Friday, October 14, 2011

Writers' Workshop Works Better with Paperrater!

Teachers know how difficult the editing and revising stages of writing can be. Along comes to help students improve their writing skills. With this free resource, students upload their writing and checks it for plagiarism, style, grammar, spelling, word choice and overall quality. offers specific suggestions for improvement, and assigns a grade to writing. even offers a printable writing summary report with a detailed explanation, tip and/or suggestion for improvement for each of the different writing traits analyzed.

Regardless of grade level or subject matter, I definitely see how teachers could assign students to upload their writing to before holding individual or small group writing conferences. Students can bring their writing summary report to a writing conference with the teacher or writing workshop with peers to discuss the suggested editing and revisions. has the potential to save teachers a lot of time, and obviously students benefit from the specific feedback. Students can submit the writing summary reports with their papers, and teachers can identify common needs to design specific writing mini lessons; teachers can also use the feedback on each student's summary report to pair up students according to writing strengths and weaknesses. Students can also make revisions, resubmit their writing and compare initial and final drafts to demonstrate growth. 

What other uses can you generate for

Unlike other online writing analysis software, there is nothing to download, is absolutely free, and has a higher degree of accuracy because not only does it use artificial intelligence, the site is also maintained by linguists who have developed according to "a core Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine using statistical and rules based NLP to extract language features from essays and robustly translate that into statistical models."  So, it's ok to trust when they identify a fragment, a misspelled word, or wordiness because the site is run by writing experts. I tried using this particular text, and here are is my printable summary report.  

I guess a B ain't so bad...(I mean isn't)!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Student Writing Soars With Storybird!

Soar to new heights with, a site that allows students to create, collaborate, read, and share their own stories. has thousands of art pieces arranged by themes. Students select a theme or piece of art to inspire them to write a story.

Students can invite collaborators to share the writing of a story. also has a public library for visitors to read stories others have created. 

Students can create reading lists of their favorite Storybird stories. 

Best of all Storybird serves as a publisher! Students can publish their stories privately or publicly online or in hard copy. The site is entirely free, but for a reasonable price, parents can order soft or hard cover of books their children create, or you can order a PDF version of a story to read on an e-reader or iPad.

Storybird encourages collaborative writing and supports all aspects of the writing process. Its features are easy, intuitive and safe. There are endless possibilities for using Storybird to support reading instruction as well. Regardless of age or grade level,'s art work inspires anyone to be a connected reader and writer!  

Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo. Here is a story I wrote about technology using! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it! The Purple People and the Elephant by firstclasstutoring on Storybird

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Word Enhances The Journaling Experience!

When I was a kid, I hated walking into my English class to face the drudgery of the daily journal topic the teacher’s pet had written sloppily on the chalkboard. I loved writing, but boy, did I hate the routine of journal writing day in and day out. I hated the dumb prompts, the lack of follow-up with a discussion...there was no such thing as discussions back then...,and I knew my teacher never read a single word I wrote. I didn’t mind being asked to write, but I didn’t like that we had to write on command every day for 180 days at the same time about the same irrelevant topics without any type of engagement.  So, I vowed that one day when I became an English teacher, I would not resort or depend on the daily journal topic so I could take attendance and tend to other housekeeping duties. My students would have different writing experiences everyday at different times throughout a class period, and for the last 20 years I have tried my best to keep that promise.  

I have had many discussions with other educators about the effective use of the daily 15 to 20 minute “journaling” conducted at the beginning of a class period. For me journaling should not be forced, and definitely not scheduled so a teacher could tend to clerical responsibilities. I have always felt that journaling must be as spontaneous as possible, and if not, should be prompted from thought-provoking readings, current events, or any other inspiring written or non written text.  I believe students know when we assign journaling to keep them busy, and it’s a crime when students are forced to "journal" 180 days of the year, yet have no opportunity to share their writing, or give or receive writing feedback.  

Today, web tools make the academic or personal journaling experience exciting and meaningful for all students, and offer the most important tool of all, the ability for students to share their writing with a community of writers, and the opportunity for feedback from diverse readers, not just their teachers. The comment and share features web tools offer have redefined feedback.  Students are motivated to learn this valuable skill as they strive to join writing communities. is a great web tool that allows students to practice a myriad of writing skills, specifically free-writing, and sharing with an online community if they choose to join the site. Users sign in free and see one word at the top of the screen; they have sixty seconds to just write about that one word. Students can choose to add their writing or keep it private, but if they add it, they will see the variety of responses for the one word prompt. Teachers can even use other contributors' responses as opportunities for revision and editing exercises. The learning opportunities are endless since students could analyze how other writers use different writing traits, such as figurative language, active vs. passive verbs, imagery, punctuation, and more. supports so many different writing mini lessons from grammar to literary elements, to a writer’s voice and diction. is not the only web tool in cyberspace that supports the writing process and journaling.  Of course there are blogs, wikis, and digital diaries like,, or  All of these options enable students to join a community of writers, provide opportunities for self-expression and creativity, and offer opportunities to practice revision and editing. The only disclaimer is that many of these tools are open to anyone so teachers have to be careful with inappropriate content kids could end up reading. 

