Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: web2.0

5th Graders Interview History Experts Via Skype

This past Wednesday one of my 5th grade classes took part in a fantastic learning experience. Two history experts who work at the Singapore Ministry of Education were kind enough to Skype in and answer a series of 12 questions that the students came up with.  Here’s a video of what took place:

Cool Tools for Writing – Part V

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

Story Starters is a fun activity to inspire students to write. They first spin the story starter wheel (they can then spin individual wheels to adjust their story starter), choose a format (notebook, letter, newspaper, postcard) and then begin writing. There are options to print and draw a picture as well. There is a nice teacher section that lists objectives for the lesson as well as several ideas for integrating the activity into your current RLA focus. Being that students can’t save their work, I often just have them spin the wheels to create a starter and then simply have them write their stories in Word.  This would also be a good site to have projected on the screen (or on a classroom computer station) first thing in the morning. Each day a new student can spin the wheel and you could have a quick morning creative writing session, comparing and sharing stories.

My Storymaker allows students to create a story book with fun characters and settings. When complete, you can print, or save to the public gallery which allows you to download the file as a pdf. I recently introduced this to a 5th grade class and it went extremely well. The students created epic and creative stories and had a really fun time writing! The one drawback I found is that there is no option to save and come back to edit, so students have to start and complete their story within one class period. One idea I’ve come up with is to have the first session be an explore session where the students learn about the site, the characters, setting, etc. Then, they can write out a rough draft before the second session so that when they access the site the second time, they are ready to roll, and time is not as much of a factor.

The Super Sentence Machine helps kids develop sentence writing abilities and improve their voice and writing expression. This would be a good site to use as a whole-class activity to show students how to write more grammatically complex sentences.

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.

Google Art Project

A month ago, Google released the ambitions Google Art Project which uses street-view technology to allow users to virtually move around some of the world’s greatest museums and browse famous works of art. I finally had some time to sit down and give it a tour, and it’s quite impressive. With the featured artworks, you can zoom in to view the paintings at high resolution (I hoped that the mouse scroll-wheel would work for zooming, but it does not), learn about the artwork and the artist, find more works from the artists, and watch related YouTube videos produced by the museums.  Users can also create their own collections of artwork, comment on each piece, and share the entire collection with others. As of this writing, the participating museums include:

  • Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
  • The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
  • Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
  • MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
  • Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
  • Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
  • Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
  • National Gallery, London – UK
  • Palace of Versailles – France
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  • The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
  • Tate Britain, London – UK
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

EdTechIdeas: Google Art Project is an art teachers dream, or any teacher, for that matter, who wants to expose their students to artistic culture. Teachers could send students on virtual field trips where students “collect” specific pieces of art and further explore the artist of their choice.  You could create a classroom collection of artwork and have each student research an artist. Leave a comment below on a way you would use Google Art Project in your classroom.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


Poetry VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a site that allows you to upload images or video, and comment on the images via voice recording, text, images, or webcam. Here’s a recent project (still a work in progress) one of my 5th grade classes did using poems they wrote, and pictures they drew which were inspired by the poems. After everyone had uploaded their pictures and recorded their poems, each student viewed all of their classmates’ poems and left a comment of either text or voice. In the embedded version below, you can navigate through using the play button and the left and right arrows. If the text comments are a little too small, you can see the full version here. Feel free to leave a comment to any of the poems.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
EdTechIdeas: Voicethread is a great platform for publishing student work and enabling others to view and comment on it. Students love hearing their peers’ thoughts and critiques. Once complete, a Voicethread can be shared around the world and comments can come from family members and friends living thousands of miles away.

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

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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.

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