Category Archives: Valuable Web Resources

ClassroomScreen: Web Tool to Checkout

I recently heard about and then checked out a new handy little web-based tool I thought I’d do a quick blog post about.  ClassroomScreen is a website you visit in your browser that has several handy built-in tool options I think many teachers would find valuable.  So for the rest of this post imagine having ClassroomScreen open with your computer hooked up to a projector and the image being displayed for your entire class!

Of first note is that the background images that are available:  they are beautiful and soothing.  Of course you can upload your own photographs and share those beautiful vacation pictures if you’d prefer!  So much more focused than a busy  computer desktop with hundreds of icons.

The entire screen is controlled by a simple toolbar that shows across the bottom of the screen.  Tools that are in use, have a simple red circle an “x” that will let you turn it right back off.  Some tools have options.  Here is a screen snip of just the toolbar:

Toolbar from

Toolbar from

From left to right the tools are:

  1.  Language:  You can display the words for this tool in your choice of languages.
  2. Background:  Select from about 35 beautiful images or upload your own.
  3. Random name generator and dice:  Add your class list and you’ll always have a way to quickly select a student at random.
  4. Sound level:  This tool allows you to use the laptop’s microphone to measure sound in the room and the represent it visually so students can tell when they are getting too loud.
  5. QR Tool:  A handy little window you can pop open, paste in a website and generate an immediate QR code you can have your class scan to quickly visit the site you’re wanting.
  6. Full Screen Drawing Window:  Simple pens of a variety of colors and paper background options…including the option of graph paper.
  7. Small Screen Drawing Window:  A smaller window with fewer options.
  8. Text Box:  Great for collaborative writing with your class or leaving written instructions as “bell work.”
  9. Work Symbols:  Visual reminders to students about what type of work should be going on at any one time.  Included are:  silence, whisper, ask neighbor, and work together.
  10. Timer:  A visual timer that counts down from the time you give it.  Notice in the picture below, you can have multiple timers for various groups that may be working in your class or various reminders you may set for yourself.  You can also set this to a stopwatch feature to have it count increasing time.
  11. Clock:  Simple display of the current time.

Multiple tools can be open and in use on the screen at the same time.  Just drag them around for an arrangement that makes the best sense to you!  A few more screenshots follow this post, but the best way to learn about is to follow the link and try out the tools for yourself!  Let me know if you find it valuable!

Timers from

Timers from

The drawing window and example of a "work symbol" from

The drawing window and example of a “work symbol” from

Example of a quickly-made QR code at

Example of a quickly-made QR code at

Online Resources for Teaching Statistics

Image of workers in Section of Vital Statistics (Census): 1909

Isn’t this a cool picture of workers in the Census Bureau from 1909?  I found it on the Library of Congress website at  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a statistician 100 years ago!  Technology makes statistical analysis so much easier and quicker!

Today’s blog post is for teachers whose standards include the teaching of statistics.   These resources were gleaned from a MOOC I planned to participate in called Teaching Statistics Through Investigations.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to fully participate in this MOOC, but I was able to glean some useful information that I wanted curate here in this post.

First, Tech Tools:

Next, YouTube Playlists:

TSDI-Unit Introduction Videos:

TSDI-Expert Panel Discussions in Statistics Education:

TSDI-Animated Illustrations of Students’ Statistical Reasoning:

TSDI-Instructional Support Videos in Statistics Education

TSDI-Other videos we used from YouTube:

And finally, an opportunity to subscribe to a newsletter for K-12 teachers of statistics:

The Statistics Teacher Network (STN) is a free newsletter published by the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee on Curriculum in Statistics and Probability for Grades K-12. Issue 86 of STN is now online

Hour of Code Lesson Flow on is a great place to find tech resources vetted by teachers and organized in an easily searchable way.  Graphite Educators can create lesson flows that show how tech resources can be put togBox island screenshotether in a logical flow for a tech-rich experience for your students.  I recently completed a lesson flow on how we use several technology resources together to introduce coding to students at the elementary level.  You can read my lesson flow here:  Hour of Code Lesson Flow.  I’m also excited to get to take three teachers with me to do a college and career visit to a local business that employs programmers this year.  We hope to be able to help our students make even more meaningful connections as we have them work on coding in the future since we will be increasing our own understanding of careers in computer science as a part of the visit.

The screen shot accompanying this post  from Box Island a new coding app I plan to use with 3rd graders this year during the Hour of Code week!


