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Mr. Haney's “Teaching with Technology” Tip of the Month

Jordan Haney

Jordan Haney, grand-prize winner of ORAU’s 2010 Extreme Classroom Makeover, still considers himself a beginner when it comes to the ever-changing world of technology. He regularly finds inspiration from others who are also exploring the benefits of technology in the classroom. In fact, many of the tips and information he has gathered thus far has come from other educators—either from across the country, or in some cases, from across the globe! Now, in the spirit of paying it forward, Mr. Haney shares in his own words ideas for incorporating technology into lesson plans.

Each month Mr.Haney will post a tip about a featured technology he uses in his classroom. Use the links below to explore each month, and remember to check back for new tips.

May: Five Favorite Technology Devices
April: Nintendo DS
March: 21st Century Learning
February: Digital Storytelling Websites
January: 11 Websites to try in 2011
December: ePals
November: Wikis
October: Blogging
September: Flip Video® Camera
August: Nintendo Wii ™
July: Education Apps
June: Podcasting

May 2011

Featured Technology: Five Favorite Technology Devices

Congratulations, you have won $25,000! Now go buy things!

I remember being ecstatic but also completely overwhelmed with the idea that I could buy $25,000 worth of technology. What do I buy? How many? Who should I buy from? Where are the best deals?

Mr. Haney's garden and aquarium

Mr. Haney's garden and aquarium

In honor of Mr. Sutton, 5th grade teacher at Green Magnet Math and Science Academy, I am going to share my five favorite pieces of technology. I know his head must be spinning so below is a starting point to help him, or anyone who is about to purchase new technology.

5. Nature

With a portion of my winnings, I bought an aquarium and built a garden. While these are not your typical technology devices, my students have loved interacting with these options. Growing our own Thanksgiving food was one of the most rewarding activities we did all year. The saltwater tank, while educational, is also very calming for my students.

4. iPod Touch

A student uses an iPod

These little guys might have been higher on my list but my iPod touches do not have cameras. With the addition of cameras, I would not have bought the Flip Video cameras. We do use the devices for voting on the active board, recording podcasts, and endless apps. Because they are small and handy, they can easily be moved around the room.

3. iMacs

A student uses Mr. Haney's iMac

Adding iMacs to your classroom's technology arsenal instantly improves the look and function of your classroom. Besides being a beautiful machine, they are the perfect desktop computer. My students use iMacs to work on websites, type reports, create presentations, and work on iLife Apps. Most students are familiar with these machines and they are extremely powerful.

2. MacBooks

Students read an article on the MacBooks

The ability to move work around your classroom is priceless. MacBooks are easy to store, charge, and use. They may be more expensive than other laptops, but I guarantee it is worth the extra money. My students love working with iMovie, Garageband, and our weekly reading packets on these portable machines.

1. iPads

Student conducts research on the iPad

When I purchased my iPads, I admit I was nervous. Who knew they would take off like they did. After the students get past their initial excitement of working with this cool device, the iPad is powerful enough to educate and entertain for the rest of the year. My students have loved exploring the endless apps on the device, and the mobility and sturdiness of the iPad is unmatched. It is also a great classroom motivator. My students' behavioral problems have decreased immensely because students do not want to lose iPad privileges.

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April 2011

Featured Technology: Nintendo DS

A Nintendo DS is a powerful machine, and priced around $100, it is more affordable than an iPod Touch. Most of the students in your class probably already have one or their siblings own a system. With thousands of games, internet access, and a camera, these tiny machines pack a big punch for education.

Nintendo DS


  • BrainQuest: Their slogan is "It's Fun to be Smart!" Multiple versions of this game are available for different age groups, and each has a 6,000 question bank on all the major subjects.
  • Learn Geography: In fifth grade, we are required to cover all the states, major rivers, lakes, and continents. This game has lived up to its slogan of "Let's Make Geography Exciting!" by making learning enjoyable for my class.
  • MarkerMan Adventures: Problem solving can be difficult for many students, but with the game MarkerMan, students learn to solve problems using physics. While they play this game, students will forget they are learning.

