What Will You Create Today?

The biggest obstacle teachers face when trying to integrate technology is time. There aren’t very many opportunities during the day to explore new tools, think of ways to use them with the curriculum, or actually sit down to write a comprehensive lesson plan. Plus, the implementation of Standard V just adds to the already existing high levels of stress. Fortunately, higher levels of technology integration promote student choice, which means less planning on the part of the teacher. Over the summer, I worked on some computer lab posters that will help guide students in choosing the right tool for their project, and support teachers in their efforts for easier ways to integrate. I chose the theme of a graphic novel (created using Comic Life) to bring a little adventure into the computer lab. The first poster is attached to the door of the lab and asks, “What will you create today?” This represents the cover of the graphic novel. When they enter, each page of the novel gives them ideas and tools to use to accomplish their task. I encourage all teachers to bring their mobile devices to the lab each week, as adding the component of a camera adds to the diversity of projects students have as options. 

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Many teachers may find this amount of freedom somewhat daunting, especially if they are unfamiliar with how to use the software, web tool or app. This provides the perfect opportunity to bring collaboration into your lessons. Allow students to work together to figure out how the tools work, and then let them teach the rest of the class. You can also utilize a QR code tutorial section where students can view videos for quick instructions. I’ve included a link below to the PDF version of the posters. There are some that are very NEISD specific, but hopefully they will inspire you to create more personalized versions for your own students. I’ve also included directions for printing them poster size.

printing poster

Tool of the Month: Board Builder


The Discovery Education Network has long been a favorite source for interactive content to support classroom instruction. Most teachers are familiar with their vast collection of streaming videos, but they also offer additional services designed to accelerate student achievement. One of the most recent additions is Board Builder, a fun and easy way for students to create digital content for all subject areas. This tool is very similar to other web based poster creators such as Glogster or Smore, but differs in that students can add content directly from the Discovery Education media library. They can also upload content they have created such as audio, images, video and attachments from their computer.

NEISD has purchased a subscription to Discovery Education for all students and teachers. Susan Reeves, Educational Specialist, Digital Age Learning for the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio, has created 2 videos to help get you started:

DEN Team member Jeanette Edelstein created this list of 50 Ways to Use Board Builder that includes links to actual boards. These are great examples that can help you visualize using this tool. Click here for a complete list of resources to help you navigate through the Discovery Education site.

50 Ways to Use Board Builder by lmoore4


Standard V Lesson Examples

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, NEISD teachers will be required to submit 1 student product that was created using technology. This initiative supports the Standard V requirements as outlined by SBEC.

My El Dorado peeps have been very busy planning with me and wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the projects they will be doing with their students. Many of these app/web tools are cross-curricular and can be applied to different TEKS or units of study. Please contact me if you have an idea for a lesson and need a similar task card to use with your students.

  • Kinder Language Arts K.6A identify elements of a story including setting, character and key events: Facetalk Retelling
  • 1st Grade Math 1.3 The student applies mathematical process standards to develop and use strategies for whole number addition and subtraction computations in order to solve problems: Farmyard Math
  • 1st Grade Language Arts 1.9 A Describe the plot (problem and solution) and retell a story’s beginning, middle, and end with attention to the sequence of events:  BME Summaries
  • 2nd Grade Science 2.5D Combine materials that when put together can do things that they cannot do by themselves such as building a tower or a bridge and justify the selection of those materials based on their physical properties: Videolicious Structures Project
  • 2nd Grade Science 2.5B  The student knows that matter has physical properties and those properties determine how it is described, classified, changed, and used. Matter and Energy Digital Story
  • 3rd Grade Reading SE 3.16 Students use comprehension skills to analyze how words, images, graphics, and sounds work together in various forms to impact meaning.  Students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater depth in increasingly more complex texts: Big 6 Research Project-PDF, Big 6 Research Project-Word 2013
  • 3rd Grade Math 3.11B: The student directly compares the attributes of length, area, weight/mass, and capacity, and uses comparative language to solve problems and answer questions. Perimeter Party
  • 4th Grade History 4.3 The student understands the importance of the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States: Google Tour Builder
  • 5th Grade Science 5.8 Students will understand that weather represents the short term conditions of the atmosphere by producing a video that explains weather patterns of a specific region over a 3 week period: Videolicious Weather Project



Digital Vocabulary Activities for Upper Elementary

As part of my “Anchor Activities” series, here are a few digital vocabulary ideas that students can complete during SSR time or in Math/Literacy stations. Have students generate a list of vocabulary words they are unfamiliar with (or assign them specific words from your Math or Science word walls) and allow them to choose from the following activities:

I’ve made some examples of each using the word “condensation”

There are a variety of online vocabulary resources for support in defining and explaining concepts:

Windcrest Kinders Travel to Africa

During the week of April 16, the Kindergarten at Windcrest Elementary used Google Earth to travel to Africa in search of animal adventure. Our first destination was Lion Park, South Africa. They used their “binoculars” to get a close up look at a lion’s body parts and how they help him survive in the wild. Then they used Switchzoo to create an animal of their own and design a habitat to support its basic needs.












Our second destination took us to Timbe Elephant Park where we learned how the elephant uses his trunk in various ways. The students completed a Kidspiration activity where they used their “trunk” to paint a picture like a very special elephant from Thailand.












Our final destination was Cameroon, Africa, home to the world’s largest frog. We learned what a frog looks like during each stage of his life cycle by viewing an interactive tutorial from Harcourt School.












