Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Free Technology for Teachers: Remind 101 Launches an Android App

Remind101 is now available for both iOS AND Android phones! Thanks to Free Tech For Teachers for the tip!

Remind101 is a free service that allows teachers and schools to send text messages and/or emails to students, parents, and community members. Users of this service never see one another's phone numbers or emails addresses, nor can the reply to the messages received - it's all completely anonymous. Parents and students can opt in or out of the free service as they wish. While teachers need either a computer or a smart phone to use the service, any basic cell phone that can receive text messages will allow a student or parent to receive the message. The cellular service provider's standard text messaging rates, if any, will apply to the individual user, so this should not be used as a required part of a public school student's education. Rather, this would be a handy service that teachers and schools might provide in which parents and/or students might choose to participate. The video below explains things very succinctly:

Free Technology for Teachers: Remind 101 Launches an Android App:

'via Blog this'

Halloween Resources For The SMART Board (updated) – Teachers Love SMART Boards

If you recognize Halloween in your SMART Board-enabled classroom, you may want to look through this list of resources from James Hollis of Teachers Love SMART Boards. While many of the links include jokes, clip art, puzzles and games, there are also a number of very good resources to help kids learn to keep safe during Halloween, learn about Halloween history, and recognize diverse cultures during this year's observance.

Halloween Resources For The SMART Board (updated) – Teachers Love SMART Boards:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Parent Teacher Conference Resources

Larry FerlazzoNot only does Larry Ferlazzo have great tips for classroom activities incorporating technology resources, he has a whole site devoted to “Engaging Parents in School.”

One of the latest updates to this site has been additions to the list of The Best Resources on Parent/Teacher Conferences. I’m sure that teachers will find good tips to help improve or support their practices as this time rolls around again in many of our schools soon. 

Cooperative Learning Ideas

First of all, let me just start by defining one often-overlooked point regarding Cooperative Learning:

  • Group Work = pushing a few kids together and assigning a task to be completed together, assuming that kids already know how to work together. 
  • Cooperative Learning = teaching students to perform specific functions/roles within a carefully-selected assemblage of students whose collective mission is to complete an instructional activity, learning important social skills at the same time.

There is very little research that supports the validity of using “group work” (as defined above) in a classroom. Mountains of research supports cooperative learning. You’ll find much of it – along with ideas for implementing true cooperative learning in your daily activities – in this excellent post by Larry Ferlazzo: The Best Sites for Cooperative Learning Ideas.

Epic Marching Band Tribute to Video Game Culture

You don’t have to be a gamer or a marching band fan to be impressed by this…

The Ohio State Marching Band plays homage to video games during October 06, 2012, halftime show at The University of Nebraska.

Read the full story by NBC News

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Nice Wikispaces Updates


The folks at Wikispaces have been very busy lately. Among a number of different updates are two that I’d like to point out to teachers: Editable Websites and iPad integration.

Editable Website wiki type

As I’ve trained a number of teachers in our District in the use of wikis, one of the criticisms I’ve heard is, “There’s a lot going on in this site.” While I truly appreciate the collaborative power of the wiki, I can understand why the casual user might sometimes characterize wikis as looking a bit busy. Traditional wikis offer a number of options, from editing or commenting on a page to joining the wiki and tracking changes, etc., that might get in the way of the end-user experience for random Web surfers.

With the addition of the “Editable Website” wiki type, Wikispaces has helped diffuse this concern by adding a way to hide much of the extras that make wikis so powerful and collaborative so that those who visit sites just to gather information see a cleaner, less distracting site. While I’m sure this took a lot of complex coding “on the back end,” Wikispaces programmers have made this a very simple Click-to-Hide-or-Reveal process. Only creators and members of the wiki will see the button, however.

The convert your standard Wikispaces wiki to an Editable Website, simply log in, click Manage Wiki, and select Wiki Info. Scroll down to Wiki Type, click the circle next to Editable Wiki and Save.

This would be a great way for educators or schools to create simple yet very effective Websites for classes and the community. Wikispaces still offers free wikis to educators, and the Wikispaces Private Label is a great way to provide an unlimited number of private wiki/web sites to students, teachers, schools, and districts for a very reasonable annual fee.

Wikispaces for iPads & Mobile Devices

Few can deny they fact that Apple’s iPad is a great device for gathering and “consuming” content of various types. However, iPad has been widely criticized for quite some time as having limited capabilities to allow students and teachers to create Internet content separate from a more traditional desktop or laptop computer. Wikispaces has also addressed this concern by releasing access to their wiki creation, editing, and collaboration features for mobile devices like iPads.  (I’ve even tried it on my Android phone’s default browser, and it seems to be working just fine.) Most of the wiki’s features are still available to editors, they’ve just been moved around to different places. To be honest, I’ve only looked at a few of the options so far, but things seem to be working very well – much like the traditional desktop version I’m used to. And, since it works inside a Web browser, you don’t even have to install an app! Sweet!

Read more about these and other Wikispaces developments and applications to education on the Wikispaces Blog.

Teaching the Core Examines Common Core Literacy & ELA Anchor Standards


Recently I stumbled across Dave Stewart’s blog, Teaching the Core. Mr. Stewart is a Michigan high school teacher helping his kids and educators around the world understand the National Common Core State Standards. Periodically, Mr. Stewart examines the cross-content Literacy and English/Language Arts standards, writing about and showing us how this might all play out in a classroom.

Mr. Stewart’s latest post, “How to Get Students to Really Listen, Summarize/Paraphrase, and Respond to Peers,” contains two videos: the Three Tiers of Classroom Discussion, and How to Increase Listening and Paraphrasing in Classroom Discussions

Click here to receive Dave Stewart’s Teaching the Core updates on ELA/Literacy Common Core standards delivered directly to your email inbox

Hidden Powers of Your Mouse, from Upgrade Your Life

Here are some great tips and reminders of how your mouse can help streamline your work, from Becky Worley’s Upgrade Your Life blog at Yahoo News. (Click this link if the video won't play for you.)
(For some reason, the video below won't play in Internet Explorer. However, the video seems to play fine in Firefox & Chrome browsers, though.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

If The World Were 100 People–Infographic

Here’s a great graphic breaking down several world statistics into “If the World were 100 PEOPLE”. I learned of this on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.

Student Presidential Debate Contest

imageWednesday marks the first Presidential Candidate Debate. Certainly, a lot of our kids will just change the channel, go back to playing video games, or otherwise tune out when they’re at home. How can we as educators use this historical event as a learning activity within our classrooms?

The National Forensic League has launched a contest, “allowing students to weigh in on some of the biggest issues facing our country right now.” (Read the details here)


I learned of this contest through Richard Byrne’s excellent blog, Free Tech For Teachers

Read the latest post!

"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

Image from pixabay.com After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illi...

What are people reading on this blog?