Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Class Parrot

Over the summer, I subscribed to a service that would allow me to keep parents up to date via text messaging. To my dismay, I learned that many of my parents were not receiving the benefits of the text messages based on the type of mobile carrier.  While I am glad that the service provided many benefits, I knew that I didn't want parents to miss out on obtaining information relative to my physical science class.

Now, there is a reason why I love Twitter! After creating my own PLN (personal learning network), I have come across many great resources to support educational technology in my own classroom.  On two different occasions, I received tweets to check out Class Parrot.  I added the tweet to my favorites in case it would come in handy.  Well guess what? It recently did.

Class Parrot is a web service (currently in beta) that provides teachers with 500 credits at start-up (and 200 more every 30 days) to send messages to parents and students.  In addition to sending messages, you can create polls, check your history, review your members list, and adjust your preferences.  Class Parrot also allows teachers to set up more than one class in the event that different information must be conveyed to different groups/subjects.  I love options!  Another great feature of Class Parrot is the ability to provide two-way communication between teachers and students or parents.

How am I using Class Parrot in my science class?
1. Remind parents/students of upcoming due dates, team/school events, and more.
2. Send out trivia questions for drawings.

I am quite excited about the potential of this new resource in my classroom.  How will you use Class Parrot?

Continuing my journey...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oh Don't Forget!

Towards the end of the last school year, I happened to come across a really neat website that I thought would be quite useful for my students.  If you haven't heard of Oh Don't Forget before, then let me introduce you to a wonderful tool.  Like the website states, it allows you to create scheduled text messages that are FREE to remind you of things you can't afford to forget.  I can recall the number of times I would cringe to the phrase, "I forgot that it was due today." After testing the simple-to-use website a few times, I realized the educational technological benefit this resource could play in my classroom.  Now, I am sharing it will fellow teachers to share with their students. 

Here's what you do:
1. Type in your phone number. (Don't worry it won't store your infomration.)
2. Type in the date and time that you'd like the reminder. (Caution: The reminder text has to be set for more than an hour into the future!)
3. Type the reminder message. This is what you will see when your phone alerts you.
4. Click create and you're done!

This would be a great tool to share with students and parents!

Music in the Classroom...Thanks RCA!

Somehow the sound of music has been absent in my classroom since I left the high school arena.  As I think back, I am not really sure why that was one component I didn't keep in my middle school classroom.  However, I found a renewed interest after visiting the Ron Clark Academy two weeks ago.  I saw the power of music in more than one content area and the impact it played on student learning and school culture.  I became excited that I decided to get straight to work that same night on finding ways to incorporate music once again.

Prior to teaching in middle school, I used songs like "Mission Impossible" and the Jeopardy Theme song to increase a sense of urgency in completing missions or time to answer game questions.  Was it because I transitioned from teaching high school social studies to middle school science why I couldn't figure out how to make it work? I am not really sure, but not being sure isn't a good enough reason to continue to ignore the benefits of music in the classroom.

In about another week, my eighth graders will embark on the Energy Unit. So I pulled the main concept, conducted an internet search, and found some really great music resources.  However, while the lyrics would do the job, I knew my students wouldn't get into the elementary tunes.  So what did I do? I did like the folks at RCA and found a song that was on the radio (which is hard if you don't listen to the same music as your students) that students liked (thanks to my daughter).  I realized the song was a bit longer than the lyrics I found online so I had to get creative and come up with a new verse and a bridge.

Now it was time to build interest among the students on the team.  I got the buzz going around that we were going to do something cool and that Ms. Prince was going to share a rap with the team on Energy.  I had students who jumped at the opportunity to help me put it together and even wanted to put a few moves to it.  While I don't have the flexibility to take my students and do some of the great things I witnessed at the RCA, I am hoping that our music debut will open up some doors for us and show the potential of music to our administration and school community.

I hope to revisit this topic in a few weeks to share the impact music played in my classroom learning environment.

Until then, keep a song in your heart (and your classroom)!

Keeping on my journey...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Video Assessment Probes

Over the weekend, I came across the YouTube Channel for MAXclassroom, and saw a wonderful way to integrate technology for students in a math class. Immediately I thought that this was something that I could replicate in my science classroom. I am always looking for ways to assess how much my students are learning, and when you are able to combine technology and assessment great things happen! After trial and error, I finally have the final product (see below).

Now how was I able to do this? 1. I chose a video from SchoolTube, but Vimeo, TeacherTube, YouTube, or wherever you can get an embed code will work. 2. I created the assessment through the Forms feature of Google Docs. 3. After saving the form, I opened the spreadsheet, click the form and embed form in webpage options. 4. To have the video and text side by side, use the following code

<table><tr><td>PASTE TEXT HERE</td><td>PASTE VIDEO CODE HERE</td></tr></table>

BUT to have the video and text in a vertical position, just place the codes in the posting window in the order that you want each to appear. Please keep in mind that minor adjustments may need to be made to the width and height depending of your class website or blog. I would love to hear how YOU could use a tool like this in your classroom! Continuing my journey...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Quality Work Wall

