Teague's Tech Treks - 10 Rep Learning

Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Tech BFF–Fotopedia

BFF is an acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” These websites and tips are so good that they will become your technology BFFs!

Given that we know that students (and most of teachers!) like to learn visually, it is wonderful for me to find this great website called Fotopedia.

Fotopedia is the first collaborative photo encyclopedia. Anyone can join the community and help build the encyclopedia.  Free account holders can add photos to articles, create articles, and vote for the best articles. Anyone can search the stunning topic list.

Here is an example of the listing for “Reading”: http://www.fotopedia.com/wiki/Reading_(process)

Fotopedia: “visualize” the search for yourself! 🙂


Tech BFF: Addressing Reading Challenges With Qwiki

BFF is an acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” These websites and tips are so good that they will become your technology BFFs!

In the rush and crush of the daily classroom schedule, it helps to have customizable strategies for the myriad of reading challenges that may arise in the classroom.

Do you think reading difficulty is confined just to certain students or, should we be ready for it to emerge, at least periodically in every student on our class list? Can it be triggered, say, by sudden trauma at home? Could it be triggered by something new and unfamiliar?

I remember one student who moved to our San Diego school. She had strong reading scores in her home state school in Kansas, but after a few weeks, her teacher noticed a sudden change. After exhausting many diagnostic avenues, we looked more closely at the curriculum. The class was studying “boats” which are very common in San Diego, California, but not so much in Kansas! A hugely unfamiliar unit with odd new words (yacht, skiff, rudder, hull) that everyone seemed extremely familiar with, left her, well, “adrift”. When we realized this disconnect, we were able to scaffold the appropriate supports very quickly.

I wonder…can observation play a key role in helping students who suddenly struggle with episodic reading difficulties such as the one mentioned above in the San Diego school?

One of my online course students named Mary agrees. “We see incidences of environment vs literature/standardized test questions disconnects ALL the time. {For example,} “People in south Louisiana don’t have a clue what a basement is! They don’t know that snow boots should be worn in the wintertime. Boots to them are something the women wear with their skinny jeans when they dress up. The swamps are only 50 miles away but many of the 2nd graders have never seen them.”

An interactive new website, now in alpha will address these dis-fluent disconnects. It is called Qwiki.

It passed our classroom tryout test – we asked students to put in unique search strings and Qwiki delivered on almost all of them. It also allows publicizing to social media sites and embedding code.

Check it out – http://www.qwiki.com


Heart Rocks Valentine’s Day Project

Here is a great, easy, fun, and frolicking craft for Valentine’s Day.
It can also be adapted for a rain day, snow day, or “Free” day.
Complete instructions at this link:



Daily EFL/ESL English Activities


Tech BFF: Digital Collages with CollageIt

happinesspoem by Helen Teague


Digital collages are a fun way to integrate art into a lesson plan. They can be an authentic assessment option since many students think visually. Before CollageIt, the tools to create digital collages were cumbersome and/or blocked by school filter.

CollageIt by Pearl Mountain Software is an easy download with no Active-X or other bothersome add-ins to combat. In three easy steps, a digital collage can be created. Aesthetic touches include multiple layout and rotation options.

I received CollageIt as a prize in Miguel Guhlin’s Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org blog contest. My previous attempts at online collaging involved sites with only four picture uploads for the free version and/or rendering and then retrieval of a link with huge pressure to purchase the finished project. Both options provided little in the way of classroom activity ease and integration.

Some fun uses for digital collages:
Digital essays: “What I did over summer vacation”, “My favorite book”, “My family tree”
Rebus Writings
Pictorial Timelines: chronicling sequences in Civil War battles, WW I & II battles, steps in an experiment, plot progression in a novel, lifecycles of cells, plants and animals,
Pictorial Summaries: Summaries of field trips, football season, band camp, chorus trip,
Visual Poetry: This is the one I like since many students have difficulty or perceive themselves as having difficulty with poetry.

Choose a poem, or let students self-select and read the poem. In teaching through the Bloom’s taxonomy of Knowledge and Application, students can also “list” words such as those from parts of speech and use them in a sentence. Unfamiliar words may be accompanied by a definition.

For this example I choose the poem “Happiness Will Sleep” by Miranda Claudius.

Happiness will sleep
in the still places:
in cups of tea, picture frames
and the smell of hope
that wraps around walls.

Next, students highlight the words that convey the meaning or symbols of a poem. To teach this skill in a basic form, ask students to highlight any nouns or adjectives and then choose which ones they think are the most important. In MS Word, you can use the highlighter tool or highlighters on standard hardcopy notebook paper. In teaching through the Bloom’s taxonomy, choosing the words applies to Analysis and Evaluation.

Next search visual representations for the words from pictures, uploaded pictures, or choose from a teacher-selected photo gallery as mentioned previously. Use the “Add” feature in CollageIt to include these pictures. Next, the fun of generating and choosing layout options begins. This coorelates to the Bloom’s taxonomy of Synthesis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

NOTE: Students need to understand where to find the files to use for their collages. For young learners, a folder on the desktop or in My Documents simplifies this. (For techs and techno-geeks, please do not over-react to the mention of saving folders on desktops)

Here is a sample of one layout:

As a criteria, you may want to assign the number of pictures that may be included. This curtails, “Johnny one-shot” from submitting too early just to be done. You may also choose to assign a caption for students to write of the key phrases they are highlighting. To differentiate the assignment up a notch set a vocabulary criteria inclusion. For example, in this poem, “Tone” “Symbols” and “mood” could be criterion reference points.

Assessment with rubrics is highly recommended.
Your grading rubric could have these criteria points:

Number of Photographs to include: _____ (10 points)
Poem Choice Name and Text (20 points)
Collage Caption (50 points)
Number of Vocabulary words to include
Number of curricular concepts to include
Timeliness and Completeness submission (20 points)

CollageIt! Super duper fun and educational too!

BFF is an acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” These websites and tips are so good that they will become your technology BFFs!


Toward Motivating Students

Daniel Pink condenses ideas on motivation in the workplace summarizing his research in the book,  Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pull Quote: “Management is great if you want compliance but if you want engagement, then self-direction is better.” As you watch the video, consider applications for students in the classroom.

Originally seen in a post at People-triggers


Tech BFF: Using Voki Talking Avatars in the Classroom


Cute little Vokis give imaginary friends digital properties~

Voki is an application that lets you create personalized avatars to use on your wikis, blogs or websites. You can also e-mail these wonderful characters. This free web 2.0 tool is a great way to motivate learners of any age, because they are very interactive and provide various options for students to customize them.  It’s a great way to improve your students’ speaking and listening skills in an engaging and innovative way

I use Vokis in the online courses I facilitate for PBS, but this blog has easy and innovative ideas for using them in the classroom. Read more

BFF is an acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” These websites and tips are so good that they will become your technology BFFs!

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