Category Archives: Resource Links

Fake It

I was reading yet another helpful list from Larry Ferlazzo today and was inspired to write a post. His latest update was for a list of tools that create fake “stuff” that students can manipulate to tell all kinds of interesting narratives. By “stuff”, I mean various forms of social media. For example, there are tools for creating fake iPhone texting conversations or a series of fake Tweets that would demonstrate a series of events.

These are great tools, but how can they be used in the classroom? Richard over at Free Technology for Teachers put together a post that suggests how students and teachers could use a fake Facebook profile. For my part, I’m going to make a suggestion for various core subjects as to how each of these tools could be used in the classroom.

FakeiPhoneText – One of the nicest features of the iPhone is that text conversations are recorded on a single, scrollable screen, making a timeline of sorts. The benefit to teachers and students would be to create or possibly recreate a conversation via text.

  • Math – Sometimes, it can be really difficult to get students to describe a process used to solve a problem. A fake text conversation might be one way to allow students to get creative with this kind of exercise. One texting participant could ask the questions while the other provides answers.
  • Language Arts – When working with dialogue – whether in one’s own writing or in a piece of literature – students can get confused as to who is speaking. Having them break down key conversations can help make comprehension clearer. A fun activity might be to have students replay an important piece of dialogue through texts.
  • Social Studies – Throughout the course of history, there have been important correspondences between key actors. Imagine if American colonists had texted their demands to the king back in England. What might that conversation look like?
  • Science – All sciences depend on actions and reactions to explain phenomena. Students could describe one action with a text and the resulting reaction in another text, possibly including scientific reasoning in their texts.

My Fake Wall or Fakebook – Either of these tools could be used for creating a fake Facebook wall. Conversations with acquaintances, pictures, links… all the things we post on Facebook walls could demonstrate an understanding that goes deeper than the surface.

  • Math -The easy thing to do would be to design a fake profile for a famous mathematician with other mathematicians commenting on his or her wall. However, a more imaginative project might feature designing Facebook walls for mathematic concepts. Geographic shapes could be one route. Maybe a circle could post a video of the pyramids on triangle’s wall. Maybe even specific numbers could interact on a fake wall the way people do. The key would be to define and apply definitions through these posts.
  • Language Arts -Imagine if Romeo and Juliet were Facebook friends. Then, imagine their entire saga playing out on Juliet’s (or Romeo’s) timeline. The literary possibilities are endless.
  • Social Studies -At this point in history, we can follow the Facebook wall of our president. However, this sort of access was not available or was too new for previous presidents. Have students play out important events for the great leaders of history on a Facebook page.
  • Science -Imagine a famous scientist and the kinds of images, links, and videos he or she might post on a Facebook page and that is how students could use this tool in their science classes.

Fake Tweet Builder and TwHistory – Twitter is a pretty popular record of current events. It’s one of the few places we can obtain first-person perspectives and real-time observations of events as they happen. These tools allow users to create fake Tweets and/or Twitter timelines in order to show imaginary Twitter threads.

  • Math -Again, math processes could be played out using this tool, much like the fake texting tool mentioned above. However, imagine a word problem involving money, dimensions, or time played out in a Twitter thread. Figuring out a problem that takes place while the subject travels over a certain time period could make such a problem seem more concrete.
  • Language Arts -A student could map out the major plot elements and events in literature through a series of Tweets. It may also be helpful to work out the same components in an original work.
  • Social Studies -Twitter has recently played a major role in protests and events of social change all around the world. Students could record the events of Pearl Harbor or the Boston Tea Party via Tweets.
  • Science -Taking observations of scientific phenomena can be boring at times. However, students might have fun recording each action and reaction through Tweets.

Of course, the above ideas are not the only ways to use these tools. Some of these ideas can work for various subject areas or any of the tools. The important thing to remember is that using these fake social media tools is a fantastic hook for student interest. These activities also give them an opportunity to apply what students have learned in a new and creative way.

How would you use these fake social media tools in your class? What aspects of these activities would be most beneficial to students’ understanding of concepts? In what ways would it be more beneficial to use actual social media tools in the projects described above?

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

HD_Links: Teaching Digital Citizenship

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Year 1 eMINTS teachers are getting their student laptops up and running this month and thinking about how they can incorporate these new tools into their classroom lessons and activities. One topic some of the teachers I work with are interested in teaching their students is that of being responsible users of technology and becoming a part of digital communities. Here are a few online resources that may help in teaching those digital citizenship skills.

eThemes has a few themes that may help teach this topic including Teaching Tips: Digital Citizenship, Cyberbullying, Ethics for Students. Check the eThemes A-Z listing or search to find more. offers teacher K-12 lesson plans to help teach about the topics of Digital Society, Digital Rights and Responsibilities, Digital Safety and Security, Digital Etiquette, Digital Laws and Ethics, and Lifelong Learning. Lessons are identified by the grade level appropriate for each activity, whether they can be done without a computer or if they may include a web 2.0 tool, and if they require an Internet connection.

