Great Movie Clip on Digital Age and Change

I just found this wonderful video clip from the blog, From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning. I only wish more schools would change with the times. Too many classrooms around the country resemble classrooms from a century ago! Teachers leading instruction and students dutifully taking notes and absorbing material like sponges. Our schools need to change and realize that students no longer learn the same way they did decades ago. It’s time to get our students interacting, collaborating, and learning skills to be successful in the 21st century.  Employers are looking for creativity, self-confidence, effective communication, collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Students should not be treated as sponges anymore!

Citelighter- Save, Highlight, and Cite Your Research

Citelighter is a really interesting research tool to save time, organize information, and properly cite research gathered on the web. It saves, organizes, and cites information while you research on the Internet.  Once you install Citelighter on your toolbar, students can highlight any piece of text on any website by simply pushing “capture.” Citelighter automatically saves the page to a virtual notebook for easy reference. When you want to use the research all the important highlights are saved in one place. You can also reorder the highlighted text as well as post comments near it. The research tool also automatically cites information gathered on the web.  Check it out today!

Citelighter How-to Video from saad alam on Vimeo.

CamScanner- The New Way to Save “Paper” Documents

I recently discovered a new Android application called CamScanner. Camscanner is wonderful because it turns your phone into a document scanner. You can digitalize any document with the use of your smartphone. Simply take a  take a picture of any paper documents such as receipts, whiteboards, notes, agreement and so forth, and CamScanner can auto-crop image, enhance image quality and create an industry standard PDF file. The program also allows you to easily upload your document to  Dropbox, Google Doc, etc. and sort them.

I scanned recipes, shared them online with family, and saved them in a digital folder. This app truly makes everyday tasks easier and reduces clutter.  This is a wonderful new application with so many uses for your everyday life! Check it out today.

Photo Credit 



12 Useful Ways Kids Can Learn With Cell Phones

Here is a great blog post written by Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb, authors, Teaching Generation Text Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb share ways teachers can use cell phones to improve learning. The list below is adapted from the new book on the topic Teaching Generation Text. The ideas listed below will help teachers discover how to engage students with easy to implement cell phone technology. 

All the ideas listed below are from the blog post written by Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb, authors, Teaching Generation Text.  


1. Pictures make it real with Flickr

When cell phones have cameras, a new world is opened. Your kids can take pictures of homework projects, research material, field work, activities, etc. for their own use or to share with others. Encouraging students to take pictures of discussion material shared on the board, on handouts if they are going to be doing homework in route, or just to make sure the material does not get lost and stays handy is a great use of the cell phone camera. Flickr provides a free, easy and efficient way to share pictures taken on your cell phone and group them into slideshows based on topic.

2. Use an online cell phone notebook with WeTxt

Most cell phones have a notepad tool themselves, but when you want to be able to print notes, organize notes, and keep a running record on your computer, a service like WeTxt offers a free way to add your online notebook and notebook sections to your contacts and you and your kids can text in notes anywhere, anyplace,

3. Capture oral assignments and thoughts with Google Voice

Google voice enables educators to capture voice messages from students without providing them with their direct phone number. The power of this kicks in when you realize that what Google Voice does is actually become a repository for oral reports, assignments, or sound bites. Not only is it a repository, but parents and teachers can write notes on each clip, share, and post them. This is obviously an effective tool for auditory learners.

4. Have an expert in your pocket with ChaCha

Imagine having an expert to turn to at any time for information, advice, guidance…for free! That’s ChaCha, an amazing service that will become invaluable to students and parents alike, works on any cell phone with every provider and enables students to ask any question and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes.

You may want to caution students/parents that there may be advertising as part of the ChaCha message and teach them to be aware users by disregarding unnecessary inclusions. or text 242242

5. Get homework help using Google SMS

Even if students are banned from using cell phones at school, teaching them to use Google sms will be powerfully important for students as a homework tool. Even with a text-only plan, Google sms provides much of the vast amount of knowledge and information formerly available to only those with the Internet. Have students enter “G-O-O-G-L-E” in their phones with the number 466453. This is the code that unlocks the key to a world of knowledge for students who will now be able to use their phones to translate languages, convert currency, calculate, define words, find out what’s going on in other parts of the world and much, much more. or text 466453

6. Gain collective intelligence with Twitter

Twitter provides a terrific way for teachers and/or parents to get an unlimited stream of feedback from students over a period of time on any subject. Twitter is a great tool to use to share interesting and relevant information with the student body, staff, parents and family. With just one teacher cell phone per class, contributions can be made and modeled anywhere, anytime. Like texting, the beauty of Twitter’s is that its core technology is a device agnostic system that lets the masses participate.

