Friday, 28 February 2014

February 28, 2014 – I would not, could not, forget to say Happy Birthday!

Welcome to yet another cold and wintry Friday everyone!!

This Sunday, March 2nd, is the 110th anniversary of the birth of one of the most beloved children’s authors, Theodor Geisel – otherwise known as Dr. Seuss. Here are a few online tools and resources to help you celebrate this amazing author with your students!

Seussville Website (
This fun interactive website will keep children busy for hours, listening to his stories, learning about the many adored characters and playing various games and activities based upon his well-loved books.    A truly terrific way to learn about not only the author himself but revisit the many lessons his books taught to us all.

Teacher Stuff AtoZ (
This website offers a wide variety of activities and resources to incorporate Dr. Seuss characters and themes into every day math, science and language programming.  From surveying and graphing how many friends like Green Eggs and Ham to creating Oobleck and justifying whether or not King Yertle was a good king, students will be engaged and enjoying these fun activities.

Dr. Seuss Went to War (
Although he was most recognized for his fun and fantastical characters Dr. Seuss also made significant impacts on the public through his political cartoons created during the Second World War.  When visiting this web page, older students can view and learn about the political statements which went largely unnoticed until he became better known later in his writing career. 

Green Eggs and Facebook (
This webpage offers 15 quotes from Dr. Seuss which can be used to help educate students on the safe use of social media.  “A person’s a person no matter how small” will clearly illustrate for students that no matter the size of the person at the keyboard, they have feelings and need to be respected.  Written in 1954, a full 30 years before the internet began its rapid expansion into the mainstream world, and yet the words of Horton the Elephant can still educate students on digital citizenship.   

Publishing over 46 children’s books, under the names of Dr. Seuss, Ted Geisel or Theo Le Sig, Theodor Seuss Geisel was truly an entertaining and enlightening author who not only shared lessons with children but also expressed his views on a variety of social and political issues.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

Past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at and if you have an idea for a future blog topic, please feel free to pass it along to me.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

February 21, 2014 – It's 'Appy Hour!

It has been estimated that the Apple App Store has over 475000 apps available for the iPad, so I have chosen to highlight a few more for you this week.  Enjoy!

Teacher Notes (Free)
 With Teacher Notes you can keep your grades, anecdotal, video and photo notes for all of your students in one place.  Organized by class and student, Teacher Notes is an easy way to maintain student records for easy report writing and evaluations.  You can file notes by student name, domain (self-chosen categories such as language, cognitive or behavioural) and content areas (i.e. Art, Math, Science, etc.)  Notes can be seamlessly uploaded and stored on Dropbox and can be maintained securely using a PIN code.  Additional features include being able to search notes by phrase, sort notes by child, domain or date, and e-mail notes to parents, administrators or teaching partners.  There are various Youtube videos available to assist in learning how to record and edit notes as well as use the graphing feature.  Although the app takes some practice to become familiar with, it is very much worth the effort and quite beneficial. Many thanks to Michelle for bringing the Teacher Notes app to my attention.

Penultimate (Free)
A free app which allows the user to handwrite, draw or create on lined, graph or plain virtual paper.  Some may wonder why this app would be preferred over the iPad Notes app, and my response would be that with Penultimate you are able to draw, as well as write on the virtual pages – while in class you could draw and label a diagram in addition to taking notes on the topic) Also, you are able to insert images from your camera or photo stream into your notes and add comments, labels or captions to them.  Other features include zooming into the diagrams and notes, being able to search handwritten notes for keywords, email notes and maintain all pages in various notebooks by subject or topic.

Google Translate (Free)
This app lets you translate into 80 different languages including French, Spanish, Hindi, Dutch and Italian.  You can type in or paste text to be translated or you may speak directly into the app and have the sentence appear on the screen for you.  Then you simply listen to your translations being spoken aloud as well as view the written words for easy rewriting.  Google Translate also maintains your translations in the memory for easier review later or they can be starred for quick access when offline.  I have worked with this app briefly and with my limited French background, it appears to be able to successfully translate various French verb tenses.  I would love to hear from any French instructors as to how they feel the app works in practice.

WWF Together (Free)
The World Wildlife Foundation has yet again found a way to excite and educate students about animals from around the world.  This app includes informative and interactive stories of endangered species including tigers, butterflies and polar bears coupled with spectacular photographs of them in their natural habitats. Additionally, it allows students to use the interactive 3D globe to discover the location of over 70 different species and a step-by-step guide to creating over 15 origami animal creations.  Kids will love the cool and unusual facts and games, making this a definite must have app for animal lovers.

As always, past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on the blog at and if you have an idea for a future blog topic, please feel free to pass it along to me.


Friday, 14 February 2014

February 14, 2014 - Sharing the Love - Tech Tips for Social Media

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

In light of the many different forms of social media which are currently being used by students in our classrooms, I have chosen to highlight a few and offer a brief description of how they are being used.  Enjoy! 

