MAT Blog

10 Reasons to Start Using Twitter in the Classroom

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 24, 2014 9:49:00 AM


Sometimes Twitter gets a bad rap—and when you scan the news headlines or read about the latest mis-tweets and social media blunders committed by celebrities, politicians and everyday Jane and Joe’s like us, it’s not hard to understand why!

That said, we still believe that there are lots of good reasons for teachers to start using Twitter in the classroom. Our list could have been longer, but here’s how we use Twitter in the classroom.

To Keep a Steady Stream of Calendar Updates
Just picture all the times you go home, are washing the dishes, and think, “I sure hope they remember that Project X is due tomorrow...” Now you can send a Tweet in the same time it

takes to think the thought. Boom.

To Give Students Shout-Outs
Few things are as pleasing as receiving appreciation—especially when it comes from someone we respect. Appreciation has the power to energize us, rekindle our enthusiasm and restore commitment and confidence. Why not go public and give your students a shout-out on Twitter?

To Engage Students in Discussions
Make “Tweeting one discussion question and one discussion reply” a homework assignment; then use the following class day to discuss the questions and comments.

To Set Up a Foreign Language News Stream
If you teach a foreign language, Twitter can help your students hone their language skills. Simply follow users who speak the target language and challenge your students to use their translation skills!

To Connect to Real Life
Tweet news feeds, links to YouTube videos, or even your own pictures or thoughts regarding real life objects or events that are related to your current classroom lesson(s). Students love interactive learning. Your Tweets will keep them in the intellectual loop or introduce them to new and exciting concepts you might not have had time for in the classroom.

To Keep Parents Connected
Using Twitter in the Classroom can also be a 2-for-1. Parents can follow the Twitter stream and will feel connected and engaged. Plus, they are much more likely to be on your side when it comes to missing assignments or “forgotten” test days.

To Connect With and Learn From Other Educators
There are lots of educational leaders, scientists, writers, historians, and other key players out there with whom you have educational and thought-provoking things to say. No tweets about what they’re eating, how many miles they ran, how good their latte is, or in Kanye West’s case, how cool ninjas are.

To Teach Students the Art of Concision
Twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with. We think that’s a good thing—especially if you’re trying to teach students how to be less wordy and more concise.

To Teach Students About Their Digital Footprint
Celebrity mis-tweets are funny to read, but we believe that they can actually facilitate teachable moments, lessons about what we should and should not share with the public.

To Live Tweet Field Trips
Not every parent or student can make it to the class field trip. Bummer, right? That’s where Twitter comes in. When you “live tweet” your trip, parents and students can follow along by looking at your pictures and text descriptions.

Photo credit: shawncampbell / Foter / CC BY

Get some ideas on how you can use social media as a tool in your classroom by watching our FREE webinar, Social Media Strategies for Teachers, presented by award-winning teacher, blogger, and educational technologist, Richard Byrne. 

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Tags: twitter in the classroom, apps for educators, technology in the classroom

Pearltrees Makes Organizing Your Favorite Websites Simple and Orderly

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 18, 2014 10:03:35 AM

logoPearltrees2What do you do when you come across a useful website and want to bookmark it? You probably hit control + b and add the page to your Internet browser’s bookmark tool. I used to do this, but after getting tired of never being able to find what I was looking for, I switched over to Pearltrees and it’s made my life a whole lot easier.

Basically, Pearltrees is a visual bookmarking tool that makes organizing your webpage shortcuts intuitive and orderly. So instead of having to sort through Firefox’s clunky bookmarking tool that looks like this:


You get a sleek, well-organized collection of folders that looks like this:


When you download the free application, Pearltrees will add a little icon to the top of your Internet browser. If you want to bookmark a website for later, simply click on the icon and select the folder you’d like to drop the site into.

Pearltrees also allows you to sync your account with Facebook, Twitter, email, or your own personal blog. This is ideal for collaborative learning projects; it’s also useful for teachers who want to share course content with their students.


Pedagogy with a Personality

Tags: apps for educators, apps for teachers

Randomly select students with these online classroom management tools

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 11, 2014 10:57:00 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 online classroom management tools.

online classroom management toolsRandom 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!

