pets works like this: 1. Choose an animal. 2. Make your pet talk by typing in up to 200 characters. 3. Listen to the animal say what you typed. I’ll admit, it’s freaky, but kids absolutely dig it. For reluctant writers and English language learners, Talking Pets may be a good place to go for quick writing activities. Thanks to Askatechteacher for this find.

2. Many Things

A plain looking site, but with an amazing plethora of activities, games and information. Many Things is for people studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL). There are quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities.

3. Build Your Wild Self

Thanks to Colin Gally for this awesome find! Build Your Wild Self is a fun site from the Wildlife Conservation Society that allows kids (and adults) to build a cool looking avatar without having to login or enter an email. The really great thing about this site is that as you are building your wild self, you are learning the names of the different animals you are using, and what kind of specialized features each animal has. Building my Bis-sha-gib-antula-bat avatar, I learned all about bison, sand tiger sharks, gibbons, tarantulas, and bats! Show me another avatar-creator that can do that!

Paragons of the Week – NASA, Web Research, & Multiplication Tool

Episode 25

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. NASA Brain Bites

NASA BrainBites is great question and answer video site that is full of common, and sometimes strange questions that kids have about space and everything NASA-related. “How do you go to the bathroom in space?” “How do you scratch your nose in a space suit?” and “Where does space begin?” are just a few of the dozens of questions answered by astronauts and scientists.

2. Web Researching Interactive Tutorials

From the Vaughan Memorial Library at Acadia University these four great interactive tutorials guide students along to help them learn about credible sources, research techniques, web searching, and proper citation practices.

3. MultiplicationTool

Multiplication Tool is a great little site for mastering 3 different multiplication techniques. Students can practice standard, Partial Products, and Lattice methods of multiplication.

Paragons of the Week – Google Tricks, Surfing Scientist, Art Babble

Episode 24

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. 100 Google Tricks

From Onlinecolleges.net comes a great Google list that will “save you time in school,” and life in general. Everything from timelines, definitions, currency conversion, keyboard shortcuts, Google Squared, and beyond. There are actually 102 tricks listed here, but who’s counting?

2. Surfing Scientist

Great science tricks, lesson plans, conundrums, and more at this fun, activity-based site. Surfing Scientist Ruben Meerman from Bundaberg, Queensland takes kids and teachers on learning discoveries.

3. Art Babble

Art Babble is a site dedicated to the discussion about and promotion of Art, in its numerous forms. This is a great place for kids to learn about different types of art and artists, as well as gain an appreciation and inspiration of artistic endeavors. The Channels section allows students to view videos on hundreds of different genres, and the Artists section has hundreds of videos on specific artists. Thanks to Richard Byrne for this find.

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Science House, ViewPure, TeachingBooks.net

Attribution: "Pinwheel Star" http://www.flickr.com/photos/40147761@N04/4193248881Episode 23

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Science House

Science House is a great site created and maintained by scientists that has a plethora of quick videos of science experiments. They show you the materials you will need, walk you through the experiment and give you the educational background as to why this is important.

2. View Pure

The above image is an entire screen shot of a YouTube video being played on ViewPure. You’ll notice no distractions, no ads, basically nothing but the video. Thanks to Makeuseof.com for this great find!

3. TeachingBooks.net

Teachingbooks.net is a great resource for elementary school teachers who are looking for new ways to explore the series of books that their students are reading. One very cool feature is that kids can listen to authors give introductions to their series and read a bit of one of the books. Mary Pope Osborne does a great job explaining how she came up with the idea of her Magic Tree House Series. Thanks to Julie Niles Petersen for the find!

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Episode 22

Attribution: "I Got The Star (IMG_6851)" http://www.flickr.com/photos/12054060@N04/3947019428Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Spelling Match Game

Spelling Match Game is a fun site from Houghton Mifflin that helps students in grades 1-8 with their spelling and vocabulary. Students can play games to help them learn about syllables, vowel sounds, missing letters, homophones, and many other spelling-related areas.

2. ChessKid

ChessKid.com is a safe place for kids to go to learn about and play chess online. It’s not necessary, but parents can create an account and then add their child to manage his or her access and friendships online and can monitor their activity. An easy way for kids to play is just choose the options “Play vs. Computer.”

3. Captain Coordinate

Captain Coordinate is not a site dealing with making sure your clothes match, as I originally thought; rather, it is an interactive site dedicated to helping kids understand mapping concepts like scale, compass points, aerial view, coordinates, etc. I found myself having a lot of fun while previewing this site and my 3-5 graders loved it as well.

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Episode 21

Attribution: "Antikythera Mechanism" http://www.flickr.com/photos/9506589@N05/2556676025Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. Conjugation.com

Conjugation.com is an easy to use website that works by just typing the verb that you want to conjugate in any form. Any verb, regular or irregular. You then Click on “Conjugate,” and a new page is instantaneously displayed, with the verb shown in all of its forms, voices and tenses.

2. Signapp Now

SignApp Now is the easiest way I’ve seen to create a sign-up sheet for keeping track of who’s coming to what. You don’t need to register, people signing up don’t need to register. You just create a sign-up page, email the url, and wait for people to sign up.

3. Virtual Manipulatives

Very useful site from MacGraw Hill, Virtual Manipulatives has a nice set of interactive manipulatives that would work great with an IWB. The manipulative sets are broken into grade levels (pre-K through grade eight) and have some fantastic tools for teachers and students.

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