Colorful Learning with 20+ Web Tools & Apps

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 4.56.09 PMIncluded in the Effective Technology Integration category

Drawing and coloring are great ways to get students to brainstorm about a topic, organize a group project, or contribute scenes to a digital story. For young learners, drawing and coloring offers them a way to learn patterns, symmetry, and develop motor skills. Below is my recent slide presentation with lesson ideas, free web tools and apps. After the presentation, you’ll see the bookmarks. Just click on the title to visit that link. There are over 25 links! Keep scrolling. Here’s a recent article I did on the topic, 25+ Ways to Create Colorful Learning Experiences for Kids.

Drawing & coloring webtools & apps


Try one of these resources with your learners.

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Fostering Meaningful Peer Collaboration with Digital Tools

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It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. —Napoleon Hill

We believe in students learning from and with each other, but effective collaboration rarely takes place in most schools. Students rarely want to share their work and have peers critique it. They don’t tend to get excited about peer editing or group work.

Outside of school, the scenario is quite different. Everyday, millions share the narratives of their lives through written words, images, music, audio, and video they post on various social networks. They eagerly crave  feedback in the form of likes, retweets, mentions, reblogs, and tags. The trend is to be more social and participatory and the web is evolving swiftly with new technologies, apps, tools, and trends to enhance these experiences. It’s time we tapped into the potential of these developments to engage our students in meaningful collaboration, research, and writing.

Collaboratively Creating eTextbooks

This year, I co-developed the Crafting the ePerfect eTextbook EVO Session. This is a 5 week free course for teachers that is taking place NOW till February 16th. Participants create the beginnings of a digital textbook that meets their students’ needs. They receive feedback, tips, and support from over 400 teachers worldwide as well as our 15 moderators- Lindsay Clandfield, Chuck Sandy, Özge Karaoglu, Jason Levine (Fluency MC), Jennifer Verschoor, Janet Bianchini, Sylvia Guinan, Debora Tebovich, André J. Spang, Jackie Gerstein, Terry Freedman, Jake Duncan, Dave Guymon, and Rubena St. Louis. Find out more by joining the Google Community, This is only the first week so you can still participate and receive a certificate.

Fostering Effective Peer Feedback and Collaboration

We are using Google tools and apps to foster meaningful collaboration and peer feedback. Teachers can use the same process to engage students in meaningful collaboration, research, and writing. The video below demonstrates our peer feedback and collaboration process using Google tools.

Recommended Google Tools and Apps

Google tools and apps are incredibly useful for improving students’ writing, research, and collaboration. These are a few shown in the video.

  • Google Communities- Participants can share videos, images, links, & more. They can edit their posts and include hashtags to organize information. You can create threads to categorize posts.
  • Google HangOuts- Up to 10 can collaborate through voice and video. They can screen share and create/edit documents, presentations, audio, and so much more. If you choose, record the meeting. When you end the broadcast, the video automatically goes to your Youtube channel. Students will love the fun features, such as making themselves into a meme or dressing themselves in virtual hats, ties, crowns, and other accessories. 
  • Google Drive- 15 gb free, create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. Integrate apps and scripts that allow you to do so much more like grade with a rubric, add voice feedback, draw, or calculate grades quickly.
  • Kaizena app- leave voice feedback
  • Goobric- a script that allows you to grade essays quickly with a rubric.
  • Research- this feature is located in your Google Doc under Tools. Find creative common resources to use, research scholarly articles, and cite in MLA/APA/Chicago style.

Our participants have been separated into peer groups. Each peer group has Peer Group Leaders. They are encouraged to meet up and critique their work weekly through Google HangOuts on Air sessions. This is the document we have provided them.

I invite you to participate in our session and experience the process. Even if you do not want to create a digital textbook, you could learn how to use various powerful tools to engage your learners in meaningful collaboration and peer editing.


Try one of these tools this year to foster peer collaboration and feedback.

