MAT Blog

TestTube: A New Digital Current Events Station

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 16, 2014 12:36:32 PM

news for kidsWe’re always looking for ways to make news and current events stories exciting and digestible for students, so we were pleased to come across a cool new website called TestTube.

On TestTube, you’ll find a hefty collection of articles, videos, and programs that answer convoluted questions like Does the U.S. Jobs Report Even Matter?, Could ISIS Terrorists Attack the US?, and What the Heck is 3D Printing? in an engaging and accessible way.

A word of caution for teachers: While most of the content on TestTube is student-friendly, you may want to screen the videos first before presenting them to your students.



Tags: news sites for students, news for kids, current events for students

The Best of the Week: Volume 15

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 12, 2014 1:47:44 PM


There’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Reading and Language Arts

Super Corny Thesaurus Joke
My Storybook (nice app to help students create digital stories)

History and Social Studies
10 Reasons Why Russians Don’t Smile Much
Ferguson: The Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching It
José vs Joe: Who Gets A Job? (A must-see YouTube video)
100 Years of Unrest (interactive map that shows the history of protests, uprisings, rebellions and revolts)

Photogrammar (awesome collection of historical photos)
Fasten Seat Belts (a light-hearted guide to help you avoid misunderstandings when traveling)
Overlap Maps (a nice country-comparison tool)

Random Reads / Random Apps for Educators

The National Honesty Index
Teacher Asks Students To Split Into 2 Groups To Simulate Ideal Class Size (hilarious, but completely true article from The Onion)
Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding
Heganoo (an app to help you create your own interactive maps)
Foldify (an app that allows you to draw, create, print and fold beautiful 3D figures)

A Visualization of an Asteroid's Path of Orbit Which Nearly Collided with the Earth and Moon in 2003
Outer Space (The footage from this video was captured by NASA's Cassini and Voyager missions)
Low-Tech Magazine: Doubts on Progress and Technology
World’s Oldest Light Bulb Still Works
The 20 Best Science Fiction Books of the Decade
50 Best Science Sites for the Average Joe
This Impressive Tower Creates Water from the Air
The Kid Should See This (cool videos for curious students)
18 GIFs That Prove Science Is The Coolest Subject Ever


Tags: The Best of the Week

Randomly select students with these free classroom management apps

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 11, 2014 10:57:24 AM

If you’ve ever had a student protest that you’ve called on him or her too many times or favor so and so, take yourself entirely out of the equation and blame it on one of these three random name selection apps!

classroom management appsRandom Student is available for Apple and Android devices. Once you input the student names in each class, you can do typical things, like track behavior, but you can also track things like the number of correct/incorrect answers a student gives when called upon. You can use the Random Student feature and have the app speak the students' names so that it's truly random. It can also assign random groups from 2-6 students to take the load off you!

classroom management offers three free randomized name selection games including a Typewriter, which unscrambles names, a Wheel of Fortune, and Slot Machine.

classroom_management_apps-7In addition to randomly selecting students, Stick Pick offers a variety of question starters (based on Bloom’s taxonomy) and records how well students respond during classroom discussions. Let’s say that Jenny consistently scores high on the questions; simply change the difficulty of the questions to ensure that she stays challenged and engaged!


If you’re looking for a hefty collection of classroom management apps, check out our free downloadable guide, 15 Indispensable Classroom Management Apps for Educators.


Tags: classroom management, apps for educators, apps for teachers, classroom management apps

Newsela Now Featuring Articles & Sports News for Kids

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 10, 2014 1:41:03 PM

news for kidsNewsela is one of my favorite places to find current events and news for kids. I especially appreciate that every article on Newsela comes in four different versions—so if one article is too difficult for students, an easier version of the same article is just a click away.

I’ve already written about all of Newsela’s cool features before, but this morning I just found out that the site is now featuring a Sports section! While your sports-crazed students won't find last night's box scores on the site, they will find articles that connect sports to important global issues.

