muse: n. a source of inspiration

Links You’ll Love

Loupe Collage is an awesome website that takes your photos and makes them into a shape. You choose the pictures, then you choose the shape, image, or word you would like to shape. You can also use it to make a card. So fun!

Google Slides can be a great resource for creating an interactive eBook. Read more about it here.

Tuzzit is a collaborative mindmapping tool with easy to use templates. You set up the canvas, and then students can join and add text, stamps, images and more.


October 6, 2016 Posted by | 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

Links You’ll Love

Need some storage on “the cloud?” Check out Copy  – you get 15 gb (that’s 15 GIGABYTES!) for free and more if you refer others. It’s a great way to share photos and more with friends, family and colleagues.

Timelapse is an amazing resource featuring three decades of satellite photography. Think there’s no climate change? Check out the pictures that show otherwise.

Classcharts is a free resource to create seating charts based on behavior criteria. There are some cool features including the ability to collaborate with colleagues and to note positive and negative behaviors.

Professional development seems to be getting a lot of attention these days. Edsurge is on a mission to understand the field of professional development for educators (harder than it sounds) and to share their findings. They’ve started the conversation here.

The Digital Public Library of America is a brand new website that “…strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science.” No small feat! You can do a search, browse through exhibitions, or explore by place or timeline.

Is reading the same when you’re using a book or a screen? Research says it’s not! Want to know which one wins? Check out the article in Scientific American.

Fuel The Brain is an online resource for games, interactives and printables for elementary math, science and language arts. The website also features a mini book creator which allows your students to create their own mini books with images and different text styles and then download and print them. Cutest thing ever!

ARKive is a charity that endeavors to create “an awe-inspiring record of life on Earth.” Their website presents information about the world’s endangered animals, plants and fungi and why we should protect them. There is also a section for teachers to get free resources that is categorized by age (of the students, not the teacher). There are also images on the site that you can use in your own classroom materials (and you know how I love when we use images with permission!).

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 9-21-12

I would never suggest that a student use SparkNotes instead of, well, actually READING the book, it might be useful for teachers to have a place with info on plot summaries, characters, themes, etc. LitCharts has a good selection of literature, and quite a few summaries available for the iPhone as well.

The folks at Google have thrown their Internet hats into the online education ring with a free course builder module. You can read about it here. It’s not for the faint-hearted: it does require some programming skills. Most importantly, it’s an indication of what’s to come…

Speaking of free online education, check out Open Culture. There are links to free movies, free lessons, free audio books, and free courses.

InfuseLearning is a new player in the free online student response system arena. This site allows you to create an online assessment which your students can take using any of a number of mobile devices. It’s an easy way to create a quiz or exit slip and have your students respond using an iPad. A similar, pared-down application is AnswerGarden. And yet another new kid on the response block is – just create an online mural, and your users can add web content, photos, text, shapes, stickers and more. Murally is in beta, so it might be a little wonky, but it’s a great way to get a group collaborating. It’s called a cross between Prezi and mind maps.

Who says math doesn’t count (pun intended)? Get a load of Math in the News. They take a current events article and view it through a math lens. This issue looks at the Great Monarch Butterfly Migration. There are links to videos about the issue and websites that analyze the data. The site’s navigation is a little clumsy, but it can be worthwhile to spend a little time there.

And, finally, treat yourself to a 14-minute glimpse into the teenage brain courtesy of our friends at TED and cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.

September 22, 2012 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

QR Code Fairytale Storybooks

Saw this on Trendhunter today: QR Code Fairytale Storybooks. It’s simple: armed with a smartphone or iPod touch, a child can access media by scanning QR codes in a storybook. I’m really kind of loving the idea of augmenting books this way. My 8th graders create comics from folk tales – how cool would it be to add QR codes?

August 1, 2011 Posted by | QR Codes, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

QR Codes in Education: What’s the Point?

I’m so intrigued by QR codes – those little square boxes that look like messed-up barcodes. You scan them using a smartphone or other mobile device and, voila, you get some kind of message, or you get transported to a website or a video pops up.

Since I first discovered them, I’ve been determined to identify authentic ways to integrate them into education. Oh, there are lots of things I’ve found, but some of them don’t seem to make sense..

Here’s an example I saw this morning via Twitter… “Use QR codes for a scavenger hunt in your school” Well, that looked promising. But, upon further inspection, the QR code scavenger hunt is merely a set of questions for which you generate QR codes, and then you stick them around your school. No web access necessary – your students use a QR scanner to read the QR code, read and answer the question, and then move on. Seriously, people, that’s the best we can do with a smartphone? Turn it into some kind of 21st century decoder ring? That’s not worth having your students bring mobile devices to school. Sure, it’s cute, but it’s nothing more than a gimmick and we are cheating our students and lying to ourselves if we indulge in meaningless gimmicks and then pat ourselves on the back because “we’re integrating technology into our classroom.”

Here’s another one: an educator for whom I have a great deal of respect tells me, “oh, I use QR codes all the time.”

“Really?” I respond, impressed.

“Sure,” she responds. “I write messages like ‘happy birthday, Steven’ and generate a code for it.

And then?

“I stick it up and people scan it.” More decoder ring technique.

Lest you think I have found no bright spot in my QR code quest, I do want to share Rabbi Adam Simon’s technique for adding multimedia functionality to the timelines that he places around his classroom. Timelines are typically flat affairs, you know? Mere words on a sheet that we teachers typically stick too far up (at the ceiling, right?) for kids to use effectively. Well, Adam takes his timelines to the next dimension by adding QR codes that link to multimedia resources at the appropriate places. So, when his students are learning about a particular date they can access movies or other media. Now, that’s authentic. It uses cool technology – the smartphone, QR codes and the web – to enrich his students’ learning.

In another example, I spoke at length at a regional tech conference with a man who teaches kids with disabilities that make it impossible for them to type URLs in browsers. He generates QR codes for them and prints them out. Using a QR code scanner and a computer webcam, the kids can scan the code they need in order to access the website. Brilliant. Gives the kids autonomy and frees the teacher from typing URL after URL.

My favorite is the librarian who puts QR codes in the front of books. The codes lead to online reviews of books. I want to do that with my sixth graders’ book review podcasts.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

My internal QR code debate is just another example of the “are we pursuing technology for the right reasons?” question.

So, my friends, I request that you ask yourself simple questions when introducing QR codes. Is this adding some kind of functionality that you could not get in some other way? Are you taking advantage of smartphone technology?

Most importantly, are you going for something other than the cool factor? Because the cool factor doesn’t carry you very far.

It’s a smartphone, not a decoder ring.

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , , | 15 Comments


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