Friday 4ALL: Reaching Visual Learners

Click to watch the video.

Let images speak in your classroom. Choosing a great visual to share with students will often enhance a lesson. Visual learners make up 60-65% of the population. Thanks to Creative Commons licensing there are a wide variety of resources to assist you with finding the perfect image to engage students. What do you want your lessons to say?

Using images also instills creative thinking in your students. I recently saw Dr. Howard DiBlasi at a conference. One exercise he shared during his presentation was to put up an interesting photo. Then choose three or four students from the class. Ask one student to talk for thirty seconds about the image. When the thirty seconds are up, the next student may add to the story or create a new story, this continues until all four students have had an opportunity to speak.

To assist students with learning how to “read” a photo, you can use the SMART Notebook spotlight tool. For example, display an image from a historical time period on the SMART Board. Launch the Spotlight tool before students enter the room. Move the Spot Light tool over the image, ask students what they are noticing. Based on what they see have them predict what time period the image is from and support their prediction with evidence from the photo. Finally reveal the entire image.

The links below are some of my favorite sites to find fascinating photos. What will your lessons say?

Flickr-an image hosting and sharing website. Users in the Flickr Community may use the Creative Commons license so others can view and use their photos. Use the advanced search feature to find photos licensed under Creative Commons and follow the directions for citing images.

Pics4Learning-a copyright-friendly image library for teachers and students. The Pics4Learning collection consists of thousands of images that have been donated by students, teachers, and amateur photographers. Unlike many Internet sites, permission has been granted for teachers and students to use all of the images donated to the Pics4Learning collection.

Wiki Media Commons– a media file repository making public domain and freely licensed education material available to everyone.

Edupic-a teacher designed free image resource for teachers and their students.

Smithsonian Images-Browse or search through selected images from the Collections of the Office of Imaging and Photographic Services. Included are images from current exhibits, Smithsonian events and historic collections

NOAA Photo Library– has been built to capture the work, observations, and studies that are carried on by the scientists, engineers, commissioned officers, and administrative personnel that make up this complex and scientifically diverse agency. Most Images are Public Domain. Those copyrighted are noted.

Morgue File-Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not.

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Teaching Tips: Using in Your Classroom

Some time back I shared how you might use a virtual corkboards as a collaboration tool in your classroom. Recently, a friend shared with me some updates that one of the online tools I highlighted has added. These new features make the tool even more dynamic. is expanding and adding features to make it more useful and collaboration friendly. Here are some of the new options offers:

Add Images – You can now add images to your board. All you need is the URL for an image location and you can paste it into a note by right clicking and selecting paste from the drop-down menu.

Mini Map Navigation – has always had a small map in the bottom right corner that, when clicked, will show you where all notes have been placed. Great to use when you know others are pasting notes to a board and you can”t find them.

Real Time Changes – There is no need to refresh your page to see updates others make to your page, casino they all happen in real time. When your students are collaborating with others outside of your classroom, everyone can see changes instantly.

Chatting – Sometimes when you and students are working with others that aren”t in the same room you need to do more then post a note on the corkboard, now has a chatting feature. Have your students change the name to their first name and they can begin chatting. As the teacher you can monitor the conversations and add to the discussion as well.

Embedding – One of the coolest new features (I think) is that now you can embed your page in any online tool that allows for embed code. Whether it be your website, wiki, Moodle course, or more, you can share what is on your corkboard page with anyone.

Corkboard Protection – Any finally, you can now show off your corkboards to others without the fear of them making changes. allows you to “lock” a corkboard and share a View Only copy. It”s a link to a protected version you can give to anyone without the worry that the content will be changed. is not a paying sponsor or advertiser on this blog just a great online tool that I can”t quit talking about.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

HD Links: New at eThemes

We have shared eThemes before on this blog, but it is hard to ignore the vast number of resources available on the site. For those who are not familiar, this is what we said about eThemes in December”

eThemes is a collaboration of the eMINTS National Center and the University of Missouri which provides teachers with a “source for content-rich, kid-safe online resources that will help enhance […] teaching and save […] time.”

As always, there are new and revised eThemes every week…

New eThemes for the week of March 21, 2011

These sites have interactive resources on emotions and feelings. Learn about different emotions and how facial expression as well as gestures convey different emotions. Includes games, lesson plans, video clips, and printouts. There is also a link to eThemes Resource on Physiological Impact of Positive Emotions.

