Versal- Easy to use course design

Versal“Create captivating learning experiences”

A colleague shared this site with me and I have to say that I’m in love!! Versal is a FREE resource for creating visually stimulating, interactive, and fun educational lessons. Versal can be published online allowing you to share it with your students or make it public on the web. You can also embed the course directly into your LMS, blogs, and websites. The best part about Versal is the level of creativity and interaction that is available. Primarily, the graphic options that are available, create a visually pleasing course that any student or teacher will appreciate.

When creating your course, you can CURATE by import existing materials and display items found on the Web. You can easily STRUCTURE and restructure your course by organizing and moving content around within the lessons and sections, as well as inserting “road-block style” quizzes so that you can make sure that students understand the material that has been covered before they move on. You can also COLLABORATE with colleagues in real-time, similar to GoogleDocs and other online real-time tools, to pool knowledge and you can create teams to allow students to take the lead. You can CUSTOMIZE your course by incorporating text, video, images, quizzes, and the coolest thing of all…INTERACTIVE GADGETS.

The following are examples of the primary interactive gadgets that are available via Versal:

  • The Timeline Gadget allows you to create interactive timelines
  • The Diagram Gadget allows you to create interactive diagrams
  • The Categories Gadget allows you to create interactive matching items
  • The Typing Test Gadget allows you to determine student typing speed  

To explore further, click on the Versal logo above or visit

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Curriculum Design Pays!!

Attention teachers, all that time you spend writing lesson plans, developing activities, and putting together materials for your classes, can make you some extra cash!!

Teachers Pay Teachers Website
Click the image to visit the site.

 A website where teachers can post their curriculum and activity materials for other teachers to purchase. Why not?!! Putting materials together for class takes time and effort, so why not share and get a little financial assistance to boot? This site is dedicated to helping teachers spend less time re-creating the wheel and more time locating quality materials that they can put to use. This saves time so we can focus on the most important aspect of teaching…the instruction!! Also, when you put together a lesson and incorporate activities, media, etc. why just keep it to yourself? Why not share and see if someone would like to purchase it from you? It’s a win-win for all!! Membership is free and there are plenty of resources to be found as well.



Lino is a free online tool that you can use to create a wall or canvas similar to that of a bulletin board. You use what look like sticky notes to post images, videos, documents, and files. It’s colorful and fun to use. You can use lino as a collaboration tool with other teachers and/or students and parents. You can use it as a calendar or a reminder board for your class or yourself. I could also see this being used for community service boards since they can be shared and those who are allowed to post to the board can do so when needed.

You can also use it for a class project as I did. I created a lino board that provides a lot of information on copyright laws regarding Fair Use and the TEACH Act for teachers. It’s worth checking out. You can view my lino board by clicking here.

Lino is also mobile and can be shared publicly or privately. Each lino board comes with its own link or URL that you can post to any page or share via email.

Here is a lino board that has all the info. on lino: How to lino

Padlet: Paper for the Web

ImageWe give you a blank wall.  You put anything you want on it, anywhere. Simple, yet powerful.”

Padlet is an online tool that you can use to create an informative and interactive online wall.

Here are some of Padlet’s features that make it worth sharing:

  • It uses common software features such as drag and drop and autosave.
  • Instant collaboration (great if you are trying out the Flipped Classroom approach)
  • Multimedia capabilities including adding YouTube videos, photos, and documents such as Word Documents and PDFs directly to the wall.
  • You can select different privacy features. You can make your wall public, private, or you can share it with a select few.
  • You can select different sharing features. You can set permissions for individuals to be able to add to or alter the wall or you can make it to where they are only allowed to view your wall.
  • It works on mobile devices.
  • It’s embeddable. There is already a plug-in for WordPress (Yay!!)
  • Plus you can choose your own web address/URL for your wall. You can pick a address or you can pick a domain that you already own. My address for my presentation is

I created a wall for a class presentation using Padlet instead of PowerPoint. You can see how I used Padlet for my project by clicking here. You can also few other, possibly more impressive, walls by viewing the Padlet Gallery.

Want to give it a try? Click the Build a wall icon below to get started.


Can a board game teach coding to preschoolers?

blue-6201-300x229NPR posted a story that came across my Facebook page. The author, Elise Hu, tells us about how a new board game is targeting preschoolers in the hopes of teaching them how to code. You can view Hu’s article This Board Game Aims to Teach Preschoolers How to Code by clicking here.

To briefly summarize the article, the board game was developed by start-up entrepreneur and former Google employee, Dan Shapiro. He decided to come up with a way to play a game with his kids that wouldn’t bore him. So, he came up with his own game called Robot Turtles. It’s a board game, not a computer game, that teaches the fundamentals of programming. The game doesn’t use words to do this. Instead, children learn “by cutting out clip art cards and moving the cards based on what the kids were doing”.

