All posts by engagetheirminds


Digital curation is probably 60% of my working life. I spend a lot of time combing the web and social media for helpful resources for educators. I’ve used a combination of several curation tools over the years, including Pocket and Flipboard, and still use them. However, I may have a new favorite in Wakelet.

Pocket ticked a lot of the boxes for me when it came to curation:

  • One place to store everything
  • Accessible on any device and in any web browser, Twitter, Flipboard and other places from which I gather info
  • No more than 2 steps to save
  • Taggable
  • Searchable
  • Maintains the source information (especially if obtained on Twitter)
  • Free
  • Unlimited Storage

One of the problems I had been having with Pocket was that it saved Tweets differently depending on the device I was using, sometimes not allowing them to tag them or showing the original tweet with author, making it difficult for me to search for them later. So, when I kept seeing educators excited about Wakelet, I decided to put it through the paces to decide if I wanted to make a switch.

One place to store everything: Yes, but the advantage of Wakelet is that you can create collections to save to, immediately categorizing the links you save.

Accessible on any device and in any browser: As far as I can see, Wakelet meets this criteria. I use it on my phone with the installed app, within Twitter (on phone or on laptop), and as an extension in my Chrome browser. Extensions and apps can be found here.

No more than two steps to save: Once you install the extension on your laptop and the app on your phone, this is true.

Taggable: As far as I can tell, this is not a feature in Wakelet. However, you are technically “tagging” your resources by sorting them into categorized collections when you add them.

Searchable: I’m not sure on this one. Since I just started, I don’t have a lot of resources on there yet. I can search my Collections, but it looks like the search is looking only for Collection titles.

Maintains the Source Information for Twitter: Yes!

Free: Yep!

Unlimited Storage: As far as I can tell, yes.

Some features that you will find in Wakelet that many other curation tools do not have are:

Sharing: You can make your collections private to you or shareable (Flipboard also has this option, but Pocket does not). Want to make a collection of resources for your students to use in a lesson or project? This is one great way to do it.

Collaboration: Students, teachers, anyone you invite, can add to Wakelet collections if you like. See this page for more information.

Integration with Other Tools: In the screenshot below you can see some of the tools that integrate with Wakelet, making it super easy to share your collections.

Layout Options: You can change the layouts of your collections so they look more visually appealing. One of the options is “Moodboard”, which looks similar to Pinterest.

To test out the sharing option, I’m going to give you this link to my collection of other features and ways to use Wakelet with your students. I think you’ll find it to be a very helpful tool if you give it a try!

Student questions during live videoconferencing

One of my friends mentioned to me that her daughter was participating in a live school session from home while some of her classmates were also in the teacher’s class. At one point, the teacher disappeared from her videoconferencing screen while the rest of the distance learners remained, wondering what to do. When it was clear the teacher didn’t realize the disconnect had happened, one of the virtual students finally texted a friend in the physical class to tell the the teacher.

Another teacher shared on Twitter recently that he began his class with “a big bang”, gesturing profusely and full of zeal, only to find out after he finished his intro that his audio was muted.

These are the real, understandable issues that happen during live online instruction, especially when the teacher is responsible for students in the physical and virtual classrooms simultaneously. It’s frustrating for all of the participants, and I’ve been looking for practical solutions in my social media feeds. It seems that the only common element I can find is that you should have a plan that everyone (students, teachers, and caregivers) is aware of – because it will happen.

Though technology problems were what first brought this to my attention, another obstacle to overcome is privacy. We all know students who are reluctant to ask for any kind of help, but are especially reserved in public. Although some conferencing tools, such as Zoom, have chat windows, that can be set to private, not all have this option and, of course, they won’t work if the video connection is lost or frozen.

Here are some of the ideas I’ve seen, but I would welcome any more suggestions in the comments section for this post or on Twitter (@terrieichholz):

  • Some teachers give out Google Voice phone numbers to caregivers. Similarly, others are using the Remind app.
  • Students can use Classroom Q, an app and website where students can use a “Join Code” and add themselves to a queue to ask questions with the press of a button.
  • In hybrid classrooms, some teachers suggest that you assign one or two students to monitor the live feed in case there is a breakdown.
  • Have a standard Google Form where students can type in their names and a quick comment or question. (Benefits of this are that you will have questions on a spreadsheet in order, and you can keep a log of questions.)

This is all I’ve seen so far. Any other advice out there?

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

A World Without Teachers

Knowing that many of my former colleagues returned to work today facing some of the most difficult challenges they have ever encountered in their careers, I looked for something to inspire them. I came across this video that was posted in 2015 by Jubilee Media. Here we are, five years after this video was created, and I think that many of us have a better understanding of what it would be like to have a world without a teachers. If you are an educator, struggling to learn a thousand new skills you never imagined you would need, I hope you will watch this and distill all of the noise and demands being made of you into the only thing that makes a difference – you.

(I will be adding this to my Inspirational Videos for Teachers Pinterest Board, and you can see some of my top favorites here.)

