muse: n. a source of inspiration


Comic Life is an iOS app that you can use to create your own digital comic book as well as many other types of projects including certificates, newsletters, how-to pages, and yearbook pages.

You can start your project from scratch, or, you can use one of the app’s pre-designed templates.

You can easily:
1) add images to your project  from your own camera roll or from Flickr
2) add text in a wide variety of styles (and languages-You can even type in Hebrew!)
3) add speech or thought bubbles to characters, and
4) add fun comic book sound effect graphics like “Pow!” and “Crunch!”

Once you’ve imported your text and graphic elements, you can easily design and customize how they all come together by resizing, rotating and styling each element. You’ll also want to experiment with all those great comic-looking fonts.

Once your comic book (or other type of project) is finished, you can print it or export as a pdf or jpg, and/ or open it in certain other apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox or Explain Everything.

Download the app from the iTunes store for $4.99.

In Your Classroom

  • This is my go-to whenever I need to create a how-to page. It’s easy to include screenshots for my readers to refer to as they follow along.
  • Students can easily use Comic Life to create comics about any topic they’ve studied. For example, if you are teaching the story of B’reishit in time for Simchat Torah, ask your students to create a comic depicting the six days of creation.
This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Technology Tuesdays | , , , | Leave a comment


The Technology:

Quizizz is a website that you can use to create your own multiple choice, online quizzes. Its easy-to-use interface and growing database of pre-made quizzes makes it a favorite for teachers.

To use Quziziz to create your own quiz, click on “create” and begin entering your questions and multiple choice answers. Be sure to note whether each answer is correct or incorrect. Your questions can be in English or Hebrew. (Yes, Hebrew is supported!) If you’d prefer not to type in each question on the site itself, you can choose to import a .csv file instead.

Quiziz also allows you to choose a cover image for the quiz, determine if you want your quiz to be private or public, and select the duration for how long players have to answer each question.

Once you’ve created a quiz, you can play it live in your classroom, or share the link with students so they can  play it at home. Students play at their own pace and can review their answers as they proceed.

It’s free to sign up to use Quizizz. Once you’ve created your account, you can also search among the quiz database and find other user’s public quizzes to play.

In Your Classroom

  • There is no question that kids love online quiz sites! Quiziz is a great addition to the quiz format because unlike many other quiz-making tools, Quiziz allows students to determine their own pace. This makes Quizizz particularly suitable for reviewing material at home.
  • Don’t forget about the quiz database.  A search for “Israel” returned hundreds of results. Note that you don’t have to use an existing quiz in its entirety; you can modify it and just include the questions that meet your needs.

This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Technology Tuesdays | , | Leave a comment


The Technology: Sketchnoting/ Paper

Taking notes by hand can often be more effective than typing them into a laptop or tablet. Similarly, sketchnoting, the act of drawing a visual story while listening to a speaker or reading a text, can also be an excellent way for students to remember and synthesize new information. 

There are many apps that support sketching on a tablet, but my favorite is Paper.

It gives you basic, digital drawing tools like markers, pencils, and an eraser, and allows you to arrange your drawings into notebooks and easily organize your work. You can also integrate photos into your drawings. 

After you have completed your sketchnotes, you can save them to the iPad’s camera roll, share them via email, or post them to social media. 

Paper is free to download, but you will also need a stylus for your tablet. They can be purchased for as little as $6.00 on amazon.

In Your Classroom

  • Kathy Schrock’s guide to sketchnoting features articles about the active listening process, how to integrate it into your classroom, and how to teach it to your students.
  • You may have to spend some time teaching your students how to be active listeners and how to arrange what they’re hearing to best suit their way of learning. This blog post about sketchnoting in third grade gives some great examples.
  • Have your students sketchnote various parts of a history or Bible lesson and then share them with one another. Consider printing them out for the classroom as well. 
  • Do you have students who just want to doodle throughout the entire class? Be on the lookout for students with whom this visual activity will resonate!

This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

January 3, 2017 Posted by | Sketchnoting, Technology Tuesdays, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Technology Tuesday: Tagul Word clouds

 What is a word cloud? A word cloud is an image that is formed from typed words, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. Here is an example of one:

Tagul is a free site that can help you create your own word clouds. You simply import your words, either one at a time, or by pasting a body of text.  And, you don’t have to limit yourself to English: Tagul will also work with Hebrew type, as long as you import a Hebrew font by going to “fonts” and then uploading your Hebrew font to it.

(Note: I had greater success with Tagul when I used Hebrew that had no vowels or cantellation marks.) 

You can also customize your word cloud by choosing from a menu of possible shapes, colors, fonts and layouts.  After you’re happy with the graphic, you can print it, download it, and share it with others.

To  use Tagul, create a new account, or use your Google or social media account. There is no charge to sign up and it is free for personal use.

In Your Classroom

  • Tagul can be used as visual tool to  to analyze ranked choices. For instance, you can do a values clarification exercise with your class, and then type in the results by rank (be sure to use higher numbers for more-frequently chosen values). The resulting word cloud will illustrate your class’s choices.  Try this with questions such as “what do you want to learn?” or statements like “the most important mitzvah is…”
  • Paste in any block of text for visual analysis of the frequency of words.
  • Do an “all about me” activity with your students. Ask each student to choose ten adjectives and rank them accordingly. The resulting word cloud will be a personalized set of visual illustrations that describe your students personalities.

