Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Category Archives: EdTechIdeas

Beyond Flipping the Classroom

I was listening to a Radiolab podcast yesterday (which, by the way, if you’re looking for a great podcast to brighten your commute, I’d highly recommend it!) and Google’s concept of 20 Percent Time came up (technically, Google did not create 20% Time, they are just the most prolific utilizers of the idea).

What it is

20 Percent Time is simply taking 20 percent of your day, 1 day a week, 6 days out of a month, however you want to break up the time, to work on something you are passionate about. To give you an idea about the power behind 20 Percent Time, here are a few Google items we have today because of it: Google News, Google Art Project (my personal favorite), Google Sky, Adsense, Orkut, Google Talk, and let’s not forget, Gmail. It got me thinking: What if our students were given the chance to take 20% of their time at school to work on what they love? To learn about, nurture, enhance, create, strengthen, develop a part of themselves, that would otherwise, be pushed aside to make room for the onslaught of ever-expanding curriculum. As a teacher, I’ve quasi-dabbled with this idea in the past, specifically, when I relinquished control, and have seen amazing results from giving students more power and ownership of their learning. Students were excited beyond what I had ever seen before in my lab. They exuded an air of motivation and self-direction.

Going Beyond

20 Percent Time, however, goes a step beyond that. It goes beyond flipping the classroom. When I relinquish control in my lab, I am still telling the students what they will be learning – it’s just they who dictate the method of their discovery. 20 Percent Time gives students the freedom to choose what it is they will be learning for that particular amount of time. Something that would be very difficult for many educators and institutions to abdicate. Katherine Von Jan, CEO of Radmatter and Edu-Innovator ponders:

Maybe if we asked and then gave kids permission to do some of the things they’d love to do throughout their academic careers (K-12), we wouldn’t be so lost and confused in college or in life. And maybe if we start pursuing what we’re passionate about we would actually solve the world’s most impossible challenges along the way.

Patrick Green, Apple Distinguished Educator, Tech Coordinator and blogger at Through a Green Lens, applies 20% in his life and states:

“20% Time” can mean setting aside time to focus on the things that you WANT to do and SHOULD do in your job, but that tend to get pushed aside for the urgent things. 20% Time for me, means changing my priorities and booking out blocks of time to spend on those important things that otherwise would stay on my to-do list for months and possibly years.


20 Percent Time is something that educators can dabble with as part of a new year’s resolution. You may want to begin small and test out how it could fit in your classroom and school. Pick a certain time during the day, call it “20 PT,” or “Passion Time,” or  “Self-Directed Creativity Time,” whatever sounds good to you. Depending on the age of the students it may take a lot of direction and guidance at first. You may want to try it on yourself for a few weeks and see what kind of results you get. That way, you’d have an idea of how best to integrate 20 Percent Time into your classroom.

Learning More

Below are 2 videos that explain the benefits of 20 Percent Time. In the first, fast forward to the 9th minute to hear Larry Page describe Google’s early explorations with 20 Percent. The second video you’ll watch Shannon Deegan explain how Google’s 20 Percent Time fosters innovation.

Image Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53941041@N00/4977883190

PE Apps for Teachers

Who says you can’t use tech to get fit? Several of our great PE teachers at my school, along with Jarrod Robinson,  The PE Geek have compiled a great list of apps to help you on the road to a healthy and fit life!