I have been back in the classroom for the last six weeks and it is great to know that I am still fired up about my students' daily experiences. This year I have tried a few new twists to each lesson. If you walked into my room, you would find all the characteristics of a standards-based classroom. However, just making sure that my class has all these characteristics isn't enough. It is one thing for me to understand what a standards-based classroom is, but what about my students. Shouldn't we expect our kids to know what it is too? Too often we throw out new buzz words and never really consider keeping our kids in the loop. I mean, do your students really know what the NCLB Act means for them? After spending the last couple of days grading assignments from Choice Boards and Learning Contracts, one thing was definitely consistent. I made a mistake! I assumed that my clearly written directions would provide students with what they needed to know in terms of presenting a final piece that was filled with effort and high quality. I was wrong. My expectations were not clear for them. Of course, I can sit here and say that they should know what quality work is because they had to turn in writing assignments, artwork, and other products in other classes before. However, something that might have been acceptable for 7th grade may not be considered acceptable in 8th grade in terms of quality. My students could have just thought that since work was turned in one way in another class, it would be acceptable in mine. While this could lead into a new blog on teachers' perspectives on quality work, I will leave that for another day. In my reflection over my students' work this week, I have decided that I want to go beyond just showing one student exemplar for a specific task. Instead, I would like to create a QUALITY WORK WALL that show student samples of various types of activities that are done throughout the year in my science class. Students really need to see what it takes to submit different kinds of assignments, but assignments with the same level of effort and quality. Now, just posting work on the board will not do, nor will posting work with direct feedback be as effective. I want to take things a bit further. I envision a Quality Work Wall that is comprised of quality work that meets/exceed standards, has specific feedback, AND incorporates annotations filled with specific characteristics that must be obvious in student work. I think this will help set the tone for what I expect to see in student work. How will this go over? My hopes is to implement this as soon as we return to school next week and document the changes that I notice in quality and effort down the road. What about you? Are your students clear on your expectations for your class assignments? Do they understand what quality and effort mean for you and what it should mean to them? I encourage you to reassess your student exemplar wall or create one if your room is lacking in one today. ...the journey of a science teacher

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Linking Things with ThingLink

Well it has been awhile since my last post, but I am back with a new tool that has great potential in any classroom.  If you haven't heard of ThingLink before that be prepared to read about what is has to offer your class!  Initially, when I started sharing photos with my parents I would upload pictures and then write a huge blurb to go along with each one.  With ThingLink all I need to do is upload a picture file and click anywhere on the picture to add text, links, audio, or video.  In a science classroom, it is always helpful for parents to see what their kids are not just learning, but experiencing in class. @AuntyTech brought ThingLink to my attention and has even created a blog post on how ThingLink can be used in schools. For additional ideas, try this link.

Here an example of how I am using ThingLink

Application in Science
1. Lab Photos - If students miss a lab they can use photos to follow steps .
2. Voicethread? - Well, it might require a few extra steps to be like the real thing, but students could create mini-podcasts and attach these podcasts to a matching picture on a concept.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is Student Motivation in a Science Classroom Possible?

With each year, I have to really think about how to grabbed student attention and increase motivation levels.  In elementary schools, you have bear or color systems that seem to keep the little ones in line and task completion possible.  Once you enter the world of middle school somehow motivation really changes.  You really can't get your students to enjoy science without finding reasons that make science relevant to them.  I find that as one way to help increase motivation in class, but once we increase motivation how do we sustain it all year long.  Maybe it's time for teachers to share ideas of what works in the science classroom.  So I am going to put down the books and the research articles for now and starting asking my fellow science teachers about what works.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Information in a Cinch

This year, I have a great variety of students and with that comes a variety of learning styles.  When incorporating technology I want to make sure I am not just tailoring technology for my visual and verbal students alone.  I must provide something for my audio learners as well.

Over the summer, I came across Cinch, which is a website where you can record audio and post to share later.  I really like how it allows for individuals (in this case, my students) to follow and reply to podcasts.  I decided that I wanted to upload the widget to my classroom site so that my students could HEAR information.

I already can see that countless ways that Cinch can be used in the classroom:
1. share directions on assignments
2. record lectures
3. share student discussions on a group activity
4. share homework/project information

How can you use Cinch in your classroom?  Well, here's my sample of Cinch.  I hope to let you know how it turns out in my classroom.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Breadth vs. Depth

As I look over the last several years of teaching in the classroom, I always wonder if I was able to make a difference in the lives of my students.  Did they take anything from my class?  Had they met or exceeded my expectations?  Were they thoroughly prepared for science in high school?  I consider self-reflection a key characteristic of professional growth.  One thing I find that doesn't help self-reflection for the purposes of perfecting your skill is placing blame on other teachers and grade levels.  This won't be one of those conversations.  Instead, I want to revisit this idea of breadth versus depth in science education and address its impact on our students.

Each year students go over the scientific method.  The idea is that if they memorize the steps that they are sure to remember it for next year, right? WRONG! In fact, taking this approach is quite a disservice to our students.  I understand that there may be times that we are trying to keep up with pacing guides and curriculum maps, but why sacrifice depth for breadth?  The only thing breadth of content is good for is ensuring that students will ask you, "Ms., How does that go again?"  Breadth doesn't support critical thinking and application skills.  

If we want our students to understand the scientific process, we must make the time to go IN DEPTH from the very beginning.  We need to help students analyze each step and apply each step to different situations.  We need to provide our students with more opportunities for discovery and exploration and stop feeding them all the information.  THIS IS A DISSERVICE TO THEM.  I don't have time to point fingers at anyone else to felt breadth was more important the depth, but instead this is a great learning moment for me to capitalize on.  I want my students to delve into the inquiry process and not limit them by a pacing guide that tells me how long I need to address a topic.  A pacing guide doesn't serve learners' needs.  

