Friday, March 21, 2014

Google has a Timer

Need a timer for your classroom?  No need for additional software.  No need for the clock under the document camera.

Just use Google.

In the Google search bar type in "set timer for 5 minutes" and press return, or use whatever time you'd like.

Options include to stop, and go full screen.

When timer is finished, Google will play an alarm.

A perfect easy to use clean tool for your classroom environment.

Monday, March 17, 2014

No Time for Leprechaun Traps?

Did Leprechaun Traps fit into your lesson plans last week?  No?  Why not?  What can students learn from making a leprechaun trap?

It's the perfect project to hit the Four C's; creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, as well as hitting on some key CCSS and teaching engineering and science.  Lots of ideas are on the web, from kindergarten through higher grades.  Here are just a few I came across:

So if you missed out on this year, put it in your plans to revisit for next year.  
Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cue Up Videos Using VideoNotes

Have you taught a class and had plans on using a video for part of the content? Yet the problem was you wanted to use a 30 second clip inside a 20 minute video. Thus, you get it all cued up ahead of time. Without needing to refresh the browser, this ends up working, until you need to repeat the cuing up for the next period.

What is is an online tool that collaborates with your Google Drive, so all your videos and annotated notes are saved in your Google Drive. creates it's own folder in your Google Drive, so you can share your folder, or just a particular notes file, like any other Google Document.

The steps to using this tool are quite easy. Load a video, start watching the video, and when you type a note on the side the time is automatically recorded. Thus, after your video has been noted, you can simply click on any noted line and the video starts playing at that specified time.

Who can use this tool?

This tool can be great for teachers that would like to show portions of videos for a lesson. A teacher can load more than one video in the notes file, and by clicking on the line, the chosen video at that time slot is cued up and ready to play.

An administrator can video a lesson completed by a teacher, then go in and create a notes file shared with the teacher containing comments about what the teacher did positive, and what they need to work on in the future.

A coach can record a game and create a notes file for athletes to watch and learn from what they did or didn't do well.

Finally, have students create a video notes file which contains cues to their research for a particular project, and the teacher would have an easy record verifying student information.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

If It Were My Home - Country Comparisons

      If you are looking for a new spin on doing country research, a new tool for teaching geography. Perhaps your class is discussing a current event and you need to build some background knowledge.  If so,  If It Were My Home would be a great site to visit.  

If It Were My Home will compare any country in the world with the US.  The facts are pulled from the CIA World Fact Book and presented in such a way that it makes the information more visual and engaging.

By choosing a country from the long list on the homepage, If It Were My Home takes the information and compares it to the same statistics in the US.   The visual color of the fact relates to positives or negatives. For example if Chile were your home instead of the US you would consume 73.8% less oil, which is colored green.

Facts can be expanded to give more information and where they gathered the facts from.  This is helpful in explaining how they came up with the data and percentages.  
If It Were My Home also places the map of the country over the geological location of the person researching.  With the image to the right, Chile is placed over the Eastern Oregon region to show a visual size comparison.  This is extremely helpful with younger students.

Below the list of colored facts there is also a short paragraph with more information about the chosen country.   Many times it is more about the history of the country and major issues that the country may have.  Below the more information section is often links to books that are recommended about the country.

Once in a certain country there is also the ability to take that country and compare to another one from the list.  So I can compare life in Chile to life in Argentina.  The same comparisons, data, and maps of the comparison will be generated.  I have to say, this website is addicting!  A note for classroom use, this is a free site and does contain ads once on the comparison page.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Dozen Nonfiction Reading Resources for Students

As non-fiction reading becomes a higher priority in the educational environment, here is a list of non-fiction reading resources that may be of help to your classroom.  Teachers in Northeast Oregon use several of these sites, so I hope you may find a couple that can benefit your classroom or student as well.