Basketball Coach

  • Video analysis with slow motion
  • Can draw on video
  • Split screen with demo of skills
  • Overlay of image
  • Cost: $2.99
Swim Coach

  • Video analysis with slow motion
  • Can draw on video
  • Split screen with demo of skills
  • Overlay of image
  • Cost: $2.99
Tennis Coach

  • Video analysis with slow motion
  • Can draw on video
  • Split screen with demo of skills
  • Overlay of image
  • Cost: $2.99
Soccer Coach

  • Video analysis with slow motion
  • Can draw on video
  • Split screen with demo of skills
  • Overlay of image
  • Cost: $2.99
Burst Mode

  • 50 pics taken in 2-3secs
  • Breakdown of skill/technique
  • Cost: $1.99

  • Warm-up/station timer
  • Program your own voice commands or use apps
  • Your playlist music can be used
  • Cost: $0.99
Yoga Free

  • Yoga positions
  • Pose demos
  • Cost: Free
Footsteps Pedometer

  • Good pedometer
  • Use your music playlist
  • Charts/graphs
  • Moderate to vigorous exercise
  • Cost: $0.99

  • Workouts
  • Cost: $0.99
Heart Rate

  • Measure heart rate
  • Cost: Free

  • Easy to use stopwatch/timer
  • Cost: $0.99
iMuscles for iPad

  • 360 View of Muscles in body
  • Exercises/Stretches
  • Cost: $4.99
iFirstAid Lite

  • First Aid Info
  • Cost: Free
First Aid

  • Basic First Aid Info
  • Cost: $0.99

  • Muscles in body and trigger points of pain
  • Cost: $2.99
Nike Training Club

  • Workouts with demo videos/your playlist music
  • Cost: Free
HealthStar Tracker

  • Possible for record keeping and assessments
  • Cost: Free

  • The PE Geek, Jarrod Robinson, created this for his PE classes.  HE IS AMAZING!  Check out his website at: www.thepegeek.com
  • Cost: Free
Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary

  • Pretty good nutrition/exercise diary.
  • Can scan barcodes of food labels to enter in app
  • Cost: Free

  • Nutrition and exercise tracking app
  • Cost: $2.99
Pranayama Universal Breathing

  • Basic breathing/relaxation
  • Cost: Free

  • GPS for exercise and exercise record-keeping
  • Cost: Free
Fitness Class

  • Fitness Videos
  • Cost: Free
Tempo Magic

  • Awesome app if you want to speed up some of your music for faster beats in PE.
  • Cost: $4.99

Some of my Personal Choices

While I admit, I am but a mere geeky tech integrator, I do like to keep in shape and would consider myself an advanced weekend warrior, having competed and placed in several adventure races. Here are 4 apps that I use on a weekly basis: 

100 Pushups

  • Motivating app
  • Day to day workouts that build up your confidence and ability
  • Cost: $0.99
Run Keeper

  • Track multiple activities
  • Cost: Free
50 Pullups

  • Motivating app
  • Built in counter and timer
  • Ability to graph your workouts to see progress over time
  • Cost: $0.99
Men’s Health Workouts

  • Various excerises and workout plans
  • Choose area of desired focus
  • Cost: Free

What are your must-have apps for PE, health and fitness?

Newspaper Map, Study Jams, and Go Go News

Newspaper Map

Newspaper Map is a nice mash-up with Google Maps that pins many of the world’s newspapers in their respective locations on the map. Students and teachers can look up a specific newspaper or location, filter it by language, and then go to the site of any of the thousands of newspapers included in this site.

Study Jams

Study Jams has a fun selection of animated videos to help students with math and science concepts such as multiplication and division, algebra, fractions, geometry, landforms, solar system, matter, energy, light and sound, force and motion, animals, and much more.

Here’s a preview of one of the videos:

Go Go News

Back to current events, Go Go News is an educational site that has “big news for little people.”  Since its inception in 2006, GoGoNews has provided children with general knowledge, as well as a consciousness and awareness of the world, regardless of geography or culture. Along with the different news sections, there is a free mobile app, and they are developing GoGoTeach, to help educators integrate the site into their classrooms.

We’re Back!

After a wonderful summer hiatus spent travelling with my family to Hawaii, California, and finally returning to Singapore after 2 months of living somewhat off the grid; I am penning my first post in quite some time. For those of you long time readers, welcome back to EdTechIdeas!

