Technology Flashback: Research Projects

Recently in my Digital Citizenship class my fifth graders and I were working on research and citation skills and the 21st century tools that they have at their disposal. In order to ignite a discussion on these topics, I shared with them the following graphic:

This was my Google Research

I always get a kick out of student reactions when they begin to comprehend what people used to do before today’s technologies were invented.


Website of the Week: MapMaker Interactive (Gr. 4-12)

MapMaker Interactive – Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map

MapMaker Interactive, created by National Geographic, is an interactive map tool that can be customized to display certain types of information, highlight specific areas around the world, and then share those customizations with others. Choose between six different Themes that deal with water, land, climate, population, politics, economics and more. Under each theme are a variety of information layers that you can turn on and off, changing how and what type of information the map to your right will display. Click on the Drawing tab to add your own marks to the map, helping to focus your audience on the area(s) of the map you want to draw their attention to. You can also click on the Markers tab to help add emphasis to your custom map.

Once you have finished creating your customized map, you have several options available for sharing. You can generate a link to your map which can then be emailed or posted on your website. You can print off your map; if you used a theme with a specific legend, the legend will also be printed. You may also download the map as a static image file (.png) or as an .xml file which will allow you to re-open the map for future editing.


  • Use this tool to create your own custom maps that highlight the specific areas and data that relates to your lesson. Include your map (or maps) in handout packets, links on your website, or screenshots in your presentations.
  • Start out with a generic map of a specific area, then give students the share link and ask them to label the map with relevant markers based on your unit of study (i.e. a regions natural resources, locations of important military battles, important industries found in a country, etc).
  • Have students use MapMaker Interactive to provide a visualization to go along with their own research projects.

Ocean Chlorophyll levels in the Gulf of Maine

Ocean Chlorophyll levels in the Gulf of Maine

Thanks goes to for sharing this find.

What Most Schools Don’t Teach…

What Most Schools Don’t Teach – A YouTube video

Provided by the site, this YouTube video talks about the potential available to our students who are exposed to the world of computer programming and coding. Listen to interviews from high-profile players in the technology world such as the makers/creators behind Microsoft, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, and more. Watch as educators, athletes, and musicians talk about common misconceptions and barriers that people have created around computer programming, why they got into coding, and how you can get started. If you are looking for resources to support a STEM initiative, this video would be a good addition to your toolbox.

Watch the video here (9:34)

Website of the Week: I Fake Text (Gr. 2-12)

I Fake Text – The first iPhone text message screenshot generator

I Fake Text is a simple web tool that allows you to create custom text message conversations that looks like they actually took place on an Apple iPhone device. Select the phone service carrier you would like displayed at the top of the iPhone, then provide the character names and dialog in the box provided. It is important to verify that your text adheres to the formatting example provided. Click the ‘Create Your Screenshot’ button to complete the transformation.

NOTE: If you’d like to go high-tech and have a fake conversation with Siri, check out the website: I Fake Siri.


  • Use this tool to create authentic cyberbullying, phishing, and other examples of bad netiquette as part of an Internet Safety unit.
  • Have students create conversations with this 21st century tool between characters from other time periods. For example, what sort of texts would Paul Revere have sent during his midnight ride to warn that the British were coming, or Napoleon to his captains within the Spanish Armada?

screenshot of an ifaketext text message example

Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.

Website of the Week: Edcanvas (K-12)

Edcanvas – The one place to go to organize, present, and share knowledge

Edcanvas is a media management site, allowing you to combine information from a variety of formats into a slideshow-like presentation. Within each project you can create canvases that hold basic text, documents you previously created and uploaded, images, YouTube videos, and links to other websites. Before you go and make your own, conduct a search of the site to see what other teachers have already created and shared. Scroll down on the site’s homepage to the “What great educators are creating” section to see a sampling of canvases created by fellow educators and updated in real time. Remember, don’t re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to!

An account is required to create a canvas as well as favorite ones you find. Account creation is free and can be linked to a Google account for students, or a Google or Facebook account for teachers.


  • This is a great tool for organizing multiple types of media into one place that is easily accessible to students online regardless of the device they are using.
  • As always, if you incorporate someone else’s Edcanvas into your lesson please provide credit to the original author through proper citation.

Edcanvas website screenshot

Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.

Website of the Week: Slide Speech (Gr. 3-12)

Slide Speech – Presentations with voice

Slide Speech is a free, web-based tool that allows you to add voice narration to a presentation using their text-to-speech engine. Presentations usually provide only key points and concepts with the presenter providing the narration to fill in the details and help connect ideas and concepts during the event. This web tool allows the presenter to include those narrations by adding them as text to the Presenter Notes area on each slide within the presentation. Slide Speech will read the text entered into this area and covert it to speech, with you selecting which computer-generated voice you’d like to have narrate. Once this is complete, you have several options for how you’d like to share this with your audience including by link, embed code, video, social media, and/or QR code.


