Posts tagged ‘BYOT’

Using Google’s Smarty Pins in the Classroom

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”By  B.B. King

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game. It is very user-friendly like most Google products are. The purpose is to answer as many questions as you can before you run out of miles.  Miles are lost when you answer incorrectly based on how ‘far off’ your answer is. You can decide if you want random questions, or if you want a specific category and there are six categories to choose from such as arts and culture, science and geography and sports and games.

Once you start, your first question will appear on the left-hand side of the screen. To answer you have to drag the map pin to the correct location. (I have found the map will start near the area you need to go) You can zoom in and out as well based on the level of detail you want.

Once you find the correct location you drop the pin and the name of the location will appear, for example Charlotte, NC. You can then submit your answer or get a hint if you would like. The hint show up on the left hand side under the question. If you chose to use the hint, you do not get to earn bonus miles. Bonus miles are given for answering a question correctly within 15 seconds. There are funny captions after you answer each question no matter if you get it right or wrong. When you answer a certain number of questions correctly you earn awards: bronze, silver or gold.

Smarty Pins

How Could You Use This in the Classroom?

1. Each day as a class, (or one day a week) you can use Smarty Pins as a class team building activity (ex. during morning meeting). Together the class can see how many questions they get right before they run out of miles. Each day or week they could track their progress and then graph it for each month. This allows team building, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving along with learning geography.

2.  Use Smarty Pins as a base for students genius hour or passion based learning ideas. As the students plays the game, they will learn facts and geography of places that they might find interesting and want to learn more about. For example when I played, I found myself interested in more about the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ as I had a question about the bell tower.

3. This game could be used for when a student finishes an activity early as a fun extension or during when you find you have a few minutes before a transition.

As always, I would love to hear how you would use it in the classroom! Please share in the comments section.


Creating with Pixiclip

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” By Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Pixiclip puts creating and recording at your fingertips as a FREE web app, that works on all devices. PixiClip provides a screencasting, whiteboard space where you can easily sketch a diagram, add your voice/video/image and type. The clips can be shared but made private, hidden, or even password protected.This web app doesn’t require you to create an account in order to use it but I did notice it worked much better in the chrome browser. Below are ways you can use this application in the classroom.

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1. Flipped Lesson: This is an easy tool to use to flip a lesson. Explaining  a concept such as, rock cycle, as you draw you can also include a video in the top corner that shows you explaining it or you  can just record your voice. Want to now how to start flipping your classroom or other good tools, click here to see my previous posts.

2. Student Assessment:  Get students showing what they know by having students explain a concept. They can easily share it with you by posting it in the blog (embed code) or emailing it.

3. Learning Vocabulary: Have the students draw a vocabulary word and have the other students guess it. Great way to add a creative way to review vocabulary. (Think of the App Draw Something but for education)

4. Reflection: Have the students upload an image of something they have created or done and share a reflection about what they learned or the process. Great for reflecting on a Problem or Project based learning (PBL) activity.

5. Creating Story/How to: Have students create short stories to help them understand beginning, middle and end or have them create how to’s with images.

I would love to know how you use it in the classroom, please share!

20 Digital Citizenship Resources

“Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.”  by Mike Ribble

Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps educators and parents to understand what student users should know to use technology appropriately. There are 9 elements of digital citizenship such as digital rights & responsibilities, digital law and digital etiquette. With more devices and blended learning, teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom is apart of the hidden curriculum that should be infused with the schools/classrooms current Character Education program.


Other Blogs and Resources on Digital Citizenship:

1. Curriculum: Understanding YouTube & Digital Citizenship

2. Know the Net Site

3. Digital Citizenship: There is more to teaching than three R’s

4. Common Sense Media

5. FBI Cyber Surfing

6. Live Binder of Digital Citizenship Resources

7. Educational Origami – 21st Century Pedagogy

8. Digital Passport

9. Copyright Website


11. Internet Saftey

12. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning Digital Citizenship Posts

13. 20 Basic Rules For Digital Citizenship

14. 5 More Places To Help You Find Quality Creative Commons Images

15. Digital Citizenship in Schools

16. 10 Interactive Lessons By Google On Digital Citizenship

17. Digital Citizenship Comic

18. Brain Pop: Digital Citizenship (Free)

19. Teachers Channel – Super Digital Citizen

20. Ideas for Digital Citizenship PBL Projects

I would love to know how you teach digital citizenship. Please share in the comments.

