Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just When You Thought @RemindHQ Couldn't Get Any Better....

Hot off the press: Remind has announced a new feature called Stamps that will make you very happy!

This new feature will allow users to receive instant feedback to questions that are posted in the Remind app. Imagine sending a quick question to parents like 'Who can volunteer for the class on Friday?' or to students for understanding on a lesson. 

Image from:

The feedback comes to the teacher's Remind account instantly and only the teacher is able to view it. This keeps the privacy that Remind is so well known and loved for. 

One important note is that the Stamps feature is only available for response through the actual app. Read all about this great new feature on the Remind blog here!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dimension U is now on the iPad!!

DimensionU's Towerstorm iOS app for Math and Literacy is now available in the app store for iPad and iPhone.  It can be accessed via the following link:

Happy gaming!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Do You Have Golden Nuggets in Your Twitter?

Have you made the leap and joined Twitter yet? It's time to drink the Twitter Kool-aid and here's why...

Twitter is THE most adaptable, on-demand PD that I have ever experienced. Many people like to say, "I am not on Twitter because I do not care what someone posts that they had for lunch." My response to that, "Unfollow. Done." Imagine a world where you can immediately find the experts for advice or resources to help with that one question you have. 

Let's say you are a new teacher, just starting out in the jungle that we call teaching. Doing a quick twitter search for #ntchat (new teacher chat) I am able to find a plethora of support:
I, the newbie teacher, now have a list of resources to help me on everything from 'A Survival Guide for New Teachers' to a collection of new teacher resources on Pinterest. Plus, I have a start to building a PLN (following others) that tweet items that will directly relate to what I need. No lunchtime follows here! 

As you begin to grow your Twitter expertise and build your feed with great Tweeple, your golden nuggets of knowledge will multiply. 

Here are two golden nuggets from my Twitter feed this morning, that are share-worthy:

Happy Tweeting! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nerding Out with the iOS 8

This week, Apple held their annual WWDC, which is where they announce all of the cool, new features that are coming in the fall with the new iOS update. 

ios 8 730x486 Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2014 in one handy list

With our district now having at least one iPad in every classroom, there are many new features that will make you give a little happy dance. 

Interactive Notifications: Devices will now allow for the user to respond to the notifications that come in to your lock screen and banner across the top. For example, if an iMessage comes to the banner at the top of your iPad, you can literally tap on it and reply to the person directly from the notification. You can also accept or decline notifications as well. 
wwdc 2014 659 730x486 Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2014 in one handy list

Messages: There are going to be several new features added to messages. How many times have you been included in a group text and by the 100th reply you want to pull your hair out?!?!? With iOS8, you can opt out of the group text or even set 'Do Not Disturb' times within the message to stop them from coming through. Another added feature for messages, will be the ability to send audio recordings within your message conversation. (GREAT way to minimize the possibility of texting a driving!) 
wwdc 2014 848 730x486 Apple announces iOS 8 with interactive notifications, HealthKit and predictive typing

QuickType: iOS 8 will also feature a new keyboard with predictive test built in. As you begin typing words appear above the keyboard that you can select and insert into your message. The cool thing is that the predictive text will learn your communication style an start predicting words that you typically use.
wwdc 2014 759 730x486 Apple revamps its iOS keyboard with contextual QuickType predictive texting

HandOff: This feature is one that I am most excited about. Apple has developed a new communication scheme between devices. Basically, if you have a document or email that you have begun writing on your MacBook, your iPad will identify where you left off and let you continue writing on the same message through the iPad app. A bit confusing to explain, but VERY cool to see. Click here to see a more thorough explanation.

These few features along with many others are going to make iOS 8 a great update to have on your devices. If you would like to watch the announcements in their entirety (with demonstrations!) check out the video here

And because I think this is completely amazing, check out this great recap of the event in musical form... 

Photo credits: 


Monday, June 2, 2014

7 Ways to Use Technology with Purpose

A newsletter I am subscribed to had some interesting questions worth sharing.  AJ Juliani asked the following:

Why are you using technology?
How are you using technology to better the learning in your classroom and/or school?

In order to make sure you are using technology correctly, you must ask yourself "Am I starting with why?"  If students understand the "why" for using technology, then class will have purpose and any glitches or issues with technology can be worked through.  Major problems arise if students don't understand the "why."

