40 Pinterest Pins for Proud Grammar Nerds

Note: Guest post written by Shanna Houston from Online Education Database.

The digital world is rife with grammatical errors (not to mention spelling, historical, and factual errors), making the Internet a pretty horrifying place for grammar nerds. Yet the Web can also be a great place for those with a passion for grammar to commune, share knowledge, and even to silently, or not so silently, judge the poor grammar of others. Even better, resources for grammarians can even show up in unexpected places.

While Pinterest may more often be used to collect inspiration for DIY projects and drool over insanely expensive couture, it is also an excellent resource for getting nerdy about grammar. Visitors to the site will find copious amounts of grammar-related humor, grammar guides, and plenty of commiseration over the poor state of grammar in the world today. To get you started on your grammar-focused Pinterest journey, we’ve selected some amazing pins that are sure to leave you prouder than ever of your grammar nerd status.

Grammar Rule Reminders

These instructional pins are great refreshers on correct grammar, both for you and others who may not have such impeccable grammar skills.

  1. Rules for placing quotation marksShare this pin to help you and your less grammar-savvy friends remember the rules for placing quotation marks.
  2. List of prepositionsYou can help yourself remember what words should never end up at the end of a sentence with this useful pin.
  3. 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly: Use this pin to help friends and family avoid making some of the most common grammar gaffes.
  4. How to use a semicolonThis pin offers those who aren’t semicolon literate the chance to learn, but is also a great refresher for grammar nerds.
  5. 12 Most Misunderstood Words in EnglishHere you’ll find a list of words that are commonly misused, from the infamous “nauseous” to the continually misunderstood “less.”
  6. 10 Hyphenation TipsHyphens are often misused and abused, but this pin will help you learn (or teach others) when they should and shouldn’t be used.
  7. The Write WayDon’t you hate it when people misuse words that sound similar but have different meanings? This pin tackles eight of the worst offenders.
  8. Purposeful pausesThis graphic illustrates the difference between commas, colons, and semicolons.
  9. Editor’s MarksIf you’re going to correct someone else’s grammar, make sure you have the tools to do it the right way. This reference tool will help you use classic editing marks like a pro.

Grammar Peeves

It’s not hard to think of a pet peeve (or several) when it comes to failure to use proper grammar. These pins highlight just a few of the worst examples.

  1. Different from vs. different thanDoes it irritate you every time you see someone say “different than” when they really should be using “different from” and vice versa? This pin feels your pain and offers a funny take on the grammar rule.
  2. Why you should use the Oxford commaIf you’re a fan of the Oxford comma, then you’ll appreciate this hilarious example, involving strippers, JFK, and Stalin, of why commas are so important.
  3. Your vs. You’reOne of the most common mistakes in writing is confusing “your” with “you’re.” This pin shows a somewhat disturbing example of how to use the words correctly.
  4. Literally!: This comic lays out the correct way to use literally by showcasing some of the common ways it’s often misused in everyday speech.
  5. Supposably is a wordAs you’ll learn here, “supposably” is a real word. The problem with it is that it’s commonly confused with “supposedly,” a mistake that has grated on many a grammar nerd’s nerves.
  6. Top Ten Grammar PeevesYou’re bound to find at least a couple of your biggest grammar peeves on this list.
  7. Suspicious quotation marksMisuse of quotation marks is a big peeve for many grammar nerds, and the way they’re used here implies that something pretty gross is going on.


These comics poke fun at poor grammar.

  1. Ancient grammar policeBeing a stickler for grammar is nothing new, as this comic amusingly illustrates.
  2. Open minded, but not when it comes to grammarWhen it comes to religion and politics, open-mindedness is fine, but grammar requires a much more discriminating approach.
  3. Pin the apostrophe on the contractionThis comic depicts a pretty wild and crazy English teacher party.
  4. Grammatical error allergyGrammar nerds will find humor in this comic, riddled with common grammatical errors.
  5. Comma sutraThis cute illustration is sure to get a giggle out of you, as it depicts commas engaging with each other in a variety of suggestive positions.
  6. The Internet is a grammar desertThe poor grammar and spelling that is so rampant on the Web can make a grammar nerd cringe, a fact that is clearly illustrated in this quip.
  7. “Alot” isn’t a wordThis pin drives home why “alot” isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a real word.
  8. Poor grammar in advertisingIf you loathe the poor grammar in the “Got Milk” ads, then you’ll find this comic on the issue especially funny.
  9. Grammar policing until the endThis comic imagines why English teachers were rarely hung in the Old West. When you’re done, click through to read a series of funny grammar-focused cartoons.
  10. Lay versus lieEven dogs know the difference between lay and lie!

Grammar Humor

Enjoy a few laughs courtesy of these grammar jokes and gaffes.

