Livebinders for the Social Studies – Part 5

Livebinders for the Social Studies – Part 5:  Presenting with Livebinders

When it comes to presenting material to the classroom, there are several platforms to choose from – platforms ranging from Microsoft Powerpoint to Apple Keynote and a slew of others.  These platforms provide a means of organizing data and presenting it to the classroom.  I myself have previously used Powerpoint when providing content every now and then to the classroom, which can be useful if used to it’s fullest potential.

With that being said, one aspect that needs to bring special attention to your material/lesson is how engaged will it make your students in the classroom?  Thanks to Livebinders, students (and teachers) can now present the material they have created or put together to the classroom and beyond.

Livebinders provide a sense of ownership

Before we get into how you can present with Livebinders, you may be asking why you should be using Livebinders instead of the other options that are available?  Don’t get me wrong, I think platforms like Powerpoint and Keynote can be useful when used properly.  With Livebinders, however, students can create their own online portfolio and work on it throughout the year.  With Powerpoints, once it is completed, students don’t typically come back and build on it unless you design the lesson that way. Livebinders give the students ownership of their own learning and they are able to reflect upon what they have done.

Presenting with Livebinders

With Livebinders, you have the option of creating a presentation of your material.

To put your Livebinder in “Present” mode, first put your cursor over the “eye” on the top navigation panel:

When you do that, you should see a option to select “Present”.  Click on “Present”.  This will put your Livebinder into a presentation mode, which will look like this:

If you will notice, the “Present” mode gives your Livebinder more of a finished product.  You see the name of your Livebinder at the top left hand corner, the binder author at the top right and of course the material of your Livebinder being the center focus.

Using Livebinders also saves time.  You can fill your Livebinder with links to websites, videos and pictures. There’s no need to create a slideshow and insert images or videos because they are already in your Livebinder ready to go.  Students can use Livebinders to present the material or projects they learned throughout the entire year.

This will show how the student has grown and learned since entering your classroom.  Reflection is a huge part of the learning process.

If you have any videos, pictures or stories to share about how you have used Livebinders in your classroom, I would LOVE to hear about them.  Please feel free to DM on Twitter or Google + at @justinstallings.

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5 Ways for Teachers to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

It is becoming all too apparent that kids who fail to learn about technology will be left behind when it comes to advancing in school and in the job market one day, as well. Not only have devices changed the way we socialize as a culture and carry out interpersonal relationships, but the rapid advancement of hardware and programming, especially in the online and mobile arenas, have led to a massive overhaul of the way business is conducted. Good luck finding a companyClassroom-Technology these days that isn’t connected 24/7 thanks to the internet and smartphones. The point is that it’s imperative for kids to become familiar with the devices and software that will dominate their lives, both personal and professional. And schools need to get on board with integrating the technologies that will help to prepare children for the future. Of course, most public schools don’t have a ton of money to spend on pricy equipment. So teachers may have to get creative when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Here are just a few options.

  1. Podcasts. Even teachers that don’t have a lot of extra cash devoted to their classroom may be able to finagle a decent computer or a single tablet out of the budget, or they can simply bring a personal device to class in order to use it as a teaching aid. And one of the best resources out there for lesson enhancement is podcasts. These targeted “radio” shows cover a vast array of topics and often include speakers that are experts in their field. As a bonus, many are free to download, making for an interesting addition to any classroom that won’t cost a dime.
  2. Online instructional videos. Any classroom with a large monitor or video projector can benefit from the bounty of video content to be found online. Teachers may peruse YouTube in search of videos that assist them in teaching myriad lessons on subjects like science, history, language, and more. It’s an especially good resource for current events. But there are also plenty of websites devoted to delivering instructional or otherwise academic videos. Khan Academy and Ted Talks are two fantastic resources for teachers.
  3. Cell phones. Most schools are banning the use of cell phones in their halls, but the teacher that finds a way to integrate these handy devices will win the hearts of students. At the high school level, many students have cell phones of their own, and teachers can use this to their advantage by having their pupils register their numbers with the school so that the teaching staff can send out assignments by text, for example. Or they might set up a classroom Facebook page and allow students to post questions and comments during lessons that the teacher will address at the end of the lecture. This allows students to use their technology in a creative and educational way.
  4. Tablets. The go-to device for classrooms these days is the tablet. And although it can be a hard road trying to get administrators to approve the budget needed to outfit a classroom with enough tablets for each student, the benefits are well worth the effort. There are so many ways that students can use these handheld gadgets; to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, to connect with other students and even other classrooms, and to interact with a slew of programs that provide just one more avenue for learning. The only real downside is the cost.
  5. Edmodo. Let’s not forget about the programs that make many modern devices worthwhile. There are so many apps out there for computers and mobile devices that you have your pick of the litter when it comes to software designed to enhance your classroom. But Edmodo is one of the best programs out there for teachers. It acts as a safe hub for students and teachers to connect in mobile space, providing tools that allow for interaction both in and out of the classroom setting. Teachers can also connect to each other to share insights and even lessons. And they can personalize lessons, track student progress, and even hand out badges and grades. It doesn’t take an online emba to see that the sky is the limit with hardware and software that practically begs for classroom integration.