Engaging Students with GoogleTreks

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” By St. Augustine

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I was recently came across this amazing Google Site called  GoogleTreks  – taking virtual field trip and learning to a whole new place. (GoogleTreks™ is not affiliated with or endorsed by Google® or any of its companies. Google® is a registered trademark.) GoogleTreks was created by Dr. Alice Christie who is a Google Certified Teacher and has taught in the classroom for 25 years. Dr. Christie used the formula of  web tools + Google Maps = GoogleTrek. Here is an example of GoogleTreks she created about the History of GoogleTreks.

GoogleTreks are engaging lessons that can work on any device which makes for great activities for Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) or technology rich classrooms. The lessons also have the students using their 21st century skills of creating, collaborating, communicating and critically thinking while also aligned to Common Core Standards. You can easily differentiate these lessons and make them accessible using QR Codes. You could also have the students create their own to show mastery of content. Check out some of these great ones below:

How Does Global Warming Affect Human Health?

5.G.4. Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties

Want to make your own GoogleTrek? Use this tutorial and create your own, it walks you through the steps. Then you can submit them  here for others or you can have it saved in your google account. If you chose to submit, all GoogleTreks are scored based on a rubric so you know you are getting quality lessons.

Other Google Trek Resources:

Google Treks gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Maps’ most awe-inspiring Views

Google Trek – Street View

Trek the world with Google Maps

INTERNET EXPLORER: Take a virtual field trip with Google Treks

I would love to hear how you have used GoogleTrek or plan on using it if you are not already!

Using Kahoot! with Learners of Any Age and Subject

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” By Carl Rogers

Recently I was introduced to Kahoot! via Twitter (my favorite professional development) and asked to be a beta tester. I have been testing it out and love it. Kahoot! is a great new game-based response system that is FREE, works on all devices AND allows students to create as well! You can use Kahoot! with learners of any age and using any subject matter. Here are three ways to get started with Kahoot! in your classroom:

1. Quizzes: – Create your own quiz, have a student create one or find a public quiz! To start a quiz,  decide on a title and then drag and drop your content and add your questions. Your content can feature pictures or videos which makes it great for all grade levels.This is a great way to flip your classroom and use the data to drive your next days lessons or small groups.

2. Discussions:  Create discussion questions is easy. Decide on a title and then ask your probing question. You can also have your students pose questions to launch a discussion using their devices.

3. Surveys: Take a real-time poll of your students wants/needs? For example: what type of devices do we have in our classrooms from BYOT? This can also be used for an exit ticket to determine how a lesson went or gauge the students knowledge on a topic.

If you find a public quiz, discussion or survey you can also ‘favorite’ it by clicking on the heart.

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Students do NOT need to have a Kahoot! account to play the games, but you can sign up your class easily once you created an account. If you have students under 13, Kahoot! has an under 16 where their account doesn’t allow students to post their content publicly, or browse public content created by others. To create student accounts, download their template and send it to Kahoot! They’ll create their accounts for you, yes you don’t have to create them!

This infographic explains how Kahoot! works and the benefits to both educators and learners.


Other Kahoot! Resources:

How to play a game of Kahoot! — 3 Minute Screencast

Kahoot – Create Quizzes and Surveys Your Students Can Answer on Any Device

The Whiteboard Blog Post

If you have used it in your classroom, let me know how!

Activities and Resources for Non-fiction Text Features

“Education…has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” By George Macaulay Trevelyan

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The Common Core emphasizes the importance of nonfiction text. Understanding text features are an important part of helping readers determine what is important to the text.

Two of my favorite ‘Newspaper’ web tools, that also work on devices using a browser, are TweenTribune and Dogo News. Both sites have articles that are appropriate, student friendly topics and each article also comes with a ‘Critical Thinking Challenge’ question for students to ponder. When you use Dogo News, you can click on a current event and it will tell you what Common Core Standards the article addresses, what age level and what National Standard. Both of these sites are great to use for non-fiction texts and especially to teacher text features. Below are activities you can do with your students that allow them to also demonstrate 21st century skills and digital literacy.

