Two Great Chromebook Tools to Hold Video Chats with Students

May 5, 2016
A few days ago we received a request from one of our readers here in EdTech and mLearning asking about suggestions for apps to use on Chromebook to hold video chats with students. There are actually several options out there to try out but the ones we trust the most are Hangouts and Skype. These are particularly ideal for holding secure face-to-face video calls with up to 10 people in Hangouts and 24 people in Skype. All you need is a microphone and a built-in camera.

1- Hangouts

Hangouts allows you to make video calls with up to 10 people. There are two ways you can invite people to your video calls: You can either select them from the Hangouts list that appears when you start a video call or search for them by name or email. The second way is through sharing a link with them. Here are instructions on how to use both of these ways as explained in Hangouts Help:

A-  How to start a video call 
  • 'Open Hangouts at or in Gmail.
  • Select a person from the Hangouts list or search for their name or email address. When you find the person you want, click their name.
  • To start a group video call, for each person in your group, type their name and check the box in front of their name.
  • Click the video icon .
  • When you're done with your video call, you can leave by pointing to the bottom of the window and clicking the end call icon.
B- Share a video call link with others
You can invite your friends to a video call by sharing a link.
  • At the top of the video call window, click the invite people icon .
  • Click Copy link to share. It will be automatically copied to your clipboard.
  • Paste the link in an email, chat window, or anywhere else that you want to share the video call information. To paste the link, press Command+V (Mac keyboards) or Control+V (PCs and Chromebooks).'
2- Skype

Unlike Hangouts, Skype allows you to invite up to 24 people to join your video call. For a better audio and video quality, you are required to have a high speed Internet connection.  Skype is also available for mobile devices ( iOS, Android, and Windows Phone) so you can make video calls wherever you are and from whatever device you use. To learn more about how to make group video calling in Skype, check out this page.

3 Awesome Google Drive Templates for Creating Lesson Plans

May 5, 2016
The new Google Drive Template Galleries for Docs, Sheets, and Slides embeds some really interesting templates to use for a variety of educational purposes.There are templates for creating resumes;  templates for writing letters, essays, book reports, and class notes. There are also work-related templates for creating things such as brochures, project proposals, newsletters and many more. All of these templates are professionally designed and you just pick out the one you want and start typing in your data. Alternatively, you can customize any of these templates to give them a personal touch. You can change text type and font, colours, add visuals…etc.

Today’s post highlights three handy Google Docs templates to use for designing beautiful lesson plans. To use any of these templates, head over to Docs template gallery, click on ‘more’ button on top right to open up the whole collection. Scroll down to the 'Education' section and you will find the lesson plan templates listed there. Click on the one you like to open it in your Docs.The templates are called:

1- Lesson plan by Reading Rainbow
2- Lesson Plan (Playful)
3- Lesson Plan (Simple)

Some Awesome End of School Year Worksheets, Printables, and Checklists

May 4, 2016
After posting about digital activities and tools to use for wrapping up the school year, below are some more resources in this direction. These are  excellent websites and webpages where you can access a wide variety of worksheets, printables, checklists, visuals and many other materials designed specifically for the end of school year activities. Check them and share with us if you have other suggestions to add to this collection. Enjoy

1- Printables from Super Teacher
Super Teacher Worksheets features a page packed full of interesting end of school year worksheets. Check it to learn more.

These are some awesome end of the Year Activities, Printables, Lessons, and Teaching Ideas

Here are a dozen effective strategies to turn students' end-of-the-year energy into instructional success.

Teachnology has aggregated in this page some gorgeous checklists and templates for teachers and parents to use at the end of school year

'End of school year worksheets, end of year lesson plans. Summer holidays worksheets. Keep them learning right through to the end of the school year with these end of school literacy worksheets.'

This page contains dozens of links and resources to help you plan engaging activities for the end of school year.

This is a great page full of resources to use to wrap up your school year.

The End of the Year seasonal pages will provide you with great resources to help wrap up your school year in style. These include: poems, projects, craft ideas, lesson plans, writing activities, and Internet resources. 

