Friday, November 20, 2015

Brain Breaks....

Greetings everyone and welcome to a  new installment of "Tech Tips and Tools with Mr. Hammen".  It's been a while since I last made a post but, I am back and ready to help you with some amazing technology tips and tools that you can use in your classrooms.

This week's tip isn't really technology related it's more about taking a break....well a Brain Break.  Studies have shown that students benefit from kinesthetic Brain Breaks every 25-35 minutes.  These breaks essentially refresh and reset the brain and allow everyone to regain focus on what they are doing.  Click the following link to read about the benefits of Brain Breaks....(Click Here)...To find out some Brain Break activities you can incorporate in your classroom do a Google search for "Brain Breaks" for some cool ideas....Below I have also included a few Brain Breaks that you could possibly use in your classrooms:

Spelling Baseball
1. Split the class into two teams.
2. Designate where the "bases" are in your classroom.
3. Students take turns spelling words; if they are correct, they advance a base.
4. If they misspell the word, they go to the back of the line.
5. See how many home runs can be scored in two minutes, then switch teams.

1 to 10
1. Everyone stands at his or her desk.
2. Taking turns, one person begins by saying the number one.
3. The next person must say either the next number or the next two numbers.
4. The count continues to ten.
5. The person who has to say ten has a seat and the count starts over again.
6. The last one standing is acknowledged with claps.
7. Use multiples or higher numbers to make it trickier.

Animal Roundup
Material Needed: None
Group Size: 5-50 Purpose:
Physical energizer
1. Tell group members to silently think of their favorite animal.
2. Then tell group members that without talking, they need to arrange themselves from largest to    
    smallest animals.
3. Group members can only make gestures and the noise of their animal.
4. After they have finished, have group members go around and say the animal they were supposed to     be to see if it was accurate.

Walking Worksheets
1. Tape worksheets on wall, easel and chalkboard.
2. Students move from worksheet to worksheet and answer the different questions.

Switch it Up
1. Students push chairs away from their desks and sit down.
2. The teacher starts the wave going clockwise around the classroom.
3. Anyone can reverse the direction by standing up and clapping twice.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Three Tools Wrap-Up

Greetings and welcome to what will be the final installment of the school year for Tech Tips with Mr. Hammen….actually I have decided to change the name…..Immediately the Blog is going to be titled “Tech Tips and Tools with Mr. Hammen”.   

Recently I was reading an article titled, “Favorite Tech Tools forSocial Studies Classes” and I found some very interesting tools that teachers can use (The article title is a link if you want to see the page and read the article).  While the article is written for Social Studies Classes, the tools can be used by everyone.  It’s up to you how you would like to focus your use of the tools.  I would like to highlight a three very cool tools that can contribute to some very interesting project ideas.

The first site is my favorite of the three and it’s called Recite.  This site allows a user to type in a quote and create stylized versions of that quote.  I know that it’s the end of the school year right now but, think of the possibilities for your classroom and this tool next year.  You can create stylized images of quotes, class procedures, room information, print them and then hang them up in your classroom.  I know I will definitely use this one next year. 

The next site is Explee.  As the article states Explee is a “tool that simulates the effect of sketchnoting and allows students to find and add images, text, video clips or audio to a workspace.”  If you are wondering what that means think of Explee like PowerPoint meets Prezi meets Pawtoon.  Explee is a video making whiteboard style tool where students can fill presentations with excitement to engage their intended audiences.  Check out the video link below to see a more detailed view of what Explee is.

The final site is called Draggo.  This site is an online bookmark organizer.  You may ask yourself, “Self, why would I want to use this?”  There are several different reasons why you may want to use it.  The first reason is you can keep all your bookmarks highly organized.  You can put bookmarks into categories and rearrange those categories within your own Draggo page.  The next reason is you can share your Draggo page with anyone.  So you can create your Draggo Page, organize it into categories and easily share it with your students so they have quick and easy access to all of your necessary class links.  If you don’t want links shared with students you can tag them as private and they won’t be displayed on your public page (which is the page that your students can see).  Want a more detailed explanation check out the video from Draggo.

Some final words......
If you are wondering, this blog stays live so if you want to access it at all during the summer break as you plan for next year please feel free to come here and read through the blog again and use any of the tools and tips provided.

Well, I have to say I love sharing technology information, tools, and tips with you.  Enjoy your summer break and we will see you back here next year another installment of Tech Tools and Tips with Mr. Hammen. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Looking for Something Different for Your Students?

