Tech Tools for the Everyday Teacher

Posts tagged “Technology

Online Game Creation

I am always looking for ways for students to create their own online games using class content.  I believe that this is an interactive, educational part of the internet that hasn’t been as polished as other aspects.  That being said – a beginning website for this is:

  • It’s free
  • Students can use it without logging in
  • Easy to input questions and answers
  • Easy to share game with others to play


At students have the ability to input information and create a game based on that information.  They then can save their game and require other students to play their game.  At first when you enter the website it looks like a poorly made website because of the confusing design and color choices.  But if you dig further you will find that it does have some hidden treasures.

The main treasure I have explored thus far is the Arcade Game Generator – which is a link on the right side of the home screen.  If you click on the Arcade Game Generator link you will be sent to a Quiz creation wizard.  You can edit the title and create questions and answers here.  The key on this screen is to put your cursor over Example because then you can see exactly how to format your questions and answers.  You can also determine the type of game you want to play with the information – although I like to leave it free choice.



I know that I mentioned this website on my last post – but it’s so good that I had to mention it again.  I have recently been using Zooburst in the classroom and it’s been terrific.  Zooburst is a 3d pop up book creator.  It is free and relatively easy to use. 

I began my lesson having students write poems about our school.  I then introduced them to zooburst.  Zooburst has its own database of pictures that you can search through, or, like many of my students, students can find pictures on google images and upload them to Zooburst. 

Because the “teacher-student” account costs money – I created a teacher account and had all my students login to it.  They can all work on seperate books on the teacher website at the same time.  Unfortunately, there is a maximum of 10 books you can create for an account.  You also need to make sure you have an e-mail address because the password for your account will be e-mailed to you.

The actual 3d pop up book, is awesome.  You can move it and rotate it by clicking with your mouse and dragging.  You can change colors and even add quotation bubbles.

But… the coolest thing about this website is that it has the potential for Augmented Reality.  Augmented Reality is where 3d images are displayed through a webcam.  It’s like virtual reality. 

So I started one of my students poems.  At the top there is an option (if you have the capability) to go to webcam mode.  When you go webcam mode, there is a printout for you to print.  Then – if you display that printout in front of the webcam the book will come to life in your webcam.

It’s awesome!

To review:

  • Zooburst: free
  • 10 books maximum for an account
  • 3d
  • Upload images or search for images
  • Augmented Reality available with web cams

What have I learned recently?

I have been trying to incorporate a lot of technology in my classroom recently.  Like I said in my last post, I constructed the interactive whiteboard that Johnny Lee geniously created.  It works.  That being said I do believe the software he recommends on his website is really the only software that works ‘well’ with this contraption.  Another thing that is important to remember is that the placement of the wiimote is vital – and if it shifts than the whole touch-display is off-put.  I have not done the interactive whiteboard with my students yet because I want to make it a little more fool-proof.

I recently acquired an ipad2 from my district to see its functions in the classroom.  I have been using Doceri – which enables the ipad2 to link to your laptop and then you don’t have to stand up at the front to control your laptop – it also allows for you to write or draw on the ipad2.  It’s actually a very handy program.  I have not had the freedom to use other apps yet – but I’m hoping the district loads some on the ipad2 soon – as its very limited with its capabilities, or I just can’t figure out all its uses. 

That being said, the students have never been more engaged with the lesson? or with the ipad2? than when I pull out that device.  They love it.  It just has a pretty steep learning curve.

There you have it.  I will keep you posted on the interactive whiteboard and try to get some pictures of it in use.



One popular fad today is owning kindles and nooks.  I walked to our neighborhood library and noticed that ebooks can now be checked out.  Immediately I thought, is this for real?  or is this just another fad?  It doesn’t quite feel the same reading from these devices than it does from reading a book.  But you can have 100s of books in one device!  Incredible.

So how can I translate ebooks to the classroom?  I was on a 21st Century Field Trip through my district when I learned that there is a website that creates ebooks for free!  So of course – here it is:


  • It’s free – although you will need to sign up.
  • So easy to use! Allows for a lot of creativity.
  • Insert pictures easily.
  • You can download your ebooks onto the e-devices.

Just skimming the surface

21st Century Skills

I am currently finishing up my master’s program at the University of Colorado.  I have been researching 21st century skills and trying to discover how education will change in the near future.  For those of you who haven’t looked into 21st century skills the major components include: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical-thinking, media literacy, and global awareness.

