Friday Five 2013-2014

Each week I send out eTips to all 21st Century learners in Talladega County, Alabama on Friday. The Friday Five provides readers with valuable tips, information, links, and inspiration for engaging students using 21st Century skills. I hope you enjoy! To see previous Friday Fives, visit the TCBOE21 wiki or check the navigation bar at the left for last year's editions.

Friday Five for Friday, December 13th

1. Winter Wonderland of Holiday Lessons...
One of the best web tool resource sites on the web is Martin Burrett's ICT Magic wiki. Make sure you check out his extensive Winter and Christmas Page for lessons and activities for next week. Also, poke around the rest of his site -- you are certain to find LOADS of useful tools. i

2. Teaching in High Gear...
My friend, Marsha Ratzel, has just published a great new book, Teaching in High Gear -- My Shift Toward a Student-Driven Inquiry Based Science Classroom. Marsha is a very skilled, accomplished science and math teacher and wrestled with an inquiry/PBL approach for years. This wonderful book is a practical outline of her valuable discoveries. It's a fantastic resource for ALL science teachers!

3. Crack the Books App is all the rage!
Have you heard about the Crack the Books app? This one is great. One textbook, five reading levels, and infinite possibilities with your students! Check out this review and link to the app. You'll definitely want to check out this app!

4. Another dimension!
There has been all sorts of noise about 3D printing and modeling lately. Blokify is one of the new kids on the block for 3D printing. Need to see what this is all about. Click on the Blokify link to watch a one-minute video that explains the process. Fascinating!

5. Making the world a smarter place...
Inkling is all about interactive books for iPad, iPhone, and the web. Their content is handcrafted with high resolution images, audio, and video.
This is not your typical ebook -- inkling is so much more than a platform for amazing interactive books. Check it out!

Have a nice weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, December 6th

1. Football Mania...
Only those living in Alabama can understand how we feel about football. If you are interested in sharing your enthusiasm for football with your students, I have a great resource for you -- Science of NFL Football. NBC Learn, in partnership with the National Science Foundation and National Football League, unravels the science behind professional football. For lesson plans and activities, visit their partner at Lessonopoly.

2. The Chemistry of Cookies...
This fascinating TED Talk on the Chemistry of Cookies promises to engage your students! You stick cookie dough into an oven, and magically, you get a plate of warm, gooey cookies. Except it’s not magic; it’s science. Stephanie Warren explains via basic chemistry principles how the dough spreads out, at what temperature we can kill salmonella, and why that intoxicating smell wafting from your oven indicates that the cookies are ready for eating.

3. Next?
Have you ever struggled to find your next great book to read? Try this tool: The Book Seer. It's super simple to use and provides some great results. Another alternative for finding a new book is Your Next Read. Try them both and share with your students!

4. That's a Wrap!
Are you thinking of wrapping up the 2013 year with a video project for your students? Well, I have the perfect resources for you! Check out Richard Byrne's End of 2013 Video Project page has loads of help! Bookmark this page in case you plan a video project sometime in the near future! Great stuff!

5. Pictures with Words Say So Much...

I love infographics. They are the perfect combination of pictures and written information. Take a look at these e-Learning Infographics. More great stuff!

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday Ten for Tuesday, November 26th

1. Productive Doodling!
Doodle eliminates the chaos of scheduling and saves you a lot of time and energy when you’re trying to find a time to bring a number of people together. The service is used for business and personal scheduling by more than 10 million people per month. Instead of using just one option, Doodle enables you to propose several dates and times and the participants can indicate their availability online. You'll find the perfect time to meet in a quick and easy way no matter how many people and calendars are involved. Best of all, it's FREE!

2. Does Your SmartBoard Need More Brain Power?
Mr. Figueroa has put together an amazing Livebinder of SmartBoard resources for virtually all subject areas. Also, take a look at the Summer Core site, loaded full of tutorials and resources for your Interactive Whiteboard.

3. The Wonder of Wonderopolis...
If you are like me, you are always looking for something exciting and useful. Try Wonderopolis! Wonder is for everyone. It can happen anywhere and at anytime. Connecting the learning we do in our schools, our homes, and our communities, Wonderopolis walks the line between formal and informal education. Each day, we pose an intriguing question and explore it in a variety of ways. Our approach both informs and encourages new questions, sparking new paths of wonder and discovery in family and classroom settings.

4. That's my Storify and I'm sticking to it!
Storify helps its users tell stories by curating social media. If you enjoy using social media tools, you might enjoy partnering those social tools with Storify to curate the best of your story. Take a look at this very popular tool!
You'll love it!