  1. Feminist grammarPunctuation plays a key role in determining the meaning of a sentence, and that’s especially true in cases like this.
  2. Grammar (on Google) mattersYou get drastically different suggested results on Google depending on the spelling and grammar you use, as this example tellingly illustrates.
  3. Funny grammar puns These clever puns would be perfect on a t-shirt, but if even you don’t emblazon them on clothing, they’re still great for a laugh.
  4. Grammar police graffitiEven graffiti isn’t safe from the wrath of the grammar police.
  5. 30 Rock grammar lessonTracy Jordan may not be the brightest character on TV, but even he knows when to use good and well.
  6. Grammar doctorThis pin takes a punny approach to the double meaning of colon.
  7. I’m silently correcting your grammarAdmit it: you do this constantly.
  8. Leftover punctuationTired of getting emails and papers that lack proper punctuation? Let everyone know how you feel with this pin.
  9. Check your grammarEven grammar sticklers who aren’t teachers can appreciate this amazing stamp.
  10. Grammar in the workplaceThis pin makes the importance of apostrophes and correct grammar strikingly clear.
  11. Hilarious misuse of “then”: This Facebook commenter really could have used a lesson in when to use “then” and “than” before posting this unintentionally funny status.
  12. Preposition humorGrammar nerds will love the humor in this preposition-focused pin.
  13. Correcting grammar in an argumentHave you ever resorted to correcting someone’s grammar in order to win an argument? You’re not alone.
  14. Grammar nerd coffee table book. Every grammar lover needs this book: I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar. It’s a collection of grammar bloopers and slip-ups that’s sure to make you feel smart.


Use Wix to create Student Websites

I love that I learned about Wix from a former student of mine. Wix is an easy to use website design program that allows users to create high quaility websites with little to no skill. Tyler Butts, a former student said, he “used to use weebly as my web host. Then my teacher showed me wix. I find it much simpler and it allows me to create my own page. I can make my own website and have all the cool features that I’ve seen on the web.”


I love assigning a project that involves website design to enhance my curriculum. My students love that they can CREATE and SHARE their finished project rather than just turn a project into the teacher to get discarded. You and your students can create a website in a matter of minutes and it’s easy. You can use one of the wonderfully designed Wix templates to design your own website and share it with the world. You can also blog, sell products with it, go mobile, enter your own custom domain name, and use many of the design features. Use Wix to teach your students digital citizenship and your content through project based learning!


Here is my former student’s  website


Top 10 iPad Apps for Elementary Teachers written by Wesley Exon

This post was written by Wesley Exon cross posted at the Public School Review.

iPads have made their way into the classroom, all the way down to elementary school. If you are a grade school teacher looking for fun apps to use in the classroom, this list is perfect for you. The options below make classroom learning fun and exciting, and you could share them with parents to enhance their children’s education.

Image obtained from Digital Trends

Here are the top 10 iPad apps for elementary teachers.

  1. Math Magic: This app is all about making math fun. It involves interactive games for adding, subtracting, word problems, and more. Your kid will feel like he’s playing a video game, when he’s really getting an education.
  2. Alphabet Fun: This app creates a game out of learning the alphabet, and it also teaches students about numbers and colors. Students can trace over letters with their fingers to help them learn how to write.
  3. Star Walk: This app teaches students about the stars, and it has won several awards for its outstanding graphics and interactive features. It shows more than 9,000 solar objects for students to learn about.
  4. Miss Spell’s Class: This app is designed to make students better spellers. It asks them to find missing words and then re-spell them correctly for points. Students can correct their simple mistakes and have fun at the same time.
  5. ArithmeTick: This app forces students to answer math questions under time constraints. They must struggle to beat the clock or risk losing points for their answers. That’ll get the hearts pumping!
  6. VideoScience: This app features short videos with cool science experiments. The videos are created by an award winning developer who uses creative techniques to make science easy to understand.
  7. Dictionary.com: This app is a full dictionary right on the iPad. Students can use it to look up words they don’t understand or discover new words they might not know yet.
  8. Wikipanion: This app gives students easy access to Wikipedia. You may not like using that site in the classroom, but it can be a good reference point or your students to start from.
  9. National Geographic’s World Atlas: This app gives students access to maps from around the world. It’s perfect for geography lessons or simple exploration in the classroom.
  10. Read Me Stories: This app offers a new talking picture book every single day. Rather than taking books home to read, students can just download the app and learn right at home.

Check out some of these free and low priced apps for elementary teachers and you’re sure to find something to use for your students.

Part 3: Evernote & Skitch for the Social Studies

Welcome, Social Studies teachers!  Over the last couple of weeks, we have been introduced to what Evernote is and how you can use it.  Of course, once you get started with Evernote you’ll discover all kinds of ways you can use–both in the classroom and your personal life.

Last week, we looked at how Evernote can help students and teachers in History class.  For those of you who teach History, hopefully you’ve had a chance to try Evernote out for yourself and your students.  Please share if you have!

