July 25, 2013

Tune into Technology and Throwback Thursday

I'm once again linking up for Tune into Technology and Throwback Thursday.

This week's theme for Tune into Technology is Management and Organization. Hmmm? Not such an expert here, but I'd like to share two simple tips that I've learned and MUST HAVE...

1. Set whatever website that you are requiring your students to utilize for a project or activity as your current "home page." This means each time your student opens the internet browser the project page appears in front of him/her without having to type a thing and if a student gets lost on the internet, clicking the "home" button on the tool bar brings them right back to where they started... a time saver for sure! Various browsers have different methods for setting a home page. Chrome, for example, requires users to click the options button in the upper right corner of the toolbar, then select Settings, and finally choose Appearance. From here a click, some typing (or copying and pasting) your chosen website, and saving your information sets the homepage. There are even tutorials on YouTube for performing the homepage setup. The following tutorial is completed without a word...

2. Sentence strips, those long narrow pieces of paper, are a technology tool... hunh? They are the perfect length on which to write an internet web address. Every website address that my students are required to use is written on a sentence strip in dark permanent marker and displayed on a wall near the classroom computers where they remain. They are great visual cues, cut down on student questions, and promote student independence. I teach several sections of Language Arts so my students come from several different homerooms. I make multiple copies of the strips to hang in the other rooms as well, in case they are permitted to do computer work during any free time they may have.

For Throwback Thursday I'm following the theme of technology and reposting a blog entry from June 3, 2013, wherein I talk about one of my favorite websites to use with my students, Padlet (formerly known as Wall Wisher).

I admit it: I am definitely a techie geek teacher. I could easily get rid of books, paper, and all things hardcopy (well, maybe not pens... I love pens.... that's another story). I dream of a completely electronic, in the cloud classroom. I would love to have my textbooks on e-readers that could sync with the laptops that every student would have (our junior high and high schoolers do have them)... ah, someday before I retire!

Because of my love for technology many of my must have's take the form of websites or software programs. Last week I shared four of them. This week I'm sharing two.

1. Animoto... I wrote a blog post about this a while back. You can access it HERE, so I won't expound upon it on this post... just to say that if you are unfamiliar with this web tool, get familiar. Your students and you can create awesome videos for presentation and teaching... AWESOME!

2. Padlet, formerly known as Wall Wisher, is defintely on my Monday Must Have list.

This website allows you to set up a virtual bulletin board upon which you can place post-it notes (see previous Must Have Monday posts about my addiction to these mini-marvels). I've set-up Padlet boards for assessing student comprehension, making connections, answering a particular science question... the possibilities are endless. One thing that is FUN about this web tool is that I can sit at my desk computer and see live the work that my students are doing. As they work I can comment and even jump in and correct if need be. This is a great feature for beginners and is a way to help students with homework. When I assign one of my Padlet boards as homework I also set a time that I will be online that evening.  As students work on the board I am there to help them as needed.

Some new features have just been added that make this web tool even more teacher friendly. Users now have the ability to save Padlet boards as a .pdf, Excel, or image file. The boards can be embedded in webpages or blog posts (see below), and they can be shared via the most popular social media sites. Visitors can even subscribe to a board. LOVIN' Padlet more and more!

I also teach my students how to create boards and require them to build boards that their classmates must visit and respond to. Padlet is a SIMPLE, easy peasy way to incorporate technology into your curriculum, and it can help meet Common Core ELA Standards.

Here is my latest Padlet board (it is still in process as of this post's date). This board is used as a quick final response to the novel Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardner. My fifth grade ELA students are just learning how to use this web tool. They are also learning to include specific textual details in their responses as well as including the question in their answer. They have struggled with these skills all year.

Happy Technology,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk


  1. These are great tips Angela! Thank you so much for sharing! You are so right-it is SO much easier to have students open up directly to your website as their homepage. That is an incredible management tip! I never thought out about the sentence strip...but that sounds like a perfect website address size!!

    Thanks so much for linking up!

    Learning to the Core

  2. I really like your Padlet board! What a neat graphic organizer for your students!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  3. Setting the internet browser to your class website is so important! That's one of the first things we do together that first week. Thanks for sharing your awesome management tips with us.:)
    iTeach 1:1

  4. Thanks for sharing. It's always great to hear what everyone else is doing!
    AlisonRockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  5. I think Padlet is a fantastic resource- what an engaging way to share thinking!
    Creating a Thoughtful Classroom


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