Labor Unions in the Workforce<>
These sites provide an overview of labor unions in the U.S. workforce. They look at the pros and cons of unions; how unions affect the employment rate; and a pay scale comparison between union and nonunion workers. Includes informative articles, a lesson plan, and videos.

Literature: “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” by Beverly Cleary<>
These sites are about “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” by Beverly Cleary. There are lesson plans, activity ideas, teacher guides, a webquest, and online quizzes specifically for the book “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.” There are links to eThemes Resources on author Beverly Cleary, “Ralph S. Mouse”, and mice.

Safe Kids/Stranger Danger<>
These sites focus on how children can learn to be safe and aware of potential dangerous situations. Learn how to be safe from strangers in various situations and how to protect yourself from strangers and other harmful situations. Includes safety rules and tips, lesson plans, interactive stories, and videos. There is a link to eThemes Resource on Internet Safety.

Teaching Tips: Constructivism<>
These sites are about using constructivism in teaching. Teachers of kindergarten through high school will find information about constructivism on these sites. Included is an eThemes resource on inquiry based learning.

Teaching Tips: Service-Learning<>
These sites provide resources for service-learning activities. Learn what service learning is and how to integrate service-learning into your curriculum. See exemplary service-learning projects in schools.Includes training guides, service-learning curriculum ideas, downloadable toolkits, and videos. There is a link to eThemes Resources: Writing: Letters: Friendly, Business, and Thank You.

Technology: Microsoft PowerPoint<>
These sites contain resources on Microsoft PowerPoint software. Many tips and tutorials for PowerPoint presentations are provided. Students can learn PowerPoint skills such as changing backgrounds, transitions, entering text, hyperlinks, clip art, selecting colors and fonts, creating headers and footers, developing professional looking slides, and much more. Tutorials provided for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, 2003 and 2000.

Updated eThemes for the week of March 21, 2011

Circus Acts and Animals<>
These sites focus on circus animals, acts, and performers. There is historical information about circuses, plus photographs, audio files, and video clips.

Energy: Renewable and Non-Renewable: Graphic Approach<>
These sites deal with energy in many forms, both renewable and non-renewable. Learn about hydropower, fossil fuels, nuclear, wave energy, fuel cells, solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass. Students can view many photographs on energy. Included are eThemes resources on windmills and energy.

Famous People: American Outlaws<>
These sites highlight famous American outlaws and their gangs during Wild West. There are biographies, photos, robbery history, and interview transcripts. Includes a lesson plan and primary resources such as maps, newspapers, and wanted posters.

Figurative Language<>
These sites are about figurative language in the context of reading. Includes idioms, jargon, slang, similes, metaphors, and personification. There are language definitions, lesson plans and activities, and interactive quizzes. Included are links to eThemes Resources on figurative language, similes, metaphors, and personification.

Grammar: Compound Sentences<>
Here are resources for learning about compound sentences. There are interactive activities where students can combine simple sentences or identify conjunctions, printable worksheets, and ideas for hands-on lesson plans.

Math: Geometry: Composing and Decomposing Shapes<>
These sites are about composing and decomposing shapes. Learn how to subdivide, combine, and transform shapes to form new polygons. There are interactive games, activities, and lesson plans. Included are three eThemes resources on shapes, transforming shapes, and pattern blocks and tangrams with related activities.

Math: Statistics<>
These sites focus on basic statistics analysis including descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. There are information on data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation. Includes simulations, exercises, and lesson plans. There are links to eThemes resource on Statistics for Graphing and Probability.

Missouri Regions: Kansas City<>
Learn all about Kansas City and its surrounding communities. Includes area history, geography, places, events, and people. Watch Missouri Heritage videos about Fort Osage, Kansas City, and Harry S. Truman.

Olympic Games: Bidding to Host Olympics 2012<>
These Web sites are about the cities that are bidding to host the Olympics in 2012. Read about how a city is chosen to host the Olympics. Find out about London, New York, Madrid, Moscow, and Paris and the sports facilities they have available for the different competitions. Includes lesson plans that go along with the topic.

Olympic Games: Torch Relay<>
These sites focus on the Olympics torch relay for the summer and winter games. Includes interactive maps, biographies of the torchbearers, videos, photographs, and answers to common questions about the torch. There are links to eThemes Resources on the summer and winter Olympics.

Solar System: Kuiper Belt Objects<>
These sites are about Eris, Quaoar, and other bodies in the Kuiper belt. Included are eThemes on Pluto, Sedna, comets, and “What is a Planet?”