Evernote for Geography Class

Continuing on into my “Evernote for the Social Studies” series, I wanted to take a look this week at how Evernote can help Geography teachers.  With Geography, we look at a lot of maps and physical features.  We show students pictures of different terrains and land features and discuss differences and similarities among them.  Geography teachers will sometimes print off maps and have students label and color them, which may work for getting students familiar with certain items, but it’s not extremely engaging.  If you want to have more ways to engage your Geography students, allow me to introduce you to Skitch.

What is Skitch?

Skitch is a free tool, purchased by Evernote last year, that allows you to annotate and create images.

Here’s a short video of some uses for Skitch:

What is great about Skitch, not only can you save your images to your Evernote account, you can also share your images via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, and email.  This way, if you have ever been out and about and ran across something that you would love to share in class, all you have to do is launch the Skitch app, snap the photo, annotate and share to your heart’s desire.

Here’s a example of a screenshot I took on my HP Touchpad (rooted to run Android) via the Skitch app of the United States.  Once I annotated and saved the image into my Evernote account, I had it wherever else I had Evernote installed.  Check it out:

Engaging your Geography students with Skitch

One thing that I feel strongly in is that learning is not confined to the walls of the classroom, learning can occur all around us.  Coloring maps and seeing pictures is one thing, but having students going out and taking pictures of the landscape of which they live in is far more engaging.  What’s nice about doing something like this is that a expensive camera is not required.  Thanks to today’s technology in smartphones, most students already have a camera available to them just by having a cell phone.  I’m sure that there are some students who do not own a cell phone, however, I believe the biggest majority of them do.  When I was doing my student teaching, a majority of my kids (which the school was in a low socioeconomic status) owned a cell phone.  What’s great about mobile technology is that it can be a great tool to engage students in the learning process.  Going out and having students experience their own “backyard” is much more engaging that just seeing images in the classroom.  Here’s a few examples from when I went to the Palo Duro Canyon–the 2nd largest canyon in the United States, located near Amarillo, TX:

Map of Palo Duro Canyon State Park:

Yucca Plants:                                        Red Claystone:

How does this help the teacher?

As educators, our minds are always on how can we present learning in ways which will reach our students.  If you are like me, you’ll see something that could be a great idea to use in the next lesson or something that you can utilize in the classroom.  With Evernote and Skitch, you can take a snapshot of whatever you come across, annotate it, and save it to your Evernote account for future reference.  As with the images I’ve shared also, you can explain certain attributes of Geography a little easier and engage your students to explain what they’ve come across as well.


Once your students save the image in Skitch, they can save it to their Evernote account and share that image via Twitter, Facebook, email, or via the note URL.  If all students were allowed access, I would think that allowing all of your students to “Tweet” their photo to the rest of the class would be a great way of sharing and a strong way to get them engaged.

These are just a few examples of what you could do with Skitch in the Geography classroom.  The best thing I like about doing something like this is this could have the potential to spark interest in students who may have never been engaged otherwise.  What if we took a chance and did something like this in class and the end result was the students becoming life-long learners?  We don’t want our kids to stop learning after they’ve left our class, we want them to continue and excel their learning.

Give Evernote and Skitch a try, you’ll be surprised of all the possibilities that you and your students will come up with.

For more information, here are some useful links:

Part 1: Evernote for the Social Studies–What is Evernote?

Part 2: Evernote for the Social Studies–Evernote in the History Class

Evernote Livebinder

Use Glassboard for group discussions

I learned about Glassboard at EdCamp Hudson Valley. I must say it’s a pretty neat program in order to have a discussion with a group of people that can remain private. It is considered a private social network that is simular to facebook but uses email and instant response. Once you create an account you can create or access a “board,” which is basically a group of people who can share messages, comments, phone, videos, files, etc.


I used Glassboard to have a post Edcamp Hudson Valley discussion. Rather than communicating through multiple emails (like we did to set up #EdcampHV) we were on Glassboard posting questions, comments, and images. It is easy to set up and can be used for so many purposes in education. I imagine it being useful with a group of students working on a project together or sharing ideas to study for a test.

Email Invitation – now what? from Glassboard on Vimeo.


Visuwords for vocabulary

Visuwords is an interesting free program that allows users to search for word meanings, word associations, and so much more in a graphic way. All you have to do is enter words into the search box and then you can move them around to help your students make connects to the content. It’s like a dictionary, but so much better! A network of words spring from the word you entered. Besides being educational, it’s also fun to play with. Check it out today!

Part 2: Evernote for the Social Studies

Last week, I posted at what you can do with Evernote.  Hopefully you’ve had a chance to get hands-on with Evernote in the last few days and got a feel for how awesome it really is.  Once you do get started with Evernote, you’ll wonder what you did without it.

