Technology Education Know-How

Helping Teachers Teach with Technology

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Here is an awesome collection of pictures from Time Life.
These pictures capture some of the forgotten moments in our History. There are millions of images dating as far back as 1750 that you and your students have access to. These are images that LIFE took but never published, yet they capture such rich snippets of history.

As an automobile enthusiast this picture of the first Rolls Royce car from 1903 sure captured my eye.

The first Rolls Royce from 1903

The First Rolls Royce in 1903

I sure could have used this when I was a student and writing those papers about cars. What about that student that you have that just lives for sports? Here is a picture of Muhammad Ali raising his gloves victoriously after knocking out Oscar Bonavena in 1971.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali in 1971

This resource can be used for many lessons in history, writing, math and even science as you look at how technology has changed over time. Technology should not just be about computers but all innovations.

You can use these images as writing prompts as they compare and contrast the there and then to the here and now or they can write about what it must have been like during those days working on the big oil derricks and no A/C to come home to.

Oil in 1943

Oil in 1943

Often our students hear about walking to school in the snow, uphill and barefooted. Now they can see the picture.

Snow at School

Snow at School

OK, so they were not barefooted but most people that tell that story never went barefooted either. 😉

The ways you can use photography, images and historical photos is endless. The good part is that they can be used in every subject area. Leave a comment letting me and others know how you used the LIFE photo archive hosted by Google.

Geocaching for the Classroom

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Over the past few weeks I’ve become acquainted and interested in Geocaching.  As always, I’m looking for ways to use Technology, Life Experience and Fun in the classroom.  The more I get involved with Geocaching I see tons of ways it can be used in Math, LA/Writing, Social Studies, Science. This weekend for me was one of PE (Physical Education).  WOW, my legs hurt from the climbing!  I would like us to take a look a few of the ways that Geocaching can be used in each of these subject areas.

Math – With Geocaching students will be using GPS waypoints to find locations. Students can solve a math problem to get the waypoints. Then plug the waypoints into the GPS and find the cache.

Math – Students can use their GPS to calculate speed, distance and plot on a graph. They can answer questions about time, distance, area and speed.  They can then use their information to solve other scenarios without even leaving the classroom.

LA – I’m sure you’ve heard of picture prompts.  What about location prompts!?  Enough said…

LA – Students could create progressive stories.  If you have 4 or 5 groups with a GPS, each group could Geocache to different locations with each group crossing to each Geocache.  Each group will write a new paragraph to the progressive story at each Geocache.  At the end every story should be complete with a beginning,middle, and end.  Each group has written all 3 parts but in different stories.

SS – As a 4th grade teacher I’m a little partial to studying the Indians so my example will for that but can be used for other areas.   You can create waypoints of study.  In studying the Native Americans we would study their shelter, food, tools and regions.  I would create a Geocashe for each one of those topics.  At each stop the students would have to study, read or observe information about those topics and answer questions about each.  I would include pictures, essays, etc so the students could get a good idea of the concepts.  After completing the Shelter Geocashe they would move to the Food cash learning more information.

SS – Students are required to study maps in Social Studies so this is a great way to tie in maps.  They are learning Latitude & Longitude, Coordinates, Cardinal directions.

Science – Each Geocache can contain instructions on completing a Science activity such a building a lever, surveying what object has the most buoyancy, categorizing and then they can create a podcast explaining their findings, experience and results.

Science – You can also have learning stations setup at different Caching locations where the students participate in a learning activity. I remember at certain times of the year we would have our students rotate classes going to each teacher’s room where they would teach a specific related concept like Crust, Core, Mantel, Volcanoes, Landforms, Platelets, etc.   (plants, oxygen, photosynthesis, light, etc.) At the end of the Geocaching experience every student has rotated through each concept either learning new information or review former knowledge.

The ideas of how to use Geocaching are endless.  If your school campus is not big enough to Geocache then a nearby park would be a good location for these experiences.  If you have one of the new cell phones with GPS such as the Palm Pre, Blackberry or iPhone give this a try yourself.  After you’ve done it 2 or 3 times you will find all kinds of ways to use this with your students.  If you would like a listing of the Geocachings around your local area go to put in your zip code and you’ll find lots of them around you.  Each one will have a GPS co-ordinance for you to plug in and then you track it down.  We visited Inks Lake in Central Texas this weekend and did some Geocaching and my 3rd grader and Kindergartner loved it.  Not only that. I was able to give them a real world experience that they can use for prior knowledge in their Writing, Science, Social Studies and Math.

Please leave a comment telling all the ways you have used or are thinking of using Geocaching with your students.

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.

Wordle in Education

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Over this past summer there was a lot of educational blogging about the use of Wordle. So, I’ve debated about bringing it up again. But, being that the purpose of my blog is to bring tools and ideas to teachers, I determined that this was the right time to bring it up. Basically, this is when teachers are searching for ideas.