What do you want your students to leave with when they move on to the next grade level.  For me, I want them to love and understand the scientific process.  For this to happen, I must want them to do more than just memorize steps. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back 2 School

While many of you are still enjoying your breaks, some of us have returned to school.  Over this past summer, I have done my research on technology in the science classroom and found so many tools I wanted to use to enhance learning.  You can imagine the frustration that occurred when over 90% of the sites were blocked.  Although disappointed, I realize that this is only a minor obstacle.  It doesn't stop me from using technology, but forces me to be a bit more creative.  Technology doesn't define my classroom and shouldn't yours.  Instead we must look at technology as a vehicle to support learning.  Learning should occur through technology.  I am not sure what obstacles you might find as you integrate technology.  Don't become frustrated or disappointed by what you can't use.  Instead just get more creative!  I want to wish everyone a wonderful year teaching science.  My journey begins here.  As I stated before, the purpose of this blog is to share my experiences teaching middle school science with other educators.  I hope that my experiences this year are an inspiration for you and your classrooms.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Animoto for Education

Today marks Day 3 of Preplanning and I am excited that school is about to start.  Of course, there are so many ideas running through my head about what to teach and how to teach.  However, I am also thinking about setting the tone for my class and giving parents and students an idea of what to expect.  For that, I turned to Animoto for Education.  Because Open House is this evening I wanted to put something together for my new families so that they can see that science plays a role in daily life.  Animoto is a great presentation tool for sharing music, videos, images, and text.  Once you put together the presentation, it can be shared or embedded on a number of websites.  Here's the first of two presentations that I have made already:

Application in Science:
1. Let students take pictures during an experiment, share them on class blog.
2. Create presentations on a topic or concept (teacher or student created).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sharing with Stupeflix

Stupeflix is an online tool that you or your students can use to create videos. Similar to Windows Movie Maker, you can add images, audio, and title slides. The greatest advantage is that I find Stupeflix much easier to use than Movie Maker. The only setback is that you don’t get much for free; however, this will definitely help students learn how to summarize visual presentations by extracting the essentials to present ideas, concepts, stories, summaries, and so forth. Below is an example of my former students’ hurricane house project.

Application in Science
1. Photos demonstrating the science process during labs
2. Gathering and sharing visual data from labs
3. Photos of Parent Night, Open House, Science Night

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Beautiful Answer Garden

In an age of formative and summative assessments, teachers always need ways to gather data to drive instruction. Now I may not have a green thumb, but I have found one garden that even I can create and use to enhance learning and assessment techniques. Answer Garden is such a great and easy tool to use to gather snapshots of information. It is flexible enough to use before, during, or after a lesson. To create a garden follow these easy steps:

1. Type a task or question into the topic box.
2. Determine if you want to gather unlimited answers.
3. Create an admin password (for editing purposes).
4. Include an email to receive the password and link.
5. Click create.
6. Check your email; copy and paste the link to your website. You can also choose to share or embed.

Here is what an Answer Garden BEFORE it starts to bloom with answers.

Share one thing you've learned about renewable energy.... at

1. No login required
2. Very easy to integrate
3. Provides quick feedback to drive the direction of instruction

Applications in Science:
1. Gather information on prior background knowledge on science concepts (erosion, geocentrism, motion, etc.)
2. Share the link on a social network to crowdsource responses outside of classroom on a topic so students can see outside perspectives.
3. Use as an exit slip after a lecture.
4. Use during a lesson as a Think-Post-Share.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Awesome Highlighter

With the NCLB cloud hovering over our classrooms we must constantly reflect on how we are helping our exceptional students and non-native speakers.  In our classrooms, we like to use webquests or recommend websites our students should use when conducting research.  We must also provide the necessary scaffolding for students who need it.  Many websites still are not kid-friendly, but with some great technology tools we can make the process easier for our learners.  Have you heard of Awesome Highlighter?  Well it is really easy to use.   Just go to the website and insert the link of the website you want to share with students.  Awesome Highlighter will pull up the page and allow you to begin highlighting the things you want learners to focus on.  Begin selecting the text you want highlighter; once you release the mouse the text will be highlighted. Once you're done selecting the desired text, click Done.  Either post the link onto your class webpage or copy/paste on a student handout.  You also have the option to email the link or share (Twitter, Facebook, Delicious).

Here's my sample link:

Application in Science:
1. Internet research
2. Online notes

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cramberry - A Yummy Way to Study

Do your students need another great way to study? Well, try Cramberry.  You can create online flashcards for free, which is definitely a handy tool for science education.  Students can create flashcards or you can create flashcards for them.  It’s actually quite easy to create a set of cards. 
1. Login to Cramberry.
2. Create a title for set.
3. Decide if anyone can use and edit the set of cards.
4. Create set.
5. Type in information for the front and back of your cards.  (You have an option to create your own backmatter or take from the premade options.)
6. Click Finish.
7. Review your set, then select Study Now or Export.
8. Share the URL with student.  Here’s my quick sample:
Your sets can be tweeted or liked.  However, the greatest feature is that students can type in answer and do a self-check.  There is no time limit so students can review words until they are satisfied.  

Application to Science:
1. Create a set of cards for building academic vocabulary.


Can you remember waiting for the Sunday paper so that you could read the comics section? I do and that’s because I loved the characters and the story lines. The comics grabbed my attention and I looked forward to reading each story. Comics in education can have the same effect as reading the comics at home. GoAnimate4Schools is a great tool for integrating comics into your classroom, especially a science classroom. What are others saying about using comics in education?