Evernote in History Class

(Photo courtesy: Library of Congress)

Continuing on in the “Evernote for the Social Studies” series, today I wanted to take a look at how Evernote can help students in History class.  For this post, I contacted a former student of mine and asked if she would be willing to take a few minutes with me and take a look at what Evernote could do for her in her History class.

Digitize and Organize your notes

As I sat down with her and we began to discuss what she was doing in her classes, she showed me some of the notes that she had taken in her class.  Currently, she’s in 8th grade and taking a United States History class from Colonization period to the end of Reconstruction of the American Civil War.  The notes had been done on loose-leaf notebook paper and she kept them in a folder specifically for that class.  As we discussed the positives and negatives of taking and retaining notes that way, the one thing that concerned her was loosing her notes.  Here’s where I showed her where Evernote could step in and take care of that problem.  To start off with, we created a new notebook “US History Notes” in her Evernote account (age requirement is 13 yrs old for any users of Evernote, see the privacy policy).  Using the Evernote app on her Ipod Touch, we took a snapshot of her notes:

She like the idea of creating a “notebook” specially for her US History class for quick and easy organization.  What I also showed her as well was how Evernote can help her refresh on her notes and prepare for a test.  On the notes above, we looked at Evernote’s search feature to quickly find needed notes.  Once she took the snapshot of her notes, she would title them–i.e. Jamestown notes:

Notice how performing a search of “jamestown” in her Evernote notes came up with her Jamestown notes and how Evernote highlighted the searched term in yellow.  As a side note, if you are a premium user you can also search for text in the image themselves.

At the end of our discussion of Evernote, she said she was going to try using Evernote for the next couple of weeks and see how it will help her.  I’ll be updating everyone as she continues to use Evernote over the next few days.  In her words, she classified Evernote as “cool”.  Yes my fellow educators, Evernote will make your students say “cool”.


Staying up-to-date on current events with Evernote

The interesting part of history is that it does’t stop, history happens every day.  If you plan on having your students keep up with current events throughout the school year, why not have them clip articles with Evernote?  As my former student did for her history notes, have your students create a notebook in their Evernote account and name it something like “Current Events”.  If they have the Evernote Webclipper installed on their internet browsers (weather it be at home or at school) they can clip a article that they like or over a topic that you choose for them.  Here’s an example of article I clipped and also added a short response, the article is over the events in Libya.  What’s good about this is that students can email you the article they clipped or share in on Facebook, Twitter, or copy the note URL and put it in their Livebinder.


How does this help the teacher?

When I was student teaching, I had students who lost their notes, forgot to bring them to class, and everything in between.  As we discussed in the first post of this series, students can access their notes from their computer, tablet, or mobile device.  When a student scans their notes into their Evernote account, they won’t be able to say “I lost them” or “I forgot them”.  Of course, as the teacher, you might consider typing or scanning your notes into your Evernote yourself.  This way, if you do want to share your notes with your students, you can share them the same way your students can.  Here’s how to share notes and notebooks.



Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how you might use Evernote in your History class.  As with any technology tool that is used in the classroom, the main goal of it is to use it to engage the students and nurture them to become life-long learners.  Once I showed Evernote to my former student, she automatically started to see things that she could do with it.


Next week, we’ll look at how Evernote can help in the Geography class.  Looking forward to sharing more ideas for using Evernote the Social Studies classroom!


Thinkfinity for Classroom Resources

I learned about Thinkfinity at EdCamp Hudson Valley. Thinkfinity is an interesting resources that provides a multitude of collaborative aspects for teachers. It is sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, with the intention of providing teachers with the latest topics, tools and trends in education.


Thinkfinity was esablished with the intent to encourage teacher collaboration, connection, and resource sharing of the best practices for 21st century teaching and learning.  The website offers teachers access to thousands of free lesson plans for all subjects, interactives, learning games, videos and professional development. Check it out today!


Features of Thinkfinity:

  • find discipline-specific, standards-based Thinkfinity resources, developed by our valued Content Partners.
  • discover reviewed resources that expand the breadth and depth of Thinkfinity’s Resources, developed by our Supporting Contributors.
  • network with colleagues and education leaders to create and innovate classroom practices.
  • organize your bookmarks and documents for easy retrieval from school or home.
  • share ideas, resources, and useful advice in various ongoing discussions throughout the community.
  • join groups whose members have interests similar to your own, maintained by our Content Partners, Supporting Contributors, and Community Hosts.
  • create groups for collaborating with your colleagues or extending learning beyond the classroom with your students.
  • read blogs by your favorite Verizon Education Bloggers and interact with them.
  • try strategies tested and designed for you to replicate in your school, developed by Verizon Technology



Put Ownership on Students with an EdCafe!

I learned about the wonderful idea of an edcafe model from Ms. Katrina Kennett . She is an inspiration and a wonderful English teacher. Her blog goes into much more depth about edcafe’s and many other creative ways to teach.


What is an Edcafe? 

