Tech Tips Tuesday ... NORAD Tracks Santa!

Did you know that Norad tracks Santa each year?
Check out this exclusive video of Santa's trip in 2010.

Norad Tracks Santa is a fun holiday site you won't want to miss. You can find:

Hope you have a great last week before the break and a very Merry Christmas!


Tech Tip Tuesday ... Pinterest!

Today's post is so exciting that it should probably come with strongly worded warning about possible probable addiction issues!

You may have already heard about Pinterest. If not ...
where you have you been? 

Anyway ... I think of Pinterest as a virtual bulletin board where you can "pin" things (images) that "interest" you. Pinboards help you gather and organize all kinds of fantastical ideas. The BEST thing about Pinterest is that these pins link back to the original source. That means you don't have to keep track of those website URLs anymore - just click on your pin and it will take you to all of the information!

I will admit that the first several months that I've been "pinning", I have focused on craft projects, recipes, decorating ideas, funny sayings, and more. Unfortunately, I have run across a few inappropriate pins too, so I wouldn't necessarily use this with students. Recently though, there has been a growing number of educational pins on Pinterest which makes it the perfect place to get classroom ideas, teaching resources, and more.

I've created a new professional Pinterest account that is set up with boards including General Classroom Ideas, Classroom Management, Techtastic Project Ideas, and Blogtastic! (which currently has pins for 30+ educational blogs). You can find and follow my professional Pinterest page at pinterest.com/tuckertech.

Because I knew I would be sharing this on the blog, I created a professional account. If you already have a Pinterest account, I don't think it's necessary for you to create a new account. You can just create new pinboards for your classroom ideas. In fact, you probably already have!

You do not need an account to look around and gather ideas. You will only need an account if you want to create your own pinboards and start pinning ideas. If you are interested in creating an account, you can "Request an Invite" on Pinterest or just ask an existing Pinterest user to invite you. I'll be happy to invite you - just send me your email address. You will need a Facebook or Twitter account when you sign up.

Here are a few of my favorite Educational Pinners/Pinboards:
http://pinterest.com/sciencestuff/ - really good MS & HS science ideas and links!

Please leave your pinterest link (or others) in a comment below if you've got Educational resources to share. I'm looking forward to following some of you!

Santa Fun

Do you want PROOF that Santa visited your home or classroom? Check out these fun sites where you can create photos or videos. Neither of these options are free, but they seem fairly reasonable to me!

Capture the Magic
In just three easy steps (and $9.95), you can have 3 high-quality photos of Santa in your own home or classroom! Just upload photos of your home or classroom, select a Santa (they've got LOTS of poses - surely you can find one just right!), and the site will merge the image and you can download your photos. Check out these samples:

Merry Christmas Santa Video

This one is similar in that it uses images you supply, but it actually uses green-screen technology to impose video images of Santa in your own home or classroom for $14.95. Once you're finished, you will receive a streaming video link online or you can download a high quality copy to burn to a DVD, edit, or even add to YouTube! Be sure to check out the short and informative video explaining how easy it is to create a Santa video in your own home or classroom!

I have not personally used either of these two sites, but they look fun to me and have lots of positive reviews. If you use them, I would love to hear how you liked them. More importantly, what did your kids think???


Tech Tip Tuesday ... I LOVE PDF!

I Love PDF is a quick and easy way to merge multiple PDF documents into one or split an existing PDF into sections.

Merging PDFs
You can merge up to 10 PDF documents into one by clicking the Merge PDF link, selecting the documents (from your computer), and clicking the Merge PDF button. When it's finished, you can download the and rename the new document.

Splitting PDFs
Do you have one large PDF file that you'd like to split into smaller separate files? Just click the Split PDF link, select the original PDF, identify the page ranges for the new documents, then click the Split PDF button. When it's completed, you can download a zipped folder with all of the individual files.


Tech Tip Tuesday ... The Wild Classroom

If you teach science, you should definitely check out The Wild Classroom. This non-profit organization based in Washington state is providing exciting, quality videos that explore a variety of science and biology concepts. Each of their episodes have lesson plans and useful links that can be used with our students.

The videos are exciting, entertaining, AND educational. What more could you want?  

What is Biodiversity?
is one of their popular videos. Take a look ... what do you think?

Be sure to check out some of their other popular topics ... Alpine Tundra, Rainforests, Z is for Zebra, and World's Deadliest Snakes (okay, maybe I'll skip that one!).

Don't miss the interactive Biomes of the World map. Click on a biome for more information, informative videos, and links to scientist profiles, travel information, lesson plans, and species profiles for each region.


Thanksgiving Resources (repost)

Looking for Thanksgiving resources for your students this year? Click here to check out my blog post from last year - all of the links still work and it's still great information!

