browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.


10 Ways to Use Twitter in Class

twitter in educationFor anyone who missed the April announcement, Twitter switched its app category from ‘social media’ (where it consistently ranked in the top ten with Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Pinterest) to ‘news’ (now ranked #1, ahead of apps like CNN, Fox News, and Reddit). It makes sense; tweets and twitter streams have been part of hard-core news reports for years as an effective way for leaders and politicians to reach their constituents and pollsters to gauge what interests people. A good example is this series of tweets explaining the recent Brexit vote.

As an educator, I am thrilled. Twitter’s gossipy reputation among administrators and most parents negates its dynamic applications in the classroom. With the not-so-recent addition of audio and video files (easily embedded from sites like Instagram and Periscope), educators can easily use it as a student-friendly approach to everything from assessment to sharing notes.

Before unpacking Twitter in your classroom, here are a few guidelines:

  • Clear its use with your administration. Be prepared to educate them on why what seems to be social media is actually educational.
  • Inform parents that their children will be using Twitter to collaborate, share information, study for tests, and other uses specific to your program. Again, as with your administration, be prepared to explain the benefits of a Twitter-powered class.
  • Twitter doesn’t have a lower age limit, but does reference ‘thirteen’ as a suggested minimum age. You decide what fits your group. You may also decide that setting the Twitter stream as private (called ‘protected Tweets’) is a good educational decision.
  • Demonstrate how to use Twitter and what the symbols mean (tie this into a class discussion on math symbols).
  • Establish rules for Twitter use. Remind students it is for educational uses only; chatting and socializing must be done through other means. Then enforce it by suspending privileges, warning abusers, or whatever works best in your classroom climate.
  • Check out the Twitter streams of other educators before starting. Here’s one for a first-grade class to get you started. The visual of how they use it to enhance education is powerful.

Here are my ten favorite uses of Twitter in my classroom:


Categories: Classroom management, News, Social media | Tags: | Leave a comment

8 Websites that Explain Elections

Yellow sign with VOTE HERE is standing by a line of people wating to get to the polls in Arizona

In about half the world’s nations–such as those ruled by socialism, communism, dictators, and autocracies–law and order are decided by government agencies, often people placed in power by those already in power. When America wrote its Democracy-based Constitution and Bill of Rights in the late 1700’s, we chose a different route. Called ‘the Grand Experiment’, the founders empowered ordinary citizens–farmers, shopkeepers, laborers, and seamstresses–to elect the individuals who would protect America’s shores, our freedoms, and our way of life. Fifty years after our inception, it was still unclear whether it would work. In fact, Abraham Lincoln warned:

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

A hundred years later, Gore Vidal bemoaned:

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”

Still, every four years, Americans make a critical choice that will shape our nation’s path. Because decisions are made by the people rather than government agencies, citizens are expected to research their options and then vote for the Presidential candidate most qualified to fulfill the country’s goals.

With this most influential position up for grabs in just a few months, I’ve curated a list of eight websites to share with students as they prepare for the day they’ll be asked to cast their vote and decide the future. The first five explain elections in general and the next three teach the process through gamification.


Categories: Civics, News | 1 Comment

New from Turnitin: iPad app for Feedback Studio

turnitinWith all the time students and teachers are spending with iPads, Turnitin Feedback Studio‘s new iPad app is a welcome addition to their toolkits. Students can submit papers, analyze similarity reports (to check for originality), and review instructor feedback on the go. Here’s what Jacinta Lujano, attending Naval Postgraduate School, says:

“Feedback Studio for iPad makes it really simple to submit my writings and to get on-the-go feedback… It’s really simple and intuitive to use, too. I love it.”

For educators, the interface is cleaner and the process to view accounts and classes simplified, including streamlined grading on- and offline. According to Cheryl Ashbaugh, communications professor at Robert Morris University:

“I can grade papers anywhere I want on my tablet with the Turnitin Feedback Studio app. Not having to carry so much around with me has been great for my back!”

Key features include:


Categories: News | Leave a comment

Haiku Deck Classroom Intro Price Ends Soon

haiku deckJust an update for you on Haiku Deck Deck Classroom. The special introductory price (with access for a teacher and up to 150 students) will soon end. This is different from the traditional Haiku Deck slideshow tool which has become a staple in many lesson plans. Haiku Deck Classroom includes:

  • All the features of Haiku Deck Pro for a teacher and his/her students: Unlimited presentation creation, advanced privacy settings, offline viewing and printing, YouTube video embedding, and more.
  • Classroom Management Dashboard: Easily add/remove courses and students to your account.
  • New Course Galleries: Students can submit Haiku Decks for teacher review
  • Optional Google Classroom Integration & Google Sign in: For schools using Google Classroom, import courses and student lists from Google Classroom

Also offered is special bulk pricing for departments, schools, or districts. Question? Email


Categories: News | Leave a comment

New Features From Nepris for the New School Year

I’ve written about Nepris before–a transformative cloud-based platform that connects STEAM subject experts with teachers and classes. This month, they’re offering a great group of back-to-school tools that will help you organize your expert presentations and share out the details:

Share an update in your activity feed right from your teacher dashboard by typing it into the box at the top of your screen.