“The most frequently mentioned asset of comics as an educational tool is its ability to motivate students.” –Gene Yang
“Introducing comics as a new form of literature will bring their education to the next level.” –Sarah Winifred Searle
“Comics…are an especially effective medium in the context of brain-based teaching, which emphasizes hands-on, manipulative-based activities.” –Nancy Frey

Here is my first GoAnimate4Schools comic strip: Reference Point by Monique Prince

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It's free and fun!

Application in Science:
1. Review big ideas.
2. Address student misconceptions.
3. Demonstrate the scientific process.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Virtual Study Groups with CoboCards

Cobocards is an online flashcard site designed to allow users to create and share flashcards for any subject.  You can create your own flashcards or browse through the available library of premade cards.  Cobocards supports mobile learning because you can access your cards from your iPhone or Android.  Another cool feature is that your flashcards can be printed or exported for students who don’t have access to mobile technology.  This video reviews the basic process:

Applications to Science:
1. Students can work in groups to create flashcards for a current unit of study.
2. Let students provide peer commentary on all student-created flashcards.
3. Create a library of flashcards for your students to retrieve from the class website.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Say Cheese with Twitpic!

Okay so you need a great way to show your parents the type of learning and engagement that’s going on in your classroom and you’re not sure what to use.  I have a great solution for you (and actually for myself, too!).  Now I have been fiddling with Twitter and how to use it in my classroom.  I don’t want to have too many accounts to open and would like to find ways to use one tool for a number of purposes.  I vote for Twitpic for photo and video sharing!  You can sign in with your Twitter account instead of creating another separate account.  I don’t have to upload, save to my computer, and post onto Twitter.  I mean, I could do all those things, but it would just be easier to snap and send with a mobile device.  Twitpic gives users this option via a special email address.  If you want to add a message to the picture, just add it to the subject line and hit, send.  That’s it.

Applications in Science:
1. Share lab experiment pictures.
2. Showcase student work.
3. Display solutions to practice problems.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's All About Presenting with Knovio

Okay teachers, are you ready for this?  There is a new technology resource in the #edtech world called Knovio, and I think it is one that we are really going to like.  Have you ever wanted to create one of those presentations where you are on one side of the screen and your presentation is smoothly transitioning on the other side?  Well, Knovio is here to make your dream come true.  Recently, I signed up for an invitation to use Knovio as it is still in private beta form.  Why do I like Knovio already? Here’s why:
  • ·         Free
  • ·         Can upload custom PowerPoint presentations
  • ·         Only requires a webcam and microphone
  • ·         Sharing capabilities

Applications for a science classroom:
·         Find already prepared presentations and add video.  Post links to classroom website for students to access in their own time.
·         Teachers or students can create tutorials to share (Perhaps, a whiteboard might come in handy as well).
Visit Knovio’s website today and request your private invitation now!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Weebly for Education

I really need to thank the presenters who shared their presentations online for those of us that wanted to review the information again or for those of us that didn't get the opportunity to attend ISTE 2011.  For the last few years, I have danced around the idea of student portfolios.  For the last two years, I have tried to make portfolios commonplace as I continually try to expand on my efforts from the previous year.  This year will be no different in my mission, but will take on a new twist.  This year I want to try using ePortfolios.  Now, I have researched this topic actively and had taken notes of great ideas. Dr. H. Barrett has a plethora of information on portfolio development on her blog.  After looking at her contributions I decided to try one resource for a sample ePortfolio that I could share with students.

Weebly for Education
Weebly is a free, interactive website and blog development tool.  No HTML coding is necessary for this website as everything is drag-and-drop.  If you choose to create a regular Weebly account, you won't be able to get student accounts.  However, Weebly for Education provides you with up to 40 student accounts free.  There are a variety of neat features that students can use, but to include some tools requires a premium account. (However, I think you can get around some of this if you are familiar with HTML coding).  Once you create a school account students will be able to access their accounts from here. Students will input the account information provided to them and can get started using their new ePortfolio accounts.  The best feature is that I can check how often students are updating their sites.

Check out my first Weebly website.

Application for Science?
1. Create an ePortfolio for the school year in science class.  The portfolio should contain a section for showcasing work and another section that shows learning progress.  Incorporate a blog of frequent reflection on learning within each student page.

Why not try Weebly for Education today!

Friday, July 1, 2011

10 Ways on How to Make Your Classroom Website Interactive

As I look back over the last school year, I remember the first time I decided to make my own classroom website.  It was October 2010 when I sat with other educators listening to our administration share with us the importance of good communication with parents.  The minute we were asked to update our school pages, my face looked as though I just swallowed lemon juice straight from the fruit itself.  One million thoughts ran through my head as to why I didn't want to use the website provided by the county.  Finally, I asked if I could have the option of using a different source to keep in contact with parents.  It was that day that technology in education had a new meaning for me. 

First things first, I needed to find out what makes a class web page great.  Better yet, I wanted to find ways to also attract the students to it as well.  While there are so many blog platform options out there, I chose to go with Google Blogger because of the ease of use.  Now my search led me to sites at different grade levels and content areas.  I jotted down my observations, learned about HTML coding, and more.  Today, I have a personal blog, one for my parents, and one for my students.  Each blog page has features for the target audience.  Notice that I did say features because let's face it, no one just wants to read words all the time, especially our students. 

So what are the best features for making a classroom learning website more interactive?  I may not be the guru on this, but I can definitely say that the responses my students have shared about my web pages say that I am on the right track!

Here is a list that covers the mere basics for interactivity. Got your pen?

