Wonderopolis is a website from the National Center of Families Learning designed to inspire kids and adults alike to become curious, life-long learners. The site posts a Daily Wonder that has been submitted and voted on by users, and includes explanation, videos, links, and even little quizzes to test your knowledge on the topic. The wonders range from  questions like “Why do airplanes leave tracks in the sky?” and “Why are Pavlov’s dogs famous?” to “Are pennies lucky?” or “Is it catsup or ketchup?” 

You can sign up to receive emails or texts with the Daily Wonder, but you can also search the archives to view all of the questions that have been posed in the past (over 1000+ posts!). I discovered there are search options to filter the wonderings by Subject Matter and Grade Level by Common Core Standards. This might be nice if you are looking for topics to kick off a specific lesson or project.

The website seems geared toward families, as it has a section for activities you could try to get more involved with say, Bollywood movies. But I think teachers at any level could look through the archives to find a cool hook to motivate and engage students as a warm-up or extension activity. I could definitely see myself putting this site on a Symbaloo or other list of things for students to do if they finish work early in class.

Let me know if you find a good “Daily Wondering” and think of a way you might use it in class!


Google Form Templates

Google Form Templates

Our district is really jumping into the use of Google Apps for Education, and I think our teachers are starting to realize how many great things can be done through Google. We have a few teachers using Google Forms for things like warm-ups, but I have been learning about how powerful they can be.

On Twitter tonight, I came across a great list of Google Form templates from Kern Kelly of The Tech Curve to import into your Drive. They are specifically designed for educators and include self-grading quizzes, surveys, and discipline forms. I know sometimes it can be overwhelming for a teacher to create something new from scratch, so hopefully templates like these will make it more likely that you will use Google Forms in your classroom.

I’ll try to do another post in the future about some more specific ways for making Forms work for you. In the meantime, check out some of the links below:

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Symbaloo – Visual Bookmarking

Symbaloo - Visual Bookmarking

I was working with a teacher today who wanted to help her students research and find information about the civil rights movement. Her students were new to gathering information online, and she wanted to provide some scaffolding to help guide them and prevent them from being overwhelmed by all the information available online. There are a number of tools to can help with this task, including Advanced Google Search tools, however, I recommended a simple site called Symbaloo.

Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking and sharing site, and teachers can create “webmixes”. A webmix is simply a list of links that you can curate and arrange in an easy to view, pleasing format. You can group the icons in any way that you wish, and even color-code them based on what type of tool or resource they might be. The webmix pictured above is educator Bradley Lands created with his top 52 Web 2.0 resources for students and education. If you want to explore the tools listed there, here is the direct link:

Student WebTools

Symbaloo would be great for guiding student research or providing them with pre-approved tools for creating the end product for a PBL or other major project. Outside of education, some people just like the look and layout of a Symbaloo homepage for accessing their email, favorite newspapers, or shopping sites.

It is free to sign up for a Symbaloo account – so sign up today and try it out!


The Story Coaster and Storybird

The Story Coaster and Storybird

I found this picture last week and thought immediately of my ELA teacher friends. It was a cartoon from the NY Times Book Review, but had been posted on the blog for a site called Storybird. Storybird is an online storytelling platform that according to their website, “lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. We curate artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories.”

Sounds like a good way to motivate students to write creatively and share their work with others!

Recap of ITIC

Last week, I posted about attending the Instructional Technology Integration Conference (ITIC) that my district has put on for the last three years. I got to hear some great presentations, and I actually co-presented a session on assessing student understanding with another teacher from my campus. I was a little bit nervous to present before even having the chance to attend the conference first, but I think that all went well. I feel hopeful that I shared some new tools like ThatQuiz, Padlet, and Today’s Meet with teachers and school leaders from my area. I have to remember that technology integration is part of my daily job, so I get the opportunity to read blogs and Twitter feeds and play around with these types of things regularly. Just because I’ve heard of something before doesn’t mean that everyone else has – and I think everyone can put their own spin on new ways you might be to use an existing technology.

Outside of my presentation, I really enjoyed the sessions by Tammy Worcester Tang. In Beyond Copy and Paste, she gave great quick tutorials on tons of different Web 2.0 tools and linked them to ideas and assignments that could be implemented in the classroom right away. During her Go Paperless talk, she highlighted the use of Google Forms as a teacher dropbox to collect URLs of student work for easy grading. Beyond submitting separate URLs for each assignment, students could also keep a running portfolio of their work in Google Drive and send the teacher a link to access that living document throughout the year. I especially love this idea for my Science classes. Instead of lugging around crates of spiral notebooks to grade at the end of each unit, I could just peek into a student’s digital journal to look at all of their notes, photos of their lab observations, and other creations.

I’ve heard other good feedback from the conference, and I found some new, active people to follow on Twitter. I’ll definitely make plans to attend (and present!) again next year.

Richardson ISD ITIC Conference

Today I am attending my school district’s annual Instructional Technology Integration Conference (ITIC). Richardson ISD has been holding this conference for the past 3 years and includes tours of our magnet and STEM schools for teachers and administrators to see some of the exciting things that our district is doing. I am actually sitting in a session about administrative tools for teachers, and the current topic is blogging in education. So here I sit-realizing that I haven’t been posting enough lately!

The keynote speaker today is Tammy Worcester, and her site and bio can be found here at her website Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers After the sessions today, I’ll be sure to share some of the most interesting things I’ve learned.