Skip to content
Dec 18 14

Best Digital Citizenship Resources

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.13.03 AMOn this blog we always like to hight resources concerning Digital Citizenship, an important topic for today’s 21st-century students. That is why I was so happy to read in this month’s Journal, an article that focuses on a baker’s dozen of awesome K-12 resources. You can find the article after the list of materials:

13 Resources To Help You Teach Digital Citizenship: These Web sites and books can guide districts in developing a comprehensive acceptable use policy that will give students the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Acceptable Use Policies

Common Sense Media offers free samples, guidelines and an exhaustive list of AUP resources.

CoSN has issued a refreshed AUP guide called “Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies to Enable Digital.”

NetCitizens includes a large number of resources and articles on AUPs and online safety.

Digital Citizenship Web Sites
Common Sense Education provides teachers and schools with free research-based classroom tools to help students harness technology for learning and life.

This site run by Mike Ribble includes a number of resources, including the “9 Elements of Digital Citizenship” postulated by Ribble and Gerald Bailey.

NetFamilyNews is a free site based on the premise that informed parents and educators are key to a constructive public discussion about youth safety and well-being in digital spaces.

Safe Connects is different from other Internet safety programs because students use “straight talk” to discuss topics that are important to teens. This program has established a student-teaching-students-and-parents” model for school systems across the country. is one of the oldest and most enduring sites devoted to Internet safety. Its founder and editor, Larry Magid, is the author of the original National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s 1994 brochure, “Child Safety on the Information Highway.”

Cable Impacts offers InCtrl, a series of free standards-based lessons, originally developed by Cable in the Classroom, that teach key digital citizenship concepts. These lessons, for students in grades 4- 8, are designed to engage students through inquiry-based activities and collaborative and creative opportunities.

Digital Citizenship Books
Digital Citizenship in Schools, Second Edition by Mike Ribble starts with a basic definition of the concept of digital citizenship, then moves on to an explanation of its relevance and importance. Ribble goes on to explore the nine elements of digital citizenship and provides audit and professional development activities to help educators determine how to go about integrating digital citizenship concepts into the classroom.

In Digital Community, Digital Citizen, author, educator and futurist Jason Ohler challenges all readers to redefine their roles as citizens in today’s globally connected infosphere. His text aligns the process of teaching digital citizenship with the ISTE standards’ definition, and uses an “ideal school board” device to address fears, opportunities and the critical issues of character education.

In From Fear to Facebook: One School’s Journey, Matt Levinson shares his experience integrating a laptop program and how teachers, students and parents discovered, dealt with and overcame challenges. Honesty and insightful anecdotes make this a guide for districts looking for a path away from fear and into the future of education.

Security vs. Access: Balancing Safety and Productivity in the Digital Schoolby LeAnne Robinson, Abbie Brown and Timothy D. Green emphasizes the importance of balance in creating school environments that are safe and productive. The book provides educators, administrators and IT staff the information they need to have constructive conversations about security challenges while still making sure students receive an effective, technology-infused education. read more…

Dec 17 14

Seniors Tool for College: ADMITsee

by fsanchez

 ‘Tis the season for high school seniors to toil over college essays. And the best help a parent can give? Forbes columnist (and yep, Dad of a high school senior) George Anders argues that letting the kids take a peek at AdmitSee, a site where students advise each other on essay, may be better than nagging kids. (No copying though! will out plagiarists.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 11.45.03 AM

Dec 17 14

Scholastic Features 50 Best Apps

by fsanchez

appsbestresizedCheck out Scholastic’s list of 50 tools for teachers, covering material from grammar to earth science, offering activities from graphic novel creation to music-reading competitions. Here’s the post:

Encode a secret message on a World War II Enigma machine. Journey into outer space to explore the surface of the sun. Or see what your town looked like in the 1800s. No, these aren’t Ms. Frizzle’s lesson plans. All are real activities taking place in classrooms across the nation.