Here are some examples of safe web tools all students could use for journaling:

Ever thought of using as a type of Dialogue Journal. Students upload a thought-provoking image or video, and each student adds his/her written and/or verbal reflections. can be used effectively to build Literary Journals focusing on reflecting or answering prompts about specific genres, themes, characters, conflicts, plot events, and other aspects of written or non-written texts.

How about using or to create Subject Journals? Students not only add text and images, but all types of multimedia and widgets to explore one particular subject.  

Electronic journaling can satisfy every student’s need for self-expression or kill creativity if not used effectively. Journals can take many shapes, but whatever the purpose of the journal, students today are lucky to have tech tools that spare them from the monotony of the daily journal topic, and help them improve their writing skills. 

Take a look at a sample sharing page from After having 60 seconds to write about the one word of the day, students have the option to post their writing to the community of writers.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Fake Facebook Profiles Support Reading Instruction and More!

Teaching author's perspective, author's purpose, tone and mood, characterization and other literary elements are some of the most difficult reading skills for students to untangle. Because of time constraints, teachers often ignore discussing an author's life experiences as part of front-loading a text to be read. I have always been a proponent of less is more, so I make the time to let kids learn aboout a writer's life before we read his/her book, and we research the historical period in which the book was written. Both the author's life experiences and the historical period provide an invaluable insight that helps readers understand themes, allusions, plot events, characterizations, conflicts and other literary elements. Of course, now more than ever technology can facilitate teaching all of these reading concepts.

Using, students can create a fake profile page `a la Facebook to explore the life of an author, a character, a historical figure, an idea, a process, an animal or anything students would like to personify. 

Using Myfakewall to teach Author's Purpose
Teachers can assign students to create profiles and posts that reveal the author's purpose, i.e., why the author wrote a piece: to entertain, inform or teach, persuade or convince. Students can add "friends" such as other writers or people who influenced the writer to write a particular piece, or even characters, and have those influential "friends" post questions or comments on the writer's wall so the posts and the writer's responses to the posts reveal the author's purpose for writing.

Using Myfakewall to teach Author's Perspective
The concept of author's perspective can also be taught in the same manner by having students write posts revealing the writer's feelings or beliefs and how these views prompted the writer to create a particular piece of writing.  High order skills are at work because students apply what they learned after reading a biography or autobiography about the author's life. To write thought-provoking posts and comments on the page, students must analyze and evaluate the author's life circumstances, choices, and beliefs and synthesize a post using texutal examples to reveal how and why an author incorporated his/her life views in his/her writing.    

Using Myfakewall to teach Characterization, Historical Events, Tone and Mood, Connotation and more
  • Of course, Myfakewalls do not have to be just about a writer's life. Students can create fakewalls about characters to learn characterization. Posts could feature the characterization strategy S.T.E.A.L., which focuses on analyzing a character's Speech, Thoughts, Effect on Others, Actions and Looks
  • Other fakewalls to challenge students to use critical thinking skills and textual support would be profiles for historical figures with posts that explore a famous or infamous decision, its repercussions, and the historical figure's controversial thoughts and conversations with his/her associates, friends or family.  Imagine how primary and secondary sources could also be used to incorporate textual support on all of these pseudo profile pages.
  • As difficult as it is for students to identify the tone and mood of a piece, can support teaching this concept if students are asked to create a profile using particular textual examples that reflect a specific negative or positive tone while comments could show reader's positive or negative mood after reading these text examples. could even be used to reinforce connotation if students create fake posts using negative connotations sharing them with fake users to see the effect words have on other readers and writers. supports so many different critical thinking activities that allow students to step inside the mind of notable figures, use textual examples, primary and secondary sources, and their own creativity.

Whether students create fake pages that are serious or funny, they will be engaged in creating original content.
I would love to see what profiles students could create to explore the minds and lives of scientists, mathematicians, artists, and other noteworthy individuals or ideas. 
Please check out these Myfakewall page profiles!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish!"

RIP Steve Jobs!

Nook or Book, That is the Question?

I grew up a 20th century student reading physical books. I wrote in my books, dog-eared pages, spilled tears on breathtaking passages, borrowed them, and lost many classics to friends. Now, technology has asked me to rethink the efficiency with which I read introducing e-readers to contest my reading status quo.  I struggle to make up my mind, and abandon one for the other because I love the reading experience they both can offer.  But, as a non digital native, I’ve realized that today's students haven’t had the same reading experiences; therefore, they cannot have the same nostalgia for physical books like I do because they spend more time using digital products than paper ones. They were born into a society with an entirely different delivery system of information. It is the non-digital natives, like me, who will need to embrace new technology, like e-readers, if we are to fight illiteracy and aliteracy.