5. When Cheating is a good thing...
I'm always looking for a short cut. When I came across this amazing article at DesignBeep I felt as though I'd hit the jackpot! 100+ Must Have Cheat Sheets is very likely to have a quick reference sheet for a program you use often. Take a moment and check the list.

6. Schools...
Although the be hearing more about in the coming weeks and months! Way to go, TCBOE!

7. Awesome PBL Planning Tool...
The Buck Institute for Education has made its wonderful project planning tool active online. Go to and register so that you can log onto this page and use the tool. Project plans are also available here for inspiration!

8. Math in Movies...
One of my favorite take-aways from a previous Alabama Educational Technology Conference was this site for Mathematics in Movies put together by the folks at Harvard University. One I loved was the movie, Little Big League, where they work to solve this problem: Joe can paint the house in a=5 hours, Sam can paint the house in b=3 hours. How much time do they need if the paint it together?

9. Zoom ...
Read my article from this month's Southeastern Education Network (SEEN) magazine, entitled, "Will Teachers Go Extinct?" Through the work I do with the Center for Teaching Quality in North Carolina, I had the opportunity to write a short piece for this magazine a couple of years ago. I share it again because I am thankful this week that not only will Talladega County teachers thrive, they will continue to lead the way for so many teachers across our state and nation.

10. Thankful for Thanksgiving....
I'm thankful that we take the time each year to reflect on what is good, what is right with our lives. I wish you a fabulous and blessed Thanksgiving.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, November 8th

1. Heaven is Calling...
Mitch Albom is one of today's hottest authors and he has a new book coming out on 11/12/13. The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief—and a page-turner that will touch your soul—Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

2. Rigor, AP and PBL, Oh my!
The concept of rigor is certainly synonymous with Advanced Placement. But, now you can see how it is also something that works in concert with Project Based Learning! Rigorous Project-Based Learning Transforms AP Courses is a fantastic story on Edutopia that shows how. Fascinating stuff!

3. Unleash your creativity!
Have you hear of Coggle? Well, now you have! Produce beautiful notes, quickly and easily. Share them with friends and colleagues to enhance your ideas collaboratively. All for free! Their mission is to change the way that people work and collaborate, to make you more productive, and to make it easier to share information with others, and to do it in a way that's beautiful, and a pleasure to use. Try it out!

4. Fakebook and much more….
Emeka Barclay shared this great website for generating tons of fun with your students: Class Tools You'll find Fakebook, Fake Tweet, Fake SMS, and so much more. Kids will love this! Use it to review for a test, as a bellringer or exit slip, or in group study sessions. These tools are fun!

5. As Thanksgiving Approaches...
Take a moment to tell those with whom you work how much you appreciate them. I know for those of us at CHS, we are very cognizant of the fleeting nature of time and how important it is to take a moment to hug one another and appreciate those who mean so much to you. For all of us, our teaching family is really another family. I am grateful for all of you and wish for you extra special blessings this Thanksgiving and holiday season. Thank you for all you do for your students and one another. There's no place like TCBOE.

Have a nice Veteran's Day weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, November 1st

1. Whole Novels for the Whole Class….
Check out this awesome resource, Whole Novels for the Whole Class, by an amazing middle grade English teacher in New York. Ariel Sacks is a brilliant practitioner who has produced a great resource fully aligned with the Common Core. You will LOVE this book!

2. Are You Ready for Some… College?
Are Alabama's high school graduates ready for college? This new report provides some very valuable information that all of us need to know. Take a few minutes to click on the many links in this article to dig into the topic to learn about how students in your area compare to state and national averages on issues of college readiness. Fascinating stuff!

3. A Blooming Good Time!
Have you tried the Interactive Bloom's Taxonomy Tool? This fantastic resource is not only very cool, it is incredibly useful and informative. This tool was created by individuals at West Virginia University.

4. Think About it….
Wisdom from a 3rd grader: "It's not a digital footprint; it's a digital tattoo. Footprints can be erased much easier than a tattoo." Talk to your students about their footprints and tattoos. Here are a couple of resources to help: Kidsmart: Digital Footprints, Great Guide on Teaching Students about Digital Footprints, and Abbas's Story - Pride in Your Digital Footprint (Video).

5. College Admission Quote...

"I'm at University of North Alabama only because Hogwarts doesn't accept the FAFSA." TCBOE graduate, UNA freshmen

Have a nice weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, October 25th

1. Superb Common Core Resource...
One of the BEST Common Core tools I've seen for English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science is the Literacy Design Collaborative. Be certain you check out the unbelievably useful Secondary Task Collection. There is also a great Elementary Task Collection. It's so powerful that you can use this with your students tomorrow.