These days, all you need to take your class on the adventure of a lifetime is a fabulous app—or two, or three, or 50. To find out how teachers around the country are using apps to transform the classroom experience, we polled our Scholastic Teachers Facebook community, reached out to our advisers, and connected with education bloggers. The responses prove that there are incredible apps for every occasion, from reinforcing lessons to communicating with parents. Here are 50 of our favorites.

Language Arts

Grammar Pop
iOS. $1.99. Grades 5–8
Make a game of grammar with this standards-aligned app. Kids match words with parts of speech, and as the game goes on, they tackle tougher sentences.

Writing Wizard
iOS. $2.99. Grades PreK–1
Liven up handwriting lessons with this colorful tracing app, which invites kids to play with animated versions of the letters they trace. “I love that students get rewarded for their hard work,” says RhoLynda Hamm, a first-grade teacher at Benjamin Banneker Elementary in Loveville, Maryland.

Strip Designer
iOS. $2.99. Grades 4–8
Inspire reluctant writers with this supercool assignment: Create your own graphic novel! Students customize comic-book templates with original text, clip art, imported images, and more as they tell their stories.

WordGirl Word Hunt
iOS. $0.99. Grades 1–3
Choose the right words to help WordGirl defeat the villains in this game-based vocabulary app. Students reinforce vocab lessons and learn more than 100 definitions through context clues, all while saving the day.

Write About This
iOS. $3.99. Grades PreK–5
Kick-start opinion and narrative writing with creative, image-based writing prompts. “Students can add their own pictures and create their own prompts,” says Nancy Carroll, a fourth-grade teacher at Boyden Elementary School in South Walpole, Massachusetts.

iOS and Android. Free. All ages
The Kindle app is an “indispensable” tool for independent reading in Jason Kline’s fourth- and fifth-grade classes at EAGLE Charter School in Salem, Oregon. “I love how students can interact with the text,” says Kline. “It makes looking up difficult words so much easier.”  read more…

Dec 11 14

What are Long Term Effects on Technology Use?

by fsanchez

001354_23This month in the Atlantic, experts debate the long-term effects of technology use. Here is a quote from the piece: “Technology can play a distracting role in students’ educational careers, according to recent research. Experts are exploring how students’ use of technology may affect brain development, while educators are looking to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways.”

You can click on the link above or continue reading about this interesting piece:

Why Kids Won’t Quit Technology

Smartphones, iPads, TVs, computers, videogames. Technology is omnipresent, especially for young students. They just can’t get enough; one 2013 study found that college students check their digital devices for non-class purposes 11 times per day on average, and 80 percent of them admitted that the technology was distracting them from class. This has some educators and scientists concerned: Are students distracted because their brains are hard-wired for it after a lifetime of screens? Is there a cultural or behavioral element to the fixation that has infiltrated the classroom?

As scientists work to answer these questions, educators are finding ways to adapt to students’ changes—whatever their cause—and use the technology to their advantage, especially in courses focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

When scientists talk about how technology affects the brain, it’s one particular network that they focus on most often. It’s called executive function—the series of mental processes at the root of people’s working memory, which involves tasks like remembering instructions, and abilities such as multitasking or paying attention. While the most rapid brain development occurs before the age of  five, people don’t hit their peak executive-function until their late 20s. read more…

Dec 3 14

Google Announces New Kid-Friendly Search

by fsanchez

GoogleSafeSearchAs reported in the USA Today, Google is creating a more kid-friendly search option. it seems that many in the Google campus now have children of their own and they have learned that a Google Image search is sometimes quite dicey. Here’s the article from the USA Today; it is worth a read:

Google to revamp its products with 12-and-younger focus

SAN FRANCISCO — With Google processing 40,000 search queries a second — or 1.2 trillion a year — it’s a safe bet that many of those doing the Googling are kids.

Little surprise then that beginning next year the tech giant plans to create specific versions of its most popular products for those 12 and younger. The most likely candidates are those that are already popular with a broad age group, such as search, YouTube and Chrome.

“The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children,” Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering charged with leading the new initiative, told USA TODAY.

“We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home,” says the mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 13. “So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.”