7. Get feedback on your writing with TextNovel

Few students are given the opportunity to write for a real audience (beyond the teacher). can change that. When you want to encourage reading and writing, make it available through children’s/students’ phones. Textnovel is the first English language cell phone novel website, allowing members to write and read fiction with their cellphones Teachers and Parents will need to monitor use of this site. Appropriate use on this and all sites should be discussed.

8. Collect and display thoughts and ideas with Wiffiti

Wiffiti allows kids to submit a text message to an online bulletin board. This easy-to-use tool enables your children and students to use the same technology that is viewed by thousands at large-scale events. In short, Wiffiti publishes real time messages to screens anywhere on any screen and this can be a tremendously powerful educational tool. Even when cell phones are banned at school, parents can encourage kids to enhance their presentations and involve their audience for free with Wiffiti. and text 87884

9. Create a phonecast for your report with iPadio

Phone casting provides the ability to easily create and capture an audio broadcast from your phone that can be published and shared anywhere. iPadio is currently one such free option. Just dial in, talk, and when you hang up, Wah La! You’ve created a phone cast that can be broadcast to the world. Have struggling writers create phonecasts with iPadio by telling their story right into a cell phone.

10. Give your presentation a face and a voice with Voki

Voki is a terrific way to enable your students to share a message using an animated avatar that talks using their own voice recorded right from their phone. The Voki will increase interest during revision, give students another lens through which they can review their writing, sharpen their speaking and listening skills, and add another creative outlet for displaying their work. Many students are uncomfortable reading their work aloud to the class. Thanks to Voki students can practice and maybe even present through their avatar.

11. Do your own surveys and gather responses with Poll Everywhere

Rather than using expensive and burdensome polling equipment, “clickers,” teachers and parents can empower students to gather information through polling and share their voice using a free service such as Poll Everywhere and Text the Mob, which provide students with a simple method to gather and/or share ideas right from their phones. For example, the information gathered can be used as support in student written reports, feedback for teachers, or for parents planning a fundraiser. The uses are or

12. Be an effective learner with the basic tools in your phone

All of the tools shared thus far are exciting ways to enhance learning through a text enabled cell phone and free services. However, we must not forget that without any service, learning, or set-up, the phones in your children’s and students’ pockets provide a clock, calendar, calculator, notepad, reminder, alarm, and access to you and other “experts”’ who can support their learning. We just need to get past their constant social texting and encourage them to use these tools for school. Putting assignment due dates in the phone, setting up reminders to study, creating mobile study groups, being prepared (never needing a pencil, paper, camera or calculator), and always knowing what time it is are all actions of an effective student and now they can be done on the cell phone!

Supporting kids in using the tools they love for learning makes sense. Educating ourselves about the many ways cell phones can enhance learning and encouraging our children to use these, discover their own, and together involve their school can be a wonderful way to collaborate with children and be more involved in their educational experience. Seeing cell phones as more than a way to check up on them, as more than a distraction, and as more than another bill to pay, can open our eyes to ways to build stronger relationships with our kids and strengthen the home-school connection, while leading the way toward connecting the school world and the real world by embracing the educational power of cell phones.


Phone Credit

Blog Credit





Make Learning Interactive with Bubbabrain

I am always looking for ways to make my classroom more interactive. I discovered Bubbabrain, which has a wide array of interactive activities for all grade levels (elementary to college) and subjects. Some examples include AP Government, family and consumer science, world languages, sociology, and technology.

There are even prompts to “try again” if your student gets a question wrong, as well as the students progress through each game. Once teachers register, they can create their own games for the site. The teacher ID can be entered by students to access teacher created games.

