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High-tech Teachers from PETE & C Share their Best Tech Tools

We Celebrate Teachers
Last month we collected some amazing techy ideas from the teachers at the PETE & C. But, before we share these ideas with you, we wanted to tell you about all the incredible, hard-working teachers that we met while at the conference. The Teacher’s Academy was delighted to be able to recognize some of those teachers with well-deserved gifts. amazon winnerCongratulations to Wendy Evans, Jennifer Kling and Rosemary Kennedy – each winners of the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! The Teacher’s Academy also gave away 30 copies of A Tribute to Teachers by Richard Lederer to some very deserving teachers.

The Teacher’s Academy Pays it Forward
Throughout the year we’ve collected gently used books from teachers’ libraries across the state. Our hope was to give these treasures away to teachers needing to expand their libraries. We are happy to report that we were able to find new homes for every single book! Thanks again to all of the great teachers who made this conference super fun and educational for us.

If you did not get a chance to go to the PETE & C this year, no worries! We will bring the BEST of the PETE & C to you! Every year, we are lucky enough to meet hundreds of teachers at this high-tech conference in Hershey, PA. This year, we decided to tap into their techy brains, find out what technologies are actually working in the classroom and share them with teachers across the country. If you stopped by our booth and filled out a card with a cool tech idea, check out your contribution below!

Useful Website Recommendations from Real Teachers

Holy smokes! So many cards had Nearpod listed as one of the best tech tools for the classroom! This tech tool is a simple way to create interactive lessons for your students. Easily grab pictures from your computer, videos from the Internet, or use the activity slides to allow your students to draw or respond to questions. You can create your own interactive lessons or pick from thousands of pre-made standards-based lessons. Sign up for a free 30-day account. I promise it won’t take 30 seconds for you to decide that this is a must have!
Altoona Teacher comment: “I’ve been using Nearpod a lot. The students love it!”

This was the next most popular tech tool that teachers love! Kahoot allows teachers to easily create interactive assessments (Kahoots) for their students. Choose from multiple-choice quizzes, discussion responses and surveys, then add videos or pictures to spice up the assessment. Assign a pin number and any student with a device can log in and play (I mean learn) from anywhere! The fun part is that it is delivered like a game. Students are engaged, learning and having lots of fun!
Paoli Teacher comment: “Kahoot-it! and Discovery Education are indispensable.” Which leads us to our next website…

Discovery education has one of the largest no-cost vaults of current information accessible to teachers. They offer lesson plan ideas, puzzle makers and activities for students of all ages. But, perhaps, most amazing are the virtual field trips. Teachers can virtually take students to places around the world to meet scientists and learn first-hand about animals, environment or the people who share our planet. In just a few clicks, your students can view the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro or swim with sharks! Discovery Education is a fantastic resource for STEM programs or cross-curricular integration.
Harrisburg Teacher comment: “My students love to research ideas using Discovery Education.”

Plickers is an older website, but one that many teachers still find indispensable. This is a cool tech tool for formative assessment. Students hold up “Plickers” cards to answer questions and an app on the teachers’ phone reads their answers instantly. Teachers can then adjust instruction immediately to reach students who need extra help or move on! This tool alleviates guesswork for teachers and prevents embarrassment for students. A fantastic teacher from Prospect Park recommends Plickers!
Scranton Teacher comment: “Great tool for a formative assess & kids think it’s a game.”

Remind (formerly Remind101) is a safe, simple and free way for teachers to chat with students and parents. Teachers can send a last minute update or a quick reminder about events happening at school. Parents and students can alert teachers about being sick or needing extra help. This tech-tool opens the door for lots of communication, without exchanging phone numbers. Thank you to some incredible teachers from Williamsport and Penn Foster for introducing us to this website. (Penn Foster is an online high school where communication is key!)

Are you looking for a complete Physics curriculum or just a few demonstration videos? The Physics Classroom website gives teachers everything they need to create an interactive physics learning environment. This website uses downloadable lessons and game-like, interactive activities to make learning physics fun and easy! It also offers a lab, a teacher tool kit, ACT test info and much more!
As parents and teachers we are always concerned about our children’s health. Teens are of special concern since they tend to be less communicative. Teen Health.org allows teenagers to access good advice from experts when they may not be comfortable asking a parent or a teacher. This free website invites teens to click on interactive buttons to find out about topics like: Meningitis, prescription drug abuse, fighting depression, healthy eating, or helping friends with issues like cutting. It is a fantastic resource to empower teenagers to help each other! And it’s not only for teens… Younger kids can click on interactive buttons to learn about fun topics like the digestive system and why feet stink. There is also a tab for parents with buttons linked to kids’ health topics. These are only a few of the helpful resources available on this website. Please take a few minutes and check it out!
A great idea from a tech savvy-health-conscious teacher in Gettysburg!