According to Katrina, “An EdCafe is a way to structure class that promotes student choice and ownership over learning. The model was inspired by EdCamp conferences, where participants build the schedule and choose what sessions to attend. This bottom-up approach shifts energy, engagement, and opportunity for exploration to the students, and transforms the teacher into expert facilitator instead of gatekeeper/manager.”


My First EdCafe

I ran my first EdCafe this past Friday. My students read a political book of their choice as their summer assignment. I thought this model would be very beneficial to share the books. I created the basic outline and students submitted their book titles and a few sentences about their book. Students were placed in a particular session to present. The remander of the class could choose what session they would attend. I even had an intermission with food. Overall, my students were engaged, enjoyed sharing their books, and really like the freedom to be in control of their own learning. My principal observed this lesson and said the lesson put the ownership on the students. He also said they they were actively involved in the classroom.

 Here is how I organized the EdCafe:

Images of EdCafe on PhotoPeach

Benefits of the EdCafe Model

  • low pressure presentations
  • small groups
  • student centered topics
  • Engagement
  • Student Ownership
  • authentic note taking
 Some Tips to Running a Successful Edcafe 
  • Scaffolding is key to the success of the edcamp in the classroom model during first attempt teacher should be more directive to establish the tone and the framework for students.  In future sessions more freedom to choose topics can be given.
  • Set clear expectations – kids learning how to take notes because the notes were for the students, not for the teacher
  • Be organized -use google forms to sign up kids
  • Make it fun– I brought food for the intermission between sessions.
  • Student Choice- My students could decide, which Edcafe they went to. They enjoyed the freedom and flexibility.
  • Use Technology– I recorded each sessions discussion with an ipad at each table.

My Students Comments: 

  • “The Edcafe was fun”
  • “Can we do that again?”
  • “I wish we had more time to discuss our books”
  • “Can we have more structure for the next one”
  • “I really liked the way we presented our books today”

I plan on having another Edcafe with my students. Now that they know the general structure it will be easier to run. I plan on doing it with different articles. I will assign five articles and then have students come in and share their article and lead a mini discussion. Each session will be a different article. I also really like Katrina’s idea with quotes and primary documents. Do you have any other suggestions on how an EdCafe can be successful in history?

Part 1: What is Evernote?


Hello, my name is Justin Stallings.  Melissa and I met through our Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and I recently became a guest blogger on this blog.  Before I go into my posts, I wanted to give a big THANK YOU to Melissa for allowing me to post on her blog.


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big fan of Evernote.  I discuss it a lot at my blog and I put together a Evernote Livebinder a few months ago that received a “Top 10 Livebinder of 2012” nomination.

When I started to look at the content I had for Evernote, I realized that there wasn’t much material that was “content specific”.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss ways Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, beginning a series titled “Evernote for the Social Studies Teacher”.  Over the next few weeks, I would like to discuss ways in which Social Studies teachers (History, Government, Economics, etc) can utilize this great and free tool.

What is Evernote?

Before we begin to look at how Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, we need to first understand what Evernote is and what you can do with it in general.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 10.50.37 PM

Need better organization?  Need a tool that you can create notes, clip articles, and have access to your uploaded documents from your computer, tablet, or mobile device 24/7?  With Evernote, all of this is now a reality.

Of course, the first thing that you’re thinking of is “How much does it cost?”  This is the best part of Evernote…it’s free!  With that being said, there is a paid version as well.  Here’s what you’ll get with the free version:

  • 100,000 Notes; each note can be a maximum of 25 megabytes (mb) for free users and 50mb for Premium users.
  • 250 Synchronized Notebooks (including Notebook Stacks). All 250 notebooks can be shared. There is no limit to the number of Local Notebooks (which aren’t synced) you can have.
  • 10,000 Tags.
  • 100 Saved Searches
(Source: Evernote.com)
Evernote on all of your devices
After creating a free account at www.evernote.com, you’ll want to gear up your devices to use Evernote to it’s full potential.  You can download Evernote onto your PC or Mac for easier access and install the mobile app for your smartphone or tablet.
Evernote Web Clipper
If you do a lot of research on the web, you’ll want to get the Evernote Web Clipper:

The web clipper can be installed on internet browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.  Once you find a article that you like like, you can “clip” it into your Evernote account for future reference.  The cool thing about this is that it clips the article itself and not just the url of the page.

Evernote Mobile Apps

With technology becoming a integrated part of the classroom, it’s important to have a tool that goes with you, on any device you have.  Evernote provides apps for your IOS devices, Android devices, and Blackberry devices.  With the Evernote app, you can quickly create notes from your mobile device, access web clippings, and everything else you have in your Evernote account.


All this is just a start of what you can do with Evernote.  Next week, we’ll be looking at different ways a History teacher could use Evernote in the classroom.

I recommend to browse around at evernote.com in the next few days.  The Evernote Trunk provides a exhaustive list of other applications that integrates Evernote with theirs, so Evernote provides a ton more uses.