Being that most schools in the northern hemisphere are starting up school in the next few weeks, today’s post will highlight 3 sites that can be used as ice breakers and discussion starters. These sites can be used at any time, so for those of you half-way through the school year, they will come in handy as well.

Learn Something Every Day

Learn Something Every Day is a great little site that has for the past couple of years posted interesting facts on a daily basis. Teachers often have the site projected as the students enter the class and have them do a quick write about the topic.

A Google a Day

Here’s a great idea for a classroom ice-breaker or a daily conversation starter from Google. It’s called “A Google a Day” and it’s a simple interface that takes the Google search page and adds a daily trivia question to the bottom of the screen. You do a search to find the answer and then check to see if you got it correct by clicking, “Show answer.” The answer is then displayed along with tips on the best techniques to search for it (in case you got the wrong answer).

Icebreakers from Education World

Here’s a bunch of icebreaker activities from Education World, broken down into 12 different volumes. You’re bound to find an activity here that will get your school year off to the right start.

Best of luck to you whether you are beginning your school year or are half-way through!

Cool Tools for Writing – Part IV

This is part IV in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here, part II here, and part III here.

1. Writing With Writers

Part of the larger Scholastic site, Writing With Writers provides an excellent resource for writing. There is an excellent section for kids called, Computer Lab Favorites (Teacher View Here | Student View Here), that has a variety of writing tools like Story StartersMyth Brainstorming Machine, and Poetry Idea Engine; as well as learning games like, It’s Greek to Me (great for Real Spelling connections), and Fish Up Word Endings. Along with all the great writing tools and activities, there are also sections for MathScienceSocial Studies, and Spanish that require no prep and can be completed in 15-30 minutes.

2. Zoo Burst

Zoo Burst is a digital storytelling tool that allows you to create lively 3-d 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.

3. Bitstrips

My favorite comic creator, Bitstrips allows students to create fun comics on any topic of their (or your) choice. Students can use Bitstrips for free, but the $78 annual subscription allows teachers to create a classroom with individual student accounts and create assignments that students submit to you when they are finished. EdTechIdeas: I’ve had classes recreate scenes and plot lines from books, show understanding of rainforest layers, desert environments, and historical events, teach math concepts… The possibilities are endless.

Cool Tools for Writing III

This is part III in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here and part II here.

1. Learn Something Every Day

Learn Something Every Day is a fun, simple site that is great for a morning opening activity.  In the classroom you could have this site up on the projector every morning to generate discussion or as writing prompts.

2. Grammar Blast

The Houghton Mifflin Company produces Grammar Blast. Grammar Blast offers 35 interactive grammar activities for students in grades two through five.

3. Grammar Practice Park

Grammar Practice Park, produced by Harcourt School Publishers provides 12 games for students in grades three, four, and five.

Cool Tools for Writing II

This is part II in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here.

Vocab Ahead is a collection of short videos that give definitions, usages, and pictures associated with interesting vocabulary words.  You may subscribe to receive a vocab video of the day and there is also a section of videos by students that are fantastic.

Kerpoof is an online story and comic-creator which allows students to create comic scenes and stories, as well as animated movies, cards, drawings, doodles, and pictures.  Educators are able to sign up for a class account and assign usernames and passwords for each student to have their own individual accounts. There are no ads or inappropriate content and the art work is fun and lively.  Finished products may be saved, printed, or emailed.

One Word reminds me of a writing warm-up activity I used to do with my third grade class. The kids would choose a word and then have 1 minute to write as much as they could on that topic. We called the activity Speed Writing. They would then choose a second word and write on that, and so on. We would do this 3 or 4 times, and each time they would count their words and I would graph the results. Every time, they would write more (I would purposely give them a couple of extra seconds more each round… shhh!). My mantra during this activity was, “The more you write, the more you write.”  One Word works the same way. After clicking on Go students write as much as they can. After the minute is up, they enter their name and email and they can see what they wrote, as well as what others have written on the same topic.