1. Polls - Students like to vote on how they learn best, what technology they'd like to use for an upcoming project, or interests. This is a quick way to gather up information when designing a lesson. (Flisti, SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Poll Everywhere, Poll Daddy)

2. Quizzes - I like to add these when I start a new unit or when I want to provide students with an additional study resource. I like the online options that let students see their results after they've completed the quiz.  This way they are able to return to class the next day and tell you what they still need help in specifically rather than give you the "deer stare" when you ask. (Quibblo, Flashcards)

3. Video Conferencing - For some students, helping via email is sufficient. However, others might still require additional visual assistance. Set a regular time and day where students can meet you online for after hours support.  (Wetoku, Tokbox)

4. Links - Everyone loves links! While sharing information, hyperlink sites throughout the text so that students may visit those sites to gather valuable information.  Some tools like Snapshots will allow users to preview a website before clicking on it or even allow them to stay on your page and view the link right then and there. (Snap)

5. Videos - Whether the videos are teacher-created, student-created, or just embedded from some other source, they can play a valuable role in learning. (Youtube, Schooltube, Teachertube, Vimeo, Fliqz, Flow Player)

6. QR Codes - QR codes are on video games, plants in the gardening section, and your toothpaste, so why not on your website! Create a vCard, which is an electronic business card, so that parents and students can have your school contact information within thumb reach. (Kaywa)

7. Audio - Students love to listen to themselves, especially in middle school.  Share their discoveries through podcast recordings embedded on the class page.  You can also embed a text-to-speech podcast on your website so that students have the option of listening to the text while reading it.  (Podomatic, Audioboo, Cinch, AudioPal, Odiogo, iSpeech, Yakitome)

8. Photo Albums - Share student work. Need I say more? (Picasa, Flickr, Piknik, Photobucket, Slide)

9. Comments - Whether you do all the blogging or your students share in the effort, having a way for continuous dialogue to occur is essential.  There are many tools out there to keep discussions going, feature top commenters, and so on.  We all need a way to keep are kids reading! (Disqus)

10. Chats - While comment features and video-conferencing options are available, sometimes all our students need is some chatting in real-time.  I have the same recommendations for chat boards as that for commenting and video-conferencing.  Some chat tools will allow you to say discussion for archiving, while most do not.  You be the judge on what will meet the needs of your students best. (Tweetchat, Meebo)

Enjoy making your classroom learning website INTERACTIVE!


Let me introduce you to two great ideas: Augmented Reality and Daqri.

Augmented reality (AR) occurs when a link is made between technology and the physical world. We've seen it in the movies, all over Youtube, and now the iPads. Daqri is one product that allows you to mix your reality with AR by using QR codes. Well what happens when augmented reality and Daqri collide? You get a WOW experience in the classroom! Daqri is a new tech tool that can be use to enhance classroom lessons. Can you think of a lesson that students generally struggle with year to year and you're just searching for a way to improve their experience? Daqri is one way to go! Since Daqri is in beta mode you will still need to request for an account. Once you get your account, you can add video, images, audio, text, PDFs, and 3D objects into a bar code. You can send the bar code to students in a number of ways or you can provide it to them through handouts or presentations.

I wanted to play around with this tool to see just how easy it would be to set up and to use. I must say that I am really impressed. Here's my first Daqri (somewhat related to science).

Application in science?
1. Create a guided reading activity and post a copy of the Daqri QR code for students to scan on mobile technology. (Please encourage your students to bring their own headsets if you add audio/video resources.) Provide cues for when to use the code.

2. Create a nature activity. Kids love outdoor classrooms.  As they observe something, have QR Codes posted for them to gather additional information about tasks and more.

3. Enrichment support is also a good idea. Perhaps videos on how to use science/math formulas for calculating density, speed, pressure, and mechanical advantage.

I did touch base with @daqri (Twitter) for some technical advice for 3D objects and they were very helpful.  So in case you have issues with this resource don't hesitate to contact them.

How can you use Daqri in your classroom?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Science in a Cinch!

Over the last few days, I have been catching up on the presentations and listening to the keynote speakers for the ISTE 2011 Conference in Pennsylvania. I learned so much about learning THROUGH technology from speakers like Nancye Blair (@engagingedu), C. Briner, Bob Greenberg, and of course my #ISTE11 tweeters (@AuntyTech, @web20classroom)! Unfortunately, I missed the last keynote for the session. After checking out my last tweets, and I must say I can always count on @AuntyTech to come through. One of her tweets shared a link to the final keynote address (see below) and I was able to hear what I thought I originally missed out on. While on the Cinchcast website (still in beta mode), I listened to the speech and also made time to check out what the site had to offer. Of course you know I had to find an educational twist for integration of this website into a science classroom.

(A BIG THANKS to Wesley Fryer for Cinch-ing this presentation!)
It’s always nice to document evidence of learning from inquiry-based activities. It’s even nicer if you’re able to record and share those learning moments later on. Cinch is the right tool for the task. Cinch allows you to record and share audio on the web. It provides three ways to create an account, capture audio, and share on your webpage. Boy, do I love having options! After creating a recording, you can edit to add an image and title of your audio clip.
How can I use this tool in a science classroom?
1. As students are engaged in a discovery activity, walk around asking questions, recording along the way.
2. Record key terms for a new unit.
3. Conduct interviews.
4. Record observation notes.
5. Record students teaching each other.
Can I just say the possibilities are endless?
The nicest piece is that your students can return to your podcasts and listen to them time and time again.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I have been thinking of ways to increase engagement in my science class. I am convinced that the only way to get middle school students to enjoy physical science the way they do earth and life science is to immerse them with rich and innovative experiences. In my quest to find new and exciting things, I came across Blabberize. Blabberize allows you to bring life to objects in pictures. I highly recommend taking pictures of your pets for this one! Let’s take a quick trip to Blabberize and learn how easy it is to create one. For this activity, you need to have your picture library full of picture options you’d like to animate. You will also need to make sure that you have a working microphone. Here we go!
1. Go to Blabberize.
2. Select Make, then Upload a picture.
3. Crop the picture.
4. Place the mouth bubble over the mouth and adjust the settings so that the markers are evenly placed around the mouth. The largest green mark should be moved closer to the mouth for humans than for animals.
5. Add audio.
6. Preview and save. If you haven’t already created an account, you will be directed to do so before you can save.
You have two options after you save your product. You can share the link, or embed into your web site.