Internet Access:

With internet capability, educational websites are limitless. Students can also listen to music and podcasts. Games become more entertaining and allow users to challenge someone in their own classroom or across the country.


The camera addition to the DS made the machine a triple threat. Students can participate in photo scavenger hunts, document experiments, report on field trips, and make movies all in the palm of their hand.

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March 2011

Featured Technology: 21st Century Learning

The best advice I received during my first year of teaching was to not re-invent the wheel. Instead, my mentor taught me to collect the best ideas from different schools in the area. Five years later I am still constantly searching for new ideas, but now can do so on a global level.

Technology has allowed me to virtually eliminate the walls of my classroom to by incorporating teaching ideas and tactics from around the world. By reading blogs and listening to podcasts, teachers can exponentially increase their knowledge on a daily basis. A quick read while waiting in a store's check-out lane or quick listen on your way home from work could change the way you teach. For my March technology tip of the month, I share with you my favorite three blogs and podcasts that have enriched my classroom this year.


I Learn Technology

You could spend your whole year on this amazing site. Kelly Tenkely is a techno-educational genius. Each one of her posts is broken into three sections: What it is, How to integrate, and Tips. The posts are almost daily and usually technology based.

Educational Technology Guy

Trying to find educational resources online is like trying to find a good couch at Goodwill. There are always a handful of couches at the store but usually only one is good enough to use. This is where David Andrade steps in. His daily blog digs through the endless sites to find the educational gems. Why spend your whole weekend googling topics when you could spend minutes reading what he has found?

The Pursuit of Technology Integration

Michael Zimmer has created a phenomenal blog. It is a mixture of tips and insight. I enjoy this blog because it is written daily and is usually no longer than 2 paragraphs. The information is straight forward with little fluff. If you are in pursuit of technology integration, this is the blog for you.


The Cool Teacher Podcast

Chris Haskell and Barbara Schroeder are two professors who really know their technology. During each episode, tips are given on how to integrate technology into your classroom.

Ed Tech Crew

Ed Tech Crew is hosted by Darrel Branson and Tony Richards. The podcasts are usually around an hour long and based on all things digital in education. Even though they are located half away around the world in Australia, we can use what they are talking about in the states.

The Reform Symposium

The Reform Symposium is a series from a workshop held by some of the greatest educational minds. It doesn't matter if you are familiar with technology or just beginning, there is a podcast for you.

We are extremely lucky to have so much knowledge and information at our fingertips. I am also very thankful for all of the teachers who spend their own time blogging and podcasting on the latest gadgets and ideas in educational technology.

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February 2011

Featured Technology: Digital Storytelling Websites

Digital storytelling has successfully infiltrated creative classrooms. Students are now trading paper and pencils for flat screens and keyboards. The practice of digital storytelling allows students to improve their writing skills and allows them to look beyond their words and create a world where their stories live. To help bring this incredible tool into your classroom, I have listed my three favorite sites for digital storytelling:

1. Story Bird (Beginner)

Screenshot of Story Bird

Screenshot of Story Bird

Story Bird is a great place for your class to begin its digital journey. Start off by creating a class account, which will allow your students to create their own. The accounts are free and when you create a class account, all of your students' creations can be viewed in your class display.

The website is incredibly easy to navigate, and the user has three choices: create, read, or tour.

Creating is very simple. Story Bird has hundreds of illustrations on its site from which to choose. Once you have selected your illustrations, simply place them on a page and start writing. After your book is complete, you have the option to buy, email, or embed your creation.

Story Bird's second choice is read. You can view hundred of stories created by everyday people. This option can make a great compare and contrast activity by instructing your students to compare their story with another person who used the same illustrations.

The third option is to tour the site, which provides advice and tips on how to use Story Bird.