  • Tween Tribune  Students find the news stories interesting and worth in reading.  There are four levels of articles including k-4, 5-8, 9-12, and Spanish.  Stories have thought provoking questions at the end to extend the readers mind.  Teachers can set up classroom environments to  help check for student understanding and allow for readers to submit comments. 
  • Newsela  Non-fiction and current news related events are written in student friendly articles.  Each article can be read under different Lexile reading levels consisting of 690, 830, 980, 1130, and max.  Articles can be filtered under 8 different anchor standards, including Central Idea, Word Meaning and Choice, or Point of View as a few examples.  Some of the article contain a quiz at the end to help check for understanding.  Teachers can set up classroom environments to help check for understanding and monitor student progress through passages. 
  • Youngzine  Readers enjoy reading a magazine containing articles and features tailored to the interests of students.  Also available are news related videos for a variety of mediums.  Teachers can set up classroom environments to help check for understanding and monitor student progress through passages.  If a student desires to be published, they can submit their article for future consideration. 
  • Dogo News  Students can search news content by grades or categories, view stories associated with a mapped location, and read through kid website reviews.  All resources have comments providing viewer feedback, and any article may be embedded into a blog or website.  Teachers can create a personalized learning environment for their students by created accounts. 
  • Wonderopolis  Each day a wonder of the day is published providing students answers to questions they may be curious about.  For example, what does it mean to be immune, or  what happens when lightning strikes a tree?  Each wonder contains a list of vocabulary associated with the article called "wonder words".  Wonders have a built in audio version, as well as investigation questions for those more curious minds.
  • Scholastic News  A variety of article and videos are available from Scholastic at News for Your Classroom.  In one click students can navigate to other elementary grade level magazines or secondary subject matter magazines.  If you need magazines in Spanish, French, or Dutch, they are also available.
  • Science News for Students  A nice variety of articles related to all sorts of science related topics are available to read.  Several student resources are available including ideas for student projects, digital badging, and Eureak! lab.  A section of Science in the News offers feature articles, bizarre or gory details, and viewpoints providing a variety of scientific reading experiences.
  • Time for Kids  You've read Time magazine, now there is Time for Kids, TFK, containing current related article from topics all around the world.  Students can read articles from Kid Reporters, view photos, and watch videos.  TFK created Mini Sites intended to host many articles under one topic, like the Olympics or Antarctica.   Create logins to access quizzes, worksheets, and more.
  • Hey There Everywhere  A good selection of articles with containing information in a variety of mediums and styles.  For instance an article may be read as an interview, or another article may contain videos supporting written content. In searching through archives, one can choose from a category or by a month/year.
  • GoGo News   Student friendly news and student friendly topics are available under different topics including Planet, Animals, and Picks.  There is also a free app designed for mobile environments availabe from GoGo News.
  • Teaching Kids News  Timely relevant news articles are available for kids, parents, and classrooms. Articles contain extension questions, grammar features, and discussion prompts allowing for more in-depth exploration of topics.  For the most part, content is written for grades 2-8.
  • Our Little Earth   Stories are written to provide students an opportunity to learn about current issues happening in today's world.  Every two weeks an issue is published.  Teachers can sign up to have the issue delivered to your email inbox for free.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ZeeMaps - Creating Interactive Maps

Have you wanted students to create maps demonstrating their understanding of geographical concepts in locations throughout the world?

ZeeMaps is an online, iPad friendly, tool that allows someone to create interactive customized maps. Simply click "create a free map", enter in a title and a few more starting details about your map, and you are off and creating.

Start making your map interactive by adding markers, which could contain descriptions, photos, and video. You may also want to add map annotations, or colored regions.

Once finished, publish your map and obtain html code which can be used to embed the map onto a website or blog post.  Published maps are dynamic in that when you modify the map, it auto updates onto your website.  Below is an example I've started highlighting some tech rich environments in North East Oregon Classrooms. There are ads with the free version.

No account is needed to create a map if you plan on starting then finishing in one setting. However, to save and comeback later and make modifications, you will need to create an account. Accounts vary in pricing structure, as the free account is more than adequate for educational needs.

Ideas for students could be to create interactive maps demonstrating different ecological climates of the world, an interactive walking tour with photos and videos from historical stops from your town, or charting biographical locations of historical figures from a country. The list of projects is endless.

Free, easy to use, and adaptable for educational environments makes Zeemaps a nice tool for many opportunities.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Curriculet - Create your own online reading curriculum

Curriculet is a free site that allows teachers to add their own questions, annotations, links, and quizzes to books, pdfs, blog posts, or other online reading passages.

Creation of a class and adding students is all free, as well as many already uploaded free domain books and reading passages from  In addition, uploading articles from blogs and other websites was simple by URL. Once uploaded, Curriculet changes the formatting, taking away all the ads and additional links, and allows for the adding of the teacher's own questions and quizzes.

Add Content via Files or URL or from the Curriculet Store
Example from TeenTribune article:
Add questions, annotations, or quizzes by click and holding.  Students can add their own annotations for their own notes as well, view able only to themselves. 

Student View of the book Call of the Wild

After assigning a book or passage to a class, teachers can monitor student progress by student or by question.  Adding students to a class requires adding by URL or a class "token" that they enter when signing up.  Students are required to use an email and teachers do not have access to change their passwords.   If students use Google, they can use a quick Google Sign In.

Curriculet is mobile friendly, working on any device that can access the internet.  This is great from BYOD situations, iPads, tablets, chromebooks, smartphones, etc.   More information about accessing newer titles, not just free domain, recently was posted on the their blog here.

It was easy to use and has a great guide for quick questions.  I personally would like to see the ability to have the text read aloud, but for the features it currently has, this site would be highly useful in any class!