Posts Tagged ‘technology’

PostHeaderIcon Wii in the Classroom Update

So, I have been using the Wii in my library for the past 4 days and it has gone well. I must say my favorite games are those which are multiplayer and the students either collaborate or compete against each other.

In Just Dance 2 — I have 4 controllers and students try to copy the hand movements of the on-screen dancer. The person who does this most like the on-screen dancer is the winner. What is really great is that students are not waiting to use a controller. They are just enjoying the dancing, and following the moves without the need to use a controller. This has happened in K-3.   Students who are normally quite shy are getting right in the middle and dancing their hearts out!

Mario Cart — this is a wildly popular game and I was fortunate to be able to borrow this game and 4 wheels.  Instruction is simple, and before too long beginners easily surpass older players. Students can work as a group team or have versus matches. Although it is competitive, the students compliment each other and good sports. (Pic Source)

Why are there Wiis in the library you ask?
Students read over 80K pages this April and as a result I promised a chocolate party.  Well a chocolate party was not enough, so I decided to borrow some Wiis.

What is also great about the Wiis is the students taking on the role of teacher for each other. In some cases, they know the games better than I do and are able to aid their fellow classmates in understanding and being successful at the game. The best part is when a quiet detached student shows another student how to play a game.

Wii in the Classroom Website — Articles and some great activity sheets

TeachHub Article:  Wii in the Classroom

New Tech Tools for Young Scientists

How to Use Wii in the Classroom

Wii in Physical Education

Wii in Education — Ways to use in classroom and physical ed

Turn your Whiteboard into a WiiBoard

PostHeaderIcon Skype in the Classroom


Skype Classroom

During Read Across America on March 2nd, I had my first Skype with another class in New Jersey.  It was awesome and the students really enjoyed it.  Previously, I have used distance learning equipment which was great but I am at another district and it is $15K to purchase these systems.

Trying to save a few thousand bucks, I thought I would look into Skype.  I had tried Skype a few years ago and was not impressed, but they have really worked on the product and now I am thoroughly impressed.  The cost makes this accessible to so many people increasing the amount of connections one can find.

Then Skype Classroom opened and this gives teachers and other educators a place to look for connections.  There are other sites for video conferencing, but they focus on the distance learning equipment rather than Skype connections.  Is the clarity perfect?  No but it is pretty good.

What you need to Skype (I have linked my favorites):

  • Webcam (preferably HD for better picture)
  • Good internet connection (needs to be fast)
  • Microphone of some sort (some students talk very softly; currently I use a speaker and traditional microphone until I can get another)
  • Skype software downloaded to the computer

That is it!  Not only can you use this as a way to connect using video, you can also chat.  During the summer, we used it as a backchannel during a professional development.  Questions could be asked in chat rather than in person.  This made the professional development flow quite well.

PostHeaderIcon Animation


This is an animation tool which states, “if you can type, you can make movies.”  There is an education version of the site.  One can use a downloadable version or online version.

This is a Text-to-Movie (TTM) which gives you many different “showpaks” consisting of two actors (avatars).  The user writes the script and drags action icons into the script (camera angles, facial expressions, gestures, and animations).  The voices are monotone, but it is quite fun and the results are unique and amusing.

Educational Use:  Book trailers, movies of any kind, review of historical events, informational videos, etc.

PostHeaderIcon Next Generation in Powerpoint

Powerpoint….used far too much in teaching and projects for students.  There are a few alternatives which can refresh your presentations.


The ultimate mashup tool.  Its not your typical slideshow… Add Youtubevideos, images, links to images, text, and more to your slides!  It is not the static powerpoint and it is constantly being updated to allow additional items to be added to your slideshow.  Now combine things from all over the web. We’re adding more options all the time.


A zooming presentation tool.  Rather than thinking about a presentation as a linear experience, think about it as many conversations.  Group like things together and have the flexibility to go to any point of your presentation at any time.  You can hide items within your presentation.  It is a bit like powerpoint: videogame edition.  I warn you that some people can experience motion sickness if you use the zooming too much.  Please note that one can acquire an educational account which gives you additional online storage space and no ads.  Prezi functions within flash exclusively so Adobe Flash is required.  Anyone is welcome to use this Prezi Intro for your own instructional needs.   I have created a prezi on prezi as seen below:

PostHeaderIcon Portfolios


An online professional portfolio.  Each person has an account and you can put the following items on your online portfolio:

  • Coverletter/homepage
  • Resume
  • Work Samples
  • Image Gallery
  • Email link to portfolio
  • Share on Facebook
  • Templates, colors, and other settings

This is an ideal option for those that do not have background in HTML or creating their own website.  It is easy to use and gives the user flexibility in files to house on the site.  I was not happy with the placement of advertisements on the top of the page in banner format.  One cannot control the content in said banner.

Google Sites

You can create sites with Google Sites, but it can also be used as a place for content.  The user friendly setup is ideal for student work.  Students have multiple formats to choose from and can tailor it to their own needs.  It can be a little bit limiting in terms of HTML, but that is not the goal of Google Sites.


This tool is excellent for collaboration as well as portfolio creation.  Nearly anything can be added to a wiki.  Wikis are great because they save every revision.  This can be helpful if using for a portfolio for 13 years (during school) because students can see their progress and projects they worked on with a time stamp.  Mistakes can easily be corrected with the revision history.  Students can easily edit each other and help to create a collaborative experience.

Final Notes:

Are there other choices?  Of course, but these are some of my favorites and those that I have found engaging for students.  A portfolio is really just a online bulletin board to house all the amazing things students are doing.  In a way this blog has become a bulletin board for all the ideas I find.  So really it is just an aggregation of all the information.

PostHeaderIcon Google Docs Update

Google has recently updated their list of filetypes viewable in Google Docs.  This is quite exciting as computers are becoming much more like portals and we might not have the same resources on each computer.  You can now view the file types in Google Docs (without the need to download from attachments in gmail):

  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
  • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
  • TrueType (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)

“Not only does this round out support for the major Microsoft Office file types (we now support DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS and XLSX), but it also adds quick viewing capabilities for many of the most popular and highly-requested document and image types.  In Gmail, these types of attachments will now show a “View” link, and clicking on this link will bring up the Google Docs Viewer (GoogleDocs Blog).”

PostHeaderIcon Minus

Have you ever wanted to post something but you ran out of space on your website, blog, etc.?  Well I have.  I recently discovered this website called which allows you to post anything and give you a link to it.  This is especially helpful for images saved on your desktop.

I have used it several times in the past few days in WordPress in order to attach images and documents.  It is an easy site that does not require a login.  These are always nice when teaching.  Something we can just go to and use without logging in.

I have yet to find a file that will not upload into Minus.  Each file, once uploaded, will reside on the page.  You can give the link to the site to anyone and they can access all the files uploaded.  I do not believe the sites decay.  See the picture below.  That is all you see.  Simplicity at its best.

April 2014
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