2. Story Jumper(Intermediate)

Screenshot of Story Bird

Screenshot of Story Jumper

Once your students have mastered creating stories to match pictures, let them try the next level of digital storytelling: Story Jumper. This website is very similar to Story Bird in that you can create a class account and individual student accounts. There is also a class page where you can view the students' stories.

The major difference between Story Jumper and Story Bird is the option to create backgrounds. Story Jumper allows the illustrations and backgrounds to be interchangeable. so possibilities are endless. Students still need to write their story, but will also have to create the accompanying scenes. Story Jumper also allows you to upload your own pictures to add yourself to the story.

3. Go Animate(Expert)

Screenshot of Go Animate

Screenshot of Go Animate

Go Animate is explained perfectly by its title, and will take your students to the next level of digital storytelling by providing animation opportunities. This website was a public site but it has recently introduced a school version.

Like the first two sites, you can create a class site with individual student accounts. The new school version is perfect for classrooms as it monitors content and site usage.

Go Animate gives students the freedom of movement while creating stories. Unlike the other two sites, Go Animate allows students to put their story in motion. The finished product looks more like a cartoon than a book, and students will be begging to make another one immediately after finishing their first fully animated story.

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January 2011

Featured technology: 11 Websites to try in 2011

Finding educational websites to fit your classroom can often be overwhelming. Below is a guide, including price and level of difficulty to join, outlining my top 11 favorite websites to use in 2011.

11. Sumdog

Screenshot of Sumdog

Screenshot of Sumdog

Your students will love practicing math skills while competing in fun head-to-head games like Street Racer, Alien Invaders, and Tower Climber.

  • Free (You can upgrade but the free version is more than enough)
  • Medium Setup (You have to create student accounts)

10. Carrot Sticks

Screenshot of Carrot Sticks

Screenshot of Carrot Sticks

Students can never spend enough time practicing their facts. This website motivates students to practice their time tables while having fun. They can compete with other students from around the country, or in their class, by answering math fact questions and earning carrots. Teachers can set up a class list so students will know when their classmates are logged onto the site. This is a great way to practice for World Math Day 2011.

  • Free (Teachers can sign up for a free school account from 7 am to 3 pm)
  • Medium Setup (You have to create student accounts)

9. Study Island

Screenshot of Study Island

Screenshot of Study Island

There are many wonderful free websites available to teachers but a few are worth paying for a membership. Study Island has multiple subjects available for purchase, but if you can only afford one, the reading program is the best. The site aligns its questions to meet your state's standards and provides enough examples for each skill. For extra student motivation, you can turn on the game option which allows students to play a fun game if they get the question correct.

  • Not Free (Cost depends on class and school size. Comes out to 3 to 4 dollars per student)
  • Hard Setup (You have to create student accounts and set up payment)

8. Quia

Screenshot of Quia

Screenshot of Quia

Quia allows teachers and students to make their own games (paid version) or browse hundreds of others' games (free version). If you have always wanted to create your own educational game but felt inadequate, Quia makes the process very simple. My 5th graders have created their own educational games using Quia. If you don't have the time to create, search the endless games other teachers have created and posted.

  • Free (You can upgrade to have your own page to save games and create your own)
  • Easy Setup (Just type in a topic and watch the games pop up)

7. Scholastic Study Jams

Screenshot of Scholastic Study Jams

Screenshot of Scholastic Study Jams

Scholastic has a fantastic website, and could easily make the list, but I really enjoy their Study Jams page. Many teachers use Brian Pop for their video needs, but if you can't afford their service, Study Jams offers a great free option. The site has math and science videos that cover close to a 100 topics. The site also has karaoke songs to help students remember the information.

  • Free (I would pay good money for this site)
  • Easy (Just click on the site and watch away)

6. Wordle

Screenshot of Wordle

Screenshot of Wordle

Wordle takes words and puts them into unique formations. Words that are used more in the writing appear larger. Why is this cool? Copy a famous speech and paste it into Wordle and you'll see. It is also a great way to show students the words they are over-using in their writing.

