Coolest Tools of 2010

Time to reflect on some of the coolest tools...

Diversions - A place to go for mentally stimulating diversions
Keep your mind active and use it to master one of many timed quizzes on your favorite topic. An added challenge is in the spelling skills required. Remember, it's Sporcle with a c, not a k.

Fruit Ninja HD
if you need a 2 minute break and have easy access to an iPad, try this app. to experience the joy of slicing fruit and watching it splat. Although it is best played on an iPad, you can also get it for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

ePals / twitter / delicious
It took a long time for me to figure out how to use Twitter, but after publishing a collaborative learning project in ePals and connecting to Twitter through ePals I received 22 inquires about the project in one day and I also found a few people talking about the project in Delicious. Wow, now I get it!

Collaborative Learning Space 
offers a free and simple educator platform with plenty of possibilities for engaging students in virtual work because it includes widgets for easy integration of user-friendly web 2.0 tool.

Primary Communication Tool 
Still Blogger, a quick and easy tool for frequently updating content and maintaining a web presence.
 Best Blogger Gadget: Picture gadget w/link
Publishing Student Work 
VoiceThread and an avatar provide a great way to launch student work so it is live and worldwide.  A bag of avatar resources can be found in my Bag Stream tab.

Staying Organized
EverNote is a well-organized place in the cloud accessible from any computer or Apple mobile device.

Presentation Tool

Prezia nonlinear presentation tool that requires the designer to redefine and construct knowledge in the process of building it. The end product is quite engaging for an audience.

Social Bookmarking Tools 
With so many choices available I've used my favorite tool, Bag the Web, to put together a bag of social bookmarking tools to find the right tool to match your brain.
Check out the Bag Stream tab at the top of this blog for more bags of useful tools.

Muti-Media Tool for Students is still a great and free tool which allows students to create multi-media posters from the resources available on the web. Student account management features make this a very versatile and safe tool.

Research: Create a customized search tool

As educators we are faced with the challenge of teaching students to use the Internet effectively. With so much information available, it's important to bring relevant and reliable resources into the classroom and also to teach our students how to conduct a search. Google offers a cool tool to assist with both tasks.

The Goggle Custom Search Tool allows you to easily build your own search engine customized with content for your grade level or for a particular unit of study. The tool helps you teach students to search for information, but it limits the search to websites you have chosen as appropriate. It can be embed into your own blog, wiki, or site.

Do teach students that the customized search tool only searches websites you have identified, and consider allowing them to build a custom search of their own when teaching them how to evaluate reliable websites.

Try this example, created for finding information about Regions of the United States.


Go to Google Custom Search

Wikis for collaborative learning

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to easily add, remove, and edit content, making it an effective tool for collaborative authoring which allows students to construct knowledge. There's no need for software, all you need is an Internet-connected computer to contribute, which makes a wiki a great tool for the classroom that's open 24/7. Uses in education are abundant. Here are a few examples from our own backyard:

CurateUs: Share Web Content Visually

CurateUs is a tool for visually sharing content on the web. With the click of a button, this cool tool makes it easy to legally take a snapshot of a website, add a sticky note to it, and embed it into your blog along with automatically generated attribution and a backlink to the original site. There's more, CurateUs also lets you quickly grab a quote from the web and publish it along with the attribution and backlink.

Example: Embedded clip w/attribution and backlink

Example: Quotation with annotation and backlink

The only thing that is one to one that we should be concerned with is equitable access to rigorous, relevant, and irresistible learning experiences that reflect and harness the times, environment, and ultimate goals of the learning.
From (share this quote)

Go to CurateUs (formerly known as Clipsy)

Web 2.0 in the Classroom, by Ryan McCallum

Please give it a minute to load, then push play below...

A look at Institute Day

Session Titles & Descriptions-11/20/10

Cool Tools on Institute Day

Driven by NETS-T, Digital Leaders and instructional tech folks have been busy collaborating to prepare sessions designed to help teachers leverage technology to meet district goals and initiatives. Cool Tools will be featured throughout the day. Stay tuned for our wiki, filled with session resources.

Location: Brooks Middle School
Time: 8:00-1:00, no lunch
  • Session 1: Keynote, Burke Hatch
  • Session 2: Breakout session, 80 minutes
  • Session 3: Breakout session, 80 minutes
Online registration is scheduled to open on Tuesday, November 16th. 
Stay tuned to your email for more information.

Cool Tools on Institute Day - Nov. 24, 2010

Click to view larger
Digital Leaders are building a wiki of resources for the sessions we will be offering on Institute Day. The sessions are designed to help teachers and administrators leverage technology to meet district goals and initiatives. Cool Tools will be featured throughout the day. Watch our wiki grow!

Registration opens Nov. 14th

    Wordle and Current Events

    Wordle is a great tool for beginning a discussion about current events. Here is what happened when I wordled election results from the Chicago Tribune, The State Journal-Register, and The Associated Press this morning.

    Awesome Highlighter

    The name says it all. This cool tool allows anyone to highlight text on any web page, add a sticky note, and share the link. It seems like a very useful and friendly tool for teachers and students.

    A bookmarklet can easily be installed to your bookmarks bar as a Firefox add-on to allow for highlighting on the go. If you find something you like when browsing the web, highlight it and get the link with the click of a button.

    Try it for yourself by selecting the highlighted text below.

    Awesome Highlighter

    A Laptop for All Teachers

    A laptop for all teachers is certainly a cool tool.