1. Students can find pictures related to a vocabulary word, add audio explaining or describing the meaning of the word.

2. Create a blabberized photo to start a new unit.

3. When you return to your library, all of your pictures have an option to turn them into videos, which could be very useful. Take all pictures on a topic, create a video for students to reference anytime.

More Information:


Let me first thank @AuntyTech for sharing such a great web tool.  After playing with the web site I just had to share my ideas with you on its applicability in a science classroom.  Elementary teachers this is definitely a handy tool for your little learners!  Buncholinks is exactly what the website claims: a better way to share a BUNCH of links!  For today’s example, I decided to focus on Life Science resources. Instead of posting a bunch of websites on my blog or on a handout for my students like this:
I can access my Buncholinks account and follow the next steps for sharing with my students.
1. Copy and paste my preferred links into the box on the right of the Buncholinks website.
* Remember you can only have one website link per line.
2. Select Build a Bunch!
3. Create a name for your bunch.
4. Select the edit button to give each link a note or title.
5. Locate the Share with Friends link at the bottom of the page.  Copy and paste to your website or type on class handout.
6. Select continue to your bunch.
Click here, to see my Life Science Buncholinks
Another great feature of this website is the widget tool.  If you’d like to keep your bunch of links in one easy to find place then I recommend this feature. 
Applications in any science class:
1. Create a list of websites for students to analyze.  Have students write comments on the reliability of the information for each website.  Students may or may not post their first name with the comment, but it depends on objectives for the lesson.  Example: Create links to claims and have students analyze websites for evidence supporting claims and write their comments for each link.
2. Provide students with a list of acceptable websites they may use for a project.
I would love to hear your ideas for the potential of this website in your classrooms.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

PhotoPeach Your Science Class

Need a way to share science work digitally?  Look no further because Photo Peach is here to rescue you! Photo Peach is a very simple site that allows you to upload photos and post to a blog account.  You can accomplish this in six easy steps.

1. Go to Photo Peach and create an account.
2. Upload pics from your own library, Facebook, or Picasa.
3. Add music (or not).
4. Click Finish.
5. Scroll over the final masterpiece to locate the embed code (pencil icon).
6. Choose one of the two codes for your blog.

I have created one to show you what the final product will look like on your class blog page.  There is one thing to point out.  Your picture shows remain private UNTIL you decide to post them to a blog. You will get a notice that reminds you of this fact. 

Signs of the Times Museum on Photo Peach

How can we use this application in science?  At the beginning of the year, I always go through the safety procedures as all science teachers should do.  One activity includes students creating posters of lab situations, which must incorporate an experiment with relevant rules and symbols.  It would be nice to share all the pictures my students put together. 

Friday, June 24, 2011


Hello Readers,
I have a brand new podcast that I am excited to share with you! If you go to my Odiogo page and click Subscribe you can listen to my blogs on-to-go with your iPods or mp3 players.  You will find my page at

Of course, I should tell you how a feature like this could support DIFFERENTIATION with educational technology.  Learners have the option to read or listen to blog posts, which is especially great for my audio learners. 

Other sites similar to Odiogo include:

Add one to your blog today!


As a mother, teacher, and doctoral learner it is not always ideal to schedule face-to-face meetings with my teams. Sometimes it is just easier to hold a conference call. However, when one of my teams decided we needed to have a virtual meeting, I thought it would be an opportuned time to use TodaysMeet. TodaysMeet is a website that allows you to chat with anyone with a link to your chatroom. The conversations are in real time so there is no need to step away from the computer and wait hours for someone to respond. TodaysMeet is actually quite simple to use if you follow these instructions:

1. Go to
2. Create a unique room name.
3. Choose how long you want to room to remain open.
4. Select create your room.
5. Enter the room, type your name, and select Join.

Once you and your team determine a time to meet, log in and "speak" away! A really nice feature of TodaysMeet is the transcript option. Let's say you couldn't remember a response someone provided in the chat room. You can always go back to the room (provided it hasn't closed) and create a transcript of the entire dialogue. Isn't that awesome!

Ideas for a science classroom:
1. Backchannel for student questions during a presentation.
2. Virtual conference rooms to log group project discussions.
3. A place where school administrators can join classroom discussion, answer, and ask student questions.
4. Use to build science academic vocabulary.