Ironically, the first e-book I read on my e-reader was Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. While reading this e-book, I was actually more connected to people than I ever was when reading physical books.  My e-reader made it easy for me to adapt and for my students to engage with text.

E-readers allow readers to:
  • instantly share pages, short passages or quotes with anyone via Facebook, Twitter or email. 
Books obviously can’t compete with these features! 

E-readers also let readers instantly:
  • rate and post an online review of a book
  • share a reading status with friends on Facebook and Twitter so they know how far along readers have read.
  • bookmark pages
  • add notes about a page or passage
  • highlight key sections while the e-reader keeps track of it all.
  • search for keywords
  • touch a word to look up its meaning
  • adjust the size of the text or the lighting 
Although e-readers’ features empower reading experiences, why do so many of us non digital natives still long for physical books? 

We long for physical books because they are and were a part how information was presented to us to process and learn. Our brains got used to this type of delivery system of information.  The 20th century learning experience lacked the level of stimulation and engagement that tech like e-readers offer today. Today’s students rarely engage with paper products, and the printed word in a physical book, no matter how well written, does not offer the degree of stimulation students are used to receiving through other media.   However, just because we, as non digital natives, are not used to this delivery system, we cannot hold our students back from the benefits this technology offers them to improve their reading skills. 

If your school happens to have e-readers, here are some ideas that could help change students’ attitudes toward reading:
  • Create a Class Facebook or Twitter page.  This can be done safely giving access only to students and parents. As students read class wide or independent selections, they can use the e-reader’s Facebook and Twitter share feature to post their favorite quotes and thoughts to discuss texts with each other. (If students need coaching on how to select significant passages and write effective FB and Twitter posts, then I recommend modeling how to do this first using a high interest text all students will enjoy.) Schools could even connect with grade levels or other schools inviting them to add to the Facebook and Twitter feeds uniting students nationally or even globally in their reading experiences.
  • E-readers may even motivate students to take the time to look up unknown words while they read because the dictionary feature makes it virtually effortless. Students just tap on the unfamiliar word to see a definition in a pop-up window. 
  • E-readers also reinvigorate the concept of the “book report” because the book review feature is limited to 3500 characters or less. Students benefit from learning how to write a succinct book review. Although there’s no guarantee an e-reader motivates students to write book reviews, the connectivity aspect of writing a review for an online community may attract more students to use this feature since they know they will be writing to a real audience of fellow readers.  Determine what your students like to read: humor, mysteries, sci-fi, romance, etc.  Allowing them to read books they like may encourage them to use the book review feature without a fight. 
  • E-readers even facilitate annotation because it takes seconds to highlight a passage of interest and add notes to it.  No more lost sticky notes, or illegible marginal notes.
  • Students can also lend each other books through the e-reader, and there’s been talk of apps enabling e-borrowing from local public libraries.
E-readers are not the panacea of illiteracy or aliteracy, but an e-reader’s features definitely offer a level of engagement physical books cannot. E-readers connect readers to each other in a way physical books cannot. We’ve tried using traditional strategies to fight illiteracy and aliteracy, and many of these have failed. Why not try the technology of e-readers where students not only interact with the text, but can also connect with an online community of readers.   

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's A Black Tie Affair With Tagxedo: List 5 Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know!

Smarten up with http:/, and turn vocabulary lessons into a special occasion! is not your ordinary cloud generator. Students can upload websites, blogs, or any type of text, then choose the shape of their word clouds. There are over a hundred shapes to choose, and dozens of color schemes, fonts, and layouts.   Primp your vocabulary with's stunning visuals that turn words into works of art! imitates art! Word clouds can be saved as JPG or PNGs, and shared on Twitter and Facebook.

Again, I used to create List Five to maintain consistency with the way the lists look and can be accessed.  What vocabulary tech tools do you know about? Let's chat to compare teaching experiences with these tools.

Click on the link to see List Five or email or tweet me at, and @trendingteacher, and I'll send you lists directly.

Here are my own works of "word art" using List 5 of Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know! 

List 5 Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know! Word Cloud I created adding my Twitter feed @trendingteacher!

Vocabulary Lessons Are Special Occasions With Tagxedo!
A Few Ideas for Using Tagxedo Word Clouds!

