muse: n. a source of inspiration

ComicMaster is a really nice looking website for creating your own short graphic novels (or, as we used to call them, comics). Signing up is free and you can save or print.

At EdJEWcon we used backchanneling a lot. That’s where you use a website where participants can add their thoughts during a presentation. If you like the idea and would like to explore using it in class, check out this blog post.

This is fun! If you’d like for your students to create their own Facebook-type pages, you can download a PowerPoint template that they can modify as needed. Download it here. If you’d like to stick with a Google doc, here’s a tutorial you can use.

I wanted to remind everyone about Newsela. Newsela is a great site for current events articles. You can sign up using your Google credentials, create classes, and assign articles. You can even choose the right reading level for your students.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | Links You'll Love, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Here’s a terrific way to get notifications every time a Google folder is changed. This is big, folks!

Hour of Code is coming! In honor of Computer Science Week, tens of millions of students spend one hour during the week between December 7th and 11th learning how to code. If you’re interested in committing an hour of class (and it doesn’t have to be an hour at one time) to having your students delve into some aspect of coding, here are some great resources:

The brain is the coolest! Here’s a great article with nine things teachers should know about it.

Oooooh – this awesome (if somewhat geeky) article presents a great set of tools to use to discover if that viral news story is really true. Not only are some of these sites useful if you want to just verify if something is true or not, but they could form the basis for a terrific lesson plan on media literacy.

2073737624Love Excel but want to use Google Sheets for sharing ease? Here’s a nice selection of Excel-like tools that you may not have known are available in Sheets.

You know how I’m a big fan of copyright-free image sources for students. Photos For Class is a terrific search tool to find appropriate images that include proper citation. For instance, I downloaded this image and you can see that the source info is embedded at the bottom. Very nice!

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Hack Jewish Education!

From my friends at Behrman House:

Hack Jewish Education

We’re seeking ideas for a NEW digital experience that can help reboot Jewish education

Have you been tinkering with an idea for an app or other digital learning experience for Jewish education? Would you like get ongoing mentoring about your idea, and take it to a month-long workshop in Israel to bring it to life with help from professional coders, designers and ed tech developers? 

Behrman House and MindCET, the innovation department of Israel –based Center for Educational Technology, are seeking a North American team with a great idea to mentor in a pilot accelerator program funded by a grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation. The program will include working with developers and other teams in Israel for a month, hosted by MindCET; workshops and mentoring hosted by Behrman House to focus on the Jewish educational market; and access to professional design, coding, art and other tech development talent.

Applications, which are due November 20, 2016, can be accessed at under ‘submit your idea.’ The chosen team will work with Behrman House and MindCET for six months, beginning in December 2015, will head to Israel in mid-February (exact dates to be announced). For more information, contact Jeremy Poisson.

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Education | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Design thinking, the “formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result” (Wikipedia) is something that’s been intriguing me for some time. If you’re interested in a 90-minute crash course on this method, check out Stanford University’s site.

Put some Zing! into your classroom! Zing is a new free eBook site that you can use with your students. You can browse by category, language or reading level and monitor student progress. Sign up for a free account and let me know if you want to strategize about Zinging with your students.

Looking for some Jewish educators’ blogs to follow? Here’s a list of some, as crowdsourced by the Schechter network’s Jon Mitzmacher. 

Well, this is interesting…here’s an interesting article about how a synagogue used technology to answer “every question it had.” I wonder if this solution could be applied to other institutions!

I’m a big fan of Kiva – the microfinance site that allows you to make small loans to individuals in generally underdeveloped areas. Every year my religious school students take part of their tzedakah collection and make a Kiva loan, which gets paid back so we can loan it out again! If you’d like to explore using Kiva with your students, check out the resources at Kiva U.

H.S.I.: Historical Scene Investigation is a pretty intriguing site. It was “designed for social studies teachers who need a strong pedagogical mechanism for bringing primary sources into their classroom,” but what intrigues me is the modality it uses to encourage inquiry among students. I’d love to know what you think!

Speaking of primary source docs, the LOC (Library of Congress) is hosting a free online conference about that very topic. The conference will be October 27-28, and the sessions will be recorded for later viewing. More information can be found here.

What exactly does a teacher do in a blended classroom? Khan Academy and the Clayton Christensen Institute teamed up to provide a series of videos that explore that very topic. If you’ve got some viewing time, check out their videos here.

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

I love me some robots! All the cool folks are playing with them…see this Rosh Hashanah video from the Technion.

Speaking of videos – here’s a very cool video explaining the why and how of sewers. This would be great when discussing innovating thinking with your students.

If you’re new to the iPad – or just want to see how you can improve your skills – check out this blog post on 12 iPad tips for teachers.

The gang at ClassDoJo has just come out with a nifty way to privately share photos and stories with parents. It’s called Class Story and it’s free. Check it out here.

Elmad is an online learning library hosted by the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. You can access podcasts, browse by topic or faculty member, or visit one of the channels. There’s even a quiz for every parsha.

