Monday, July 26, 2010

Games can be powerful motivational tools in education. I just found a great free game creation tool that's easy to use at They have several different templates. All you have to do is enter your questions and answers. Here's a sample game I created for a review of Ancient Rome for my 7th graders when we get back to school.

Click here for full screen version

I plan to embed games such as this into my Homework Webpage and encourage students to use the games as a review tool. Our adopted social studies textbook has a few online games related to the text, but how much more powerful it will be to specifically target the facts I want my students to know in order for me to challenge them to move on to higher levels of critical thinking. Just as seasonings provide flavor and variety in food, so too a "just in time" game can provide our students with the needed motivation to solidify the facts they need to master in order to move through the stages of higher order thinking. Create your own game for your curriculum and share the link with us here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'd like to thank Dr. Sontag for welcoming me to share posts on this blog as a collaborative effort from this point onward.

My first contribution to the blog is to share a product which I've seen demonstrated at my school in London. It is very exciting to see the possibility of this new product, which has only recently arrived on the market. It allows any flat surface to become an interactive whiteboard. The projector is ultra-short throw which removes a great deal of the shadow from teaching in front of a standard ceiling-mounted projector.

The down side is that Smart Board software is still superior to the software of any of its competitors (including Promethan's Activboard or the Polyvision Eno Board). Perhaps there will be a way in the future to put the two together!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

After watching videos and reading downloads from the online teaching conference (see the previous post), I was inspired to create some products for my upcoming fall classes. The session on interactive tools prompted me to create a voice thread, telling new parents and students about the CA Dept. of Ed.'s suggested reading list. When school starts, I'll encourage students to also leave voice threads, telling us about books they have read recently. The social networking session encouraged me to create a class Wiki. I developed one that I hope to use for an introductory social studies project.

Check out the free online videos and downloads from the Online Teaching Conference and get inspired!

Online PD

With budget cuts, little money remains for teachers' professional development. A few weeks ago I went (for free!) to San Digeo (virtually, from my couch in San Jose, CA!) for an online teaching conference. Although primarily targeting online teachers, many of the sessions gave great tips for regular (face-to-face) classroom teachers as well.

I especially got a lot out of the session on graphic organizers, integrating social networking to foster an engaged community, and a session on MUVE's (session 14 at 2:15pm). I still plan to go back and view some of the ones I missed, such as the live video of the Google Wave session, and to download handouts from the session, Communication Tools for the 21st Century (session 4). Go to any of the links and register as a guest to take advantage of this free professional development training via video and handouts!