Category Archives: Teaching Tools

BrainPop’s GameUp

Many educators already know about BrainPop, a subscription site that offers animated videos on a variety of educational topics.  It includes quizzes and downloadable handouts, as well as ideas for lessons.  BrainPop is also available as a free app for iOS.  For free, one can watch select videos.  Recently, BrainPop also made their subscription videos available with this app, so you can log in to that as well on your iDevice.  The new feature some of you may not know about, however, is “Game Up“, which is the BrainPop games area.  Partnering with a few other websites, BrainPop is continuing to add interactive games which tie in to their videos.  They are also offering resources for students and teachers to develop their own games.

Mini Motivation

I’m not sure to whom I should attribute this site, but Mini Motivation is a handy tool for posting inspiring quotes during down times on your projector screen.  Every time you hit refresh, a new quote comes up.  It might be a good activity for high level students to research the quote’s author, explain the quote in his or her own words, find a way to relate it to the current curriculum, explain his or her own opinion, or even illustrate the quote.

Talking Tom and Ben News for iPad

You are probably familiar with the “Talking” apps.  There are a variety that are available for free, and work on iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.  This particular one is only compatible with the iPad at the moment, and is free (though there is an offer for an in-app purchase).  My Multimedia club students had fun playing around with the app to deliver some Thanksgiving Jokes on our school news, which is a video broadcast.  They recorded the jokes, then sent them to the computer, where, once the MOV file was converted to WMV (with a little help from Zamzar), we were able to add music and subtitles.  If you are not crazy about all of those complicated steps, don’t worry.  You can just record and e-mail it.  We have not had a chance to use one of the coolest features of this app, which allows you to insert a video from your iPad on which Tom and Ben can comment.  This offers a lot of learning opportunities in which students can explain some of their own homemade videos.  (Example:  Imagine, “This just in – Allison figured out how to solve 13 times 14!”)

Here is a sample of our jokes from our video club:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stump the Professor

“Stump the Professor” is one of several free downloads available from The Positive Engagement Project, a site that “is equipped with a variety of tools for teachers to get their students positively engaged in active learning.”  The free downloads are all thorough activity packets designed to help with engaging students.  Each packet that I reviewed included explanations, examples, and templates.  “Stump the Professor” detailed a review game in which students design the questions.  Another one that I liked was “True and False – Three Points of Proof”.  In this activity, the students are given the answers to questions from reading passages, and then must prove why the answers are correct and the other alternatives are not.  Teachers can also find activities for math and character education on the site.

Reteach and Enrich

This video, hosted by Edutopia, offers an interesting model for differentiating for students in mathematics – giving the ones who need extra help the opportunity for more time to learn while the students who have mastered a concept can go deeper.  This is a fascinating alternative to the “Intervention Time” that many schools have been implementing.  With this method, all students have their needs addressed, instead of just the ones who need additional practice.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Scholastic’s The First Thanksgiving

Give your students a virtual field trip to the First Thanksgiving by visiting this in-depth resource from Scholastic.  Students can read letters from pilgrims, view videos with “Miles Standish” and other pilgrims, and take a field trip to Plimouth.  There are lots of resources and free printables for teachers as well.  This is a great way for the students to immerse themselves in history instead of relying on social studies textbooks.

Geography Awareness Week

Next week, November 13-19, is Geography Awareness Week.  I think we can all agree that we could stand to brush up on our geography skills.  This site, produced by National Geographic, has some great activities for doing that.  You can print out a booklet of “missions”, or go to the online version.  The wording in the booklet is fun, and the missions are very creative.  For example, one mission is titled, “Alien Invasion”, in which the student is tasked to “Photograph evidence of where a non-native plant or animal has invaded a local ecosystem. Produce a ‘spotter’s guide’ to these invasive species.”  Many of the missions would make great activities any time of the year, so don’t feel restricted to squeezing all of your geography education into one week!