September 9, 2015 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

This is just hysterical. Check out Shimon Peres’ plans for what to do after retirement:

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I do want to remind everyone about Sefaria. Sefaria allows you to choose different texts – or portions thereof – and create a custom resource sheet. It’s still in development, so every text isn’t there, but it’s awesome nonetheless.

Shameless JEDcamp plug of the week. We are proud and excited that the second annual JEDcamp Midwest will be here on Sunday, October 19th from noon until 4:00 pm. There will be swag! There will be free lunch! There will be door prizes! There will be lots of great ideas to share! Need more incentive? Watch the terrific movie about last year’s JEDcamp:

Chrome tip #1: I’m a multi-tab user, which means I often have a dozen or so browser tabs open at one time. Some of them, like my mail and Schedulet, are tabs that I always, always use. I hate it when I accidentally close them by clicking on the little x. To remedy that, and to make the tabs take up less space, I “pin” them. To pin a tab, right-click (or hold down the control key and click) and choose Pin Tab. Like magic, the tab takes up, well, a pin-size amount of space and it can’t be closed accidentally. To unpin and remove a tab you’ll have to right-click again.

Chrome tip #2: If you love to use Chrome, check out these Chrome extensions that can make your user experience even better!

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Chrome, JEDcamp, Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Email’s awesome, right? Well, not always. Check out CoolCatTeacher’s blog post with some great email etiquette tips.

Remind (which used to be Remind101) is the coolest thing ever! I’ve talked about this before: set up a class, ask parents and/or students to join online, and you can text (or email) everyone with one click of a mouse! It’s also the coolest because it was developed by my former student Brett Kopf. Remind has instituted some big changes this year – learn more here.

Newsela is a news site that’s designed to help build reading comprehension. Like so many sites, there is a free and not-so-free version. The free version, though, does provide multiple news articles every day at various reading levels.

If you’re planning to create a class webpage, here’s a great article that talks about what you should and should not be putting out there.

This is a great idea – here’s a website where you can share photos without jumping through a lot of hoops. Create an event, invite friends, and everybody can upload. Genius!

Food for thought…here’s an interesting article about why flunking is good.

GAFE tip of the week: if you’re doing a research paper in Google docs and want to locate and cite scholarly sources, go to Tools > Research and search for the source. Want to cite it? Click either Cite as Footnote or Insert.

GAFE tip of the week: This is not for the faint-of-heart, but those who are bold enough to hop over here to learn about how to use canned responses in their Google mail. Very cool!

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Links | , , , | Leave a comment

The little things matter

Last week, during the confirmation service, one of the kids spoke about something that happened in Israel during a synagogue trip. She used the story to illustrate, to her, that Judaism is capable of evolving.

During a b’nai mitzvah service in Israel, it was discovered that no one had brought a yad (the pointer which helps you keep your place while reading the sacred scroll without touching it) for the Torah reading. Our quick-thinking rabbi pulled a pen out of his pocket as a substitute and proceeded with the service. (I’m sure it was held in such a way that there was no potential damage to the Torah.)

Clearly this had an impact on our young student, who thought enough of the incident to relate it last night.

I’m sure that the event was quickly forgotten by many of the people in attendance. But not everyone. As educators, we need to remember that you never know what small gesture will have the greatest impact on our students. I know I can use this reminder. Small things (or words) matter.

June 11, 2014 Posted by | Education, Jewish | , | Leave a comment

What happens when you show kids an Apple II computer? Check it out:

For a fascinating look at how quickly data is generated on the Internet, check out The Internet in Real Time.

SAMR is a method of integrating technology into your teaching (SAMR – Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition). This graphic takes apps and websites and arranges them in a way that helps you decide what is the best technology to use to achieve your goals. Love it!

More free art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art! Full size images! Copyright-free for non-commercial use!

The Yivo Institute has just released their digital archive featuring some fascinating artifacts from life in pre-Holocaust Poland. There are photos, amateur videos, audio clips and more. Access it here.

If you’ve used PowToon before with your class, take a moment to check out the changes. If you haven’t used it, give it a glance. PowToons are animated presentations – think PowerPoint with oomph. My 7th graders are using it right now, and I think they’re really enjoying it!

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Links, Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 4-11-14

Can sharing a film stop bullying? Interesting question. The makers of this film have created a little film with a meaning. The film is a plaintive black and white animation with the simple message that sharing bullying – talking about it – will end bullying. Every time you share it the film gets a little shorter, metaphorically wiping bullying out. Check it out (but don’t use Chrome – it crashed my Chrome browser several times).

Next week, we will participate in what writer Maya Bernstein calls “a model of creative education.” I’m talking, of course, about the Seder. Read more here.

Looking for SMART Board lessons? Check out Modern Chalkboard.

Tackk is an online space to create, well, anything you want to share with anyone. It kind of reminds me of Glogster, except that you don’t need to register (but your Tackkboard will expire in 7 days if you don’t), and Tackkboards can be any size. They kind of expand as you add more stuff to them. It’s super easy to add text, videos or photos. Layout options are limited (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Visit Tackk using a computer or an iPad for more information.

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment


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