Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tech Tuesday for December 17

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone! I wanted to share a couple of cool tips and tricks regarding Edmodo. Some have started to use it, but might have hit a snag here or there. Here are some great places to start your Edmodo adventure or see what others are doing with Edmodo in their class.

10 Tips for Getting Started with Edmodo

Here is a nice blog post on the Edmodo website written by a teacher that used it his class. These are very short and simple tips on how to use Edmodo in your class to make your day to day life as a teacher a little bit easier. This is a great read for those that are looking to start using Edmodo in the second half of the school year.

15 Brilliant Ways to Use Edmodo

Here is another post by Edmodo on how to use their site with your classrooms. What I like most about this post is that it has people you can connect with after each suggestion. You might like the idea on the page, but you could still have questions. You can connect with the teachers listed and ask them how they do it in their classroom. The post is a few years old, but the ideas still work. I know of many teachers that are doing amazing things with Edmodo and swear but it in their classroom. The Edmodo team is also a great group of people that are very helpful. If you need help, ask for it through email or Twitter (@Edmodo) and they will get back to you.

20 Ways to Use Edmodo in the Classroom

Here is just one more resource on using Edmodo in your classroom that is worth checking out if you are really committed to using it or are looking for reasons why you should start. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tech Tuesday for December 3

Welcome back everyone! I hope all of you had a very nice Thanksgiving Break. I'm happy to be sharing this blog out to the district again after a short hiatus. Teachers had been asking me to add them to my email list, so I thought it would just be easier to send it to everyone. I promise I will not be sending these blog posts out every week and clogging your inbox. Feel free to bookmark my site in Chrome and visit it when you have a minute. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to send me an email or leave me a comment if there is something you are looking for or something you would like me to share to the rest of the staff. Have a great Tuesday!

Writing Prompts/Journal Posts

Here is a great site that has a bunch of prompts that you might find helpful for your classroom. CanTeach has a long list of possible questions to ask your students. I have found writing prompts to be wonderfully helpful in getting my students to think outside of the standard curriculum and have led to great discussions in class. If you are looking for a digital place for students to write their responses, KidBlog is an excellent (free) site that I have used in the past that is perfect for all ages. It does not require students to have an email and teachers can lock it up so only students and teachers can see it if they want. Digital writing is an important skill to learn and combining prompts and blogging is a great way to help students become more comfortable with it.

Eyewitness to History

Eyewitness to History is a great site that brings together stories and media to tell a complete story of historical events that occurred around the world. The site offers links to famous speeches and photos of important events throughout history. Students can here Charles Lindbergh speak after his historic flight or listen to a reporter describe the invasion of Normandy as he witnessed it live offshore. You can also show students the first narrative film The Great Train Robbery to give them a sense of how far things have come in film. There are pictures galore that could make great additions to class for writing prompts or presentations.

The pictures are interactive as well. If you click on certain parts of the picture, it will take you to another story that provides a rich background to the photo and the time period. This is a great site for students and teachers to make history a little more hands on and visual. 

Here is a great site from the University of Colorado that can give some students a chance to try experiments at home without destroying their house. Here is a quick snapshot of what they have to offer.

The site offers great simulations for students of all ages who might need a different way to look at a concepts being covered in class. Take a look at these and share your favorites with other teachers in your building. 

Thanks for taking the time to read the post and feel free to drop me a line if you have questions or want to share something you use with everyone else. 

Give it a try!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tech Tuesday for October 22

Happy Tuesday everyone. I have a couple of quick tech tools to share with you that can make your life just a little bit easier.


 Tubechop is a website that lets you take any youtube clip and chop it down to size. It is very simple to use and does not take very long. Just select the video you want, select the portion you want to watch and click the chop button. You will be given a link or a code to embed into a website. Below you will find a chopped version of The Ghostbusters Music Video by Ray Parker Jr. The orginal clip has an extra minute at the end that I don't need to see, so I chopped it out. Take a look at the video.

For those that like to show video of interviews or clips from movies, this is a great way to condense that information. No longer will you have to waste class time searching for the right part of the clip you want to show. You can set it up ahead of time and post on your website for kids to use safely.

Times Machine

This could be such a fun tool in class. Times Machine is a full collection of the New York Times dating back to 1851. Students can research any date they want and share their findings with the class. Important events in history could be discussed by reading the newspaper itself. Students could research events that happened on their birthday and compare them with others. Classes could review the difference in print ads from various decades and create their own. There are so many possibilities for this site in the classroom it would be a waste not to take a look around. You need to be a subscriber to the print edition to gain access to the papers. Talk to Courtney about our NYT subscription to see about access.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tech Tuesday for October 15

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone! I have some great things to share with you this week. Now that the school year has settled down a bit, I will get back to sharing on a more regular schedule. If you ever need help with specific tech tools, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to find a time to meet with you and lend a hand.