In one article, students might read about an Orioles minor leaguer's harrowing escape from Cuba and the push to change the Redskins' name. In another readers will find out how math can be used to improve basketball defenses, or how athletes are pushing for more research into concussions and brain health.

news for kids

Tags: news sites for students, news for kids

Preparing for Your First Parent-Teacher Meeting

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 9, 2014 1:18:38 PM

parent teacher meetingParent-teacher meetings can be nerve-racking, and for good reason: Unlike Back-to-School Night events, meetings are not informal meet-and-greets organized by the school. Usually they are the result of ongoing challenges with a student’s behavior or academic performance.

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be excited to meet with parents under these circumstances, but with a little planning and a positive attitude, these get-togethers can be relatively painless and extremely productive.

To help you prepare for your first parent-teacher meeting, we’d like to share a few tips from Donna Tileston’s book, What Every Teacher Should Know About the Profession and Politics of Teaching.

Preparing for the parent-teacher meeting

  • Most parents and guardians work during the day, so you should plan on staying after school to meet with them. Avoid setting a rigid timeframe around your schedule and find a time that is convenient for parents. If parents are open to it, you might even offer to meet at their home.
  • Most of us like surprises, but not when we know the news is going to be unpleasant. Let parents know ahead of time what you wish to discuss and what your concerns are.
  • Ensure that all of your concerns can be verified. “I think” does not work well in parent conferences.
  • Gather data, records, notes, grades, test results, and any other information that applies to the conference.
  • If you plan to make recommendations for special services for the student, be sure to have the appropriate paperwork and guidelines. It would also be wise to invite the person in charge of special services. Again, be sure to inform the parents about your plans before the meeting happens.
  • Your student will eventually find out that you are meeting with his or her parents, so it’s best that s/he find out from you. Be brief and tactful.
  • If you are meeting in your classroom, make special accommodations for adults. Avoid having parents sit in tiny chairs or student desks.

Conducting the parent-teacher meeting

  • Most parents will be coming directly from work to this meeting. Offering them a beverage or small snack is a kind and welcoming gesture that may help take the edge off.
  • Avoid using teacher jargon—“an inch wide and a mile deep,” “depth of knowledge,” “building conceptual understanding,” and so on. This type of language is vague, esoteric, and means very little to parents.
  • Listen more than you speak.
  • You may see all the signs suggesting that your student has special needs, but avoid making any diagnosis. You’re a teacher, not a doctor.
  • Do not compare the child to his or her peers, even if you are praising the student.
  • Keep in mind that parents have a right to be skeptical. Do not get defensive if they ask you questions like, “How do you know?” or “That’s not what s/he told me!”
  • Collaborate with parents to come up with a plan of action and put it in writing.
  • Following the meeting, call or email your student’s parents to thank them for coming to the meeting. And don’t forget to continue giving them updates on your student’s progress.


Tags: parent partnerships, Parent Engagement, parent teacher meeting

School Circle: A Free App to Help Strengthen Parent Partnerships

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 5, 2014 2:36:55 PM

Schooowl-badgel Circle may be the answer to one of our biggest “teacherly” conundrums: simplifying communication and solidifying relationships with our students’ parents. Here’s how School Circle works:

After creating your free account, you can send out invites to parents and use your dashboard to visibly track who accepted your invitation. If parents’ email addresses change or stop working, you’ll know it because School Circle will send you a notification. With this complete, you now have the ability to send messages, set up events, and share photos and documents with anyone in your “circle.” Pretty cool, huh?

parent-teacher communication




Tags: parents, parent partnerships, Parent Engagement

The Best of the Week: Volume 14

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 5, 2014 2:27:53 PM


There’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Reading and Language Arts
5 Excuses Kids Give for Not Reading (and Ways to Respond)
Fairy Tales Gone Wild: 10 Creative Ways to Teach Fairy Tales
Lit Genius (an online community where you’ll find the work of scholars who have annotated anything from classic and contemporary literature, to spoken word and hip hop music)
Lincoln Elementary Turns Reluctant Boy Readers into Voracious Page Turners
The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories
Core Clicks
(a digital nonfiction program for K-5 students)
Newspaper Map (an interactive world map that allows users to click their way around the latest international news)