BrainPop has a whole group of videos (with additional activities and even quizzes) to help teach students about Digital Citizenship including Copyright, Plagiarism, Online Sources, Digital Etiquette, and many more.

Or check out this Digital Citizen Resources LiveBinder created by computer teacher and blogger, Vicky Sedgwick. The LiveBinder includes TONS of links and resources for teachers, parents, and students interested in learning more about digital citizenship.

What might be some of your favorite resources for teaching digital citizenship?

Brooke Higgins is an on again, off again blogger and instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read this and more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Thursday’s Tip: Find Your Own Professional Development

Audiences North East - summer professional development event, Alnwick Gardens (19) - The Poison Garden
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We’ve all been there. Your district or building sets aside days for professional development. Sometimes the topics are specific to your school’s needs, but often they are not. The sessions drag on and all you can think about is all the work you have to get done. And this is coming from someone who facilitates professional development for a living.

Sometimes, the best way to get the most out of professional development is to find your own. There are many ways in which educators can find professional development opportunities with minimal cost and without leaving their home or school.

Below are a few tips for finding your own professional development opportunities:

  • eLearning for Educators -A part of the eMINTS National Center houses eLearning for Educators, an online space for teacher professional development. Pricing is reasonable. Plus, the savings from not having to travel make it worth your time right away. Visit eLearning for Educators for more details.
  • FeedOn the Horizon: 20+ Free Professional Development Opportunities for 2012PostedTeacher Reboot Camp lists some great online PD opportunities that will only cost you to have decent internet access.
  • Read educational literature – Sometimes, the best learning we can do is accomplished by sitting down with a good book. Larry Ferlazzo polled his audience to see what they have been reading this past year and the results can be found at this post.
  • Cultivate your PLN – Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have been around for a while now, but I am still surprised at how many educators don’t utilize or even have one. Some good starting points for creating your own PLN are here and here.
  • Watch TED talks. – TED talks bring together the brightest and most successful thinkers of our time to discuss their unique projects and perspectives. These talks are then shared with the world via online videos. A theme of interest for educators might be How We Learn, but most TED talks can provide great insight and inspiration to us all.

What other ways are there to attain professional development with limited resources and budgets? How can some of these ideas be applied to the professional learning communities (PLC) currently appearing in schools everywhere? How can these practices enhance your current professional development?

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

HD_Links: Khan Academy

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Khan Academy was maybe the hottest topics in education and educational technology in 2011 and it’s not going away any time soon. After winning $2 million from Google in 2010 and garnering significant donations along the way, Khan Academy has the backing to make a significant impact on long-term educational practices. What exactly is Khan Academy? It was founded by Salman Khan as a way to tutor family members in math. He created video tutorials teaching everything from basic math to advanced trigonometry. Along with the videos are exercises that monitor a student’s progress. The idea is for students to watch lectures and demonstrations on a topic in order to help them complete the exercises. Today, Khan covers a variety of topics including nearly all forms of mathematics, sciences, civics, history, economics, etc. Many teachers are using it to “flip” their classrooms. In other words, the students watch the lectures at home and do their “homework” at school with the guidance of their teachers. Some students are using Khan lectures and exercises to advance their own learning beyond the school curriculum. However it is used, the idea is that students can work at their own pace in mastering a topic or skill. This week’s list of links focuses on Khan Academy. There’s some background information, ways in which teachers are using it with their students, and debates on the validity of the tool. Check them out!

[ted id=1090] If his talk doesn’t convince of the value of the Khan Academy approach, I’m not sure what will. Are there problems with this model? Sure, but the data and results Khan is getting with his model are notable

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at the very least. How have you used Khan Academy resources with your students? What are the lessons to be learned from Khan Academy that could be applied no matter what tools or resources you’re using? How can the challenge of connecting students at home in order to use Khan be overcome? Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: 2012

Matthew G. Bisanz [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, GPL, LGPL or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

According to the Mayan calendar as some believe, December 21, 2012 will mark the end of the world. Interestingly, this is merely a misinterpretation of the cycle in this ancient calendar. December 21st of this year will simply mark a turnover to the next cycle.

Still, the topic of the Mayan civilization and even the year 2012 bring up some interesting ideas for research. This week’s list of links will help fill you in on these topics and possibly inspire some learning in your classroom:

Mayan Civilization & Calendar:

Will the world end in 2012?

