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Archive for month: September, 2015

Interactive Whiteboard 101 — A Resource of Activities for Literacy Instruction

Interactive Whiteboard 101 — A Resource of Activities for Literacy Instruction

Here is a list of Web-based lessons, activities, and games for literacy that you can use in your classroom. These great FREE resources are perfect whether you just got your interactive board or have had it for years.

Primary Level Resources

Alphabetical Order

With this game, have students manipulate lists of words to put them in ABC order.

Building Language for Literacy

This site provides several games that allow students to practice vocabulary and rhyming while learning words having to do with places around a community.

Clifford Interactive

Primary students love the interactive stories on this site as well as the interactive word work games like Make a Word and Sound Match. These are great to use as center activities or in whole class lessons.

Story Scramble

Having students work together at the board to sequence the short stories is an excellent way to use your interactive whiteboard.

Mid/Upper Elementary Resources

Beacon Learning Center’s Student Web Lessons

These are comprehensive lessons in which students interact with the text as they read. This lesson works on finding the main idea.


Here is an attention-getting way to have your students write more interesting biographies. They click around and add content, like their biggest obstacle and a famous quote, to each side of the cube. A bonus is that the activity prints so that it can be folded to create a real cube.

Fish ‘Em Up!

In this interactive game, students learn about doubling the letter or changing the y when adding an ending to a word. Students need to decide which fishing pole correctly spells the word made from the given base word.

Flashlight Readers

After reading favorite books, students can complete interactive activities based on them, creating a Because of Winn-Dixie scrapbook, for instance, or going on a Holes treasure hunt.

Free Rice

Practice your vocabulary while you donate rice to people in need all around the world.

Greek Word Roots

Have students play archery as they use the meaning of the Greek root to identify the definition of a word. You can use this as your lesson on Greek roots and have whole class discussions as students play on the whiteboard.

Homophone Super Match

Those tricky homophones can be explored through this matching game. Try playing as a class, having students come up with sentences that correctly use the word as you click through the game.

Learning Today Reading Comprehension Lessons

With these video lessons, students will enjoy interacting with the characters to learn about main idea and story elements.

Middle School/High School Resources

Analogy Battle Ship

Have your class play against the computer to determine cause-and-effect or part-to-whole relationships.

English Grammar Activities

This Web site has a huge number of activities to assist you in teaching all different types of grammar lessons.

Name That Literary Element

Get your students practicing the literary elements with this fun site.

Picture Writing Prompts

These writing prompt photographs and word lists will get your students excited about writing.

Plot Diagram

Watch a demo and then have your students complete this online plot diagram for a story you are working on in class.

Quizlet (For students 13 and older)

Teachers or students can type in vocabulary words, definitions, or information, and the Web site will create games like Scatter and Space Race.

Similes and Metaphors

These two games are interactive ways for your students to practice using figurative language.

Resources Great for Any Age

Beacon Student Web Lessons

In addition to the mid/upper elementary lessons highlighted above, this site provides a range of lessons for K–12 students.

Story Starters

Students love clicking the handle and spinning the story starter machine. They giggle at the silly writing prompts while they find their desired one. Then they write creative stories to share with the class.

Using Education Technology to Rediscover Traditional Ways of Learning

Using Education Technology to Rediscover Traditional Ways of Learning

Older, more traditional forms of learning resonate with students because they connect with something deep within our human psyche. They engage the full person, not just the part of the brain that can decipher words on a page. They evoke a time when all of our ancestors were more alike than different in their cultural practices.

Learning through movement and the senses is becoming easier to do as bulky, stationary technology has become more mobile. Also, we are seeing the beginnings of a trend in which technology is becoming practically invisible and more integrated into our everyday environments. Education technology such as tablets can help teachers and students rediscover traditional ways of learning by using touch, movement, sound, and visuality.

Rediscovering Oral Traditions

The oral tradition of teaching is not just about speaking out loud, but how one speaks and the narrative style used to convey meaning. It is how we shared our first stories and philosophical ideas.

One can start by having students listen to the amazing amount of free audio available through podcasting. Hearing the Dalai Lama in an interview can light up the history of modern China or ancient Buddhist thought in ways that are not available through reading.

One of my most memorable moments this summer was listening to Sir Ian McKellen recite Shakespeare on Marc Maron’s podcast. In this podcast, McKellen reminds us that much is lost in reading Shakespeare instead of hearing his work spoken and performed.

In addition to the free audio that is out there, I would also recommend that we let students listen to literature instead of reading it. I would even argue that, in some instances, the written versions of short stories, literature, and biographies (Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father comes to mind) are the substitutes — not vice versa — for the richer, deeper experience of having the story read out loud.

Oral-based resources can work in other subjects as well. As an example, I think it is more illuminating for students studying physics to hear Richard Feynman speak than to read him. Feynman brought old, oral traditions of teaching to new heights through his vocal inflection and tone, narratives, and humor — all aspects of oral-based traditions for transmitting knowledge to those gathered around the fire or in the cave.

Rediscovering Gestures, Dance, and the Body

Long before humans began speaking to each other, our gestures and facial expressions served as ways of transmitting knowledge and expressing experiences, emotions and wisdom. Dance developed at this time, and may be older than the oral tradition of storytelling. Now, with movement and gesture-based technology such as Wii and Microsoft Kinnect, it is possible to re-introduce these ways of learning back into the classroom.