  • Teach annotation. Add a significant passage from a particular text being studied, and choose an appropriate shape revealing text's meaning. Use another web 2.0 tool to add music to the word cloud suggesting text's theme.
  • Teach tone and mood. Add text, and choose colors and shapes that reveal the text's tone and mood. Use another web 2.0 tool to add music revealing tone and mood of word cloud.
  • Teach synonyms, antonyms, homonyms. Choose one key word and create word clouds featuring synonyms, antonyms of that word. Create homonym clouds too listing words that sound the same but are spelled differently.
  • Teach connotation. Choose one word or phrase and create a word cloud with the word or phrase's multiple connotations.
  • Emphasize connotation of words by creating positive, negative and neutral words clouds. Choose colors and shapes suggesting each effect. 
  • Teach literary terms, figures of speech, or idioms by creating word clouds containing definitions and examples.
  • Summarize a text. Have students write a summary, upload the summary and choose appropriate color and shapes to match text's meaning.   

Tagxedo's opportunities to dress-up language arts lessons will make-over your vocabulary instruction, making it versatile and memorable! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Scoop or Two?

Building your own "sundae" of information is as delicious as a double scoop of chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry on top! Scoop.It is the banana split of bookmarking when browsing the web because you get to choose and garnish an information "sundae" with content you find deliciously interesting.  You can share your scoops of information with a community of readers on various social media, and on Scoop.It.

Here’s how you scoop your way to a delicious "sundae" of information! 
1.) Pick a title for your topic, e.g., Tech Tools To Improve Parent Communication”
2.) Enter a brief, but engaging description of the type of content your scoop will contain e.g.,   
3.) Identify the language the content will be in: English
4.) Enter keywords to describe your topic: parent communication, parent contact, etc.
5.) Upload an icon to represent your scoop if you’d like.

Then, watch the magic happen! scans the web to scoop up any relevant content related to your topic. Like an ice cream bar with unlimited toppings, presents you with content choices to add to your information sundae. You decide to add or discard the content depending on its relevancy and interest.  You can also decide on sources to locate your content. Adding a bookmarklet to your browser also makes it easy to scoop up content whenever you're browsing and come across content worth adding.

Once you have scooped up content for your information sundae, you can share your scoops on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wordpress and Tumblr, join a community of scoopers, follow their scoops or be followed.  Scoop.It is still in the beta stage, so I hope they will sweeten up to the idea of adding Blogger to their sharing options. However, you can add a sweet widget of your scoops to your website or blog! 

Students, teachers and parents are in for a real treat with Scoop.It because it’s a delicious way to organize content and taste each scoop of information one at a time to meet so many instructional purposes and needs.  

Different reasons for creating your own Scoop.Its:
  • Disseminates information such as important articles, videos, links, and other content to parents, colleagues, and students
  • Organizes resources for group projects for struggling students to save time and help students see various content that reveals a topic's focus or theme.
  • Facilitates students' research efforts for projects. As they research a topic, students can scoop their sources and submit their page to the teacher as their lists of works cited. 
  • Supports reading instruction. Students can work individually, in pairs or small groups reading content the teacher has pre-selected and saved on Students can analyze the differences in the text structure of each selection featured in the page; they can set a purpose for reading each selection; identify key or difficult vocabulary in each selection; summarize each selection, and find connections among all of the selections on the Scoop.It page.  
Here’s a double scoop I created. I will be adding the Scoop.It widget to my blog, so you can always see new content I’ve scooped up, or you can get a taste on my Twitter page, Facebook, or by following my scoops on Scoop.It itself.    

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We're Lucky To Have Tech, But Are We Any Wiser?

In the age before tech tools, a.k.a. the analog world, teachers had to find creative ways to engage students with difficult texts or concepts, and help them transition to more challenging reads and ideas, but it wasn’t always easy or even achievable in 180 days! And, naturally some teachers were better at it than others. Now that we’re lucky enough to have tech in schools, are we any wiser? What’s changed in terms of how we use our resources? How are we using tech tools effectively to motivate reluctant learners and help them make the necessary transitions to become literate, educated adults? 

If students reach the fourth grade without strong math or reading skills, how many of these students overcome their deficiencies in middle school, high school or even adulthood? How are we truly using tech tools as interventions to stop the cycle of illiteracy and aliteracy?  

Today’s tech tools proclaim to boost critical thinking and combat all types of illiteracy, and I believe they can...someday in the near future, not just yet! I visited a Title I school recently where thousands of dollars had been spent on lap top carts, yet no one had bought the software for the lap tops. How effective was that decision to buy the hardware without the software? How long will the lap top carts sit in a closet before students and teachers can take advantage of them? Like this school, not all of our nation’s schools have caught up and established the infrastructure needed to support complete tech integration, and in those schools that have, we need to ask if the tech is being used wisely to teach critical thinking. 

