It's back to school...woohoo! A teacher asked me to compile a list of tools she could share with her students this year that would provide a variety of options from which to choose when creating their projects. She commented they always tended to create posters...for everything! So I jumped at the chance and even provided boxes for them to check off as they used a tool. But, it is important to note that the same tool can be used more than once, just in a different way or to produce or present content in a new way.

Below is the compilation of tools I believe help students to develop the necessary skills needed for today's digital learning environment. These tools are all free and easy to use. Also included are copyright-friendly resources for graphics to use in student projects. Notice the disclaimer at the bottom. We don't want to rob our students of opportunities to take control of their learning; after all, we aren't always around when they need to figure something out!

These are my favorite...what are yours?

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So...a funny thing happened last week that I never thought about! Our 8th Grade ELA students created these video projects in which they compiled short video clips from different TV shows, movies, and music videos to create their Top 10 Tips on surviving Middle School, Project 10: Life Lessons Learned. Their target audience...the incoming 6th graders. This was a great concept, but I knew they would need a crash course on Copyright Compliance so I gave them one. Once they began to upload their videos, a few still got flagged. YouTube was great to specifically detail the infractions. So corrections were made, and a new upload ensued. I realized...YouTube became our TurnItIn for multi-media. One more reason to #freethetube!

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Options such at Google Lit Trips or Google Earth Walks are some cool options that capitalize on the use of Google Earth. But they can be somewhat confusing to create for the tech-timid user and do require the use of Google Earth. A couple of very easy-to-use tools have since been launched that make it easy for students to create these "tours of information"...Google Tour Builder and Google My Maps.

This has led me to create "LiteraTours" that students can create as they read assigned novels. Our first LiteraTour is launching this May with The Cay

I can also see the use of Google My Maps as an intriguing option for a truly interactive notebook in a social studies or world history class utilizing the different map's layers for different categories of information...stay tuned as I begin to develop that concept.

Meanwhile, I've created an infographic that highlights a few of the differences between these two great options for storytelling through maps. Both are equally great options, it just depends on the needs of the task as to which tool would be best. 

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Over the last several weeks, I've been noticing some tweets popping up talking about when it might be time to look at a redesign of the work you're creating for students. At first, I thought it was funny when I saw this tweet:

But when you look at how many times it was retweeted and even many times it was "liked", you begin to wonder if this could be a problem. I saw a similar one regarding PowerPoint presentations. So I decided to put together an infographic with some questions you might ask yourself to decide if it's time for a redesign. 

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