Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Monthly Archives: October 2011

3 Great Halloween Sites for Kids

The Kidz Page

On the KidzPage, there are 23 online Halloween games12 online Halloween coloring pages53 online Halloween jigsaw puzzles, and much more to keep the brains of little ghouls and goblins entertained.

Spookathon Virtual Pumpkin Carver

At Spookathon’s Virtual Pumpkin Carving site, you have all the fun of real pumpkin carving, without the mess. Finished pumpkins can be printed, emailed as an e-card, or turned into an online puzzle for your friends to complete.

Primary Games

There are not too many sites that allow you the pleasure of Shopping at WitchmartWhacking a Monster, playing Pingpong with Ghouls, or Typing with GhostsPrimary Games Halloween Fun lets you do all of that, and a whole lot more.


Be a Political Trend Spotter

If you have students interested in the presidential campaigns in the US, they can now become an official political trend spotter. Google’s Politics and Elections Blog encourages political enthusiasts to submit current trends in the political race and have them featured on the site.

The blog features stories and issues, along with powerful search tools, relating to the ongoing political race in the United States; and how public interest, by use of the web, “can help transform politics and elections from a passive process to an active, participatory one.” There are fascinating posts with colorful graphics depicting current trends in everything from which candidate’s book is more interesting, to which department the federal government should cut.

Encourage your students to submit the political trends that they spot, and they too, just might become an official Google Political Trend Spotter!

The Space Place – from NASA

NASA has created a great new site for kids to learn more about Earth, the Solar System, The Universe, and much more. Within each section of The Space Place, there are games, activities, videos, interactives, and a wealth of information written so that kids will grasp it.  There’s a great Parents & Educators section with activities and information to help guide students through the site. The amount of information within The Space Place is mind boggling – students can return over and over and still find something new that they had not seen before.


Search Techniques with Google

When searching the internet, students generally go straight to Google, type in a query and use the first hit that comes up. Often times, this may be adequate, depending on what they are trying to discover. However, when researching information for a project they are working on, more advanced searching techniques need to be applied, and most students (particularly at the elementary level) are limited in this ability. Enter (of all things) Google. Google has created what they’re calling the “Search Education Evangelism Site“.

Lesson Plans

Start out
(Basic lessons)
Step up
(Intermediate lessons)
On top
(Advanced lessons)
Understanding search engines What is the Web? Google landing
The keys to search city
Search technique and strategies Which links should I follow?
Mixed media
Believe it or not
Features and operators Hello operator
Quick finds
Slicing & dicing

The site contains 9 different lesson plans (as shown above)  for teachers that focus on the basics (what is the web) to refining search techniques, to more advanced features of inquiry.  Below is an example of one of the presentations that are included within each lesson plan:

For more ideas on teaching children to become better online researchers, read Web Searching – Don’t Believe Everything you Read Online, an article I wrote for ISTE’s Leading and Learning with Technology magazine.

Collaborative Writing – Fifth Graders and Google Docs

I cannot tell you how excited my 5th graders were to write today. Each of our students in grade 5, for the first time, now has their own Google Apps account and today we dove straight in to collaborating on a personal narrative piece they had previously written in Microsoft Word. The process was as follows: Upload, share, advise, revise.


After logging in, the students first uploaded their document into Google Docs, named it, and read over it to make sure that everything looked good.


The students then added their collaboration partner by giving them the ability to view and comment on their document. 

At this point, they also added their teacher.


Each student then went back to their Google Docs account and found a new document from their friend waiting for them. After opening it, they were then able to read through and make comments.


The best part of the day was seeing how enthusiastic the kids were to go back in to fix and improve their writing. After the students made changes to their original piece, they asked if they could add more editors to their document who could review and make comments on their piece. Here’s a short, raw video of part of the process. My favorite part is at 1:25 when a student enthusiastically yells out to the class, “Everybody, everybody, get on mine!”

That’s exciting writing!

iPad Apps Recommended by Teachers

This year, there are several teachers in my division who are piloting iPad 2s in their classroom, and we meet bi-monthly to discuss our findings of uses and applications that we have discovered. Being that these are not class sets of iPads, the focus here is uses of the iPad as a teaching tool for productivity and organization. 


Evernote is a great app for taking and organizing your notes. You can use it when you meet with students, at staff meetings when there’s something important to jot down, and at workshops and in-services. There are a couple of quirks with Evernote that could be fixed. The inability to copy and paste a table, and no multiple levels of bullets.

Price: Free


Confer is a note taking app that allows you to create classes, group students and take anecdotal notes as you meet with your students.

Here is a short video showing how to use Confer:

Price: $14.99


Flipboard is a magazinesque app that allows you to organize all your online reading. I flip through my Google Reader feeds, my favorite news sites, and Twitter feed in a smooth and easy-to-use interface. You can also share links via Twitter, Facebook, Google, or email with just the tap of a finger.

Price: Free


GoodReader is a PDF reader that allows you to mark up pdfs by typing, using sticky notes, hand-written annotations, lines, and free-hand drawings on any pdf you have. GoodReader also supports TXT, .doc, .ppt, .xls, iWork, audio files, and video files.

Price: $4.99


If you have a Dropbox account, the free app is a must have. The Dropbox app allows you to access all of your files anywhere you are. You can save any of your projects you create on the iPad into your dropbox account and  access them from other computers at work or at home.

Price: Free


TeacherPal is a classroom organizer app that allows teachers to keep track of their students by taking role, manage timetables, take behavior notes, and more. One of our teachers had this to say about Teacher pal: “Can’t rave enough about TeacherPal.  It has been a life saver when it comes to keeping track of my 300 + students. I am able to see their smiling faces on the seating chart, add notes regarding behavior and keep track of their finished assignments. I can back up all the data in Dropbox. All pretty good for an app that is free.”

Price: Free

What are some of your essential iPad apps for your classroom?

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