Google would not offer a timetable for the rollout. But executives noted this will be a full-time effort that comes on the heels of recent kid-centric efforts such as its virtual Maker Camp, Doodle 4 Google competition and Made with Code initiative, which Thursday will see the lights of White House Christmas trees illuminated based on coding programs created by kids from coast to coast.

“We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products,” says Diwanji, who will attend the White House ceremony. “We want kids to be safe, but ultimately it’s about helping them be more than just pure consumers of tech, but creators, too.”

Controversy may well follow in the wake of Google’s drive. While tech companies are always seeking out new markets, which in turn expand their user base and ultimately drive up revenue, traditionally kids younger than 13 have been off limits.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act so far has levied fines against 20 companies in its 15-year history for mining young user information without parental consent. In September, Yelp was fined $450,000 for failing to implement a functional age screen in its ratings app.

“We aren’t looking to play gotcha, it’s just about kids being protected and promoting business compliance,” says Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the FTC’s privacy and identity protection division.

Mithal says COPPA has been updated a number of times in the past decade to reflect the exponential growth of tech trends. Specifically, the act has been amended to include provisions for everything from geolocation data gleaned from mobile devices to photo- and voice-uploading protocols on social networking sites.

“One of the great things about technology is that we should be able to create safe places for kids,” Mithal says. “We don’t want to stifle that as long as parents are in the driver’s seat.”

But parents may have a tough time keeping track of everything their kids are into tech-wise, says Marc Rotenberg, president of the watchdog group, Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“The prospect of audio-based advertising targeting our children is very real, and that’s significant when you’re talking about an age group that is very susceptible to manipulation,” Rotenberg says. “The FTC will have to step up on this. I don’t think we want a world where our kids are sold things they don’t need.”

Diwanji says she understands those concerns, but adds that as a parent she “is a big believer in coaching moments for kids, rather than just blocking what they can do. I want to enable trust in them. Thirteen isn’t some magical number. I want to teach them what’s right and wrong, and bring families together using technology.”

If Google has a skunkworks for this kid project, it’s a small room in its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters dubbed the Kids Studio, where children of employees are encouraged to spend hours tinkering with various prototype projects.

Diwanji says that watching those kids tinker reminds her that a child’s-eye-view of, say, the Google search engine isn’t remotely the same as an adult’s. That fact was brought home by her younger daughter, who after Googling “trains” was stunned to see a list of Amtrak train schedules pop up.

“She came to me and said, ‘Mommy, you should tell Google about Thomas the Tank Engine, because Google obviously doesn’t know about him,'” Diwanji says, laughing.

Her point: User experiences for a range of Google products are ripe for under-13 makeovers. What also is being worked out are the ways in which parents will be able to oversee their child’s interactions with Google’s technologies, perhaps limiting usage to set time frames.

“We want to enable supervision but not be regimental,” says Diwanji during a visit to Google’s San Francisco outpost. “But that’s challenging because no two parents are alike. I have friends who are helicopter parents and others are even more liberal than me, but everyone has to be accommodated by whatever we create.”

Diwanji seems the right person for this push into unchartered waters. Growing up in a middle-class family in western India, she was technologically precocious, winning a coding content in seventh grade and eventually studying computer science as the only woman in her university program.

When she was accepted at Stanford University for a master’s degree in computer science, her father had to mortgage parts of his small software company in order to pay for just one quarter of his daughter’s graduate school education.

“I was determined to stay,” she says with a smile, describing how she approached a range of professors before finally landing financial assistance to complete her degree. A Sun Microsystems job and two start-ups later, she landed a job at Google a decade back.

“This is perhaps one of my greatest challenges,” she says. “We want to lay the foundation right, and then make sure every single part of Google is great for kids. They are the future, so why not give them the tools to let them create it.”

Dec 2 14

Algebra Apps for Students

by fsanchez

Here is a great post from eNews called 6 apps to build algebra skills! These algebra tools could become students’ go-to resources:

6 apps to build algebra skills

Many students begin school with a love of math, but stumble when they reach algebra. With the increasing prevalence of mobile learning, though, on-demand apps and resources can help students stay on top of their algebra lessons.

