Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RHS Databases - Credible sources all in one place!

As I was updating access information and instructions for the databases available to RHS students and staff, I was once again reminded of some of the great features that are included by the different database publishers. I have highlighted these features below.

Links to all of these databases along with access information and search tips can be found on the RHS media center website - Research tab:

NEW to RHS: When users perform a search in the ABC-CLIO databases, they can click on the Translate button and have the information translated into French, Spanish or Chinese. The information can also be read to users (including translations) by clicking on the Listen button. Listen settings include playback speed and the option to download an MP3 file. ABC-CLIO databases cover current Issues, World History, Religions and Wars.

Britannica offers different Reading Levels, Primary Sources and the Web's Best resources when available for a topic.

EBSCO lets users search for Primary Source Documents with the click of a button. Searches can also be limited to results based on Lexile Level. Search results can be saved in a Folder during a search session. 

Once a user perform a search in the Gale databases, results can be narrowed by a number of criteria including Primary Sources. The Advanced Search feature lets users search by Lexile Range. Within articles, clicking on the More button offers users a Highlight and Notes function that saves selections to a Folder. Gale also has an extensive Help section that includes Tip Sheets, Teacher Resources and more. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Create interactive and "awesome" presentations!

With so many new and creative web tools out there, I thought I would mention a couple alternatives to consider for presentations. Both of these tools can be used by teachers and students.

Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool that works within Google Apps. Pear Deck lets students interact with teacher created presentation content using any device that runs Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Questions can range from multiple choice to open ended. So this tool works well as a formative assessment, discussion starter, and more. Currently Pear Deck has a 5 slide limit for the free account*. So it can be used to supplement existing presentations. Or current, shorter presentations can be converted into Pear Deck files.

The Pear Deck Support page explains how to get started along with examples of how it's being used in different subject areas.

Below is a video that shows how Pear Deck works. 

*Nearpod is similar to Pear Deck. Nearpod limits by presentation size rather than number of slides. So longer presentations are possible.

PowToon lets you easily create animated presentations and videos. This tool is an interesting alternative to using PowerPoint, Google Slides or Prezi. 

PowToon offers video tutorials and additional support on their website. It can be used to create introductions to units, instructions for a project or flipping your classroom to name a few examples. 

Below is an introduction to the "awesomeness" of PowToon (created using PowToon). 

As always, these web tools can be found on the RHS media center page on the Web Tools tab under "Present". 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Explore the world!

It's still cold here in the frozen tundra with a bit of snow in the forecast but that doesn't have to stop you and your students from going on a field trip - a virtual field trip! Below are links to sites that can be aligned with your curriculum and will help you bring the world to your classroom. Bon voyage!!!

Panoramio - lets users explore the world using real photos and Google Maps, Panoramio is a Google App

Travel by Drone - another great site for exploring using real photos

GoogleTreks.org - Google Maps and photography are used to create trips, search by grade and subject, includes instructions for creating your own Trek

Learning with iAdventures - an interactive problem solving activity where students determine the outcome of a content-rich story line, search by grade and subject (check links), great idea to try with your own class using Google Sites or Weebly

Inside the White House - interactive tour of the White House, site includes history and additional information, little known fact: you can get in trouble for touching the wall paper in the White House during actual tours...

Google Art Project (Google Cultural Institute) - I've mentioned this site before for exploring museum collections around the world

Google Sky | Moon | Mars - Explore the universe using this site

Google Maps, Treks and Tour Builder - use Google Maps to explore or tell a story

Google Earth - you can download Google Earth to your computer, there are also apps for Apple and Android devices, Google Maps can be used on Chromebooks

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Just a quick post today about InstaGrok. InstaGrok is a visual search tool that returns results in the form of an interactive concept map (a Grok). InstaGrok is free to use. But if you sign up for a free account, Groks can be customized and shared as well. 

One of the best features is that the results are much more education based then a typical web search and the site is ad free. The linked website sources open in a window that minimizes ads as well.

Here's a quick description and summary from Edshelf. One update - there's now an Android app along with the others listed.

Below is a "Grok" of a search I did on digital citizenship. In the window that opens, click on the various source types (Key Facts, Websites, Videos, etc.) or select one of the other concepts shown in yellow.

Try it out and start Grokking today!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Magical Beginnings and Endings

I really appreciated the article The eight minutes that matter most & how to make them magical by Brian Sztabnik posted in Edutopia. It's about creating meaningful beginnings (activating prior knowledge, building anticipation, setting learning targets) and endings (checking for understanding). 

Source: "The eight minutes that matter most", Edutopia 1.5.15

I immediately started thinking about tools that could be used with this author's ideas. Below are some that came to mind. Here's to a magical 2015!


1) "Trend with YouTube"

YouTube EDU is described as a "global video classroom" bringing learners and educators together. Here's a bit more information about this resource

3) "Cross disciplines"
Check out Art Project - Google Cultural Institute if you're interested in the author's idea of starting with a painting. This site gives users access to collections all over the world.


1) "Level Up", 2) "Exit Tickets", 3) "Mimic Social Media", 4) "Post-it Power"

Kahoot! - "game-based classroom response system" using mobile devices including mobile phones


Padlet - where students can post their feedback online (web-based), could also be used to "Start With Good News"

Plickers - great way to collect formative data without student devices, you need an IOS or Android phone, very cool

Polleverywhere - students can give real-time responses using mobile phones, Twitter or the web

Socrative - a free, comprehensive assessment tool that can be used with any device

TodaysMeet - private, online discussion forum (web-based)

Monday, November 10, 2014

There's an app, extension, add-on for that...