Guest Post: Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.

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Simplify your iPad with CloudOn

I recently discovered CloudOn from a colleague at work. CloudOn brings Microsoft Office to your iPhone and iPad. With Cloud on you can create and edit files in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on your iPhone or iPad. You can Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 10.06.09 PMmanage documents with your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and SkyDrive accounts. You can track changes and set notifications while editing the document.


CloudOn also automatically saves documents so you will never lose your work.  The application is a direct and wireless link between your desktop and your ipad, which will allow you to work without any issue.  CloudOn is completely free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out. Click here to download it for the iPad.






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EduCreations the “personal recordable whiteboard for the ipad”

I recently learned about a new app called EduCreations. It’s like a “personal recordable whiteboard for the ipad” that captures user’s voice, digital handwriting, images, and text for the creation of a video lesson or screencast. You can annotate images with handwriting.
Another unique feature of the app is it’s hosting service, which allows you to share any created projects with a class or select # of users.  As a teacher you can create a class and add your students. They can create their own projects once they are in your “class” with the app. The projects they create automatically go into your your class. You can also “push out” lessons to your class.
If you don’t have an ipad- You can used the web-based version of the app that works with any browser. Best Part about the app it’s FREE.
Tons of cool features-
  1. Handwriting and text tool
  2. import multiple images
  3. great editing tools
  4. animated play back
  5. multiple upload or share options
  6. 9 compatible languages
Hope you get a chance to check it out:
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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


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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!

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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!


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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 in the classroom.  With administrative and parental approval, I use 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 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.

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Create an Infographic for your Classroom!

I learned about infographics from Twitter’s #sschat. Before Monday I had no clue how to make an infographic. Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Here is more information: What is an info-graphic? is one of the simplest websites to design an infographic for your classroom, a lesson, for a school poster, and the ideas can go on and on. is “easy to use,” free, and within a matter of minutes you can make an infographic, unless you are a perfectionist like me, in that case it will take you a few hours.

Once you create an account you select a theme, select objectives and shapes, design the layout, add text, and you can create an infographic is a short amount of time. is not the only website that allows users to create infographics, another is, which seems to have a fewer resources. I seemed to prefer

According to Jamie Forshey author of Edutech for Teachers blog, Infographics can be used as a “visual to show students and educators the way that technology is projected to continue shaping our lives, world—and education! What a great way to motivate, encourage, persuade and guide students in post-secondary career planning! It’s also an excellent visual for stressing the importance of exposing students to relevant, real-world tech tools in the classroom setting.”

Here is a sample infographic I made for my classroom. I brought it to staples to enlarge it or you can use the Block Posters web tool to create your poster. I also embedded it on my blog.


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Paperport Notes for the iPad

I learned about PaperPort Notes at ISTE12 and was so amazed I just had to blog about it. PaperPort Notes is a wonderful app for the iPad that allows users to edit and collect information, which includes text to speech software. You can send your notes to Dropbox and download files from there. The app even allows files such as .txt, PDF’s, and .jpg,  to integrate into the app.  If you need a free iPad note-taking app that syncs with Dropbox , PaperPort Notes is a great option. Check it out today!



• Quickly take typed and/or free hand notes 
• Leverage Dragon voice recognition to capture your ideas and notes simply by speaking
• Leverage powerful annotative tools to quickly mark up documents
• Never miss another detail by adding audio page by page within your notes
• Combine full documents, individual pages, content from the web and notes into a single document.
• Powerful search, copy/paste, reordering and bookmarking tools allow you to quickly navigate your notes while staying organized
• Access and share content using your favorite cloud storage services
• PaperPort Anywhere connector provides access to files stored online or within PaperPort Desktop

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Use Thinglink to Create a Media Rich Environment

ThingLink is an interesting website designed around the idea of sharing and tagging photos. Once you log in to Thinglink you can upload any photo or use a photo’s url to share the photos online. Users can tag photos with details, questions, and relevant links. The tags can be revealed every-time a user scrolls their mouse over the uploaded image. Users can also drive traffic to the site through the image tags as well as gather statistics related to the online traffic the image generates. The image truly becomes an interactive and media rich environment.