Of course, if there is anything anyone would like to share, I’m always happy to learn new things myself!

Life After the Red Pill: One Educator’s Journey into the Rabbit Hole of Social Media

We all have to make choices. As teachers we must constantly make them. How will we spend our time in and out of class? What resources should we use with our students, and where should we go to get them? How will we foster effective learning? Social Studies educators, like me, often wonder, how will my lessons foster responsible citizenship among my students?


Implementing Social Media into the Classroom

I recently chose to investigate the possibilities and challenges of utilizing social media to improve my social studies teaching. I define social media as any service where content is user generated and shared with fellow users of that medium. I was already using several social media services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram) in my personal life, but I did not utilize them professionally. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I’ve found this choice, albeit a quite a bit less dramatic and violent, like the one Neo faced in The Matrix (1999):

Like Neo, I had no idea of the ramifications my choice to select the red pill of social media. When I began to use it I discovered a world that I did not know existed, but, fortunately, it was not the painful reality of Neo’s “real world.” Over the last couple weeks I have uncovered a wealth of resources, ideas, and colleagues. Yet it has not been without challenges. I will provide a brief summary of my some of my experiences using social media for school. I hope these experiences might provide some insights for others embarking upon a similar journey (or maybe even remind social media veterans what it is like for neophytes).


Exploring New Forms of Social Media

While I made the choice to investigate social media, I have not been alone. For the past week I asked my senior social studies methods students to accompany me. I began a week before our first class by immersing myself in a variety of social media services by using them 5-10 hours a day. I created a Facebook page, a new Twitter account (@WSUSocStudies), an Edmodo account, and sought out people and organizations on these forums. I checked out books from the library and searched databases for academic articles on the topic. The academic materials provided some interesting perspectives, but they didn’t show me what to do. Just like Morpheus explained to Neo, “no one can be told what [it] is. You have to see it for yourself.” Only by using social media can one really understand the possibilities it might afford teachers and students.

I initially used my linked Twitter and Facebook pages to collect and share resources with others. I searched organizations with which I was already familiar (e.g., the History Channel, the Gilder Lehrman Institute). I retweeted interesting links, or posted YouTube videos or websites that I had previously used in my own classes. I made use of Scoop.it to find new and interesting articles.

I found many good resources, but I also felt overwhelmed. I was inundated with a mass of information, and keeping up with everything on just scoop.it and Twitter seemed like too much. I enjoyed much of what I was finding, but I found myself without enough time in the day to keep up with all my professional responsibilities along with this new cyber world. Not only was I overwhelmed, but I also wondered, what is really different about social media then just searching the internet? I was also nervous about how my students would feel accompanying me on this journey (see next blog post). The social studies methods course is designed to help students think about theoretical and practical aspects of teaching social studies, and I was dedicating the first few weeks of our course to exploring these tools so we could practice using them all semester. I certainly did not want to waste their time, and there’s always anxiety when you try something new and different with your students, especially something that is banned in many schools. Like Neo, I was initially unsure of my role in this new world.


The Turning Point: Connecting with Other Educators 

The turning point came when I discovered that the real power of social media was not in simply collecting resources and ideas, but in connecting with others whom are on the same journey. I have met a community of social studies educators passionate about teaching, and using social media tools to improve their craft. All of a sudden, I not only found resources, but support, insightful recommendations, answers to questions, and invitations to opportunities to continue the conversation. I didn’t just search for resources, I began receiving and providing them to people as we had conversations about wise practices. My online use went from a largely one way gathering of resources to the development of transactional relationships and the discovery of an online community.


Twitter’s #sschat 

After 10 days of social media use I found myself participating in a Twitter social studies chat (#sschat) where educators from across the country were sharing resources and ideas. Four days later social media leaders in the social studies – Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker) of Illinois and Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) of New York – were imparting ideas and answering questions with my class via Google Hangout videoconferencing. They showed my class and I specific ways we could successfully use social media and technology to become better teachers. As they answered my students’ questions I was amazed how social media made this all possible.

I still have an incredible amount to learn, but after only two weeks I can’t help but feel like Neo at the end of the Matrix – after he finally believed and understood how the Matrix works. He realized that the rules of the old system didn’t apply to anymore. He saw that a new world of possibilities existed. I am excited and unquestionably satisfied with my choice to journey into the rabbit hole of social media. I recommend that you make the same choice.



– Participate in social studies chats on Twitter using “#sschat” every Monday for one hour beginning at 7 Eastern/6 Central; Follow moderators: @ShawnMcCusker, @Ron_Peck, @Becky_Ellis_

– Although I’ve had some problems, I’ve found Edmodo to be an interesting way to set up a class. It has a Facebook interface, but provides a closed, and presumable safer, environment for classes.

– I have found Google Drive (formerly Google Documents) and Google Hangout invaluable resources to connect with students and colleagues.


