Sunday, November 22, 2015

Improve Student Writing Skills one Quill at a Time

Writing is an essential skill for ALL students to develop to effectively communicate inside the classroom, outside the classroom, and in future careers. In the era of electronic communication, it is important for students to learn important communication skills. Modern academic standards also emphasize the importance of developing student writing skills. Quill.org is a free tool, which can be used with students to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness in the writing process.

What is Quill? 

Quill.org engages students in the writing process through web-based learning activities that teach valuable grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills. It is very similar to NoRedInk and Edmodo's Snapshot feature because you can each activity addresses, measures, and provides feedback on how students met or did not meet specific Common Core State Standards.


Why Quill? 

Quill is a non-profit organization, which has designed over 150 activities for elementary, middle, high school, and college students. Each activity takes approximately 10 - 15 minutes and is the perfect tool for warm-up exercises in 1:1 classroom environments or whole class activities. The best part is that students receive instant feedback, which is extremely helpful!


A teacher dashboard provides specific data used to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness. Want to see it in action? Check out the demo teacher dashboard to see it in action!

Need Help Getting Started? 

Quill provides numerous tools for teachers to effectively set-up and use Quill in the classroom. Check out the Teacher Resources section filled with how-to-videos, instruction manuals, and tips.

There is even a Getting Started handout for students, which is perfect because there is very little that you have to do as a teacher!



November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Coffee Partner and spare $5 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  • Become a Dinner Partner and spare $25 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fabulous Photos with Fotor

We all know that pictures are a powerful medium to tell a story or communicate a message. It's what has made sites like Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter flourish. After you take the picture, how can you increase your picture's impact? Why not try a photo editor?

Some of my favorites are:


I recently was made aware of another amazing and free editing program called Fotor, which recently underwent a major redesign. This redesign has made the user interface and experience much easier! I love it's basic editing features like, 1-tap enhance along with your basic rotate, crop, and resize. Fotor also has many cool photo effects such as Cool Effects, Lomo Effects, and Funky Effects!

Really want to impress your audience? Check out its graphic design features, where you can make Facebook covers, YouTube channel art, Twitter Covers, and even a photo montage!


Fotor can create impressive HDR photos from its impressive HDR algorithm. Upload 3 photos and watch magic begin to occur. Visit Fotor's website for more details!

November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Coffee Partner and spare $5 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  • Become a Dinner Partner and spare $25 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3 Ways to Make Maps Come Alive in Your Classroom


Have you ever thought about the power of a map and the story it tells? Instead of having your students write a five paragraph essay, why not have them add their paragraph to the description of points on a map? Planning a field trip? Why not have your students locate the best route?

Here are three ways to make your maps come alive!

# 1: Google My Maps

I am a big fan of Google My Maps, which works with your Google account and even saves on Google Drive! This is perfect if you are a Google Apps for Education School and for students under the age of 13.

Students can collaborate, share, add pictures, videos, and text descriptions to illustrate the significance of a location. Need to see if Greenland is bigger than Africa? My Map's polygon tools will help you determine the square mileage.

# 2: Map Me

I was recently made aware of another free website called MapMe, which has a high school and college age feel. This useful tool for older students requires linking to a Facebook or Linked In account.

What I do like about this App is the ability to create categories of locations. By default, you have three categories: Stores, Organizations, and Media. You can add other categories as you see fit!

Map Me has several very interesting features, such as:
  • Crowdsourcing – Lets your visitors add info to the map and lets you moderate all new info and updates
  • Events -Add Events to your map and make it easy for map users to discover events based on date, time and location
  • Feed – The Feed provides real-time updates of the latest information added to the map
  • Embed map – Allow others to embed your map
# 3: NearPod Virtual Field Trips

Although not officially a map, NearPod has changed the way that information is presented and how students are engaged with a new feature called Virtual Field Trips.