Google continues to add tools for users. Some you may already know. Others are a bit newer. Follow the links below for additional information. Keep in mind that these tools may be available for Apple and Android devices. Check iTunes and Google Play respectively. For a good explanation of all these different resources, read this article from Using Technology Better: Google Chrome Web Apps for Teachers and Students.

Hopefully you will find a tool or two to try within these resources. Please use the comment feature of this blog (at the bottom of this post) to add any that you think will be useful in the classroom.

Apps - a suite of web based tools for education and business. They're apps that are created by Google. Some to try include Blogger, which I'm using for this blog, You Tube, Panoramio, Maps, etc. You can find more information here.

Chrome Web Apps are web based programs. So there's no software to load. They are created by 3rd party developers and can be found in the Chrome Web Apps Store. Click here for information on recommendations and about other ways to access them. A few to try are:

Classdojo: Give positive feedback to your students while keeping track of valuable behavior data. 

Kaizena: Add voice comments in Google Drive.

Blendspace: Blend digital content into your classroom.

Diigo: Diigo is a social bookmarking site. Diigo lets you add and access bookmarks from anywhere. You can also add tags for easier organization. I've been using it for quite a while, which means it shouldn't be going away any time soon.

Evernote: Evernote lets you store your notes in the cloud. It has many other features such as clipping web images, saving photos, attaching audio recordings and more. Evernote has also had staying power. 

WeVideo: Video editing program with many features. Users can choose their level of expertise. Videos can easily be transferred to other social sites such as You Tube. One note, individual video files can't be downloaded. You will definitely be working in the cloud.

Easybib: Online citation program that includes note taking and research tools.

Extensions add extra features and functions to Chrome. Some work with existing Chrome Web Apps. Others are standalone items. Click here for more information. Below are some examples:

1-click timer: This timer plays mellow music when it goes off. Much nicer than a buzzing sound...

Save to Google Drive: Save web content or screen captures directly to Google Drive.

Panic Button: Keep in mind that there are also tools out there for... let's just say interesting purposes. One example is Panic Button. This extension allows a user to close all tabs at once and then open them later. Hmmm...

Add-ons (formerly known as Scripts) give you more functionality in Google Docs and Sheets. You can find information about Add-ons and how to get them by clicking here. Below are some suggestions:

Turn a bulleted list into a visual mind map. 

You can already create a table of contents in Google Docs. However, the table of contents is located at the top of the page. This add-on creates a table of contents that's located in the sidebar. 

Use this add-on to find forms for resumes, calendars and lists for example. There's even a section for teachers and students.

flubaroo is an add-on specifically for sheets. It's another tool that's been around for a while. "Flubaroo is a free tool that helps you quickly grade multiple choice or fill-in-blank assignments."

Doctopus Add-on with Goobric Extension is another add-on specifically for sheets. "Doctopus makes it easy for teachers to share, organize, and assess student work in Google Drive". Goobric adds "rubric grading functionality".

Friday, April 18, 2014

Content Curation

As the article linked later in this post suggests, there are many terms that have surfaced in the field of education. There is one term that I would like to focus on in this entry: content curation

Entering "definition of content curation" into the Google search box, I get the following result:

"The process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme."

Source: Content Curation Primer - Beth's Blog

In the article Understanding Content Curation the author discusses the difference between collecting information and curating. She includes an excellent graphic that compares the two concepts.

Souce: Understanding Content Curation by Nancy White
Innovations in Education - Reflections on Learning

She goes on to say that rather than just classifying information, the curator must use higher level thinking skills in order to organize the content in a meaningful way. Taking this idea a step further, content curation can become an educational and informative intermediate step in the research process for students. It can help them to better select and understand the resources that are the best fit for their end product.

So in this post I'm sharing Web 2.0 tools that can be used by both teachers and students for curating the vast amount of information out there.

Blendspace: The website touts "create lessons in 5 minutes". Better yet, have students create their own resources, reviews, and more. With teacher created blendspaces, you can add assessments and track student progress. Click on the Gallery link on the toolbar for examples. There's also a Teacher Resources link. Content is available on any device with an Internet connection.

LiveBinders offers an easy way to organize a lot of information. Click here to see a really interesting example of how a teacher used LiveBinders for his classroom. LiveBinders has apps for IOS, Android and Chrome.

Pearltrees is described as "a place to collect, organize and share everything you like". Click here for an example on the subject of chemistry. The blue circles (example shown to the right) indicate embedded Pearltrees. This tool has apps for IOS and Android.

Pinterest: You most likely have heard of Pinterest, and maybe you've done some pinning of your own. Click here for a board on Pinterest for Teachers. I have not quite gotten the knack of pinning, but obviously many people have. 

Scoop.it! lets users quickly curate web content into a visual, online publication. You may have noticed in the article above that the author created a Scoop.it! on Curating Learning Resources. Scoop.it! has apps for many devices and programs.

Storify: With Storify, you use the web to tell a story. Content can be from just about any source - Twitter, videos, images, links, text and more. Users can also add their own content or narrative. Take the tour to learn more. Check out this Storify on using this tool in a journalism class. 

A number of these sites have "bookmarklets" (sometimes other terms are used). A bookmarklet is a small software application. Typically it adds a button to your browser that will allow you to quickly add content from the current web page to a specific application. This option is very handy when curating web content.