Dan Krutka, Ph.D. is middle level/secondary social studies chair at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He taught high school social studies for six years previous to beginning in his current position in 2011. He can be followed/contacted at www.facebook.com/WSUSocialStudies, on Twitter @WSUSocStudies, or by e-mail at dan.krutka@wichita.edu.  

Share your 9/11 Story With My Class (and others)

 Can you please share your 9/11 story with this amazing 9/11 project developed by #sschat teachers? If you are interested, please follow the assignment below. Thank You

9/11 Memories Across the Country 

Oral History Blog Post Assignment

Learning Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of social science methods of investigation through interviewing a family member on their memories of 9-11.  Students will analyze and discuss the interview through writing a blog post.

The first part of your assignment is to interview someone who was old enough to really understand the impact September 11th had on America.  Please ask them the following questions and record their answers, either by writing or recording (video or audio).   It is your choice to document the interview through video or voice recording (your smart phone or computer can easily do that) if that is easier for you.


Your blog post should include the following:

Step 1: In your first paragraph create a summary of your family member or friend’s recollection of the events of 9/11. Your purpose here is to share their remembrances as truly as possible to reality- you should use both quotations and summaries in your own words. Make sure that you put quotes in “  “ marks and that you identify your source using only first name.


Step 2: In your second paragraph, explain why you think 9/11 has changed the world we live in today and how America has changed as a result of the events of this day. You may use the first person (I, You, we, my) in this section.


Step 3: Proof-read your document and make sure everything is correctly spelled. Read your paragraphs out loud to yourself to make sure the grammar and flow are well edited.


Step 4: Type and email your work to 911acrosscountry@posterous.com

  • In the “To” field put:  911acrosscountry@posterous.com
  • In the “subject”: Enter Blog Title and then Your Name
  • In the Text box: Copy & paste step 1 and 2 directly into email and push Send


General Tips:

  • If you want to see a sample blog post, please visit – 911acrosscountry.posterous.com
  • Make sure you put the title you want for your blog post as the email subject line
  • Take out any signatures you have in your email
  • Make sure you put your “First Name and Location” at the end of your post/email
  • If you have any pictures to share, please post them in the email.


The “secrets to success” in breaking the ban on cell phones

This post is crossed posted at The Innovative Educator written by Lisa Nielsen


Mobile devices have become one the fastest and most popular forms of communication.  They can be an important classroom tool, however many many schools regard them as disruptive, distracting, and have implemented zero tolerance policies that prohibit them. The reality is that students still use cell phones in school even if they are banned. According to Time Magazine, “even though the vast majority of students own cell phones–something like 80% by eighth grade–more than half of schools prohibit the use of any mobile device.” I  am amazed that teachers of the 21st century are not embracing the power of technology in their classrooms.

Surrounded by Mobile Devices
As a member of the millennial generation, I grew up surrounded by mobile devices. I find it difficult to go to meetings with paper and pen, or store papers in a file cabinet, or even use a book for my lesson plans. My life is digital and I think it is time for educators to teach our students to become members of the 21st century. Our students need to be taught to use technology to adapt and THRIVE in this ever-changing world.


Breaking the Ban in Four Schools
Since my very first year teaching, five years ago, I have encouraged other teachers and strongly persuaded my administrators to approve mobile devices in the classroom. Due to my husband’s job relocations, I have taught in five schools in both New York and Pennsylvania. Every school, except one in Westchester County, embraced this new form of technology. I have used mobile devices in my classroom for parent communication, polling, instant response, peer to peer contact, first day of school sharing, QR code web searches, and so much more.

As a first year teacher, I went to my principal in Geneva, NY and asked for permission to use cellular devices in class with my 8th grade students. His response was an enthusiastic Yes! My students looked forward to coming to my class because it was cool to learn through this new method. When I moved to another school in Trumansburg, NY, my principal was on the fence about it. I was able to win him over with the line “do you want

Image from Edudemic

to see it in action?” before you give your response. He came to observe my classroom. My students were placed into groups of two and I posted questions using Polls Everywhere as an instant response tool. My principal was amazed to learn about this new method of assessment and class participation that he had me demonstrate it at a faculty meeting.

When I moved to Hanover, PA, my principal at South Western High School highly supported the use of technology. Unfortunately, I felt like I was in a league of my own as I was the only teacher embracing it. As the year progressed, I took great pride in demonstrating to colleagues ways mobile devices could be implemented in a safe, supportive, and educational way. I showed teachers how to use Cel.ly in the classroom.  With administrative and parental approval, I use  Cel.ly to send text messages to my students with reminders, announcements, polls, questions, etc. Students could text me and ask a specific question such as “what is on the test tomorrow?” or ask “what did I miss in class?” when absent. One student named Meghan commented that she enjoyed using cel.ly because “I could ask you a question at anytime and you would always be there to answer it!”


