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Archive for category: Classroom Tips & Tricks

How to sanitise Crestron touch screens

How to sanitise Crestron touch screens

Crestron touch screens are found almost everywhere: work, home, colleges and government offices. Given the current situation facing Crestron global customers, we wanted to provide simple steps on how to clean and disinfect Crestron touch screens to help protect the people who use them.

Keeping our customers and their families safe from the transmission of COVID-19 is our first priority. Per the CDC recommendations, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces is important.*

To clean Crestron touch screens

  • Use any commercially available non-ammonia glass or disinfectant cleaner.
  • Apply a small amount of cleaner directly to a microfiber or a similar disposable towel or cloth-be sure the cloth is damp and not wet.
  • Wipe the glass touch screen clean.
  • Do not apply cleaner directly to any interface (as most of our systems are not waterproof). And do not wipe the plastic surrounding the glass.

Our goal is to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep our customers and their families safe. For more information and updates on approved cleaners check our online help article here.

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.

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*

8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom

8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom

The integration of technology in education can often offer a strenuous challenge for some adopters. The above graphic illustration outlines 8 things to look for in today’s classroom, paying close attention to the impact that various technologies have on classroom learning.

Five Strategies for EdTech Success During the School Year

Five Strategies for EdTech Success During the School Year

Before your students even enter the classroom, here are five strategies you can implement make your students’ educational aspirations a very real, practical and achievable daily/weekly goal.

1. Inform Everyone of Your Edtech Goals and Practices

Tell administrators, colleagues, students, and parents what you’re planning. In addition to scholarly databases and university websites, you and your students will need access to social networks like YouTube and Twitter. In order to consult evidence, experts, and to truly investigate any topic, the Internet cannot be subject to excessive school district censorship. Get the required permissions signed and get the nod of approval. But, no matter what, be determined to be the teacher that opens up the world for your students. I mean it. Stop at nothing.

2. Give Students the Gift of a Research Toolbox

Let’s be real. Students go to Google and YouTube first when searching for answers. They have access to amazing video tutorials and academic articles right along with ridiculous falsehoods. So, let’s bolster up the classroom research!

First, show them the right way to find the answers. Google provides the tools needed atGoogle a Day. In addition to providing your students with an online adventure that you could turn into a classroom competition, Google a Day has hints on how to really use search engines to find right and true information.

But finding an answer is only the beginning. Students need to know how to evaluate the source of their information. There are a few sites, like All About Explorers and one website dedicated to saving the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, that look superficially legitimate, but are designed for students to investigate deeper for authenticity, reliability, and accuracy. With a few clicks, students will find false and even silly claims that will make them laugh while also teaching them a lesson about website evaluation.

Want to know even more about the history of a website’s development? Show your students the Wayback Machine. It is a digital archive with snapshots of websites from throughout their history. What did YouTube looked like in 2005? Just enter the URL and click Go. If we teach our students to be smart about how they learn online, our schools won’t need to put up excessive blocks on Internet accessibility in school.

3. Harness the Power of Social Networks

Students create clever videos appealing to celebrities, and can even inspire others with a simple Twitter account. Why not use that power to extend the academic discussion from your classroom?

Create a hashtag for your class–after all, hashtags can be used on a number of networks, from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. You can share resources you happen across and your students can share their own experiences from your classroom. Use Instagram to capture moments of discovery in your classroom. If you use a hashtag and keep at it, you’ll find your students doing the same soon enough. On  Facebook, create private groups for clubs you advise or teams you coach. You and your students can communicate and share resources without accessing one another’s personal Facebook profiles and posts outside of the group.

4. Learn from Your Students

The truth is, educators don’t always perform flawlessly for their students every single day of the school year. It is a teacher’s duty to model learning and communicating as much as it is their duty to teach the content and skills that you are charged with teaching.

But when your students arrive in the classroom with their own ideas about how to collaborate and create, talk it out with them. If it is exciting enough for them to bring to you, it is exciting enough to give it a shot.

When students have a voice in how to use edtech to learn together, they are more invested in the academic experience.

5. Publish, Publish, Publish Student Work

It is essential that your students publish their work right at the beginning of the year. Their first creation could be simple: a written reflection of holiday-period learning, a photo essay, or a list of goals for the year. The point is to get them used to putting their creations out there for others to see and react to.

For example, students may each have their own blog, and by the end of the year, they have a fantastic digital portfolio of their work. To encourage them to really do their best work, tweet out links to excellent pieces to a PLN (professional learning network) or write about them on your own professional blog. Kids love to watch their site visits go up as a reward for their hard work. They can look back at their growth, and parents and other teachers can see evidence of student work, as well.

Let it be known: the most important strategy that should be employed throughout your edtech preparation is communication. Be open with your students, their families, your colleagues, and administrators.

Not everything will go smoothly, but as long as you are open to ideas and maintain theright mindset, this year will be the year.

Five Ways to Bring Innovation Into the Classroom

Five Ways to Bring Innovation Into the Classroom


Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning. Educators who focus on integrating kids’ own interests and passions into the curriculum will see them flourish as learners. Educators can think about integrating such practices as showing relevance of what students are studying to life outside school, connecting with parents, and using digital media as a way to spark interests and spreading ideas.


Jumping Into the 21st Century. For both veteran educators and newbies, the temptation to stick to what’s acceptable and what’s been done is hard to overcome. Educator Shelley Wright talks about how she took the plunge and redesigned the entire structure of her teaching practice. Her goal? “Changing to a student-centered, skill-based, technology embedded classroom,” she says.


