21. 20 Tips and Tricks to Become a Techie Teacher over the Summer


Become a TT Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Chinese proverb

There are plenty of resources that enable us to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. By using our capacity as techie teachers we help our students get ready for their college and careers and enhance the rigor of instruction. I don’t subscribe to the idea that as long as a teacher knows how to turn on and off a computer and navigate the web he or she is a techie teacher; but I believe that any teacher can become one. The teaching profession has come a long way from the one-room school and learning becomes free of time and space restrictions.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word “techie” as “a person who is very knowledgeable or enthusiastic about technology and especially high technology.” A techie teacher is one who can design and deliver instruction using a rigorous combination of pedagogy, content, and technology. In other words, an effective techie teacher needs to show TPACK mastery. Technology not only gives users the possibility to express themselves in new ways, but it also creates new learning opportunities. I could go on and on talking about the wonders of technology in education, but I will stop here and I will recommend GREAT tools for expanding your instructional and technological expertise. The tools I am listing below can be used not only over the summer break, but they provide continuous training; it’s “learning how to fish.”

1. Go to a summer education conference

summer ed conferences2. Follow the ISTE conference. Follow the International Society for Technology in Education conference on Twitter #ISTE14 on Twitter (this year it takes place in Atlanta from June 28 to July 1 this year) to find out what the participants or presenters are sharing.

ISTE3. Watch previous ISTE conference sessions on YouTube. The ISTE 2013 Conference Playlist many videos available to watch. Sessions include 101 Free Tech Tools for Teachers. You can find about two hundred ISTE videos here.

4. Participate in Twitter chats. Wonderful collection of TWITTER chats! This is a MUST SEE! You can check out this amazing collection of twitter chats here. I know I get over excited by the power of technology but this is really amazing…a great way for educators across the globe to learn from each other for FREE and build strong PLNs. #edchat is probably the most popular of them, but this list is awesome…it has everything for everybody (the chats are listed by day, starting with Monday chats and ending with Saturday charts), including chats for music, or TD, COMMON CORE, ETC. Even the Wednesday CMS chat is listed #cmsk12chat. L O V E IT!

TWITTER5. Watch CMS edtech videos on YouTube. I love these 50 CMS edtech videos (Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools). Watching them is really a quick and great way to get a lot of techie ideas


6. Watch ITWeekly videos on YouTube. IT Weekly (ITW Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools) cool short recorded webinars (over 20 videos):
I will point out here the ITW webinar about GAFE– GAFE is the acronym for Google Apps fro Education- here you can watch a 13 min webinar recorded by the ITW team (Charlotte Mecklenburg School District).

ITW cms7. Google Apps recorded webinars can be checked out here.

GOOGLE APPS8. Watch sessions from the Learning Revolution virtual conference here. This conference invited educators worldwide to watch engaging and useful speakers via video chat for free. More than 40 presentations are available on the conference recordings site, and include talks from great thinkers and doers like Ian Jukes, Steve Wheeler and Howard Rheingold.

LEARNING REVOLUTION PROJECT9. Become a Google Apps for Education Ninja. The Ninja Program was developed to help students and educators to improve their skills using powerful Google Products.

GOOGLE APPS NINJA10. Listen to education podcasts. Listening to educational podcasts can be an easy way to learn even while doing something else around the house, jogging, or driving. You can download podcasts episodes using a podcasts app.
NPR education podcasts
Getting Smart super collection of 50 podcasts:
Education Podcasts on iTunesU
A list of eight good podcasts to get your started recommended by Matt Miller on his blog here.

PODCASTS11. Register for Simplek12 webinars– just create an account, and register for free Simple K12 webinars. I have done this before and I found them very interesting. I remember I registered one day for a series of about 5 webinars on a Saturday and I liked the fact that I didn’t need to go anywhere, but I could watch them conformably at home. It’s a really easy way to do PD in your PJs. I just logged in again, and saw that they are offering plenty of free webinars.

SIMPLE K 1212. Watch Education Week on-demand webinars or keep an eye on Education Week upcoming webinars

ed week logo13. BrainPOP archived webinars

BRAINPOPLOGO14. SIOP archived webinars and other webinars

siop15. Scientific Learning webinars

SCIENTIFIC LEARNING16. Watch Colorin Colorado videos about teaching in culturally diverse classrooms

colorin colorado logo17. Follow teacher blogs via email– you can see on the right side of this screen the blogs I am following and also, if you are not following me already, you can type in your email address on the right side of this page, hit FOLLOW and you will receive an email each time I post something (which is once a month). By doing this you don’t need to worry about searching for your favorite blogs in the cyberspace each time you want something because new posts will come straight to your inbox.

follow me18. Connect through Facebook with education experts and techie teachers

facebook19. Subscribe to online newspapers like Education Week, eSchool News, eClassroom News, etc.

newspapers20. Become part of a professional association

PROF ASSOCIATIONSUntil next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂
If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

20. Kahoot


Kahoot logo

Blog Post Agenda:
1. What is Kahoot?
2. Techie Teachers’ Tricks for Using Kahoot
3. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus (Summer Reading Lists)

1. What is Kahoot?

kahoot logo 2

Kahoot is a free game-based response system similar to Infuse Learning and Socrative (to read my blog post about how to use Infuse Learning and Socrative click here). The teachers displays the questions of a quiz or survey on the screen and students can answer then using ALL kinds of devices. It benefits instruction because it provides teachers with quick formative feedback as they can check for understanding in real time. It is also highly engaging. I have used it in order to relieve the tension and test anxiety before end of year standardized testing and especially to get my students excited about intensive reading and about going over an extensive number of comprehension questions and passages. Kahoot can change the dynamic of your class because kids are fans of game-like environments. All I had to do was put the comprehension questions in Kahoot. Students read the passage and applied the runners strategy applying themselves much more than they would have done otherwise.

2. Techie Teachers’ Tricks for Using Kahoot


I recommend here a quick tutorial that explains its functionality. Bellow you can find step by step directions accompanied by visuals and tricks that might be helpful when using Kahoot.

1. Register for an account
As a teacher you need to create an account (entering a few details: username, password, email address). After you register, you can log in to your account. Students don’t need any accounts, everyone in the room can join using ANY devices.

2a. Create a Kahoot
In order to see how Kahoot works, you can either play a public quiz that is already created by other users, or create your own. You can create a quiz, a survey, or a discussion. However, I don’t see the point of using the discussion feature the way it is now because it won’t allow you to create open ended discussions, but it asks you to provide answer choices for the players. So, just forget about this and choose either a quiz or a survey. When you want to create a new Kahoot, your screen will look similar to the one below.

01 Kahoot create new

Then give your quiz/survey a title.

02 Kahoot title

After you give it a title, you create your first question. You can customize your Kahoot, by setting a time limit for the students to answer that particular question, you can allow them to earn points for answering the questions correctly (the time needed to answer the question is also taken into account when the winners are announced at the end of the game), and you can also add pictures and videos to each question. This last feature is awesome because the students can answer questions based on images or videos, which gives any content teacher a lot of room to create rigorous questions. Also, adding videos and pictures to your Kahoot questions is very easy: all you need to do is just a drag and drop. By default you can enter 4 answer choices, but you can adjust their number to what you need. You can add as many questions you want.

03 Kahoot create question 1

2b. Start using a quiz/survey already created
Like I mentioned above, you can use public quizzes and surveys created by other users, or you can run a quiz or a survey created by you. To do that, just locate the quiz/survey you want your students to do, and then launch it. You’ll see a screen similar to the one below:

1 Kahoot launch

3. Running your quiz or survey
The teacher needs to display the quiz on a big screen so that it will be visible to all the participants. After you hit Play and then Launch, you’ll be given a numeric code. All the participants need to go to Kahoot.it and enter that code in order to participate using ANY device. On the big screen you’ll see the numeric code and also the name of the participants who successfully joined the session. According to the screenshot below, 2 students joined the session.

1 b players-page0001

Now I will show you two student-view screenshots (all the other screenshots in this blog post are teacher-view screenshots). After they go to Kahoot.it, they need to enter the numeric code, and their screen will look like this:

1 c Kahoot 001

After they enter the pin associated with the quiz or survey you want to run for the class, the participants will be asked to enter a nickname, preferably their first name so you know who is who.

1 d Kahoot 002

Once you hit Start Now, the count down starts (if you chose to have a timed quiz). If you think, that would stress out your students and the time they need to answer the question doesn’t really matter, just set it as “no points question.” Note that the students will not see the question on their screens, but only the answer choices (and those answer choices can be color coded, which means the students need to look at the big screen to read the actual answer choices and then they can just pick the color associated with each response). You can see below a screenshot similar to the screenshot you’ll get when you don’t assign any pictures or videos to go with your survey/quiz questions.

2 Kahoot question no image

If you embedded a video or a picture, the participants will watch/see it on the big screen, and afterwards they can record their responses. See an example below (big screen).

3 Kahoot math image

4. Results and winners
When the quiz is over, a scoreboard will be displayed. By looking at the scoreboard below, you can notice that 2 students answered, and both of them answered correctly. So, teachers can see how many students chose each answer (great data that teachers can use on the spot). For instance, if  all of the students picked the same wrong answer, the teacher identified a common misunderstanding on the spot and can proceed to remediate it accordingly.

4 Kahoot score teacher view

The screen that announces the winner look like this:

6 Kahoot the winner is

The final score board lists the top 5 scores. For the purpose of this blog post, I logged in as a student from only two other devices only, that’s why you see only 2 student scores listed.

7 Kahoot final score board

5. Analyze data
From here you can proceed to download the results (MS Excel document).

Enjoy bumping up the dynamic of your formative assessment sessions! Get started using Kahoot to get feedback in real time! Both learning and assessment can be fun! 🙂

3. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus
(Summer Reading Lists)

One of the best things students can do during their summer break besides relaxing and having fun, is continue to read. Bellow you can find a great collection of good reads for all grade levels.
Scholastic Reading List
ALSC- Association for Library Service to Children
Education.com summer reading list
Many other great summer reading suggestions

Education Summer Reads (for teachers)– Jill Thompson

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂
If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Communication tools, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

19. Brain Breaks with GoNoOdle and Just Dance Kids

Brain Breaks with GoNoOdle & Just Dance Kids

gonoodle logo

Blog Post Agenda:
1. Brain Breaks with GoNoOdle?
2. Brain Breaks with Just Dance Kids

1. Brain Breaks with GoNoOdle

To stay focused and engaged, students need brain breaks. How often? It depends on the type of instructional activities they are involved in. If the instructional activities involve movement, then they need fewer brain breaks. To stay engaged students need movement every 15-30 minutes depending on their age. GoNoOdle is designed for elementary age students.
I would mention the fact that even though the phrase “brain break” suggests that the brain is not involved in movement, students’ brains do not take breaks but make use of different parts. The brain researcher, John Medina explains very well how movement can greatly influence work productivity and academic performance in this 3-min YouTube video. For additional tips, check out his cool website here.

gonoodle logoBrain Breaks are important because they:

-build positive behaviors
-help students stay alert, engaged, and focused
-create a positive school culture
support academic performance since the same part of the brain processes both movement and learning

GoNoOdle is free and signing up for an account takes just about half a minute. Before I created a class, I used the demo class. When you create a class, you just give it a name and indicate how many students are in your class. Then you choose a mascot, called “Class Champ.” To sign up, click here.

