Monday, December 17, 2012

Tech Tips: XtraMath

Tech Tips
Issue 8

This Tech Tip will look at a fantastic web site for basic math facts. is similar to Rocket Math without all the copies and teacher scoring, and it generates detailed reports for teachers, students, and parents.  Best of all…it is FREE!   This is a great tool for practicing and recording basic math facts in the classroom.

What Are the Benefits of Xtramath?

Overview: is a great site to practice basic math facts.  It is similar to Roocket Math but can be done on the classroom computers or iPads and manages student progress for teachers and parents.  This is a free service that coud easily replace Rocket Math in the classroom for daily/weekly math facts practice.  Check out the overvew at

Student Activities:  The way Xtramath is set up is very student centered.  Students can access the site on a classroom computer or iPad and practice basic math facts.  The program continues from where they left off or what facts a student may need to study.  It allows an easy classroom management proceedure for sharing limited classroom computers (or iPads).  For more details check out the video at to see how XtraMath does this.

For Parents:  Parents are even able to access their child’s progress through XtraMath.  They can receive detailed reports in their email inbox if they choose or log in to the site to view their child’s progress.  This is a great way to keep parents up to date with their child’s basic math facts skills.

Progress Reports: XtraMath does all the work for teachers!  When students progress through basic facts, the program generates detailed reports for staff.  There is no more need for teachers to grade all the practice sheets, record student progress, and progress students though a system of paperwork to proactice the needed facts.  XtraMath does all this for you with easy to read graphs, charts, and fact grids that show student progress.  Check out what the reports look like at

Visit XtraMath to get started:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tech Tips: Tagxedo

Tech Tips
Issue 7

This Tech Tip will look at  If you have ever used Wordle you will love Tagxedo.  It has all the same options as Wordle, but it offers even more tricks and ways to display text!  

This is a great site to make Wordle type pictures with an added twist.  You can make the words themselves form shapes.  If you have ever used Wordle for this you know that the limitations were always that it made a rectangle shape image.  With Tagxedo the text itself can create a picture.  Below is this week’s Tech Tips in the shape of a handprint. 

There are many uses for Tagxedo.  Any time you create a Wordle, you could use Tagxedo.  I used Wordle each time I made student groups.  They would make one to illustrate what they have in common to create a cohesive group.  I also had students copy any Google Document they were working on just before they claimed they were done.  They would look to see if words like “very”, “good”, “then” and so on were used too much.  The larger the word, the nore often it was in the writing.  This helped students to identify repetitive words and use Word Choice better.   Below is my class policies handout in the form of the GL logo.

Tagxedo can be used any time you might have normally used Wordle.

Visit Tagxedo to get started:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tech Tips: AppsGoneFree

Tech Tips
Issue 6

This Tech Tip will look at an app that is worth much more than it costs (FREE).  Find great high quality paid apps for free each day. Go to the App store on your iPad to download.

iTunes Store Description:

Find great apps without spending a dime! Get high quality paid apps for free each day. Unlike other apps, we offer no paid listings - these are expert-picked top-ranked apps, for FREE! 

Every day hundreds of apps reduce their price to free for a limited time to try to stimulate excitement. AppsGoneFree finds ONLY the apps worth owning:

* Our app experts personally handpick ONLY the best apps. If it's on the list, it's worth owning. 

* These same experts write a quick summary to tell you about the app, and why you need it (or if you don't).  Not PR, honest personal advice.

* We filter out the junk. Don't waste your time looking at all the free apps generated by robots, scouring through them to find something worth downloading, let us do the work for you. 
* It's an honest to goodness human-curated list of the best free apps each day (about 5-10 each day). 

There are dozens of apps that provide long tedious lists of every single app that ever goes free or short lists of apps that paid a lot of money to be included.  But only AppsGoneFree gives you authored, handpicked recommendations from an app expert of apps that belong on your device.

Being part of the very large AppsGoneFeee community has its perks.  Collectively, you have the power to convince apps to go free.  With AppBump, simply nominate great apps that are not getting the attention they deserve because the price tag is standing in the way.

We'll approach the developers of these apps, and let them know we have a community of users who will all try their app if they go free for just a single day.  So it's your way to give back to the community, by sharing great paid apps with each other and getting them free.  Remember to nominate every paid app you love, and when you see a bumped app, give it a shot!  Our community vouched for it, and the developer did it just for us! =)
Visit the App Store to get started:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tech Tips: Teachers Pay Teachers

Tech Tips

Issue 5

This Tech Tip will look at a great online resource:  Teachers Pay Teachers.  This is a site to find teacher created resources for novel studies, activities, calendars, workbooks, and a million other useful documents for your classroom. 

This is a great place to find useful documents for your classroom at very low prices.  Best of all, they are created by teachers just like you!. 