  • Free and Easy

5. Story Bird

Screenshot of Story Bird

Screenshot of Story Bird

Increase your students' excitement about writing by using Story Bird. This website allows you to create your own books. You provide the words and it provides the artwork. One option is to show a group of students the same artwork and see the different story each creates. Once you have created the story, you can email it to friends to read.

  • Free (I am just waiting for this site to start charging. It is too good to be free)
  • Easy Setup (You can create a free account so you can keep up with your books)

4. Brain Nook

Screenshot of Brain Nook

Screenshot of Brain Nook

Brain Nook is a virtual world created to help students with their English and math skills. Students make their own characters and explore an online world where they can take part in English and math based challenges. Students can sign on and challenge each other in this virtual world.

  • Free
  • Medium Setup (Students will have to create characters and usernames)

3. Go Animate

Screenshot of Go Animate

Screenshot of Go Animate

Most students love cartoons, so why not let them create one? Go Animate makes creating cartoons a breeze. Students will wonder why they are playing instead of learning when they are on this website. While they are having fun, students will forget they are actually using English and reading skills at a high level. You can even incorporate science and history by asking them to create cartoons based on specific topics, such as the Civil War.

  • Free (You can upgrade but the free version is pretty sweet)
  • Medium Setup (You have to setup a school account with student accounts)

2. Glogster

Screenshot of Glogster

Screenshot of Glogster

Want to make marvelous posters without all of the mess? Try Glogster's online poster board. You can type, paint, paste pictures, embed video, record voice, and much more. Your students' creativity will flow while they practice new skills in a unique way.

  • Free (You can upgrade but free version is enough)
  • Medium Setup (You have to create a school account and student accounts)

1. Delicious

Screenshot of Mr. Haney's Delicious Page

Screenshot of Mr. Haney's Delicious Page

Have you ever wanted to show a friend a website you enjoy but cannot do so because you can't find it? Delicious solves this problem for you. The site allows you to start your own online bookmarks list so you will have your favorite sites at your fingertips wherever you sign online. Delicious stores the websites you find with specific tags so you can find them quickly.

  • Free/Easy Setup

Part of my New Year resolution is to share more, so the link on Delicious is to my personal page where I have 1,111 educational bookmarks stored. I have been hoarding all of these great websites for myself for too long. This is my gift to the few people who will read this article. The 1,111 bookmarks are split into Language Arts (267), Math (258), iPad Compatible (254), Reading (190), Teacher Resources (141), Science (132), TCAPs (73), History (72), Video (58), and Active Board (53). You can also view the bookmarks in more specific tags like adjectives (9), analogies (14), and decimals (10). The numbers in the parenthesis represent the number of websites that go along with the topic.

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December 2010

Featured technology: ePals

Mr. Haney's blog

Screen capture of ePals website.

Believe it or not, I still have the letters I received from my pen pal in the fifth grade. I'm very thankful that my fifth teacher took the extra effort and connected us with students who lived over a thousand miles away in Texas. Through my own pen pal experience, I was able to practice my letter writing skills through real correspondence with other children my age, which made writing exciting.

When I started teaching I wanted to give my students the same excitement I felt about communicating with kids in other part of the country and I found an online community called ePals. The website gives teachers from around the country, and the world, the opportunity to connect through two options: sign up, make a profile about your school, and someone will find you or search the message boards where teachers can place their own posts and read those posted by others.

After a teacher finds a potential school to partner with, they send a message through the ePals website requesting to be pen pal and wait for a response. ePals automatically notifies teachers of any messages through the email contact they provide. Once two classes are connected, the fun begins. Each student will need to create an ePals email to receive messages from their pen pals. Before messages can be sent or received by students, the message has to be approved by both teachers.