See below our Class Champ; we are on level 2, already! After you click PLAY, it will take you to the menu, and you choose the brain break you want your class to enjoy.

level 2
One of the cool things about GoNoOdle is that students can see how many minutes they earn by playing brain breaks and they can see their Class Champ growing as a result of them taking brain breaks and being active. Rather than hunting for brain breaks all over the web, by using GoNoodle you find them in the same place. Additionally, GoNoOdle claims that many of their games are aligned to core-subjects like math, spelling, and vocabulary.
GoNoOdle has different short brain breaks activities that teachers can use according to their students’ needs:

-to help them get focused (airtime),
-to energize the students,
-to help them calm down.

Once you log in, you’ll see a screen similar to this (see menu on the left):


GoNoOdle provides a variety of fun brain breaks and activities, such as stretching, Zumba, 100 meter sprint, Hoola Hooping, Counting by 5s, songs, deep breathing exercises etc.; I would say, they are also synced with the latest trends in terms of music, games, and activities. For instance it even has Elsa’s Let It Go song (Frozen), Happy, or The Continental Drift. My kids loved it soooo much!

cool songs

Calm the classroom or energize your students depending on the time of day. Take a look at this YouTube video for a quick overview. You can register for free.

2. Brain Breaks with Just Dance Kids


Before stumbling upon GoNoOdle, brain breaks were still an important part of my instruction. My favorite resource to use was the Just Dance Kids YouTube videos.

Just Dance is a game developed by Ubisoft. Users mimic the movements of onscreen dancers with the Wii Remote. It features a variety of songs and popular artists. For brain breaks, the teachers at my school enjoy using the YouTube clips which proved to be very energizing and loved by kids. Just Google YouTube and then type in “Just Dance Kids” and you’ll come across them. The following are my favorite ones, but kids you can let the kids take the lead and pick their favorite ones once you get it started.

The Gummy Bear Song

Despicable Me

Yo Gabba Gabba

The Hokey Pokey

The Continental Drift

For additional resources, you can check out YouTube energizers here, or brain breaks by subject here.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

18. Nonfiction and Current Events using Newsela

Nonfiction and Current Events using NEWSELA

newsela logo

Blog Post Agenda:

  1. What is Newela?
  2. Techie Teachers’ Tricks for Using Newsela
  3. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus (current events resources)

1.      What is Newsela?

Newsela seems to be e very promising free web tool with multiple benefits for classrooms. It was lunched only a few months (in June 2013), but is has gained GREAT popularity across the globe. Newsela, is the abbreviation for News English Language Arts. It is a website that provides access to Lexile leveled informational text from reliable sources for students in grades 3-12. The articles come from the McClatchy-Tribune news wire service, a consortium of 30 daily newspapers including the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel. As the Common Core advocates a “staircase” of increasing text complexity, Newsela hits this target. Jennifer Coogan, Chief Content Officer at Newsela, said “what we aim to do is help students move, step-by-step, up the staircase of reading complexity, so that they can eventually read the paper fresh off the presses without any added support.”

You can watch a great overall presentation of Newsela here.

Newsela FINAL

Common Core states that “at the lowest grade in each band students focus on reading texts within that text complexity band. In the subsequent grade or grades, students within in a band, students must ‘stretch” to read a certain portion of texts from the next higher text complexity band.” The Common Core States Standards listed the Lexile measures and Lexile ranges appropriate for each grade band, and also what should be considered a ‘stretch band.


Lexile Band
Common Core

Lexile Band*

Common Core


5 Lexile levels

Newsela- grade level




Approximate Lexile levels

How I correlate them




710 L

(2?) 3, 4




900 L

5, 6, 7




1020 L

8, 9




1110 L

10, 11, 12






Newsela recommends a reading right level for each student as soon as they have accessed it and took the first quiz which is presented to them according to the grade level assigned to them by their teacher. However, it gives students the opportunity to read articles a different levels; they might be able to read more complex texts on familiar topics, but lower Lexile texts on topics they haven’t been exposed to and are not familiar with. Students can also see what the same article looks like at the next and previous levels of complexity, each version of the same articles displaying leveled text features. Not all articles have a quiz, but all articles that have a quiz are aligned with Common Core Standards for reading informational text. You’ll see an anchor by the title of each article indicating whether or not that particular article is aligned to Common Core. Currently, they cover reading standards 1-4 and 6-8, and working on including all standards 1-10. The students and the teachers are provided with data regarding students’ reading achievement.

The home screen displays all articles in reverse chronological order. However, users can sort them according to 7 categories shown at the top: War & Peace, Science, Kids, Money, Law, Health, Arts, or by Common Core standards as explained towards the end of this blog post.

This website has a free and a paid plan. The paid plan is being developed and will include extra features such as assignment design, more detailed progress reports, constructed response writing assessments, and annotations. By accessing either the free or the paid plan, users have access to over 500 articles by category and reading standard, access new articles daily at five different reading levels, view quiz results and progress, and take quizzes.

2.      Techie Teachers’ Tricks for Using Newsela


  1. Sign up for a free teacher account and create classes

After you sign up for a free account you can easily create your classes. You need to assign a grade level for your classes which will determine the Lexile level of first article that Newsela will deliver to your students. However, irrespective of grade level, the next articles will be delivered according to their performance on the initial quiz. If you work with students from different grade level, Newsela recommends leveling students at the lower level because after they take the first quiz, if they show mastery, they will get higher level articles. Once your class is set up, Newsela will generate a code for you. All the students in that class will use the same code to register.

Video tutorial for registering your students.

  1. Sign up for students

To register students need to fill out the boxes under the “I’m a Student” tab. Students will use the code provided by the teacher to join their class. After typing in their code, they need to provide their first and last name, create a unique username (of their choice), and pick a password.

Sign up student

  1. Assign articles

Assigning articles is very easy. All you need to do is open the article you want your students to work on and you would just click on the class name tab at the top to assign it. The tab that indicates the name of the class you assigned it to will turn green indicating that the articles has been successfully assigned to that group. The articles that have an anchor by their title are Common Core aligned and have quizzes that students can take. So far, Newsela doesn’t allow teachers to assign articles to individual students, but to the whole class. After completing each quiz, the students see the results immediately and they can review their answers.  They can also read articles of their choice not only the articles assigned to them by their teacher.

Video tutorial for assigning articles.

  1. Track progress (student view)

Accessing the BINDER tab at the top, the students can easily see what articles have been assigned to them by the teacher, what articles they completed, the number of quizzes they took, their average Lexile level, their average score, and their average quiz score by standard.

Binder student view

  1. Track progress (teacher view)

To track progress click on the BINDER tab found at the top. Teachers can track student progress by article, by student, or by class. They get data regarding overall group quiz average, group quiz average by standard, or by student. Teachers have also the possibility to download Excel spreadsheets with data for each class.

You can access a video tutorial about how to track students’ progress here.

Binder teacher view cover code

Finding articles and quizzes
A filter for the front page of the site that will allow you to view only articles that have multiple choice quizzes is currently being developed. In the meantime, in order to filter the main page to show articles aligned to individual standards, you can use this url: http://newsela.com/articles/?anchor=2. Replace the # 2 above with any number 1-4, 6-8 (5 and 9 are in progress) and the page will display only those articles with quizzes aligned to that particular standard.

You can find answers to other questions you might have here (support), or video tutorials here.

Newsela is piloting the annotation feature. It seems this feature would be available in the Newsela Pro package. After enjoying so much using this feature in Subtext, I would love to see this feature free! Annotations have a great instructional value as they help students become critical thinkers, and transform their learning environment into a dynamic virtual community.

Citing an article
As recommended by Newsela, students should cite a Newsela article in the following format:
Original author last name, original author first name, original publication via Newsela (Ed. Newsela version Lexile). “Headline of version.” Date published. Web. Date accessed. <URL>.
Neergaard, Lauran, Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press via Newsela (Ed. Newsela staff. Version 1180). “Don’t Cut Food Stamps, Doctors Tell Congress.” 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 5 Feb. 2014. <http://newsela.com/articles/foodstamps-doctors/id/2394/>.

3.      End-of-Blog-Post Bonus (Current Events)

current eventsExtra tools to teach current events:
1. DOGOnews– is a source for current events, news and non-fictional articles for kids and teachers which claims that helps kids engage with digital media in a fun, safe, and social environment.

2. Time for Kids– is an interactive news site from TIME magazine; it categorizes current events articles and activities by grade level and includes games, trivia, and a homework helper.

3. Teaching and Learning with the New York Times offers lesson plans, blogs, and student activities designed around current events and the news.

4. Teaching with the News, CHOICES- The Choices Program’s Teaching with the News initiative provides resources and lessons to connect instructional content to the headlines in the news.

5. News for Schools, BBC provides news-related education resources for Primary School and Secondary age students.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! :)

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. :)
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

17. Whole Brain Teaching



Blog Post Agenda:

  1. What is Whole Brain Teaching?
  2. Whole Brain Teaching Techniques and Videos 🙂
  3. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus (Write About This app)

1.      What is Whole Brain Teaching?

Whole Brain Teaching is an instructional delivery method that was created in 1999 by Chris Biffle in California. While whole brain teaching might represent a radical idea to some teachers, and it might be just a slightly different approach to teaching for other teachers. It is an approach to teaching which integrates movement, gestures, sharing, immediate feedback, songs, chants, and dances into teaching. It breaks learning down into small segments with direct instruction leading to cooperative learning and instant feedback.

Teaching to the whole brain requires establishing routines, stimulating emotions and prompting students to become active learners by being involved in direct instruction. Whole Brain teaching is a highly interactive form of instruction which focuses on the importance of students playing the role of the teacher, as well. Therefore, the teachers transfer the role of the “more knowledgeable other” (Vygostski’s idea) to the students, and the students show mastery of content by taking on the responsibility of delivering content several times throughout the lesson, which makes them stay engaged, focused, and take ownership of their learning.