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

online classroom management toolsIn 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 online classroom management tools, check out our free downloadable guide, 15 Indispensable Classroom Management Apps for Educators.

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

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




Pedagogy with a Personality

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

5 of Our Favorite Digital Storytelling Apps for Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Aug 29, 2014 10:01:00 AM

Storytelling is an indispensable human activity, one that we use not only to convey our identity and experience, but also to convince others of our arguments. Because storytelling is so important, we believe it’s important that we encourage students to tell their stories—and in a way that challenges and inspires them. One way to get students excited about storytelling is by using a medium that they not only love, but are completely comfortable with: technology.

As with  traditional storytelling, students must write, but what makes digital storytelling engaging—and often less intimidating—for students is that it gives them the ability to add computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. If you’re looking for a few applications to get your storytellers started, we’ve got 5 of them!

5 of Our Favorite Digital Storytelling Apps for Teachers

tellagamiTellagami is a free app that allows users to create short animated movies called "Gamis.” Here’s how it works: After you choose your character, you can alter his or her mood, swap out backgrounds, doodle, record your voice, or add text. When you’re satisfied with your work, all you have to do is save and publish it to your favorite social media site, blog or website.


zooburstZoo Burst (free) gives students the ability to create their own 3D pop-up books. Arrange your characters and props and customize your 3D world by using uploaded artwork or items found in the Zoo Burst database, which contains over 10,000 free images and materials.

We should also mention that readers who have a standard webcam installed on their computer can also experience any ZooBurst book in augmented reality. This feature gives readers the ability to interact with the book and turn pages simply by waving their hands!

superhero_comic_book_makerSuperhero Comic Book Maker ($1.99) is an award-winning app that helps students create personalized, animated comic books with monsters and superheroes. Choose from 27 unique background scenes and over 170 animated stickers with sound effects. Students can also illustrate their work and narrate it.

puppet_palsPuppet Pals 2 (free) builds on many of the features available in the first version of the application, giving users more flexibility and a wider variety of choices. Choose from a collection over 30 unique “puppets,” which include historical figures like Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln, or design your own character from scratch. As with real puppets, users can flex their digital puppets’ joints and alter their poses. If you have access to a microphone, you can also make your puppet speak when you tap on it.

toontasticToontastic Jr. Shrek Movie Maker (free) is always a class favorite, especially with younger students. This app allows students to “remix” and the classic Shrek movie by picking a beginning, middle, and ending for the movie, and recording their voice. Whether you choose to storm the Dragon’s castle, rescue Princess Fiona, or battle Lord Farquaad, the decision is entirely up to you.


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Tags: digital storytelling, apps for educators, Writing, writing fluency, apps for teachers, K-6 writing strategies

Crowdfunding for Teachers: A Free New Guide from Edutopia

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 27, 2014 9:36:50 AM

In an era of shrinking school budgets, it is increasingly difficult for schools to purchase even the most basic supplies. Although car washes and bake-offs are tried-and-true methods of raising money, there are also many crowdfunding tools out there that will save you time, help you reach a wider audience, and potentially help you earn more money for your classroom. In Edutopia’s most recent downloadable guide, you can learn all about crowdfunding for teachers and many of the online tools at your disposal.

To download the PDF guide, simply click on the image below.


A Teacher's Guide to Summer Travel

Tags: apps for educators, apps for teachers, Crowdfunding for Teachers,

5 of the Best Interactive Map Generators for Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 26, 2014 9:23:24 AM


If you’re artistically challenged like I am, you’re probably getting tired of looking at hand-drawn maps that barely resemble their topographical subject. Perhaps it’s time to re-energize and refocus your students—and yourself—with these five interactive map generators.

map generatorMy Histro gives users the ability to customize their interactive maps and timelines by adding text, pictures and video to them. Once you’re satisfied with your work, you can either embed it, convert it into a PDF file, or export it into Google Earth format for offline storage.

map generatorTripline is a nice little web application designed to help users document their travel adventures or plan a trip itinerary. There are a few ways you can plot out your trip: One, you can use your smart phone to “check-in” at various locations; two, you can simply add markers by plotting them directly on the map; three, you can use Foursquare or Twitter to geo-target your location.