Looking for something different for your students?  This week’s Tech Tip with Mr. Hammen centers around using the computer to create different forms of art.  Art can be created in many different ways with Technology and it can have many different purposes.  For example in Science class rather than doing a paper collage that depicts the Life Cycle of Danaus Plexippus (The Monarch Butterfly) a class could go online and create a digital collage or create a video that explains their project.  In History a class could create an online photo story about the Founding Fathers and include video/audio clips in their project.  Any way we look at it we can use the tools that are at our disposal to have students display critical thinking skills and join it with showing their creativity.

Here are a few sites that may be of interest that you could use for projects:

This site is an online photo editor that allows students to take pictures and transform them into a cartoon or sketch.  So your students can create a sketch autobiography or a cartoon strip depicting and event or task.

This site is an online sculpting area.  It starts with a digital ball of clay and students bring their creations to life.  Students could sculpt representations of shapes, buildings, people, animals, virtually anything that they can think of they could create.  Maybe they could sculpt an item and then present their item to their class explain the significance of the item.

This site allows a person to create their own PixelArt.  If you are not sure what PixelArt is just look at the mega hit game Minecraft.  That game is built in Pixel Images.  With PixelArt students could again create pixel images of people from history or make a pixel map showing the major battles of the American Revolution

Here students can create their own musical beats.  An idea with this is maybe they could create a beat and then write their own song lyrics to the beat.  Or maybe students could create theme music for a person in history and explain why they created that particular beat for that person.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Everyone Has a Story to Tell

Each and every one of us has at least one story to tell.  Maybe you have had a crazy experience on a vacation that you would like to share with everyone.  Maybe you have an amazing relative in your family that you want to talk about and see if anyone has someone in their lives who is similar.  All of us have experiences we can share no matter what out background is, how old or young we are, or whether you have been to many countries or prefer to stay right at home in the city on a staycation.  Each and every one of us has at least one story to tell.

This week I would like to highlight several different ways we can give each of our students a voice and allow them to tell a story no matter if they are the shyest little mouse in the classroom or the loudest lion.

The first way to help students write their stories is by inspiring them to write a Blog.  The simplest definition of a Blog is that it is an online journal.  You can have students share daily/weekly stories on topics of their choosing or you can give them a topic and they can write on what you give them.  The cool thing about a blog is that they can share it with others and allow people to comment on their blog.  Some of the most popular places for blogging in the classroom are: Edublogs, Kidblog, Blogger, and Wordpress.

The next way would be to have the students write their own book online.  Writing a book online can help inspire our students to become writers and maybe even see their stories published online or in print.  Some online book writing sites allow for free digital versions and discounted hard cover versions if they want to purchase one.  Some excellent sites where you can have students write their own book are: StoryJumper, Bookemon, and StoryBird.

An additional way you can have students share stories or display their creative writing skills are by sending e-cards….You could have the students go to a site like PictureHistory where they can look up pictures from 200 years of American History and have them send an e-card to you or someone else (directly from the site) where they describe in short what is going on or who is in the picture.  Another way is to use tools like PowerPoint, Google Slides, or even Animoto.  With tools like these students can create digital pictorial narratives where they can tell their stories through a combination of pictures/words.

There is a direct correlation between students who write well and their reading skill and vice versa.  The National Writing Project states "Writing and reading are closely related and, some would say inseparable. Better writers tend to be better readers, and better readers produce better writing."  If we can help our students become better writers we can also contribute to students becoming better readers and that could filter into all their classes leading to higher academic successes and students reach new heights. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Backchannel Communications in the Classroom

Have you ever seen the movie “The Sum of All Fears” starring Ben Affleck as a young Jack Ryan?  Late in that movie Jack Ryan uses a hotline that is a direct communication line to the Russian President.  The purpose of the hotline is to serve as a Backchannel communication piece to build some understanding and trust amongst Ryan and the Russian President to stave off a nuclear war….Aaaaaannnndddd….right about now you may be wondering “Why is he talking about Ben Affleck and a movie in his TechTip blog?”  Let me explain....This week’s topic is not about Ben Affleck or the "Sum of All Fears", it’s about backchannel communications with our students. 

Backchanneling can be a very important and useful tool with our students.  It is a form of communication where students can submit a question to you before or after class so they can better understand what has been or will be taught.  The beauty of this for students (if they are shy) is that most of the time, depending on how it's set up, backchannel communications can be done anonymously.  What I would like to highlight in this week’s TechTip with Mr. Hammen is one of the easiest tools to use to open up backchannel communications with your students who may not have had time to ask a question in class, or they were too shy to ask in class, or they may have thought of something before or after class.