What is Teachers Pay Teachers?
Teachers Pay Teachersis an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original downloadable educational materials, hard goods and used educational resources.  There are units of study for nearly anything (novels, sciece units, Common Core, assessments, behavior, and WAY more!).  The site is searchable by grade level and subjetc to make it easy to find the perfect resource you need.

So…What Does all this Cost?
As of the writing of this Tech Tip there are 59,692 free resources available for download.  Most other resources are very resonalbley priced and very usefull.  I have purchased a few things from the site over the last couple years (a few quizees, units for novel studies, and class management ideas).  Also, each week they send an email with a link to the 10 free downloads.  I have downloaded many of the free resources and shared with other teachers.  What a deal!

Money Maker for You?
Teachers Pay Teachers is not just for you buying resources; it also allows you to seel what you have already created.  Here is your chance to make a little money for the work you ave already done.  All you need to do is upload created documents and price them.  If you have something good, others will buy it.  Sign up and give it a try!

Visit Teachers Pay Teachers to get started:

Create your account today to start downloading and selling! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tech Tips: Socrative

Tech Tips
Issue 4 

This Tech Tip will look into a time saving assessment tool.  Socrative is a great way to engage your students while assessing their learning.  It can be used in many ways: formal assessments, quick formative assessments, or even voting for items.  This is available on the computer as well as the iPads or any device with Internet access. 

What is Socrative?
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

Engage Students!
Socrative is an alternative to paper pencil testing.  Students are engaged while taking a student paced or teacher based assessment.  They are interacting with the ipad (or computer) and can see their progress (if you turn on this setting) as the assessment is taken.

Quick Overview:
Teachers and students can use Socrative on any device with a web browser (tablets, smartphones, laptops, iPod Touches, etc.).

1.        Teachers login at by entering their email and password.
2.       Students login at (or the iPad app) by entering the "virtual room number" provided by the teacher. Students will then see "Waiting for teacher to start an activity...".
3.      Teachers initiate an activity (e.g. Multiple Choice, T/F, Quick Quiz).
4.       Students respond on their devices.
5.      Students' results are visible on the Teacher's screen or sent in an email.

What Are the Benefits of Socrative?

For Teachers: This is a very easy tool to assess learning.  The program grades students’ responses and gives the teacher an individualized score.  Also, if teachers work with other teachers they can share created quizzes (as easy as sharing a number on the grade level Google Doc I shared with grades 1-5) and have access to many other quizzes.  Through this collaboration many assessments can be used without having each teacher creating their own.

For Students: Students are often more engaged with technology.  They can see in real-time how they are doing and there is istant turn-around in grading.
Create an account and get started:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tech Tips: Dropbox

Tech Tips
Issue 3

This Tech Tip is one my all time favorite add-ons to any computer, phone, tablet, or iPad.  Dropbox is perhaps the most used application by many teachers including myself.  It replaces your “Documents” on your computer and allows syncing to any device.  I have not used a flash/usb drive in over 2 years since I started using Dropbox.   This is a great for working on files at school, home, and anywhere.  Best of all it is FREE and easy to use!  

Works On Your PC/Mac or iPad
All you have to do is download a program to your computer (and any device you want to sync files with) and log into or create an account.  You will then put all your documents that you usually store in your Documents folder into your newly created Dropbox folder located on your desktop.  This will now be your saving location for all files.

Instantly Sync Files
When you install and log into Dropbox on another computer all the files will automatically sync. In other words, whatever is in your Dropbox folder at home will also be in your Dropbox folder at school, on your laptop, or any other computer you have Dropbox installed (I sync 4 computers, 1 phone, 1 tablet, and my iPad).  Every change I make to a file at school will also be made on the documents on the other devices.

What Does This Mean For You?
As teachers we all work at school and home.  If you are like I was before Dropbox you have a flash/usb drive that you work off of or are constantly emailing files from home to school to work on.  With Dropbox here is how simple life is.  Let’s say you start a newsletter at school and realize there is no way to finish it.  You close out like normal and shut down your computer.  You drive home and turn on your home computer.  You open your Dropbox folder and there is the newsletter you started.  You finish from where you left off and save it as normal.  The next day at school you open the Dropbox folder on your school computer and “ta-da” there is the finished newsletter all ready to print.  In addition to the convenience of auto syncing and accessing files from anywhere, Dropbox acts as a web based back up location.  You can also set up “shared Grade Level Folders” to work as teams. 

With the free account you get 2 GB of free storage, but you will get more if accepting referrals and giving referrals.  Get a referral from me or another Dropbox user and get an additional 500 MB of free space!

If you are interested in using Dropbox, let me know and I will help you with the set up/install.

As always, if you have any questions or need help, feel free to stop by, call, or email me.  I am here to help you!

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