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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trading Cards

Constructing a biography is a fairly common school project. I know that, for instance, both the first and second graders at my school have to write a biography for their research project. The Trading Card function from Big Huge Labs might be a way to spice up that report!

The Trading Card function allows students to upload a picture of a person (or animal, I suppose... the website doesn't monitor what you upload), add a title, facts about that person or object, customize the color of the "trading card," and even add a couple of fun icons to the sides.

There are just enough options to keep things interesting, but not so many that it becomes an overwhelming project. 

One of the best parts is that students do NOT have to have an account or e-mail address in order to use this. Another great thing about the Trading Card project is that students can download their project as a .jpg (picture file). From there, you can incorporate it into a a FlipSnack book to share with parents or store in your Dropbox account for easy access later.

Here's an example I made. Mine is over Albert Einstein:

Try the Trading Card feature from Big Huge Labs for yourself by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Map Maker

Big Huge Labs has a lot of cool {and free} tech tools. 

Logo from the Big Huge Labs website
 One of them is called Map Maker.


The idea is that you can display a map of the whole world or a specific part, and then you can place "pins" on the map. From there, you can embed the code on a website or, of course, take a screenshot of it. Here's an example of a map I made:

Places I've Visited
Make yours @
Make yours @

Ideas for Use:
  1. Mark places where students have visited as a "getting to know you" game.
  2. Social studies students can mark a place they're researching. 
  3. Elementary students who are participating in a Flat Stanley project can mark where Stanley has visited.
  4. If your class is connecting to other classes or professionals -- pen pals? Skype chats? -- mark the places your class has reached on the map. 
I'm sure there are more ways to use it in class, but those are just a few to get you started. :) Click here to start making your map. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Drop It To Me

If you don't have a way to receive and store students' files, a paperless classroom might be difficult. There are a variety of services you can use to store and organize documents, but if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am partial to Dropbox. Now there is a service called Drop It To Me that allows Dropbox users to set up a special link where others can upload files directly into your Dropbox folder.

Here's the explanation, as provided by the Drop It To Me website:

To register, just click here. {You'll need a Dropbox account in order to use this service, so if you don't already have one of those, click here to register for a free account.}

If you're curious about what it would look like for your students, click here. {This is my Drop It To Me box, and I have to give students the password in order to send things to me.}

It's nice because students don't need an e-mail address in order to send you things, and it goes straight to your Dropbox folder for easy storage and organization!

Saturday, February 8, 2014


There's a brainstorming app I really like in the iTunes store called Popplet.

I swear I got it for free {probably from Apps Gone Free!}, but the iTunes store is now advertising that it's $5. Bummer. Regardless of the price, it is a fun mind mapping app that the kids and I use in the classroom, so I wanted to share it with you.

Here's a video I made to explain how it works and what to do:

The Popplet company also has a website, and it looks like you can take advantage of that for free. Click here to try it, and have fun creating mind maps!


I love organizing. Because of that, three-ring binders have played a huge part in my life ever since elementary school. Binders were {and still are} a great way to organize tons of paper.

But with the push toward paperless classrooms and storage in the cloud, the traditional three-ring binder is becoming obsolete as we eliminate paper from our lives.

However, we still need a good way to organize files. I've talked before about my love affair with Dropbox {shameless plug: use my referral link to sign up, and we'll both get more free space!} and how much it has helped me store and organize my digital files. But there are times when a prettier visual and more than just file storage is needed. This is where LiveBinders comes in.

Logo from the Live Binder website
How It Works
  1. Create a virtual "binder" via the LiveBinders website. 
  2. Add tabs and subtabs to organize your binder. 
  3. Upload files, import links from around the web, or type directly into the binder. 
  4. Make multiple binders and organize them on virtual shelves for easy access. 
  5. Share your binder(s) with others or keep them private. 
  6. Make copies of others' public binders and edit them to your liking. 
Ways to Use Live Binder in Your Class
  1. Have students create ePortfolios using LiveBinders.
  2. Create a tab for each student in your class. Use subtabs to upload files you would keep on those students -- RtI information, assessments, examples of work, etc. 
  3. Create a "back to school parent binder." Upload all the information you would normally print for "meet the teacher" day at school, and pass out the link, instead. 
  4. Store lesson plans and their corresponding materials online and share them with your team, across the district, and/or with teachers from around the world.
  5. Create a substitute binder where you've pre-loaded information about your classroom procedures, schedule, and even emergency lesson plans. When you're sick, the sub just has to pull up the link to your binder, and you can go back to bed and rest. 
  6. Create a professional portfolio for yourself if you're job hunting.
  7. Create a binder full of common links students will need to visit in a digital classroom. {Here's an example.}
  8. Create a binder full of instructions for accessing classroom websites, navigating classroom digital tools, etc. 
  9. Have students turn in work via LiveBinders -- you just need access to their binder. Then you can grade it and not have to print anything at all. 
  10. Not sure what to do with all the links and files you get from professional development? Upload them to a binder
Here's a binder about how teachers are using this site in their classroom:


Cool Features
  • Go paperless! Stop trying to keep up with pages of paper. Scan things in to your computer and file them away in LiveBinders. It's a three-ring binder for your computer!
  • Add others' public binders to your shelf so you can access their information quickly and easily. 
  • Link to your LiveBinders and/or embed them into your classroom website.
There are even free apps so you can access binders via your tablet or smartphone.
Click here to visit the iTunes store to download this app
Other Helpful Info


Evernote for Education

Everyone has been talking about Evernote for so long, and I really avoided it because I thought I didn't need it.

When I went to CAST 2013 in Houston last November, I realized that my iPad note-taking methods weren't as great as I needed them to be. I took the plunge and started using Evernote out of desperation, and I've been really happy with it ever since.


  1. Access materials on any device connected to the web
  2. iOS apps available 
  3. Create notebooks (and notes within those notebooks) to organize your thoughts
  4. "Tag" or categorize notes (similar to Blogger) for further organization
  5. Search through all your notes with a simple keyword -- enables you to find things quickly once your Evernote account starts filling up
  6. Attach documents to your notes
  7. Import/attach pictures to notes
  8. Create to-do lists inside Evernote and access them from any place with an Internet connection
  9. Format notes for easier reading (font size/color, tables, bullets, dividers, etc.)
  10. Set reminders within your notes
  11. Share notes and/or whole notebooks across social media platforms and/or e-mail
  12. Variety of apps available that work well with Evernote to sync information seamlessly (for instance, use the web clipper component to take an entire article from the web and insert it into one of your notebooks with the URL still in tact) 
  13. Access materials offline and then sync your changes to the cloud once you have an Internet connection again
Ways to Use it in the Classroom
  1. Student portfolios
  2. Anecdotal notes on each student
  3. Document phone calls, assessment scores, RtI plans, conversations with parents, etc. 
  4. Write/store lesson plans
  5. Take conference or meeting notes
  6. Store business cards from important contacts and throw the paper away
  7. Collaborate on documents with a team
Here's a LiveBinder that illustrates more about why Evernote is so amazing {click this link if you have trouble viewing the LiveBinder below}:

Click here to sign up for your free account.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Create a QR Code from an iThing

Do you feel proficient about scanning the code above but are now ready to start making your own? Here's a tutorial.

There are several websites I use to make QR codes from a browser on a laptop or desktop computer, but there are certainly times when I need to create a QR code on the fly from my iThing {iPhone, iPad, or even iPod Touch}. I created a tutorial to show you how I do that with my favorite QR code creating app -- QRReader.

Also included in the video are various ways in which I think you could use these QR codes in your classroom. Please watch the video below for more information, and let me know if you have any questions!