  • Use this site to add your classroom narration to your presentations. You can then make both items available to students to use when they need to review content, need extra support due to a reading deficiency or ELL challenges, or need to catch up on class developments due to an absence from illness.
  • The site will only accept Microsoft PowerPoint-formatted presentations, but other applications like Keynote and Open Office can export their projects to .ppt format prior to uploading. Here is an example of a presentation I put together on how to get started with Slide Speech where Keynote was the presentation tool I used..

SlideSpeech Screenshot

Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.

Website of the Week: Fotobabble (Gr. 6-12)

Fotobabble – Talking Photos

Fotobabble is a site which combines audio recordings with still imagery to create a new way for students to reflect and demonstrate comprehension. The concept is pretty simple: upload a photo to their website, use your computer’s microphone to record your thoughts, reflection, or comments, save, and then share your ‘talking photo’ via email, embed into a blog or wiki, or post to a social networking service. There is also a Fotobabble iOS App (FREE) that will allow students to creating talking photos on-the-go.

NOTE: An account with email address is required to use this service. An account is free and there are no storage limitations on how big or how many projects can be created at this time.


  • Have students record their reflections based on historical photos from events in our history.
  • Have students take (or better yet, make) pictures from literature they are reading in class and bring the character or scene to life.
  • Technology continues to provide us with more diverse ways to allow students to demonstrate comprehension and understanding. This site is another such tool that might be worth adding to your digital toolbox.

Click here for sample

A screenshot of the Fotobabble homepage

My thanks to FreeTech4Teachers for sharing this site and for Stewart Whitney for pointing out the companion iOS App.

Google Apps: QR Codes and Google Docs

QR Codes & Google Docs: Ways to use QR codes in the elementary classroom and using Google Docs to create them

In a post from the blog Inside the Classroom, Outside the Box!,  Jill Thompson walks us through what QR (Quick Response) codes are, web resources for creating them, and how they can be used in the classroom. Jill then goes into detail about how to create multiple QR codes for a unit theme or scavenger hunt using Google Docs, providing step-by-step directions along the way. Check out the comments section at the end of Jill’s post to see the QR code conversation continue.


  • QR codes are a great way to integrate mobile technologies into the classroom. Generators, many of which you can find online, allow you to link these codes to a variety of objects including websites, a text message, an audio recording, and even contact information. Use the search term ‘QR code generator‘ to find a list of free online tools to make your own codes.
  • If you are looking to use QR codes for a scavenger hunt, check out my blog post on the QR Code Generator Treasure Hunt Generator website (scan the code below to visit the site on your mobile device!).

Website of the Week: iNudge (Gr. 4-10)

iNudge – Everyone can create music

iNudge is an interactive web tool that combines digital sounds and instruments with a 16×16 grid to allow users to create custom sounds and music. Use the colored squares to the right of the grid to select from up to eight different sound libraries such as Avatar, Harp, and Saturn. Use the final square tool to access the Drums library with 16 different variations to choose from. Click the ‘MORE’ button beneath the grid to access volume and tempo controls, as well as add additional stanzas. When finished, use the ‘get+share’ button in the top-right corner of the grid window to get a link that can be emailed and shared with others.


  • This can be a handy tool for getting students to create original soundtracks for movie and/or podcast projects. You may need to use some creative problem-solving to transfer the music, but this could also be a great challenge for students to take on.
  • The site can take some time to load, especially if you are working in a lab environment. I would recommend having students browse to the iNudge website early, then open a new tab/window to engage in another activity while you wait.

Website of the Week: Instagrok (Gr. 3-12)

Instagrok – A new way to learn

Instagrok is a new twist on the traditional search engine that utilizes a visual mind map and a sorting outline that organizes results into facts, sites, videos, images, and even quizzes. In the mind map view, clicking on one of the satellite concepts will expand the map to include additional related information. As you click on each concept, the menus on the right-hand side will update with relevant information, links, and media. Clicking on an item in this area will open a new browser tab and take you to the data source.

If you choose to create a free account with Instagrok, then you can take advantage of the Journal feature. This tab allows you to “pin” specific content that you find valuable and save it for later. You can then use the Print button at the bottom to create a study guide for students that can be emailed or uploaded to your classroom website.


  • This is a great website for helping students to focus their searches, especially if they are looking for specific content types like images or video.
  • This is a great tool to integrate with Google Jockey; check out Richard Byrne’s blog post to learn more about Google Jockey.