Characteristics of Engaged Learners Vs Disengaged learners (Infographic)

November 26, 2014
Getting students engaged in learning is the ultimate goal of every teacher yet it is usually the most daunting and arduous one to achieve. Living in a digitally focused age where tech devices are dominating students lives, attention and focus become a rare currency. Students' minds are wired to multitask and use only fragmented bursts of attention. As teachers, we have to compete with all these distractive features to get our students' focus and engage them in the learning process. It is hard but possible.

The visual I have for you today presents some interesting discrepancies as to the characteristics and attributes of engaged learners versus disengaged learners. I invite you to check it out and share with us what you think of it.

Engaged vs Disengaged students

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Three Effective Ways to Look for Educational Content in Twitter

November 26, 2014
Twitter search is a great alternative to the conventional ways of searching the net. This socially-based kind of search allows students to access content and resources that are both timely and relevant. And most importantly, students do not need to have Twitter accounts to search its database. Below are some of the ways students  can leverage the power of Twitter search to  look for educational content:

1- Twitter Search Operators
similar to Google search operators, Twitter search  provides a set of powerful operators that students  can use to conduct focused search queries. They can use a combination of search operators to look for tweets from specific persons, sources and locations.  Check out this cheat sheet to learn more about these search operators.

2- Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a good way to gather people around content. There are hashtags for almost anything: news, events, conferences, you name it and you will probably find a hashtag for it. Students can search for content using a specific hashtag. For instance if they are looking for resources on educational technology they can run a search query in Twitter search using the hashtag #edtech. Here is a cheat sheet with all the educational hashtags out there.

3- Use Twitter advanced search
Twitter advanced search provides some powerful features to help students refine their searches and access relevant resources. Here is some of what they can do with it:

A- Words section

The Word's section in Twitter advanced search allows students to specify the terms, and phrases to be included or excluded from the tweets to be returned in result pages. It also lets them search for tweets that include a given hashtag. They can also specify the language of their tweets and choose from a wide variety of languages provided there.


Students can use this section to look for tweets coming from, sent to, or mentioning a certain account or multiple accounts.

C- Places

This is a great feature that students can use to look for trending tweets and news in a particular place. To use this functionality, they need to click on "add location" and Twitter will automatically add their location or they can choose the location they want.

D- Dates

This feature  enables students to look for tweets and resources shared within a specific period of time.

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Twitter Search Operators Teachers Should Know about

November, 2014
Twitter search platform  is a powerful search engine that is often underused by our students. Often times, the info you will find on Twitter search is way more precise and relevant than the results you will get from conventional search engines. At its best, Twitter search allows you to search trending topics and resources others are talking about and sharing both synchronously and asynchronously. And one better way to tap into the full educational potential of this tool is to use search operators.

Search operators allow you to refine your search and make it more focused. For instance, you can use these search operators  to look for tweets shared by a specific user, tweets containing particular words or phrases, tweets containing links, tweets from a particular news source, and many more. Below is a useful chart created and shared by Twitter featuring a number of search operators together with their explanations.

Excellent Chart Featuring 6 Reading Comprehension Strategies

November 25, 2014
Here is a great resource on reading comprehension strategies I came across today in my Google Plus feeds. This is basically a chart created by the folks in Scholastic and is available for free download in PDF format. The chart features 6 major reading comprehension strategies that students can use to improve and enhance their reading comprehension skills. These strategies are:

1- Making connections:
Encourage students to make connections between what they are reading and their personal experiences. They can relate it to events, people, issues and other things in their life.

Students can use this strategy to help them create visual pictures of the meanings they uncover from  the text.

3-Asking questions
To actively interact with a text, students need to be able to ask questions related to the text like what the message of the text is, what value does the text add to me? Why is the author saying so…etc

Students need not only contend themselves with the visible textual output but should delve deeper into the hidden layers of meanings drawing on external clues and inferring meanings  that would not otherwise be exposed.

5- Determining importance
Students should be able to determine main and topical ideas of the text and be able to understand and articulate them clearly

This is where students use their analytic skills to create a coherent and meaningful body of ideas drawing on both the information they have garnered from the text and their existing knowledge.

Click HERE to download the chart

Some Good Ideas and Activities to Teach Coding in Class Using Hopscotch

November, 2014

Here is another great free guide from Apple specifically designed for teachers and educators. Hopscotch Lesson Ideas is a free guide available for free download in iTunes. And as I said in an earlier post, this work is part of Apple's "Apps in the Classroom" series whose aim is to provide teachers with ideas and tips on how to integrate apps into daily classroom instruction.

HopScotch Lesson Ideas features a set of activities and tutorials that you can use in class to teach students about coding and creative thinking. For those of you not yet familiar with HopScotch, this is among the most popular iPad apps for teaching kids to code. Hopscotch teaches kids to code using simple, intuitive building blocks. Kids can create games, animations and other programs in this colorful, interactive environment. Program your characters to move, draw, and collide with each other, and use shaking, tilting, or even shouting at the iPad to control them. Hopscotch was inspired by MIT’s Scratch and gives kids a creative way to learn the fundamentals of computer programming.

Click on this link to download Hoptscotch guide and read it on your iBooks in iPad or Mac or in iTunes in your computer. Enjoy

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A New Tool to Search for Images Licensed for School Use

November, 2014
Photos for Class is a very good web tool that you and your students can use to search for and download Creative Common licensed images. The search engine of Photos for Class uses Flickr safe search to return results that are licensed for school use.

What I really like the most about this web tool is the fact that it makes it easy for you to properly attribute images particularly for printed or presented materials. Any picture you download from Photos for Class will have a watermarked section that contains the name of the author, the name of the photo, a link to the original photo, the name and type of license along with a link to read it. No worry about plagiarism or stolen work any more.

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Easy Way to Add Subtitles to Videos in Google Drive

November 24, 2014
I have just come across this excellent Google Drive tip and want to bring it to your attention as well. The tip is about adding subtitles to videos in Google Drive.This time it is not an extension or third party tool to add to your Drive but simply a short text file that you will have to tweak a bit to validate it. The process is very easy and won't take you more than a couple minutes. I have just tried it on a video on my Drive and it works really well.

I learned about this tip from Google Gooru. Watch his video tutorial to learn how to add subtitles to videos in your Drive.