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15+ Resources to Inspire Writing with Digital Prompts

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Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabakov

One of my favorite activities with my students was having them keep daily journals. Each day, they knew the routine. Grab their journals, grab a pillow, sit where they want and spend 5 minutes responding to the prompt on the board. Nowadays, technology provides us more engaging ways to encourage writing. Students can journal online with blogs or use mobile technologies to capture images, record videos, and post podcasts. They can make their voices more engaging, spread their ideas, and  receive comments from around the world. Below are a few ideas and resources.

  • Vary the types of writing students do! They can create comics, digital stories, dialogues, emails, etc.
  •  Corn Dog Art features many video and writing prompts.
  •  John Spencer’s Photoprompts Tumblr has tons of writing prompts accompanied by images. They spark imagination and encourage various types of writing.
  • Luke Neff’s Image Writing Prompts are aligned with the common core and have incredible visuals.
  • Make Beliefs Comix has over 350 free printables for teachers. These can easily be shown on a projector and used as writing prompts. They are sorted by topic, event, and holidays. Students can create their own comic with this tool in multiple languages.
  • Create a digital calendar similar to this one with a writing prompt a day. Here’s a post on how to create a digital calendar.
  • Have students create their own writing prompts and integrate a few throughout the year. You could have them add their prompts to the digital calendar, which frees up your time! Assign each student a day to be in charge of creating a visual prompt. You can give them a rubric or checklist to follow.
  • If your students blog, then they could exchange their writing prompts with their peers and each respond. It’s a writing prompt exchange. Each could embed the prompt on their blogs.
  • Students like memes. They respond to them on social networks like Facebook. Use memes as writing prompts. I provide resources and instructions in this presentation, Let’s Go Viral!.
  • Write About This- a free IOS app with prompts to inspire writing and students can create their own.
  • Journal Jar- free web and phone app that when shaken comes up with a question to write about.
  • PicLits- choose an image and your students drag and drop words onto the image to create a story.
  • Scholastic Story Starters- this is an interactive website where students write their names and fill out questions.
  • Plinky- a question appears and below the question students write their opinion.
  • StoryIt- print out a picture that has the first paragraph of a story.
  • Boggles World Creative Writing- several creative writing prompts to print that were especially designed for English language learners.
  • Five Card Flickr- 5 random pictures from Flickr are posted and students can write a story in the space provided or view several other pictures.
  • One Word- This excellent website posts one word and your students have 60 seconds to write on the website whatever comes to mind.
  • Writing Fix- hundreds of journal writing prompts, writing games, and more.
  • Lightning Bug- find a story idea or develop one.
  • 100 Word Story- an image is posted and you can submit a story that is only 100 words. This site doesn’t filter so you can use your own images and have the students create the stories in class.
  • The Storyteller Blog is full of writing prompts. Some are geared for older students. Here’s a monthly  calendar with various prompts.
  • Several visual prompts on the Teaching Ideas site.
  • Tell About This- Free iPad app for students to respond through their voice to picture prompts.


Try one of these resources for writing prompts.

31 Days of Digital Tech Integration Tips

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11 Random Facts

rosco me glasses

This post is different from my usual ones, because I’m participating in a blogging meme, in which you get to find out 11 facts about me. I think this meme would be a great way to motivate language learners to write and learn more about each other. It’s a great way to build a community, especially online.

The mission:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

I was tagged by Sandy Kendell, Adam Simpson, Kathy Fagan, Sarah Thomas, and Carol Goodey. I’d like to thank them for their thoughtful questions. I’ve chosen to answer their questions in this audio recording:

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. When I travel to a place with a beach, sea, or lake, I try to watch the sunrise or sunset, and listen to Maria Callas or Sarah Brightman. I’ve done this in at least 10 countries and possibly 50 cities.
  2. I often write messages in the sand hoping to inspire someone.
  3. My favorite artist is Marc Chagall and I’ve traveled throughout 3 countries to see his stain glass pieces and paintings.
  4. I love the 80s!
  5. I sometimes make Rosco dance with me and sometimes we make spoofs of songs.
  6. I was a traveling poet and a slam poet.
  7. I’ve lived in Greece, Germany, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  8. I used to collect hippos when I was younger and have over 100 hippo figurines, etc.
  9. One day I want to write a comic or children’s book about Rosco. I often create the comic of his antics in my head to amuse myself. There was a series in which he had an evil arch nemesis, Anna the Dotson.
  10. My dad was a championship bowler so I grew up in bowling alleys.
  11. I’ve written a Spanish poetry book with the artist, Ruben Luna, in 1999, entitled, “The Paintings on the Wall.” It was my first self-published book and I only have 2 copies.