2. Online Quiz Options...
Are you looking for some great online quiz options? Edudemic has 7 Online Quiz Tool Perfect for the Classroom for you! Most are free and very easy to use. Take a look at these simple tools for tests, quizzes, and other simple formative assessment tools!

3. Are Digital Natives Digitally Literate?
Blogger David Jones explains why many of our students are neither digital native nor digitally literate. This post really outlines what being digitally literate means. Do you wonder about YOUR digitally literacy? Read this to see where YOU are and what YOU might need to learn to catch up!

4. Weak Writing? Not Any Longer!
Looking for some tips on managing a technology integrated classroom? Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies provides loads of tips, information, examples, and ideas to help you keep your classroom running smoothly.

5. Can You Hear Me Now?
Looking for some web tools for voice recording? Try some of these: VoiceThread, Vocaroo, Fotobabble, or Audioboo. Each of these tools offers something unique. Try one of them with your students today!

Have a nice weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, October 18th

1. GIANT Honor for Talladega County Schools...
Although the news will be officially announced in February of 2014, Talladega County Schools have been selected as an exemplar school for national Digital Learning Day! Click on this link to sign up for the February 5th celebration and begin planning how you and your class will join in the event. Being a featured school for this event will bring a tremendous amount of attention to the work YOU are doing with our students. This is a fantastic honor that you will be hearing more about in the coming weeks and months! Way to go, TCBOE!

2. Groundbreaking Multimedia Meets Storytelling...
Have you seen the amazing multimedia feature, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek? This New York Times captivated storytellers across the globe last year. This inventive way to tell a story might inspire you and your students to create interactive, multimedia stories. It's also a fantastic piece of non-fiction reading for your class.

3. The Language of Texting...
If you are like me, the language of today's texting teens gets under your skin. Most educators are concerned about the impact texting has on student writing. Here's an idea. Have your students write a great piece -- paragraph, essay, descriptive piece, etc -- then have them use Transl8it! and put in text language. Then have them share their texting writing with a partner to see if it could be correctly translated back without errors. Fun for kids and hopefully makes a good point about texting.

4. Zoom Video Conferencing...
One of the most popular free video conferencing tools on the web today is Zoom. It's fairly new, founded in 2011, but has quickly grown to be one the most useful tools. You may have up to 25 people on a high definition conference, share screens, join by teleconference, and use group and private chat during conferences. Check out this easy-to-use video conference tool. You'll love it!

5. Inventive/Creative Thinking....
Are you looking for an example of creative problem solving to inspire your students? Something about this article fascinated me. China's latest solution for traffic and road congestion is awesome! Share this article with your students and ask them to create a solution for a similar problem in your community, our state, or nation.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, October 11th
Flipped Classroom Theme

1. What is a Flipped Classroom?
Infographics presents a very straightforward description of the flipped classroom. As it states in the headline, the flipped classroom model is a new method of teaching that is turning the traditional classroom on its head.

2. Ever-Expanding School Day
"The Ever-Expanding School Day" appeared in T.H.E. Journal yesterday. Read about a specific example of a flipped classroom in Byron, Minnesota. This is a great place to start reading and the article is short and simple!

3. Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom
Edutopia blogger Andrew Miller outlines Five Best Practices for the Flipped Classroom in this article. Miller gives one considering the flipped classroom model several very important points to consider.

4. Flipping Out over the Flipped Classroom!
Looking for even more information about the flipped classroom model? Check out this article: The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture. This article is totally loaded with outstanding links, examples, and detailed information about the flipped classroom.

5. Keeping up with News about Educational Technology
Are you looking for a simple news feed about educational technology? Sign up for SmartBrief to receive a daily feed of the best on the web. This is a wonderful way to keep up with all the current news and information dealing with everything with educational technology.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, October 4th
Connected Educators Month - Connect with Skype

1. Connect with Skype!
Have you downloaded Skype? Free internet calls are waiting for you with Skype!

2. Mystery Skype -- It's all the rage!
If you haven't learned about Mystery Skype calls, you must read about them now! Skype in the classroom has a great deal of information outlining what Mystery Skypes are and how you can sign up to participate.
3. Mystery Skype Expert...
There's nothing better than getting advice from an expert! Paul Solarz has one of the best resources I've seen online. He has a VERY detailed explanation of Mystery Skype and how to set one up and accomplish your instructional objectives. Check out his awesome post, How to Set up and Run a Mystery Skype.

4. Student Roles for a Mystery Skype..
This short and simple Google Doc has some excellent suggestions for roles you might have your students take in a Mystery Skype. Be sure to use this resource as you plan!