5 Activities for the Classroom: 

1. You can also use the Bounce App website. You paste a website address that you like into the “app” and it turns it into an interactive screenshot where students can jot ideas while reading non-fiction text! You can have the students identify the non-fiction text features. (Works on all devices using browser too)

2. Have students use their devices and do a photo text features scavenger hunt. The students can find an example of each text feature and take a picture of the feature, add the picture to Pic College or Skitch and label each feature.

3. Have students create non-fiction article that include all text features using Apps or websites such as Google Documents, Pages, Book Creator or any word-processing such as word.

4. Having students reading a non-fiction text on their level, using the sites above. Have the students analyze the text by blogging or writing with starter questions such as: What text features did the author use?  Were they helpful,  why or why not?  Are there any other text features the author should have included to make better?

5. Have students create a presentation using an App or website of their choice and have them ‘teach’ their classmates or a younger grade about text features. For example, have 2nd graders teach the kindergartener as both grade levels have learning about text features in the Common Core standard.

I would love to hear how you teach nonfiction text features, please add them in the comment section.

Make Your Point in Haiku Deck

“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” by Julius Caesar

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Guest Blog Post By Lisa Maples

If you want to do something, then you’ll do it.  In my experience, going after a goal is thrilling especially if it is one that comes from an inner motivation.  No one has to beg you, or force you, if the motivation is intrinsic.  Being able to persuade others with convincing arguments is a skill that we work on throughout our lives.  As humans, we like to be right and consistently try to prove our points.  After all, as Angela Maiers so aptly taught me through her You Tube lesson, I Matter and You Matter.  Our ideas are valuable and need to be heard.

As our first iPad project of the school year, I planned a project that would allow my fourth and fifth grade students to grasp that their ideas mattered.  I knew that if I could set up the right conditions, my students would welcome the opportunity to be asked to share their ideas.  I asked them to choose a topic that they knew a lot about and convince others to think the way that they think about the topic.  I had 14 iPads for students to share as I wheeled them around the school and visited the fourth and fifth grade classes for a total of 45 minutes each during a five week span in September and October of 2013.  Due to collaboration with their partners, students were engaged as they articulated their points that they would use to persuade an audience of their peers.

After being amazed at the precise points of Birke Baehr at a TEDx Talk on You Tube, I decided to show students his powerful five minute talk. I loved how Birke introduced his topic of genetically altered feed given to animals then motivated the audience to change the way that they viewed the topic.  After watching his talk, I asked students to consider whether or not the author had convinced them that our food system had some flaws after analyzing his comments.  Many students reported that they were more interested in buying organically grown food and wanted to know more about how the food they eat was created.  Using the TEDx Talk as my springboard, I then posed an Essential Question that I had previously composed to my students which was this:  Can you persuade someone to think the way you think?  I gave some suggestions on my Smartboard file such as the following topics:

Should kids be given allowances?

Why should one person be paid more than another?

Should we recycle and go green?

What is the best Movie or Book of all time?

Why play sports?

What is something that makes you happy?

What are the benefits of healthful eating and exercise?

In pairs, students brainstormed at least six reasons to convince others to have the same opinion as themselves.  They recorded their persuasive points in the yellow notepad app on the iPad and labeled their notes with their grade, homeroom teacher’s name and their first names since they shared these 14 iPads with 850 other K-5 students.  (I also put numbers as the Home Screen on each iPad and distributed iPads to the same students each week.)  I noticed an incredible amount of excitement as students took advantage of me asking them to prove that their ideas had worth and to record their thoughts.  Students were told that they would be presenting their ideas in front of their peers in a mini TED Talk format using an awesome app on the iPad.

In a follow-up session, I introduced students to Haiku Deck, a presentation app for the iPad.  I demonstrated how to create a series of slides with words and images that would convey an opinion that I now share with Birke Baher.  I showed them the Haiku Deck presentation that I created about “Organic Food:  What’s the Big Deal?”  