The possibilities are endless! How do you TodaysMeet in your classroom?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


A binder for this and a binder for that.  If you are like me, then you have loads of binders that store great lessons, research articles, student exemplars and more.  There must be a better way to store my information.  Guess what? There is a better way!  Let me introduce you to Livebinders, where you can store digital information in a virtual binder.  You can upload pictures, graphs, diagrams, notes, audio, video, websites, games, and more.  I came across live binders around February of this year and was just amazed with the information people had already put together to share with the world.  Before long, I have created at least 10 binders.  Livebinders can be public or private--the choice is yours.  However if you choose to make any binder private, but still want to share it you must give out the access key.It has  rating and commentary features, which I like quite a bit.  My most favorite aspect of Livebinders is the embedding feature.  Why ramble on when I can just show you? Here is my first livebinder, which recently hit 1000 views. (Yea!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

VodPod: Using Videos to Support Science Instruction

For the last couple of years, I have tried to steer away from videos in the classroom mainly because of what I see when I pass by other classrooms.  However, I am seeing more and more ways that teachers are effectively using videos to support instruction in science classrooms.  Let’s face it: It’s no run in the park to see students sleeping, drawing, and passing notes during a video right as an administrator is walking by your room.  How can we—as science teachers—get our students to appreciate videos when we integrate them into the lesson?  One educator talks about the importance of previewing video clips and creating video questions. The National Center for Technology Innovation (2010) addresses the relationship between video technology supporting literacy in science.  Of course, I am sure there is more literature for video integration in science classrooms, but I want to leave you something to search more on! 

Well, I found Vodpod, which is a site that allows you to take all your favorite videos and place them in one library.  You can upload from YouTube, Teachertube, Schooltube (use the old url code for this one) to name just a few.  My favorite feature is the ability to add a Vodpod widget to my blog page for my students to check out videos that support topics we are covering in class.  The advantage of such a feature to your teacher website is that it doesn’t limit you to just sharing videos during the school hours.  Perhaps, students can be assigned to watch a video and be prepared for classroom discussions on a new topic.  The ideas are limitless when it comes to effectively using videos in science!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Makes Me

Today, I played with a digital tool or digital cube from the What Makes Me website. Last school year, my students had to use paper cubes to answer questions or complete tasks on science topics. The digital cube will allow teachers to ask students to complete tasks, but through digital media! I created one so that I could see its functionality. Then I thought about how I could integrate it into the classroom.

1. Culminating tasks where students create a unit portfolio of their best works and add audio reflecting on their learning.

2. Scavenger hunt for things related to an assigned topic. May include text, audio, pictures, and video.

3. Take and upload pictures demonstrating each phase in a scientific process (math conversion, steps in experiment, etc.).

How to make a digital cube:
1. Select create cube.
2. Choose a category or select to add your own media from the two tab choices.
3. Create a search parameter and select one of the options OR upload your own pictures. (If you don't want a picture you also have the option of typing in text in the bottom box that you'd like to see on the cube.)
4. Add audio or video if you'd like.
5. Click on right or left arrows to turn cube to another side.
6. Click save. (Create an account to edit in the future or just post without the option to edit in the future.)

Overall, this type of tool could have potential in a science classroom.  I wonder if there are other sites out there like this one...

Monday, June 20, 2011


Growing up, I remember sticking speech bubble stickers onto my photos that matched the sentiment of the moment. Today, there's Fotobabble, which will do the same thing only with a tech twist! Now how can this be used in science? Hmmm, great question! Science learners need to be great communicators and Fotobabble gives them an opportunity to practice. Teachers can use photobabble in a few ways. Two options immediately come to mind:

1. Teachers post a photo with commentary prior to beginning a new unit.
2. Allow students to take their own pictures (with their own cameras) of different stages in the experimentation/inquiry process.

Of course, I am excited about the prospects of this tool in my classroom. So how can you create one? Another great question!

First you need an account if you don't already have one. You have the option of signing in with your Facebook account, but that's just an option.

Choose a picture from your personal files or copy/paste a URL with the desired visual.

Choose a background theme for your account. I encourage that you use a plain background to minimize the distractions.

Once the picture is uploaded, you can record, playback, adjust privacy settings, add tags, and finally save your product.

After saving, the URL and embed codes will appear to the right of your picture so that you make upload to your website and share with students.

Of course I had to make one to share with you. I will have to check the recording time that's alloted for each upload. Otherwise, this is a very simple tech tool for your classroom!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flisti Anyone?

Need a quick polling solution to gather data from students prior to a new unit? Search no further, it's Flisti to the rescue.  Flisti allows you to create a poll that you can post on a blog or website.  Teachers and students can see the results of the entire group after they've added their answers.  Try this one below to see how it works:

What do you like to use educational technology to do?

Any other ideas on how to use Flisti in your classroom? Share them now!

Twitter in the Classroom...Hmmm?

Samantha Miller shared 50 ways to integrate Twitter into education.  In an age where we are surrounded by digital media I realize that I am competing for my students' attention.  I don't fancy the lecture approach to instruction, but I do realize that so many still use this method out for comfort or fear of the unknown.  One thing I like about Twitter that sets it apart from Facebook is that I do not need to add people as friends to follow them.  I see friending students on Facebook or other social networking accounts can have devastating effects on one's career.  My advice: Better safe than sorry!  I would love to hear how teachers are using Twitter in specific subject areas at different grade levels.  I recently created my own Twitter account so that I could learn the basics and already see the power of implementation.  After about two months of research, I found TweetChat and Tweetdoc.  Let's say that you wanted to create a discussion with guest speakers on a particular topic. All you need to do is login to TweetChat, include the #hashtag, and begin chatting in REAL TIME!  Tweetdoc allows you to take that chat and create a PDF file so that others who missed the conversation can access the information at another time. Can you imagine how that would help students who missed a day of math instruction or a science experiments? Well, I am excited about the possibilities of tweeting about science with my students. Besides I am already seeing how this will support the 21st century learning objectives in my classroom.  How about you?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spicy Nodes

Teachers love graphic organizers!  So in my quest to find new tools to support my classes this fall, I came across Spicynodes. Spicynodes allows teachers and students to create concept maps for any topic. Many websites want you to create an account before testing the product. Spicynodes is different! You are able to choose your design and see the preview in the window on the right. After clicking continue, you will then get to include text, pictures, and video to create the map. After you view the final map, you can create an account to save your creation. The only way to embed your concept map onto a website or blog page is if you have an account. Below is a really quick sample of of Spicynodes in action. Try it out today! I would love to hear how you can use this tool in your content area. Hit the Disqus button below and let's chat!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oh Don't Forget!