map generatorU Mapper allows you to choose a map provider—Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.—or upload your own customized image. Once you’ve selected your map, you can add images, audio, and choose from a variety of objects to tack onto your map.

map generatorStatPlanet is an award-winning application that allows users to create interactive maps, graphs, charts and infographics. StatPlanet is intuitive to use and allows you to easily post your work on the web. To see some stunning, user-generated maps, click here.

map generatorIf you’re a creative type, you should know that Mapfaire doesn’t give you a lot of options—but it is an ideal application for younger or less tech-savvy students. No registration is required to use the app, but you will need to have a Google account.

A Teacher's Guide to Summer Travel

Tags: apps for educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, apps for teachers, interactive maps

5 More of the Best Comic Generator Apps

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 18, 2014 9:37:00 AM

comic_book_generatorIt’s been a while since I looked to see if any new comic book generator apps have popped up in the last few months, so this morning I did a little research. Here are five new comic book generators I’d never seen before.

Make Beliefs Comix (free) gives users a choice of over 60 objects and backgrounds, not to mention 37 human and animal characters including a werewolf, vampire, and a myriad of animals. The fact that you can write your dialogue in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latin or Portuguese will also appeal to foreign language teachers.

Marvel (free) gives users the option of creating a 1 to 3 page panel strip or, if they’re ambitious, a 1 to 22 page comic book where they control the sound effects, characters, thought bubbles and dialogue. Once they’re done, they can save to the desktop or print.

Strip Generator (Free) is a sleek little web application that helps users create black and white comic strips. No sign-up is required to use the site—we also enjoy entering the design contests hosted on the site.

Lego City (free) is a free web application that allows you to create, you guessed it, LEGO-style comic strips. Choose your layout, select your characters, and drag and drop your comic heroes into place. When you're satisfied with your work, you can either save it online or download it to your hard drive.

Strip Designer ($2.99) is a comic book generator you can use on your mobile device. Unlike most generators, Strip Designer allows you to
insert your own photos from your camera, photo album, or Facebook account. You can apply filters, paint on the photos, or even draw your own sketches from scratch.

Photo credit: Marxchivist / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, writing skills, K-6 writing strategies, comic generator apps

The Best of the Week: Volume 10

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 13, 2014 11:00:46 AM

best_of_the_week-3There’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
15 sharp-witted, reading-themed cartoons from an Iranian comic contest
The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing
Books in the Home Strongly Linked to Academic Achievement
What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades?

Random Education Links
5 Ways to Say Goodbye to Your Graduating Students
3 Ways of Getting Student Feedback to Improve Your Teaching
How to Raise Money for Your School Using Crowdfunding
Summer Matters: How Parents Can Keep Their Children Learning All Summer Long
Students Learn Best When You Do This
50 Ways to Empower Students in a Connected World
12 Top Education Resources to Teach at the End of the Year

Useful Apps and Websites
Photo Mapo: Transform your photos into mapped masterpieces (app is free for a limited time)
Blank on Blank (a nice collection of “lost” interviews sponsored by PBS)
The Museum of Endangered Sounds
Coffivity (a “white-noise” generator that simulates the ambiance of a coffee shop)
What Was There (ties historical photos to Google Maps)
Sepia Town (another cool photo mapping app)
81 Dash (a communication platform for educators)
Piktochart (a cool infographic generator)
The Pulp-O-Mizer (create your own pulp magazine cover)
Historvius (a community-based historic destinations directory)

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Tags: classroom management, apps for educators, Best of the Week, Reading

Travel Our Solar System With This Interactive Infographic

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 24, 2014 9:57:00 AM

Space Race is an animated infographic that takes users on a scrolling adventure that begins on Earth and ends at the edge of the solar system, some 21 billion kilometers away. Comprehending the enormity of our solar system is difficult, but Space Race certainly helps put it in perspective.

Space Race

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Tags: STEM careers, STEM jobs, STEM curriculum, apps for educators, apps for teachers, science curriculum, science and engineering education

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