With good reason, there’s been a lot of buzz about the September 3rd, 2011 New York Times article revealing the stagnant test scores of the Kyrene School district of Arizona. Many pro tech educators, including me, claim these statistics don’t tell the full story. However, what is the real story? I am a firm believer that learning how to critically think, without ever teaching to a test, increases a student’s chances of scoring high on standardized tests. Of course, for some students, it’s just not that simple; there will be other factors that affect their test performance. But, on the whole, if there is an entire school who has been using tech wisely and meaningfully for several years, statistically wouldn’t the scores tend to be higher? So, the questions remain: With tech tools as support, what critical thinking skills do students need to learn from year to year, and how are all subject area teachers across grade levels working in vertical teams to achieve “digital” continuity from kindergarten to high school? How are teachers building on the tech and critical thinking skills students mastered in previous years? We need to reflect on our curriculum goals that integrate tech and identify exactly how these goals help students develop critical thinking, study habits, and mastery of concepts to progress to more rigorous thinking levels. 
However, if schools have struggled to achieve this continuity and consistency to build vertical teams and meet benchmarks when we first began to use pen, paper and books, what are we going to do differently now that we have tech?  Have we grown wiser? These are questions  I think we must continually ask:
  • How are we using specific tech tools to effectively address illiteracy and aliteracy?
  • How does my school or my district’s vertical team create continuity, consistency and increase rigor year to year? What conditions create successful tech integration?
  • How are we using specific tech tools to effectively teach critical thinking year to year?
  • How are we using tech tools to engage and build autonomy?
  • How are we using tech tools to help reluctant learners transition from less challenging work to more rigorous academic levels?
  • How has tech integration lead to increased academic achievement? 
  • What specific tasks and roles are we assigning reluctant readers and writers when we use tech tools in the classroom? How we are we using tech tools to help build these students’ skills so that they can have an active role in our classrooms, and become independent learners?  
Tech in education remains undiscovered country for many schools, and our students exist as digital natives held back by an analog world. Many of our nation’s teachers remain afraid to abandon the analog world. The sooner we begin to coordinate our efforts, the wiser and luckier we will be.   

Please check my webdoc and share your thoughts! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lists 3 and 4-Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know!

How many tech terms did you know by heart from List One and Two? Test your "Tech Jargon" with Lists Three and Four, and share the lists with those teachers who want to improve their tech knowledge!
Once again, I used to create List Three and Four to maintain consistency with the way the lists look and can be accessed.  What vocabulary tech tools do you know about? Let's chat to compare teaching experiences with these tools.

Click on the link to see List Three and Four or email or tweet me at, and @trendingteacher, and I'll send you lists directly.

Wordle: Tech Terms Every Teacher Should Know
Wordle Lists Three and Four

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fuzzynyms: The Lexicon of Learning Connotation Using Lexipedia!

Regardless of the grade or subject, all teachers teach vocabulary, but how often do students struggle with learning the lexicon of a particular subject or with just understanding what words to use to express themselves more precisely and succinctly in speech and writing.

All of the vocabulary web tools I will be sharing in the next couple of posts support different aspects of vocabulary instruction. 

While offers digital flashcards, and practice games and quizzes, provides color coded word webs connecting the word to its definition(s), part(s) of speech, synonym(s), antonym(s), and its fuzzynym(s) or word slightly related in meaning. This concept of Fuzzynym can be difficult for students to understand. However, fuzzynyms, (I guess a word coined by Lexipedia) are an important lexical component of vocabulary building so students learn the connotation or nuance words carry. When I teach vocabulary, I not only teach the basics, but I also teach the positive, negative or neutral effect of words. Students benefit from learning these so called fuzzynyms so they can learn about the importance of semantics (meaning), and how meaning can change drastically for better or worse if a writer or speaker carelessly chooses his/her words. Mean what you say, but say what you mean by choosing your words carefully is what I tell my students!

When students learn about the connotation of words by analyzing written and non-written texts, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me", takes on an entirely different meaning. Students begin to realize the power words have to suggest, influence, and persuade us, and they become more conscious about their own word choices. 

In our world of 140 characters or less, understanding the connotation of words through Lexipedia's "fuzzynyms" offers a way for students to discover the importance of semantics and the power of our words to express and grasp meaning.  

List 2-Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know

Are you ready for List Two of Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know? Well, ready or not here it is! Quiz is forthcoming!

My next post will feature one more tech tool that supports vocabulary instruction. I have used again to create List Two to maintain consistency with the way the lists look and can be accessed, but this other tech tool I'll be writing about, Lexipedia, has some pretty neat features as well.

I would love to hear from anyone who has used different vocabulary tech tools to compare teaching experiences with these tools.

Click on the link to see List Two or email or tweet me at, and @trendingteacher, and I'll send you lists directly.
Wordle: Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know-List Two
Wordle of List 2:Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do You Speak-a My Language? Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know-List One Using Wordstash & Wordle

In my last post I used the word “friended”.  After posting it, I thought what if some readers think I’ve made a huge grammatical blunder using “friend” as a verb. But then I thought, my readers don’t live under a rock. They must have heard this new techie vernacular. Which got me to thinking there’s so much tech talk out there, it’s difficult to keep up with it all.