Traditionally, education has focused on the right brain activity-the reasoning, rational, and cognitive part of the brain. This technique, seeks to make use not only of the right hemisphere, but also of the left hemisphere which is concerned with creative activity. Movement, and gestures assigned to concepts get tremendous importance in Whole Brain Teaching. Due to the specific techniques employed, Whole Brain Teaching may help tremendously with discipline and classroom management, too. It works with kindergarten through college students. Many teachers praise Whole Brain Teaching, but it also has its critics. Critics said that it does not facilitate higher-level thinking. However, the Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) techniques can be blended with other techniques that target specific critical thinking outcomes while WBT would help you target different aspects of your instruction. WBT has gained popularity since it was developed about a decade ago. I would say that if it fits your teaching style and your students’ learning styles, several techniques might have a great positive impact on your instruction. I personally love using a couple Whole Brain techniques and I’ve also seen great lessons delivered by fellow teachers with amazing positive results. I have used it with mainly with elementary students. However, I was very impressed to see how well it worked with middle school and high school students, as well, when I taught summer school. It helped tremendously with class management and with getting them to actively participate and focus. I would just mentioned the fact that it actually was a life saver during summer school last summer when I taught high school students (I found myself at one point, in front of over 30 students who arrived to the country just one or two years before; in other words, beside the challenges that come with these age groups, these students also spoke little or no English). The Whole Brain Teaching techniques work very well with all age groups and when implemented properly, they can really change the dynamic of your class.

2.      Whole Brain Teaching Techniques and Videos

A)    Class-Yes functions as an attention getter. Whenever the teacher needs the students’ attention, she would call “Class!” or “Class, class!” and the students would respond in unison “Yes!” or “Yes, Yes!” using the same tone of voice. It works great as all the students need to stop any side conversation they might be involved in order to respond.  Teachers can use this technique throughout the lesson each time they need students’ undivided attention.

class yes 2

B)     Hands and Eyes– This technique can be used at any point during the lesson when teachers want their students to pay “extra attention” to what they are saying/doing.  To begin this process the teacher says, “Hands and Eyes!” and the students respond by mimicking the words and movements of the teacher (basically repeating the same phrase and making sure they are looking at the teacher and they are not using their hands to perform any activity.)

hands and eyes

C)    TeachOK! By using this technique, students get to teach each other. First, the teacher teaches the whole class a small portion of the lesson, and then he/she calls ‘Teach!” and the students respond “OK!”. The teacher and the students need to use specific gestures when saying these words as you can see in the videos below. Then, the students take turns paraphrasing the teacher and basically reteaching that concept. When teaching their peers, the students are highly encouraged to use gestures. The teacher will observe the students’ comprehension while trying not to interfere. The noise level should be higher during this phase.

teach ok 2

This technique can be used when teaching new concepts, and also when the teachers want to make sure the students understood the directions. I would mention here the fact that this is a good technique that teachers can use when they want to teach “ACTIVE LISTENING.” When I want to practice active listening, I ask my students to repeat/rephrase what I just said by using the following discussion starter ”Ms. Tripsa said that….” It’s hard to express in words how highly effective this is!!! By using this technique, teachers check students’ comprehension. It is also a quick way to get feedback in real time while engaging all students and while delegating responsibility to students who would teach each other. The students become “the more knowledgeable other.” This technique is extremely effective when working with all students, but even more when working with second language learners. Even when working with older students, oftentimes you would be surprised to hear your students paraphrasing you. You would think that students understand what you are saying most of the time; given the fact that we all have different schema at different points in time and that communication is an art of negotiating meaning, the use of this technique in the classroom has even more sense. I really think it is one of the most important little teaching tricks I have learned while teaching in over a decade!

Also, according to The Learning Pyramid developed by Edgar Dale (National Training Laboratory), teaching to others is at top level.

The Learning Pyramid FINAL FINAL

D)    Switch! This step is used with the Teach-OK” technique, and ensures that not the same student in each pair is the teacher all the time, but that they swap roles. When the teacher calls “Switch!” the students repeat the same word and start teaching their peers that section of the lesson.


E)     Mirror- When the teacher calls “Mirror!” the students will mimic the speech and the gestures of the teacher.


I will share with you a couple of YouTube videos that will help you get a feel of how Whole Brain Teaching looks in practice.

1) 4th Grade Reading Lesson Delivery by Dawn Nelson

2) How to Begin Whole Brain Teaching: 2 by Chris Briffle 

If you want more ideas, you might want to visit a blog managed by a music teacher here. 🙂 If you want to use already-made posters with your class, you can find lots of free posters on Teachers pay Teachers.

3. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus 


Write About This is a free iPad app (it has both a free and a paid version). No sign up or registration required. It is extremely easy to use and a quick way to get students writing and I would say that once you start using it, it can easily become an app that you’ll be using on a regular basis. Students select categories of photos and write based on a text and/or a voice prompt. For differentiation purposes, students can write about each image using three prompt levels of difficulty. Students and teachers may also create photo writing prompts and share them. To create a writing prompt users can choose pictures from their camera roll, as well. The free version contains 50 prompts; the paid version ($3.99) contains about 500 prompts. You can print out their work by saving it to the camera roll, and it looks very neat.

write about this final sample

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! :)

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. :)
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted in Communication tools, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials | Tagged , | Leave a comment

16. Subtext app



Blog Post Agenda:

1. How Subtext can enrich instruction
2. Tricks I learned while using Subtext
3. Tutorials

4. End-of-blog-post bonus (Tools for reading, on Edshelf

1.            How Subtext Can Enrich Your Instruction

Subtext is a FREE collaborative reading app for the Ipad. Subtext claims that it promotes and facilitates an elevated reading experience on tablets. Subtext is a great tool to help students break down complex texts and it is perfectly suited for close reading. It allows groups to exchange ideas and interact within the pages of digital texts. Just think about the benefit of being able to leave notes or questions in the margins of a digital book and getting replies in real time from teachers and other peers as opposed to just you scribbling on a paper book, let alone the fact that you wouldn’t even be allowed to do this when using regular classroom textbooks. Subtext  provides many other tools to support reading which will be discussed below. Subtext can be used with 2nd grade through high school/college students. I have used it with 2nd grade, and all the screenshots below are screenshots of one of my 2nd grade groups.

To begin, you can watch the following 1,37 min. video clip about it here. 🙂

This is why I think teachers should use this great free app:

Subtext features  final

To teach reading or any content area lesson in the past, a typical lesson scenario would involve the teacher asking a question aloud and call on a student who raised his hand (who often was the brightest student). Using Subtext, the lesson can have a completely different look as all the students have the opportunity to interact with the text at their own pace. Subtext promotes the development of a dynamic learning community where students have the opportunity to interact with each other and learn from each other. It also makes learning more personalized though its various features that allows for differentiation; what I am talking about here are the following 8 features:

a) on spot dictionary definitions available for any words in the document which are also accompanied by audio
b) the possibility to do Google searches right from within the app
c) the possibility to make quick annotations
d) the possibility to check for understanding through polls, true/false questions, or multiple choice questions right from within the app and again, tailored to each student’s reading pace
e) the possibility to embed extra tasks or resources for high flyers or those who finish early
f) the possibility to supplement reading with multimedia resources right there where is needed in the middle of the passage
g) collaboration and feedback in real time (students-teacher, students-students)
h) the motivational aspect which helps the students stay focused, engaged, and it increases reading responsibility and accountability.

2. Tricks I Learned While Using Subtext


First, you and your students need to use a Google email address (aka Gmail). In Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools students can use their Gaggle email address. Note that they don’t need to actually access their Gaggle email at all; all they need is a valid Gaggle email address. To log in to Gaggle click access this link: http://j.mp/cmsgaggle. You need to do this only if you have trouble finding out what Gaggle email ID any of your students have. Your gaggle email address is your regular CMS username followed by @cms.gaggle.net. Your students’ username/email is their first initial, their last name, and the last four digits of their student id number.    Ex: hpotter0254@cms.gaggle.net. Your students’ password is their birthday (YYMMDD).  Ex: 010625

Teachers can use any Gmail address. Once you log in, your home screen will look similar to this:

0 Create a Group Join

You can see how easy you can create your groups. Note that you do not need to enter every student’s email address, because Subtext will generate a group code, and the students themselves will then use that code to join their group. You can also see above the books found in my library, and the tabs below then which say: SHARE, READ, ASSIGN, DISCUSS. Using the Share button, you can easily share your books, articles with your groups. You can use almost any eBook, articles, or PDFs you find online.

After you create your groups, when clicking on your group you’ll see something similar to the following screenshot:

0 Groups Members and Library faded code

The screenshot above is one of my groups. I covered the group code for security reasons, but you can see where it should be located and two other important things: the books you have shared with your group (see the tab named Library) and the members (see the tab named Members). If you want to see your group members, your screen would look like this:

0 Members' names faded names

While reading students can annotate their passage; they can highlight words, they can start a discussion, and they can look up words just by tapping and holding (tap and hold) on particular words. Once they tap and hold on a particular word, the dictionary definition of that word pops up and students can also play the audio to hear how the word is pronounced. This is a great feature for language learners and emergent readers, as well.

1 Highlight

When annotating, students can either just pick different colors to highlight key words, or they can tag their highlighted notes. So, if they want to just  simply highlight words or phrases using any color they want, their screen will look like this:

1b Highlight no tag

If they want to tag their notes, they can go to “edit” and assign a function to each color. For instance, purple= new learning, pink=new word, red= question, green=important, blue= I don’t understand. When they want to edit their notes, their screen will look like this:

1c tagging highlight

Now, after they highlight particular words, they might want to write a note or a comment. They can make their comment private or share it with the whole group. Note, that it is set to “private” by default and whenever you want your students to work collaboratively, they need to make sure they share their comments before submitting them. Another trick: I noticed that you can open the comments window in 2 ways depending on whether you have previously highlighted the word:

-If you highlighted the word, you just tap the word you highlighted without holding; and then you have the choice to click on “Start a discussion” or Delete the note (if you tap those 3 lines at the top). And again, after you start a discussion don’t forget to share it first with your group, or with your teacher if you don’t want it to be private. Your screen will look like this:

2 Delete a Note

– if you didn’t highlight the word, you need to tap and hold just like you did when you wanted to highlight it. In other words, you tap and hold on the highlight the word, and then you tap and hold again, to start a discussion. By doing this, you get 4 features: comment, multiple choice, true/false, or polls. Students and teachers can also decide when their answer can be seen: immediately, or after replying. This is helpful when teachers ask a question and they do not want students to see each others responses until after they have published their answers. The plus sign on the right allows students to share their comments with their group.

As you can see it is very easy to poll your class while they are reading, to check their comprehension through true/false items, multiple choice questions, or open ended questions. What you can see below is the student view. Note that it says Private. To share it with their group, students need to click on the plus sign and then select their group.