Curious? If so, check these out:

50 Education Technology Tools You Can Start Using Today

I came across this blog post on Edudemic and wanted to share. Below is an image of a Symbaloo Gallery Webmixof 50 Apps that you can use in the classroom. The Gallery was made by LaSonya Cobbs,an Instructional Technology Specialist for New Caney ISD, where she works with teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms.

Click image to go to the 50 Apps Webmix

Flipping The Classroom

Click on image to watch a short video about the Flipped Classroom (Center for Teaching and Learning)

Flipping the classroom means looking at the learning process from a totally different perspective. Instead of teaching a lesson during class time and assigning homework to practice what they have learned during class, students view videos and post discussion questions while at home after school. The next day, students come back into class, they go over the discussions and then apply what they have learned the night before during class time. The entire class time is spent with the teacher actually helping you master the class material. Students move at their own pace.


Below are some resources that help you get an idea about what “flipping the classroom” means and some way in which you can get started:


The Center for Teaching and Learning: What is a “Flipped Classroom?”

Knewton: The Flipped Classroom: Turning the Traditional Classroom on it’s Head 

Vanderbilt University: Center for Teaching: Flipping the Classroom


Why I Flipped My Classroom (YouTube video)


Image Create online flash cards that can do so much more than the traditional card stock version on Quizlet. It’s FREE and in my opinion very fun to use!!

Quizlet was founded in 2005 by 15-year-old Andrew Sutherland for a high-school French class. He wanted an easy-to-use tool for learning vocabulary. He built Quizlet for himself, shared it with his friends, and it grew from there.

Quizlet is now among the largest educational website in the world. Millions of teachers and students from every country in the world use Quizlet.

You can create your own list of terms or pick from an already created list. You can search for a class list that has been created by your teacher or someone in your  class or you can create and share a list with your class. You can insert images for picture ID for animals, plants, countries, etc. There is a very nice and clear computer narration option that reads the cards out loud during the review process.

Check out the one that I created for my class assignment entitled DANGER!! Watch out for these critters!! The one issue that I found with the cards is that I typed a lot of information about the critters and plants on the back side of the card. When it came time for the review portion for the flashcards (scatter, race, and test) in order to get each one correct, you had to type in everything that I had written. I’m sure there is a way that this can be corrected if you spend some time with it. I didn’t mind it myself, since it was for demonstration purposes.

Using Socrative to Enhance Student Response in The Classroom

Image“Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.” 

We used Socrative in the class as a way to participate and interact with the class during discussions. Check it out by watching the video below or you can click on the logo to go to the website.



Commonsense Media Scope and Sequence

10-16-2013 11-28-36 AMI had to share this awesome (I can say that) site for teachers. This site is FULL of so many resources that you could spend hours surfing and downloading material.

I spent the greatest portion of my time visiting the Scope and Sequence tool on the site. The Scope and Sequence tool provides cross-curriculuar units that “spiral to address digital literacy and citizenship topics in an age-appropriate way.”


(Click here for the PDF version for the Scope and Sequence tool.)

The lessons are geared to specific grades, so you have the option to search specifically for your grade if you’d like. The grade suggestions also makes sure that the lesson that you have chosen is appropriate for your grade level. But we all know that teachers know how to take a lesson and adjust it to their particular grade level, so grade level suggestions are just suggestions.

For our class assignment, we were asked to find a lesson plan that we found useful. While there were many topics that I found extremely important to share, such as cyber-bullying, online safety, and online communication, I decided to share a lesson called Picture Perfect (recommended for grades 3-5). This lesson’s topic, “How can photos be changed on the computer, and how can that affect our feelings about the way we look?”, directly ties into the many conversations that I am having with my daughter about her self-image. As a woman, I understand the insecurity she feels about how she looks compared to the retouched photos that are posted online. Everyone knows that only the “best” pictures of someone are posted on Facebook or Instagram; at least those images that we can control, which is another topic that could also be covered within this lesson.

You will have to register and create an account before you can download the lesson materials that are provided with the lesson overview on the page, but since I’ve already created my account I will try to share the lesson materials with you now. Just click here and we’ll see if you can get to them.

I encourage you to visit the Common Media Scope and Sequence page to see what other options there are…and there are many!! The Common Media homepage also worth checking out, as is the Common Sense Media Education page.

Others that you might be interested in from Common Media:

Creative Learning using Kerpoof

kerpoof image

“As long as you know how to have fun, you should find a lot of fun to be had with Kerpoof. If you don’t know how to have fun, Kerpoof is a good way to learn. Really. It’s OK for lawyers to have fun, too.”