Students can play the games inside or outside of class. Students can play the games as a class on an interactive whiteboard in the classroom. Bubbbrain is a great tool to help to students who want to study in an interesting and engaging way.



Design a Website with Weebly

There are hundreds of website creation companies with a wide range of choice on the Internet. Some website designing programs are expensive and others are time consuming. One free website is known as Weebly and this web builder can be a great choice for education, business, or personal use. I learned about Weebly from a teacher at South Western High School.

Weebly is one of the easiest sites I have found on the Internet. It has a simple drag and drop feature and pre-made templates that make designing a website simple, powerful, and professional. The best part about Weebly is that no technical skills are required. Text and editing is as simple as using Word. Creating a website is simple and fun.

Here are two sample Weebly websites I created: one for my US history class and this website is on digital storytelling.




Bring Your Class into the 21st Century with Cell Phones

I start the first day of school with the typical introductions, classroom expectations, and ice-breakers. The past two years I have particularly developed a devotion for using technology and mobile devices in the secondary education classroom.  I have used cell phones on a daily basis, with approval from my administration and parents/guardians. Using this form of technology has so many benefits, if used in a controlled and appropriate setting. It is time to get our students sharing, interacting, and engaged at school.

Interesting ideas to incorporate cellphones into the classroom: 

  • Create a Poll– This past fall I used Poll Everywhere to get instant audience feedback to a series of prompts using student cell phones. Polls can be multiple choice or an open ended responses. The responses can be posted directly on the board and are an interesting way to get instant feedback, even from your quietest students.
  • Create Text Messaging Group– I have my students join, which is a group chatroom, where my students can communicate instantly via text messaging. I have found to be one of the most beneficial social media programs I use in the classroom. Students communicate more with me through the use of their cell phones compared to any other form of communication. What impressed me the most this year was the number of parents that wanted to be included on the cell phone group. 
  • Cell Sharing- Ask students to locate a photo, song, or video from their mobile device that best represents them. They can then pair share their selection with the class and why it was selected. (Idea from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Random Question or Poll- Students can be assigned a random question from Question Cup and then post their response using  Cel.lyWallwisher or Wifitti. Responses can be posted on the whiteboard. (Idea from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Texting Interview– Students can be randomly paired together and provide them with a series of interview prompts. The pairs can text their questions and answers back and forth. The interviews can be summarized and shared with the class and posted on a sticky not board such as  Wallwisher or  (Idea modified from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Text a Friend– Students can text a friend or family member (outside of school) a question and then post the response on the whiteboard using,  Wallwisher or Wifitti. Last year I posed the question, “What was one history event that impacted your lifetime?” I am a history teacher so this was an interesting way discuss the concept of why history matters and how my students are historians. This idea also works well with any topic. I have used text a friend multiple times such as “What do you know about Richard Nixon?” “Why was Bill Clinton impeached?” “Did you vote in the last election? Why or why not” Questions like these bring interesting and multiple perspectives into  the classroom. Many family members have also commented that they enjoy the conversations afterschool about the lesson.
  • QR Code Scavenger Hunt– You can design a QR code scavenger hunt for your classes to get your students moving, sharing, and bonding. Check out this simple QR Code Generator from Teacher Tools.
If you have any other ideas to share, please post them below.





SweetSearch a New Search Engine for your Students

SweetSearch is a new search engine for your students. The Internet search engine searches over 35,000 websites deemed appropriate by research experts, librarians, and teachers.  SweetSearch helps students find outstanding and CREDITABLE information faster than just a random Google search. It helps students determine the most relevant results from a list of credible sources, including primary sources. You students will never again be distracted from spam sites if they use SweetSearch. Another huge benefit to using SweetSearch is that the very BEST websites appear on the first page of the search.

Check out SweetSearch Today!



Send and Share Files Instantly with Minus

I usually use Drop It to Me to send large files instantly via Dropbox. I recently discovered Minus for file sharing from the Lifehacker blog. Minus allows users to share pictures, documents, music, videos, and files instantly. The best part about Minus is that it is simple to use and FREE. You can simply drag files from a folder or your desktop directly into your Internet browser and then start sharing.