3 After They Reply

The teacher view include 2 extra features which are: Add a web link, and Add an image. The first feature is very useful, and it helps with differentiation, and well as with supplementing the digital text with multimedia. I have included external articles that students could read when they finished early, or videos they could watch. I have also included a Today’s Meet link as an entry ticket.

6 Comment Add a Web Link

If you want to quickly poll your class, your screen will look like this:

7 Polls

There are couple of ways to upload books or articles to subtext.

a) via email- email a PDF to your email, go to your email, and open the attachment in Subtext.

8 upload via email

b) using the Tap to Add Book or Articles tab found on the top left corner. Then you’ll have four options: Search, Find Free Web Articles, Article and Book Collections, Browse Your Public Library. The screen bellow shows you what your screen will look like when you access this feature.

9 a add books or artciles

The screen bellow shows you what your screen will look like when you use the Search tab at the top and not the three choices listed below it. This is very important and it might be confusing if you won’t remember it, because if you use the Search tab, you’ll get different results, most of the books that populate being Google books (Google books has free books).

9 b Search for Books using the Search bar

Also, I’ll show you here how to use the feature Find Free Web Articles. After you click on this tab, you’ll be able to look for your article by doing a Google search, and then select the option that is listed on the top right corner, called Save to Subtext, and then Close.

9 c find free web articles

All the features discussed above are available through the free plan. The paid plan offers a few more features. One of them is the Common Core State Standards Assignment Templates.

10 Assignment Premium

Another Premium feature is the Text to Speech feature.

11 Text to Speech Premium

Subtext also provide users with guidance and ideas you can have access to no matter if you are using the free or the Premium plan by clicking on the What You Want to Do tab, at the bottom of your home screen.

12 What Do You Want to Do

Once you click on the What You Want to Do tab, you’ll see the following guidance tabs:

12 What do you want to do help

3. Tutorials

I have enjoyed using Subtext with my students. I would admit that it took me a while to get the hang of it, but afterwards, I would say, it was definitely worth it. This is the reason why I am providing in this blog post more video tutorials than usual; I myself needed them to fully understand how to use its various features.

First I will point out a few places where Subtext provides useful guidance.

Functionality– you can find I guess almost anything you need about its different features. If you need to something I haven’t explained above, this is the place where you would find your answer.
Add instruction
Highlight, Highlight & Tag
Manage Reply Visibility

I would recommend two tutorials for you to watch. If you prefer to see work in action, just check out the guide I provided above (Tricks I Learned While Using Subtext) which are screenshots of my use of Subtext with my students(work in action). They picture essential features you would need to use in Subtext.

If you would like to see video tutorials about using Subtext, check the first one below.

If you need more, you can check a second tutorial.

4. End-of-Blog-Post Bonus
Tools for Reading on Edshelf


I have talked about Edshelf before, but I will list it here again thinking that it would provide you the additional tools you might need when using Subtext. What I am thinking about is the best resources online for Reading.

Edshelf claims that it helps teachers find the right educational tools for their needs. Edshelf is a directory of websites, mobile apps, and desktop software that are rated & reviewed by educators, for educators. Edshelf seems to be a terrific place to find new apps you may not know about and it seems to help teachers be innovative, creative, change their lesson dynamic. You can search by category, subject, age, and platform.

a) TOOLS FOR READING you might need when using Subtext TOOL FOR READING
I just performed a search by subject, and I chose READING, and I came across this wonderful collection of resources that support reading (make sure you click on Show More Results, found at the bottom of the page, to see a larger variety of tools) that you can check  out HERE.

I will share more about Edshelf for those interested in this awesome website. Edshelf is definitely one of the best collections of educational technology tools for teachers and parents! Just create a free account and you can go ahead and do a key-word search and you’ll find the tech tools that meet your specific needs. You can filter your search by PRICE, AGE, SUBJECT, PLATFORM, OR CATEGORY. You can find ratings that target the Learning Curves, pedagogical effectiveness, and student engagement. You can find resources for pretty much everything from Common Core, digital storytelling, clickers, digital storybooks, foreign languages, game based learning to classroom management, learning management systems, social networking, student assessment, and wiki creators.

Trick: just make sure you browse all the tools on Edshelf found at the bottom of their homepage beside those featured on top.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, iPad, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

15. Flipped Classroom-Video/Screencast Creation (2/2)

Video/Screencast Creation Tools

video 2 

Blog Post Agenda:
1. 9 Video/Screencast Creation Tools 🙂
2. Quick Tips for Creating Your Videos/Screencasts
3. Additional Resources for the Flipped Classroom
4. End-of-blog-post bonus (Simple K12)

Please visit my previous blog post 🙂 for more info regarding the Flipped Classroom model. Note that it contains EXCELLENT resources!!! Also, in order to make sense of this current blog post, you might need to read the first part published previously. You’ll find in my previous post:
1. What is the Flipped Classroom?
2. Five Ready-Made Flipped Classroom Resources
a) Khan Academy
b) TedEd
c) Learn Zillion
d) MobyMax
e) BrainPop and BrainPopJr.
3. Tools to create your own lessons/tutorials
4. End-of-blog-post bonus (Videonot.es)

1. 9 Video/Screencast Creation Tools

I have curated a set of web tools that can be used to create flipped classroom lectures and tutorials (screencasts or video tutorials) for students. These tools can be shared in various ways: burned on CDs, saved to flash drives, embedded on class blogs or wikis, shared through learning management systems, etc. Those of you who plan on employing the flipped learning model might find the following list of web tools very helpful.
1. Screencast-O-Matic   

Screencast-O-Matic is a very popular screencasting tool. It is free and easy to use. With one click users can start recording their screen and right from their browser on Windows or Mac and does not require any software installation. There’s a free and also a paid plan. With the free plan users can create up to 15-minute tutorials.

2. Screenr 


Once you access their home page you can watch a concise 1 minute tour to learn about its capabilities. It is an awesome web-based screen recorder which users can use to record tutorials (up to 5 minutes) and share them very easily. Users don’t need to install or download anything in order to use this tool. It works both on desktop computers or Macs, and they can be played on iPhone, too. The video tutorials can be share on all social media sites, websites, blogs, and can also be embedded.

3. Screenchomp


Screenchomp is another screencasting tool for the iPad. This app records touchscreen interactions and audio so users can share their ideas/lectures/tutorials.

4. Show me 

show me

ShowMe is an open online learning community. This iPad app lets teachers and students easily create and share video lessons. Using this app, students can be both consumers and producers of content and teachers can use it to create lessons, as well as to flip their classroom using ready-made videos found in its library.

5. Explain Everything ($2.99)

explain everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that allows users to annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. Users can export MP4 movies, YouTube videos or save Explain Everything projects locally, to Google Drive, and to Dropbox. No account is necessary to use Explain Everything and share your projects.

6. aTube Catcher 

aTube catcher

aTube Catcher  allows users to make screencasts, podcasts, download videos from YouTube and other sharing sites, convert video to different formats, and burn videos to DVDs and CDs. Users can also use aTube Catcher in conjunction with Prezi.

7. Knowmia (Knowmia Teach)

Knowmia is a free video creation tool for teachers available for iOS devices (iPads). It is also a platform that teachers can use to create and personalize short video lessons for students. These video lessons are instantly added to the video lesson library. Check out a How-to Guide here http://www.knowmia.com/teachers#video-creation-guide

8. Camstudio


Camstudio is also a great free screencasting tool. It allows users to create video tutorials and share them through a generated link with others online.

9. Webinaria


Webinaria is another tool that teachers can use to create recordings of their desktop with audio lecture. It also allows its users to save and edit their recordings. Users can capture everything that happens on their screen or only a selected area.

Learning Management Systems

edmodo   schoology   moodle   blackboard 3

Learning Management Systems like Edmodo, Schoology, Moodle, and Blackboard can facilitate the Flipped Classroom model implementation. They won’t help you create your video lectures or screencast tutorials, but they can serve as means to share your lessons with your students. Teachers can share lectures with their students, and students can access the material from home. Teachers can create classroom groups and give students access to them. Once there, they can participate in out-of class discussions, take polls, collaborate on assignments and class projects.

2. Quick tips for creating your videos/screencasts

If you want to create your own lessons as opposed to using ready-made resources like those featured in my previous blog post, you will need to keep in mind a few critical aspects.

Quick tips for creating your videos/screencasts:
-plan carefully
-write a script
-tailor your tutorial to your audience
-shoot skillfully in terms of sound, light,
-keep the format of your lectures consistent
-edit your tutorials as necessary for content, quality and lengths (not more than 15 minutes).

3. Additional Resources for the Flipped Classroom

a) For more tools to flip your classroom, check out the following list curated by Jake Duncan. 🙂
b) Ning for flipped classroom
 A ning is an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks; in other words, it is an online service to create, customize, and share a social network. It takes about 24 to 48 hours after you send the request to join this ning.
c) APPitic Flipped classroom
You can find some absolutely amazing resources here. 🙂

4. End-of-blog-post Bonus (Simple K12)

simple k12

SimpleK12 is an online, teacher-professional-development company. They have over 1,000 hours of self-paced, technology-related online courses regarding educational technologies and hundreds of live and recorded webinars. They also offer the opportunity to share resources and collaborate with thousands of educators around the world. It can become your most handy personal learning network (PLN). Simple K 12 sells many of their resources, but once in a while they offer them for free. So, if you are looking for free webinars or PD in your PJs, you may have the chance to learn a lot of things. I subscribed by email and when they have free webinars I love to have the opportunity to register and watch the webinars I am most interested in at that point.

They are offering five webinars about Flipped Classroom for free on Jan 25th, 2014; check them out here.

The following webinar, presented by Nikki Robertson, might be available to be accessed for free for a longer period of time. It is titled Flipping Your Classroom: It’s Easy with Khan Academy.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.                     


Posted in 21st century skills, Communication tools, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

14. Flipped Classroom- Resources (1/2)


 flipped classroom logo

Blog Post Agenda:

1. What is the Flipped Classroom?
2. Five Ready-Made Flipped Classroom Resources
a) Khan Academy 🙂
b) TedEd
c) Learn Zillion
d) MobyMax 🙂
e) BrainPop and BrainPopJr.
3. Tools to create your own lessons/lectures/tutorials (in my next blog post)
4. End-of-blog-post bonus (Videonot.es) 🙂 


I will start by saying that this post is full of awesome resources that have a HUGE POTENTIAL in education and can supplement significantly educators’ attempt to differentiate their instruction and provide students with resources that fit their academic needs and foster personalized learning.