So I decided why not create a sort of tech vocabulary for dummies. Well, not for know what I mean...but for those of who aren’t afraid to use tech, but don’t always know what all the terms mean...we kind of smile and nod around the "super techies" pretending we know. 

Here are three posts in one! First, I’ve used to create a Tech Vocabulary List of “Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know”.’s features make learning vocabulary incredibly efficient! You create a list of words adding them one at a time. gives you the part of speech and definition. Some of the newer tech terms did not have a definition so I had to add it myself. But that’s the beauty of word stash, you can add your own definition if you want, and add an image from Wikipedia or Flicker for a visual cue. saves all the words entered to generate a list that you name. You revisit your lists to study by using’s quizzes and games, and mark the words you’ve mastered, and the ones where you need extra practice. let’s you say: “Adios flashcards!”, on the other hand, let’s you add lists of words and creates a beautiful word cloud. You decide the layout of the words by choosing the font and color. Check out the I created for “Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know” can be used as a digital word wall, a visual reminder of words studied, and a reminder of how to spell the words.
                                                    let’s you say: 
“Good riddance word wall bulletin boards that take time and money to design!”  
This will be List One of “Tech Terms All Teachers Should Know”, and I will add more tech terms using other tech tools so we can continue to build our tech vocabulary and learn about other tech tools that support vocabulary instruction. allows sharing of wordlists through Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon and or email. If you are unable to open the link, email me at so I can email you the list! Or, follow me on Twitter or Facebook, and I'll tweet or Facebook the list!  Check out List one!

Wordle: Tech Terms All Teacher Should Know

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Have You Friended TED?

If you haven’t met TED, TED is waiting to inspire you and your students! TED is a non-profit organization first created to spread ideas about Technology, Entertainment and Design; however, since it’s inception in 1984, TED has expanded to spreading ideas online about so much more through TED Talks. Our technology has made TED Talks easily accessible anytime, anywhere on the web.  TED Talks feature short presentations of leading experts in all fields of study. From celebrities, scientists, writers, to directors, magicians, heads of state, and Noble Prize winners, TED Talks are profoundly moving and thought provoking. TED presenters promise to keep you and your students engaged because presentations are no longer than 20 minutes long! No snoozing or mind wandering with TED, promise! 
How can you use TED Talks in the classroom?
TED has over 900 different talks exploring all aspects of life and the human condition. Speakers explore topics we can all connect with, and in 20 minutes or less, we leave feeling smarter and more aware of our world and ourselves.  
Imagine if you could create your own TED Talks in your elementary, middle or high school classroom. After reading a novel, or non fiction piece, students could explore one or more of its themes; research the theme in more depth using primary sources for support of the theme, and then write a moving speech to deliver as a TED Talk. What about writing and delivering a TED Talk as a character from a short story, or the speaker of a poem?  In science, students could explore the moral implications of cloning, or in history class explore patterns of human behavior to determine if we truly do fail to learn from our mistakes. In math, students could offer TED Talks to explain mathematical applications in life. These are obviously just a few ideas off the top of my head, but if teachers of all subjects brainstormed ideas with their students of possible TED Talks, I’m sure the topics would be worth a listen.  Kids want to talk and express their views, opinions and perspectives of the adult world. It's in every human being's nature to seek knowledge. Creating mock TED Talks, and viewing actual TED talks can channel that human instinct to learn and help students make sense of topics they struggle understanding.  
If your school has its own TV broadcast system, imagine students creating brief TED talks on bullying prevention, drug awareness, cyber bullying, social media safety, and other student issues. How would  these student TED Talks impact a school culture? 

Kids are more creative than adults; if given the opportunity to create their own TED Talk network, students regardless of learning challenges and ability level could literally change the cultures of their schools through their own TED talks. If the TED founders have been able to inspire the world, then our children can do it too if we give them the chance to express themselves.  

Here’s one of my favorite TED speakers, Ken Robinson, on how schools kill creativity. I hope that whether you teach elementary, middle or high school, you can think of a way to create your own mock TED talks in your class. Even if some of the TED talks are too mature for your students, you can apply the concept of TED to your classroom by allowing your students to teach and inspire one another through the power of speech.

Please also visit TeachingWithTED to see a wiki listing great TED Talks, and a Glog created by one of the wiki contributors. (Couldn't find the name to credit the person who created this awesome Glog):

Also visit this site to find out how to "Do" a TED Talk:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peachy Keen Presentations!

Have you heard of ? It's just a peachy site! Students will be able to upload images, choose music to complement the image, add a brief description and voila, there's an amazing slideshow presentation!  Imagine the possibilities in your classroom! Students can use to summarize a text they have read, using images and sound that capture the main idea or theme of the text. They can create images of various steps in a math problem, upload these, and then add text to explain each step and solution. What about uploading images, music and text to demonstrate their knowledge about a historical or scientific event, or notable figure? Creating a slideshow to showcase a writer, define literary terms, vocabulary, or book genres won't be the pits anymore! is sweet! 