Going from Effective to Highly Effective: Reflections from #SatChat 10/25/2014

This morning’s #SatChat Twitter chat topic was “Going from Effective to Highly Effective.”  The questions posed by the chat moderators and my own response tweets are here:

Q1:  Pedagogically speaking, what does a highly effective teacher’s classroom look like? #satchat
A1: Ts make clear WHY they teach WHAT they teach by helping Ss see connections to own lives & do so enthusiastically. #SatChat
Q2: How can school leaders support teachers as they move from effective to highly effective?#satchat
A2: Model differentiation! Get to know Ts as individuals. Their strengths? needs? what type of praise does each respond  to? #SatChat
Q3:  Do teachers need to be connected on social media to be highly effective? Why or why not? #satchat
A3: no but they are missing out on lots of personal growth and opportunities to help their students connect globally if not! #SatChat
Q4: How can teachers be highly effective when using technology? #satchat
A4:  Allow S choice of what tech to use & when to use it based on task at hand. Use it to make “expert” connections for Ss. #satchat
Q5: What characteristics are symbolic of a highly effective school leader? #satchat
A5: Same as HE Ts: keeps Ss at center of  decisions, focus on relationships, willing to differentiate, praise & critique #satchat
Q6: Please share resources that can help educators move from effective to highly effective.#satchat

A couple of links I gleaned from the talk this morning:

8 Ways Teachers can Talk Less and Get Kids Talking More

Great Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart for Teachers

And finally, I’m exploring a tool I’ve seen for a while that is useful for curating information found on line,  Storify.  Here is my first Storify “story”:


Voki and Tellagami: Avatars for all Platforms

Another project for the Digital Differentiation workshop I’m preparing! This time I was looking at avatar creation as a way to differentiate either the deliver of content to students or, even more excitingly, as a way to differentiate for demonstration of mastery of knowledge.

Students could create a Voki or Tellagami project that includes script-writing to show deep understanding of the content you’ve been working on. They could even make a series of these projects if the 30 second time limit isn’t long enough. If you’re lucky enough to be working on the iPad with both Tellagami and iMovie…smash those apps together! Record short Tellagami projects, save them to the iPad’s photoroll and then import them into iMovie to piece them together into one single movie!

Anyway, here are my two talking avatar projects for you to compare:
Tellagmi Project:

Voki Project: (Warning: Voki uses Flash and will not play on an iDevice.)

Differentiated Instruction: Video Playlist and Reading Selection

As part of a workshop called “Digital Differentiation,” I’m providing this post as a way to model some alternate content delivery to the participants. The first link is to a reading selection from Edutopia. It’s followed by five short videos from The Teaching Channel. Spend some time exploring differentiated instruction in your own preferred format!

Reading Selection: Using QR Codes to Differentiate Instruction

Videos: Use the following videos to explore differentiated learning through a visual format. Thanks to Sarah Brown Wessling for compiling the playlist from The Learning Channel at her link here:
Differentiating Math Using Computer Games (Elementary) (6:00) (Differentiating Practice)
STEM Design Challenge: Edible Cars (14:00) (Differentiating for Demonstration of Mastery)

New Teacher Survival Guide: Differentiating Instruction (12:00)
Differentiating with Learning Menus (5:00)

Analyzing Texts: Putting Thoughts on Paper (5:18)

Sample Photo Peach Project

Mozambique on PhotoPeach

These are just a few pictures from Mozambique where I traveled this past summer.  I threw a few of them into an online tool called PhotoPeach to experiment with its slideshow features.  Built-in music choices were nice.  It was very easy to use.  Now just trying out the embed code to see how it looks/works embedded into the blog.  Take a look at it here:

Digital Camera Image

Power Up! Conference: Let the Sharing Out Begin . . . Digital Images

Digital Camera Image

Used from

In early December, I spent two days at a great conference put on by SDE titled Power Up! which focused on lots of great technology integration ideas.  I had the pleasure of attending with two great elementary teachers from one of our district’s buildings and I’m excited to work with them to implement a few of the ideas we brainstormed while we were at the conference together.

One of the things that I was motivated to do as a result of the conference was to dedicate myself again to sharing more information out through my blog.  So for the next couple of weeks, and through the Christmas break, I’m going to try to be faithful about writing blog posts and promoting my blog to our staff a little bit more.  (Hopefully I can develop this into more of a habit!)  The content I’m going to focus on for these next few weeks is going to cover the main points and resources I came away from the Power Up! conference.  So . . . here is my first “share out” from this conference:

“Engaging Students with Digital Images” was the title of one the sessions I attended.  Gail Lovely presented this session that really has application for all educators no matter what the grade level or subject matter or type of students in your classroom.  Some main points from the session that I think are worth being reminded of:

  • Images add context to anything students read (handouts, presentations you’re using to deliver instruction, etc.)
  • Images prompt students to question what they read/hear, to reflect on what they read/hear
  • Images can help build a common background before instruction
  • Pictures can help students understand your expectations
  • VERY IMPORTANT:  Teach students at ALL grade levels to use images legally and give credit for images not their own when used in any way.  Model this!
  • Learn what Creative Commons means and teach kids to look for images that are free to use with creative commons rights
  • Model using pictures with permission and citations in your presentations to kids.