Listed below are 7 ways technology can be used with purpose in your classroom or on your campus:

1.  Collaboration in Real Time
2.  Reflection and Sharing
3.  Better Research
4.  Write and Re-Write
5.  Make Something (that matters)
6.  Keeping a Digital Record
7.  Mastery Assessments

Don't forget the "why" to your students!

Click HERE to visit the site for detailed descriptions of the ways to use technology with a purpose.  

Wake-Up Call

I normally don't post doom and gloom messages, and I really don't think this one is, but the idea isn't all roses...

A colleague of mine was cleaning off her computer and ran across a picture of my son:

Anything strike you about it, other than how dashing and debonair he is? How about the fact that it pinpointed the location of where I took the picture, i.e. our street?!


What's even more crazy is that I train people on best practices for tech all the time and I wasn't even practicing what I preach! 

So, for those of you who are using iDevices to create and share media with student images, you may want to check those privacy settings on the device.

Here's how to disable location services for photos on your iDevice:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Location Services
  • Switch Camera to the OFF position

Don't be paranoid or anything, but don't be careless either. Knowledge is power, and as Uncle Ben from Spider-Man said, "With great power comes great responsibility!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

FREE Summer Pass for Teachers

The Texas Computer Education Association a.k.a. TCEA is offering teachers a free summer membership this week only in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week! This is a great way to earn Professional Development hours on your own!

Below are the free webinars that you'll have access to with your Summer Pass. You can join these during the live session or listen to the recorded version any time you want. Most of these count for CPE/CPU hours, allowing you to earn up to 10 hours.

Consider taking advantage of this amazing opportunity!

Go Nuts for GoNoodle!

I am sure it is not news to teachers however, studies consistently demonstrate that physical activity is associated with improved academic achievement, academic behaviors, and cognitive skills. Lucky for us, one organization is committed to helping teachers take advantage of this benefit. Introducing GoNoodle....

GoNoodle is a website that provides short 'brain breaks' for every part of the school day. There are brain breaks that Calm, Energize, and Focus students. Each of the breaks are short and sweet so as not to monopolize or derail your instruction....and the BEST part....IT IS FREE! Teachers can register for a free account at

95% of teachers asked by GoNoodle claimed that using the site improved the academic performance of their class. You can read more about the results and findings at

Enjoy working out your noodle! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Don't be a Thieving Jerk

Looking at this title, does it make you stop and look again?  Allison B Neadveld has an excellent article about copyright, fair use, and creative commons.  Are you aware of the advance search feature in Google for images?  Read on!!

Click HERE to read this excellent article!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Istation Home Usage Contest

Istation Home!

Your students already have access to Istation Home through Texas SUCCESS. Click the Enable Parent Portal link on your classroom page and print parent letters to send home with students.
Parents can also access student reports and resources on the Istation Web site.

Istation Home
Usage Contest
April 7 - May 2, 2014 

Does Your School Have What it Takes to Win?

Istation is hosting a usage contest for its Texas users. Winners will get to meet literary genius Paige Turner and time Traveler Justin Time at their school.

You are automatically entered into the contest. All you need to do is encourage your students to work on Istation at home!

As a participant in Texas SUCCESS, your school is eligible. There is no registration form to fill out or application to enter since your school is already enrolled in Istation. To qualify:

  • 50% of 3rd through 8th grade students must use Istation Home.
  • They must log into and use Istation Home during the contest period: April 7 - May 2, 2014.
  • Winning schools will be selected based on the highest average time per student spent using Istation Home during the contest period.
Istation Home is an excellent way to connect your students' learning between school and home and to get parents involved in their children's education.

For more information, email

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great Googley Moogley!

Attention all you great googlers out there, did you know that in 2013 there were 5,922,000,000 searches performed EVERY DAY? (

How many of those do you think were done efficiently? How many of those searches narrowed down the results to EXACTLY what the user was looking for? How many of those do you think were done by students?

Just some food for thought.... How are you teaching your students to search?

Use these unbelievably helpful infographics to help!

This next infographic is WONDERFUL!!!! Click HERE to see the FULL THING! 

So, now you know and knowing is half the battle! Back to Googling, you great Googlers!   :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tech Trends

While browsing through a number of EdTech articles, I stumbled across an interesting comment by Jeff Knutson of Common Sense Media.  A trend he found after attending TCEA in early February is:-

 "Less Emphasis on Interactive Whiteboards: As tech tools are increasingly in the hands of students, interactive whiteboards may soon fall by the wayside. Whole-class instruction will always have its place in the classroom, and the BYOD model may not work for every situation. However, it seems that expensive, oftentimes cumbersome interactive whiteboards aren't as popular now that so many new tools can offer a more personalized learning experience."