  • A report on December 21, 2012 on Good Morning America
  • An interesting story on rethinking calendars
  • What about solar storms in 2012?

  • What does NASA have to say about the end of the earth? Go here to find out.
  • Finally, what would a list of links be without an appropriate infographic?

 A brief history of doomsdays

What ideas do you have for discussing the Mayan calendar and/or predictions for 2012? How might some of these resources be the impetus for a unit or WebQuest? What are some other resources on the Mayans people, calendar, or doomsday prophecies that we may have missed?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center and he’s pretty confident he’ll see you all after December 21, 2012.

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.


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 ( and Thinkfinity ( 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 EduTecher 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 (, go to EduTecher TV 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 ( 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.

HD_Links: Smartphones

Eirikso tester tidlig smartphone-prototyp
Luckily, smartphones are easier to carry than this. - Click for source.

Cell phones and smarthones are seeing an increase in educational applications these days. In general, American consumers are expected to flock to smartphones in record numbers in the coming year. This piece of technology is taking society by storm and schools are joining the party.

For those just starting with smartphones, check out the links below for some helpful resources:

Apps, short for applications, are what really set smartphones apart from regular cell phones. These small portals and tools have revolutionized mobile devices. Below are some guides for the best apps for educators:

Of course, once we accept the use of smartphones in our schools, we have to find classroom applications and methods for getting the most out of these tools. The following links are a great starting point for incorporating mobile devices in your classroom:

  • Teach Paperless suggests that it’s not necessarily the device that’s the issue. Instead, we must consider the context.
  • One Minnesota teacher allows smartphones in his classroom with some success.
  • This Mashable piece discusses how higher education is utilizing mobile technologies, but some of the lessons could easily apply to the communities at primary and secondary schools.
  • Another Mashable post makes the case for why education needs to meet kids where they are digitally.
  • Blackberry has its own site focusing on educational issues and applications.
  • Project K-nect seeks to improve math skills among struggling learners by engaging them through smartphones.
  • Can smartphones make kids smarter? []

How have you been able to use smartphones in your classroom? What are your reservations about bringing mobile devices into the schools? What are some great apps you’ve found in your smartphone use?

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

HD_Links: What’s your favorite resource of 2011?

ReferenceUSA Phone Books Library
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Yesterday, as you might recall, we asked for your favorite online tools. Today, we’re wondering which resources are the most useful to you and your teaching.

What was your favorite online resource of 2011?

A great online resource is many things. Great resources are easy to navigate. In fact, some provide navigation that is downright inspired, making us think meta-cognitively about organization or our own thought processes. Some resources provide useful search options or pleasing design. Other resources might just be so flashy that they inspire us to take a subject even further. Of course, the best resources have the most interesting and useful content.

Feel free to identify your favorite resources in the comments. Resources can be a general place where one can find information on any topic or a site that gives very specific information about one topic. Whatever you consider a great resource, share in the comments.

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

HD_Links: Blogroll

blog cartoon
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Although we don’t keep an official blogroll (Maybe we should?) here at Networked Teaching & Learning, we read a lot of blogs, mining them for resources and ideas. I try to give credit where credit is due, but sometimes useful blogs slip through the cracks. The following blogs may not always lead directly to posts here, they do offer plenty of inspiration and influence what I do on a daily basis.

Classroom Talk is a new discovery that covers similar ground to what we cover here. In other words, it covers nearly all educational topics imaginable. However, the focus is slightly different from NT&L in that it also focuses on parent resources in regards to how students learn. It’s a good read you should really check out. (H/T Laura Brashear)

Venspired was previously known as Teacher Factory but still features the same great collection of blog posts. Written by gifted teacher and sometimes NT&L contributor Krissy Venosdale, Venspired covers a wide array of topics, mostly focusing on creativity and student-centered learning. Get inspired and add Venspired to your blogroll now.

There are good things coming from over seas in educational technology. Two blogs to check our are Australia’s EdTech Toolbox and England’s EDTE.CH. EdTech Toolbox features a new online tool 2-3 times every week. That’s more than I can handle sometimes. Although EDTE.CH‘s Tom Barrett has been suspiciously absent from posting as of late, his insights, recommendations, and tips are among the best in the field. Also, this is where he keeps his “Interesting Ways” collection.

Dan Meyer is a math teacher that would have fit right in at eMINTS. His blog is dy/dan and within this blog, Dan demonstrates how creativity and putting learning first materialize in the mathematics classroom. Although he’s now working on a doctorate at Stanford, Dan is always looking for ways to make Math real and tangible for students.

Those are five blogs that provide a lot of inspiration around these parts. What blogs do you look to for inspiration and insight? How can reading blogs and participating in their conversations help us as educators?

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