  • What do you do when when there is a very wide range of academic skills, knowledge, and abilities in your classroom?
  • What do you do if you are a parent of a child who needs more opportunities to learn specific skills or content?
  • What do you do if you child is a typical,  on-grade level student, but one who has a great curiosity for learning?
  • What do you do if you are a parent of a child who learns at an accelerated pace? 
  • What do you do if your child is a prodigy?

This blog post will try to recommend tools that you could use if you answered YES, I WOULD NEED HELP/RESOURCES to any of these questions. Had I had access to these types of FREE resources like the ones featured in this blog, as a student, I would have been so thrilled and amazed beyond words!

The flipped classroom is an instructional model in which the direct teacher instruction and homework are reversed. In other words, it represents a shift in the classroom approach in terms of delivering the direct instruction/mini lessons/or lectures through various technology tools so that students could listen to them at home, and devote the class time to applying the concepts, discussions, projects, and other activities at the upper end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The key element in the flipped classroom is the video lecture which can be shared with students using:

  • different already-made videos/lectures/instructional tutorials (resources FEATURED IN THIS BLOG POST) or
  • videos/lectures/instructional created by the class teacher (tools FEATURED IN MY NEXT BLOG POST). These recorded lessons can be audio or video (tutorials, podcasts, vodcasts).

The use of technology in the flipped classroom does not replace the teacher but it rather compliments the instruction fostering the time efficient use of face-to-face instruction. Teacher have found ways to compensate the potential lack of technology at home, by burning CDs, by giving out flash drives, or by allowing students to use the computers at school either before or after school.

Video by Sal Khan himself:

2. Five Ready-Made Flipped Classroom Resources


a) Khan Academy

khan academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website created in 2006 by Salman Khan, a graduate of Harvard Business School. His goal was to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” On Khan Academy there are a ton of lectures on a variety of topics and subjects like math, history, medicine, biology, finance, chemistry, astronomy, economics, civics, art history, and computer science. The greatest variety of lectures on Khan Academy is, at this point, related to mathematics. However, Khan Academy is constantly growing and it is becoming a huge repository of teaching tutorials.

A great place to start with is the following short video you can find on the About page of  Khan Academy which describes this great resource.

I might go more depth describing this amazing resource in a following blog post just because of its tremendous potential to respond to all learners’ individual needs. However, if you check out this blog post, it will probably be enough for you to get you started on using the Khan Academy with your students and kids. I would just say that it is truly amazingly useful. I would have been so thrilled to have access to something like it when I was a student myself!

I will start by describing the learning dashboard which is a great visual tool that indicates how many and how well you mastered various topics and skills. At this moment, there are 482 boxes symbolizing different aspects related to math skills and concepts, as you can see below. Each time you finish a task, the progress bar updates and as you master specific skills, individual cells darken until they get dark blue.


First, start with a pretest. The pretest is a new feature and maybe one of the most essential features of Khan Academy because it places users on the right track according to their initial knowledge and skill level as opposed to just accessing all the content and being overwhelmed by a vast amount of information and not knowing where to start. You can attempt to answer those questions, or mark “I haven’t learned this yet.” If you answer right to a question, the next questions you’ll cover more advanced concepts in order to accurately assess your skills and knowledge level at that particular moment in time.


According to your knowledge map which illustrates how many topics you master (the darker it is, the better you master those skills), Khan Academy will recommend the best next thing for you/your students. While students progress through the tasks, whenever they encounter difficulties, they can easily watch the lecture that explains the concept and goes with each particular task. Teachers or coaches can also recommend tasks for their students, and prioritize the content to be covered by students. Users can also take Mastery Challenges in order to help them level up their skills (and try to make the learning dashboard be full of dark blue squares). Teachers and users can get progress reports.

Also, Khan Academy plans to cover all Common Core standards by next fall, 2014.

You can watch here a Khan Academy video that talks about Common Core.


b) TedEd (“Lessons Worth Sharing”)

ted ed logo

TedEd is another great resource for flipping your classroom. Make sure to check out the description of this excellent free resource and learn about TedEd, here.

See a screenshot of what it looks like and its features below:


Flip your lesson using a couple of tabs:
-you can edit the title as it relates to your class,
-to change the instructions by editing the Let’s Begin section,
-you can select or deselect specific quiz questions (multiple choice type questions) found in the Quiz section, or the Think section, or you can add your own open ended questions,
-and you can use the resources listed in the Dig Deeper section, or add your own.
Then you can share the unique URL of your edited video with your students. Additionally, using their platform you can flip any video you find online, and even videos created by yourself.

On their website, they mention that TED Talk Lessons are created by TED-Ed using phenomenal TED Talks.


If you want to see a ready-made flipped video sample (4:32) (the video incorporates all features: View Video, Quiz, Think, Dig deeper, and Discuss) check one about English as a lingua franca here.

c) LearnZillion

learn zillion logo

Learn Zillion is another great resources for flipping your classroom where you search a collection of awesome videos. You can search:

-by grade level
-by standard
-by subject, then you can narrow it down by topic search, for instance ELA Topic
– by common Core Strand
Other searches criteria: Grammar and Idioms, Phonics, Reading, and Writing.


Also, there is a Common Core Navigator tab as well as a Math courses tab, and an English Language Arts tab to help you refine your search (see screenshot below). Note that this resource is constantly growing.


You may check out the following great video samples (2nd grade) to get an idea regarding how useful this can be for your instruction:

Sample- writing informational text- “Plan an explanatory paragraph using a graphic organizer”
Sample- narrative writing- “Plan a sequence of events for a narrative story using setting and character details”

This site also provides additional resources like quick teacher guides (discussion protocols), anchor texts, notes template, or parent guides.


To help your students quickly access a specific video, you can generate a quick code to share with them. A screen similar to the screenshot below will pop up.


d) Moby Max  🙂   

moby max logo

Moby Max is an EXCELLENT, wonderful resource which targets grades K to 8- Math and English Language Arts
-Fact Fluency

It motivates students by awarding badges, by providing games, and contests.

Moby Max claims that this program:
-finds missing skills with placement test
-remediates with targeted practice
-creates individualized learning paths
-monitors progress continually
-retains with systematic review
-reports on common core standards

What do you do when you have to teach kids who have a wide range of skills from very low to extremely advanced? Many teachers consider MobyMax as an incredible useful tool because of its practicality, and mostly because it helps them differentiate their instruction. It helps with differentiation, allowing high flyers to advance as fast as they can, and also allows slower learners to have the extra practice they need towards content and skill mastery.

Students and parents are also very excited to use this tool because it gives them the chance to deepen their knowledge and learn at their own pace. Tutorial for teachers:

e) BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.

brainpop logo brainpop jr logo

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. are not free, but they are very high quality and are being used in the US by about a quarter of the schools. Therefore, many teachers have the opportunity to use these awesome videos to flip their classes.

BrainPOP contains over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K-12 (ages 6 to 17), together with quizzes, supplemental information and related materials, covering subjects such as science, social studies, English, math, engineering, technology, arts, music, and health.

BrainPOP Jr. was introduced in 2006. It is similar to BrainPOP in subject areas, but the movies are geared towards grades K-3 (age 4-9). Like the regular BrainPOP, the site offers a free “Movie of the Week”, as well as several free movies in different curricular areas.

If you want to check them out, and have an iPad, you can download their free apps BrainPOP Featured Movie (they can see a new video daily—and they are available in Spanish and French, as well–) and BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week. I would highly recommend you downloading these two apps on your iPads for your students or children. They are absolutely amazing! J J

3. Tools to create your own lessons/lectures/tutorials

You can check out these resources in my next blog post.

4. End-of-blog-post bonus
(Videonot.es) 🙂

videonot.es logo

VideoNot.es lets users take notes while watching online lessons. Using the tools mentioned in this blog post, students can easily get a lot of their education, knowledge, and skills online for free. A great tool to help them with this is Videonot.es which is a great note taking tool designed to go with videos.

With videonot.es:
– all the notes you type are automatically synchronized with the video. Later, just click on a line for the video to jump to the relevant part.
– you can create and manage your VideoNot.es directly via your Google Drive and access them from everywhere
– you can manage your permissions and share your VideoNot.es with your friends, fellow students, or make them private anytime.

You can check how it works here.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Communication tools, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

13. Vocabulary Strategies and Tools


vocab books

Blog Post Agenda:

In a hurry? Grab this pdf file VOCAB STRATEGIES and TOOLS 🙂
4. END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Primary Wall) 🙂


Adequate vocabulary development is extremely important. Vocabulary is a vital factor in the development of reading skills and research shows that it is a good predictor of school achievement, as well (Beck, MsKeown, & Kucan, 2002). According to vocabulary experts, a person can comprehend a text if 90 to 95 percent of the words in a text are known (Hirsch, 2003).

Experts indicated that children from privileged families have receptive vocabularies that are 5 times larger than children who come from disadvantaged homes. However, children from families of lower socio-economic status whose parents talked around 30,000 words showed the same results as their wealthier peers. Parents who use a lot of short imperative commands when talking to their children (Come here! Go outside!) contribute to a weak vocabulary development for their pre school-age children as opposed to parents who adopt a narrative approach and have expansive conversations with them. Also, Dr. Hart and Dr. Risley undertook a study in 1995 and showed that the average word count heard by children per day is correlated with IQ at age 3 and up.

7,430= 79 IQ
12,810= 107 IQ
21,105=117+ IQ

Not all students come to school with an adequate level of vocabulary to ensure academic success, and not all of them acquire an adequate amount of vocabulary each year. Literature has shown that students need to know 90 to 95 percent of the words in a text in order to comprehend it. On average, students must use a word 12 times before it is mastered (Calderon, 2006).

In 1st grade students have a vocabulary of about 10, 000 words, and they learn about 3,000-5,000 more words a year reaching about 60,000 when graduating from high school (high performing high school students in the US).

It definitely seems a daunting task.

words to know!

Taking into account the enormous amount of vocabulary that needs to be retained by students in order for them to achieve academic success, teachers need to find strategic ways to guide their instruction not overlooking vocabulary which is a vital aspect for academic success. Because focusing teaching on vocabulary students need to posses would definitely seem an impossible task, teachers need to embed strategic vocabulary instruction into their curriculum focusing on meaningful words and teaching students word learning strategies. Repeated exposure to new vocabulary words is very important, alongside with intensive and extensive reading. Nothing helps reading more than reading. The same applies to vocabulary development.

Some vocabulary experts recommended teachers to focus on tier 2 vocabulary words since they appear with much higher frequency than tier three words, and are used across domains (Beck, 2002).

Beck’s suggested ranking the words in three tiers:

Tier One: Basic words that rarely require instructional focus (book, dog, run).