In a partnership with 360 Cities, NearPod now gives teachers and students the opportunity to view pristine locations like the Taj Mahal, the Golden Gate Bridge, and The Great Wall of China. You can view famous architecture, famous artifacts, and even different planets! Virtual Field Trips are a great addition to any classroom.

November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Coffee Partner and spare $5 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  • Become a Dinner Partner and spare $25 to contribute to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page. Use the #clicks4acause in your message to the family! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Macbook Problem: Can't See Pictures Sent to You in Messages?

I have noticed that I cannot send or receive pictures in Messages on my Macbook Air since I upgraded to the Yosemite OS several months ago. I was seeing this instead:

I thought that upgrading to El Capitan would potentially take care of the problem. Unfortunately it did not. After doing a little research, I was able to find a solution on Apple's website!

Here's how to fix your problem:

1. Find and open your Library Folder

2. Open your Messages folder.

3. You will see a file named Attachments with 0 bytes. Delete this folder.

4. Create a new folder called Attachments (make sure that this is in your Messages folder)



This will take care of your problem! Now you are able to see pictures in Messages.

November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

First Graders Explain Everything with Explain Everything

I never realized how much of an art of summarizing a story. Today I had the privilege of working with a group of first graders on this important skill. Their teacher and I used iPads and the Explain Everything App to do it. If you are not familiar with this App, it is an interactive whiteboard app that can be used to teach concepts, retell stories and even flip your classroom.

Step 1: Template

Retelling a story can be a difficult concept for any student; therefore, it is important to have a structured way of having students practice. First, we used a template from Tech with Jen to help students gather their ideas and use the proper terms (first, next, then, finally). Students took a picture of this template, so that it would appear in their Camera Roll.

Step 2: Story Pics

Then students used their iPads to take pictures of the illustrations in their book. We made sure that we took 4 pictures to help tell the story in terms of first, then, next, and finally. We made sure that the pictures did not contain text, which would defeat the purpose of retelling a story!

Step 3: Import Pictures

Next, we opened up the Explain Everything App on the iPad. We imported the picture of the template first, so that it would cover the entire screen. Then we imported the illustrations and resized them so that they would appear in each box.

Step 4: Tell the Story

Finally, we had students use the recording feature on Explain Everything to tell their story. We made sure that the students listened to their recording before they published it because we wanted to ensure sound quality (as best as we could with first graders!).

How did they turn it in? 

Students exported the video to their camera roll and turned their video in using See Saw. You could use a variety of other tools like Edmodo, Schoology, Google Classroom, and Dropbox to do the same thing.

Do you have a cool way to retell stories? I'd love to hear it! Perhaps I can feature it on my blog.

November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gamify Assessment with Quizizz

Recently I posted about Quizalize, which has the entertainment factor of Kahoot with the student paced questioning methods of Socrative. Just like Kahoot, it can be accessed on any device via your browser.

 +Kevin O'Donnell recommended that I take a look at Quizizz, which I instantly liked! This is another assessment tool that can be added into your arsenal of assessment tools. 


Quizizz is an awesome way to help enhance learning, while gamifying your classroom. Why do I like it?

  • Although there is a timer function built in, students can still answer questions at their own pace. 
  • You can play live or as a homework session! 
  • You can jumble up the question order, so that students can't cheat! 
  • You can turn a leader board on or off. One of the biggest disadvantages of Kahoot, is that students care more about how quickly they answer questions (and get points). With Quizizz, you can turn this feature off!
  • It is device agnostic and can be used in any environment. 
  • Fun avatars and memes! When users enter the game, they enter their name and have an avatar is pre-assigned to them. Once you answer a question, a fun meme is there to encourage or congratulate you!
  • Data is saved! You can save data, so that you can make decisions and enter it into your grade book. 

Want to learn more about it? Here are some helpful resources. Do you have other assessment tools that you like? I'd love to hear about them! Please send a comment. 