Hope you'll check it out and share how you used this easy tech tool in the classroom! Endless possibilities!

See my photopeach sample featuring the web tool logos of tech tools I've talked about, and those you can look forward to learning about in future posts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Say Aloha to Wikis: Using Wikis to Teach the Writing Process!

What did one control freak say to another control freak? "Get your hands off my wiki!" 

If you've heard the word wiki, but are not quite sure what it means or how to use it, then you've come to the right blog! Wikis are webpages created for ongoing editing and revision by one author or multiple authors. 

Control freaks and wikis do not mix well because a wiki is meant to be in a constant state of revision and editing by multiple authors. (The control freak will want to keep that wiki all to himself!) 

Wikis can be messy and should be! A wiki promotes collaboration and critical thinking. All students can throw in their two cents, and see every contributor's thought process, but they serve an even better purpose!  They teach students about the writing process. In many classrooms, writing is not taught as a recursive process. Students are given writing prompts, but rarely receive feedback to understand how they can improve their writing skills.  If they are lucky enough to receive feedback, students may not know what to do with that feedback, nor do they have the opportunity to revisit a writing piece to polish it. (And by the way, kids do read feedback if they're taught how to read it, apply it and and give it...another post for another day.) Here's where wikis are a breath of fresh of air and give new life to teaching the writing process!  

Teachers can create wikis for pairs of students who have different writing strengths, small groups of students or an entire class. These wikis can be safely shared online locally, nationally or globally by joining wiki sites like Wikispaces so students can receive writing feedback and participate in collaborative writing projects with their peers.  

If you're worried that wikis may be too messy for your taste because content may get deleted,  Hakuna Matata, no worries! (Oops, not a Hawaiian expression, but let's pretend!) When you create a wiki, there is a "revision history" so the wiki creator knows who edits, what is edited and even at what time the editing took place. Issues that may arise with wikis include:
  • allowing students practice time to learn how to use a wiki 
  • building a community of trust so contributors feel confident their contributions will be valued 
  • ensuring the quality of the content students add to the wiki
  • assigning authentic writing topics so students will be excited to write and collaborate
  • assigning subtopics to each student and/or roles so students have a distinct contribution
  • determining how you will assess the content added to the wiki
  • safeguarding your wiki so it is not vandalized or deleted                                                   
Luckily, wiki sites offer monitoring controls to wiki creators. You decide to make your wiki public or private, and who contributes and edits. Students can also add videos, images, audio or links of websites that support their content.  So, fear not and hang ten

A wiki can change students' attitudes about writing because they will participate in different aspects of the writing process.  Students will learn from their mistakes, recognize their peers's mistakes so they can help them, but most importantly they will collaborate with peers, and internalize the process of revising, editing, polishing and presenting their writing. 

Students at any grade level can create wikis on any subject, and even share their wikis with classrooms around the world to receive input from other student or teacher authors.

Check out these educational wikis looking for student and teacher collaboration! 

By the way, the word wiki-wiki is Hawaiian for fast or quickly! 
So start your class wiki, wiki-wiki today!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just 5 Tech Tools Can Transform Our Classrooms!

If every teacher in America made an effort to learn how to use and implement JUST 5 Tech Tools a year, we can keep our "digital promise" and transform education. What do kids think when teachers use tech in the classroom? Check out the video to find out! Try Just 5 Tech Tools In Your Class This School Year! What tech tools are you currently using?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Less Is More- "Let's Start Just Five Movement!"

Since change is difficult, and many schools do not have the resources, nor do all teachers have the training or the confidence to incorporate technology in their classrooms, why not choose JUST FIVE Web tools or tech software resources every school must have NOW! For example, we have established that all American schools have at least one or more computers because our society entered the digital age decades ago. Education has not caught up! Regardless of demographics, computers do exist in all American schools. Now let's take a baby step and move toward identifying JUST FIVE Web Tools, or Tech Resources every American school MUST use to improve literacy and critical thinking.

Every classroom and every student does not need to have a computer YET, but if we identify and establish JUST FIVE Web Tools and Software that will improve literacy and critical thinking for every American student, we are taking baby steps to fulfilling the digital promise.  For example, every school should have at least one Skype session per school year to connect students globally.  Every school should require staff and stakeholders to become members of any digital PLN, such as Twitter, Ning.

What are JUST FIVE Web Tools and Tech Resources you believe are essential for integrating technology to improve literacy and critical thinking? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Connect With Parents In A Snap @!

