HD_Links: Best of 2011 Lists

Duke University Researchers Teach Kids About Cartilage, Joints and Arthritis
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The end of the year is a time to reflect and there’s no better way to reflect on the best a given year had to offer than the all-important list. So, here’s a list of… well… lists of the best in education, technology, and educational technology for 2011. Cheers!

Education and Educational Technology:

What lists or resources would you add to our list? Which resources have been the most helpful to you in 2011?

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


Tuesday’s Tool: Pinterest

When I asked readers and fellow eMINTS staff for ideas as to the best tools of 2011, Pinterest was mentioned multiple times. Here’s what eIS Carmen Marty had to say about the social media tool:

I have several favorite online tools, but I recently became a fan of Pinterest. Through the creation of “boards”, you can share and organize ideas of all types. There are many classroom ideas, organizational ideas, and ideas for personal hobbies. It is a fun brain break in the day. It is easy to use and helps me feel creative!

Pinterest, of course, has many uses as one of the hottest social tools of the year. This Mashable post details all the many uses and special features Pinterest can offer its users. I’ll apply these uses to classroom purposes below…

First, Mashable details just what Pinterest is:

Pinterest is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. You can create Boards for any topic imaginable, from cats to classic cars to cats driving classic cars. The possibilities are endless.

For what is Pinterest used? Mashable gives several excellent ideas, but teachers have specific needs for their social media. Pinterest could be used for organizational and thematic inspiration for their classrooms. Images of maps and primary documents could be collected. A Math teacher may create collections of how their content is manifested in the real world or English teachers could provide imagery to better illustrate the context and themes of literature. The possibilities are also endless for Science teachers as images exist all over the internet featuring scientific phenomena.

To “Pin” images is a pretty simple process. Mashable lays it out:

Pinning is easy with the official Pin It Button, a simple drag-and-drop browser extension. When you come across an image you like, just click the button and select the corresponding picture. Assign the pin to a Board, add accompanying text, and you’re done. If the Pin is something you want to buy, include the price in the description and it will attach to the Pin for easy reference. If you find inspiration on the go, take a picture with your iPhone and add it to your Boards with the mobile app. (Sorry, no Android support at this time.) You can also Repin posts from other people.

Or, check out this tutorial…

Mashable focuses on the social aspects of Pinterest next, but this fits well with our efforts to build community and use cooperative learning strategies. Students can share pinned items with one another, possibly using the tool to collaborate on research projects. Another social aspect that can be useful for students is to check for trending topics that might provide the latest information on a given topic. Even sharing a Pinterest account could allow students to share images that inspire or extend their learning.

To start a Pinterest account, you can place a request but it takes a long time to be fulfilled. The best way is to ask a friend or coworker who already has a Pinterest account to invite you.

What other ways have you used Pinterest? How might Pinterest best be utilized with students? How does Pinterest compare in your mind to other social media and bookmarking sites?

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

HD_Links: Best Resources of 2011

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Yesterday, we shared the best online tools. Today’s post will provide the best resource links. Happy Hanukkah!

Brooke Higgins:

The Future’s Channel (http://www.thefutureschannel.com/) and Thinkfinity (http://www.thinkfinity.org/) are tow of my favorite resources to share with teachers. Both sites offer email newsletters to keep up on what they are offering at different times.

The Future’s Channel has free, short, authentic videos that focus on science, math, technology, and innovation all centered around specific jobs people have in our world today. They have accompanying lesson plans that, with a bit of tweaking, could become engaging IBL lessons. Videos can also be purchased for instant access.

Thinkfinity, which is sponsored by the Verizon Foundation, has thousands of free lesson plans, student interactives, games, classroom resources, games and tools to support all subject areas to be used in the classroom. They also offer some professional development resources and also parent resources.

Debbie Perkins:

This one is easy. One of my favorite online resources has to be EduTecherhttp://edutecher.net/. That’s because I’m always on the lookout for new ed tech web tools, and that’s exactly what EduTecher provides. You can search site links by subject and/or grade level. When you find a web tool you like on EduTecher, add your own notes or comments for future reference, or just bookmark it right on the EduTecher site. For a brief history of technology in education or a tutorial on how to use Qwiki (http://www.qwiki.com/), go to EduTecher TVhttp://www.edutecher.net/tv.php. Oh! And if you want to connect with other EduTechers, share links, or form a PLN, you can do that on EduTecher too! Of course this site also meets my first favorite resource requirement: EduTecher is completely free to all teachers, educators, and parents. By the way, I first discovered EduTecher by downloading their app on my iPhone. It’s a must have!