What do you think?  Are we seeing the end of interactive whiteboards in the classroom?  

To read the entire article, click HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Presidents' Day Playlist

Offer your students the opportunity to learn more about Presidents’ George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and their contributions to the United States this Presidents Day!

Younger students will enjoy Schlessinger Media’s Presidents Day, which encourages children to find out more about how this holiday is celebrated today and learn about how the president is elected, his or her responsibilities and the nation's most famous home, the White House. George Washington (Schlessinger Media) examines the life of the man whose leadership helped transform 13 colonies into a brilliant new country while Abraham Lincoln (Schlessinger Media) examines the life of this country boy from Kentucky, who rose to become President of the United States and guided his country through one of its darkest hours while speaking out against slavery at a time when many were too afraid to take a stand.

Middle and high school students will appreciate A&E’s George Washington: American Revolutionary which traces Washington’s life and career, concentrating on the 10 days in 1776 when his inspired leadership turned the tide of the Revolutionary War and National Geographic’s Lincoln: American Mastermind which reveals the hidden side of Lincoln and the well-orchestrated, strategic moves that took him all the way to the White House.

Also, be sure to check out the 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives which includes President George Washington’s First Inaugural Speech (1789), President George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796), the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), the Gettysburg Address (1863) and President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1865).

Click Celebrating Our Presidents to access playlist.

Monday, February 17, 2014


LyricsGaps is a new website that help students to learn another language through music. LyricsGaps has songs that you can listen while reading the lyrics. Each song has activities available in ten different languages and the option for your to create your own, after creating an account, LyricsGaps encorage you to share your activities. LyricsGaps is a fun way for students to practice skills such as listening and writing in the language that they are studying.

Here are my favorites

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympics Winter Games Playlist

This February all eyes will be on Sochi, Russia as the very best athletes in the world compete in the XXII Olympic Winter Games.  Utilize these SAFARI Montage Olympic-themed resources and pave a way to gold medal lessons in your classroom!

  • Olympic Oval (Defined Learning) - Daily Planet, Discovery Channel Canada's flagship science program, features daily news, discussion and commentary on the scientific aspects of current events.  In this episode of Daily Planet, take a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the enormous Olympic Speedskating Oval in Vancouver.
  • Ski Tunnel (Defined Learning) – In this episode of Daily Planet, students will visit a ski tunnel located in Vuokatti, Finland, which allows winter Olympic hopefuls to train when outdoor conditions are not favorable and researchers to study athletes' techniques under controlled conditions.
  • The Real Olympics (PBS) – Chronicles the history of the ancient and modern Olympic Games. Narrated by Brian Greene, the program examines the games' origins and ideals, and presents stories of athletes and various games. Featuring reconstructions of the ancient Greek Games and dramatic highlights from modern games, the program explores similarities and differences between the two sporting events.
  • Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany – 1936 (The Video Encyclopedia of the 20th Century) - Primary source footage of the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany including Chancellor Adolf Hitler presiding over the opening ceremonies and the hockey and skiing events.
  • Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California (Hockey) – 1960 (The Video Encyclopedia of the 20th Century) - Primary source footage of the U.S. hockey team defeating the Russian and Czechoslovakian hockey teams to win the gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.
  • The Games at Ancient Olympia, Greece (Schlessinger Media) – Students will learn how the road to professional athletics had its beginning in Olympia. The first Olympiad began with a 200 meter sprint in 776 BC. Over the years, the Olympic games grew from a one day event to a five-day festival.
Click HERE to access the Olympic Winter Games playlist.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Safari Playlists

Looking for a new playlist that covers the Constitution and The Civil War?  Click the links below to access these playlists in Safari!

Changing the Constitution                              The Civil War:  Reconstruction

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chinese New Year Podcast Playlist

Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details.

Essential Questions:
 * How can you use language to inform others on a specific topic?
 * What can we learn about a culture through its art forms and customs?

This integrated ELA and Social Studies Playlist introduces students to the traditions surrounding the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration. As students learn about the Chinese New Year they will also learn about how to write and present expository writing. Students will apply these skills to create a podcast on the Chinese New year.

