5 Good Lesson Planning Tools for Teachers

In yesterday’s post we reviewed web tools that you can use to create interactive lessons, lessons that integrate a wide variety of multimedia materials. In today’s post, we are sharing with you another collection of web tools in the same direction. These are tools to help you with  your lesson planning. Besides allowing you to design engaging teaching materials, they also provide you with practical functionalities to monitor students learning and track their progress using features such as quizzes and discussions.

1- PlanbookEdu

‘PlanbookEdu takes the hassle out of lesson planning.  You can create and view your plans from any computer with an Internet connection.  You never have to worry about forgetting your paper planner or thumb drive with your lesson plan template. Creating plans is simple to do, without sacrificing powerful features such as the ability to repeat a lesson and create re-usable templates. You can also attach homework or any lesson material directly to you plans and access it anytime.  Common Core Standards are integrated, allowing you to quickly tag a standard to a lesson’.

2- Blendspace by TES

Bendspace is a platform that allows you to create engaging lessons to use in your instruction. Your lessons can contain digitally varied content including videos, presentations, documents, images, and links. You can also upload and add your own files stored in a Cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Additionally, Blendspace provides you with built-in tools to monitor your students progress and understanding using features such as quizzes and discussions.

3- WeLearnedIt

‘WeLearnedIt is an easy to use project-based learning platform that allows teachers to create and share dynamic assignments, leave meaningful feedback on student work, and allows learners to capture and track their academic growth and achievement over time in digital learning portfolios… Some of its features include: Rubric and Assignment Library; Incredibly Easy to Set Up Classes; Progress Reporting; Annotation Feature on Created Content; Digital Learning Portfolios’.

'DocentEDU is a great web tool and mobile app to use with your students. It is particularly ideal for both Blended and Flipped learning classrooms. DocentEDU allows you to easily turn any webpage or published Google Doc into an interactive lesson where you add comments, private discussions, highlight passages, embed videos/maps/ simulations/quizzes, add questions and many more. When students log in to the website they will be able to see all the annotations, questions and content you have added. Students can also use DocentEDU to take their notes and add their own annotations to the text.'

5- Socrative Teacher

‘Engage, assess and personalize your class with Socrative! Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative Student app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide visuals of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding when it matters, now! To get started using Socrative, simply register for a Socrative Teacher account.’
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Some Helpful Chrome Tips for Teachers

Below is a collection of some handy tips to use on your Chrome browser. These are basically simple hacks to help you make the best of your Chrome experience. While we have included only instructions on how to use these tips on Chrome for the web,  we have also provided links to pages with more details on how to use them on mobile devices (iOS and Android). Some of the the things you will get to learn from this collection include: how to conduct quick online search using Chrome address bar, how to remotely access another computer using Chrome Remote Desktop, how to customize your privacy settings, how to access your bookmarks on different devices, how to autofill your info in forms, how to browse the web in pirate and many more.

1- Search the web on Chrome
Chrome allows you to conduct quick online searches by simply typing your search query in the address bar of your Chrome window. As you start typing your search words, Chrome will show you suggested links and search phrases. Additionally, you can search words and images  on any web page opened in Chrome. You simply highlight a word or phrase, right-click on it  and select one of the followings from the pop-up window: ’Search Google for’or ’Search with Google’.

2-  Access your saved bookmarks and browsing history from different devices
Signing in to Chrome will enable you to sync all of your bookmarks, browsing history, and passwords to your Google account so you can access them when you use Chrome on any other device. However, to secure and keep your data safe, make sure you only sign in to Chrome from trusted devices. Here is how to sign in to Chrome on your computer :
  • 'Open Chrome. 
  • In the top right, click the button with your name or the person icon 
  • Click Sign in to Chrome. 
  • Sign in with your Google Account.'
3-  Use Chrome keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly perform different tasks on your Chrome. These shortcuts are arranged into four main categories : tab and window shortcuts, Chrome feature shortcuts, address bar shortcuts, and webpage shortcuts.  They are also available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

4- Browse in private with incognito mode
Incognito mode allows you to browse the web without leaving a trace. Incognito mode prevents Chrome from saving a record of the websites you visit or things you download. Here is how to activate Incognito mode on your computer
  • 'Open a Chrome window 
  • In the top right, click the Menu 
  • Select New Incognito Window. 
  • A new window will open with a gray figure in the top-right corner 
  • To close incognito mode, go to the corner of each of your incognito windows and click the X.'
5- Autofill your info in forms on Chrome
Chrome’s Autofill allows you to automatically fill out forms you use in Chrome with your saved information such as email address, phone number, address, name ..etc. You can also edit, change or delete these info as you like. Here is how to use Autofill on your computer:
  • 'Open Chrome. 
  • In the top right, click the icon you see: Menu  or More 
  • Click Settings > Show advanced settings. 
  • Under “Passwords and forms,” click Manage Autofill settings. 
  • Adjust your setting'
6- Import or export bookmarks
This functionality allows you to import bookmarks you have on another browser right into your Chrome. Alternatively, you can export your Chrome bookmarks in HTML file to use on another browser. Here is how to do it :
 A- Import bookmarks:
  • On your computer, open Chrome.
  • In the top right, click the Menu Chrome menu.
  • Select Import Bookmarks and Settings.
  • In the "From" drop-down menu, select Bookmarks HTML file.
  • Select Choose File.
  • Upload the saved HTML.
  • Click Done.’
B- Export bookmarks:
  • ‘Open Chrome.
  • In the top right, click the Menu Chrome menu.
  • Select Bookmarks > Bookmark Manager.
  • In the manager, click the "Organize" menu.
  • Select Export bookmarks.’
 7- Customize your privacy settings
Several of Chrome settings are turned on by default. Chrome uses them for a variety of purposes including providing search terms predictions, suggesting websites addresses, resolving spelling errors, storing browsing history and many more. Here is how you can access and adjust your Chrome’s privacy setting on your computer:
  • ‘On your computer, open Chrome.
  • In the top right, click the Menu Chrome menu.
  • Click Settings.
  • At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.
  • Under "Privacy," adjust your settings:
  • To manage how Chrome handles content and permissions for a site, click Content settings.
  • To delete information about the websites you've visited, click Clear browsing data.
  • Uncheck any of the privacy settings boxes you don't want anymore.’
8- Remotely access another computer using Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop app lets you access a remote computer over the Internet so you can see files, documents and applications installed on it. The app is available for iOS, Android and the web. Here is how to allow remote access to your computer. Please, check this page for more details:
  • Type chrome://apps in your address bar and press Enter. 
  • Click Chrome Remote Desktop 
  • Under "My Computers," click Get started. 
  • Click Enable remote connections. 
  • Install the Chrome Remote Host Service on your operating system: 
Source: Chrome Help
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6 Must Read Books On The Science of Learning

