3 education tools you don’t want to miss

wowHere are three tools that work-around problems you have every week–maybe every day–in your classes. Sit down with a cuppa and be prepared to be wowed.

  • Google Voice
  • Email aliases
  • Get Psyched music

Google Voice

Price: Free
Rating: 5/5


Google Voice is a web-based phone service that works through your current phone or your computer. It’s free, and available through a Google account (if you have Gmail, you’re eligible). Incoming calls can be forwarded to your cell or landline (or both) or ring through your computer-based Google Voice account. Voicemails and text messages are transcribed and sent to your Gmail address. Outgoing calls can be made through the website or by calling your handset (smartphone or landline) first, then it calls the number you entered. Here’s what the dashboard looks like (intentionally blurred in spots):

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Categories: classroom management, Music | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Need a Halloween Costume? I have that

Every year, I struggle with a Halloween costume. The teams of grade-level teachers always have themed looks—the Three Bears or Eeenie Meenie Minie and Moe–but I don’t have a team. I also don’t have kids at home to inspire me into painting my hair pink or my nails black.

A few years ago, I found the solution, and now–no worries. Even if it slips by my consciousness until I arrive at school on our Halloween Parade Day to the sight of goblins, Dr Who’s and other fantasies, I’m ready. Here’s my costume:


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Tech Tip #99: Top Ten Internet Hints

tech edAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

I’ve been sharing Tech Tips for almost three years. Here are the internet hints readers consider the most important:

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47 Visual Learning Options for your PBL

Here’s a wide variety of visual learning options for your students, from graphs to infographics,


  1. AmCharts
  2. Barchart
  3. ChartGizmo
  4. ChartGo
  5. Chartle
  6. Creately
  7. CSS Chart Generator
  8. Highcharts
  9. Hohli Online Chart Builder
  10. JS Charts
  11. LovelyCharts
  12. LucidCharts–for desktop and GAFE app
  13. Online Chart Generator
  14. OnlineChartTool
  15. Pie Color

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Halloween Projects for K-5

TagulThree holidays are fast-approaching–Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you’re a teacher, that means lots of tie-ins to make school festive and relevant to students.

Here are ideas for you for Halloween:


  1. ASCII Art–Computer Art for Everyone (a pumpkin–see inset)
  2. Lesson Plan: Halloween letter for grades 2-5
  3. Make a Holiday Card
  4. A Holiday Card  (with Publisher)
  5. A Holiday flier

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Book Review: Savvy Cyberkids at Home

The Savvy Cyber Kids At HomeThe Savvy Cyber Kids At Home

by Ben Halpert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

It’s not often I find a successful fiction book that explains complicated adult ideas to children. The last one was Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure, a creative story that introduces math concepts like Pi, circumference and radius to young children. I’m not a math teacher, but I can relate that to computer concepts I teach to kindergarten and younger. As with geometry, it’s difficult to explain the concept of ‘internet safety’ to the newest users. Unlike geometry, it must be done as soon as they pick up a mouse and lock their eyes onto the glowing, scintillating screen. Every month, more and more children, younger and younger, play on websites like Jumpstart, Clifford and NickJr. They–of course–trust the adults who love them to keep them safe. Now, we have a tool to do that. Read more »

Categories: 1st, book review, Digital Citizenship | Leave a comment

How to Create a Tagxedo

Tagxedos are an excitingly versatile tool that turn words into pictures. They’re word clouds–like Wordle, but more powerful. You can use them to share ideas, collect descriptive words and phrases about events, or evaluate the import of a website. Click here for a review of the webtool and over fifteen uses in your classroom.

We used Tagxedos this summer in Summer PD and I created this how-to video for students. Watch it–if you haven’t used Tagxedos before, you will fall in love with them.

Here are Sara’s thoughts over at Teachers and Technology, and Hardy Leung shares 101 ways to use it.

More video training:

How to Embed Student Work into Digital Portfolios

How to Teach a Tech Lesson–the Movie

How to Set up a Class Internet Start Page–the Movie

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and a wide variety of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor toTeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.

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27 Halloween Sites for your Students

Here’s a short list of fun Halloween websites for your students. Enjoy!ascii art


  1. Ben & Jerry
  2. Billy Bear’s
  3. Carving Pumpkins
  4. Enchanted Learning
  5. Funschool
  6. Halloween games, puzzles–clean, easy to understand website and few ads!
  7. Halloween ghost stories
  8. Meddybemps Spooky
  9. Pumpkin Toss
  10. Signing Halloween–a video
  11. Skelton Park
  12. The Kidz Page


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Categories: holidays, websites | Tags: , | 2 Comments

How to Embed Student Work into Digital Portfolios

With the education spotlight on sharing and publishing, students need to be able to take a project they’ve created and place it in their blogs, websites, or another location that shares their work with others. Often, this starts with an embed code.

Here’s a video I created for my Summer PD students on how to embed a project:

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A Day in the Life of a Tech Teacher

teacher-359311_640I love summer. I sit at home, reading, researching, chatting with friends. I make my own schedule, own my own time, start and finish a project without interruptions.

That is a massive high to me.

Why? I’m a tech teacher. That is like a geek+. I teach–yes–but I’m also the first line of defense (sometimes offense) for colleagues as they struggle to use the digital devices populating their classrooms. From the moment I step foot on campus, life spins out of my control. Here’s a typical day–does it sound familiar:

6:45    arrive at school

6:47    a student enters to use lab

6:48   I greet student with a friendly hi and begin work on a lesson plan

6:49    Student asks for help

7:00   Student finishes and leaves; I return to my lesson plan

7:02   Frantic teacher calls–her computer won’t boot up. She came in early to work and now what’s she supposed to do can I come right away?

7:03   I arrive in teacher classroom to help

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