    In our school district we have adopted a technology plan and declared our committment to 21st Century Learning. In order to provide every teacher with a cost-efficient laptop, we made the switch from Mac to PC.

    Teachers attending Dell Training Sessions throughout the summer were asked What do you like about your new laptop? Here is the response, wordled.

    21st Century Learning and VoiceThread

    Here is a video snippet of how John McCauley uses VoiceThread as a tool for 21st Century Learning.

    More samples of VoiceThread projects in D97 are included in the tabs at the top of this blog.

    A Glimpse of 21st Century Learning

    Here is a snippet of 21st Century Learning, featuring the work of Ashley Kannan, Digital Leader at Julian.

    Some interesting ideas

    BagTheWeb: Online Bookmarking Tool

    BagTheWeb is one of many free online social bookmarking tools that allows users to easily create a collection of web links which are conveniently stored and shared online. This cool tool functions similarly to Delicious, utilizing  an optional bookmarklet to make collecting web links a breeze, but the organization of the links in an online bag is a unique feature that makes this tool quite appealing.

    CrocoDoc: Collaborative Documents

    Crocodoc is a simple, online document sharing tool that provides users with the ability to edit and collaborate on documents without requiring an email address. Stickies and drawing tools are available and they can be applied to several types of files, including PDF files. The ability to password protect an online document is an added bonus that makes this tool potentially useful for teachers, students, and parents.

    Upload a document for collaboration, then share the link via email. It's easy and works well when sharing with others outside of Gmail.

    -Learn more on my website:

    -Try it: Edit CrocoDoc

    Flat Stanley in the 21st Century

    Flat Stanley has been embraced by teachers and students since 1964. Originally a character featured in a Jeff Brown's children's book, Stanley's most appealing trait is that he has the ability to visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope around the world.  

    Kathy Rolfes and Veronica White have found a much more efficient way for Stanley to travel, using  VoiceThread, a Cool Tool often featured here. They have modified Flat Stanley and sent him into a 21st Century learning environment.

    The 21st Century Flat Stanley will not get crinkled or lost in the mail, and he is ready and waiting for students across the globe to discuss, 24/7.

    Please visit the Flat Stanley VoiceThread and then help him move across the globe by passing him along.

    Screencasting Tools

    This is a free online screencasting tool with plenty of handy features. The site itself is a great source of already created tutorials and it's worth checking out. ScreenToaster was very easy to use, and publishing a short screencast was painless. This seems like a wonderful screencasting tool and I will use it again.
    Go to ScreenToaster

    Jing is an old, familiar application that works well and has exciting potential, but it tends to take a long time to load and play. Jing is free, but there is a download required so this is a tool for home use. There is also a more streamlined paid version of JING that is worth checking out. 
    Go to Jing

    At first glance, Screenr seemed like the perfect tool for recording simple video tutorials. Creating a Screener couldn't be easier, but publishing one was a different story. First, Screenr insisted on posting my screencast to Twitter, but then it couldn't quite make the connection. All of the Screenrs I created are somewhere lost in CyberSpace.
    Go to Screener

    This is another screencasting tool that depends on Twitter for publishing, but it also has a nicely displayed collection of already created screencasts.
    Go to ScreenJelly


    WallWisher is a free tool that allows you to create a page of online sticky notes. In addition to text, the notes can include images, links and videos as long as that media is already stored somewhere else online. Create a themed wall, then invite others to add stickies. Just think of all the ways this Cool Tool can be used!

    Web 2.0 Tools for Online Presentation and Resource Sharing

    Nadine Norris, Instructional Technology Coordinator in District 15, always has a lot of useful tools to share. Here are some of the tools she shared at ICE today.
    These tools will be used, reviewed, and discussed on this blog.

    NEO2 for Keyboarding and Writing

    The NEO2 is worth taking a look at for schools looking for cost-efficient machines for keyboarding and writing. This machine is the newest Alphasmart. Here are some great features of the device:
    • text can be enlarged
    • not Internet-connected
    • transfer data wirelessly to computer
    • includes the "Home Row Check" feature within keyboarding program
    • has a feature to wirelessly transfer data to Google Docs
    • Text2Speech add-on device available
    • made out of football helmet material
    The Fusion and the Writer are similar devices and I will try to take them for a test drive at ICE today. 

    Pixie 2 for Learning in D97

    Pixie 2 software is available on our lab machines. Over the past month I've seen some creative teachers use the software to help students learn. The results have been terrific, and teachers and students are enjoying using this Cool Tool for learning.

    Pixie 2 is software made simple. A user can open the program, experiment with familiar drawing/painting tools and create! Stamps right within the program provide opportunities for those of us with limited drawing ability to create and express ourselves visually in spite of it. This opens the door for a world of writing possibilities. The ease of publishing Pixie 2 creations with Google Docs and a blog helps create a 21st Century Learning environment that extends the walls of the classroom and encourages higher quality work that is published for an audience.

    The best way to take a peek is to take a look at a VoiceThread created with samples of the work and comments. You can also view some of the project featured by clicking on the links below.

    A closer look at projects

    Catostrophic Events: Pixie 2 and Google Presentation

    Phyllis Frick's 6th grade science students used Pixie 2 to create slides about catastrophic events. After completing some research, each student created original artwork depicting the event and wrote a one sentence summary about it.

    This was the first time Phyllis and her students used these Cool Tools in the lab, but they were able to create powerful slides in just about one lab session.

    Please view and enjoy the Catastrophic Events SlideShow