Monday, December 9, 2013

Awesome Stories - Primary Source Research for Students

Awesome Stories is a great free story based research site that provides additional media with a focus on cited primary resources.  The stories are high interest, focusing on events from the present as well as the past.

With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela there are story snippets from his book Long Walk to Freedom. Each page contains numerous additional resources in the form of hyperlinks within the text as well as from the list on the side of primary source photos, movies, sound files, and other media.   

Students can use the search bar to look for specific topics or use explore the calendar to see stories for that week.

With the free version of this site there is access to all the stories and the primary sources.  With an additional silver membership (free for a 30 day trial) there are expanded options such as teacher account with student tracking, audio read alongs, visual vocabulary builder activities, CCSS alignment resources as well as other features.  A more advanced gold level is in the works.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hour of Code - Celebrate Computer Science Week Dec 9 - 13

Join classrooms around the country next week by doing an hour of coding with your students. has pulled together resources to make coding simple to introduce to students at all grade levels as well as being easy to understand for teachers who are unfamiliar with coding.

Why coding and why introduce computer science to your students?

The site as some jaw dropping statistics.  By 2020, there will be 1,000,000 more jobs than students in computer science.  9 out 10 schools don't even offer computer programming classes.  Just to list a few.

Visit the site, look though the tutorials and try a few out for yourself.  Do you have limited access to computer labs?  Only a few tablets in your room?  The site gives many different options, including non-tech lessons.   For coding and programming apps check out the post on our iDevice in the Mountains Blog

Not only will you be introducing them to computer science, but you will be helping them build problem solving strategies and teaching them perseverance. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

8 Classroom Photo Sharing Ideas Using Yogile

Yogile is a simple to use clean photo sharing service perfect for the classroom.  To begin sign up for a free account, create an album, and choose between a couple of settings.  

Albums created under the free account status will be automatically deleted after 14 days. It's perfect as they clean up the photo projects. You just need to remember to download the photos you want to save.

Yogile provides a random URL to access your album, or you can create your own.  

With this URL others can send photos to the album using the created email address, or upload them directly from a computer.

Another nice setting perfect for the classroom is to approve all photos before they are added to the album. This is perfect if you have students emailing a variety of photos for a particular assigned task.

There are no ties to social media, so you aren't playing photo roulette with "suggested" photos appearing on the webpage while you open the website in front of your classroom.

Ideas of how you can implement a shared photo album in your classroom:
  1. Primary students can use iPod Touch's or iPads to take pictures of items that begin with letters of the alphabet and email those photos to a shared album.  It's best if the teacher types the email address the first time so that the email auto pops up for all following emails on an iDevice.  Other topics could include different shapes, different colors, or different sets of numbers.
  2. Students could take pictures while on a field trip and upload their photos to a shared folder.
  3. Students can email photos of whatever they want, and at the end of the week students can use the photos as writing prompts.
  4. Have students take and share selfies to be used during class projects.
  5. Students working on projects can have people from other parts of the world take and email photos into one shared folder, rather than have them arrive in many different emails.
  6. Keep a photo record of different lab experiments conducted by students from various periods or classes in a district to be compared with each other at the completion of a unit.
  7. Students can demonstrate an understanding of a vocabulary word by taking photo of them or someone "doing" the word, then store the photos in a shared folder to be reviewed later.
  8. Have students take pictures of iconic images around town, like buildings, parks, murals or sculptures.  Then use a shared folder to place them all in one location accessible by anyone in class.
Please suggest other ideas how you could use a shared photo album with your class.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Numbers - Learn Addition or Subtraction Algorithms

Happy Numbers is a nice online site, iPad compatible, used to allow students practice opportunities towards mastering the traditional addition and subtraction algorithms.

While working on problems, students are guided through the process of completing the algorithm.  Each step must be completed correctly without an error to get the problem "correct".  Once the student has answered 10 questions complete "correct" they have completed the level for the day.

Data is stored online showing progress of students throughout levels that are available to them.

As a teacher you create your free account.  Then create a class.  After the class type in your students name.  Happy Numbers will assign a class number to your class, and a password for each student.  You can change passwords if you would like.

For students to login, they type in the class number, click their name, type their password, and proceed onto their practice for the day.

This site is quick to set up for you and your class, saves data about your students daily practice, and provide students practice opportunities while mastering the standard addition and subtraction algorithm.

