Flocabulary (Hip Hop Videos for the Classroom)

Have you heard of Flocabulary? It’s a website that does hip hop songs to help students remember certain facts. It started with SAT vocab, but has expanded to all levels and subjects. To have access to all the videos/songs you need to pay a fee, but a few are free…including the one for Egypt, which you can watch here.

Note the lyrics below the song (they are clickable) and the resources to go with it on the right hand side of the page. I will warn you…you will be singing the chorus to this in your head all day after you hear it, or at least I did! :)

There are other free videos too worth checking out on the site, including Confessions of a Planet (Space), On Trial! (Test Taking Vocabulary), Let Freedom Ring (Civil Rights), This Ain’t Working (American Revolution), Place Value, Scientific Method of Madness, and more!  There is a vocabulary section broken down by grade level and tons of other great videos in the paid version. You can also download songs in iTunes (for $.99 each).  Take a look (and listen).  I think you will love these!


QR Craze

You’ve seen them, right?  On the corners of mailings, on the windows of businesses, maybe even on the tags of things you buy.  You may have even used them…used your phone to scan one and get coupons or reviews for a business or more info on a product.  But did you know they are being used like crazy in classrooms?

Here’s one of my favorite videos about the use of QR codes in the classroom.

And here’s one based more for elementary school:

So basically to use QR codes, you need the following things:

  • QR Code Generator (usually a website that will easily make the code for you)
  • A device with a camera to read it(iPod touch, iPad, cell phone, or computer with webcam)
  • QR Code Reader (which you download to the device with a camera

Want to create a QR code?  It’s easy…your students can even do this!

Here’s a few QR Code generators:

Here a few QR Code Readers:

And here are some cool links to use them:

And here are some ideas for using QR Codes in the classroom:




Newspapers in Education (Roanoke Times)

If you teach in the Roanoke Valley, you have access to Newspapers in Education. If you’ve used this service in the past, chances are you received paper copies of the Roanoke Times delivered to your classroom each day, for FREE. Now the service has improved even more…the Roanoke Times can now be viewed in a digital form, online, for FREE. It’s available for use in the computer lab, on your laptop, on your activboard, and even at home. And students can access too! It looks exactly like the paper version, but since it’s digital, it’s even better.


Electronic Edition of NIE

With the digital version you can

  • search for specific things using a search box
  • email or print articles with both text and pictures
  • get inserts from any area in the county
  • see past issues of the paper (up to a month)
  • highlight certain sections, scan headlines, flip through pages
  • And yes, you can get the coupons!! 
Article Options

Article Options

Back Issues
Back Issues

I can see this tool being used by students of all ages.  Students can use pictures as writing prompts, find and highlight certain words, view articles about their community, or use the coupons for math lessons.  The weather section is great for all sorts of science and math activites, and  older students can print or email specific artilces to their teachers along with their reactions or summaries. 

In Roanoke County, we’ve set up accounts for our elementary schools to use.  Just visit  Newspapers in Education (nie.roanoke.com).  Please see your ITRT for the student login/password (hint: it’s the same student login/password as the computers in our school).  If you work for another division in the Roanoke Valley, or want your own teacher account, just enroll!  You can also contact Trent Currin at 540-981-3286 or email her at  Trent.Currin@roanoke.com.

iPod Apps for Grades 3-8 (NCTIES)

iPod_TouchAs a way to foster sharing within our division, those of us that have the opportunity to attend conferences are asked to share the things we learned while we were there. Recently, some of the elementary ITRTs had the chance to attend the NCTIES conference in NC, and we learned a lot. iPod Apps is one of the areas that was talked in many sessions. I’m going to share about a session I attended that addressed ideas for grades 3-8 in a very creative way. Craig Lawson and Lucas Gillispie presented at this session, and shared materials on the iPod Games for Learning Wiki.

One of the things that most interested me about this presentation was the fact that Craig is using ipod GAMES in his classroom to foster writing skills.  Not just the drill and practice games that are available on the iPod Touch, but simulation games.  He described three:  SIMS 3, Civilization Revolution, and Spore: Orgins.  He used these games to create cross-curricular writing units in which students learned about civilizations, diseases, characterization, plot, and more.  What a great use of apps!  You can view lesson plans and activity rubrics by visiting the page devoted to each of these apps.  Here’s a quick summary from the wiki:

Sims  3 Information — In this game, the player creates a virtual person, or SIM, and then helps that person live out their virtual life.  Your SIM can get a job, has hobbies, and even personality quirks that emerge when interacting with other SIMS.  The wiki includes lessons on understanding the character element of fiction, character traits, point-of-view, and plot.

Civilization Revolution Information — Players assume the role of a historic leader and lead their civilization from very primitive early stages to the modern age.  While doing so, they will engage in diplomacy with neighboring cultures, develop science and technology, monitor their economy and culture, and engage in warfare with other civilizations.  The wiki includes ideas for having students assume the role of a different historical leader and play with the same motivations that lead had (or is thought to have had).