Carmen Marty

One of my favorite online resources is Diigo Educator’s Group (http://groups.diigo.com/group/diigoineducation) You can browse the links from the site or join the group and each day a list of educational links will show up in your inbox. I love the variety of articles and topics posted to this group. I find many interactive websites along with great blog posts and new tech tools. I spend the first 15 minutes of each day learning through the links on the list. After I have looked through the ideas, bookmarked the things I want to save for later, I delete the email and move on with my day. As a life long learner, I value this group as part of my PLN.

Amy Blades

For the classroom as a science teacher I have always used


Jc-schools has resources for all subject areas and much more. Great tool!

I also love Lee Summit’s Technology Integration website….next to eThemes this is always my second look to for resource.


What have we missed? Where do you go for resources for your students and yourself?

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

Tuesday’s Tools: Best of 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I asked our readers and eMINTS staff to submit their favorite online tools of the year and here’s what they had to say:

Carmen Marty, eIS

I have several favorite online tools, but I recently became a fan of Pinterest. Through the creation of “boards”, you can share and organize ideas of all types. There are many classroom ideas, organizational ideas, and ideas for personal hobbies. It is a fun brain break in the day. It is easy to use and helps me feel creative!

Carla Chaffin, eIS

I have been trying out a new tool to access websites. Tizmos allows you to create a thumbnail of websites you access on a regular basis. You have quick access to preselected websites for research, practice, games or news. The thumbnail is a picture of the page and links directly to the site. It is free! Check it out!

Brooke Higgins, eIS

My new favorite site of the year has to be Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com . Social visual booking at it best let’s a user create “boards” to “pin” images with links back to the original site the image was found on. Users can follow other users or just a board they are interested in and can create collaborative boards others can pin to. Teachers are busy pinning pictures of things they want to try in their classrooms, links back to sites they will use during lessons, and links back to resources their students may might be interested in and so much more. Be careful…it can be very addicting.

Ruth Henslee, eIS

I am a new fan of www. sweetsearch.com
I find it helpful for myself, teachers and especially students who are learning to search effectively. Here is a description borrowed from their site:

About SweetSearch

SweetSearch is a Search Engine for Students.

It searches only the 35,000 Web sites that our staff of research experts and librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved when creating the content on findingDulcinea. We constantly evaluate our search results and “fine-tune” them, by increasing the ranking of Web sites from organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, PBS and university Web sites.

SweetSearch helps students find outstanding information, faster. It enables them to determine the most relevant results from a list of credible resources, and makes it much easier for them to find primary sources. We exclude not only the spam sites that many students could spot, but also the marginal sites that read well and authoritatively, but lack academic or journalistic rigor. As importantly, the very best Web sites that appear on the first page of SweetSearch results are often buried on other search engines.

Cathie Loesing, eMINTS Program Coordinator

I have had so many “favorites” this year, it is difficult to choose just one. However, if I think only about the ones I use with students, my favorite would have to be Voicethread. I can use it with everyone from Kindergarteners through adults since they can post with a microphone, by typing text, or by phone call. I love the way I can post a picture, document, weblink, etc. and ask my students to post their responses to my prompt. Best of all, the teacher account allows me to use “identities” so that elementary students don’t need an account. There are a few glitches and there is a charge now for the full featured account, but it is overall it is a wonderful tool.

Debbie Perkins, eIS

I’m a big fan of Pinterest and Voicethread too, but those have already been mentioned, so I’ll go with SnackTools http://www.snacktools.com/. This very cool set of web apps will help you easily create and publish widgets for your blog or website. Want to share a pdf as a flipbook on your website? Use FlipSnackhttp://www.flipsnack.com/. Need a quick online survey or poll? Try their QuizSnack http://www.quizsnack.com/. Want to build a video playlist? Then TubeSnack may be for you http://www.tubesnack.com/. These are only three of the available SnackTools. You’ll also want to check out PhotoSnack, PodSnack, and BannerSnack!

How have you been able to use the tools above with your students this year? What online tools have we missed?

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

Monday Message: December 19, 2011

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Hang in there. Your winter break is nearly here! In the meantime, check out some announcements from eMINTS:

e-Learning for Educators Winter/Spring 2012 Registration Open: Register for online professional development courses offered through the eLearning for Educators program at  http://www.elearningmo.org/register/ Courses are available in all content areas for elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Learn how to use Google tools, differentiate instruction, or new classroom management tips. Courses are 7 weeks long and begin with an orientation week February 1, 2012. Cost is low at $150 per person (graduate credit is available for an additional $100 per credit hour). e-Learning for Educators offers a limited number of scholarship every semester that reduce the cost of e-Learning courses by 50%. Twenty scholarships will be awarded for Winter/Spring 2012. Scholarships are limited to one per applicant. See http://www.elearningmo.org/scholarships-and-discounts/ for more information about scholarship discounts. Courses are taught by practicing educators who facilitate interesting discussions and are available as a resource to participants. Hurry!! Registration closes January 24, 2012.