The Flip: Why I love It, How I Use It. Educator Shelley Wright shares why she’s decided to flip her classroom. “I don’t believe in assigning videos every night as a substitute for my own lecturing. To me, that’s simply the traditional classroom rearranged, not flipped. I use the flip when my students need to absorb a few chunks of new information to continue learning. I don’t use it to front-load information at the beginning of a unit. I think that can rob students of the experience of authentically building knowledge and skills as they encounter new concepts. I use flip time to create curiosity in my students.”


How to Turn Your Classroom Into an Idea Factory. Design thinking isn’t just for engineers and designers. It can be applied to every aspect of learning — from generating ideas to the iteration and execution phase. Here’s how educators can foster innovation in the classroom.


The School Day of the Future is Designed. “It’s not too big of a leap to want the school day designed around notions of how we naturally, and individually, learn,” writes Sandy Speicher of IDEO. “Designing the day around discovery of information, connections to real world challenges, discussions digging into our experiences with the world. Here are some examples of how futuristic scenarios are actually happening now.”

5 Tips to Help Teachers Who Struggle with Technology

5 Tips to Help Teachers Who Struggle with Technology

*Article written by Josh Thomas, school teacher*

“I’m not very tech savvy” is the response I usually hear from teachers that struggle with technology. Whether it’s attaching a document to an email or creating a page using interactive whiteboard software, some teachers really have a difficult time navigating the digital world. As schools around the globe begin to embed the use of technology in their learning environments, these teachers can be left feeling frustrated and marginalized by the new tools they are required to use but do not understand.

The school where I teach is currently within its post-BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) implementation age. We started with a small cohort of tech-savvy teachers to pilot a BYOD program with selected classes. Starting small was definitely beneficial, as we were able to troubleshoot issues and best prepare ourselves for the school-wide BYOD rollout. Front loading any work is always helpful in education, especially when developing resources for teachers who struggle with technology.

If you plan on introducing a new technology or are embarking on the mighty task of becoming a wireless BYOD school, here are five tips to help your teachers still struggling with technology.

1. Build a Tech

Team Integrating technology can be very stressful for educators that aren’t familiar with it. Having a support team that’s flexible and available to struggling teachers is crucial for any tech rollout. Our tech team consisted of teachers, support staff and administrators. This group was able work together across multiple content areas and grade levels to support successful tech integration. We focused primarily on mind mapping ideas and helping teachers slowly introduce technology into their classes.

2. Scaffold Effective Professional Development (PD)

One big mistake when introducing technology is either too much or too little professional development. Teachers that struggle with technology might feel overwhelmed if you introduce too much too soon. On the flip side, if you don’t provide enough PD, teachers may feel isolated. Going back to tip #1, have your tech team develop a feasible plan for effective PD using input from staff members.

PD also needs to be focused on being of value to teachers facing the hurdle of technology. How often do these teachers say, “Why would I try this when I’ve been doing just fine without it all these years?” If you are planning PD for the whole year, poll your teachers and ask what tech-related areas they would like to focus on. Select only one or two of these areas and make a concerted effort to help those teachers who are struggling.

3. Make Time

While I’m talking about PD, all educators know that extra time for PD is scarce throughout the day. I’ve had amazing administrators that carved out dedicated time for tech PD. Allowing teachers to meet and collaborate with each other is part of building a successful environment to support student learning, especially regarding the use of technology.

Aside from just having dedicated time for teachers to meet, create a homegrown professional learning community (PLC) that focuses on monitoring tech integration throughout the school. This PLC can be powerful and insightful while supporting those that need additional help.

4. Make It Relevant!

Some teachers feel technology is being pushed on them, especially those who struggle with it. They might start using technology just for the sake of using it. This has shown to be an ineffective method for both tech-savvy and tech-challenged teachers. There is a big difference between using technology to teach and the successful integration of technology into lesson plans. This goes back to having a meaningful plan to incorporate technology into the yearly PD plan.

Create a school-wide culture of tech integration and an openness to take risks. Some lessons will not go as planned — and that’s great! Reflect and learn from these challenges. Be willing to press on and continue to learn. After all, don’t we expect the same from our students?

5. Encourage Them

Even with the best PD and resources available, some teachers will still struggle. Support them! I’ve worked with great veteran teachers that just wanted me to stop by every few days and discuss their tech ideas. Once they have mastered one technology, present them with another to consider. Encourage them and celebrate their willingness to try new things. Focus on the learning (by teachers) and share their successes.

Are there any tips that you have for helping teachers in your school who struggle with technology? If you’re a teacher still trying to master technology, how have others helped you? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Students to never miss homework again with Google Classroom

Students to never miss homework again with Google Classroom

To mark Teacher Appreciation Day on 6 May in the US, Google has launched a preview of Classroom, a free organisational tool kit for teachers to organise students’ work.

The new software will be included in the Google Apps for Education suite and, according to a post on the Google blog, Classroom “helps teachers create and organise assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease”.

The software uses a combination of Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to better interact with students and, perhaps to the annoyance of students, will mean there will be no excuse for getting a pass on doing homework if they can’t make it into school.

So far, Classroom has been tested in a number of pilot schools in the US and is now being released as a preview to students and teachers who sign up for Classroom. A selection of those individuals will begin testing the software’s capabilities by next month.

Other features of the education tool include the ability for teachers to make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real-time, thereby improving communication inside and outside of class. Drive folders can also be created for each assignment and for each student.

Classroom is due for general release at no cost in September.

The Pencil Metaphor

The Pencil Metaphor

A teacher’s ability to adequately adopt technology into the classroom plays an integral role in the educational development process.

This brilliant illustration translates a metaphoric representation of how parts of a pencil can better reflect the level of education reform at your school.

Which part of the pencil are you? How does your school adapt to education technology?

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