Filter videos and sessions by career cluster and grade level, so you don’t waste any time finding what you’re looking for!






Get immediate guidance navigating the new website by logging in and clicking on “Take a Tour” on the bottom right of your dashboard. For more support, access Help Videos on every page.


Here are a few of the expert chats Nepris has available for the new school year:


Categories: News, Online education | Tags: | Leave a comment

We Remember… 9/11

America, we love you.

Categories: History, News | 2 Comments

Fun Videos from BoomWriter That You’ll Relate to

One of my new favorite online writing tools is BoomWriter. It is a free group writing website for teachers where their students can develop and enhance their writing, reading, vocabulary, and peer assessment skills through three collaborative tools. I won’t go into detail today–that’ll come later–but I did want to share this humorous video I got from them about the Pre-Conference–that meeting teachers have with the principal before he comes in to observe your class. Who hasn’t been in this situation?

Now watch this one on laptop carts. I nodded my head through the entire thing (especially with the ending):


Categories: News, Reviews, Writing | 2 Comments

Turnitin Releases Free Back-to-School Resources

turn it in back to schoolThis just out: Turnitin has released “Rethink Feedback”–themed resources to help K-12 teachers and higher education instructors teach proper methods of attribution and help improve student writing skills in response to the ongoing priority teachers place on not only improving writing skills but educating students about plagiarism and integrity. New resources and tools in Turnitin’s back-to-school program, “Rethink Feedback,” help K-12 teachers and higher education instructors teach proper methods of attribution and improve student writing skills.

The free back-to-school resources include:

  1. In the Loop: Feedback Quiz – This 12-question, online self-teaching tool helps students understand the value of feedback and explains how to get the most from feedback and how to respond to instructor feedback, while encouraging students to separate feedback from evaluative measures like grades.
  2. Feedback that Makes the Grade 78% of students say they want feedback from teachers, but how do they feel about the feedback teachers are giving? This infographic lists five tips for fantastic feedback, details how students use and think about feedback, and explains what makes feedback effective in the classroom.
  3. Aiming for Integrity Analysis – How well do students understand plagiarism? Compiling over 12,500 data points from over 25,000 responses to Turnitin’sPlagiarism Quiz, this report helps educators understand student perceptions of plagiarism and citation methods.
  4. Plagiarism Spectrum – This infographic defines 10 different types of plagiarism. Each type has been given an easy-to-remember moniker to help students and instructors better identify and discuss the ramifications of plagiarism in student writing. Request posters for classrooms, or download a student handout or the full study.
    “Teachers intuitively know—and research supports—that there are best practices to giving feedback to students in writing exercises,” said Jason Chu, education director at Turnitin. “Feedback that is appropriately constructive, specific, actionable, and given at the right time drastically improves how much a student learns about good writing.”

Turnitin has been a leader in promoting and supporting teachers in how to give appropriate feedback leading to improved writing skills. Earlier this year, Turnitin addedRevision Assistant to its product lineup. Turnitin Revision Assistant, for grades 6-12 and developmental writing in higher education, extends teachers’ reach by giving students immediate formative feedback during the writing process.


Categories: News | Leave a comment

Haiku Deck Just Got Better: Welcome Haiku Deck Classroom

haiku deckIf you’re like me–and 20% of US schools–when you think of ‘online slideshow tool’, you think of Haiku Deck. And now, your favorite tool just got better. Haiku Deck Classroom offers an easy way for educators to add and manage student accounts, integrate with Google Classroom and other CMS systems, sign in through Google, share projects to a classroom gallery, and more.  Haiku Deck Classroom makes all the features of Haiku Deck Pro available to educators and students, including unlimited presentation creation, advanced privacy settings, offline viewing and printing, and YouTube video embedding. The subscription applies to use of Haiku Deck’s award-winning web, iPad, and iPhone apps.

Additional features include:


Categories: News, Web Tools | Leave a comment

Happy July 4th!

It’s America’s birthday and I’m celebrating. I have an Army son heading off overseas and a Navy daughter doing her thing stateside. I’m toasting both of them today!What I write today will be… anything I want–gibberish, a short story, guest articles on crazy topics. I have no idea. My son’s in Kuwait protecting America’s distant shores. My daughter’s in San Diego preparing her LPD for some future battle. I’m here, thanking both of them and every other service member who accepted the calling to protect our nation’s freedoms.

For all of America’s warriors, God be with you.


Categories: Holidays, News | 6 Comments