Some other benefits for Minus: 

  • Create and share your files
  • Share files with friends and follow them
  • Manage and organize your files online
  • Get 10 GB worth of free disk space
  • Upload individual files up to 2 GB
  • Unlimited downloads and transfers

For more information check out Minus today!

Use Tout to Create a 15 Second Video

I learned about Tout from Jeff Bradbury at TeacherCast.  Tout is a social media platform that allows users to shoot 15-second video  from  a webcam or a smartphone. It can be shared automatically through Tout, Texting messaging, or email. Through Tout, users can also engage in conversations. Tout is changing how people interact, delivering a rich social sharing experience in full color, sound, and motion. Some things just can’t be fully experienced in text or photos. Life is what you see and hear.


How can Tout be used in class? 

Student’s could take a vocabulary word and then act it out and record it through Tout. The class can then guess the vocabulary word baed on the Tout video. Student’s can create a 15 second description based on a new topic learned in class. The class can then watch the clip to learn about a particular topic. Student’s can watch the tout videos and even comment on them. The ideas are endless!


How Tout is Being Used Professionally? 

Brands like Access Hollywood, USA Today, ESPN, CBS and The Weather Channel interact directly with their audiences, soliciting comments and questions, hosting conversations, and extending the reach of their presence on TV and the web.


Update your Instruction with Social Media

Social media is becoming embedded in our lives. Research has shown that there are many benefits to using social media to enhance instruction in the classroom. Students are more engaged using social media, and it is truly a wonderful way to spread information and make connections with students. Implementing social media into the classroom is very simple and can be done using a variety of simple to use resources:

Incorporate Twitter into your classroom– You can identify a major concept you want students to comprehend. Tweet the concept to your student. Allow students to respond to the concept through Twitter. Students can compare and contrast, share ideas, and develop their critical thinking skills. As you teach a lesson you can allow students to Tweet or back-channel their thoughts and comments during the lecture. You can even post the comments on the Smartboard. You can even respond to student questions this way. Another benefit to using Twitter is that it can positively and proactively involve all students in the learning process and create an interactive classroom.
Create a Social Media group– Students can meet on Facebook, Google+, or Edmodo in groups. Students can be provided with various concepts to explore or research. Students can embedded blog posts, project-based learning activities, or other alternative assessments into the social media website.
Students can create a video– Many students own devices such as cell phones, tablets, etc that can record and produce a mini video. Students can record a video and then upload their videos to google video or youtube. Students can comment on the videos or simply learn from their classmates. Here is a good tutorial if needed.
Summarize textbook chapters using blogs – Create a blog (I like EDU blogs). Have student create a blog post or summarize a major concept. Students can also comment on other student’s posts. Blogging can increase comprehension and provide a wonderful resource for review.
Text Announcements– As radical and extreme as that may sound, students respond well to text messages related to instruction (I use a program called Teachers can create a groups of students or cells. Teacher’s can text reminders to a entire class or an individual students. Students can even text their teacher if they have a question. The best part is that it is a controlled environment in that keeps a record of every message placed.
For more information visit

How to improve student retention rates?

Thanks to the Motivation Daily newspaper, I learned about increasing retention rates and motivation in school. It is important for schools to monitor student retention rates because it can determine the success of an institution. Student retention rates are the “percentage of students who remain at an educational institution after they begin studying there. High schools, colleges and graduate institutes throughout the country care about improving their retention rates.” A school that has a high retention rate can suggest that a school is friendly, welcoming, supportive, and educationally stimulating. A school that has all of these characteristics can increase student achievement and success.

How can we improve our school? 

1. Collect data at the beginning of the year to determine the number of students enrolled

2. Collect data the following year on the number of students from your sample in Step 1 who are still enrolled at the school.

3. Divide the number calculated in Step 2 by the number of Step 1. For example, 90 (Step 2) ÷ 100 (Step 1) = 0.9 or 90%. The result of this calculation is the student retention rate. 90 percent of students of the incoming class of 2009 remained at the school after one year.