While visiting each location in Africa, the students filled in their research using a Passport. Below you will find the Google Earth KMZ and Passport used in this virtual field trip. Other Google Earth virtual field trips can be found on my Teacher Web. Please let me know if you are interested in creating a virtual field trip for your grade level.

Kinder Safari

kinder vft passport



SAILOn Provides One-Stop Shopping for Interactive Lessons

SAILOn is a collaborative effort of 9 different school districts in the Houston area. Their goal is to help classroom teachers integrate technology into the curriculum by identifying and providing interactive Internet resources addressing specific objectives. When you navigate to your particular grade level, you will find a plethora of interactive resources that support all content areas. These resources can be used as a way of introducing a topic or reinforcing skills through workstations in your classroom or lessons in the computer lab.
They don’t have an interactive activity for every single TEK…yet. It looks like something they are continually updating. If you find an activity that you would like to use with your students and need an extra set of hands, please let me know. I can also help you create some task cards and recording sheets for use in a workstation.
I hope you find this as useful as I do:)

Storybird for Collaborative Writing and Technology Workstations

Storybird is my new favorite Web 2.0 tool (except for Google Earth, of course) and have found alternative uses for it. This is the website’s great explanation of their concept:

What is Storybird?

Storybird is a service that uses collaborative storytelling to connect kids and families. Two (or more) people create a Storybird in a round robin fashion by writing their own text and inserting pictures. They then have the option of sharing their Storybird privately or publicly on the network. The final product can be printed, watched on screen, played with like a toy, or shared through a worldwide library.

Storybird is also a simple publishing platform for writers and artists that allows them to experiment, publish their stories, and connect with their fans.

How does Storybird work?

It’s simple. Someone starts a Storybird by writing a few words or grabbing a few images. Then the other person takes a turn, adding more words and pictures. In as little as one or two turns they can finish and share a Storybird. It’s that easy. And they can do it sitting side-by-side or across the country from each other.


I’m always trying to find new and innovative ways to use technology during centers or workstation times. Teachers can create their own digital instructions for activities in all subject areas in a matter of minutes. Giving students the freedom to choose the activity along with the option of how to present their products will enhance the learning experience.

Click here to see an example of a Storybird workstation activity:

Choose one of the following activities to complete in your workstation. You can record your answers in a Neo, Word Document or PowerPoint. on Storybird

Creating a free teacher account is easy. Just follow the steps below:


StoryBird Instructions created by Sarah Ogden

Storybird Login Cards

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words








You’ve probably heard the tired cliche about a picture being worth a thousand words. We’ve taken this phrase quite literally and created WordFoto, an app that turns photos and words into amazing typographic works of art.

Instructional Uses:

  • Animal Research
  • Creative Writing Prompt
  • Describing Characteristics of Landforms
  • Word Families
  • Beginning and Ending Sounds
  • Five Senses
  • Matter

My Favorite PowerPoint Lesson!

I LOVE THIS LESSON!  In the new NEISD world of iDevices and Web 2.0 tools, I’m always telling teachers not to forget about the world of PowerPoint.  This isn’t your everyday, boring slideshow.  This is a really cool fun foldable that can be used with any subject matter.  It can be created from scratch or can be saved as a template for younger grades to use.  Here is an example of what a completed project looks like using images from Google Earth:

You can use this template for multiplication facts, animal adaptations, parts of a cycle, scientific process….on and on!  Below you will find a blank template with directions, the Google Earth example you see above, and the landforms template.

LandformFlipbook_Final Product


Question and Answer Filpbook_Blank





Using More Than One App at a Time

While my husband was watching football on a Saturday afternoon (ugh), I decided to play around with this new app I found.  It’s not free ($4.99), but it’s crazy cool.  Corkulous is a great app for allowing students to explain Math, Science, or any other concepts they are learning in the classroom.  It allows you to upload images, create post-it notes to explain information and works great with other apps such as Doodle Buddy if you want to add personal drawings.  Here is an example I used to explain the water cycle:









The app also allows you to create a template as well as beginning a new project from scratch.  I uploaded some images in dropbox that I knew I wanted to include in this explanation.  When I finished my corkboard, I saved the image in My Photos on the iPad.  Then I opened Doodle Buddy, inserted my corkboard, and drew the arrows to represent the order of each process.  The last step was to save the image again and email it to myself.  It sounds tricky at first, but once you (and your kids) get the hang of it, the sky is the limit!

What in the Worldle can you do with Wordle?

I’d like to give a shout out to Mrs. Martin’s 5th Grade class at Windcrest Elementary!  Today we co-taught a lesson on Matter using Wordle.net.  The students brought their Science journals to the lab and used their notes on the different types of matter to create a word cloud.  I like using Wordle because it’s free and students don’t need to create accounts to use it.  I am attaching a “How to use Wordle” document in case you have never seen this tool before. One tip I have discovered is that it doesn’t always work in Internet Explorer.  If you come across this problem, download Firefox and update your computer to the latest version of Java.  Your ITS can help you with this if you aren’t sure how.  Here is an example:








Here are some other ways you can integrate Wordle into your curriculum:

  • Language Arts-Create a main idea and summary word cloud about a particular story-copy and paste the main idea in 2 or 3 times to make it larger than the details, practice spelling words or word wall words, character traits for the main character in a story
  • Math-Type in different ways to make a certain dollar amount, factors of numbers or math facts
  • Science-vocabulary words and definitions for any concept (Landforms-mountains, rivers, ocean, lakes, plains, basin…)
  • PE-bones and muscles in the body
  • Music-different genres or artists
  • Social Studies-Indian tribes of Texas, Major battles of the Civil War, Facts about Presidents or inventors

 Wordle -How To