Vine is a video-sharing app used mainly by teens and twenty-somethings which allows people to share short (max. 6 second) videos through the app and other forms of social media. The short clips are often humorous and fun-filled, meant to entertain friends and comment on events in one’s life. Vines can be imbedded into tweets on Twitter and in Facebook posts.  Many of vine’s “greatest hits” video compilations can be found on YouTube.  Accounts are free and can be downloaded to Apple, android and Window’s devices.

Similar to Vine, Snapchat gives students the ability to share images and broadcast
events in their lives.   Free accounts can be created utilizing a phone number, email or username (as in Twitter) which are used to search for, and connect with your contacts.  Contacts are added, as friends are on Facebook; you can view their images and they yours.  The app features the ability to overlay words on the image and even doodle on videos in a range of colours. One unique feature of Snapchat is that the images are only visible to the intended recipient for a set length of time.  Once the recipient opens the image it will display for 1 to 10 seconds (depending on the sender’s settings).  After the timer runs out, the image is no longer able to be viewed.  Always remember to be careful of what you send because the receiver may have had the forsight to take a screenshot of the image!  Some believe that Snapchat has deceived their customers by giving them the false sense of comfort, believing that the images were completely deleted after the 10 second viewing, when in fact they retain and log the last 200 images sent and received. Finally, images can be added to your story (a brief ‘all about me’) which is viewable by your contacts when they tap on your contact name. 

Instagram is a mixture of Snapchat and Twitter where you take and post pictures using hashtags (i.e. #checkthisout).  Images can be viewed by anyone who looks up your handle and/or the hashtags, unless the user has chosen to make their account private within the settings. Businesses and schools are beginning to use this social media stream for contests, product placement and promotions.  Students have even begun using it to send you pictures of homework or class notes to fellow students.

Created in 2009 by a group of University of Waterloo students, Kik is comparable to Facebook
messenger where individuals are able to message others who also have the Kik app. Accounts are free and created with either a phone number or your email address which is used to search out and recommend contacts for you. Many students who use their iPod touch with internet access choose to use this app so they can keep in touch both family friends. When people in your contacts list are located it sends a message indicating a new “Kikster” has been located for you. Kik allows you to exchange messages, videos, stickers, sketches and more with your contacts. 

Jelly is a newest way to find out information which you are seeking using pictures and your social media.  Think of it as Google meets Facebook.   For example, if you are out walking or visiting a new city, you can snap a photo of a sculpture or building, you can post the image and ask what it is or what the history is behind it?  Then individuals in your social network are able to offer responses to your question.  Additionally, if friends are unable to answer the question, they can forward the post to their own network and see if anyone is able to respond to it for you.  Available as an app on an iPad, iPhone and Googleplay, Jelly is the new way to search out information using images.

Although these social media networking sites may not be of interest, or of use to you, I felt it important for teachers to be aware of them and to know that this is the way students are beginning to use tech tools in their daily lives.  So even if you are not going to quickly download Snapchat or Vine to your device, you can amaze the students in your class with how ‘down with the latest tech apps’ you are while maintaining a close eye on digital citizenship for them as well!   


Thursday, 6 February 2014

February 7, 2014 – 'Hot, Cool, Yours' - Olympic Sized Tech Tidbits

Happy Olympic Friday everyone!!

With Opening Ceremonies occurring this morning at 11:00am EST, I had to take this opportunity to highlight some technological apps and online resources which teachers can use to bring the games into their classrooms.

CBC Olympics Sochi 2014 iPad and iPhone app (Free) 

This app offers a wide variety of information and it is available in both English and French.   You can streams all events live and in their entirety either in real time or available as an ‘on demand’ video at a later date.   Other options include viewing specific sport and team results, medal counts and Canadian performances.  A comprehensive schedule organized by day or sport and biographies of athletes from Canada and around the world.

Science Says Videos by ASAP Science (
This website offers a variety of videos of approximately two minute in length which highlights some of the more interesting and scientific aspects of the Olympics.  Topics include “Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?’”, “Talent vs Training” and “Your Odds of Becoming an Olympian”. An interesting look at the Olympic experience. 

This website offers many lessons and links to resources for teachers each with a recommended grade span.  Topics range from the history of the games; to the science behind the sports, word puzzles with an Olympic theme and even a musical illustration of just how close the finishers actually were to each other. Words cannot do this justice – you need to check it out for yourself. 

This website offers links to Olympic resources in subjects such as math, physics and geography.  Although some of the links are from an American perspective, Edutopia is known for having high quality educational materials.

Don’t forget you can follow the Olympians (many have their own Twitter handle) and Team Canada at @CDNOlympicTeam and @CBCOlympics.  Also the Paralympic games run from March 7th until March 16th and you can follow them at @CDNParalympics and @Paralympic.  For anyone interested in following a local hero, Brad Bowden (@bow27) will be playing on the Canadian Sledge Hockey team with the gold and bronze medal games occurring on March15th.

Go Team Canada!