History and Social Studies
The Public Domain Review (excellent collection of public-domain artifacts)
HipHughs History (a YouTube channel that offers a series of upbeat history lessons)
A Global Guide to the First World War (an interactive documentary)
Made from History (an awesome collection of history-related videos, articles, and photos)
Some Things Never Change
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Photos From the Ruins
Today I Found Out (a collection of quick facts that explain anything from why Michael Jackson’s skin turned white, to how dry cleaning works)

Random Reads for Educators
The Complete List of 80 Teacher Discounts
15 Things We Did At School That Future Students Will Never Understand
A Thought-Provoking Infographic on Poverty and Education in the United States
Museum of New Zealand (collection of over 30,000 free images)

Distant Oasis (an infographic on Europa, the sixth-closest moon of the planet Jupiter)
Teach Math With Mondrian, Calder, Warhol and Others!
PhysicsGames.Net (nice collection of free physics games)

Tags: The Best of the Week

10 of Our Favorite Places That Offer Teacher Discounts

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 4, 2014 10:27:25 AM

Has there ever been a time when teachers haven't spent their own money on their classrooms? Probably not, but in an era of slashed budgets, many teachers are reaching even deeper into their own wallets to purchase classroom supplies and teaching materials. To help you save a little dough this year on your classroom and yourself, I’d like to share our list of places offering discounts for educators.

10 of Our Favorite Places That Offer Teacher Discounts

discounts_or_teachers_1Right now, Staples is offering a 50-percent-off discount on classroom posters, banners, and signs. Normally, it would cost $12.99 to print 11”X17” posters, but for a limited time, you can take half off the original price! The offer is only valid if you call by phone, or upload your image and order online here.

discounts_for_teachers_2Book Warehouse offers a 15 percent discount for all public, private, home-school teachers, librarians, and professors. There is no cost to join. Simply show your teacher identification card or similar document and then fill out Book Warehouse’s Educator's Card. For a list of store locations, click here.

teacher_discount_3At Books a Million, any educator with an identification card will receive 20 percent off of most books purchased for classroom use. Click here to find a store near you.

discounts_for_teachers_5Here is a hefty collection of bed and breakfasts participating in the Travel for Teachers program. Some B&Bs offer free nights while others offer teacher appreciation packages that include discounted rates (25% off), free massages, wine and other amenities.

banner2012Educators Travel Network is sort of like a time-share, but for teachers. Membership (a mere $36 a year) grants you use of thousands of homestays throughout the country. Depending on the location and availability, you’ll either be hosted ($40/night) by another member or stay in the member’s home while s/he is away ($50/night).

Click on the Destinations tab to view the ETN’s complete membership directory. This page introduces you to current ETN members, tells you a little bit about them and describes their accommodations.

lowes-trailersEducators are eligible to pay no sales tax at Lowe's. Simply present a tax exempt form with your school's tax ID number.

LOFTLike us, Loft thinks it’s about time that teachers took a break from spending money on their classrooms and splurged on themselves. Loft’s teachers program offers teachers perks including:

  • 15 percent off your full-price purchase every day
  • Sweepstakes exclusively for teachers
  • A chance to win an annual $50,00 grant
  • Teacher appreciation nights

To sign up for their program, click here.

aweaeMen, we didn’t forget you. J. Crew and Banana Republic both offer a 15 percent discount with a valid teacher’s ID.

Horizontal-logoWhat is a classroom without a classroom pet? Pets in the Classroom offers a variety of grants to help you cover the cost of welcoming your favorite furry, slithery or swimming creature to your classroom community. Simply fill out the application, tell them about yourself, your students and your classroom to be considered for a grant award.