Overview: Kerpoof Studios is a kid-friendly site owned and operated by Disney. It provides various activities that allow the user to create such items as movies, pictures, and cards. It also provides resources for teachers such as lesson plans that you can download in PDF format. Teachers can also use this site with their class in the classroom. Each student can create their own avatar and save their creations within their backpacks (inventory button) on the site. Students can also use this site for free from home. The downside to the site is that the images, backgrounds, and themes are predetermined by the creators. However, the constraints placed on the creative process within the site is not an issue considering the wide range of options provided. Additional options are available for an upgrade, but otherwise the site is free to use. My son enjoyed using this site. He especially liked creating his own avatar. He made a movie and a story, which he found to be very fun. Here is a link to my Jing video providing a quick overview of Kerpoof: 2013-10-16_0939

Getting there: If you type in you can go to the site and it will begin loading. However, it can sometimes get “stuck” and show that it is still loading. Refreshing doesn’t seem to help. So, I began to Google the site and by clicking on one of the menus below (ex. “for teachers” or “lesson plans”) I was able to backtrack to the main homepage. It seems to work out better this way…you don’t have to wait on the site to load. When you go onto the site, you should go ahead and create your avatar and set up an account. Once you’ve done that, you can get started creating your projects. There are other options if you want to set up a teacher account to use with your students. You can read all about that by clicking here for the teacher link.

Ideas for using Kerpoof: I would suggest looking at the lesson plans that are provided by the site as a way to get ideas for using the activities for your classroom. Some examples are

  1. Exploring Fact and Fiction in the American West (grades 4-5)
  2. The History of Halloween: Lesson Plan & Timeline

For other examples click here.

Movie Maker using Your Own Images and Music


At Animoto, we live by two basic philosophies: make it simple, and make it beautiful. And we’re proud to offer you the simplest way to create the most beautiful videos online, whether for yourself, your friends, your family, or your business.”

Animoto is a user-friendly site that allows you to upload your own images and add your own music to create mini-movies. If you go for the free option, you can make short 30 second mini-movies. A good option for classroom presentations. Students can use these mini-movies to showcase their work, similar to a portfolio. The movies can be shared or embedded. For a reasonable price, you can upgrade your subscription enabling you to make longer movies with greater movie making options (access to a larger variety of templates). I created a short video using only a short selection of photos from our current Halloween yard decorations that I had recently shared on Facebook. Which, by the way you can have access to through Animoto as long as you are willing to grant the site access to your information. You can also use your Instagram images following the same process for sharing your information with Animoto. If you have an issue with allowing access to your accounts, you can always simply upload your images from your own computer.

Here is the Halloween video that I created: Cleveland Halloween Animoto Video

It’s short, but you can get a general idea of how it works. Also, you can see that you also have the option to add text to your video. I used a simple one “Cleveland Halloween; BOOOO!!!”. I wasn’t very creative when it came to what to write, but I think it fit in really nicely with the photo stream. All in all, I really liked the application. I’m planning on using it to create a short video for my son’s birthday. I intend to use images from his birth until now to share with our family and friends who live in different states. Most likely I will post it on Facebook and tag my family and friends so they can have access to it.

Below I’ve listed the pricing plans so you can get an idea of how much it costs to use Animoto. Again, it’s free, as long as you want to create short videos.



ImageI’ve just started using LiveBinders to organize journal articles for my dissertation. Using this tool makes it easy to upload documents from a URL and be able to view it online inside one of the binders instead of having to download and save these articles to my jump drive, Dropbox, or Skydrive. The main issue I have with saving the pages/articles is that I have to name the files and then remember what I saved them as so that I find them. With LiveBinders, the article itself is on a page. The actual page/article that I have been viewing is visible within the binder. I’m sure I could create something similar, but with LiveBinder all I have to do is create a tab within my chosen binder, enter the URL, and that’s it. It’s there when I open the tab. I can name the tab by the subject, author, or any information that I think will help me locate it later when I need to reference that article.

The reason I wanted to share is because of the organizational properties that are available with this tech. tool. There are also a lot of example binders of ways in which they can be used to give you ideas of how you can customize each binder for your particular use. I’ve given you an example of the way in which I’ll be using my binders, but I’m sure you can think of different ways that you can make use of them. The binders can also be shared publicly online and with others in your network/work group.

Personally, I hope that using LiveBinders will help organize the hundreds of references that I will be using throughout my dissertation process. I’ve been looking for alternatives to printing or saving documents and this seems to fit my purposes perfectly, but…we’ll see.

Word Clouds

Word clouds are unique designs that students can make using words. By entering a set of words, which can be anything from a list of spelling or vocabulary words, to words that describe plot and characters of a book, students create a visual image of those words. I visited Tagxedo,Wordle, and ABCya!, the primary hits on the Google search engine.


 My favorite of the Word Cloud sites.

Created by  Hardy Leung, “Tagxedo turns words — famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters — into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.”

The primary option that I like with Tagxedo is the option to make the word clouds in various shapes. You can also purchase your word cloud images on t-shirts, mugs, and other products.