Great Valentine Sites for Kids and Teachers

Valentine’s Day, according to Wikipedia, is

“An annual commemoration held on February 14 celebrating love and affection between intimate companions. The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. It was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but its religious observance is still permitted. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). The day first became associated with
romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Here are some great sites for kids and teachers to help celebrate this day of love and kindness.

1. The History of Valentine’s Day

From the History Channel, you can learn about the history of the big day, chocolate, the science of love, and find out interesting facts such as, “85% of all Valentine cards are purchased by women.”

2. Re-cycled Valentine’s Day Art

From National Geographic for Kids, learn how to turn everyday items from around your house into something heartfelt. There’s Candy Hearts Bingo, Valentine’s Day Straw Craft, Pop-up Greeting Cards, and more!

3. ABCTeach

Lots of great resources here for teachers. Printables like heart flashcards, heart bingo, valentine multiplication, word scrambles, and more!

4. Songs 4 Teachers

Not just songs and poems, you’ll find many crafts and activities here for Valentine’s day.

5. TeacherVision

Teacher Vision has a ton of great resources for teachers. There are Valentine printables, slideshows, lesson plans, quizzes, art activities, and more!

Happy Valentine’s Day from EdTechIdeas.com!

Cool Tools for Writing

This is part I in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part II here.

1. Storyjumper

Storyjumper allows you to create online books using a plethora of characters, scenes, and props. Teachers can, for free, create classes to register students so they each have their own account. As of this writing, there does not seem to be a limit as to how many student accounts you can create.

2. Read Write Think Printing Press

ReadWriteThink creates a lot of great educational resources. With Printing Press students can create a booklet, flyer, brochure, or newspaper fairly easily. There is a nice guide that walks you through the process and the focus is on writing. There is a place within each publication for a picture, but not one that you can add from your computer. This space is reserved for students to draw a picture after printing.

3. Grammaropolis

Grammaropolis is a fun, interactive site that helps students learn about the parts of speech.

EdTechIdeas: These 3 sites can be great tools to help struggling writers, as well as kids who love to write.  I’ve seen my students so excited about story writing with StoryJumper. The Printing Press makes it quick and easy for elementary kids to create nice looking publications, and learning about grammar and the parts of speech has never been more fun than with Grammaropolis.

11 Great Kid-Friendly Sites to Learn About Chinese New Year

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭喜發財

Chinese New Year (CNY) occurs this year on the 3rd of February. In preparation for the wonderful festivities, here are some sites to help your students gain a better understanding of the significance of this holiday.

Know of other great sites for Chinese New Year? Leave ’em in the comment section below.

Xie xie! 谢谢

Paragons of the Week – Super Teacher Tools, EdHeads, Kineticcity

Episode 37 >> Previous Paragons

1. Super Teacher Tools

Super Teacher Tools has a bunch of great teaching tools that allow teachers and students to create games, quizzes, charts and a variety of other useful things for your classroom. The most popular is a Jeopardy Review Game that you can create custom Jeopardy games for your students. EdTechIdeas: I use this site to have my students create review games for other students to play. They must first research a given topic, come up with questions and answers, and then use those facts to create a game.

2. EdHeads

EdHeads helps students learn through educational games and activities designed to meet state and national standards (US). EdTechIdeas: Students can learn about simple and compound machines, how to predict the weather,  perform virtual knee surgery, and even create a stem cell line.

3. Kineticcity

Kineticcity boasts that they have “the most amazing collection of science experiments, games, activities, challenges, and more.” Along with a pretty solid set of science related games, there are also have hands on games and activities, mind games, and activities for creative writing and art. Kids will really dig the interface. EdTechIdeas: Kineticcity is a production of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, with support from The National Science Foundation, and therefore, all of the content is US standards-based.  There is an educator section with ideas on how to start Kinetic City Club, and also an area to print out forms and leader guides. This would make a nice addition to your current science program or be a great program to start as an after school extension.

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