This tool for backchanneling you can use is in your Google Drive, called Google Forms.  All you have to do is create a Google Form and share the link with your students.  They can then access the link from any internet connected device and submit a question.  Think of this like leaving post-it notes with questions on them, but it's done electronically.  You can then set up the form sheet (which is actually a spreadsheet that collects the responses) to send an e-mail whenever a new form is submitted….below is how to set up that notification:

  1. Open the spreadsheet where you want the Notifications
  2. Go to the Tools menu and select Notification rules.
  3. In the window that appears, select when and how often you want to receive notifications.
    • When:
      • "Any changes are made"
      • "A user submits a form"
    • How often:
      • "Email - daily digest"
      • "Email - right away"
  4. Click Save
In case you are unfamiliar with how to create and use Google Forms here is a link that will show you how to set up and manage forms. (Google Forms Help - Click here)

**I suggest that you use a tool called Google URL Shortner where you can copy the form link to this page and it will generate a shorter and easier remembered link address for your students.**

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two Helpful Sites for You

Recently I have discovered two very useful sites for teachers to use.  One deals with using Google Slides and the other with finding pictures to use in presentations, reports, etc.

SlidesCarnival will help you or students spruce up their Google Slides presentations.  Users have a variety of templates to choose from.  It's easy to use.  All you have to do is go to the page.  Find a template.  Then click on the "Use this presentation template" button.  If you are logged into your Google account it will save that template as viewable only in your account.  To make the template editable save a copy of it first then open the copy to create your presentation.

Here are two examples of templates:

Photos for Class is a site where you can find an array of pictures to use in presentations, reports, etc.  When using images we need to make sure they are not copyrighted or that they fall under Creative Commons.  Photos for Class is a very useful sight where you can find thousands of photos to use that fall within the realm Creative Commons.  What makes this site especially useful is the pictures are G Rated and the Author/Source is automatically cited and license terms are given.

Do you want to have fun with Geography with your students.  Try this site....SmartyPins. Smarty Pins is a fun interactive site that asks location based questions.  You place a pin as close to the location as possible.  The farther away you place the pin the more points get deducted off your score. Topics include Arts and Culture, Science, Geography and several more.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Using Google Drive in the Classroom

With more and more teachers using Chromebooks and/or Google Drive in our classrooms for students to work on assignments, projects, or more I thought it would be useful this week to continue to  give you all some more Google helpful hints.  These hints were first published by a group called and republished online by a group called Teach Through.  They focus on hints you can use to increase efficiency and productivity while working in Google Drive/Docs ....Enjoy.....

Keyboard Shortcuts
Navigate your documents and screen a lot faster when you use these keyboard shortcuts for formatting and more.
  1. Ctrl+Home: Get back to the top of your doc.
  2. Ctrl+B: Bold
  3. Ctrl+E: Center alignment
  4. Ctrl+L: Back to left alignment
  5. Ctrl+M: Insert comment
  6. Ctrl+H: Replace
  7. Ctrl+End: Go to last cell in data region
  8. Ctrl+Home: Go to first cell in data region.
  9. Shift+spacebar: Select entire row.
  10. Ctrl+Z: Undo.
  11. Ctrl+Y: Redo.
  12. Ctrl+spacebar: Select entire column.
  13. Ctrl+J: Full justify.
  14. Ctrl+Shift+L: Bulleted list.
  15. Page Down: Move down one screen.
  16. Ctrl+K: Inset link.
  17. Ctrl+Shift+F: Full screen.
  18. Page Up: Move up one screen.
  19. Ctrl+Space: Remove formatting.
  20. Ctrl+: Heading style 1. Change the “1” to any number 1-6 and get the corresponding header.
Productivity Hacks
These hacks will make your Google Docs experience even more efficient and streamlined.
  1. Templates: Use Docs’ 300 templates to get started on different types of documents.
  2. Work offline: View and edit documents even when you don’t have access to an Internet connection.
  3. Create shortcuts: Create shortcuts and bookmarks for new documents, Google Docs home and more frequently visited pages.
  4. Save as different file types: Instead of converting docs to different file types, you can simply change it to HTML, RTF, PDF, ODT and more whenever you save it.
Features & Tools
Make use of features and tools like Docs Translation or CSS Editing to customize your docs and make them work for you.
  1. Polyline: Draw shapes and lines in Google docs to make graphs, images and examples.
  2. Docs Translation: Find the docs translator under Tools.
  3. Snap to Guides: With this Edit feature, you can line up shapes in your doc automatically.
  4. Reference tools: Google docs comes with access to a dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia that you can use within the document.
  5. CSS Editing: Change the display of your doc by manually plugging in your CSS text.
  6. HTML tags: Docs supports, or partially supports, some HTML tags, shown here.