The Middle Ages<>
Explore these sites and learn what it was like to live during the Middle Ages. Topics include serfs, kings, monasteries, and more. There are links to eThemes Resources on castles, knights, and children’s books that took place during the Middle Ages.

Thirteen Colonies: Founding History<>
These sites are about the founding history of the first 13 colonies. Learn more about the history of each colony. Includes a link to an eThemes Resource on colonial daily life.

Transportation: Grades 1-2<>
These sites about transportation are for children in grades 1-2. Topics covered include automobiles, trains, boats, and aircraft. There are also images and interactive games about the history and different forms of transportation.

Water Cycle: Hands-On Experiments<>
These sites have hands-on experiments and projects about the water cycle and water purification. Learn how to make it rain in your kitchen and how to build your own water cycle environment. There are many other activity ideas, including a script for a play. There is a link to an eThemes Resource on water cycle explanations and illustrations.

Writing: 6 + 1 Writing Traits<>
The 6 + 1 Writing Traits Model gives students and teachers a common language for talking about writing. The following sites have definitions, descriptions, rubrics, and exercises to help students become familiar with the characteristics of good writing. There are many interactive features so students can practice their own writing and learn how to evaluate effectively. There are video clips, prompts, activates, and examples of writing at different levels of accomplishment, as well as eThemes Resources on grammar, narrative, and text structure.

Writing: Conclusions<>
What makes a good conclusion? On these websites you will find resources that describe effective conclusions and offer tips and strategies for writing them well. Different typs of conclusions for different methods of writing are discussed. Included are three eThemes resources on writing essays, research papers, and paragraphs.

Tuesday’s Tool: Word Sift

Word Sift is a great tool to help teachers encourage comprehension and understanding of vocabulary. Word Sift combines the idea of tag clouds, Google Images, and a visual thesaurus. Teachers can enter any text, click the sift button and it generates a tag cloud of the fifty most common words that appeared in the text. The largest words in the tag cloud are the most frequent words. The largest words from the cloud are entered into the Google Image search and the Visual Thesaurus. You can also click on any words in the cloud and access them via the Google Image search and Visual Thesaurus.

Other features of Word Sift are the ability to highlight words from a variety of content areas, and rank words from the most common to rare or rare to common. In Word Sift, you can click on the Create Workspace link. You can drag words from the tag cloud into the workspace area, set the Google Images to be draggable, and students can create visual meaning of words.

For more information on Word Sift, check out the video tutorial.

As you reflect on the tool Word Sift, what are some ways you envision using this tool in your classroom?

Video Tutorial:

Carmen Marty is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Monday’s Message: March 28, 2011

Happy Monday, all! Here’s what you might have missed last week. Be sure to not miss this week’s exciting lineup of topics.

  • Monday, March 21 – There was a nice rundown of previous posts on the blog.
  • Tuesday, March 22 – Tuesday’s Tool was TitanPad, an alternative to Google Docs.
  • Wednesday, March 23 – The HD_Links featured a list of must-reads from all over the internet.
  • Thursday, March 24 – Thursday’s Tip provided a list of ways one could use Facebook in the classroom.
  • Friday, March 25 – Friday’s 4ALL post challenged you to inspire your students through sharing your own experiences.

That’s a great list of topics and posts. Don’t miss this week’s posts!

4ALL: What inspires you?

Flying Delta over the clouds and Memphis, Tennessee

Sometimes I REALLY miss being a classroom teacher….having “my kids” and creating lessons just for them that will wow them, engage them, inspire them, and encourage them to be life long learners….that’s what I miss. Sometimes all it takes to remind me is one little inspiration, one little spark, one little idea.velcro wall for sale

Today that inspiration came when I was reading Descending Into The Clouds At Sunset, a blog post by Wesley Fryer on his blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity. His post was quick; with an image and video clip taken outside the window of his plane as he was descending upon Memphis, TN. On its most basic level, his post reminded me that I can upload video to my Flickr account to share with the world (how do I keep forgetting that). A bit deeper, it made me think about a lesson I was coaching a teacher through the other day where she is teaching the kids about cloud formations and how meteorologists use what they know about clouds to predict weather. This might be another resource she could share with her students. But on it’s deepest level for me – this video reminded me that not many of my students had ever experienced being in a plane, being ABOVE the clouds, being outside of our classroom, or even outside of our town.

Giving students experiences that helped THEM to build their knowledge was what I lived for as a classroom teacher. It was what I longed for in every lesson I taught…and when it happened I could almost hear the lightbulbs turning on. That is what I miss most about being a classroom teacher.