Tier Two: Words that appear with high frequency, across a variety of domains, and are crucial when using mature, academic language (polysemous words like power, trunk, run; transition words like therefore, moreover, over the course of, etc).

Tier Three: Frequency of these words is quite low and often limited to specific fields of study (isotope, summoned, quotient).

Teachers should increase the classroom use of academic vocabulary while designing authentic and meaningful activities.


For a better view or to access the hyperlinks, download this pdf VOCAB STRATEGIES and TOOLS, or otherwise you can just view them below:



common core

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
6. Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

4. END-OF-BLOG-POST BONUS (Primary Wall)


PrimaryWall is a web-based sticky note tool which allows students and teachers to work together in real-time by adding sticky notes to a group wall. The message typed by users appears on the online collaborative wall instantly for everyone else online to read.

It is extremely easy to use and very kid-friendly. You need to sign up for an account, and all your walls will be saved in your account. After you created a wall, all students need to do is give a title to their note, write some content, and type in their name at the bottom of the note. Users can use different backgrounds for their wall papers.

Going to security you can allow others to have free access to the wall or only using a specific password. After creating your wall you can do 4 things: you can share a read only link, a link that allows other users to contribute to your wall, you can also get an embed code, and you can also export your wall as a list. TRICK: Don’t forget to go to Security, and select “everyone” or “everyone with a password,” so that all students who will collaborate will have access to that wall, not just the person who created it. Afterwards, just share the link with all students who will be collaborating, and all they have to do is type that URL in.

I have used it for vocabulary practice with my students. For the title of the note, they typed in the word they wanted to use in a sentence, and for the content of the note, they typed in their sentence. Consequently, we had a collection of sentences using the new words. This tool can easily be used as an entry or exit ticket. Students can reflect on their learning, list important things they have learned, or questions they might have labeling their notes with appropriate titles. You can check out a sample here. 🙂

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! :)

If you liked this post, don’t forget that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.

Echevarria, M. (2008). 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners. Boston, Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Roger, Spence. (2011). Teaching for Excellence. Essential Concepts, Strategies, Techniques, and Processes for Ensuring Performance Excellence for All Kids (3rd ed.) Peak Learning Systems.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted in 21st century skills, Communication tools, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, iPad, Second Language Learners | Leave a comment

12. The 4 C’s- Collaboration (4/4)



Blog Post Agenda:

In a hurry? Grab this pdf file 40 Collaboration Tools for Classrooms
3.      END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Screenleap)


Today’s society is way different from the society of the last century. Because of the ubiquity of connectivity, collaboration can take place in a wide variety of ways. Students can collaborate with their peers to achieve shared goals eliminating any space or time boundaries.Classroom must be designed to enable group collaboration facilitating collaboration in classrooms, across classrooms, and outside classrooms. These approaches to teaching help teachers engage students in academically challenging ways that are relevant and meaningful to their lives. Research indicated that collaborative tasks motivate students to do high-quality work. Collaboration enhances a plethora of ancillary skills like management, accountability, responsibility, and team work skills.

The Partnership for the 21st century skills lists the following features of a skilled collaborator:

Collaboration p21


The 21st century educator needs to utilize new avenues of collaboration in order to answer the demands of the new generation and prepare the students for the demands of the modern society. To be ready for career, students need to know how to collaborate effectively with their peers because in today’s society this skill is mandatory in each employee.  The novelty of the collaboration in a 21st century education environment derives from the ubiquity of connectivity which opens the way to unlimited possibilities to connect, collaborate, and ultimately build together and learn from each other.

The following list of 40 tools for collaboration in the classroom covers a wide variety of tools that can bring novel changes in your classroom instruction. You can easily pick and choose the tools that fit your teaching style and your students’ needs and add them to your own toolbox.

For a better view or to access the hyperlinks, download this pdf 40 Collaboration Tools for Classrooms, or otherwise you can just view them below:

40 Collaboration Tools 140 Collaboration Tools 240 Collaboration Tools 340 Collaboration Tools 4


With Screenleap you can share your screen instantly to ANY device with a browser (PC, tablet, or smartphone 🙂 ). No software to download or install is required. You can allow people to see your computer screens in seconds without having to set up an account. You can see how amazingly easy and quick this can be done here.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


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11. The 4 C’s – Communication (3/4)


4460548818 communication

Blog Post Agenda:

In a hurry? Grab this pdf file! 50 (A)synchronous Communication Tools
END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Web index for communication)


Over the last two blog posts I discussed the first two components of the 4 C’s – Critical Thinking and Creating. Now it’s time for the third one- Communication, which will be followed by the last one –Collaboration– on my next blog post. Cultivating the 21st century skills in all educational settings should be a non-negotiable. Effective communication is the foundation on which all relationships exist. Effective communication also affects the quality of the relationships between individuals. Among many other things, it also influences directly how individuals are perceived and how high they advance on the social ladder.

What does communication look like in the 21st century? As you are reading this blog post you have probably already received about three messages from family members over the phone, from friends via email, or from acquaintances via social media. The 21st century is infused with various new forms of communication which ignore the protocols we have used for thousands of years for communicating with each other. However, the bottom line remains the same: our goal is to get our message across. Whether it is a face-to-face conversation or an email exchange, our goal is to send meaningful messages.

In order to succeed in the 21st century, our students have to learn how to be effective communicators. In order to teach them these important skills (oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills), we need to provide them with various opportunities. They need to learn how to communicate effectively – to individuals and groups, via spoken communications, written communications, and electronic communications.

The Partnership for the 21st century skills lists the following features for an effective communicator:



The 21st century educator utilizes new avenues of communication in order to answer the demands of the new generation and prepare them for the demands of the modern society. The novelty of the communication in a 21st century education environment derives from three critical aspects: with whom we communicate, how we communicate, and when and where we communicate.

The following list of 50 tools for synchronous and asynchronous communication I meticulously assembled is a great resource for me and for you. It covers a wide variety of tools that can bring novel changes in your classroom instruction. You can easily pick and choose the tools that fit your teaching style and your students’ needs and add them to your own toolbox.

1 50 Communication Tools
2 50 comunication tools
3 50 communication tools
You can also download a pdf here 🙂  50 Asynchronous AND Synchronous Communication Tools


Instead of recommending at the end of this blog post a quick tool that you could use in your classroom, like I always do, this time for the end-of-blog-post bonus, I am giving you a link where you can find a Web index which contains tons of communication resources here.

You can find everything you might need from guidelines regarding the basics of communication to grammar resources, how to guides, tutorials for writing, thesis and research paper resources, guidelines regarding public speaking, copyright, plagiarism, citation guides, and many others.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted in 21st century skills, Blogging, Communication tools, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10. The 4 C’s- Creating (2/4)


did you create

Blog Post Agenda:
1. WEB 2.0 TOOLS

2. CREATING, the highest in the Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
4. END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Kathy Schrock’s tools for Bloom’s Taxonomy & a series of tutorials for Creating assembled for you in a practical glog 🙂 )

 1.      WEB 2.0 TOOLS

Web 2.0 tools are Internet applications which allow users to share information and user-generated content, work in teams, network, cooperate, collaborate, edit, interact, and disseminate information. The revolution in educational technologies over the second part of the last century was marked by the invention of Web 1.0 tools (the static web), and over the first decade of the 21st century by mobile technologies (cell phones, tablets) and Web 2.0 technologies (interactive web). Web 1.0 was the read-only web, which was the early type of internet which allowed people to search for information and read it. While Web 1.0 concentrated on presenting information, user-generated content was not available. Web 2.0 tools allow people to interact, create their own content, and collaborate at an unprecedented scale.

 2.      CREATING,
the highest in the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy

Creativity is one of the 4C’s (along with Critical Thinking–discussed in my previous post–, Collaboration and Communication–will be discussed in my next two blog posts). The Partnership for the 21st century skills (P21) explains that building creativity into our classrooms involves teaching our students to think creativly, working creatively with others, and implement innovations.
Why do we want our students to create?
We want our students to create because creating is a high level thinking skill. It is found at the top of Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy changed between 1956 and 2001. The change of the Bloom’s taxonomy is very well depicted in the picture bellow.

changes in blooms taxonomy

Consequently, asking students to create represents the most rigorous way in which students have the opportunity to showcase their knowledge. Why do we want our students to create? We want them to create because we want to give them a chance to prove ourselves both the fact that they’ve learned something and also show us what that knowledge looks like in their minds. It includes the process of reorganizing elements in a new pattern, most of the time resulting in the creation of a new product. Allowing students to be creative involves many other things like giving them choices and also teaching them management skills.

I will point out here something which pertains to working with ELLs. Scaffolding the instruction is a very well know practice. However, it is crucial that teachers scaffold both the input and the output. They need to scaffold both the process and the product, the process of delivering the instruction, as well as what the students produce in order to prove their mastery and understanding of the content. No matter what cognitive level or language proficiency a student has, they need to be given the chance to showcase what they have learned. Why would any students get a free pass? Teachers have no right to underestimate students. It’s definitely not fair to ask all the students to show their knowledge in the same way because this would surely limit the students; and also, it is not fair to give free passes to students who lack language proficiency. By giving them free passes, teachers really do them a huge disservice, sending them the message that they have no knowledge to showcase, that they are not capable of proving the fact that they have made any progress. So, let’s delve into the vast area of Web 2.0 tools and explore a few ideas for developing our students’ higher level thinking skills by asking them to create. And afterwards, let’s just pick and choose the best ones for our students, or let THEM choose. My goals for listing those 13 Web 2.0 tools below is just to get you started with using these kinds of tools in your classroom. In other words, the list below is by no means a comprehensive guide, but rather all you need for a great start.

Creating is defined by the Partnership for the 21st Century Skills as follows:

Creating p21


web20 to support the bloom taxonomy

 VoiceThread (sample)
(check out a previous post on this great Web 2.0 tool which gives you all the resources you need to use it here) 🙂


Storybird (sample)


GoAnimate (sample)


Voki & Blabberize (sample V., sample B.)

Voki          blabberize 3

Storytelling with Animoto


Podcasting with AudioBoo


Videocasting with Twitcasting Live


Video Creation with WeVideo


Presentations with Prezi


Creating storyboards with Storyboardthat


Kerpoof, multimedia creation site


GlogsterEdu, multimedia poster creation site



kathy schrock

If you want to delve deeper into the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy and find apps that go with each of them, Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything is the place where you need to hang out http://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html. This is undeniably a very resourceful blog post all teachers should visit.

Also, for your convenience check the following collection of tutorials here.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Leave a comment

9. The 4 C’s- Critical Thinking (1/4)


Blog Post Agenda:

1.  THE 4 C’s
4. END OF BLOG POST BONUS (Pearltrees) 🙂

1.  THE 4 C’s


You’ve probably already heard the new buzz phrase “4 C’s”, but what exactly does it mean and how we should address it in the classroom?