“Creativity is essential to particle physics, cosmology, and to mathematics, and to other fields of science, just as it is to its more widely acknowledged beneficiaries – the arts and humanities.” – Lisa Randall
Yes! We absolutely need to make math fun for students and Minecraft can be used for such a purpose. Students can create or destroy bridges, walls, fortresses, hallways, secret rooms, stairs and so much more, using the digital blocks as their materials. As they build and reconstruct, they are learning about height, width, area, perimeter, size and space. They are also thinking about design, structure, architecture and, most likely, other art concepts. Connecting art and mathematics goes back thousands of years. Math concepts come to life with art! Art can be key to making math fun and accessible to students. “Use Minecraft to teach perimeter.” Thank you, awesome teacher from Central Fulton!

Google Slides is a website that we, at the Teacher’s Academy, love so much that we created a course about using it effectively in the classroom. Slides is Google’s answer to MS PowerPoint. It is not as flashy as PowerPoint but it is free and you can attach pictures, video and text in the presentations, just like the Microsoft product. Google also has Docs (similar to MS Word) and Sheets (similar to MS Excel). “Kids can use Google Slides for presentations and short reports.” They sure can! Thanks again, awesome teacher from Central Fulton! Check out our course Google Slides.

Central Fulton is becoming our favorite place! They’ve offered another fantastic recommendation for a great teacher tool – Go Noodle. Go Noodle provides teachers with quick video clips that get students dancing, stretching, running or even winding down. Most importantly, it releases good energy so students can focus in class. These quick “brain breaks” are beneficial to everyone involved, including the teacher. Check out Go Noodle and get your students focused.
“Go Noodle for brain break awesomeness.” Thanks Central Fulton teachers! We think you are all filled with awesomeness!

Want to connect with your students?
Students were eager to tell us their favorite tech websites as well. Here are the top 5:

  • Plickers!– Turns out kids like Plickers just as much as teachers! This app lets kids answer questions anonymously to avoid fear of getting the answer wrong in front of their friends!  Plus, “It’s cool!”
  • Notability– Kids appreciate the new approach to note-taking with the Notability app. Their notes come to life with their handwriting, photos and typing options.
  • ITunes U– This app provides resources for any subject right on the ipod. Teachers can generate lesson plans and deliver them via recommended apps. Students can connect with each other and the entire lesson can be done using just the ipad!
  • Showbie– For the paperless classroom, this app helps teachers and students collaborate, give feedback and grade assignments.
  • Google Expeditions– Google has photographed the world and they are giving it to us- for free! Students can travel to the top of the Himalayas or to the bottom of the oceans. No wonder this is a favorite for students!

Thanks and see you next year!

The PETE & C is a great place to learn about the development of new educational technologies but, it is also the one time of year that we get the chance to thank the fun, energetic teachers making a real difference in education. So, again, thank you for all that you do and make sure you stop by our booth next year!

*Most of our business comes from teachers who have taken a course and shared their experience with other teachers. We really appreciate the honesty, loyalty and excitement that these teachers possess when talking about The Teacher’s Academy. So, please feel free to share our blogs, Facebook posts and links to our website with anyone you feel may benefit from our services. It’s because of all of you wonderful teachers that we are able to provide the great resources that we do! Thank you!!

Top 5 Teacher Recommended Websites for Fall

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The leaves are falling, the air is crisp and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are in the hands of teachers everywhere.  It’s fall, and for teachers it’s the beginning of a new school year.  A time to spruce up the classroom and experiment with new strategies.  Here at The Teacher’s Academy, we’ve been searching the web for new, inspiring ways to help celebrate the fall season in the classroom.  We’ve compiled some tried and true fall ideas from teachers from all over the country who are generous enough to share their ideas for free! Take a moment and check out some of the best ideas from around the web to see if there are any that you can implement in your classroom today.

1.   Pinterest

Of course Pinterest is a go-to site for teachers looking for new (free!) ideas.  At the

Teacher’s Academy Pinterest page, we have an entire board devoted to September ideas!  We’re always in search of new ways to help teach those classroom rules and routines, as well as ways to learn about our new students.  Amy at milkandcookiesblog.com has a great getting-to-know youactivity.  Trace each student’s head for a silhouette, and let them fill the space with all of the things they love.  It’s a great way to find out what your students like, and it’s an activity they’re excited about.  Bonus: it can be used as an art piece to hang for Back to School Night that parents will enjoy too!

2.   Storyit.com

Story It is a website designed to make creative writing easier for students and more convenient for teachers.  One of the many features of Story It are story starters where students can log-on, choose their story starter, and either print or start typing.  Story It offers a few great fall themed story starters.  There is a Thanksgiving story starter where students write about an adventure they have on their way to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner.  Students can get creative, and teachers have access to themed story starters any time of the year.

3.   InstructionalTechTalk.com

If you are using Google Apps for Education in your classroom, the folks at Instrumental Tech Talk have put together a step-by-step guide for Getting Started with Google

Classroom.  The easy to follow instructions will walk you through how to set up GAFE for you GAFE newbies.  If you’ve been hesitant to explore all of the features of GAFE, the experts at Instructional Tech Talk will give you the confidence you need to get started.   Interested in learning more about all of the features Google Apps for Education offer?  Check out one of our Google for Educators courses and discover all the ways GAFE can streamline your administrative responsibilities.