Students in younger grades may want to work together on a topic, while older student may work independently. Tailor this Playlist to your classroom!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Level It Books for iPad & iPhone

Level It Books is a very handy little iOS app. It uses the camera of your iPad or iPhone to scan the ISBN (bar code) of a book and give you the Reading Level of the book.

Scanning the bar code gives you the Lexile, Guiding Reading, Grade Level Equivalent, or DRA levels for the book you've chosen.

 Scan Bar Code to Find a Book

Scanning a book's ISBN/bar code makes it super easy to locate the book's Reading Level.

 Manually Searching for a Book

If your book doesn't have a bar code or your device doesn't have a camera, you can look up the book by typing in the book's information. If the book is in the Level It database, it will pull it up.


The app also allows you to create a digital roster of your class. This makes it very easy to track reading levels over the course of the year and also to loan out books from your class library.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Create Magazine-Like Photo-Journals on the iPad with Storehouse

Storehouse is a great new app that kind of took me by surprise when it was released last week. It's an iOS app that allows you to combine pictures, videos, and text into totally professional, magazine-quality photo journals!

This would be great to introduce your students to and let them have a new way to "show what they know."

Storehouse is way slick and user-friendly. You can import photos and videos from your iPad's camera roll. The videos must be no longer than 30 seconds in length. The app will support up to 50 photos. Yeah...and it's all free.

You can add text into blocks, resize pictures and text, and move everything around by tapping and dragging.

Image courtesy of iTunes
Image courtesy of iTunes

 Create and share beautiful photo-journals.

                                      Design unique layouts.
Image courtesy of iTunes

Combine photos, videos, and text.

Once you've made your photo-journal...share it! The app gives you the option of sharing via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Also, what I really like is that it gives you a unique link for your project. FYI, that all videos are stored on Storehouse's servers and they're public. There are no apparent privacy settings. So, once they're uploaded anyone could potentially watch your story if they find the link. So, you will want to make sure any photos of students are permissible by their parent(s)/guardian(s).

Truthfully, the simplicity of the layouts and the simple navigation make this app a winner. With the unique link for each project, it makes it easy to share with parents and fellow teachers and admin, too!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Key Strategies for an Epic Win: Using YouTube in Your Classroom!

The following is borrowed from Jennifer Waldroop at Carroll ISD's Instructional Technology Blog.

Key Strategies for an Epic Win: Using YouTube in Your Classroom!

Open, open, open… remember the commercial where the shopper stands at the front of the store with her nose pressed to the window? Like the woman in the commercial, many of us are very excited about having access to YouTube at school.So, when it's open will you be ready? Can you navigate YouTube?

Getting Started:

  • Create an account. When you create an account, you can save and organize videos using playlists. 
  • Preview before you hit play. Always, always, always preview videos before using them in your lessons. 
  • Download videos for offline viewing. For Curriculum Night, evaluations, and other important presentations always download the video just in case there are network issues.

A Few Advanced Tips:

  • Annotate your videos. (ones you upload) Directions. 
  • Add Captions. Directions
  • Edit videos using the YouTube Video Editor. With the editor you can combine multiple videos, add music and transitions, or trim the video to the most important part of the video. Directions

Some Classroom Applications:

  • Flip your class using YouTube’s web cam feature. Here’s my test video and directions.
  • Create playlists for reviews and tutorials. You don’t have to create everything. Use existing videos from Smithsonian, PBS, Khan Academy, etc.
For more ideas, check out The Teacher’s Guide To Using YouTube In The Classroom.

Grow Your Professional Learning Network:

How will you use YouTube in your classroom? Post your comments and ideas. We’d love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blendspace, formally known as Educanvas, is a FREE place on the web for students and teachers to organize and share information on the web, measure student understanding and track student progress in real time. It is absolutely FREE for a single teacher with unlimited number of classes with up to 35 students in a class. It will even hold up to 100 active lessons. It becomes even more powerful at the school level (still FREE) with unlimited hosting for all teachers and students and even admin accounts to help with implementation.

Getting Started with Blendspace

How do teachers use Blendspace

Flipping the classroom 
Easily find, add and share online content (videos, images, PDFs, Google docs). Students comment or take notes alongside content.
Student assignments 
Research assignments. Web quests. Presentations. Students use Blendspace to practice and demonstrate 21st century learner skills.
Differentiated lessons
Personalize student learning with different online materials and built-in assessment.

About Blendspace