We often fall into the trap of judging our students’ performance by how well they can sit still, stand in line, and sit down when we tell them to. We should encourage direct learning through movement, gestures, and dance by first making our physical control of students less a priority of classroom management, and secondly, by exploring ways that education technology frees us to use gestures and movement as a means for learning.

Mobile technology frees teachers to re-think the use of learning spaces, allowing students to have more control over their own bodies and be more interactive with their environment. Also, with mobile technology, teachers can move beyond formal learning spaces into the world outside of the classroom.

Touch screen has made interacting with data, lists, and virtual environments more intuitive to human gestures — a main reason why kids take to tablets so readily. By incorporating these natural gestures and touch, the barrier between the knowledge in front of them and their learning nearly falls away.

Finally, educators should explore cutting-edge movement- and gesture-based education technology, as well as virtual reality tools such as Oculus Rift, so that we can return to learning methods that allow the whole person — the whole body — to become engaged with learning. Humans are wired to learn this way; it is not a “primitive” form of learning, but requires higher-level brain functioning and critical thinking.

Rediscovering Visual Learning

One of the ways that we have long learned about the world around us is by direct observation. However, when we place a higher emphasis on reading as a direct source of knowledge, we indirectly affect our ability to learn by observation, and overall, inhibit our ability to learn visually.

Recent studies out of Brown University show that gamers have a higher capacity for visual learning than do non-gamers. I have taught students to better understand light, shadow, and color through digital photography and Photoshop. Developing observational skills by using interactive visual education technology, as well as digital photography, 3D modeling, and video assignments allow students to better understand their real-world environment.

Embracing digital technology that uses sight, sound, touch, and movement is a terrific way of rediscovering traditional cultural practices and will help us better educate the whole child.

10 Ways to Show Your iPad on a Projector Screen

10 Ways to Show Your iPad on a Projector Screen

Projecting your iPad on a large screen is great for demonstrations, simulations, explanations, and showing examples. There are several ways this can be done in the classroom. Scroll to the end of this post for a comparison chart.

If you don’t mind keeping your iPad in one spot, then a VGA adapter (for 30-pin Dock connector or for Lightning connector). Apple has made four types of adapters – determine which one you need. Or, a document or USB camera might work for you.

If you want to wirelessly transmit your device’s screen and audio so that you or your students can walk around the room, then it gets more complicated. You’ll tap into Apple’s AirPlay feature that is built into all iPad 2s and newer, including iPad mini. AirPlay works over Wi-Fi and requires all devices using it to be on the same network (unless you’re using the newest Apple TV and iOS 8–then you can use a peer-to-peer connection or if you’re using Mirroring360).

Apple TV is a small black box that can connect to a projector. iPad can mirror wirelessly to Apple TV using AirPlay. Apple TV only outputs HDMI. Your projector might not have HDMI input. If that’s the case, you’ll need an HDMI to VGA adapter like the Kanex ATVPRO. Read more about Apple TV in classrooms.

If you already have a computer connected to your projector, you should look into using software to turn that Mac or Windows PC into an AirPlay receiver. You can download and try for free AirServer, Annotate Mirror Client, iToolsMirroring360Reflector 2, or X-Mirage. The software runs on your computer and allows devices to mirror iPad to the computer screen. Since the computer is connected to a projector, then the iPad shows on the projector. I’ve written lots more about both AirServer and Reflector.

In my visits to various schools, I’d say that Apple TV, AirServer, Reflector, and X-Mirage work about 50% of the time. That’s because AirPlay requires the device and the computer or Apple TV to be on the same network (unless you’re using the newest Apple TV and iOS 8). Often schools have different networks for mobile devices and for PCs so AirPlay won’t work. Also, AirPlay requires specific ports to be open on the network for Bonjour (and frequently they are not configured to be open).

Mirroring360 has a feature called Mirroring Assist. It can work without the need to open ports for Bonjour. That means Mirroring360 can work on your school’s network, even when other AirPlay solutions do not. Another feature of Mirroring Assist is the option to turn off the broadcasting of your computer on AirPlay. Instead, devices can be paired with your Mac or PC via a QR code. This is a very welcome feature in schools with long lists of computers under the AirPlay menu.

Even if your network allows for AirPlay connections, it also needs to be reliable. Many teachers experience slow and dropped AirPlay connections, which can make mirroring a frustrating experience. It’s a good thing there are free trials of each of the software mirroring solutions so you can test your school’s setup before purchasing.

If your Wi-Fi network won’t cooperate with AirPlay, you should check out iTools. It’s free software for Windows PCs that will mirror to a computer using your device’s charge/sync cable. iTools Live Desktop feature is buggy and might not work on your computer, and there is no help documentation.

After upgrading to to OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Mac users can mirror their iPad’s screen using a Lightning cable. iPad will show up as a camera source in QuickTime.


When you mirror your screen, it’s a great opportunity to use your iPad as a document camera! You’ll want to buy or rig up some sort of stand to use iPad as a visualizer. I wrote about the Justand v2 and other options in this post, including apps that let you draw and annotate over the image.

I maintain a chart that compares the methods of displaying iPad’s screen on a projector. Click the image below to download the PDF.

*article courtesy of Learning Hand with Tony Vincent*

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