Tech Talk 113

Gratitude Edition

Taking Time to Be Grateful

Practicing gratitude has been proven to improve our mental health, help us sleep better and even improve our overall health. In that spirit and in recognition of November as a time we often focus on gratitude, I'm dedicating this newsletter to technology resources for which I am grateful and think you may be as well if you give them a try!

Thankful for: Creativity Tools

Check out this list of tools you can use to up your creativity factor:

  • This article shares several different places to find beautiful templates to make your work in Google Slides more interesting! Don't forget that after you building in Google Slides, you can upload into Nearpod and add student engagement activities for an even deeper learning!
  • Flippity: Start with a spreadsheet and turn the entries into flahscards, a quiz show or your own typing test. Make your own badge tracker, certificate generator or tournament bracket. One of my favorite new tools is called Fun With Words...type your words and get them changed into written images made with scrabble pieces, written in sand, lego pieces, keyboard keys. See my sample at this link . . . just click the ovals at the top to see my words in different cool fonts. (I also saved a few and shared them just below!)
  • Image Generators: See the gallery below for some examples! Spark up your presentations or bell work by creating a personalized image like one of these!!
  • Einstein:
  • Road Sign:
  • Pumpkin Pie (and many others):

Thankful for: Classroom Management Resources

A well-managed classroom means less stress for both teachers and students! Don't forget about these resources and get in touch if you want some one-on-one training in how to use any of them:

  • Apple Classroom: see a thumbnail view of your students' iPads, lock them in to a specific app. When you log in you should already see your classes...if not, do a support ticket!
  • Splashtop: Use your iPad to control your laptop. This means you can make the best use of both technology AND physical proximity to ensure student engagement and behavior is on point!
  • ClassroomScreen: Monitor sound levels, create and display a QR code on the fly, randomly pick a student name, display a timer, create an exit poll...and more! All from one link that beautifully displays through a projector. Read more about using this tool on this blog post:
  • My favorite random name picker. Think of all the things you could put on the wheel: student names, group names, prizes for the class to "win," assignments that a student "draws" by spinning the wheel, writing prompts, so many different ways you can use it to give students a bit of choice...but still being in control by selecting the choices offered on the wheel.

Thankful for: Collaboration Resources

Check out the following resources that provide free opportunities to make it easy to integrate a larger "world view" into your classroom. Let's help our students see outside our classroom and think of others in our state, our country, our world!
  • Global Read Aloud This well-established collaboration project focuses on a set of different read-aloud books each year (different books geared for different age groups) and encourages participants to find collaborators from among those who've signed up. From their website: "Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin." We've had teachers in our district participate in this project and have great things to say about it. I'm glad to help with the connection, if you're interested in the project! Just reach out!
  • Kid Power Ups This project by UNICEF provides "free "brain break" videos with a lifesaving purpose, giving students the power to save lives globally and give back locally." Each brain break video your class participates in earns "ready to use theraputic food" for malnourished people and local impact "coins" your class can later decide together to spend on various "causes." These brain breaks are also a little more attractive to older students that many that you find on a similar site, GoNoodle.
  • Empatico This platform "empowers teachers and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy." It combines live video connections with structured activities designed to foster meaningful connections among students ages 6 -11. The platform helps teachers find classroom "matches," one of the most challenging parts of making a digital collaboration happen!
  • Beluga A little like Emaptico, this platform has a "mission of making education impactful and accessible on a global scale through peer-to-peer and classroom connection, communication and collaboration." This platform is a little more complicated, and not totally free, but I'm still excited about the possibilities it holds for focusing on a global perspective through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and connecting classrooms across the globe. If you think you'd like to explore, it let me know and we'll work through the details together!!
  • Library of Congress "By the People" Crowd Sourcing Transcriptions: Started in 2018, this program "invites you to transcribe, review, and tag digitized images of manuscripts and typed materials from the Library‚Äôs collections." What a cool way to give back and be part of a larger project!

Thankful for: Free Resources

  • Free tech-focused reading materials: Tech and Learning is free magazine with articles about technology in education. Sign up for a free subscription at this link:
  • Free tool for mindfulness and self-care for yourself and your students: Teachers are eligible for a free premium upgrade to their accounts!
  • has "curated FREE, standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more!" My personal opinion: this is an awesome tool and no matter the grade or subject area, if I were still in the classroom, I'd likely find something valuable to engage my students with my content from it! You should check it out by clicking on the link and filtering by subject, or grades at the top of the screen, or even just type a topic like "Kansas" in the search field! Lesson idea: see if you can find a video clip about a career that uses your subject matter! Help students make connections to the real world for what you're asking them to learn! If you like something...sign up for a teacher account using your Google credentials (upper right button).
  • There are so many freely made digital breakouts that you can find! These can help build teamwork skills, perseverance, critical thinking and are just plain fun when you have kids tackle them in a social way! Try this Thanksgiving-themed digital breakout: or this fall-themed one that isn't tied directly to a holiday: (Let me know if you need any hints on the answers!)

Most of All, I'm Thankful for You: The Awesome Teaching Staff of USD 113!