I’ve decided I’m in love with thinglink; . Really. If you haven’t used it before you import a photo and then you can add links to video, text, websites, etc. They make both creation and sharing very easy!

FYI for classroom use, e-mail accounts are required, but if students can’t use personal email I did discover that they will allow multiple people to use one account (like a classroom) if you don’t all start at the same time. We just staggered about five seconds apart and it worked fine. If you upload at the same time you end up getting someone else’s picture.

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for next year in the library. Here goes:

  • Use to promote books (see the one I created for Tiger Eyes below. I think I’ll do this next year and alternate with book trailers.
  • Promote library events or book fairs
  • Communicate with parents or staff for library updates
  • Have students create their own thinglink on a specific topic (love the idea to include why they chose that photo). Students can discuss what they learned, link to video, create Google Docs or blogs and link their own content, etc.
  • Have groups create a thinglink with ideas that inspire them before starting a writing prompt
  • Showcase read alike books (use the cover of a popular book and have links to other suggestions)
  • Information about a novel before the class reads like author information, background knowledge.
  • Show teachers how to place content for Flipped Classroom resources (especially thinking math, science, social studies)
  • Have access to library resources (think flipped library) most commonly used visually

Have other ideas? I’d love to hear them?

5 Teaching Tools for Next Year

5 Teaching Tools for Next Year

So I figured if I was going to list five things I wanted to be better at next year, I should also think about five tools I wanted to use next year as well. 🙂


Spicynodes is a wonderful graphic organizer tool and bookmarking combined. I like that you do not have to have email to set up student accounts, so it is easy to use with any class. This year we only used it with AVID who made a Spicynode about a famous African American for Black History month. Several of those students used Spicynodes for other projects though, so they enjoyed the platform.  Spicynodes lets you add links, video, and pictures. You can embed into most websites or just share the link. I can’t figure out how to make it display right in WordPress though, but there is a link to flipped resources in an earlier post.


I learned about this website for the first time at TLA (library conference). What intrigues me most about this website is the amount of higher level thinking it allows. Students would choose a picture to represent a topic. They can then add links to video, text, or websites. When teaching in class I’d also want a reflective piece on why they chose that picture.  I’m trying with a class for the first time next week. Excited to see how it goes.  For the library, I want to use Thinglink as a vehicle for book promotion next year. I’ll link to the author website, book trailer, reviews, etc. This website does require email but not confirmation.

Popcorn MakerPopcorn Maker:  

I have not used Popcorn Maker at all but I’m intrigued. You find information on the web and add events like maps, articles, pop ups onto videos. It does require an account but I think that students might really get into this. We’ll see next year when I give it a try.


Now that Socrative allows you to add pictures this is a fabulous free tool. Teachers create quizzes and students can log in on a computer or iPad; using the Socrative app) to answer the quizzes. Class results are shown instantly to the teacher so you can check for understanding and fix misconceptions. It is also easy to copy tests so you can rearrange the answer choices for different classes. One tip, be sure to clear camera between classes if using the same test. Students are sneaky and will just take a screenshot of the answer for the next class.


The above website is just one place to find webquests. A webquest takes students out into the web to search for specific content kind of like a scavenger hunt. They then use what they learn to answer a question; called a task in the webquest world. An example might be to use what they learned to design the cover of a magazine or a museum exhibit. Until recently I’d dismissed webquests as obsolete and outdated, but in a seminar I realized that the higher level thinking they promote is timeless. We probably won’t use many pre-created webquests, because it is better to customize your own, but I’m hoping to get some collaborative partnerships with history and science using these next year.

Flipped Classroom & Flipped Library

At TLA this year I attended two sessions on the flipped classroom and flipped library. This is a collection of what I learned thanks to the panel from TX and Joyce Valenza. Of course there are a lot of resources out there that I didn’t include, but here are the highlights. Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed, but the link will take you to my Spicynode.

Top 10 Ideas to Investigate this Summer

Top 10 Ideas to Investigate this Summer
(that will make your life easier next year)

Since we are in the middle of standardized testing everyone is a little overwhelmed so I thought I’d take a moment to give you some items to look forward to for later in the year or the summer. None of these are especially new, but after surveying people I know, many of these tools are still extremely underutilized. These are tools I use almost every day that would be worth taking a look at over the summer.

Number 10: Diigo

Hey it’s in the book so I have to start here. This is a tool I use every single day. You bookmark your websites so you can get to them no matter where you are.  Diigo also allows you to add annotations and highlights. Here is a binder I made for the book on all the social bookmarking tools with tips and tutorials:

Number 9: Jing

Want to make a quick tutorial? Jing; is the answer. It records your voice as you walk through the steps of how to do a task on your computer. Stores content locally or online. Very quick and easy to use. Can also do screen shots or snips.

Number 8: Quixey

If you are new to the world of apps then Quixey is the website for you; . Search for apps via topic like you would on any search engine. The search engine will show you what platform the app is available as well as reviews. As always, look at the app and read reviews before making the final decision.

 Number 7: Nearpod

Nearpod is a great way to keep students on track. The teacher creates a free account online and creates a tutorial or quiz. You can easily create from scratch or upload a PowerPoint and then add questions. Students use the website or free app and your classroom code to log into the group (no email required). As a teacher you control the speed of the activity and questions. Students can’t skip ahead or go back so they have to stay on track.  Quick to start and provides instant teacher feedback. Nearpod will even email you the results.

Number 6: Bump/Chirp

Chirp is an iPhone app that provides a quick way to share photos, links, or text. It will only broadcast about 3 feet so you have to have your volume up and be standing pretty close, but it is a quick way to share information. This would be a great way to have students working on different websites at the same time.

Bump allows you to share contact information or photos by bumping devices. The most powerful part of bump though is that you can open up the app and bump photos straight to your computer by using the bump app and the website.

 Number 5: Flipboard

Flipboard is a quick way to keep up with different topics. It is a website or an app. I use it on my Kindle and phone. Once you create an account you can personalize the feed to include topics you like to create your own personal magazine. Be sure to look at the flipboard categories Cool and Flipboard Pics. Always something amazing!

Number 4: Protopage

With the sunsetting of Google reader, I switched over to Protopage;  and found I actually liked it better. You can add tabs at the top to keep your content together.  I’ve made protopage my homepage so instead of clicking on each website I can see any new entries posted in my protopage account.  Here is a snip of my tab:


Then you go to websites that you follow all the time and look for the RSS symbol rss . Once you click on that copy the address and paste into Protopage. For more on RSS try this article:

Number 3: Twitter

Yes, I scoffed at Twitter too, but I’ve been using it for about a year now, and I have to say that the PLN part of Twitter is AMAZING. I learned so much from my peers. When you share ideas about what you are doing or participate in chats you can learn not only from people in your district, but people all over the world.

My Twitter info: @shacklibrary (school library page) @poetryofwords (my page)

Number 2:  Evernote

Ever find yourself looking for a handout? Forget when to go to a meeting? Can’t remember where your To Do list is? Try Evernote. You can:

  • take notes (every word becomes searchable)
  • snap a picture of a receipt (every word becomes searchable)
  • take a picture of a handout (every word becomes searchable)
  • create a To Do list from your notes (every word becomes searchable)

Sensing a pattern? Evernote helps you organize and think without having to be overly worried about adding the right tags.

Number 1: Dropbox

Keep all your files in one place. It will put a folder on your computer that works kind of like  a flash drive but you can also log into the website to access your files. Great if you have both a personal computer and a presentation cart. You can also easily share files or folders with others.

Ohhh if you want to try this please let me know and I’ll send you an invite!!  Everyone you invite who joins helps give you more storage space.