My 11 Questions

The bloggers I’m tagging are Tyson Seburn, Fabiana Casella, Sylvia Guinan, Theodora Pap, Débora Tebovich, Hana Ticha, Maria Bossa, Georgia Psarra, Marijana Smolčec, Nikki Robertson, and Cristina Monteiro Silva. I’ve listed their Twitter accounts below in this listly.

  1. What is a goal you hope to accomplish from your bucket list?
  2. What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2014?
  3. If you could host a reality TV show, what would it be about?
  4. How do you blow off steam?
  5. What is one of your personal theme songs?
  6. What are you incredibly proud of accomplishing?
  7. What was one of your favorite gifts?
  8. How have you dealt with a past failure?
  9. What is one piece of advice that has helped you throughout life?
  10. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?
  11. What’s your favorite piece of art?

The mission for these 11 bloggers:

1. On your own blog, create a post and mention I tagged you along with anyone else who did.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. In addition, to these facts answer the 11 questions I created for you.
4. List or tag 11 additional bloggers, not me.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.

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Be There & Listen

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 2.50.46 PMGoal 24: Be There and Listen of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” ~ Larry King

This year’s 30 Goals Challenge theme is, “This is MY Moment.” Each goal focuses on getting educators to believe their plans of action now will lead to positive changes and transformation in their teaching and learning environments. Join our our 30 Goals Facebook community to vote on goals and receive support.

My Reflection

Sometimes, we get caught up with the curriculum and meeting objectives that we don’t make time to listen to our learners and be there for them. Our students don’t only have intellectual needs, they have developmental needs that many schools fail to attend to. Most kids will spend a majority of their developmental years in schools, so it is important we help students develop as a whole. Teachers can provide them with a safe forum to share their fears, frustrations, and questions. I have used hand-written journals and private online blogs to provide this forum. If the students want to make it public or share with their friends, they can. I don’t grade the journals for content. I check they are writing and I also give them 5 minutes at the beginning or end of class to work on it. I’ve learned a lot about their struggles and been able to help them along with a counselor. It’s not the only solution. Sometimes, if I see a student struggling or acting out in class, I will pull them aside privately and ask if something is bothering them. It has helped me alleviate behavior problems.

Goal- Take the time to be there and listen to one of your learners, another teacher, or someone who needs someone to be there.

Nearly 100 Free Tools and Apps to Develop Listening Skills

Another aspect of this goal is helping our learners become better listeners. Most people learn throughout their lives by listening to information and processing it. They listen to lectures, teachers, videos, and the radi0. They listen and gather information from their friends, parents, television, and movies. We rarely teach active listening in schools. Our students don’t know how to evaluate the information they hear, process it, assess if it is accurate, or store and categorize it into long-term memory to use when they need it. Teachers need to help students relate what they hear to their personal experiences and previous knowledge. They also need to help students develop listening skills. Developing listening skills takes listening practice. Many of the tools below can help learners get the practice they need in fun ways! There are over 90 tools and resource I have collected that are free. I have listed them at the bottom of this blog. I will continue adding to this of bookmarked listening tools.

Join a Massive Open Online Course. We are hosting the ELT Techniques free course which is taking place now till December. We are focusing helping English language teachers improve their students’ listening and pronunciation skills. You get a certificate for completing at least 4 sessions. My session on Listening Tools begins December 1st. 


Visit a new online community and let us know how you enjoyed the experience.

Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, or adding a comment below! All goals are organized in this 30 Goals Livebinder.

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