Below are my tips on how to have a successful ePals experience:

  1. Choose a class that wants to do the same activity. Most of the classes just want to email but there are some classes who are interested in video-making and blogging.
  2. Set a time and day each week for ePals. If you don't set a time, the students will never get to write. I use it every Wednesday as one of my reading activities.
  3. Go easy on the grammar. You can spend hours telling the students to correct grammar on the letters. Pick skills you have covered and make them “no excuses.” These means there is no excuse not to have this right on their letter (for example, skills like punctuation marks and capitalization).
  4. Write about your culture. The students will love to see what life is like in Kenya for a kid who is the same age.
  5. Have the students write at least one hand written letter to their ePals. This will give them something to have as a memory or to put in their portfolio.
  6. Inform the parents. With the world becoming smaller every day, the parents will be excited about the students making global connections.
  7. Pick a class in a country you would love to visit. After working with this teacher for a year, you might be close enough to go visit.

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November 2010

Featured technology: Wikis

Mr. Haney's blog

Screen capture of Mr. Haney's Science Wiki. Click here to visit Mr. Haney's Science Wiki.

If you have never used or created a wiki, you are missing out on a great tool for the classroom. Wiki is an Egyptian word meaning quick, which describes how this tool is used. Wikispaces, like Wikipedia, are created and edited by the public to be a quick source of information. Many teachers may not understand how Wikis can be used in a classroom. Below are some of the ways I use this great tool:

Online Notebook– An online notebook can be used for any subject, and eliminates the need for students to take their books and notebooks home. Instead, they use their online notebook to record work.

My students and I have enjoyed creating online notebooks this year. They have worked together to find relatable images and ultimately designed a study tool. When you give them a blank canvas with basic guidelines, the students can really tailor the notebooks to fit their personalities. The links below show examples of my classes' creations.

Global Collaboration– The world is becoming much smaller due to technology, and by the time students arrive in the work force they will most likely spend more time working with people from other countries than their neighbors.

Wikis are a wonderful way to prepare students for global collaboration. I have had great luck in finding other classrooms in which to communicate by using EPALS, an online school community.

My students have just started a writing-focused wiki with a class from Kansas. We have also scheduled collaborative writing sessions with classes from Pennsylvania and Turkey.

Novel Studies– Organizing a novel study is a different way to encourage students to get excited about reading. Throw in a wiki and the students' enthusiasm will go through the roof.

Since creating the wiki novel for my students, they feel more purpose when we are reading together. They understand the need to participate, and on Fridays my students post their novel wikis online. This year I have partnered with a great teacher and class from Kansas on a novel study wiki. My students really enjoy reading the novel and working on the wiki with a student who lives almost a thousand miles away.

There are two great sites I have used for wiki creation: wikispaces and pbworks. The best thing is… they are FREE!!

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October 2010

Featured technology: Blogging

Mr. Haney's blog

Screen capture of Mr. Haney's blog. Click here to visit Mr. Haney's blog.

 Almost every time I introduce a new writing lesson, instantly half of the students groan in apprehension. The fact is, not many students love to write and look at it as a chore. Teachers might be able to change students' opinions of writing if we could find a way to encourage them to write more often, give them a world-wide audience and make it relatable to their high-tech world. I am here to tell you there is a way to introduce writing in a fun and interesting way: the wonderful world of blogging. This year to help encourage writing, I have created individual student blogs. Below are my five reasons and five ways to use blogs in the classroom.

Five Reasons to Blog in the Classroom

  1. Students are more motivated to write when they are blogging. I can't quote a study or any impressive facts, but I have seen it first-hand.
  2. Blogging gives your students a “real” world-wide audience. What better way to get students to write grammatically correct and create interesting journal entries than by telling them the world is going to read them?
  3. Blogging makes you look cool. There is something intriguing about a blogger. My students love talking about their blog. They have only been participating for a month, but from the way they talk, you would think they were life-long bloggers.
  4. Blogs keep your kids connected. They are a great way to keep families who live out-of-town up to date. You can post pictures, videos, and completed work so Grandma who lives in Alaska can still see the wonderful work her favorite grandson has completed.
  5.  It is free! I use EduBlogger and I love it. There are upgrade options but the free service is just fine. If you do use EduBlogger, they have an option where you can create your class blog and student blogs from your school website. Teachers, using EduBlogger is great because it's specifically designed for education.