Crash Course

I was very lucky to get to hang out at YouTube's offices last week and talk education and technology to some really great people. YouTube is trying to create more videos that can help students and teachers deal with complicated topics. There were some great content creators at this meeting and I was excited to share some of the wonderful resources you might want to use in class, post on your website or share with your students.

Crash Course is just one of many great YouTube sites dedicated to helping explain complex topics. Crash Course has a Playlist that focuses on Chemistry, Biology, Ecology, World History, US History and Literature. They approach these topics in a fun and interesting way that some of your students are already using to help them with their work. Here is an example of a Chemistry video by Crash Course.

I think this is a great resource for teachers looking to spice up their class or website with helpful videos. I will be sharing more YouTubeEDU channels over the next few months that can be used to help the amazing things you already do in your classroom. Stay tunes!

I wanted to share another quick site that can help you explore the use of Google Apps. This site offers tips on how to use Google Docs, GMail, Calendar and Chrome. If you have wanted to use Google more in your classroom, this is a great site to help you understand the different elements. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tech Tuesday for September 10

Welcome back everyone! I hope the start of the year has been as smooth as possible for everyone. Like most summers, I spent my time traveling the country going to some great conferences where I met some awesome people and learned a few new tools I am excited to share with you. As you unofficial tech guy, I happy to help South Teachers with any and all of your tech related needs. The best advice I can give you is to choose one tool to learn for the semester and go from there. If you have questions about what tools you should consider, please send me an email. I'm free 6th and 7th hour and can help you after school by appointment. I look forward to working with all of you this year at the best high school in the state.

Remind 101

There are some other teachers already using Remind 101 this year, so I'm excited to share it with the rest of the staff. Remind 101 is a way for teachers to send mass text messages to students without ever having access to the student's phone number and without the students having access to the teacher's phone number. This is a  great FREE tool for teachers to send reminders to students about upcoming tests, projects, field trips, etc. Students text a special code you create to a designated number and they are in the group. From the Remind 101 app or the website, you can send texts to each class whenever you want to. The nice part of Remind 101 is that it does NOT act like group messaging. Students cannot respond to the text. It is one-way communication for the teacher to reach the students. Here is a video on how to sign up and get started.

Here are 50 Ways to Use Remind101 from Pintrest. 

I think this tool is great for the classroom, but even better for clubs and sports. It is a wonderful way to share information quickly and send friendly reminders. If you have any questions about Remind101, please let me know. 

Lastly, I want to share what I think is the best reasons to invest in technology in your classroom. Below is a Keynote from ISTE given by my friend Adam Bellow. He understands why we need tech and it has much more to do than getting shiny new tools. Please take the time and watch this video. This will fire you up if you want to do some amazing things in the classroom this year. 

Have a great year and give it a try!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tech Tuesday for May 28

Here are a couple of cool things to check out this week.


The idea behind UJam is simple and awesome. Allow anyone the ability to create music and share it with the whomever they want. Here is a video that explains how it works.

As a teacher, this could be a fun way to introduce new concepts to class and create songs to make some ideas more memorable for the students. This could also be used by students to create their own songs for any number of projects. For the musically minded, UJam is a great FREE web tool that can attract students to almost any lesson.


E.ggtimer.com is a simple timer any teacher can use. Here is how you can use it. 

Example usage:

By typing in the time you want after the /, you can create timer as long as you want. There are also some special timers you can have fun with in class or at home. 

While not a revolutionary idea that is going to change the way we teach, it is a nice little FREE web tool that can make class run a little more efficiently.

I want to thank my friend Steve Dembo for showing me these, and many more, web tools that I know get to pass on to the great educators of Grosse Pointe Public Schools.

Give them a try!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tech Tuesday for May 21

Happy Tech Tuesday! Here are some fun websites to check out.

Digital Storytelling Apps

Do you have an iPad and are you looking for apps that will allow you to make fun and exciting stories to share with your students? Well, here is the site you have been looking for. It's a simple Google site that offers a few different apps and explains how they could be used in digital storytelling. See if you can use any of these in your class or at home.

Algebra and Geometry Games

Here is a link to some fun Algebra games. The tabs say Grade 6-8, but this might be useful at the HS level. Take a look and see if these would work in your class or at home with your kids.