Here, we’ve gathered a handful of algebra apps summarized on, an app resource site with more than 6,000 apps in more than 300 subcategories.

[Editor’s note: eSchool News has not reviewed these apps, which were originally curated by Apple Distinguished Educators, but has selected some that may help you meet your instructional needs.]

1. Factor Race, $0.99
1918_img_51aa5897898b6f2cea06bcf5de44c3d9Begin at the starting gate with a race car. Move around the track to the finish line as you factor equations correctly. When you complete each level you earn a better race car. Ready, Get it correct, Zoooooommmm!

Factor Race is a game where the player must identify the binomial factors of trinomial equations For example, factoring x2+x-2 into (x-1)(x+2). The game uses logic to develop cognitive math skills. The touch mechanic of the game engages children in a hand-on learning process, implementing kinesthetic learning. The game incorporates mathematical problems attuned to binomial and trinomial factoring, based upon problems from textbook materials.


2. Khan Academy: Algebra 1, Free

Khan Academy Algebra allows students to learn Algebra through various videos which are download directly on your iPhone or iPod touch and in the future to your iPad. Students can watch the video anywhere, anytime, all the time and never be concerned about having access to the internet while you are going through a Khan Academy lesson.

3. Algebra Champ, Free 

1900_img_9adda5df8d767dace35f049b3bf8f4cdNew to algebra? Still find that “x” a little intimidating? Download this free application and you’ll be a champ in no time! Algebra Champ provides introductory level algebra skills practice with timed rounds, high scores, and a cage fight theme.

Designed for grades 6 – 8, Algebra Champ provides practice solving straightforward, single variable linear equations in an entertaining, game-like environment. Questions are randomly generated and presented in rounds of five. Answers are manageable integers (-10 to 10) and presented as multiple choice.

4. Algebra Touch, $2.99 

Have you forgotten most of your algebra? Algebra Touch will refresh your skills using touch-based techniques built from the ground up for your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.

5. DragonBox Algebra 5+, $4.99 

Children as young as five can easily begin to grasp the basic processes involved in solving linear equations without even realizing that they are learning. The game is intuitive, engaging and fun, allowing anyone to learn the basics of algebra at his or her own pace.

1679_img_d2959110228317ffe66ebaf5331ee8106. Quick Graph, Free 

It is a powerful, high quality, graphic calculator that takes full advantage of the multitouch display and the powerful graphic capabilities of the iPad and iPhone, both in 2D and 3D. A simple, yet intuitive interface that makes it easy to enter and/or edit equations and visualize them in mathematical notation.

Nov 25 14

Jeopardy Websites

by fsanchez

wii-trebekOver the past few months, some of our colleagues have identified neat websites that we can use in the classroom that are modeled after the Jeopardy show. Pia first showcased Jeopardylabs, a website that allows you to create your own jeopardy template without having to use PowerPoint.  

Then Nancy highlighted three great sites reviewed by Free Tech guru Rich Byrne: eQuizShow is a service that was built by a high school student in New York. Unlike similar tools you do not have to download or upload any PowerPoint files to use eQuizShow. On eQuizShow you can build and display your quiz completely online. To build your quiz just enter a title, an administrative password, and your question categories. eQuizShow will then generate a grid on which you can enter questions and answers. If you don’t have time to build a quiz or you just need some inspiration, browse the eQuizShow gallery. When you play the games you have the option to assign points to up to six teams playing the game. You can also play without awarding points.

Jeopardy Rocks is a newer (released in September) tool for creating Jeopardy-style review games. To create your game click “build now” on the Jeopardy Rocks homepage, choose a URL for your game board, and enter your email address. To create your questions just click on a square and enter your questions and answers. You can go back and edit your game board whenever you like by entering your board’s URL and entering your email address again. When it is time to play your game in your classroom you can have up to six teams represented on the game board.