Five Ways to Use a Blog in the Classroom

  1. Weekly Newsletter-Students can write a paragraph about their week and can add photos, videos or completed work to their weekly post.
  2. Writing Journal-Tired of keeping up with all the writing journal notebooks? Have your students do their final draft on their blog.
  3. Review Page-If you have students who go home and forget how to do their math homework, have them post examples of problems on their blog. You can also screen cast them working on a problem and embed it in their blog.
  4. Connect to Classrooms-Have a WWI blog with another class from across the Atlantic or the country. Use sites like EPALS to help find a match. By getting different views on subjects, the students will get a broader lesson.
  5. Widgets-There are hundreds of widgets you can add to blogs, such as math facts, class pets, calendars, or even a fun one like Frogger. Make your blog educational and entertaining and people will come back for more.

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September 2010

Featured technology: Flip Video® Camera

There is only one thing in my classroom that gets as much “awe” as the iPads, and it's the Flip Video® camera. The students just love recording what they are doing. So far this year, we have used the cameras just as much as the computers. Here are my top five uses for the Flip Video® camera:

  • Science Experiments—Have the students record themselves doing a science experiment. They can use the video camera to make a “How To” video for your next year students or even the class down the hall. This year's science class is growing a garden and the students are reporting their findings on a wiki. Their first assignment was to record their plants on day 1 of the experiment.
  • Field Trips—Make your students the director. You will be surprised at what these guys come up with when you place the camera in their hands during a field trip. Use their footage to make a scrapbook of the day, a persuasive commercial, or an extended science or history lesson depending on where you went.
  • Vocabulary—One of my favorite things to do with the video cameras is to get the students to act out their vocabulary words. Try it out with your science and history words and see if your students can be creative enough to find ways to act them out. After recording, play them on your TV, ActivBoard, projector or camera and have the students guess the word.
  • Theater—I was not much of a fan of reader's theater until a former team member had her class come in and perform for my class. As soon as the class left, my students were wondering when they were going to get to do something that cool. Since that day, I have tried to incorporate it into my lesson more and more, and with the video cameras you can bump it up a notch. Be sure to record the students; not just during the main performance but also during practice. This gives the students a chance to watch, listen and correct themselves before the big day. It is also important you point out what distracts you while you watch. Everything from off stage actors to the students in the crowd can be extremely distracting, and it is good to let the students see for themselves.
  • Scrapbook—Everything is going digital so might as well trade in your paper scrapbook for a digital version. I made one for my students last year and they loved it. This year I am going to get the students to make their own digital scrapbook. My advice is to start small and go from there. Make a field trip scrapbook or an award show scrapbook. The great thing about it being digital is parents can embed it in a website or a social network and the grandparents can see it no matter where they live.

I hope this tip of the month gives you something new to try!

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August 2010

Featured technology: Nintendo Wii ™

If there could be a way to combine something fun with education then teaching would be a lot easier. Well....there is! It is called the Nintendo Wii. The Wii offers a new dimension to learning that many people are not taking advantage of: game play. Most of the students in your class probably have a Wii and are very familiar with it. Give the other students five minutes and they will become pros too. Here are three ways to use the Nintendo Wii in your classroom:

  • Nintendo Wii Games—The Wii offers a couple of great educational games including Science PaPa, Big Brain Academy and City Builder. I have also seen teachers use entertaining games like Wii Sports and Mario Cart for math and rewards in their classrooms. If you happen to teach P.E., the Wii would be perfect! With games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, your students will get into shape and love your class.
  • Internet—The Wii can also be used to connect to the Internet. It is not the best server but there are sites that go great with this machine. Try the website Arcademic Skill Builders. This site offers several math and language arts games that can be played with the Wii.
  • Interactive White Board—The big fad right now in education is the Interactive White Board. Why pay 2,000 dollars when you can buy a $200 Wii and $400 projector and have the same thing. Most schools have a projector lying around in their tech closet.