Monday, November 18, 2013

K-5 Math Teaching Resources

How often do you find yourself asking, "isn't there another way I can demonstrate a particular math topic to my students because they aren't understanding what I've been doing thus far"?

Try finding a suggestion at K-5 Math Teaching Resources.

This website has loads of ideas to peruse through.  You can filter your search by grade level, strand, Mental Math Concepts, Interactive Whiteboard ideas, or Centers.

When looking into a grade level of activities, ideas are separated by standard, with links to printables if necessary.

The links to Interactive Whiteboard Resources take you directly to the IWB activity that relates to the concept. 

There are many activities ready to use in a centers based environment, providing you have or create the manipulative for the activity (note, they do provide links to download these interatives).  For example these are a few of many ten frame and dot card activities you can use in a number sense center.

There are many Mental Math Activities available, including a nice overview of using empty number lines in your classroom.  And don't forget to check out the ideas for your 100th day of school

This website has been a golden goto resource for k-5 math ideas and activities for several area teachers.  Aren't we all looking for additional ideas?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Non Fiction Reading with Newsela

Virgina Petit shared a great resource yesterday for non fiction articles that connect directly to the ELA Anchor Standards of the CCSS.  The clincher with Newsela is the ability to change the Lexile Reading Level of the article, customizing it for the class or the student.  Signing up was easy as a teacher.  It gives a class code to give to the students to sign up for the specific class.  No emails are needed for the students.  Google sign in is also an option.

These are high interest daily news articles focused around the topics war & peace, science, kids, money, law, health, and arts.  There are four different levels offered for each article, with the four ranges varying  from third grade to college prep levels.

Easily assign an article to a class.
 Here is a look at the beginning of the same article at two different reading levels.


Quiz adapts to the Reading Level as well.  
If a quiz is avaliable to take with the passage, it will show along the right hand side of the screen.  In the teacher view, it will show the question, the correct answer, as well as the standard the question is addressing.

 Both students and teachers have a binder at the top of the screen.  This allows for the students to see if a specific article has been assigned.  For the teacher, it gives a view of which anchor standards have been addressed, over all class scores, as well as being able to view individual student work.
Student View
This is just another site to add to your resource list.  This site is also iPad compatible, easily add the link to the log in page onto the iPad.
We can never have to many sources for non fiction!
Newsela is currently free and in BETA.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Online Assessments for Understanding Digital Citizenship

Common Sense Media is an absolute awesome web resource for obtaining curriculum addressing digital citizenship topics to your students. 

 There are 8 topic areas of content written in all four grade level stages; K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  There are videos, questions, activities, and many resources to assist any teacher with integrating digital citizenship content into their classroom.  All activities are aligned to common core standards.

If you look into their scope and sequence of how these lessons are recommended being taught, lessons are broken into groups of approximately 5 lessons per unit.  At the end of each unit is a Unit Assessment.

I decided to take a couple of Unit Assessments to experience what the students will encounter.  There are a variety of question types similar to what you'll be seeing in a Smarter Balance test, that is to say there are very few multiple choice type questions.  Most questions involve higher level thinking like arranging an order of events, or placing items onto different parts of a venn diagram.

Students begin an assessment by typing in their name and an optional email address for their teacher, which will auto send the results to the teacher at the conclusion.  If a student incorrectly answers a question, the program will ask the student to try again, upon which if they miss a second time the correct answer will be revealed.  Only the students first answers are calculated and printed in the assessment results at the end. 

Allow for at least 30 minutes for students to complete the activity, as there are 15-20 questions they need to answer.  Students will be able to print the results of their assessment which shows the question, how the student answered, and the correct answer.

InCtrl - Empowering Students in a Digital Age

Here is a nice resource you can use to begin your digital citizenship discussions with your upper elementary and middle school classes from Cable in the Classroom, Be InCntrl!

They offer seven Lessons, which are basically units containing 3-5 half hour lessons.

  • Working Together Digitally
  • Living in a Digital World
  • Your Digital Footprint: Leaving a Mark
  • Media: Between the Lines
  • Stand Up ... Be InCtrl!
  • What's Mind Isn't (Necessarily) Yours
  • In-Credibly Informed

Each Lesson offers a Teacher version of the video, Student version of the video,  and Lesson Materials with Activities which include ready to use printable documents for your class.  Objectives are include along with an estimated time for each section, list of vocabulary terms, engaging questions to ask, and an outlined project. 