Some specific examples of how images can be important in your classroom using the ideas above:

  • If you’re delivering instruction using PowerPoint or another presentation tool, carefully select the images you include.  They should just be humorous or pretty.  They should support the ideas…ask yourself before adding an image…will this picture help kids with no exposure to this topic, better understand this information?…will this picture prompt the class to ask questions around this topic? …will this picture encourage deeper thinking about the information I’m presenting?
  • To use images to teach classroom behavior and social expectations, ask students to help you “set up” and take pictures of the right and wrong way to do things.  Take a picture (or video) of kids lining up the right way and show to your class compared with a picture of a class lined up the wrong way.  Show a picture beside a center of what the “cleaned up” center should look like before students leave for the day.  Show pictures of how students should look when they are paying attention to the teacher, when they are working with a partner, when they are working in small groups.  Discuss body language in the pictures and how it affects the dynamics of the classroom settings.
  • Teach students to properly identify and cite where an image comes from.  If used from the internet, when you ask a student where they got a picture…the answer is NOT Google.  Just like you don’t “live in the phone book,” a pictures doesn’t “live at Google.”  It has a specific web address (URL), and that is what should be used for citations.    When students want to use a picture in a project, teach them to FIRST copy the URL and create the citation, THEN copy the picture they want to use.
Related Links to check out from this session:
Places to safely search for image:  searchable by categories (safe and free image library for education) (animals only, but also contains information) (all pictures here are posted with permission to use for education)   If you must use Google to search for images, teach kids to use the Advance Image Search and to be sure to select to limit the search results to those images labeled for reuse and allowed to be modified if your project requires that.  The direct link to the advanced search link isn’t on their images page anymore, so you may have to teach kids to type it.
Online Photo Editing No account required!  Upload your photo make basic edits and download the edited image back to your computer!  Easier than Photoshop!
Links I’m excited to try but haven’t had time yet:  I haven’t created an account here yet, but I’m excited to try it.  Looks like a great place for uploading your own photos and then allowing others to download them for use.  Most excited about this because I heard that you can burn a slideshow to a DVD format here!  I do think it will require a premium, paid account to do, but I’m still excited to give it a try.  Record audio to narrate your photos. Take a photo and make it talk!
Image Citations for this Blog Post:
Digital Camera in upper left corner:  Oro, Ann. 2009digitalcamera.jpg. August 11, 2007. Pics4Learning. 14 Dec 2011 <>

Alternatives to YouTube…potential and pitfalls

As in many districts around the world, the administration of our school district here in Kansas sees too great a risk in allowing students to have full access to the videos hosted at YouTube.  Several teachers, however, have found value in using carefully selected videos to supplement their curriculum.  The use of video is an illustration that the teacher is addressing multiple learning styles and that they are using all available means to motivate and instruct their students.  But allowing teachers and students to have access to the educational content on YouTube also increases the risk that students will inadvertently (or purposefully) access inappropriate video content through the site.

So I’m please to suggest the use of two different alternatives to YouTube that are more closely controlled and (at least as of this posting) are currently “allowed” within our district.  TeacherTube and SchoolTube are both alternatives that I would be comfortable using.  I’m personally more familiar with SchoolTube, simply because I created an account there as a moderator.  The process took about 24 – 48 hours for me to register and  them to “approve” my status.  I’ve uploaded three projects that I worked on with SES 1st graders this past year.  The students read a Jan Bret book “The Mitten” back during the cold winter months.  They brainstormed with their classroom teacher things that make them warm like the animals in the story.  Then they planned and took digital pictures of one another with their “warm” items.  I put the pictures together into PhotoStory 3, a free downloadable application.  Then I went into their classrooms with my laptop and projector and we had a short lesson on writing interesting, descriptive sentences before they wrote captions for their movies.  I added some copyright-free background music with the built-in PhotoStory 3 tools, and saved them as a Windows Media File movie.  A quick upload to SchoolTube means that no files storage space on our district servers is required!  I’ve embedded the videos below this post.  This was my first attempt, and it was quick and painless, though I’m sure you experienced movie critics out there can find flaws and make suggestions for improvement!

The use of the “moderated” video sites will solve some of the problems teachers were running into with being “blocked” out of YouTube.  However, the one problem YouTube causes for large networks that will NOT be resolved is the issue of bandwidth used when videos are shown from these sites.  Even one single user allowing the video to stream in from SchoolTube, TeacherTube or any similar service, will use large amounts of bandwidth and thus, take resources away from other users on the network.  If a whole lab of students is using a site like that, a sudden slow down of resources can be debilitating.  So even though there are appropriate alternatives, teachers need to take caution to make sure only critical videos are being used during school hours when others are also needing bandwidth.

OK…here are the embedded videos our first-graders made this past year.  Click on the black box to find the play button.