MAT Blog

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 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

140 Interactive Maps for History and Social Studies Teachers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 15, 2014 10:57:00 AM

social studies teachersI love interactive maps and this morning, Stumble Upon took me to what may be the holy grail of free interactive maps!

My Reading Mapped gives users the opportunity to digitally experience history through over 140 Google Map formatted documentaries on history and science. 

Forty maps in the collection are linked to free eBooks that allow users to read more about explorers and their expeditions. Each location plot is cited with a quote, page reference, web link and/or other source. 

Maps have been categorized by the following:

If you’re looking for more interactive maps, check out one of our recent blogs posts, “5 of the Best Interactive Maps for Social Studies Teachers.”



Social Media Strategies for Teachers

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

79 Ways Educators Can Use Google Forms in the Classroom

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 28, 2014 9:31:00 AM

We’ve long been fans of Google Forms. This tool enables us to create surveys, track data, share compilations of our students’ creative work and the list goes on and on. What continues to surprise us is how creative teachers have gotten with this free tool. Below you’ll find 79 ways to use Google Forms in the classroom.

ten common technology challenges for teachers

Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators

Read All About It: 5 Places You'll Find News for Kids

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 20, 2014 9:47:00 AM

Years later, I still look back fondly on what my seventh grade teacher called “Current-Events Friday.” This meant that each student was responsible for selecting three articles from the newspaper, summarizing them and then sharing one article with the class.

Back then, most of my peers and I were stuck with The Detroit Free Press, but the Internet offers our students infinite choices as to where they want to find their current events selections. Below you’ll find five of our students’ favorite news sites. 

Read All About It: 5 Places You'll Find News for Kids

news for kidsBy way of what they call a “special agreement” with more than 800 worldwide newspapers, Newseum posts hundreds of new front pages on their website every day.

news for kidsIf you’re students are looking for political and editorial cartoons on current events, The Cagle Post should be their first stop. 


The New York Times Learning Center is updated every day with articles, activities, and detailed lesson plans based on current events.

news for kidsIf you’re looking for a new way to approach current events in the classroom and you want to be sure that you’re sticking to the Common Core, stop by Newsela and sign up for a free educator account.

Once you add your students to the roster, you can directly assign news pieces. Here’s the cool part: There are four unique versions of each article and they all vary in difficulty. Should a student find that the reading level is too easy or difficult, a different version of the same news piece is only a click away.  

news for kidsEvery day, the folks over at Tween Tribune  scour the Internet for engaging news stories suitable for K-12 students. If you sign up for a free account, you can assign Tween Tribute quizzes related to the content your students are reading. An added bonus: the results of the quizzes will be sent directly to your email account.

download click and clunk

Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, news for kids

The National Archives Contains Over 40 Online Exhibits

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 14, 2014 10:19:00 AM

The National Archives website is an historical goldmine where users can dig for ancestry and military records, browse photographs, and even order ship passenger arrival records (1820-1959), Eastern Cherokee applications, and federal military pension files from 1775-1865.

To top it all off, there are 40 other online exhibits. We didn’t have time to browse all of them, but we do want to highlight our three favorites.

the national archivesEyewitness
Here you’ll find vivid and intensely personal accounts of historical events:

  • Thomas Jefferson reports firsthand on the fear and panic that grips the city of Paris in July 1789, during the first violent convulsions of the French Revolution
  • President Lincoln’s family physician poignantly describes how the President clings to life through the night of April 14, 1865, after being shot in Ford’s Theater.
  • The crew of the Apollo 8, in 1968, travels farther from Earth than anyone ever has and sees Earth as no one has ever seen it.

the national archivesDigital Vaults
This exhibit contains over 1,200 documents, photographs, drawings, maps, and other materials. Using a keywording system that visually links records, the Digital Vaults enables visitors to customize their exhibit experience, create posters, movies, games, and share them through email.

the national archivesPicturing the Century
This exhibit contains over 100 years of snapshots from revered photographers Walter Lubken, Lewis Hine, George W. Ackerman, and Ansel Adams to name a few. Users can browse by artist portfolio or by galleries to find photos that depict some of the most beautiful, horrific and pivotal moments in the history of our country.

Social Media Strategies for Teachers

Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, virtual field trip

World Geography Games: An Interactive Way to Discover the World

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 6, 2014 9:49:00 AM

geographyI thought I knew my geography, but after ten attempts to locate the Tabernas Desert, which I learned is the only desert in Europe, I was brought to my knees! The cool thing about World Geography Games is that, despite my frustration, I still managed to have fun—and something tells me that I’ll never forget where the good old Tabernas Desert is located again.  

World Geography Games gives users their choice of a wide variety of interactive quizzes that include questions about:

  • Countriesgeography 2
  • Capitals
  • Flags
  • Regions
  • Bodies of water
  • Mountains
  • Deserts
  • Metropolitan areas
  • And other topics that will test and challenge your brain

All 193 members of the United Nations (UN) are included in the quizzes. Added to these lists are Taiwan, Kosovo and Vatican City. Not-sovereign nations and territories—Greenland and Puerto Rico, for example—are not included.


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Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, virtual field trip, Geography

Marygrove MAT Grad Designs Quick Key, A Free Test-Grading App

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 4, 2014 10:05:00 AM

We know MAT graduates do great things, but this morning we’re swelling with pride. Over the weekend, we came across Quick Key, a free application that turns smartphones and tablets into optical scanners so teachers can quickly grade quizzes, tests and formative assessments.

Why are we swelling with pride, you ask? After browsing the Quick Key site, we realized that the genius behind Quick Key was Walter Duncan, a graduate of our Master in the Art of Teaching program! In addition to congratulating Walter on his new application, we’d like to share two videos to give you a better sense of what Quick Key does.






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Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators

Mission US: Interactive Gaming for History and Social Studies Teachers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 3, 2014 9:22:00 AM

Mission US has been on my list of websites to blog about for a while now and after revisiting the site, I’m glad I finally got around to sharing it. Mission US is a multimedia project that immerses players in their choice of three interactive games. History and Social Studies teachers will especially appreciate this site.

Below you’ll find a brief description and accompanying trailer for each game. Be sure to check back often; Mission US promises new games are on the way!

Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. They encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie. 

Mission 2: “Flight to Freedom,” players take on the role of Lucy, a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky.  As they navigate her escape and journey to Ohio, they discover that life in the “free” North is dangerous and difficult.

Mission 3: “A Cheyenne Odyssey,” players become Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy whose life is changed by the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions.  As buffalo diminish and the U.S. expands westward, players experience the Cheyenne's persistence through conflict and national transformation.

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Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, virtual field trip

AirPano May be the Holy Grail of Virtual Field Trips

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Feb 27, 2014 9:29:00 AM

virtual field tripJust as we posted a blog about five of our favorite virtual field trips, Richard Byrne went and outdid us. Apparently, he stumbled upon the holy grail of virtual field trips: a website called AirPano. We didn’t discover the site, but we’ll be darned if we’re not going to share it with you anyway.

AirPano is a site jam-packed with high-resolution, spherical panoramas shot from a bird’s eye view. In addition to the 200 panoramas, you’ll also find 360 degree videos, a photo gallery and news stories.

To take a virtual field trip of the Roman Colosseum in Italy, click here or on the image below.


virtual field trip





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Tags: apps for educators, Best Apps for Educators, history teachers, social studies teachers, virtual field trip

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