Application in the Classroom: As  a teacher, I foresee myself using this for cartoons or interesting photographs. I can pose questions or relevant details through image tagging and have my students respond electronically to their own interpretation of the image or cartoon. Check out my Thinglink of the Migrant Mother image.

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Make a Mini Documentary with WeVideo

Today I was searching the web for a new and interesting way to have my students create the last documentary project about recent U.S. history. I would love to have them use iMovie but my new school does not have Mac computers and the PC’s are not very reliable. I was looking for a web-based program that can create digital movies both at home and school. I discovered WeVideo, which is an easy to use program that is capable of creating interesting student-created documentary projects.


WeVideo allows users to upload video clips and photos, create story-lines, and edit the entire video in the cloud. As a teacher using the cloud is wonderful…. no more issues with the network, no more issues with projects being on a particularly computer, and no more legitimate complaints of students saying they can’t work on it at home. All video creation takes place on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. No software to download and buy. Once the videos are created you can share them in basic interest or HD quality on the WeVideo website or publish and share it online such as Youtube, Facebook, or a teacher website or blog. Every student call now tell a story or make your content come alive. Give WeVideo a try you won’t be disappointed!

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Have students write letters to themselves!

Asking your student’s to write themselves a letter is is a classic end of the year activity. Students can reflect on their year as well as their goals for the following school year or the future. But why not make it digital? There are two websites I discovered one website is called Future Me and another is called Letter 2 Future. Both websites offer users the ability to send an email in the future such as words of inspiration or goals for the future. You pick the date you want the email delivered and it is sent to your inbox! It is that simple. Getting a surprise from the past is actually kind of an amazing thing – just check out all the people on Twitter and Facebook that agree.


Application in Classroom: I usually give my students some prompts such as what is one important skill you learned this year in social studies, what is one thing you would like to improve upon next year, what advice would you give to your future self, where do you see yourself in five years or ten years.

My first year of teaching (5 years ago) I had my students write themselves a letter. I still have the letters sitting under my bed in my parents house. I plan on mailing them next year when they graduate high school. This year I plan on using the digital version of future letter writing. I have also heard of teachers mailing the letters right before the start of the following school year. What do you plan on doing for an end of the school year activity?

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Interactive Presentations with Slide Boom

I discovered Slide Boom when I was searching for an interactive World War II map (see below). Slide Boom is a website that allows users to upload Powerpoint presentations and the website converts the file to a flash movie. Each presentation that is uploaded can be shared with others on a blog or website.  The slides are uploaded in the same manner as the original .ppt file, including audio, animation, and visual files.


My favorite feature of Slide Boom is the animation options such as a pen, highlighter, or eraser. You can save your writing and animation of each slide. You can then make the presentation available to your students. For example: I animated and highlighted the battles on the interactive WWII map. Here is a how to use Slide Boom guide.


Here is the main features of Slideboom

  • It has a basic free version and premium version (Basic is fine for educator)
  • It is very simple and easy to use
  • It allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations and slideshows
  • It can be used to convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash
  • You can share your presentations with others
  • Search for presentations in 100+ different languages and by 30+ categories.
  • Join an interest group or create your own
  • Embed presentations into your blog or website
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Explain Everything: For Substitute Plans

I hate having a substitute. My students are usually never on task and don’t complete the assignment. I put a lot of time into substitute plans get really annoyed when they are not taught the way I instructed or a lesson was not completed. This year I resorted to a video or a simple activity the kids can do on their own rather than continue with my lesson plans.


This week I had to create substitute plans with a days notice and rather than change my plans I used the application Explain Everything. I created a 15 minute podcast lesson for my students to watch and listen to with a substitute. My students said “It was like you were there with us,” or “I liked the lesson.” I never hear that after having a substitute. The following day the substitute came into my classroom and said it was the easiest class they ever had to cover.


I learned about Explain Everything from @gregkulowiec at EdCamp Social Studies. Explain Everything is an easy to use app that allows you annotate, animate, and narrate any presentation. You can create interesting and dynamic lessons and tutorials. You can take any lesson and record on screen drawings, objective movements, and capture audio. You can add any photo, powerpoint, PDF, or a file from dropbox, Evernote, Email, or Photos. Explain Everything is truly a wonderful application that is changing the face of education.


For other uses of Explain Everything, please visit the History 2.0 Classroom.

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