Now I get to work with many teachers and do the next best thing….inspire them to create inspiring learning opportunities for their students. So today, I offer Wesley Fryer’s blog post and this…..What inspires your teaching?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Facebook in the Classroom

Yesterday, we shared some thought-provoking links in our “HD_Links” feature. One of those links was to a school district’s Facebook policies. Facebook is thought to be a decidedly-noneducational diversion among our social media choices. However, to make schooling relevant to our students and families, we have to meet them where they are. Our students (and their parents) are on Facebook.

According to the Council Bluffs Community School District Guidelines for Facebook™ as a Parent Communication Tool, here are a few ways you can use Facebook in your classroom:

  • Status updates are an example of authentic writing opportunities, a key component of learning to write with a purpose and for an audience.
  • We all want more parental involvement. Facebook provides many tools for making classroom communication easy and seamless.
  • In addition to opening up avenues of communication, Facebook users have the ability to invite other users with event invitations.
  • With pictures, links, and notes, it’s even easier for teachers to share exemplary student work.

Additionally, here are some other educational uses for Facebook:

  • Different classes can be organized using the new groups feature. Additionally, this new tool allows collaborative documents.
  • Discussion forums are available in the older groups allow for discussions to take place outside of the public wall.
  • Students could create fake or imaginary Facebook profiles for historical or literary figures.
  • The new group chat function would allow for students and teachers to have a discussion without being in the same room. Imagine the opportunities during the many snow days we’ve had this winter.

What are some other ways you could imagine using Facebook in your classroom?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD Links: Must Reads Online

Here are five links you should read right now!

  • “Let Kids Rule the School” (New York Times) – A unique program in western Massachusetts combined both struggling and high-achieving students in a program they design. What emerges is an authentic and student-centered learning experience that holds students responsible for their own education.
  • “Whiteboard hardware battles, what do they mean?” (Education, Teaching, Technology) – A blogger senses the ever-escalating “arms race” between interactive white board manufacturers and points out what’s missing: a new pedagogical approach.
  • “You Can Now Embed Corkboard Me” (Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…) – One of the great collaborative tools for brainstorming is now embeddable. Corkboard Me is a collaborative tool that works as a virtual corkboard, perfect for brainstorming. Now that it is embeddable, users can place a corkboard on their website, blog, or classroom portal.
  • “Tools to Go Paperless” (Teach Paperless) – Teach Paperless is a blog dedicated to reducing our dependancy on paper in schools. This post simply lists many of the great ways one can go paperless in their own facilitation.
  • Council Bluffs Community School District Guidelines for Facebook™ as a Parent Communication Tool – Normally, district policy is not the most intriguing example of reading material. However, this document outlines ways in which one district has found justification for Facebook use in the classroom.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

    Tuesday’s Tool: TitanPad

    This week I visited a good friend in his Middle School Social Studies classroom and watched as his students were finishing up a project using a online collaborative document tool called He told me a little bit about how the kids were using it and some of the pros and cons of the tool. I said that it sounded a lot like Google Docs and he explained why he felt it was even better.

    TitanPad allows students to work simultaneously on a document similar to a Google Doc but does not require a user account. His students simply needed the link to the “public pad” he created, they added their name in one of the toolboxes next to a color block so that he could monitor their participation, and they were off and running. They had access to basic formatting tools and individuals additions were color coded so that they could see who what adding what content. They saved changes as they went and had access to previously saved versions. When the class time was over someone saved the document and it was ready to go for the next day.

    Other features: TitanPad also allows for importing from text file, HTML, Word, or RTF file or exporting to text file, HTML, Word, RTF, PDF, Bookmark, or OpenOffice files. There is also a chatting feature and a “time slider” that allows a user to “play” the document and watch the document develop over time.

    Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

    Monday Message: March 21, 2011

    Happy Monday to you all. Hopefully, you’ve survived the “Ides of March” as well as “March Madness” and are ready for the homestretch to your school year.

    If you haven’t been keeping up with this blog, here are a few highlights from the past several weeks…

    • Here is a brief list of online voting tools at your disposal.
    • Check out this great new tool for filtering and organizing online video content via SchoolTube.
    • Winter Conference happened and here were some highlights.
    • We learned about a great new trick for setting goals, better known as “preflection.”
    • eBooks are all the rage and we even provided a great list of resources.
    • Here is more help with providing video content for your students at Next Vista.

    Stay tuned as the coming days and weeks should provide you inspiration and tools to carry you to the end of the school year!