Technology Education Know-How

Helping Teachers Teach with Technology

Plagiarism Checker

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

This week I was scouring my Diigo Online Bookmarking for things that I may have missed from my network due to my being so busy this month. I ran across this online “Plagiarism Checker” app. You can copy/past or type in the text of your students report or essay. It scours the web while checking the paper. It compares the text and lets you know where there may be plagiarism. It gives you a link to click to check the resource that may be the text’s plagiarism source. You can then confirm or establish that it is or is not plagiarism.
I tested it out and it seems to be very effective. I hope you enjoy and find it helpful. I’ll be posting more tools in the near future. Sorry for the cutback on posts. It has been busy this school year.

Tying in Current Events, Week of 5/7/09

Friday, May 8th, 2009

The Swine Flu or N1H1 virus has been the biggest news outside of our Presidential Election. There is no doubt that our students have heard about it from the news, friends, parents, or even their teachers.
Every kid gets excited about the idea of getting out of school, but do they know the ramifications behind it? – make up days, learning, food purchased for lunches, economy This is the perfect way to tie in Calendar, money and other math concepts depending on your grade level.

This is obviously a prime opportunity to tie in health content as well. 4th and 5th grade need good hygiene lessons this time of the year anyway, so why not use this as the tie in. lol My wife tells me of her elementary years in New Zealand and how they had time in the schedule to brush their teeth after their lunch meals. Her teeth are a lot better than mine now. I wonder if we took the time to take health issues more serious if we’d be a healthier America now. What are your student’s thoughts about this?

Another way to tie this into your curriculum is by writing about it. Over the last few weeks I’ve heard a lot of opinions about how to solve the problem or what should be done. What are your student’s opinions? Have them take the time to research the issue, think out a resolve, and have them write about how they would solve the issue if they were in charge. Other students have fears about it because it has become such a big deal. If we give our students the opportunity to write about that we may be surprised at their concerns.

As a 4th grade teacher I once gave an assignment similar to this and it changed my perspective forever. Without any details, I gave one student a voice to be able to get some things out that she had obviously been dying to tell someone. She always had a smile so before that essay I had no idea that she had been going through such sad things. It totally changed the way I was able to teach my students.

Anyway, back on track. Maps, you can teach maps, geography, continents, etc. by plotting the course of the N1H1 Virus. Using Google Maps or other tools you can plot the growth and spread of the virus. Students can really start to realize we live in a small world after all. 😉

Again, reach into your bank of ideas and see where you can use this current event and leave a post telling us about it. Economics teachers, Journalism teachers and Science teachers should have a hay day with this current event.

Captivating Ideas for Writing with Cartoons

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

After blogging about this before I’m sure you know by now that I’m a big advocate for using cartoons to get students writing.  So, here we go again with more detail and more ideas.  provides an easy tool for creating short comic strips.  You can choose to have a 2, 3, or 4 window comic strip.  Students can email or print it out for their teacher.

I made this cartoon with this new tool.  short, quick, and easy


Why Comic Strips:

1.       Comic strips are about good writing not good pictures. 

2.       It helps them hewn their skills of knowing their audience. 

3.       It helps them focus on important content and story line.  (key story elements)

4.       It gives them a strategy to order the sequence of events. (beginning, middle, and end)

5.       Students will learn how to infer ideas to their readers.

6.       The student must know the Plot, Scene, and Characters to write a good comic strip.

7.       Students will use “voice” as their character develops. 

8.       Students will learn how to write dialogue correctly.  (bubbles mean quotation marks)

9.       It makes the student think outside the box. (no pun intended)

10.   While using their higher order thinking skills they will learn to analyze and think critically.

Strategies for Using Comic Strips:

1.       Have a collection of quality comic strips for your students to analyze. 

2.       Discuss character development. Who? What were they like? Why are they that way? Look at the “voice” of the character. What is their personality like?

3.       Discuss the story line.  Does it have a plot?  What is the point?  Did it communicate?

4.       Discuss the setting.  Where? When?

5.       Have students create a scrapbook of their favorite comics.

a.       They should collect different styles. Funny, Serious, Political, etc.

b.      Have them do some research about the history of the comic they like.

6.       Start with a sequence of pictures or drawings and have the student fill in the script.  This takes the focus off of the drawing and puts it on the content.

7.       Have the students stick with their character for several comics.  This will give them a chance to develop the characters personality.

8.       Keep the comics short.  This is not a comic book project.  At least not yet.

9.       Have the students use their characters and write a full length story based on their comic strips.  You’ll be surprised as to how they turn out.


After reading this post, take a look at these TEKS and just imagine how you can use comic strips to teach these.  If you aren’t in Texas and you are reading this take a look at your state’s writing standards.


If you have other ideas please leave a comment.  I’ll add it to the list.  This list is not exhaustive nor is it the only way to teach writing.  It’s only one of many strategies that I have used. 


After writing this post I felt like I may need some supporting documentation, so I turned to good ol Google.  Here are some links to what I found.

Wish I had this when I needed it!  It’s full of templates, ideas, samples, tools, and a rubric.


Here is a Comic Strip Template from Microsoft.