If nothing else, just having a Wii in your classroom scores major points with the students!

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July 2010

Featured technology: Education Apps

There are hundreds of software applications—or apps—you can access for educational purposes. So how do you know which ones to use? Here is a list of my top 10 educational apps.


  • iBooks (Free)—With the latest update, the options on iBooks are incredible. I plan on using this app more than all the others. With the ability to highlight, look up words and take notes, iBook offers endless educational uses while reading a book. Also, there are thousands of free books too!
  • Story Kit (Free)—This app allows you to create your own book. Story Kit lets you type out a story and add pictures from your photos or draw one. After you create your story, you can save it so others can read it. The app also gives you stories to finish writing.

Language Arts:

  • Miss Spell (Free)—In Miss Spell's class, the teacher gives you several words and you have to pick the one that is spelled correctly. The app also keeps the top scores so students can compete with themselves or others.
  • Word Press (Free)—If you are considering blogging in your classroom (which you should), this app allows students to blog from anywhere. Imagine being on a field trip and having your students writing about their trip while they are on it. I plan on using this app every Friday. The students will use it to create weekly blogposts of their week. By the end of the year, they will be able to look back with their own digital scrapbook.


  • Pop Math Lite (Free)—Every kid loves to pop balloons. Add in a little math and both the student and teacher win. In this app, students have to answer math operations by popping the correct balloon answer. There is also a paid version for a dollar that is worth the money.
  • Brain Thaw Lite (Free)—Penguins trying to escape a Yeti Monster—sounds like a cool movie. On this app, you are a penguin trying to find multiples and factors. Watch out for the Yeti because he will eat you! The app keeps up with your top scores so the students can see how they stack up. There is also a paid version but the lite version is just as good.


  • iCell (Free)—Take a look at animal and plant cells without having to pull out the microscopes with this handy app.
  • Video Science (Free) —Can't afford to buy all the supplies for experiments? Just check out this free app. This great app has about 30 science experiment videos.


  • USA Free (Free)—Ask a student where Oregon is and they might show you Mississippi. With this app, students can practice locating states and capitals. Also, there is a section on Presidents and Random Facts on America.
  • This Day in History (Free)—This Day in History is a nice free app that provides exactly what it says it is. It gives you a couple of important events that happened on a specific day.

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June 2010

Featured technology: Podcasting

Jordan Haney recording podcast

Podcasting is becoming a more common term in today's classroom. The reason is because students enjoy doing it and they learn from it too. I experimented with podcasting a little last year, and my students had a great time. My goal for this is year to have a weekly podcast posted on iTunes. Here are my top five tips for podcasting.

  • Model—Let your class listen to some examples of student-created podcasts. There are several great podcasts on iTunes. One example is Students Teaching Student.
  • Idea—Come up with an idea before you let the students create. Eventually, I had the students come up with ideas, but for the first couple podcasts I already had a set of points they had to meet.
  • Script—Have an order to the podcast that you can recreate every time you make a podcast. Here is an example if you wanted to create a book-review podcast: 1.) intro song or slogan, 2.) introduce who you are (first names only) and where you are from, 3.) introduce book and why you picked it, 4.) give a summary or whatever reading strategy you are working on from the week, 5.) give your rating of the book, 6.) and create a closing (either a catchy sign-off phrase or the same intro song).
  • Plan—Have the students come up with a solid plan before recording. Give students different roles so they know what their expectations are for the podcast.
  • Simple—Keep it simple. Start small and by the end of the year you will be amazed at what your students will be able to do.

I have used GarageBand for my recording because we are a Mac school, but there are other free sources out there for your recording. If you do not use Mac computers, try audacity. I have not personally used it, but I have heard it works great.

Do not worry about publishing on iTunes at the beginning. The students will enjoy listening to each others' podcast so they will have an audience and they can use them for review. Also, check with your school because most school systems allow you to post podcasts on the school's website.

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