There's another great service fresh on the tech scene that can empower your communication with parents and students. In a snap, can help you send texts and emails to your students or parents keeping your number private unless you give it to them. has many similar features to GoogleVoice, 
but is different!

For one, you register in a snap, and use it to send short texts, and emails of 140 characters or less to notify or remind parents of tests, quizzes, HW deadlines, fieldtrips, school events, and any other quick information parents and students need to know.

With Google Voice, you have to register your contacts if you want to see who is calling you, but with, the onus is on the student and parent to subscribe to you. subscribers cannot respond to your texts or emails like they can with Google Voice. also allows you to create separate groups to send your text and/or email of 140 characters or less in different languages.

Here's how works:
1.) Register at as a teacher, administrator or parent who would like to refer your child's teacher, providing your role, email and school.
2.) Once you register, you will receive an email from to:
• confirm your email
• add the cell number you would like to register (Remember this always remains private!)
• choose your Class ID and
• accept terms of service
3.) After you submit this information, will send the cell phone you registered a text message that says: “Thanks for creating TrendingTeacher! Your texts to this number will be broadcast to followers. Followers text TrendingTeacher to this number to subscribe.”
(By the way, I chose the Class ID: TrendingTeacher and assigned a phone number to me which no subscriber can call or text, but subscribers will recognize the number as 917-477-3564 whenever I send them a text or email. )
4.) Give this number to subscribers, so they will recognize it and know when you are sending them texts or emails, and so that they can subscribe to your class ID. has a ready-made letter to send to parents
letting them know you will be using this service! Check it out on their webpage!

Click on this video screencast to listen to directions for registering parent/student subscribers and how teachers can send their texts/emails to parent/student subscribers. Be sure to click on the TV icon on the bottom right corner to enlarge the directions:

                   Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

• Parents and students can register to receive text, emails or both.
• You must use the cell number and email address you registered at to send texts and emails to subscribers.
• Parent/Student Subscribers never see your original number; they can’t respond to your message, or to each other.
• Parent/Student Subscribers can always unsubscribe by following the same directions above and adding the word STOP.

Now you can text/email parents from the comfort of your home if come across educational programming on TV that will enhance whatever students are learning in class. has many possibilities for enriching parent, student and teacher communication!

Make Teaching a Breeze By Connecting With Parents in a Snap! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Go Paperless or Go Home-Saving and Sharing the LiveBinders Way!

For teachers- 
In many ways, a teacher’s personal collection of materials and resources is like a wardrobe; we have some classic pieces we use over and over again, which never fail to impact and impress, but then there are those forgotten gems in the back of our closets, which thrill us when we stumble upon them and are able to restyle, rework and reuse. The longer we teach, the more “stuff” we have that we can’t seem to purge. Some of us are like California closets while others struggle to organize large quantities of teaching materials and resources. We see potential in every piece of content we receive or create and anticipate its benefits in the near or distant future. 
So how does a teacher organize all of his/her “stuff”? to the rescue! is a free site that allows teachers to upload, save, and share their materials and resources. Like a California closet, all files are neatly organized, and professionally presented safeguarding the lifespan of teacher resources and materials, and infusing them with a technological edge.
With, you can: 
  • upload and store your lesson plans, activities, tests, quizzes, projects, student work samples, manuals, handbooks, brochures, videos, PDFs, and more. 
  • share your LiveBinder with anyone you want by simply sending them the link of your LiveBinder.
  • bookmark links of articles, webpages, websites by simply adding the “LiveBinder It” bookmark tool to your browser. 
When you browse the web and find a link you want to save:
  • click on 'LiveBinder it' and save directly to an existing or new LiveBinder.  
All your bookmarked links and uploaded files will be neatly organized on one virtual page with an identifying tab with the option to create sub tabs. 
There’s no more worrying about binders getting lost, stolen, or pages falling out. makes it effortless to save and share your teacher materials and resources with anyone you choose!   
For students- 
Never hear the words: “I lost it!” or “I can’t find it!” ever again! can make  that happen for your students. LiveBinders is a great tool for students who need extra help with organizational skills, and even for those who don’t. LiveBinders is easy enough for students to create their own virtual 3-ringed binders. Both the teacher and the students can add content to the student’s binder. 
For parents-
Increase your parent/teacher communication by leaps and bounds with LiveBinder. Send your parents the link of their child’s binder, or create a special parent binder with information specially for parents. Add and share information to the binder when needed to keep parents in the loop at all times. Parents will love you for not having to buy expensive clunky 3 ringed binders or tab dividers! 
For administrators and school districts-
LiveBinders offers administrators and school districts the possibility of reaching all stakeholders with paperless binders that disseminate information, educate, and connect our goals!  LiveBinders can help educational stakeholders turn over a new leaf when it comes to Vertical Teaming, Conferences, Professional Development and more so we're all on the same page! 

Check out how to create a LiveBinder:

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