Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Cyber Safety Wall Wisher

Here are 76 rules my 5th grade class came up with this morning for staying safe online. I use Wallwisher as part of a culminating activity to our internet safety unit.

If you’ve never used wallwisher, go there now and sign up for a free account. It’s a great, easy to use tool that can be used in so many ways.

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.

Google Instant

Google rolled out its new search enhancement today which instantly shows your search result as you are typing. Google claims that you can save 2-5 seconds with every search. The way it works is that you simply begin typing and results appear instantly. For example, when I type the letter w, search results for weather appear. If that is what I was looking for, I can use the tab key and hit enter to complete the search, or use the arrow keys to navigate the options and go to the first page.

I like the new search feature, and I think this, in a way will help students become faster researchers.

Engage Students! ActivExpression Voting Devices

For a recent lesson with 4th and 5th graders on the subject of Internet Safety, I pulled out our ActivExpression (voting) devices and used a pre-made Promethean flip-chart that I downloaded from Promethean Planet. The students absolutely love using the voting devices and the discussion that ensues about each topic is amazing. The thing I like about the devices is that every student is an active participant and even the shy kids will “voice” their opinions. The graphs which can be embedded in the flip-chart, contain a wealth of instant information which show patterns that would be missed without the use of the voting devices.

Following are a few of the questions asked and answers the students came up with.

Which type of communication tool do you use the most online?

A. email
B. instant messaging
C. social network (Facebook, Myspace)
D. blog
E. other

This is the reality of today’s students. Even though 13 is minimum age of Facebook, over 26% of this particular 5th grade class uses social media as their main source of online communication.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe while you were online?

A. Yes
B. No

The discussion that followed this question shined light upon some of experiences children have online, including: Weird emails from strangers; pop-up ads that take them to different sites; abusive/inappropriate comments on Youtube; virus attached via email; chat rooms in game sites; inappropriate images via Google image search.

When you are online at home are you usually:

A. working by yourself away from adults
B. working with a parent
C. working alone with a parent nearby

I was actually a little surprised by this number as I thought that more students would either be working with a parent, or with one nearby. The fact that almost 40% of 9 and 10 year old students are online away from parents is alarming.

As mentioned before, the discussion and aha moments that surfaced because of the devices was priceless. The students took away a lot more from this lesson because they were active participants and had a voice in the conversation.

Nuts and Bolts of using ActivExpression Voting Devices

Device Registration

The first step before you can start polling students is to register your devices. View the how-to video below to learn about this.

Express Poll

Sometimes, you’ll want something quick and easy. Making an express poll is the way to go.

Making a Quiz

To create a quiz in ActivInspire, follow these steps:

Have you had experiences using voting devices? What has worked well and what have been some of the challenges?

Here’s a quick-start tutorial to help you out.



The Child-Driven Education: Sugata Mitra

Great talk by Sugata Mitra about how children, given the tools, can self-teach regardless of who or where they are.

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.

Gross National Happiness

I recently listened to Chip Conley’s TedTalk on my run to work where he discussed the topic of measuring what makes life worthwhile.

Although Chip’s talk is directed towards business, it made me think about my students and education in general. Is our educational system designed with the students’ best interested in mind?  Or are we just creating survivors?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Another Ted Talker Nic Marks talks about his idea of the Happy Planet Index. He brings up a fantastic quote by John F. Kennedy, who in 1968 said:

The Gross National Product measures everything except that which makes life worth while.

It’s unfortunate that as much progress we have made as a species over the last 100 years or so, we’ve also, along the way, created so much emptiness and ruin.

I enjoyed both of these talks, as they reminded me to continually focus on what’s important in life, and take a step back every now and again to smell the proverbial roses.

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