This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Technology Tuesdays | , , | Leave a comment

Choosing An App

Choosing An App

by Debbie Harris 

Edited by Ann D. Koffsky 

It’s so enticing: a new (free!) app comes along and sounds great. But how do you decide if it’s worth using in your classroom?

Be Selective

There are good reasons to be very picky about what tools you provide your students. IPads have limited storage space and can fill up very quickly. You want to make sure your apps are filling the right need and will be a good match for your students.

Decide: What is your goal?

What are you trying to accomplish? Think about how you would complete sentences like, “I want my students to be able to create a presentation/game/slide show that shows…” and, “My students will use this app to learn more about…”

Remember, just because technology looks inviting, doesn’t mean it will help you achieve your goals. 

Preview the content

If you’re choosing an app that is designed to share information and teach content, (as opposed to an app that helps students create their own content) you’ll want to make sure to preview it from start to finish to verify:

  • That the information is correct
  • That it is age-appropriate
  • That it’s taught in a manner befitting the topic

A cautionary tale:When Tablet Magazine reported on several apps that were designed to teach about the Holocaust, it noted that the playful game experience might not be the most appropriate choice of tool for teaching about something so serious. 

Additional Resources:

  • Commonsense Media is the first place you should head when trying to find an app for a specific purpose. This highly respected site has a terrific section where you can filter by age, type of media and skill.
  • The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has a number of resources available for educators who want to make sure they’re choosing the right tool for the task. This article is a good starting point.
  • Mindshift is a terrific resource for educators in general, and I recommend it for general education information. This Mindshift article on 50 great apps for educators has some really nice recommendations.
This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Technology Tuesdays | , , | Leave a comment

The New York Public Library’s Collections

The Technology: The New York Public Library’s Collections

The New York Public Library’s digital collections site gives you free access to their prints, streaming media, maps, photographs and more. And, there’s no account to create, no password to remember, and no subscription to maintain. You don’t even need a library card!

You can explore their images by clicking on the featured collections icons, or you can choose to search by keyword. (When I searched by the term, “Jewish” the site returned over 4,000 results, including images of sisterhood cookbooks, an oral history of Milton Berle, and photos of fifth and sixth century amulets found in Jewish tombs in Jordan.)

Photos can be easily downloaded, and cut and pasted into documents. The library provides the credit and citation information for you to include in any materials you use their images in.

Keep in mind that the site does not provide an option for you to save your searches. If you want to retain an image to refer to later, you need to download it onto your computer, or do another search for it later. 

In Your Classroom

  • If you’re teaching history, this is a terrific place to find photos that relate to your subject. For example, a search for “lower-east-side” resulted in photos of street scenes that could add a great deal to an immigration unit.
  • Historical  photographs can make great discussion starters.This photo, for instance, would be a wonderful visual to prompt student discussion on what it must have felt like to be waiting to be allowed to immigrate to America.
  • Are your students doing biography projects about American Jews? Invite them to search the site to find engaging memorabilia that relate to their projects. For example, this image from 1931 shows the Supreme Court justices of the time, including Louis Brandeis.  

This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

September 15, 2016 Posted by | Behrman House Technology Tuesday, Technology Tuesdays, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Behrman House Technology Tuesdays – Plickers

I’m so excited that I’ll be sharing links and information about great mobile apps with Behrman House Technology Tuesdays subscribers! Click here to subscribe to this free email.

Here’s the article about Plickers that came out this past Tuesday:

(cross posted from Behrman House Technology Tuesdays)

The Technology: Plickers iOS App and Website

is a terrific iOS app that provides instant formative assessment (meaning you can get feedback mid-lesson) without using student response devices. All you need is a set of Plickers cards for your students, and one iOS device (iPad, iPod or iPhone) for the teacher. The app and registration is free.

The name comes from paper + clickers… Get it? Plickers.

Setting up your class:

  1. After you’ve signed up for an account and logged in, download the cards you want to use from the website. The standard size prints two cards per letter-sized sheet (that size worked well for the fifth graders with whom I tested this). For younger students, you might want to print the cards out full size. Do consider printing the cards on card stock, but only laminate if you have matte laminate. Otherwise the glare will impact the scanning function.
  2. Set up your classes on the website. You’ll have to add students manually and assign them to cards (each card is numbered).
  3. Create questions. You can create questions, save them, and then add them to classes at a later date. Questions can’t be open-ended – they need to be multiple choice or true/false. (And, yes, you can type in Hebrew on the website.)

With your students:

  1. Introduce them to Plickers by handing out and examining the cards with them. See the letters A – D, one on each side? That’s how you answer a Plickers question: be sure that the letter you want to choose is at the top of the card when you hold it up.
  2. Open the Plickers app on your device and tap on a question.
  3. Ask your question and instruct the students to hold their cards up to answer.
  4. Here’s where Plickers does its magic: stand in the front of your room and use the scanner (it’s the camera icon) in the app to scan the cards. The scanner will read the cards and provide data in real time. It tells you which student is giving you which answer – instantly!

To use Plickers, sign up for a free account. Then download the app.

In Your Classroom:

  • While I love technology, I also love when there’s a low-tech solution! This is a terrific way to get instant feedback without having to deal with student devices and the inevitable glitches that accompany them. We’re talking about cards, here – there’s nothing lower-tech than that.
  • This is a lovely way to find out who doesn’t “get” something without having to put your students through the potential embarrassment of admitting it. Nobody can see what card someone is holding up.
  • Not only do you get real-time data, but you can also go back to the Plickers website later to get archived data to review later. There is some very powerful information there.

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Technology Tuesdays | , | Leave a comment


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