Archive for category resources

Technology Tuesday – Supporting Differentiation in the Classroom

Differentiating Content:

Here are a few tools to help in finding content suited to the different levels in your classroom.

Twurdy – – Need to find content to help in differentiation in the classroom?   Twurdy searched the internet and labels results with a readability score.  The darker orange the background of the result is the higher readability level it has.  This would be great when searching  for materials for struggling readers and for the gifted students who need more of a challenge.   The have their own scale system so be sure to check out the feature to turn the age level to understand their system.

Google Reading Level – Google also has a search filter that will sort results based on Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Reading Levels.   Type in your search term(s) and then click on the reading level you want to focus on to see the websites that fall in that category.

Text Compactor  – – Create a summary of your text by pasting in the passage, drag the slider to show how much of the text you want to keep in the summary and then view the results.   You can also cut and paste the results into a text to speech program or into a language translator to help process the information even more.  This could be used for those ELL students or for struggling readers to comprehend the text.  Or use it in the writing process as students pasting in their own writing and determining if the created summary really reflects what was intended by the student.

Sweet Search – – A search engine designed to give results based on analyzing the credibility of the website so students will have access to information that is more accurate than random sites.   This website also contains widgets that you can place on your website so that students can use it as a launching point for searches in class and at home.


Differentiating Product

This is easy with Web 2.0 technology tools.  Students do not need to all create the same product, but choices can be given to allow them to choose a method that is more in alignment with their intelligences.  All these tools help students create.  According to the Digital Bloom’s taxonomy – creating is on the high end of the spectrum of critical thinking tools.  You don’t have to be an expert in all of these tools.  Tutorials already exist in youtube or by talking to other teachers who have the how-to papers ready to go.  Students are ready to learn the program to accomplish the product so let them try!


This list is not comprehensive, but this should get you started.

Management of Differentiated Products:

Worried about grading all these different products?   With the design of a good rubric grading can be easy as the content should always be what you are looking for no matter what the packaging is.   Rubistar is a great place to start in designing a rubric.

Tammy Worcester had a great idea of how to gather all the links/products into one place with a digital dropbox.  Using a google form, create a place for students to turn in their links for easy access to all products posted online.



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Technology Tuesday – February 28th

Twiddla is an online virtual whiteboard where folks can get together to mark up a document, website, image, or white board for group collaboration.  Chats can also occur to allow folks to contribute and collaborate without being in the same room.  Try it out:  I uploaded the BYOT infographic and you can color on the page or circle images, draw, etc.   In your classroom this would be a great way to have student collaborate on word problems, projects, analyzing literature, etc.  As professionals you can use it to plan events or lessons with teachers from across campus, or from other campuses.    Did I mention it is free and no sign in is required to use the site.


Linoit – ( I LOVE this site!  This creates a virtual bulletin board with various backgrounds.  Place sticky notes with due dates, images, videos, etc.  This could be a great launching pad for your classroom if you display this on your screen at the beginning of the period or a place to organize resources for a project.  Items can also be added from a iPhone/iPad (no android apps at this point).  Items can also be added by email.


PBS Learning Media (  is a collection of all things educational on the PBS website.  The categories include Arts, ELA, Health/PE, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Professional Development.   Resources can also be searched for by grade level, media type and resource type,  A login is required, but access is free.   resources include interactives as well as videos, documents, audio and pictures.  A wealth of resources worth checking into.


Science Links:

Periodic Table of Elements ( – videos for each element, some more entertaining than others but does a good job of explaining the properties of each element and getting a good glimpse of what they look like.
Web Adventures ( – created by Rice University this teachers science through role play and web games.  Topics include infectious diseases, impact of alcohol on the body, the neuroscience approach to substance abuse, become a  member of CSI and learn to solve crimes with forensic techniques, and explore science as an apprentice.  Well-done and thought out this site deserves a look!


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Technology Tuesday: Free Classroom Tools

In the training I attended yesterday the presenter used some pretty slick digital tools to time activities and choose people to call on.  Although that software was for sale, I also know there are some free alternatives that will do some of the same things.  Here are a few to explore before spending your money:

Triptico:  This is an installation, but once installed you have access to classroom timers, random number/name pickers and spinners.  All of these tools can be created ahead of time and saved on your computer for access use later on. Files can also be shared, so if teacher A creates a great spinner, then that file can be shared to Teacher B, C, D, etc without a problem.  This program also has several other templates including quizzes, scoring, and games. – offers free tools that do not require a download.  It has a classroom timer complete with your choice of soundtrack to run during the countdown.  It also has a random name/number picker for using to pick what student in each group you would like to call on.  These would have to be created as you need them and cannot be saved for future use.  You may want to save any lists you create in a word doc to be able to copy and paste over for quick access.

Online_Stopwatch:  Is also a free online tool that does not require a download.  This timer will count up or down and will go full screen to gain attention of the students.  This is one of my favorites to use!

Smart Notebook:  If you already have a smart slate or smart board in your room, check out the Notebook Gallery section and do a search for a spinner.  The default is for 4 sections, but that can be changed as can the labels and colors.   They also have a random number generator that can be used to randomly pick numbers in the number range that you set.  These can also be shared amongst the other smart slate users on a campus.