4.   LemonLimeAdvenures.com

Because STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is one of the hot educational topics right now, teachers are always on the lookout for affordable, exciting STEM projects.  Lemon Lime Adventures has a great fall STEM project that can be used in just

about any elementary classroom – and it only requires two materials!  Just provide your students with candy sugar pumpkins and toothpicks and instruct them to build a tower or object.  Students can make them as complex or straightforward as they want.  Students will love the freedom they have while learning basic principles of engineering and building.

5.   Bitstrips.com

This app allows you to create comics using an avatar of your own design.  Students will love creating their own avatars and customizing comics for presentations, e-chats or just for fun.   Teachers can also get in on the fun by creating avatars and comics to use in their own presentations.  Even better, it’s free!  Warning: you may find yourself investing more time than you planned creating your avatar and comics, as I learned while researching this app. If you’re interested in learning more about BitStrip, StoryIt, or other great educational websites, check out our course at The Teacher’s Academy – Website Review for Teachers 2015.  Here you can learn about great websites and get professional development credits while doing it!

Hopefully these websites will ease your transition into fall and the new school year.  Check us out at The Teacher’s Academy for all of your professional development needs!

5 Ways Google Apps for Education Increases Productivity in the Classroom

Google Apps for Education (or as the “Tech Teachers” commonly say, GAFE) is used by

over 40 million students and teachers around the world.  GAFE is a service that Google provides as an alternative to traditional office suites.  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides perform similarly to traditional word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.  However, because GAFE is web based, it offers more flexibility and mobility.  The main difference between Google’s Apps and say, the Microsoft® Office Suite, is the primary focus on peer to peer and teacher to student collaboration. Google’s online platform may seem a little “leaner” than the full Microsoft options (you can’t add reflections, shadows, bevels and several other cool formatting features), but what it lacks in tools, it makes up for in online accessibility. Schools venturing into Flipped Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiated Instruction models will love how GAFE projects can be created and accessed from anywhere in the world (that has an Internet connection).

Twenty-first Century Teachers:  Google’s suite is for you!  Before you take the plunge, want to know what other teachers are saying about Google Apps in their classrooms? Read on. Below are five ways you can use GAFE to enhance your teaching tool belt.

  1. Google Classroom- Google Classroom is an app that is free for those with a GAFE account.  It allows students to access assignments and collaborate with their peersand teachers.  For example, if you’re teaching a unit on the water cycle, you may post a video which offers further explanation or an article that might pose a controversial idea about water conservation.  This forum allows students to comment and pose questions to each other. Classroom also helps the teacher generate, administer and even grade tests or other objective- based assignments. (Wait. GAFE can grade tests?) Yes. It can!
  2. Real Time Feedback- One of the many benefits of Google Docs is that it allows more than one user to collaborate on a document at any time.  It can also track whois using the document and identify who is making the changes.  Teachers can use this function to offer feedback in the rough draft phase.  For example, a teacher may instruct a student to “explain this further” or “omit this” by just accessing the document, highlighting information, and making notes in the comment section.  Students don’t need to print their rough drafts, and teachers can simply access the documents from any computer at any time.
  3. Google Play- This online media resource is aimed at providing teachers with arichcatalog of learning content to enhance their lessons.  Teachers can search bycategory, grade level, or recommendations from other educators. Google has partnered with educational outlets such as PBS and NASA to provide educational rich material.  Each piece of content is pre-approved for school-appropriateness, so teachers can present with confidence!
  4. Challenge your Students- We all wish we had extra instructional time to provide more problem-solving opportunities and real-world experiences for students outside of the curriculum.  But between the demands of standardized testing and new Common Core Standards, teachers are left with very little time.  GAFE offers programs such as Made with Code, Doodle 4 Google, and Google Science Fair that students can access in their free time and work on at their own pace to engage in learning they may be passionate about.
  5. Virtual Field Trips with Google Maps– Though not limited to Google for Education subscribers, Google Maps is an often over-looked resource for exploring the Earth.Google Maps allows users to see the “street view” of major historical sites.  Studying the Himalayas?  Google Maps allows users to take an interactive trek through Khumbu, Nepal and even hear folklore and stories from the locals.  Be sure to check out Google’s underwater adventures as well. Google has ventured into the depths of the oceans and started mapping the sea floor. All from the comfort of your laptop!

Still not convinced? Do you want more information on the Google Application Suite? The Teacher’s Academy recently launched the Google Apps Suite courses for professional development. For the most convenient and affordable professional development, you can learn the basics of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. We have a whole array of technology courses that are ready for your 21st century classroom.

Google Suite for Educators Professional Development Courses

Hello Teachers!  Act 48 Academy and The Teacher’s Academy are proud to present their latest edition of courses: Google Docs for Educators, Google Sheets for Educators and Google Slides for Educators.   So many teachers across the nation have taken advantage of the ease and cost efficiency of the Google Drive that we have gotten many requests to create courses to compliment this great educational tool.  Thanks to our teacher friends in Oregon, Texas, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, we now offer three (3) 15 hour Google Apps courses.  Of course, we’ve created these courses to be relevant for all of our teachers and effective in any classroom across America!

Continue Reading Google Suite for Educators Professional Development Courses