Improve Parent Communication
Mobile devices have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world. At Hanover, PA, I encouraged parents to join my text messaging cell classroom group. I was surprised by the results. Of my 55 US history students, 35 of their parents participated. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even enjoyed the in-class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.


Ways to Use Mobile Devices in your Classroom
One activity in which I involved parents and mobile devices I call “text a friend.” For example, my students text a family member or friend asking the question “Did you vote in the last election? Why or why not?”  Through the responses our class received we were able to learn firsthand far more than just having the textbook or teacher’s perspective. Mobile devices truly bring the

Two high school students participate in a QR code scavenger hunt about the Civil Rights Movement. One student in each group used their mobile device and a QR code scanner app to unlock the website and respond to the teacher’s prompt. Students explored the school looking for clues to learn about the movement.

world into your classroom.


This year I will be teaching in Cold Spring, NY, which is a very supportive and innovative district. This is the first year I am actively ENCOURAGING my students to use their mobile devices in the classroom. I made clear mobile device classroom expectations on an infographic. I am providing a student guide to technology assignment for homework during the first week of school.  I will be  urging my students to use applications on their devices: My Homework app to keep track of their assignments, a QR code reader for QR codes in my lessons, Easy Bib to properly cite sources, Evernote to take notes, SoundGecko to take any online text and convert it to mp3, just to name a few.   


Goals for the Future
My hope is that I will teach my students to be responsible with mobile devices and encourage them to use their devices for more than just for social purposes.  21st century technology has the potential to encourage student growth, collaboration, research, and skills they can apply throughout their life. Schools across the country need to be more flexible with their policies. Mobile devices can enhance instruction and learning if done appropriately.

Instead of telling your student’s who you are SHOW them

I learned from Mrs. Jee about a wonderful idea to create an Animoto as an introduction “about me” video for the first week of school. I absolutly loved the idea and stayed up way past my bedtime to create it.

Mrs. Jee said she “loved  @royanlee‘s idea to use Animoto to introduce yourself to kids on the 1st day of school. They get a multifaceted sense of who you are. Animoto’s use of pictures, text, and storyline is much more effective than a hastily muttered five minute speech.” After I made my first week introduction video, Mrs. Lindinger was also inspired. Check out her video below!


Back to School Night Idea

Mrs. Jee and I also made a much shorter version for back to school night. I can’t think of a better way to “tell” parents who you are and what you are about. My back to school night version will be a shorter version with images and pictures of my students participating in my classroom. I also plan on linking the video to a QR code to send home to parents who can not attend the back to school night. Thanks for the great idea @mrsjjee @royanlee Another reason I love twitter!


Here is My About Me Introduction Video:

Here is Mrs. Jee’s Video

Here is Mrs. Lindinger’s video

What is Animoto?

Animoto is a simple program online to create simple videos from pictures, sound, text, and  existing video clips. It makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, and text. Animoto  is constantly updating its features as well as background options for your video slideshow.  If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto Video Slideshows.


I used Animoto before for a student project on a PSA assignment on interest groups. Here is a previous post.


Use Cel.ly to safely communicate and engage your students!

As many of you know Cel.ly is on the top five lists of AWESOME programs I use with my students. It may even be # 1!!! No, I do not work for them, but I find it to be one of the most useful programs I use daily with my students to increase student communication and collaboration in a safe and support environment. Cel.ly is changing the face of education!


What is Cel.ly?

According to the Cel.ly website, “A cell is our term for a mobile group network. Messages and polls sent to a cell are forwarded by Celly to specified cell members. In this way, Celly users can communicate and collaborate as a group in realtime using the immedicacy and convenience of text messaging. Additionally, from the Celly website you can send and receive cell messages, polls, and access other Celly features. Celly works with any regular phone that has SMS texting, or from any web enabled device; for instance, a tablet, smartphone, or laptop.”


How I use Cel.ly with my classes?

I use Cel.ly to send text messages to my students with reminders, announcements, polls, questions, etc. Students can text me and ask me a specific question such as “what is on the test tomorrow?” or ask “what did I miss in class?” when they were sick. Cell phones have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world.

Video Demonstration: How to use Cel.ly?
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Interesting ideas to incorporate mobile devices into your classroom

  • Create a Poll– This past fall I used Cel.ly 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 Cel.ly, which is a group chatroom, where my students can communicate instantly via text messaging. I have found Cel.ly 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  Cel.ly.  (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  Cel.ly,  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.

How can it increase parent communication? 

Last fall, I encouraged parents to join my text messaging classroom group. I was surprised with the results. Of my 55 US history students, 35 of their parents participated. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even the in class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.


Previous Posts About Cel.ly

  • Here is a previous post about Cel.ly adding email as a new addition to texting.
  • Here is a previous post about mobile devices in the classroom
  • Here is another post about Cel.ly adding polling
  • Here is another post about making texting positive with Cel.ly