The world has changed dramatically since we were in school. Today, new graduates are expected to show mastery of the 4Cs.

The 4 C’s are:

  • Creativity and Innovation The sky’s the limit, right?
  • Communication Got it?
  • Collaboration In the age of speed we need to exponentially show productivity, create, and learn and this cannot be done faster than by building on each other’s knowledge, by sharing, and team working.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Critical thinking encompasses the process of evaluating the information and reconstructing thinking. It includes a plethora of skills like evaluating, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and meta-cognition.


Critical Thinking & Creating with Web 2

I am reserving this post for one of the 4Cs, which is CRITICAL THINKING and I will be discussing the rest of them in the next three blog posts. This section was part of my presentation at the Summer Institute (June, 19th, 2013) in my school district, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, NC, and teachers seemed to find it very helpful.

Critical thinking means discerning judgment. It can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. Following the essence of the Socratic Seminar, a teacher who fosters critical thinking asks questions that stimulate thinking crucial to the construction and assessment of knowledge.

Critical thinking is a skill that we can teach to our students through exercise and practice. It refers to the intellectual skills and activities related to evaluating information as well as evaluating our thought in strategic ways.

All of our students think in a way or another but teachers need to assess the depth of their students’ thinking and ask themselves whether or not their students really think critically, whether or not they are able to evaluate the information they come across, and whether or not they can make connections between what they learn and the real world.

The first 1,20 seconds of this YouTube clip, explains very well why developing critical thinking is no easy task. Also, you can find here a great definition of critical thinking.

Critical Thinking as defined by Partnership for 21st century skills (P21).

Critical Thinking (p21


a) Blogging

Ms. Tripsas Terrific Techies

Blogging (Ms. Tripsa’s Terrific Techies– class blog sample)

Bloggers are critical thinkers when they:

-think deeply to make relevant connections
-ask quality and clarification questions
-use evidence and reasoning to support thinking
-analyze, reason, and evaluate
-synthetize diverse ideas
-focus on details to derive meaning
-engage in reflective thinking
-question the credibility, accuracy, and relevancy of information and sources
-are willing to consider multiple perspectives
-value and respect ideas of others
-collaborate with others
-communicate clearly and accurately
-reflect on learning
-think independently and in concert with others


b) Mind mapping

bubbl.us (brainstorming and creative thinking)

Pearltrees (sample pearltree on critical thinking)

Coggle (mind mapping)

Text2mindmap and popplet(mind mapping, sample)

Thinglink (similar to Glogster, makes images interactive)

mindomo (creative thinking and mind mapping)

By using thinking maps students make relevant connections, examine, and evaluate. Students can indicate connections by the way they arrange things, by the symbols and colors they use. Mind maps can be used to organize, explore, analyze and evaluate concepts and ideas, and to improve problem solving.

Mind mapping improves memory retention and it is a good tool for visual and kinesthetic learners. It helps students think critically especially when asked to represent abstract concepts.

Check out a great thinking map to find a ton of resources regarding critical thinking here. Pearltrees definitely seems to be a great tool to use!

c) Search engines


bing (from search to research)

Kidrex (safe search for kids)

Search engines support critical thinking when students are asked to take into account and evaluate the credibility, accuracy, and relevancy of information and sources, as required by Common Core.

I came across a fabulous resource on this topic which is called From Search to Research: Developing Critical Thinking through Web Research Skills. It can be downloaded here. Its authors did a fabulous job explaining how and why search engines support critical thinking. The bottom line is that teachers need to teach their students that, just like in real life, they cannot take for granted the information they come across. They really need to ask themselves questions like: Who said that? What poof do I have showing that a specific statement is true? How accurate and how complete the information I came across is? In order to be able to do that, students need to possess a series of skills, and teachers need to embark on a certain pathway to teach them all these things.



Pearltrees is a great Web 2.0 tool for a series of reasons. It is a free, visual, and collaborative library that allows users to collect web content and organize it so that they would have all their favorite web pages, photos and notes at their fingertips. It features a unique visual interface. It can play the role of a mind map, but it is also an awesome social media curation tool since it allows users to collect, organize, and share any URL they find online. Users have access to these resources even offline. It can be embedded or shared on Facebook and twitter and it can be accessed via desktop computers, iPads or iPhones. It really makes browsing through favorite things a fast and simple task. Last but not least, by inviting others to your pearltree they have the ability to help you build and grow a much richer pearltree. Check out here a great pearltree on critical thinking. 🙂 🙂
Also, you can find more directions on how it works here.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Blogging, Educational Technology, Instructional Strategies, iPad, Second Language Learners, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | 3 Comments

8. iPads for Toddlers and Preschool Students



Blog Post Agenda:




iPads may encourage and facilitate a wide variety of activities. I will list below some great apps you can use with your toddlers; for more apps, just download (4) My Collection of about 100 Apps.

a)      Facilitate conversations– the great variety of multimedia files which can be access on an iPad may facilitate great conversations. The little ones are extremely motivated to browse through to endless collection of programs which can generate rich discussions on a multitude of topics. To improve communication skills, parents must be a part of their child’s interactions with the iPad in order to guide the communication.

EXAMPLES: all of the apps listed below if guided by parent.

b)      Enrich vocabulary– there are plenty of apps that focus particularly on vocabulary development. You will be amazed to realize that your 2-year old knows words like “hexagon” or recognize number ‘12’ just because he or she got the chance to manipulate vocabulary apps. Also, listening to reading facilitates vocabulary development. Students are in charge of turning the pages of their favorite e-books and they can freely listen over and over again to their favorite part.

EXAMPLES: My First Words, Learn Object, Toddler Color, Shapes, Cute Cards, Alligator Apps, etc.

c)      Develop literacy skills– today, more than some years ago, I would say, due to a wide-spread access to technology, children learn the letter names and sounds at a very early age; they start building a strong literacy foundation in a fun, entertaining manner.

EXAMPLES: ABC Fun/Letters/Phonics, Learning A to Z, Elmo Loves ABCs (Lite) for iPad + all the apps listed for Engage with Literature

d)     Engage with literature– children are extremely fascinated by having the opportunity not only to listen to their parents reading static books, but also to listen to reading and interact with their favorite digital books and with their favorite characters who are most of the time surrounded by extremely appealing graphics.

EXAMPLES: MeGenius, Read Me Stories, StoryBots, Toy Story, My First Books, Joy Tales, Bedtime HD, iStoryBooks, Storia, Astrid and Siri, etc.

e)      Open up great opportunities to learn

EXAMPLES: Bugsy PreK, Playrific (replaces TV screen time with curated content), etc.  

f)       Provide virtual field trips

EXAMPLES: Pocket Zoo, which streams live video of animals at zoos around the world, can give kids a virtual trip to the zoo.

g)      Stir imagination and creativity– the inviting design and interface of the apps makes the iPad an excellent tool to foster creativity within a child. Children can be readers and writers along with their favorite cartoon characters; the books they create can be published; they can create music and art; etc.

EXAMPLES: Coloring4Kids, Drawing Box, etc.

h)      Interaction– by simply touching the screen of the iPad, children can interact with the device in a variety of ways. The touch screen generation, will definitely explore this possibility each time they feel the need to see more than just a motionless picture. They can mark their answers, they can move things around, or they can unveil hidden mysteries.

EXAMPLES: Peekaboo HD, puzzles: Animals Puzzle, Animal Puzzle, AnimalPuzzle, Fairy Puzzle, 3D Puzzle, TP shapes, Families 2, Phone4Kids, Speak Colors, etc.

i)        Engage with Music

EXAMPLES: Bus HD, Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Star, Famous Nursery Rhymes, Popular Nursery Rhymes, Kinds Song 2, Kinds Song 1, Kids Songs, Magic Piano, etc.

j)        Entertain– children as well as adults can be easily entertained by having instant access to almost anything they want (music, movies, books, cartoons, games). It was literally never easier to have everything, from news to virtual games, right at your fingertips. Remember that the iPad was designed primarily as an entertainment device.

EXAMPLES: Disney Junior, PBS Kids, Talking News, Talking Tom 2, Talking Pierre, Talking Gina, Seek & Find, Baby Finger, PlayHome Lite, Talking Rabbit, Families 1, 3D Zoo, Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.



I am not going to debate what the right age is to introduce digital tools to young children. It’s totally up to the parent to decide whether or not they want to use iPads with their kids. As a parent, I could definitely see the benefits of using them as a tool for learning. While some experts see them as developmentally inappropriate, others see some benefits to the technology. My advice would be: keep a balance and make sure your young ones have access to apps that suit their developmental needs.

Check below some articles that disseminate the pros and cons of using iPads with preschool students or even younger children.

Chicago Tribune

USA Today

ABC News

Washington Post

The Telegraph



Toddlers’ minds are like sponges – they absorb everything. They need to be entertained and engaged all the time. The iPad is an ideal platform for all learning styles. But with so many apps available, how do you choose? Toddlers love music, color, rhymes, interaction, and repetition. There’s something so intuitive and simple about touching things on the screen that they just dive in without needing to be shown how it all works.

My collection of iPad apps for toddlers and preschoolers can be downloaded here: iPad apps TODDLERS and PRESCHOOLERS. It includes about 100 free or low-cost apps. Feel free to download it and choose the ones you like. 🙂

Although the iPad was not designed specifically for special education, in my opinion it has become a powerful tool for those who love technology and see its major impact when used strategically. Besides the fact that it provides users with opportunities to go beyond the horizons of their homes, it presents content in a dynamic manner, allows them to be more than just receivers of content, it is environmentally friendly, and the list can continue on and on. There’s just not enough room here to list all its benefits!


Do you want to avoid facing the cruel reality of realizing that your favorite apps just disappeared or that you have to make mortgage payments as a follow up to your toddler using your iPad? Make sure you use your iPads settings to your advantage. Your iPad’s “Settings” has the solution to these kinds of problems.