Tech Tip Tuesday ... Triptico Toolkit

Oh wow ... I feel like I kinda hit the jackpot when my coworker, Lisa, shared this resource with me. If you've been looking for ways to jazz up your lessons or increase student participation and enthusiasm, you will love the Triptico IWB Toolkit!  (IWB stands for Interactive White Board, but you can use these resources whether you have interactive devices or not in your classroom!)

David Riley (of Triptico) created this amazing desktop application that currently contains 22 different interactive resources. Each of the resources are easy to personalize for your class(es).

Click here or on the image above to go to Triptico and click the Download Now link. (That was easy!) After the installation is complete, you are ready to go!

Once it's running, use the scroll bar across the bottom to move back and forth between the 22 available applications. Double-click on the one you want to try. It will open in a new window and it's ready to go!

Here's a look at the activities that are currently available ...

What do you think? 

Tech Tip Tuesday ... GAMEUP (from BrainPOP!)

If you're anything like me, BrainPOP is already one of your favorite educational resources. I started hearing rumors (and then even confirmed rumors) last year that BrainPOP was working on something new ... GAMES!

Each game (I used to make my kids call  them "educational activities" so it didn't sound like we were having TOO MUCH fun in class!) ties directly into curriculum. There are also links with each of the games to other BrainPOP resources about the subject matter. Since we are lucky enough to have a district subscription for our K-8th graders, all of the suggested videos will be accessible with the click of the mouse!

GameUp has categorized the games into Science, Math, Social Studies, and Health right now. There are even a few student-made games available on the site. These games look like they're most appropriate for our older elementary and middle school students.

For our younger kiddos, be sure to check out the BrainPOP Jr Games site. There are already more than 225 games that fall into Science, Health, Reading & Writing, Social Studies, Math, and Arts & Technology.

Check out this sequencing game about email.

After I drag the pictures to the correct order, Mobi gives me a "thumbs up" and then gives me the opportunity to play again or learn more. By clicking Learn More, I go right to the BrainPOP Jr. E-mail video and all of the other tools that go with it.

I'm excited to see how much our students enjoy BrainPOP's newest feature, GAMEUP! Let me know what you think. =)


Tech Tip Tuesday ... Story Starters

Looking for fun ways to get your students excited about journaling? Let them "help" come up with a story starter! Scholastic (one of my FAVES!) has an interactive Story Starter that might just be what you need!
Let one of your students enter their name, pick the grade level, then spin the wheels to come up with the story starter of the day.

Check out the story starter here ... leave a comment with your favorite journal topic!


Format Painter: The Most Helpful Tool You've Never Used

The Format Painter may be one of my favorite tools in Microsoft Office applications. Simply stated, it copies the formatting of text or an image, and allows you to paste that formatting onto other text or images.

When working in a document, you should spend the majority of your time working on the content. When the content is complete, go back and decide the font, font size, font color, and any other styles you want apply. If there are headings in your document, you may want them to be a little larger than the rest of the text or you may want to make them bold. Do this on the first heading, but then you can use the Format Painter to copy that style onto the other headings in your document or even into a different document.

This video demonstrates how the Format Painter works.


Tech Tip Tuesday ... Arcademic Skill Builders

Arcademic Skill Builders combine arcade-style games with academics to equal fun learning!

The first games I played on this site (years ago) were all math games, but I was happy to see that there are plenty of activities for a variety of subjects. (Some of which include: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction, geography, language arts, and even typing!)

Students who simply want the practice can play single-player games. Students who enjoy (and benefit from) a little friendly competition will love playing the multi-player games. They can either join a game and compete against other students, or they can create their own game and compete with each other in the classroom. 

This video is from a couple of elementary schools in Olathe, Kansas, that tried out Arcademic Skill Builders:

I certainly haven't tried them all, but my favorite games so far are Penguin Jump Multiplication and Furious Frogs. What are your students' favorites?

Check out Arcademic Skill Builders today! 


Tech Tip Tuesday ... Screen Shots/Clippings in Word 2010

There are lots of ways to take a screenshot of your computer screen. There are many third-party programs that you can download to use and there's even a button on your keyboard that will do it! However, Microsoft has added a super easy way to take and insert screen captures into a document.
In Word 2010 (or even PowerPoint or Excel!), click Insert Screenshot from the Insert tab.

You will see a preview of any open windows on your computer. If you want to insert a full screenshot, just click on the one you want. If you'd rather take a smaller "clip" of something, then select Screen Clipping. The document you are working on will immediately minimize, and the computer screen will fade a bit. With the new cursor, draw a box around the part of the screen you want to use. When you release it, that image will be inserted in your document. 

It's really easy ... give it a try!

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