There are seven grant awards, including:

  1. Rebate Grants in the amounts of $75 (for small animals or birds) or $125 (for reptiles or fish) for purchases at pet stores;
  2. Sustaining Grant in the amount of $50 to maintain an existing classroom pet;
  3. Petco Grant, which provides coupons for the live animal, pet habitat and supplies purchased at Petco;
  4. Petsmart Grant, which provides coupons for the live animal, pet habitat and supplies purchased at Petsmart;
  5. Pet Supermarket Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and pet supplies purchased at Pet Supermarket;
  6. Pet Supplies Plus Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and supplies purchased at Pet Supplies Plus Stores;
  7. Petland Discounts Grant, which provides coupons for live animal and supplies purchased at Petland Discounts Stores.

logo_sheddChicago is only a short road trip from where we are in Detroit, so we frequent the Windy City as often as we can. If you’re in the area, stop by the Shedd Aquarium and flash your teacher ID for free general admission.




Tags: Teacher's Discount, Discounts for Educators

First-Year Jitters? Words of Zen From Veteran Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 3, 2014 4:09:08 PM

zenI recently discovered a social networking site for educators called While perusing the site’s first-year teacher message board, I came across a thread that I think is worth reposting here. The original post is from a reluctant “future teacher” who is in the final stages of completing his certification and having second thoughts about his choice to become a teacher.

If you are a first-year teacher, or even a veteran teacher who is feeling discouraged, I think you may find some comfort in what these veteran teachers have to say.

Original Post:
“I'm a future teacher just finishing the first term of my masters/certification program—and I'm terrified.  It seems like every day in class we talk more about how broken the system is, how hard it is to work within it, and how hard it is to change anything.  

Everything I hear about the profession is that teachers are undervalued and stressed about assessments and just worn out by everything.  I was really excited about becoming a teacher and maybe making a difference for even just a few kids—but everything I'm hearing is just leaving me more and more discouraged and apprehensive.  And this is before I've even started my student teaching!  Does anybody have any advice or words of encouragement?  Is it worth all the hard stuff?”

Response #1
“Don't be discouraged. Sometimes all you hear are the bad things and not the good. People are upfront with many issues, but they are well worth fixing. To just change one life is great! Teachers aren't undervalued at every school. Give student teaching a chance and see what it's like. Although substitute teaching is a different experience than having a class of your own, it will certainly help you get a feel for what teaching is like.”

Response #2
“Do not be afraid! This profession, like all others, requires a spirit of resilience and hope! You mention you want to "help even just a few"—you will "help" hundreds, thousands in ways you may never know! I've been in the trenches for years and it can feel like a “war zone” for both teachers and students. But YOU/WE are offering a way out: Education. Hold on!

I get to laugh every day because I hang with young people. Every day I am creative and challenged. There is NOTHING I would rather do with my life.

Response #3
Try to find someone at your school who is willing to listen to you and give you advice you won't get from administration. Sometimes it helps just to talk; you don't need answers all the time. Such a person is hard to find. But reach out, especially your first year. There are people who will extend a hand back. Maybe someone from a graduate class, even a fellow student teacher. And, after you've been at it a few years, approach the new teacher in the building and offer her/him support.

So there is it. Please feel free to share your own words of wisdom in the comments section. If you could give a reluctant teacher one piece of advice, something you wish you'd have known when you started, what would it be?

Photo credit: RelaxingMusic / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Tags: Master teacher, first year teacher, veteran teacher

PowToon is Offering Educators $5 Million in Free Accounts

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 29, 2014 12:13:00 PM

disital_storytellingPowToon is probably my favorite digital storytelling application. Everything is as simple as drag and drop and once you’ve completed your animation, you can use PowToon’s easy export system to place your animation on YouTube or download it to your computer.

Although I’ve mentioned PowToon before, this morning I received an email from them letting me know that they are giving away $5 million in free accounts to educators. Each account gives one teacher and 60 students complete access to all of PowToons features which, if you were paying for it, would cost you nearly $100. Not bad.

Click here to sign up. You’ll also need to enter this promotional code when you get there: ToonUp5M




Tags: digital storytelling, apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, writing skills, K-6 writing strategies

Subscribe to the Marygrove MAT Blog!

Comments on this Blog Post