Here are some options that you have in Tagxedo:

  • make word clouds in real-time
  • customize font, theme, color, orientation, and shape
  • fine-tune with lots of options
  • save as images for printing and sharing
  • view your word clouds as thumbnails, and pick the one you want for further tweaking or saving
  • choose from many standard fonts
  • use custom fonts (e.g. downloaded from Font SquirrelDaFontFontSpace, or your own hand-drawn fonts)
  • constrain the word cloud to selected shapes (heart, star, animals, etc)
  • use images as custom shapes (e.g. a portrait, an animal silhouette)

wordle image

  “Wordle is a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.” 

Wordle is created by Jonathan Feinberg, a technology developer from Medford, MA. There is a link to his blog site within Wordle on which he shares new sites that are similar to Wordle. A few of the sites that he shared were Text is Beautiful and WordCram, which is open-source and created using WordPress. One of the primary drawbacks to using Wordle is that it doesn’t offer an option to create shapes out of your word clouds. Also, you will need to install a Java Plug-in so unless you already have it installed on your computer, you might need approval to download and install.


“ is a teacher-created website which provides fun and educational games and apps for kids to use under the guidance of their parents and teachers.  The games do not collect personal information and children and adults are able to visit the site and play the games without providing any personal information to ” ABCya! is a site that offers more than just Word Clouds. There are many games that are targeted to children in grades K-5 on the site that can also be used as additional resources in the classroom. 

Some drawbacks to using this site for word clouds is the lack of design elements available. You are limited in your options of colors, fonts, and the direction of the text. Also, there is not an option for shapes.

Steve Jobs Schools Opening in the Netherlands

SJS-logoSo, I’ve really become a Steve Jobs School fan. Having never visited or experienced one for myself, I can only discuss them based on what I’ve researched via websites and articles. I’ve decided to post a blog on Steve Jobs Schools because I’ve become aware of how very excited I am about the possibilities of these types of programs. I feel it…if you can understand what I mean by that. It’s not just that I’m in agreement with the philosophy behind their creation, it’s because I’m literally excited and want to tell people about them…so now I am.

So what are Steve Jobs Schools?

Basically, they are schools that use what is called the O4NT method or approach.

Using this approach, each student will learn by using educational apps and tools on their own individual iPad. According to the Steve Jobs School press release “teachers will no longer simply convey knowledge to a group of children; they will be transformed into coaches that support children with their individual and group projects. Because educational apps are used for basic skills, the learning process can be completely adapted to the individual child’s learning speed and style.

“When they are in the physical school building, the children will move around the various ‘subject rooms’ according to their individual schedule, e.g. the language room, math room, creative lab, gym or technology lab. They can also attend planned activities that they have registered for. Parents can follow via a special app exactly what their child has been doing during the day and the children also maintain their own portfolio, documenting their progress and achievements.

“School hours and vacations will be very flexible once the O4NT method is completely implemented. Because the ‘virtual school’ is available on iPad 24/7/365, parents are free to book their vacation at a convenient time and to determine what their child’s school hours will be. School and out-of-school care are seamlessly integrated.” To read more from the press release, click here.

Please visit the website for the Steve Jobs School to learn more about the program and a list of the iPad educational apps that the students will be using.


Forget the Blog, Create a Glog

img-1For one of our class projects, we could create a Glog by going to A Glog is similar to a blog and as easy to use. When you are done, you have an active URL domain that you can use on your Facebook page, website, etc.

The website states that “Glogster EDU is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond.  We empower educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS – online multimedia posters – with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more.”

Click here to take an online tour or you can take a look at the one that I created titled “Italy”

Telling My Story: Make a Bio-cube

On the first day of class, we took a look at the use of Bio-cube in the classroom. The idea is to utilize the Bio-cube to tell a story. As the name suggests it’s a way to tell a personal story about themselves or others (biographies). The Bio-cube could also be adapted and incorporated into any class. For our purposes, it was use as a get to know you exercise at the beginning for the course. Here’s a little bit about the Bio-cube:

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailWebsite: Telling My Story: Make a Bio-cube

Activity Description

The Bio-Cube tool asks children to describe a person using key pieces of information. Constructing an “All About Me” cube gives children a chance to share interesting details and thoughts about themselves, including their biggest obstacles and important quotations. Get into the spirit by making a Bio-Cube about yourself before sharing the activity. Children can also use the cubes as the basis for a short writing task.

Why This Is Helpful

Successful students can do more than just understand what they’ve read; they can also boil it down to the essential information. The Bio-Cube tool helps children condense what they want to say about themselves. The cube activity also offers a chance for self-discovery, allowing children to see how complex they are.

This activity was modified from the ReadWriteThink lesson plan “Getting to Know You: Developing Short Biographies to Build Community.”