5. Twitter -- Best Resource Yet!
I suggest Twitter often,because it has TRULY become the BEST resource for teachers to date. Hundreds of thousands of teachers are very active on Twitter. You will find teachers interesting in a Mystery Skype using the hashtag #mysteryskype. Take some time to get started using Twitter. Remember, you choose who you follow. This tool is social, but you are in control of how you use it!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, September 20th

1. Are You Ready for Connected Educators Month?
Can you believe October is almost here? October is Connected Educators Month and that means TONS of wonderful things will be happening to help you connect and learn from teachers from all over the world. Be sure to visit the Connected Educators website for all the details on how to participate.

2. News -- Your Way!
Newmix is a very interesting and easy to use site for mixing all of your news feeds (especially your social feeds) into one place. Create channels and subscribe to other channels that interest you. It's a great way to keep up with lots of news and information that you enjoy following.
3. A Different Sort of Personal Website...
Graphical bioss are hot these days. They are so much easier to create than you might imagine, too. Vizify makes it super easy. You link it to all of your other media (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Linked In, Instagram, and more) and configure a few details and you have a great looking bio. Try it out! (Here's mine!)

4. One of the Best Educational Technology Site on the Web...
Sometimes it's good to be reminded of a place where you can ALWAYS find practical, ready-to-use help for integrating technology into your instruction.
Edudemic is that type of site. Be sure to bookmark and visit often. I love yesterday's post, How We Can Actually Create Lifelong Learners. I can always count on Edudemic to have good stuff every day!

5. Need IOS 7 Help or Advice?
So, Apple did it again. Another operating system that kids LOVE and adults dread learning. If you haven't already downloaded the new IOS 7 operating system to your new Apple devices, you are TWO WHOLE DAYS behind. I'm teasing. Whether you've downloaded it yet or not, you might like a little info on what it will do. Check out this ZDNet article for help and advice!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, September 13th

1. Best Career Website, Ever!
It's hard for me to overstate my enthusiasm for this AMAZING career website. O Net Online is truly the best one I've ever seen. Spend five minutes digging around and you'll quickly see what I mean. Thanks to Kay Runyan at the Talladega Career Center for her recommendation. All middle and high school students should become familiar with this site.

2. Wordsmithing Made Easy...
If you ever find yourself in need of word help, Word Hippo is a website you need to use. Find similar, opposite words, word meanings, rhyming words, example sentences, translations, word forms, pronunciations, and name meanings, origins, and much more.
3. A New Periodic Table?
Download a copy of the Periodic Table of Common Core Standards. This excellent chart pulls lots of big ideas together and puts them in one convenient place. Use this chart to plan and check your knowledge of the standards. Share with your students. Let them take ownership of their learning goals!

4. Three Mistakes Teacher Leaders Can Avoid This Year...
This post, Three Mistakes Teacher Leaders Can Avoid This Year, is my most recent article in Education Week Teacher. Hopefully you will find some lessons in the mistakes I've made! Unfortunately (and fortunately), I'm still learning from my mistakes every day!

5. Dinner Plans? No Worry, This Tool Can Help!
This might not seem related to school, but worrying about what's for supper can steal lots of time from us that we might be using to think about lessons and our students. (OK, I'm stretching things I just wanted to share a cool site I found this summer!) My Fridge Food gives you recipes using the food you already have in your fridge. Just click on a list of ingredients you have and wham! You have dinner plans without a trip to the store! I'm sold!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Five for Friday, September 6th

1. Better Than a Sale, It's FREE!
Teachers love free resources. This one is spectacular. Open Culture has over 450 free books, films, and other media that you are currently paying for! YOu really must check this out!his 4th grade teacher's blog. It's definitely one to bookmark and investigate this summer.

2. Free Printable Paper...
If you ever find yourself in need of graph paper (every kind you can imagine!), music paper, grid paper, calligraphy paper, or any other type of paper to use online, you can find it here. Go to Printable Paper and download the paper for free! Math, science and music teachers will love this!
3. King of all Rubric Makers...
A shout out to Emile Milam for find this jewel! Teachers in Talladega County use rubrics every day. Now, making these rubrics is easier than ever before! Go to For All Rubrics to see what I mean. These are even correlated with the Common Core Standards! They are seamless to use them with your iPads as well.

4. "Social" Reading for Elementary Students!
How do encourage children to read more? Many young students are drawn to sites that allow socialization. Biblionasium combines the two! It's a cool new reading community for kids. Make sure you take a look. It might be the perfect fit for your students!

5. Current Event Support...
Social Studies teachers may find themselves struggling to explain what is currently happening in Syria. This Washington Post article may help. 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask outlines the basic issues related to this current event. Use as a reading, discussion prompt, or extended learning opportunity. Written at a challenging level, the article may need to be simplified for younger students. But, it does explain things rather well.

Have a great weekend!