Making the iPad childproof

Briefly, you can restrict access to certain apps such as Safari, You Tube, and the AppStore in your “Settings.” Choose “Settings,” then “General,” followed by “Restrictions.” You will have to choose a passcode, and then you can choose which apps to restrict access to.

a)      To turn on Guided Access follow these steps:

  • Go to      “Settings”
  • Go to      “General”
  • Scroll      down, choose “Accessibility”
  • Scroll      down, Under “Learning” chose “Guided Access”
  • Turn      it on and set your Passcode

b)     Restrict Deleting Apps:

Guided Access helps a lot with the deleting App issue. A second option to prevent your Apps from being deleted:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Go to “General”
  • Go to “Restrictions”
  • Choose “Enable      Restrictions”
  • You will set a Passcode
  • You will see a list of      items you can restrict. If the restriction is “OFF” that item will      disappear from your phone. So, if Safari is restricted you will no longer      see the icon.
  • To restrict deleting your      apps, scroll to “Deleting Apps” and turn it “OFF”
  • Be sure to adjust your      other restrictions.

c)      Prevent In-App Purchase:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Go to “General”
  • Go to “Restrictions”
  • Choose “Enable Restrictions”      (if you haven’t already)
  • You will set a Passcode
  • Scroll down to “In-App      Purchases” turn it “OFF”


To cover the whole spectrum–from toddlers to university students—I am dedicating this end-of-blog post section to iTunesU. iTunesU was first designed for the university level, but currently it has a growing section for K-12, too. Consequently, states and districts have started to provide content for students, parents, and teachers.

iTunesU is a free service hosted by Apple Inc. which allows everybody to have access (manage, share) to the world’s largest online catalog of free education content (courses, lectures, videos, books, and other resources) from leading institutions like Harvad, Yale, Stanford, or Oxford.

Note that you can be more than just consumer of content. Teachers can create their own courses using iTunesU. You can download the iTunes_U_User_Guide (1), and here the iTunesU_CourseCreation_0812 Guide.

On the main page, you have the option of browsing selections by education level (University & Colleges, Beyond Campus, K-12), school (by accessing one of the three aforementioned education levels), subject (using the top horizontal tab), most downloaded (top charts- bottom of the main page), or noteworthy courses (top charts-bottom of the main page). For a preview of the categories you can select from, click here.  The content is then delivered directly to you (it can be a series of lectures, videos, PDFs, or an entire book). Afterwards you can manage it the way you want and delve into it at your own pace.

You can download a Guide to iTunesU here.

My school district just stated using it. If you want to see what they already have in iTunesU, just choose K-12, then browse through the school districts which are in alphabetical order, find Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and you’ll see great resources that will definitely help you grow as a tech savvy teacher (the itWeekly series, the App of the Week series, and soon probably, you’ll see more teacher and student created content).

Trick: if you use Chrome, and you install REDIUM, you will be able to view and access iTunesU from a Desktop computer!!! 🙂

You can access here a short YouTube clip which explains iTunesU from the learner’s perspective.

If you are the kind of person who likes to learn more from the experts, you can also watch here the Full Keynote from the Apple Education Event, January 2012 (Full Keynote), 1 hour, which disseminated the use of iTunesU and the iBooks Textbooks.

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.


Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, iPad, Video Tutorials, Web 2.0 tools | Leave a comment

7. iPads in Education

If you like to have plenty of resources to choose from, this is what you’re looking for!


Blog Post Agenda:

3. MY COLLECTION OF OVER 200 IPAD APPS (focused on elementary grades, but many can be used across grade levels) 🙂




APPitic is a directory of apps for education by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) to help you transform teaching and learning. These apps have been tested in a variety of different grade levels, instructional strategies and classroom settings.

kathy schrock

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything is one of the best BLOGS in the cyber world, I would say.

learning in hand with tony vincent

Learning in Hand With Tony Vincent– awesome resource!


Apple in Education!

ed tech teacher

iPad apps with instructional objectives…or pick the right app according to what you want your students to do.

texas computer education association

Spreadsheet of educational applications compiled by Texas Computer Education Association. Check out another great TCEA resource here.


Edudemic article 1,000 Educational Apps Organized by Subject & Price– created by TCEA!!!


Victorian Government iPads for Learning Website.

*Apps in Education (Blogspot)- eportfolios and many other things.

* Livebinder by sjbrooksyoung


There are a plethora of resources and tools that can be used to integrate technology into classroom instruction. Technology integration can include a wide variety of resources and tools that enhance and showcase the learning process.  Bork (1985) noted that “not since the invention of the printing press has a technological device borne such implications for the learning process” (p.1). It is a digital, multimedia world our students are moving into. Technology is ubiquitous both in society and schools.  Oxford (2006) showed that “while much research appears to indicate that technology-enhanced language learning or computer-assisted language learning can be effective tools for language learning many educators remain unconvinced and continue to struggle with the integration of technology-enhanced language learning into the curriculum” (p. 359). With the introduction of the iPad, Apple succeeded to transform the perspective over the role of technology softwares.  Murray and Olcese (2011) pointed out that “within a few weeks of becoming available, the iPad reportedly sold over 3 million units, a brisker pace than other tables in the personal computer realm” (p.42). Empirical research regarding the use of the iPad in education is scarce. However, many school districts from California to Virginia have adopted it just a few months after it was released in order to meet various educational purposes (Allen, 2011; Ferriter, 2010).

The debate revolves around various concerns such as whether this kind of investment is worthwhile in terms of improved test scores, whether educators are knowledgeable regarding its potential uses that would support instructional standards, and whether the iPad has the potential to revolutionize education. The few studies that exist regarding the value of iPads in education argue its value and give arguments for both sides. However, the arguments that support the use of iPad in the classroom are more numerous than the ones that contest its value.  While different researchers such as Manuguerra (2011) claimed that “such technologies have the potential to fundamentally change the ways that learning and teaching are carried out, greatly favoring constructivist and collaborative approaches to learning and flexible and adaptive approaches to teaching” (p. 61), others found little evidence of meaningful learning with technology (Van Oostveen, Muirhead & Goodman, 2011). Gabriel and Richtel (2011) called for educators’ attention emphasizing the fact that many educational software developers marketed their products as “revolutionary curricula” when in fact they have no effect on students’ scores (p. A1). However, McClanahan, Kristen, Kennedy, and Tate’s research (2012) demonstrated how the use of iPad indicated breakthrough results for a fifth grader, Josh: “comparisons of pre- and post-assessment showed that the student had gained one year’s growth in reading within a six-week time period” (p.20).

FOR ELEMENTARY GRADES (many can be used across grade levels)

Acknowledging the fact that teachers’ expertise is needed in selecting the best iPad applications that successfully address students’ different needs and learning styles, I created a collection of about Ed. iPad Apps!!!! –can be downloaded 🙂 — also available on my teacher wiki. The apps are grouped in 17 different categories:
-all subjects apps
-literacy, speaking, listening
-reading, books
-phonics, spelling
-writing, storytelling
-social studies, history, geography
-other subjects
-assessment, data, digital portfolios
-classroom management

Ferris and Hedgcock (2005) highlighted the importance of technology tools and softwares being assessed by educators by saying that “to maximize the benefits of the technology, teachers need become comfortable with these tools and then sort through the options thoughtfully and carefully” (p. 354).  Besides investigating the ways that teachers are able to integrate tablets into the curriculum to enhance students’ learning, I also assessed the degree to which the iPad allows teachers and students to do things in learning environments that could not otherwise be possible.

There are many criteria that can be used to categorize educational applications. For instance, Means and Olson’s (1994) proposed four categories for organizing educational technologies: tutor, explore, tool, and communicate (p.7). Other researchers grouped them by the degree to which they facilitate consumption of information or creation of products. What I did was categorizing the most useful applications by subject. I explored the iPad applications through the iTunes app store, a website hosted by Apple which listed all applications available and then I tried to identify the most valuable iPad applications in elementary education using the rubric and the iPad evaluation checklist created by Vincent (2011).

I have discovered that there are a plethora of applications that can effectively support instruction in school, promote deep critical thinking, and allow students to personalize their learning and be active producers of creative work and I am confident that you will do the same.


Any Common Core State Standards can be targeted through the use of iPads because it’s not about the tool educators use, but about the purpose for each they are utilized. In other words, it’s up to your creativity and ingenuity to find the best ways to support your instruction with this new tool.



MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THIS OUT! You will certainly add this resource to your favorites!

Edshelf is definitely one of the best collections of educational technology tools for teachers and parents!!! Just create a free account and you can go ahead and do a key-word search and you’ll find the tech tools that meet your specific needs. You can filter your search by PRICE, AGE, SUBJECT, PLATFORM, OR CATEGORY. You can find ratings that target the Learning Curves, pedagogical effectiveness, and student engagement. You can find resources for pretty much everything from Common Core, digital storytelling, clickers, digital storybooks, foreign languages, game based learning to classroom management, learning management systems, social networking, student assessment, and wiki creators.

Trick: just make sure you browse all the tools on Edshelf found at the bottom of their homepage beside those featured on top. 🙂

Why I placed this wonderful resource at the end of my blog post? Because it contains not only iPad Apps, but tech tools for all types of devices. However, I need to mention the fact that this is the type of resources that I could have certainly reserved an entire blog post for, not just a section at the end of one!!!

Until next time get creative, be inspired, and grow! 🙂

If you liked this post, remember that you can follow me via email. 🙂
To get my future posts via email (one post a month), you can subscribe by entering your email address in the box found on the right side of this screen. I hope the info I share with you through my blog will help your students at least as much as it has helped mine.



Allen, R. (2011). Can mobile devices transform education? Education Update, 53(2), 2, 6-7.
Apple, (2012). Apple in education. Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/education/apps/
Bork,A. (1985). Personal computers for education. New York: Harper & Row.
Ferriter, W. (2010). E-readers: Get ready for the revolution. Educational Leadership, 68(3), 84-85.
Ferris, D. R, & Hedgcock J. S. (2005). Teaching ESL composition. Purpose, process, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Gabriel, T & Richtel, M (2011, October 8). Inflating the Software Report Card. New York Times, p.A1.
Manuguerra, M. (2011). Promoting student engagement by integrating new technology into tertiary education: The role of the iPad. Asian social science. 7(11), 61-65
McClanahan, B., Kristen, W., Kennedy, E. & Tate, S. (2012). A Breakthrough for Josh: How Use of an iPad Facilitated Reading Improvement. TechTrends, 56( 3) , 20-28.
Means, B., Olson, K. (1997). Technology and education reform. Studies of education reform, Washington, WashingtonDC: US Government Printing Office.
Murray, O. T., & Olcese, N. R. (2011). Teaching and learning with iPads, ready or not?. Techtrends: Linking research and practice to improve learning, 55(6), 42-48.
Oxford, R. (2006). Effects of Technology-Enhanced Language Learning on Second Language Composition, Hispania , Vol. 89 (2), 358-361
Vincent, T. (2012, March 4), Educational application evaluation checklist [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://learninginhand.com/storage/blog/Vincent_App_Checklist.pdf
Vincent, T. (2012, March 4), Educational application evaluation rubric [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://learninginhand.com/storage/blog/Vincent-App-Rubric.pdf

Posted in 21st century skills, Educational Technology, iPad, Second Language Learners, Web 2.0 tools | Leave a comment