The activities provide high level creation opportunities for the students.  For example students create a "Stop the Drama!" campaign which includes writing and distributing a survey for others to complete, analyzing the responses, and putting together a reflection about the findings.  InCtrl provides ideas, links, and resources for all the activities.  All activities are aligned to common core.

This is a great resource you can use to integrate digital citizenship topics into your curriculum.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Digital Citizenship Lessons from FBI - Cyber Surf Islands

We need to be doing as much as we can providing resources for students so they can become educated online digital citizens.  The FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, has created a series of lessons for grades 3-8 in a flash-based game environment called Cyber Surf Island where students are to learn content and then take an exit exam demonstrating their understanding.

Students click into a grade, like Ice Island, and choose from 7 different lessons.  When they have mastered the content they can take the exam.

Lessons include a variety of tasks.  One lesson provide users with vocabulary words to learn and short check for understanding questions.  Another shows video segments from NetSmartz.  Students can complete a word search and learn their definitions.

These lessons might be great to do with one projector and whole class discussion.  Like lesson 6 where students can determine what is actually meant with a common online statement.

Teachers can sign up their school, so their kids take the test, and compete against other schools from around the country to determine if they can make their school appear on the Leaderboard.  Tests are half hour with different questions for each student. 

Who knows, if your schools does extremely well you can even have an FBI agent visit your classroom.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remind 101 - Texting your Students

Remind101 is a communication tool using the technology everyone is carrying in their pockets, their cellphones.  And as a teacher this communication is one-way, which means those receiving your text messages can't reply back.

Start by creating a free account at Remind101.  After you have signed in you create a class then invite your end users to sign up.  End users sign up procedure is completed by having them send a text to a phone number with the body of the message containing a particular code correlating to the class you created.  If they enter it all in correctly, Remind101 replies back asking for further information from the end user and they are then part of your class.

To send everyone in your class a text message, you go into Remind101, type in the message, and click send.  You can even schedule it to send later.  There is even an option to have a Remind101 widget scrolling on your blog or website.

This is a great tool for elementary teachers to have parents of students sign up so they can be reminded of particular events; for instance a field trip tomorrow so please pack a sack lunch, or conferences next week.  High School teachers can have their students sign up into particular classes so they can remind them of due dates for projects, to study for a test, or even offer problems to solve.

For the people carrying tech tools in their pockets, Remind101 does provide access via iPad or iPod apps, as well as Android or Google Play Apps.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Chromebook 101 Training

12:00    Teaching in a Connected Classroom

12:30   Getting Started
  •  Log Ins
  •  Differences with the Chromebook
    • Keyboard Shortcuts    ctrl   alt   ?   
    • Users
1:00    Google Apps
  • The Parts of Drive
    • Docs
    • Presentation
    • Spreadsheet
    • Form
    • Drawing 
    • Folders
  • Sharing/Collaborating
  • Working Off Line 
 1:45  Brain Break! 

2:00   Other parts of Google:  blogger, sites, youtube, google+

2:30   Google Store and Finding Other Apps
  • MangaHigh
  • Edmodo
  • Remind 101 (for teachers)
  • The QR Code Generator (for teachers) 
3:30   Discussing Plan for Roll Outs and Expectations 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Safe Searching with Youtube and Google

Do you worry about accidentally revealing websites that are inappropriate?  Whether in YouTube or Google, be sure you have turned on "Safe Searching".

In YouTube, scroll all the way to the bottom and click on the "Safety".  You can also lock on this feature, which means the only person that can unlock it is the owner of the account.

In Google when you search, both images or web content, you should see a "Safe Search" is on box appear on the top right.  If you don't see this box, you probably don't have it turned on.  Click into Search Settings to check the appropriate box, then be sure to save your updated settings. 

Google also allows you to lock your safe search to the On position. If safe search is locked on, balloons will appear in the upper right hand corner for a quick glance check.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Primary Wall and Padlet - two Word Walls

Padlet and Primary Wall are two word walls you can use with your students as a way to collect stickies and have them visible in a brainstorming or labeling activity.

Both of these online resources can be used without creating an account.  However, if you do decide to create an account more options will be available to you.

In each case, when you create a wall, the wall has an associated URL you can pass along to others to collaborate and add their stickies.

Both of these tools are iPad compatible, so end users can be on a computer or mobile device.

Padlet allows you to change wallpaper, which can include any photo you wish to upload or point to via a URL.  For instance, you can have a map, and ask students place stickies on certain locations.

The wall is identified with a random URL, and Padlet does allow you to create your own unique URL.  This will allow you to create easy to remember URL's for students.