Wordle is a tool that creates a graphical display to show the frequency of word usage in a text, web page or document. This is called a Word Cloud. The bigger the word is, indicates its dominance of usage. As I’m sure you know; Visual Feedback can give a more lucid understanding of what you read. To give you an example here is the “First Inaugural Address by George Washington in 1789”.

You or your students can use this tool in many ways.

Here are some ideas that I’ve had:

1. Students can use it to monitor the frequency of word usage in their own writings.

a. How often do they use the same adjectives or nouns?

b. Are they overusing words?

2. Students can use it to analyzing news articles.

a. What is this article about?

b. What’s the gist that the author is trying to get across?

c. Check out this assignment

3. Teachers can use it for field trip reviews.

a. Have each student generate a list of what they saw are learned on the field trip. Combine the list, copy and paste into Wordle. Whoop! you have an instant “What’s Important List” from the field trip. (side note: A wiki would be good for creating that list. 😉 )

4. Teachers can create a Current Events Analysis.

a. Copy the RSS feed from popular news sights like Google News and use Wordle to give you the hot topics.

b. Copy the text from a news page and use the same way.

5. What are your students listening to? Copy and paste the lyrics of popular songs into Wordle and find out.

6. What is important on your school campus? Copy and paste your schools mission and vision statements into Wordle and find out. My schools Wordle.

7. Self Reflection; If you where to write a story about yourself, what would your Wordle say?

8. Current Study posters. What is curricularly important in your class this week? Create a Wordle that visualizes that.

There are as many ways to use Wordle as there are clouds in the sky. If you where to Wordle this blog post what would be the biggest word? So, today’s theme would be? You guessed it, Wordle!

Leave a post and let me know how you used or plan to use Wordle in your educational setting.

3 Classroom Lessons for Using Gas Prices to Teach Math, Writing, Social Studies, and Technology

Monday, April 28th, 2008

This morning on Yahoo! News another headline reads “Gas.”   Later this morning as the headlines rotated out another one read “Gas.”  Yes, we are facing “Gas” issues like never before.  So, why not turn this into a learning activity for our students.  Our children will face things that we have never faced before, and our job is to prepare them.  So, this Tech Tip will incorporate Math, Writing, Current Events, Maps and Technology.    

The goal here is that we tap into the higher order thinking skills of every student and allow them an opportunity to problem solve a real world event. 

Note: Teachers should not use this to promote any political agenda; you can find yourself in hot water over that.  This is just an exercise for learning.

Note: If you are reading this and are in another city, state or country there are alternative sites that you can use to gather the same data for your location. 

Exercise 1:

This web site  produces a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet with a price history of gas prices by region, state, or even some cities.  From these spreadsheets you can create charts and graphs showing changes, have students calculate differences between time periods and even calculate percentages in change over time. 

You can have your students present his/her findings to the class in a power point, video, printed graphs and a written report. 

            The teacher can discuss issues as they come up.  (No Political Agendas!)

Exercise 2:

Now that students can know the importance of and can physically see from the above presentations that the price of Gas is a real issue, have them do a little problem solving.  Have the students go to  to make an automobile selection based on their newly found information.  Encourage your students to select cars that would be suitable or comparable for their current families.  (ie. If their mom drives a van now have the select a type of van.  If they drive a truck have them select a type of truck.) 

Their goal is to select a vehicle that would save them money as well as suit their needs.  Have them research the different car types, gas mileage, and feasibility.  They can sort the cars by all, compact, convertibles, luxury, passenger, pickups, sport utility, sports, vans and wagons.  (I think I want the Honda Civic, does it have enough room for my kids?)

Have the students report back with their selection.  They should make a presentation of their top 3 choices with a conclusion as to why they selected their top choice.  How will this car impact gas prices?  How much money will they save by getting this car?  Does the price of the car off set the price of gas?

If you want to make this an extra challenge  give them a car price budget and a weekly gas budget.  They should have a select number of miles that they have to calculate to get to and from work(school).

ie: Less than $20,000 for a car.  Weekly gas allotment is $40.  They must drive 20miles one way to work.  You’ll need to give them a list of web sites from local dealers to get the prices on the cars.


Exercise 3:  The Big Challenge

 Using Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps along with  or for those not in the Austin area, to calculate mileage to determine if it would be worth it to drive out of your way to the cheapest gas prices locations. 

Students will need to know:

1.      gas mileage of car (from exercise 2)

2.      price of gas (exercise 3 links)

3.      mileage to lowest priced gas station (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

4.      price of gas at the gas station near your school (you’ll need to provide this)

5.      location (mileage and map) of home and school (work) (Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps)

Have the students report as to whether or not it’s worth the extra drive.  Will they save money or not?


As always, these activities can be extended, shortened or changed.  You are only limited by your imagination as to how this can be used in your classroom.  For higher grade levels you can turn them loose with the idea and see what they come up with.  I think we would all be shocked! 

My generation kinda grew up not being very concerned with the environment or economy at all, but today’s generation seems to be more involved with trying to solve issues than we ever where. 

If you use these ideas leave a comment and let me know how it went, or if you have other ideas please share!



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.

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!