This is part of a post we shared  here last year.
Image source: Teachnology

4 Helpful Websites for Literacy Teachers

May 4, 2016
Below are four great websites to enhance literacy teaching and learning. They provide a wide variety of educational materials and resources designed specifically to help learners and struggling students take their reading and writing to the next level. Apart from Readwritethink, a platform we have reviewed multiple times in the past, the three remaining websites (we discovered through Graphite) are included here for the first time. Check them out and share with us your feedback. Enjoy

1- Actively Learn

Actively Learn is a reading platform that helps ‘software helps teachers use great texts to promote deep learning and helps students explore texts to actively construct knowledge.’ This is how it works:

  • 'Choose from a diverse catalog of thousands of texts or upload an internet article, google doc, or PDF.
  • Use our pre-created instruction or add your own by embedding questions, notes, and multimedia exactly where it can most help your students.
  • When students read, they think more, write more, and collaborate with their peers, which enhances what they learn and makes reading more meaningful.
  • Use details like vocabulary look ups, time spent, and notes taken to provide feedback that gets immediate attention.'

2- ReadWritethink

This is definitely a wonderful website for teachers. It offers a plethora of educational materials and resources to use in your classroom with your students. These include things such as interactive, printable, lesson plans and many more. You can also check this section to access Readwritethink’s interacitive tools we have reviewed in the past.

3- Adolescent Literacy

‘ is a national multimedia project offering information and resources to the parents and educators of struggling adolescent readers and writers. is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital, and is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and by the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation.’

4- ThinkCERCA

‘ThinkCERCA is an online platform designed to empower teachers to personalize literacy instruction across disciplines. ThinkCERCA helps whole school teams differentiate for engaging learning in classrooms of diverse learners. The CERCA Framework provides a common language for students, teachers, parents, and administrators to drive sustainable growth in student achievement.’

Some Excellent Digital Activities to Wrap Up The School Year

May 2 , 2016
The end of this school year is approaching quickly and just like every  teacher at this time of the year,  you might be thinking laboriously about ideas and activities to use to wrap up this school year. Below are some good suggestions to try out. These are digital activities you can utilize in class to engage students in creative tasks centered around ways to reflect upon and document their learning.

1- Create Memory Books
Here are some digital tools to help you and your students create memory books :
Use Google Docs or any other word editor that you and your students are familiar with. We prefer Google Docs because it has an integrated feature that allows you to convert  documents into PDFs with a single click. Once converted you can then upload and turn your PDF into a nice looking book using one of these tools:
2- Create educational posters
This is a good way for you and your students to highlight and capture those memorable events that marked the ending schoolyear. Here are some good tools to use for this purpose:
3- Bulletin Boards
Use the tools below to invite students to contribute in creating a class board where everyone gets to share what they learned .
4-  Gather students Feedback
One important way to inform your teaching practice is through insights coming out of students feedback. There are many tools to use to collect feedback and poll your students. Below are some of our favourites:
5- Create digital portfolios
Invite your students to create portfolios to showcase what they have learned during the school year. Below is a collection of some good tools to use in this direction:
6-Create a photo scrapbook
Students love scrapbooking and this could be a fun activity for them. Pick a tool from the list below and show them how they can use it to create a pic collage or photo scrapbook featuring pictures from previous field trips,  class events...etc
7- Create short movies
Use the tools below to show students how to create a short video clip in which they highlight ideas like : what they learned during this school year, reasons why they need to transition to another higher grade, and probably even give pieces of advice to future students .
8- Slideshows 
Here are some very good tools students can use to create presentations wrapping up their school year. 
This is an updated version of the post we published last year.

Here Is A Powerful App for Creating Educational Sketchnotes

May 2, 2016
Zen Sketch is a great iPad app we have previously featured in several posts here in EdTech and mLearning. Today we thought to revisit it because it is free and only for a limited period of time. Zen Sketch combines two powerful functionalities into a single intuitive platform: drawing and sketching. If you like doodling or sketching your notes, you will definitely love Zen Sketch.

You can use Zen Sketch to brainstorm ideas and thoughts in a distraction-free environment using an intuitive interface. You can handwrite your ideas, add beautiful visuals and drawings, create shapes and figures and save your notes just the way you would do in a regular note-taking app such as Evernote. Zen Sketch also allows you to export your notes out of the app in the form of image or PDF or share them via email or through social media platforms.  Additionally, Zen Sketch is very simple and easy to use and has no learning curve. Once installed, you can straightaway start drawing and sketching your notes. Give it a try and see if you like it.