November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page

Saturday, November 7, 2015

You've Heard of Kahoot and Socrative, But Do You Quizalize?

There are so many options when it comes to assessing students with technology in the classroom. Some of my favorites are a part of the fabric of almost every classroom I visit:

I have to ask, do you Quizalize? If you aren't, you may want to consider using great way to assess students. It has the entertainment factor of Kahoot with the student paced questioning methods of Socrative. Just like Kahoot, it can be accessed on any device via your browser. 

What I Like:
  • Students can work at their own pace. When they answer a question, they get immediate feedback to help them understand whether they got the answer right or wrong.
  • Want to give a homework assignment? As long as students have the access code, they can take the quiz when it works for them. 
  • Tools like Socrative and Nearpod provide spreadsheets to analyze individual and group performance, but Quizalize analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of students in realtime. A realtime dashboard lets you know who needs a little help and who has mastered the content. 

Do you have other assessment tools that you like? I'd love to hear about them! Please send a comment. 


November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

7 Reasons Why SeeSaw is The Perfect Tool for All Learners

Are you using See Saw in the classroom? This is an excellent way to have students create a portfolio of learning experience artifacts. It is available as an App or as a web-based program. I have to admit, I had very little experience with it until my teachers introduced it to me.  Why do we like it so much?

#1 - Clear Goal and Flexible Means 

SeeSaw provides the perfect blend of tools to allow students express their knowledge and demonstrate their understanding. Students can show what they know in the way that works best for them through writing, drawing, recording, and importing projects from other applications. Students can actually see their growth through their contributions over time.

# 2 - A Great Way to Virtually Connect with Parents 

I am learning that my teacher's are masters of connecting parents and kids. They have found that SeeSaw is a great way to connect home and learning because parents can see what their child is creating and even comment on it!

# 3 - Device Agnostic 

SeeSaw is the perfect tool to use in any learning environment. Whether you have an iPad initiative, BYOD, laptops, or desktops, this tool is the perfect tool to use in your classroom.

# 4 - Control

Teachers have the ability to approve comments and posts, which is a great way to limit distractions and provide rich documentation on what occurred in class that day.

# 5 - No Logins! 

Think about how many usernames and passwords adults have to remember. It is just as bad for kids. If you are working with children under the age of 13, it becomes a COPPA issue. What I like about SeeSaw is that students can access their portfolio by scanning a QR Code or entering a web address. No login is needed!

# 6 - Interaction Galore! 

Chances are that our students will need to learn how to interact in an online learning environment. SeeSaw gives students tools to comment and "like" posts, which is the perfect way to teach valuable digital citizenship skills.

# 7 - It Can Be Used in Any Subject Area

Regardless of the subject you are teaching, students can use SeeSaw to solve math problems, make book reports, learn about historical events, and even document science experiments! What creative ways do you have to use SeeSaw? I'd love to hear them!


November is Click's for a Cause Month!

For the past three years, November has been "Clicks for a Cause" month. Every time that you visit my blog during the month of November, I will contribute a penny towards the medical fund of a child in need. Here are past beneficiaries of this project. 

Addison Mae Jacobs was born on January 13, 2015, 4 weeks premature. She was born at only 6 lbs 5 oz and 17.5 inches long.  On October 27, 2015, she was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), a devastating disease impacting only one in a million children. SDS is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, leukemia predisposition, and skeletal abnormalities.

Addison is currently being seen by nine different medical specialists and her family is coordinating her care between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There are many expensive surgeries, tests, and medical costs in her future.  Due to the costly nature of her care, travel expenditures and having to take significant amounts of time off work, her family has setup a GoFundMe account for Addison, as well as a support page to show updates and her progress.

How Can I Help?

I will be donating a penny for every visit to this blog during the month of November. Are you willing to help too?
  • Visit this blog, pray, or spread the word about Addison! 
  •  Become a Courageous giver and make a flat donation or match my donation  at the end of the month to Addison’s GoFundMe page