eMINTS Offers SMART Notebook Training Sessions: Increase your effectiveness with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software at a full-day professional development session taught by SMART -certified eMINTS staff members. The sessions are intended for new users of SMART Board interactive whiteboards or Notebook software or those who want an introduction to them. Choose one of three dates/locations in Columbia (January 10), St. Louis (January 5) and Kansas City (January 26) areas. Cost is $125 per participant and includes training, lunch and a learner’s workbook. Hurry – registration closes December 16. See: http://www.emints.org/events/smart-training/ for details and registration.

eMINTS Annual Conference Dates: Save the dates! The annual eMINTS Conference is scheduled for February 22 (pre-conference) through February 24, 2012 in Columbia, MO at the Stoney Creek Inn. Detailed information about speakers, sessions, and other events along with registration will open in the next two weeks on the new eMINTS website at: http://www.emints.org/events/

New eThemes:

Career Cluster: Arts, A/V Technology, and Communications<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/503>
Explore these websites to learn what careers are included in the art, audio-video, and communications career path. Includes information about careers in music, writing, fashion design, and more. There are links to eThemes on career exploration and career interest assessments.

Career Cluster: Business, Management, and Administration<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/504>
Find out how to get involved in business, management, and administration. These websites detail the occupations available and career information such as education needed, salary, and job growth information. Includes links to eThemes on career exploration and career interest assessments.

Health: Cancer<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1975>
These informational sites provide students with articles, short videos, and audio-articles for research on types and treatments of cancer. Downloadable brochures are available in English, Spanish, and Asian languages. Many types of statistics about cancer are provided. Slideshows of healthy foods, what skin cancer looks like, and tips for quitting smoking add more information for student projects.

Native Americans: Lakota Sioux<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/453>
The Lakota Sioux are known as the “Teton or Western Sioux.” They are closely related to the Dakota tribe. Learn about Crazy Horse and the Lakota winter counts. Includes photographs, a quiz, and two eThemes resources on Native Americans.

NETS Standards<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/454>
These sites are about the NETS standards for students and teachers. They include information about the standards, assessments, related resources, and applications in classroom activities. Includes lesson plans and examples using a PowerPoint presentation.

Nevada: State Facts<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/455>
Learn about the state of Nevada regarding state symbols, wildlife, economics, and history. Find out the history behind the state symbol, myths, and truths about the state. Includes radio clips, illustrations, printable worksheets, games, and a quiz. There is a link to eThemes resource on Nevada state flag.

Friday 4ALL: How many lives can you live?

The following TED talk inspired this post. Watch the talk first…

How are we insuring that our students get opportunities to experience other lives and perspectives? How do we provide opportunities for our students to share their own experiences?

One purpose of education is to provide for our students opportunities to share in experiences outside of their own. Empathy and a greater understanding of context is developed through experiencing other’s lives, simulated or otherwise. Simulations and virtual field trips are one way to do this, but interaction with people across cultures and continents can do this as well. The trick is to find ways that we can take advantage of all the technology available to us in order to allow our students to experience others’ lives through authentic interaction.

Simulations, virtual field trips, video conferencing, social networking are just a few ways this can be done. How are you insuring that students experience as many “lives” as possible?

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

Thursday’s Tip: Embedding

It is imperative these days for teachers to create and maintain a website and/or portal. Communication, interaction, information, collaboration, and many other -ation’s are now requirements for these sites now that there are so many other multimedia options out there, fighting for our students’ attention. If only teachers could compete without knowing advanced coding.

Well, luckily, the developers of all this multimedia want their tools to be fully accessible on your sights and blogs. The feature that makes this possible is embedding. Basically, copy the embed code of almost any online media and it will magically appear on your site or web page. Blogs make this easy as all you have to do is switch to the HTML view and paste the embed code in the editor*. The same process works the same in any free website service with editable HTML such as Google Sites and Weebly.

For those of you who are editing the HTML using a web editor like Dreamweaver or NVU, the process is a little trickier. I have found the best way to do this is to type something like “PUT CODE HERE” in the design view where you want the embedded item to reside. Then, switch to the code view and paste the embed code over “PUT CODE HERE”.

For specific embedding information, check the links below:

What are other valuable media you have been able to embed on your site? How can embedding on your site be preferable to simply linking to outside sites?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and he embeds Google Presentations in his Moodle courses for teachers as an agenda alternative.

*This does not work consistently on WordPress blogs. For more information on embedding in WordPress, go here.