You can have stickies freeform or streamed next to each other. There are no formatting options for the sticky notes, however you can upload an image, video, or add a link to your sticky (note: uploading not compatible with iDevices)

Primary Wall  provides you with a default background, and you are unable to change this background without an account.   This is a great word wall to use with younger students because of the limited options.

When selecting a sticky, you can choose from four different colors, but the font and size is set for you.  You can not upload any other items to associate with your sticky.

The feature that Primary Wall offers is the ability to Sort or Search throughout stickies.  If you have 30 stickies, when you Sort them everyone's wall will view them in sorted order.  You can also Search for a sticky containing a particular word or phrase found anywhere on the sticky.

With either tool, these word wall tools are excellent choices to use integrating a collaborative environment into your classroom environment.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Draftin - an Online Writing Tool

Draft, at, is an online writing tool that focuses on a writers progression through several drafts of a writing project, keeping track of each one as the writer moves along.

A simple email and password are required to join.  The site offers very limited formatting options so the writing focus is on the content, not the look.  In fact, you have the choice of a couple of fonts and sizes, and that is it.  There is no underline, no boldface, no italic, no color, no images, no fonts.  Just writing.  Even the logo is very simple.

The process could go something like this.  You start out by typing your first rough draft.  Come back a day later and make changes.  Then a few days later make additional changes for a second revision.

Finally, you send it off to a peer for their input.  They provide their revision, however, you have the ability to accept which ever revisions you'd like, from just 1 to all the suggested revisions.

At anytime you can review any of the prior revisions of the document, and even revert back.  All revisions are maintained for reference.  Here is an example of a document I revised, revised again, and had peer reviewed.

You can export your document to a variety of online services like Google Drive, Drop Box, or Evernote.  Once exported, any further revisions done in draft can be synced to the exported document.

This tool offers great possibilities for young writers learning the draft revise process of perfecting a piece their writing.  In fact, it's fairly good for those of you that are more advanced.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Google Reading Levels

Working with Intermediate students searching Google for information about the Civil War, or Lewis and Clark, sometimes is a daunting task when resource after resource comes back in a reading level too high for elementary readers.

Use Google Reading Level settings to help narrow your search.  The levels aren't necessarily associated to grade levels or Lexile scores, but it's a start.

For example you may want to search for Lewis and Clark, which will return results similar to these listed below.

Find the Advanced Search button (gear shift icon in upper right).  

Out of the Advanced Search options find Reading Level and make your selection.

The new results will have Reading Level breakdowns listed by percentages.  From here click on Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, or "All" to see particular selections of interest.

Remember, be more descriptive in your searches by adding additional keywords to narrow your search.  For example when I search for Lewis and Clark, do I mean explorers, or the college?  The additional keywords will be very helpful.

Friday, April 5, 2013

PicMonkey Chrome Extension - Easy Photo Editing

Google Chrome Browser has many handy extensions.  One that I recently came across and have really enjoyed is the PicMonkey extension.  I like to use the PicMonkey site for quick photo editing. No account setup needed, just pull your photo in, edit, and then save back to your computer.  
A Little On Extensions and How to Find Them:                                 You can find extensions in the Chrome Web Store, which can be found on your apps page of home screen when using Chrome in a few places.  As you can see on the right, I have the Web Store on the main page, as well as the ability to access it in the lower right hand corner of the screen.   When extensions are added to your Chrome Browser, you can find them as small icons at the end of your address bar (see upper right hand corner of image).  

Once in the Chrome Web Store you can search the store by categories, by name (if you know what you want), as well as filtering by either app or extension.  Apps essentially are quick shortcuts that take you straight to a certain site, where as extensions are tools that you can utilize while on any page.  
Once you find the extension you are searching for, tap the button "Add to Chrome" and it will install the Extension for you.                                  

Now Back to the PicMonkey Extension

When on a page that contains photos (below I'm on Google Images), I can click on the extension icon at the top right.  It will then generate a drop down of all the images on that page.  By clicking on the small image in the drop down, I am then immediately taken to the PicMonkey website with that image already loaded ready to edit.  

As you can see in the image below, the workspace in PicMonkey has a lot of great options.  Quickly rotate or crop, add text or stickers, frames, adjust brightness...

As always, make sure that you are using photos correctly, following copyright and fair use guidelines.  In Google Images advanced settings, you can adjust the filtering to all for only "free to use or share".  We have a post on where to find this option "Free Image Search with Google".