FlipQuiz is a another site designed to make it easy for teachers to create and display Jeopardy-style review games. To create a game just register for a free account then select “new board.” Your new board will have six columns and five rows, but you do not have to use all of the columns and rows and you can add or subtract questions at any time. To create your questions simply type in the question and answer boxes. When you’re ready to use your game click the “presentation view” to display it through a projector. Try a demo quiz on the FlipQuiz homepage to see how the presentation view works. FlipQuiz is free to use for text-based questions. A premium plan is available if you want to use images in your questions or answers. FlipQuizzes that you create in the free plan are automatically shared into the public gallery of quizzes.

Now, I just read from Byrne of a new Jeopardy site that is based on Google forms: Flippity was originally designed to help you create flashcards through Google Spreadsheets. This morningSteve Fortna informed me that you can now useFlippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

Here’s a video from YouTube.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.13.57 PM


Nov 25 14

Coding & Other NJDOE Tech Initiatives

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 1.13.13 PMAs you may be aware, the New Jersey Assembly recently passed Resolution 170, which recognizes the week of  December 8 through 14, 2014 as “Computer Science Education Week” and encourages schools to participate in  the Hour of Code by providing an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour during that week.

Over 600 schools and/or districts in New Jersey have indicated that they plan to take part in the Hour of Code this year. That is great news since students should be exposed to this increasingly important 21st Century Skill and recent addition to the State’s Core Curriculum Content Standard 8

You can learn more about the Hour of Code at To learn more about how to include coding into your curriculum in general, you can find resources at

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 1.16.34 PM

Digital Learning Day
This school year’s date for the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Digital Learning Day (DLD) is March 13, 2015. DLD was started as a way to celebrate new ways of teaching and learning. It’s an opportunity for teachers, librarians, informal educators and others working with youth to try out new digital tools and innovative instructional practices. For more information, please go to Video profiles of previously featured school districts are now available along with many free online educational resources. You can also sign up to receive email alerts about upcoming webinars, news and updates regarding Digital Learning Day.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 1.20.20 PM

National STEM Video Game Challenge
The Smithsonian, in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media, present the 2014-15 National STEM Video Game Challenge. This year’s Challenge will be accepting entries through February 25, 2015. The Challenge Program includes game design workshops for youth, educators and parents in communities across the country, and a series of workshops to explore the power of intergenerational play and design. For more information, please go to

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 1.21.30 PM

Nov 20 14

Digital Citizenship Academy

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.28.29 AM

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has officially launched Digital Citizenship Academy, a collection of online modules designed to support educators in understanding and teaching issues of digital citizenship. The site comes with videos and lesson plans designed to show educators how to be their own best examples of digital citizens.

Nov 20 14

New Guide to Gaming in ED

by fsanchez

EDsurge recently posted that KQED’s Mind/Shift has published a comprehensive guide of ideas on game-based learning, complete with assessments and teaching strategies. It’s written by Jordan Shapiro. Check out the full guide here.

Here are the topics that found in teh guide: 

  1. What the Research Says About Gaming and Screen Time: Much of the research around digital games and screen time is evolving. Pediatricians, academics, educators, and researchers are working to find answers to how games and technology affect
    learners of all ages.
  2. How to Start Using Digital Games for Learning: Since each learning environment is unique, here are some steps to assessing your resources before committing to a particular game or platform. See how some educators are using digital games in the classroom and how they find support.
  3. How to Choose a Digital Learning Game: The sheer volume of games classified as educational can be overwhelming. This section gives you a starting point for game selection by providing an understanding of the types of games available in the marketplace and how to go about selecting them.
  4. Overcoming Obstacles for Using Digital Games in the Classroom: As game use in the classroom continues to grow, barriers to deployment also need to be addressed. A recent survey of teachers outlines exactly which obstacles get in the way of successful implementation; solutions to those concerns are outlined in this section.
  5. How Teachers Are Using Games in the Classroom: Examples of how teachers use games are embedded throughout the guide (including video examples), but this section takes an in-depth look at how some teachers are using games Getty in the classroom and their real-life struggles and victories.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.24.06 AM