If you wish to see an animation that depicts the 4 c’s please watch the following – it was just released by Partnership for 21st century skills and Fablevision:

Many of you may be thinking… well aren’t these skills old skills?  What makes them 21st century skills?  The idea behind them is that modern jobs and future challenges will require students to be adept at these skills – which identifies them as 21st century skills.

So why do people make a fuss about them?  There is actually quite a large movement against 21st century skills.  Many people are afraid of schools emphasizing these skills and replacing common core content.  Honestly, if you work in schools you know that as soon as someone identifies something new for you to focus on in the classroom – something else will need to go on the backburner.  So if schools are going to have to focus on 21st century skills then content may have to go on the backburner… slightly.  That being said: we live in an age where the average young person (8-18) spends 6 hours a day in front of media devices.  They are digital natives… we are digital immigrants.  Education is going to need to change to meet their needs and, honestly, education could become significantly better with the appropriate integration of technology.

Of course… then the question arises – how would you assess 21st century skills?  Isn’t it easy to fake those skills?  Don’t get me wrong, content is still foundational – how would a student analyze the Revolutionary War – if the student didn’t know the events, the causes, or the participants?  Nonetheless, I don’t think we can deny that these 21st century skills are important to future workplaces and to the success of our students.

The web is an open book that not only links knowledge and information, but is now linking people and creating global communities.  What may have once been impossible (for instance: being able to talk to professionals in all sorts of different workplaces about their jobs and daily work) now is accessible at a touch of a button.

I’m not denying the importance of the 3 r’s: reading, riting, and rithmetic (yeah yeah… they aren’t actually 3 r’s), I’m just suggesting that the 4 c’s, media literacy, and global awareness are crucial to enhancing our education.  Of course, the best possible scenario (maybe?) would be for every student to have a laptop accessible to them so that technology could be incorporated into every part of school life… but with a budget like we have now… is that realistic in the slightest bit?  Schools are going to have be creative with technology – especially now.

So what’s the answer?  Should education team with business to allow for cash flow?  Are grants enough?  21st century skills is a subject that is still young – I feel like I’m still just skimming the surface…

Manipulatives online?

There is much evidence and research that shows the success of using manipulatives in the classroom.  As students develop understanding of number sense, the most important process teachers must do is connect the numbers to actual objects or ‘manipulatives.’  Manipulatives are and can be used in all five of the NCTM standards or categories for mathematics.

So… what if there was a website that identified manipulatives for grade-specific, standard-specifc use?  Would you want to use it in the classroom?


Let me introduce you to: The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

This website is an excellent, supplemental program for your math classroom: why?

  • Yay! It’s free!
  • It allows for the teacher to search grade specific
  • It allows for the teacher to search content-area specifc

Working on place value and don’t have base 10 blocks available to you? Check out these online Base 10 blocks

Need algebra tiles? pentominoes? pattern blocks? geoboards?

There are so many incredible tools for students to use on The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives website – it’s a must-have on your favorites.  (Just make sure your computer has JAVA to run the activites (most do))

It’s not an airline… it’s a website.

TED. Technology. Entertainment. Design.

If you’re like me – you’re always looking for something to inspire you or entertain you while you are working out, or driving to work.  This website is perfect for that.  There are hundreds of inspiring talks about technology, entertainment, education, and design at your fingertips.  TED is a free website with easy-to-download talks.

I shared one of the talks in an earlier blog post about the Sixth Sense Technology.  I also shared a blog post on The Khan Academy.  If you didn’t get a chance to watch either of those films – I would take a look at them.  They are both incredibly intriguing.

That being said, there are numerous talks that apply to education.  I watched one today by a 4th grade teacher, John Hunter, who created a World Peace Game that encourages students to think creatively and problem solve real world conflicts and disasters.  Watch this if you get a chance.

Another excellent educational TED video was on Dan Meyer – a highschool math teacher.  In his talk he breaks apart math problems and shows the flaws in our textbooks.  He also highlights the skills students do need to learn to be successful – and how to make math class engaging to students.  This is a great video if you are looking for new inspiration and insight into preparing for math lessons.

In this talk Conrad Wolfram discusses the major components of math.  What is math?  What should be taught?  He talks about the dangers of emphasizing too much computation.  He believes that in our modern time computers can do the computation, therefore education should be focusing on other aspects of math curriculum.

To download a TED talk:

1. Go to the TED talk you want to download

2. Click on the download tab under the talk

3. Right click on the type of download you want (sometimes there are options audio/video – mp4

4. Click “Save Target AS” and save your download – VOILA – it’s done.