Towards the end of the last school year, I happened to come across a really neat website that I thought would be quite useful for my students.  If you haven't heard of Oh Don't Forget before, then let me introduce you to a wonderful tool.  Like the website states, it allows you to create scheduled text messages that are FREE to remind you of things you can't afford to forget.  I can recall the number of times I would cringe to the phrase, "I forgot that it was due today." After testing the simple-to-use website a few times, I realized the educational technological benefit this resource could play in my classroom.  Now, I am sharing it will fellow teachers to share with their students. 

Here's what you do:
1. Type in your phone number. (Don't worry it won't store your infomration.)
2. Type in the date and time that you'd like the reminder. (Caution: The reminder text has to be set for more than an hour into the future!)
3. Type the reminder message. This is what you will see when your phone alerts you.
4. Click create and you're done!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Power of Reading

I have updated this posting because the original no longer works. In the meantime, enjoy the power of Tubechop. After watching the original clip you will see why this could be a great tool for cutting parts of YouTube videos out.

The Before:

The After:

I don’t know about you, but I am excited about the endless possibilities of using this resource! I would love to hear from you and how you can use this site for your classroom!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Instructional Design Principles and Technology


Gagne, Wager, Golas, and Kellier (2005) asserted that curriculum developers should apply contiguity, repetition, reinforcement, and social-cultural principles of learning to instructional design.  Educational technology does support this process in an effort to make instruction and learning effective.  Regardless of the technological resource, each one can play a significant role in learning and the learning process.  Three innovative, interactive technologies were researched and explored to see how technology can support education in any classroom, but in this case a science classroom.

Instructional Technology 1: Wallwisher

          Wallwisher is an online sticky board where students can generate and share ideas in the form of text, audio, video, and graphics (see demo). Students can post comments with links to support their contributions to the classroom virtual discussion. Educators can use Wallwisher for classroom announcements; brainstorming activities, summarization, and anything else that they would like it to do to support instruction.

Instructional Technology 2: Google Docs

          GoogleDocs is a site that facilitates the sharing of documents for collaboration.  Student and teachers can edit, comment, and publish final drafts for public view.  Google Docs stores documents that are uploaded or created onto the main site.  Additional features include spreadsheets, calendars, and creating forms.  The form feature provides teachers with the ability to create assessments and then analyze the data to make sound decisions about future instruction. 

Instructional Technology 3: Livebinders

          When an educator or student needs a place to store documents and websites, Livebinders provides the venue to do it.  Livebinders is a website that allows students and educators to make a virtual 3-ringed binder to organize and store a variety of information, including video, audio, and graphics.  Binders that are made private can be equipped with an access key for those allowed to view the binder. 

Using These Tools to Make a Lesson

An introduction lesson on science was created to demonstrate how each technological resource could be integrated into a science classroom—of course, any content area will work—without taking away from the purpose of the lesson.  The following chart describes the conceptual, theoretical, or research framework associated with each resource.

Google Docs
Conceptual, Theoretical, or Research Framework
Brainstorming: It supports finding strategies for scaffolding for new information (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 71).

Knowledge-Sharing: Students are likely to retain information in collaborative groups (Ormrod, 2008).

Constructivism: The theory adopts a student-centered authority
approach to subject matter (Johnson, Dupuis, Gollnick, Hall, & Musial, 2008, p. 327).

Social Learning: Kozma (1994) references illustrations of media that merge constructivist and social learning theories when identifying computer-based learning environments and using technology to help solve problems.

Collaboration: Metacognition plays a great role in collaboration (Martinez, 2010).

Communication: The key to a successful student is frequently based on how well he or she communicates with his or her teacher (Moller, 2009) and peers.

Knowledge-Sharing: This is possible with existing technologies because learners can store, process, and apply knowledge via technological resources (Neches, Fikes, Finin, Gruber, Patil, Senator, & Swartout, 1991).

Data Collection: allows teachers to create surveys to gather student information and create meaningful learning targets (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 25)
Digital Information Literacy: “Students will be expected to apply the basics in authentic, integrated ways to solve problems, complete projects, and creatively extend their abilities” (ISTE, 2011).


Gagne, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C., & Kellier, J. M. (2005). Principles of instructional design. Belmont, CA: Thompson.

ISTE. (2007). The ISTE NETS and performance indicators for students (NETS.S).
Retrieved May 30, 2011, from

Johnson, J. A., Dupuis, V. L., Gollnick, D. M., Hall, G. E., & Musial, D. (2008). Foundations of American education: Perspectives on education in a changing world (14th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.

Kozma, R. (1994). "Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate." Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The design of the mind. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Moller, M. T. (2009). Technology integration and student communication. Retrieved June 12, 2011, from

Niches, R., Fikes, R., Finin, T., Gruber, T., Patil, R., Senator, T., & Swartout, W. R. (1991). Enabling technology for knowledge sharing. Retrieved, June 8, 2011, from,,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=55a60aabf7224a16&biw=1280&bih=595

Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Human learning (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Denver, CO: McREL.

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