Spore: Orgins Information — In this game, the player begins as a basic aquatic life form and develops adaptations that increase its survivability.  The students’ custom-designed creature might have extra eyes or powerful mandibles for eating smaller organisms. In the lesson, students develop a basic understanding of diseases and microbes and write, figuratively from their microbe’s point-of-view.

Craig and Lucas also suggested a few other apps that they have been using with students:

  • Dictionary
  • Math Drills (kids will actually want to drill–differentiates)
  • gflash (flashcards from google docs)
  • Madlibs
  • New York Times (social studies)
  • Today in history
  • Pocket constitution
  • Wipeboard (collaborate tool—connect to other ipodtouches in the room)
  • Phonics junior 
  • Sketches
  • Word Foo
  • Strip Designer

They also described an online training model in which teachers enroll in a year-long app class using Moodle.  They are introduced to a new app a week.  I love this idea!

You may also want to check out Craig’s blog Lawson In The Middle or Lucas’s blogs Edurealms.com and PCS-Tech.net.  After seeing their presentation, I sure have.  Their ideas were great!

Wall Wisher

Wall Wisher is a website that allows you to create a virtual wall where “sticky notes” can be added on any topic.  Here’s an example of a Snow Day Wall (feel free to add your own ideas)!  It’s very simple to make and add to a wall, and you can moderate everything that appears on it (making it safe to use with your students).


Make Your Own Wall

Step 1: visit the Wallwisher website.


Step 2:  Create a URL for your wall, and choose your preferences.  Make sure to check the box that says “I want to approve every post before it shows up on the wall” if you want to manage posts.


Step 3: Choose a theme for your wall.


Step 4: Choose a picture for the top of your wall, as well as the title and subtitle that will appear at the top.


Step 5: Enter your name and email address (use a real one because this is how you will receive a password to login and manage your posts)


Step 6:  Click done.  Your wall is now ready!

Post on a Wall

Step 1:  Double click anywhere and type your comment.  It can only be 140 characters long, but you can link to pictures or videos on the internet.


Step 2: To manage your posts, log in to the site.


Step 3: Click approve on posts for them to appear.

Other Options


To change your password, Build a New Wall, or View all your walls, click on Me > My Home.

Classroom Use

There’s a ton of ways this can be used in a classroom!

  • Use for KWL charts–have students post stickies about what they know, what they want to know, or what they have learned about a topic.
  • Gather data on a topic (especially great if you want to collaborate with another classroom).
  • Writing sentences (pick a topic, like What I want for Christmas and have students post).
  • Answering questions.  Writing Questions.
  • Birthday, Get Well, or Special Holiday Wall.
  • Facts on a topic.
  • If you have a class blog, you can embed the Wall write on the blog (just like I did above).
  • Post links for students to visit.
  • Link to pictures and videos on a topic
  • Vocabulary–post a word and have students make sentences using that word.
  • Field Trip–have students post what they’ve learned or their favorite parts.
  • Gather strategies for solving a problem.
  • Respond to a novel.
  • Book Reviews.
  • Veteran Honor Wall, Going Green Pledges, Red Ribbon Pledges, etc.

For more ideas, visit Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways to Use Wallwisher in the classroom.

Interesting Ways to Use your Pocket Video Camera

I’m getting ready to attend a Teacher Training Institute where teachers will received their own pocket Flip Video Camera. I thought it might be nice to share some of the great ways they can use it. Tom Barrett’s collection of ideas might be a great start! If you have any other ideas, please comment below or send the to Tom….or better yet…do both! :)

Projects, Projects, Projects

This article is a follow up to yesterday’s inservice at Clearbrook.  We discussed Global Projects, Using Skype, Wiki Ideas, and Geocaching and Geobugs.  Wow, that was a lot of stuff!
Shelia Terry from Virginia Beach was able to skype with us and talk a little about her use with Skype with her students there.  She gave us some great information about skype, and send us a link to more Skype info on her wiki!    

We also talked a lot about some existing global projects you can join. 
One of the project places I highlighted was the site by Jen Wagner.  I love her projects!!
The other project I mentioned by name was the skype project called Mission 00 Rain about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  I remember that a few of you were interested in it as well.  It’s for grades 1-3, but you need to register by Oct. 10! 
Finally, we did some geocaching and talked about geobugs.  In case you all are interested in geocaching for fun, the geocaching site is www.geocaching.com.  You can create an account for free, and download the locations of caches to many types of gps units.  The newer ones for cars will even let you do this.  It’s tons of fun, and they are EVERYWHERE…so it’s also great for family trips or vacations. 
If you and your class want to track the Big Lick Geobug, here’s it’s story.
Finally, an Oliver K. Woodman Geobug will be leaving Roanoke in the next few weeks.  He’s heading to Redcrest, California.  If you’ve read the book, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman, you’ll know why!  Let me know if you want me to come to your class, show a geobug, and get your started following him too.  :)