I also know several of my staff has iPads or other devices they bring to campus on a regular basis.  Check out the app store to find free apps for timers to use.

If you know of any other good tools to share (or apps), please leave them in the comments below.


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QR Codes – Revisited

I have posted about QR codes before, but after seeing them everywhere at TCEA I thought they were worth revisiting!

I recently sent this QR code out to my staff after being inspired by this post by a friend of mine.  I got about a dozen folks to respond, several who said their phones weren’t smart enough and some who tried to find the hidden image inside the square.  If nothing else it got people talking about QR codes on campus a little more.

To continue the conversation I thought I would compile  a few ways that QR codes could be used in the classroom based on what I heard at TCEA 2012 Convention and have read online.

Why QR Codes?

QR codes are an easy way to get a information to a device that is able to read the code.  You can use a smartphone or a tablet device that has an QR reader app (i-nigma is a good one). or a computer with a webcam as we have set up in the library on campus.  (See for details on how to set this up.)  QR codes can contain:

  • Short pieces of text
  • website address (including online videos or mp3s)
  • email address
  • phone numbers


How to Create QR Codes:

Several QR creator websites exist and are free to use.  Some of my favorite are:

If you are going to get serious abut creating QR codes for websites, check out my tech idol Tammy Worcester’s site for how to generate QR codes using a google spreadsheet.

Note:  Large pieces of text or large addresses create detailed codes that can be hard to read.  Use URL shorteners to create simpler codes that can be read by more devices like, or delivr.

Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom:

  1. Famous People Posters:  Place a QR code on a poster of a famous person in your room that links to a video about them.
  2. Famous People Part 2:  Link the QR code to a video of a mouth that when you place the phone over the mouth it looks like the poster has come to life and is talking to the student.
  3. Fine Arts:  Link the QR code to an mp3 of the musical piece they are learning so students can listen to the the music from their modible devices.
  4. Math Problems:  QR code can link to a video tutorial on how to solve that type of math problem.  Websites like the Khan Academy can help with the video content to link to.
  5. Art Work – Create a mp3 file that explains the art and the concept behind it and link the QR code on the displayed art piece to the file.
  6. Share Apps – have an app you want your class to use?  Make a QR code that links to the app store and place it in the classroom for students to scan and download the app.  Be sure to include two codes – one for android and one for apple.
  7. Link to your homework site:  QR code in the classroom can link directly to your teacher web page so kids can easily get to it in the classroom on their own devices.
  8. Link to resources for assignments:  Place a QR code on a powerpoint and project for students to be able to find the document or website they need to complete the assignment in class.
  9. Library:  Place QR codes on books that link to reviews, book trailers, interviews with authors, etc so kids can learn more about the book before they read it.
  10. Promote a School Event: Create a website that promotes the a school event and place QR codes in places on campus where students can use their devices.
  11. On Assignments:  Place QR Codes on the assignment with the text answers so students can check their answers as they go along or to give hints to how to answer the question.
  12. In the window of your Classroom:  Link to the class website so passerbys can view what is happening in your class with possible links to student work.
  13. Scavenger Hunt:  Place QR codes around the room (or school) that go to information or contain clues for a class scavenger hunt on your subject matter.
  14. Link Analogue to Digital:  Place a QR code on a draft of student work that links to the final product to show the learning process.
  15. Make Displays Interactive:  Add QR codes to a display to make more information available to those viewing.
  16. Link to Maps:  Place a QR code to link to a particular place on the map based on the current unit of study.  Kids can explore the area as they learning.
  17. Attach Codes to a Physical Model:  Place codes on different parts of the model (like a skeleton) to identify parts and important pieces of information.
  18. Choose your own adventure reading:  Create a story online and have participants scan their choice on what to do next to have them move to a different part of the story.



Barrett, Tom. “35 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom.” 35 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2012. <

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Technology Tuesday: Infographics

Infographics are all the rage. I have seen them on blog postings, shared on facebook, pinned on pinterest, printed in papers and in magazines. Basically they are a graphic representation of information. Think about USA Today, they have been doing this for years, taking data and displaying it with bright colors and images to make a point and display the data in a way that is easy to understand. Several subject areas TEKS require students to be able to read data from a chart, graph or image and draw conclusions. Infographics are a way to do that.

For those of you that are visual learners here is a great video on Inforgraphics as a Creative Assessment:

Infographics as a Creative Assessment from Kathy Schrock on Vimeo.

Examples of Infographics:

Use infographics in the classroom:
Search google using “infographics” and your keywords to see what is available on the internet. Use the projector to display and discuss the information available on the infographic.

Taking it a step further:
Students could make their own infographic as a creative assessment using Excel for the charts and graphs and Publisher for the layout of the information. What a great way to report on a country or a historical event, or any topic that is organized around data of some kind.

Students have to

    • choose the appropraite data
    • graphics to help visualize the data
    • organize the information to tell a story or get their point across.

Other Resurces:

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