Gary's Social Media Count

Here is a very cool graphic that can show you the role Social Media has in the world today. Our students are responsible for much of the content that is being created on the web right now. It's important to keep that in mind as we look for different ways to infuse technology into our classroom. It might not seem important to you, but your students might be ready for something completely different.

- Give it a try!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tech Tuesday for May 14

Here are three really cools sites for the kids in the classroom and your kids at home. Take a look at these sites and see how you might use them in the classroom. Give it a try!


One of my favorite projects I did in grade school was researching my state. Every kid in class was assigned a different state and I was the lucky one that pulled my home state of Michigan out of the hat. I thought I knew everything there was to know about my home, but there was so much information that I found out about Michigan. The only problem was that I had to search high and low (pre-internet) for current information. I wish I had access to 50States.com back then because my job would have been much easier.

50States.com is a wonderful resource for all things US States. It even has information on US Territories and Commonwealths.

50States.com also offers a tremendous list of resources for kids to look at. State birds, state trees and even state songs, are all provided by 50States.com.

This is a very simple and free site for teachers, parents and students to access to find the most up-to-date information on their favorite state. This is a wonderful site for all social studies teachers to bookmark and share with students. Take a moment and see how this great site can be used in the classroom or in the home.

Walking with Dinosaurs

I loved Dinosaurs! Who didn’t have a favorite growing up? I’m actually shocked I haven’t written about a good Dinosaur site yet. The BBC has a great site dedicated to all things Dinosaur related. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/dinosaurs/ The site covers everything from the different types of dinosaurs to how fossils are formed to the theories surrounding their mass extinction.

With video and wonderful supporting stories, there are plenty of resources for many different age groups. If you are interested in having kids do research on dinosaurs, check out http://dinodictionary.com/ for all of your dino needs.

This site has everything you could possibly need from a research standpoint. Just type in the name of the dinosaur you are looking for and you will be taken to page filled with information. http://dinodictionary.com/ is actually part of http://www.dinodatabase.com, which has even more information on dinosaurs and their lives on earth. They are a great pair of sites for any kid that needs information on their favorite dinosaur.

Earth Rangers

According to their website,

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that believes in the power of kids like you to take action to help protect wildlife. We have an amazing web site, EarthRangers.com, with information about the crisis facing wildlife (the Biodiversity Crisis) and more importantly, about what YOU can do about it. You can also find out more about some amazing animals that are at risk of extinction, connect with other Rangers across Canada and play eco-games!”

You do not have to be Canadian to want to save the planet so sign up your kids to play some fun games and learn some important things about conservation and wildlife. Every state has their own wildlife and conservation concerns and this site could be a great way to start a conversation with kids and have them look at local issues and what they can do to help. Adults around the world are working hard to save the planet, but it is important that we get the younger generations excited and educated about the dangers of deforestation and pollution.

As kid sites go, this site is fun for all ages and I found myself playing the different games for almost 45 minutes before I even realized it. I found plenty of interesting articles that kids could take home from school to read or find on their own. I found an article about a recently discovered type of fungus that turns ants in zombie ants!

I always get excited when I find little gems like this on the web. It is great to see sites that are dedicated to teaching kids about very important issues. EarthRangers.com is a wonderful site that is worth sharing with your kids. Heck, it’s worth sharing with your friends. You might be surprised at what you will learn once you log in.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tech Tuesday for May 7

The example I posted might have trouble loading on the school computer. Maybe it's just slow today. Check it out at home if the computer is taking too long to load it.

Blabberize is a very fun site that could be used in a single class period in the computer lab. It's an online computer tool that allows you to add your voice to a picture of your choosing. The cool part of this is that you can select the area over the images mouth and the mouth will open and close while it plays the recorded message.

The message can be recorded via microphone, audio file or your cell phone. The cell phone option is really neat if you do not have a microphone on your computer at home. It gives you a number to call and a 4 digit pass code and the site will record your voice and save it to the picture you have selected.

You could use this as a fun option for students to find characters from a novel and record their favorite line or lines from the story that best suit them. At the end of the class period, you could play a selection for the class. If you are a History, you could use the site to have kids record parts of speeches for historical figures.

This site might not revolutionize education as we know it, but it is a nice tool to have in your drawer if you decide to do something a little different with your students. If you are not sure how to use it in class, just show the students and I'm sure they can come up with some fun ideas for class projects.

Here is my goofy example. It only took me 5 minutest to put together.

Try having some fun with Blabberize and see the silly thing you can do with it. You might just want to create a few fun pictures and place them in a Power Point or on your class website. Give it a try!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tech Tutorials

I hope everyone is rested for the rest of the school year. I took all of the information from the people that filled out the form and I put together a schedule that I hope will meet the needs of all of the teachers in the building. If these times do not work for you, please email me and we can try and set something up 1:1 so I can help you.