For more information visit: How to Calculate Student Retention Rate |

Educator Series at The Henry Ford

This past summer I attended a WONDERFUL workshop at The Henry Ford organized and funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities Grant. The Henry Ford is a wonderful place filled with history, excitement, and real hands-on learning experiences. Check it out today! 

The Henry Ford offers numerous workshops for teachers with the idea to “Learn, Share, co-design, and get rejuvenated and energized to teach!” The Henry Ford truly values teachers as partners in the learning process and provides FREE online resources, interactive lessons, and a plethora of on-site materials. Check out the education page today.

Here are some upcoming workshops:

  • Transportation in America January 20, 2012
 The Auto Industry: A Case Study in American Industrialism 
Keynote- Charles Hyde, Professor Emeritus, Wayne state University
Curator: Bob Casey, John and Horace Dodge Curator of Transportation at  The Henry Ford
  • American Democracy and Civil Rights February 10, 2012
 Leadership in American Democracy
Keynote- Kidada Williams, Assistant Professor, Wayne State  University 
Curator: Donna Braden, Curator, Public Life and Lead Experience Developer
  • Science & Technology March 2, 2012
Evolution of Science and Technology 
Keynote- R. Charles Dershimer, Clinical Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Curator: Suzanne Fischer, Associate Curator of Technology at The Henry Ford
  • American Innovation Innovation April 13, 2012
American Innovation & 21st  Century Skills 
Keynote- David Pensak, Author, Entrepreneur
Curator: Marc Greuther, Chief Curator, Curator of Industry and Design at The Henry Ford
  • Family and Community Life May 4, 2012
 Changing Roles, Homes and Communities
Keynote: Liette Gidlow, Professor, Wayne State University 
Curator:  Jeanine Head Miller, Curator of Domestic Life at The Henry Ford
  • America’s Industrial Revolution May 11, 2012
 America’s Industrial Revolution: Then and Now
Keynote: Daniel Clark, Associate Professor, Oakland University 
Curator: Marc Greuther, Chief Curator, Curator of Industry and Design at The Henry Ford
 To register, contact our Call Center                           To register, contact our Call Center at 313.982.600 at 313.982.6001


For more information contact The Henry Ford

Dragonbox- The Math Game

DragonBox is a game designed for children to learn and solve algebraic equations. Students truly learn while having fun. Players go through different worlds as they go one level up and see their dragons grow. The game’s creator, Jean-Baptiste Huynh from Norway, was a teacher who got tired of the frustrating method used to teach maths in school. He wanted his children to learn algebra in a meaning way. Using tablets such as the iPad he created an app that encourages students or children to learn math by playing a game. Christopher Wanko said his “eight year old son immediately sat down and ran through the first two banks of problems without hesitation. It was amazing.”




Top 10 Tech Ideas to Try in your Classroom

1.  Edmodo � This microblogging site was created specifically for teachers and students. Edmodo can be used to share notes, files, assignments, grades, and events. 

2. Google Applications � This free web based suite of tools from Google gives classrooms the ability to collaborate and share assignments online. The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool.

  • For more information click here
  • Here is a google form I made to monitor student and parent communication and here is a rubric I made using google applications.

3. Quizlet � Quizlet is a free flashcard creation site that can be used to study, create, and share flashcards. Teachers can create their own flashcards for students or use pre-submitted cards.

  • For more information click here and here

4. Wunderlist � Wunderlist makes it downright simple to organize your daily life. Just create a list and start filling it with things that need to be completed. Keep track of your more important tasks with reminders and notifications. It even syncs. For more information click here

5. � Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cellphone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.

6. QR (Quick response) Code is a barcode that can be scanned from any mobile device or computer. The code takes you to a specific website, content information, or more information about a particular concept.

7. Animoto �  Animoto is designed to bridge the gap between the high production value of film and television, and the more “amateur” feeling of most user-created videos and photo albums.

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Our apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Socrative runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

  • For more information here

9. Grade Chart is a simple grading tool for teachers and professors. Enter in the number of questions for the assignment you’re grading, and this will generate a quick reference chart to help you determine the grade percentage and letter grade for all possible numbers of missed questions.

  • For more information click here

10 Dropbox � is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again.

  • For more information click here