Visual Geography

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Weekly Tech Tip
This weeks tech tip is can be used in Social Studies, LA, and Math.
The site is
Social Studies: has pictures of interesting things from most if not all countries of the world.  Such as this dish from the country of Haiti, in North America. haiti food
 Students can learn about other cultures by studying the pictures and notes that are on the page.  Each countries map and flag is shown as well. 
Would you have ever guessed that this picture Ethiopia
could have been taken on the continent of Africa in the country of Ethiopia.  How awesome is that!!  I know I need to get out more.  But I can’t, and neither can many of our students.  That’s why this type of thing is so important.
I would have my students write compare contrast papers, express their surprise at commonalities, or even use the pictures as writing prompts.  The writing assignments are endless when you begin to look at these pictures from around the world. 
The site even gives statistics about each country.  The students can do calculations comparing the countries, and charts showing different data.  When I compared the US to Brazil I didn’t know how much alike in size we are. 
U.S.A. is 1.1 times bigger than Brazil
U.S.A. has 1.6 times more inhabitants than BrazilU.S.A.Size: 9,631,418 sq km
Population: 298,444,215 inhabitantsBrazilSize: 8,511,965 sq km
Population: 188,078,227 inhabitants 
I’m learning lots from this site and I’m sure your students can also!  Leave a post and let me know how you use this in your classroom.  Enjoy your Technology!

Online Flash Cards

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

This is one cool site. Teachers can make online flash cards for just about anything. That’s not even the cool part. The cool part is that this is web 2.0, meaning that teachers from all over the world are adding to it all the time. You have access to their flash cards and they will have access to yours. Any of them can be adjusted, changed, and refreshed online.


Expanding Your Student’s Vocabulary

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Expanding our student’s vocabulary is a sure win for improving their writing skills. It’s often hard for our students to not use repetitive words when writing stories. If repetition is a problem they can turn to the Thesaurus.( ) But, if they want to use bigger terms or ad a little freshness or cutting edge vocabulary to their writing then WordSpy ( ) is the place to go. When writing for TAKS they (people grading) are looking for “Voice” (I call it personality.) in the students writing. WordSpy can help you become familiar with the terms that students are using today as well as help them learn a new way of saying the same thing. For example: Hand Salsa Do any of you know what “Hand Salsa” is? Well, it’s a new term, so don’t feel bad if you don’t. hand salsa noun. The grimy substance that accumulates on a mouse or other input device after extended use.

Here it is used in a sentence and the reference from which it came from. And Yes, it’s a magazine that many of your students read.

“The Alps Interactive Gamepad for the PlayStation(TM) game console features the familiar 14-button layout, and an ultra-smooth direction pad. It is the first PS gamepad with rubber grips, which reduces the ‘hand salsa,’ and gives players the control required to compete in today’s competitive gaming environments.”

—”Alps Interactive Gamepad Voted Best Overall Controller by Video Game Advisor Magazine,” Business Wire

Yes, I know it’s gross! Here is one that isn’t so gross, and you may have some of these in your room. “Splitters” A family that splits their time between two or more houses.

Ex. Enabled by cheap airfares, flexible work schedules and technology like cellphones, BlackBerrys and the Internet, a growing number of people are shuttling between two or more homes, blurring the age-old distinction between the primary and the vacation home.

Unlike previous generations, these “splitters” do not think of themselves as living and working in one place and relaxing in another. On the contrary, they come and go as they please, making friends and doing business in places hundreds, even thousands, of miles apart. —Motoko Rich, “Double Nesters,” The New York Times, January 19, 2006

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to improve writing skills, and how to better communicate with your students. Oh yea, and to make you sound smarter to.


Cross Curricular Activities

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Now this one is cool! You can do all types of activities with this information. The information found at the web site is phenomenal. (Click on the “Search Database online” link.)

Math: Students can compare multiple Food products creating charts and graphs as they determine which compared food product is best for them.

Example: compare Cheese cracker, low sodium to Regular Cheese crackers

Students can work with percentages and decimals in real world situations, which can impact their eating habits.

Writing: Students can write reports about their findings and why they chose the one they did for which is best for them.


Students can write a persuasive paper to persuade others to eat one over the other of the compared foods.

Science: Students can evaluate their findings with the Scientific Process by creating a Hypothesis before they begin, about what they think they will find. If you have a question about the Scientific Process you can go here for more detailed info.

These are just ideas. I’m sure you can find many many more ways to use the information found one this site. The original site I started on is . It also has a plethora of resources for teaching health and nutrition. Maybe this will help students get a grasp on the importance of healthy eating and slow down the rate of childhood obesity.

Here is a sample of the data you will find.

Fish, tuna salad

New Search

Refuse: 0%

Scientific Name:

NDB No: 15128 (Nutrient values and weights are for edible portion)


Units 1.00 X 1 cup ——-


Water g 129.48
Energy kcal 383
Energy kj 1603
Protein g 32.88
Total lipid (fat) g 18.98
Ash g 4.39



Monday, August 14th, 2006

Using Idioms in writing is a key ingredient (very important) to bringing our students writing skills from a level 1 to a level 4. It also helps them expand there vocabulary while generating a more mature speech. Teaching Idioms can be as easy as learning your ABCs. (That means it’s easy.) I hope this tool will help you cover a lot of ground, in teaching Idioms. (to deal with much information or facts.) We use Idioms everyday without even knowing it, but do our students know what they mean? Let’s make sure they do, so they don’t flunk out. (or fail.)

Yes, I enjoyed writing this Idiomatic email, but I was not just goofing off. (That means wasting time.)

For real, your students would love to use Idioms in their writings, and it will improve them dramatically. I hope you enjoy using this site.

It is full of great Idioms for your students to use and read!