Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Here are some interactive sites to use when learning about earthquakes:

What Causes Earthquakes:


Beat The Quake: Be Prepared:

Architecture and Earthquake Magnitudes:

Make a Quake:

How Do Scientists Measure Earthquakes?:

Strike, Slip, Fault:

Ancient Egypt

Here are some interactive sites to use when learning about Ancient Egypt:

Heiroglyphic Typewriter:

Explore Ancient Egypt:

Explore the Pyramids:

Egyptian Timeline:

Egyptian Number System:

Egypt Hieroglyphs:

Making a Mummy:

National Geographic: Explore a Pyramid:

Life on the Nile:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Smilebox Photo Slideshows and Collages

Smilebox is an application that I recently rediscovered and I realized that it is great for publishing classroom photos and student work.  This application creates slideshows, photo collages, interactive scrapbooks, and greeting cards.  Plus, it is simple to use.  Download the application, then just drag and drop your photos or videos into a template, choose your colors, text, and music and publish!  Projects are created and saved on your local computer, but the completed projects can be embedded in a website, printed, saved as an image, or burned to a DVD.  Smilebox has a free version (with advertisements in published projects) and a paid version (that is advertisement free).  However, I also found out that teachers can get a FREE paid subscription for one year by signing up for the Smilebox Teacher Toolbox.

Smilebox's Teacher Toolbox suggests using Smilebox to create parent newsletters, performance and field trip scrapbooks, classroom activity slideshows, overviews of teaching units, and end of year scrapbooks.

Here is an example of a school slideshow created with Smilebox.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

AudioPal: Audio Player for Your Website

Add instant interactivity and interest to your teacher website with AudioPal.  AudioPal is a free online tool that creates an audio player that can be embedded on your website.  You can record your audio by phone or microphone, you can upload an audio file, or you can use AudioPal's text to speech function.  Then just preview your audio, enter your email address and you will get an embed code to place the audio on your website.

Teachers can create audio recordings to:

  • Create a personal welcome message for your website.
  • Provide directions or review for your auditory learners.
  • Record a daily/weekly message for parents.
  • Provide differentiated instruction.
  • Record a problem of the day, fact of the day, or thought of the day.
  • Read books, chapters, or directions for students to read along with at home.
  • Use sound effects for a writing prompt.
  • Use audio recordings of words along with written words for ESOL or foreign language practice.
Students can create audio recordings to:
  • Practice reading and fluency.
  • Create an oral report.
  • Record a daily/weekly message for parents.
  • Record book reviews or discussions.
  • Record info about the child of the week.
  • Write and record stories or poetry.
  • Record patterns using sounds or speech.
  • Record a song about something learned in class.
  • Practice foreign language pronunciation.
I bet you can think of so many more ideas, share your ideas by commenting!
Try my AudioPal here:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Using Google Advanced Search for Lesson Resources

When I teach my Google course for educators, teachers are always amazed when I show them how easy it is to find lesson resources using Google advanced search. They also wish they knew about this tool sooner!  The advanced search tool allows you filter your searches by file type.  So, if you need a good PowerPoint for your lesson, but you don't have time to create one, you can use Google advanced search to find great PowerPoint lessons that are ready to use.  Simply type your lesson topic in your Google search box, then click the "Advanced Search" link just below the search symbol on the right.

The advanced search window will open.  Click on the drop down menu next to the words "File Type".  

Here are a few of the lesson file types you can choose from:

Google Earth (.kmz)
Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt)
Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)- a good way to search for worksheets or printables
Shockwave Flash (.swf)- usually interactive tools or activities that can be used on the Smartboard.

Click the "Advanced Search" button at the bottom right and your search results will include only the file format you have chosen (for example, all PowerPoints).

Here are some great PowerPoints (.ppt) and Interactive Activities (.swf) that I found on Phases of the Moon by using the Google advanced search:

Have fun searching for great resources!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School and Technology Integration

Like many of you, I started back to school this week.  I haven't blogged all summer and I have many new things to share. Coming back is overwhelming with all the things that need to be done to prepare your classrooms, prepare your lessons, and to get your technology tools connected and working.  But once the dust settles down, I hope you take some time to think about how you will integrate technology in your classroom this year.

First, remember that technology use is not necessarily technology integration.  Technology integration is not about just using the tools, it is about what we can do with the tools in our classrooms to improve instruction and learning.  You must align your curriculum objectives with the appropriate technology tools to be effective.  As you think about using technology in the classroom, see if you can answer yes to the following questions.  If you can, then you are integrating technology with your curriculum:

Will this technology lesson, tool, or resource:

  • provide opportunities for my students to investigate and apply the things they are learning in the classroom?
  • allow my students to interact, create, or present?
  • provide a meaningful and purposeful learning activity that is connected to my classroom curriculum and goals?
  • engage my diverse learners?
  • engage my students in critical/higher level thinking?
  • teach my students through real world applications and communication?
If you are hesitant about using technology, start slow and find one way to integrate technology meaningfully and purposefully in your classroom.  Try something new this year and I guarantee that you will not only become more comfortable the longer you use it, but that you will also wonder why you didn't try it sooner.  Don't worry about the technology not working or that you will make a mistake- teachers can learn from their attempts and failures, too. 

I hope that my blog helps you to find new resources and tools that you can use to bring technology into your classroom in fun, meaningful, and engaging ways.  Please let me know if you would like for me to feature resources for a particular topic or unit of study.  And...have a great new school year!

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