In Haiku Deck, there are no fancy transitions and limited amounts of text allowed per slide.  The more text that one writes, the smaller the font becomes so less is more.  Students can choose from several free font choices and Creative Commons Licensed images from within the app.  There are also plenty of images that can be purchased, but we chose only free options within the app.  Once students’ notes were complete including words that described the images that they wanted on each of their Haiku Deck slides, they began the process of choosing words to persuade their peer audience of their point and to find or create images that would powerfully illustrate their opinions on their chosen topic.  I realized soon, however, that despite the amazing images offered within Haiku Deck that are Creative Commons Licensed, my school district filters blocked the majority of the images.  As a go around approach, I showed students how to search for copyright free images at Google Advanced Image Search, save the images to the Camera Roll on the iPad and import the images into Haiku Deck slides.  I also wanted to give them additional choices on how to prove their points by allowing them to draw pictures on the iPad using the Doodle Buddy app then import their drawn images into their Haiku Deck Slides.  An example of a finished product of two students who developed their own topic, not one of mine, is here on the topic of “Why Everyone Should Have Dogs”

Giving students a choice in their topic was paramount because it fueled their interest.  As they began to work on this project for the 45 minutes that I saw them each week, I decided to share a Project Based Learning Rubric that I modified from Jill Thompson’s example at one of her websites.  Here is the rubric:


  • Haiku Deck presentation shows knowledge of the selected topic.
  • Presentation clearly answers the essential question, attempts to persuade audience to think the way the authors think and calls audience to action.
  • Group members effectively communicate content in front of peers.


  • Creativity is used to clearly illustrate and emphasize main points.
  • Words are displayed and organized in the layout of the presentation.

Technology Integration

  • Group used technology tools in Haiku Deck on the iPad to showcase their product to their audience.
  • Images chosen within Haiku Deck are effective at illustrating the point.


  • Group members contributed ideas frequently, communicated clearly and positively to team.
  • Group worked collaboratively to develop answers to essential question.

As they have begun to finish, I have had them practice giving their mini TED talk while using the slides that they made in Haiku Deck.  They are vested in this project and care deeply about others adopting their viewpoint, while also beaming with pride in the slides that they have created.

When students present their Haiku Deck presentations next week, I will have them share in six areas around the classroom then rotate around the class to hear all of the persuasive TED-like talks.  I will be asking students to validate as audience members the TED Talkers with positive comments and then to decide if the talk actually persuaded them to adopt the thoughts of each TED Talker.

This was my first multi-week iPad  project as Technology Teacher during the 2013-2014 school year.  I knew how the education world was and is all a buzz about Passion Based Learning, Genius Hour, and 20 % Time.  I feel that I have given students a platform for their ideas to be heard though this project while allowing them to choose a topic that they were passionate about as their focus.  I wanted students to see the effort it takes to craft words into powerful tools to cause others to adopt the mindset of the authors.

I developed a Haiku Deck presentation to document my Summer Break of 2013 with my family once I saw Cory Tressler from The Ohio State University give a talk using Haiku Deck at a Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ Summer Institute in June of 2013.  I loved the various places to put text on the screen and that it forced me to limit my wordiness.  I would use images of my family as well as the images found in the Haiku Deck app to create my presentation.  I found that I knew how to navigate Haiku Deck because I had used it in my personal life before showing it to my students.  Once I arrived at school however, my district filters blocked most of the free images so I was limited with students unlike when I was at home.  Nevertheless, the Haiku Deck app gives a way to quickly and concisely make points while focusing on the message not on elaborate transitions or music.  My students will be able to use Haiku Deck during the school year as they investigate other Essential Questions that I will pose to them.  Since Common Core State Standards are rich in having students argue their points, I feel that this project allowed students to practice not only analyzing a TEDx Talk but to create their own mini TED Talk with persuasive points and present their ideas while using Haiku Deck.   I am most excited that this project gave students a chance to be heard and to realize that they have a contribution to make to the world.

I got the ideas for the TED Talk lesson from a teacher whose work I had purchased at www.Teachers Pay Teachers. Com named Monica Burns, but then put my own spin on it by framing the lesson through the lens of “You Matter” from Angela Maiers, adding in the Haiku Deck presentation app, and modifying Jill Thompson’s PBL rubric.  You can view Monica Burns’ original lesson here. 

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