Image by emmaws4s from Pixabay

Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

As some of you know, I have committed to publishing one post a week dedicated to anti-racism. I want to thank my friend, Callan, for bringing my attention to this week’s resource when she shared it on Facebook. Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices is produced by Netflix. The series of short videos (most of them less than 10 minutes) features Black celebrities reading children’s books by Black authors. According to the site, the twelve books “featured in the series were chosen using a social justice education framework that focused on concepts of Identity, Respect, Justice, and Action.”

Marley Dias, a 15 year old young woman who founded #1000BlackGirlBooks, introduces each segment’s guest reader, and has her own episode reading We March by Shane Evans. Marley is an author, herself, having penned the book, Marley Dias Gets It Done, and So Can You, when she was just 13 years old.

As I watched Anti-Racist Baby being read aloud by Kendrick Sampson and The Day You Begin narrated by Jacqueline Woodson (who is also the author of the book), I felt a sense of peace and inspiration. Instead of the anger I have been feeling about recent injustices, I felt motivated to find more ways to make change through kindness and understanding. At the end of her narration, Woodson asks, “What makes you so fabulously different from everyone else you meet?” and it was as though she had gently wrapped a warm blanket around my heart.

Image by Miroslava Chrienova from Pixabay

Along with the videos on the site, you can find book recommendations for different age groups, as well as suggestions for activities and other resources.

Here are my previous anti-racism posts in case you have missed them:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.

7 Useful Chrome Extensions for Teaching Virtually

Yesterday, I added a wonderful video from Esther Park to my Virtual Breakouts post. She demonstrates the process she uses for breakouts when she uses Google Meet, and mentions a few very helpful extensions that can be added to the Chrome browser. I thought I would list those, and a few others, for you today.

Before we get to the extensions, I do want to remind you that extensions have the potential to contain malware and spyware. If you are using a district computer, be sure to get permission from your tech department before installing one. The same advice applies if you want students to install one. If you are using a personal computer, here are some tips on how to determine if you are looking at a safe extension. Particularly pay attention to the permissions that you are asked to grant when you install an extension. Weigh the benefits of having the tool against the risks you are taking if the creator has malicious intentions. As this article recommends, “Here’s how to stay safe: Use as few extensions as possible. If you don’t get much use out of an extension, uninstall it. “

I am cautious about extensions, but there are certainly ones that I use regularly. That being said, here are some that you may want to try yourself:

  • Esther Park recommended two extensions that are super useful when doing virtual breakout rooms in Google Meet. One is the Tab Resize extension which allows you to open tabs in Chrome for each breakout room, and then select how you want them displayed on your screen – enabling you to see all breakout rooms at once. The other is Mute Tab, which allows you to mute the tabs quickly so that you are not hearing discussions in all breakout rooms at once. Here is a list of extensions that may specifically help with Google Meet.
  • Page Marker is a nice extension for you to use when you want to draw/annotate on a website. According to the description, it was developed by a high school student.
  • Screencastify is a free extension to create short videos of something you are demonstrating onscreen.
  • Mote allows you to leave voice comments and feedback on shared documents.
  • One Tab can save you from having students type in different URL’s during the same lesson. Open the tabs in your browser, and share to web page. All of the tab links are on one web page, which you can share with your students.
  • Record to Slides was created by ClayCodes, and can be used to record video directly to a Slide in your presentation.

While there are many other extensions out there, I chose to stick to a few tried and true ones helpful for teaching virtually for this post. There are many more extensions, and there are a lot that can help students as well – especially with reading and writing online. I encourage you to investigate these for yourself, but to remember the cautions I mentioned above.

Example of One Tab Extension being used along with Page Marker extension

Google Jamboard

When I first started reading comments on social media about using Google Jamboard, I immediately, well, Googled it. The first result took me to a site selling a physical interactive whiteboard, which confused me as most people seemed to be using the tool from their homes. Then I realized that while there is a physical board by that name, it is designed to be used with the online tool – also called Jamboard. Happily, the online tool can be used with any device (you can even download an app for it for mobile devices).

Jamboard is similar to Padlet, where multiple contributors can add text, drawings, and images to one whiteboard on the screen. However, Jamboard is completely free, while Padlet is limited to 3 “padlets” before you have to choose a paid version. If your district uses G-Suite tools, including Google Meet, Jamboard is worth using (check to make sure it has been turned on by your district administrator).

As I’ve been working on some curriculum that includes interactive Slides, I was interested in Jamboard because it is another Google tool, and that it allows for drawing. There is not an easy way to add drawings to Slides, (though it can be done, just not directly on the Slides), so I could see how a teacher may use a Jamboard instead of a Slides presentation for student contributions. You can also add Jams to Google Classroom. One feature missing from Jamboard, though, is being able to access a revision history – which you can do in Slides. If your students decide to have a little unsanctioned fun on the Jamboard, that can make it difficult to identify the culprit.

If you decide that Jamboard might be a good fit for your situation, there are plenty of ideas out there for using it with your students. Here are a few resources:

Stop and Sketch Template for Google Jamboard by Kris Szajner