These sessions are designed for teachers that have little to no experience with the tools or those looking for my information on how to incorporate these into the class. If you are a more advanced user and want to stop by and offer some help, you are welcome as well.

The only thing you need to do is send me an email the day before to let me know you will be stopping by and I will be waiting in my room to help you. Even it is one person, these tech tutorials will be happening.

If you have any questions, please drop me a note or send me an email and I will be happy to answer them for you.

All sessions will be in room 292.

Livescribe Pens 

Tuesday April 9 - Thursday April 11

Mornings 7:00 - 7:45
Both Lunches
After School 3:30 - 4:15

I will show you how I have used the Livescribe pen and how they can be used in class. Here is some information you can use before we meet if you have some questions on what a Livescribe Pen is and how to use it.


Tuesday April 16 - Thursday April 18

Mornings 7:00 - 7:45
Both Lunches
After School 3:30 - 4:15

This tutorial will be about the different ways that Evernote can be used in the classroom for students or for teachers as a lesson planner. This is also a free app that can be downloaded on your personal devices if you want to get a head start. We will be using the iPads for this tutorial, so everyone will have access to Evernote. Here is some more information on Evernote to get you started.

Google Docs

Wednesday April 24 and Thursday April 25

Mornings 7:00 - 7:45
Both Lunches
After School 3:30 - 4:15

This tutorial will be the basics of how to use Google Docs. I will show you the different ways you can use it as a teacher and how you can share documents quickly with other teachers and students. Here is some more information on all of Google Apps.


Tuesday April 30 - Thursday May 2

Mornings 7:00 - 7:45
Both Lunches
After School 3:30 - 4:15

This tutorial will show teachers how they can have students set up Blogs using Blogger and how they can be used to cut down on the paper in their classroom. This blog uses blogger and many other sites use Blogger and their blogging platform. Here is some more information on using Blogger.

I'm really excited to share these great tools with you and hopefully see you integrate them into your classroom. My students have really responded positively to these additions to my classroom and they have made my days much easier.

I hope to see many of you in 292!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Annotating with Livescribe Pens

I had the time over break to try out a new way to use my Livescribe pen for annotations. Here is a post I put together on my other site. 

I'm helping a student with their new book club they started at South. I really wanted to make sure I did a good job reading and annotating this story so I could share with the group. I feel I have a high bar to meet since I'm an English teacher. I didn't want to just download a book and annotate that way and I didn't want to just buy a book and highlight it. I wanted to do a little bit more with the notes, but wasn't sure what to do.

Well, Livescribe was the perfect solution to my problem. I have the Livescribe Sky pen and I recently purchased Livescribe Sticky Notes. By using these two items, I can take notes on the Sticky Notes and not only save them in the book, but they are saved in Evernote.

Here is my note on the book. 

Here is what the note looks like in Evernote. 

I can take the Sticky Notes with me and leave them in the book as I read. With my pen by my side, I can just add the notes as they come up and annotate the book as well. This book club idea has me thinking though.

What if I took the books we read in class and did my own annotations using the Sticky Notes? After the notes were saved, I could then post a public link on my website or drop those notes in another shared notebook with my students and they could have my notes while they read. Maybe note specific notes, but perhaps I add guiding questions. The Livescribe pen and the Sticky Notes can change the way I teach annotation with my students and can add a layer of class discussion that I haven't been able to have.

If I allow the students to edit the notes I share with them, the students could actually add their thoughts and ideas to the annotated notes I left. This could create a crowdsourced collection of annotations for the entire class to see. This could have a serious impact on how my students study and share. It can also really help some of my struggling readers to see what others are thinking why they read and can also add their thoughts.

I think I am going to try this for Gatsby or Catcher this semester. I know that it will be some work on my end upfront, but once I do it the first time, I will have the annotated notes in Evernote and in my book for years to come.

For those of you looking at different ways to use their Livescribe pen, I think this is a fun and exciting way to use annotations in the classroom. Stay tuned as I explore Livescribe Pens in my classroom.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happy Tech Tuesday February 5th

Happy Tech Tuesday everyone. I apologize for the long lay off, but I have some news I wanted to share with you.

I have had a great time getting into your classrooms and working with you on technology in your lessons plans. I wanted to see if there were those of you that are interested in doing more with those tools in a workshop format before or after school. Also, I wanted to see if there were any tools not on my list that you are interested in using in your classroom.

Please take a moment fill out this form and will email people back with possible meeting dates and times to talk tech.