Learning is a complex cognitive phenomena that has been and is still the central theme of a wide variety of scientific studies. The overarching question ‘how we learn what we learn’ intrigued scientists across different disciplines and generated tons of literature on the topic. Informative insights coming out of these studies have not only demystified the workings of human cognition but have also shaped pedagogy and teaching methodology in unprecedented ways (e.g. multiple intelligence theory and learning styles). In this month's Books for Teachers, we are sharing with you five popular books on the topic of learning. You may want to bookmark and save them to read in your upcoming vacation. Enjoy

1- How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, by Benedict Carey (Author)

‘In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming.’

2- Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter C. Brown  (Author), Henry L. Roediger III (Author), Mark A. McDaniel  (Author)

‘To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.’

3- Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, by Ian Leslie  (Author)

‘Drawing on fascinating research from psychology, economics, education, and business, Curious looks at what feeds curiosity and what starves it, and finds surprising answers. Curiosity isn’t, as we’re encouraged to think, a gift that keeps on giving. It is a mental muscle that atrophies without regular exercise and a habit that parents, schools, and workplaces need to nurture. Filled with inspiring stories, case studies, and practical advice, Curious will change the way you think about your own mental habits, and those of your family, friends, and colleagues.’

4- How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough  (Author)

‘How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty.’

5- How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, by Susan A. Ambrose (Author), Michael W. Bridges (Author), Michele DiPietro (Author), & 3 more

‘Distilling the research literature and translating the scientific approach into language relevant to a college or university teacher, this book introduces seven general principles of how students learn. The authors have drawn on research from a breadth of perspectives (cognitive, developmental, and social psychology; educational research; anthropology; demographics; organizational behavior) to identify a set of key principles underlying learning, from how effective organization enhances retrieval and use of information to what impacts motivation.’
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The Four Stages of Reading Students Should Know about

How to Read a Book  by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren is one of the most celebrated classic works in the reading literature. It was first published in 1940 and then revisited and updated in an edition that was released in 1972. Since its publication millions of copies have been sold and is still widely circulating among education circles as a required reading text. It’s true that the book was conceived in a ‘pre-digital’ era but its content is still relevant even now that the digital text is predominantly prevalent.

In How to Read A Book, Van Doren and Mortimer talked about four main levels of reading: elementary reading, inspectional reading, analytical reading, and syntopical reading. Note here that the authors deliberately named them levels and not kinds because, according to them, kinds can be distinct from one another while levels denote a notion of embeddedness with lower levels included in higher ones. In other words, levels of reading are cumulative. Below is an infographic we have created encompassing these four levels of reading we want to bring to your attention. Please have a look and share with us your feedback.

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9 Essential Digital Skills for the 21st Century Teacher

In a digitally focused world, education is getting more and more digitized pushing us, teachers and educators, to re-conceptualize what it really means to be a teacher in the 21st century. Whether you are a technological determinist or instrumentalist, technology has become an essential force shaping much of our teaching and pedagogical practices. It has also placed a number of demands and exigencies on us and to meet these exigencies we need to develop a set of key digital skills. In the chart below, we cited 9 digital skills that we believe are fundamentally important for any teacher. This chart is based on a previous work we published here in the past.

Digital Skills
Record and edit audio clips
Create annotated, interactive and engaging  video content
Create visually engaging content
Use social networking websites to create PLNs,  connect , discover new content, and grow professionally
Use blogs and wikis to create participatory spaces for students
Use Social bookmarking websites curate and  share resources with your class
Create Engaging presentations
Create digital portfolios
Create non-traditional quizzes

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Here Is A great Interactive Tool to Teach Students How to Read A Map

Here is a great educational tool we came across today as we were working on the list of social studies websites for elementary students. Reading a Map is an interactive web tool provided by the National Park Service that helps students develop their reading map skills. Students get to learn how to read different data on the map, identify major types of maps and navigate their ways through the typography of a map. The tool is free to use and does not require any software installation or registration.

To use this map reading tool, head over to this page and click on ‘Let’s go’. Follow the instructions as you go through the slides. The tutorial starts with a quick introduction of what a map is and how it is drawn. Then it proceeds to explain what a Topographic map is followed by a comprehension check exercise. More visually illustrated explanations are provided on the different features of a map and how to locate them. The last section of this interactive guide is devoted to the three constitutive elements making up a map namely : the legend, the scale and the direction indicator. Students will get to learn more about each of these elements and work on exercises to consolidate their learning.

Courtesy of Interactive Sites for Education