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5 Comic Strip Activities for Writing on the First Day of School

Are you looking for a fun way to get kids writing from the very start of the school year? Getting your students to write meaningful responses isn't always easy. Writing, and the many layers of the writing process -- thinking of an idea, writing it down, fixing spelling and adding punctuation, using voice to make it interesting, and making sure it is written in a logical order -- can be difficult or intimidating, especially for students who struggle with writing. Creating stories with comic strips can be a great solution! It's fun and motivating. It allows students to use voice and creativity in their writing. And the layout of comic strips is a useful tool to help students plan a beginning, middle, and end to their story. These five....read more


Webinar Spotlight: Do's and Don'ts of Integrating Tech in Schools

Learn valuable tips on implementing a technology plan and incorporating digital citizenship.

Have you faced challenges in bringing 21st-century tools into your school? Are your students prepared for an increasingly digital world? In our June webinar, Jeff Downing, an elementary computer specialist in California's Fremont Unified School District, shared valuable lessons he learned as he implemented a technology plan at his school site, including some "do's" and "don'ts" learned from incorporating digital citizenship throughout the curriculum. Webinar Highlights 16:35 -- "Do lower the barrier to use. What I try to do at the beginning of every year is train [students] on the technology they're going to be using in the classroom for a full month before we even use that technology....read more


Graphite Boards: Share Great Graphite Resources with Your Colleagues

A new design makes it even easier to save, organize, and share great content.

Are you the go-to person in your school or district for edtech recommendations? Our newly revamped Boards feature will make it easier to collect the best stuff you find on Graphite, and to share it with your colleagues and networks. We recently updated the entire site with a more polished, user-friendly theme. This gave us a great opportunity to rethink several of Graphite's signature features, including Graphite Boards. Now, when you find cool resources on Graphite -- from reviews to blog posts to Top Picks lists and beyond -- you can click "Save Page." This will store that resource in your profile. You can later curate that into a Board -- think a Pinterest board but for Graphite resources -- or you can click....read more


Webinar Spotlight: Are You Ready for BYOD?

This webinar offers excellent tips on BYOD for teachers, administrators, librarians, and other technology specialists.

Are you interested in implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program in your classroom or school? In our June webinar, Rachelle Wooten, a digital learning specialist at Fort Bend Independent School District in Texas and a Graphite certified educator, provided a primer on BYOD, including digital tool recommendations, classroom management tips, lesson planning, teaching tips, and more.  Rachelle, who oversaw the BYOD training in her district, developed her own model: R.E.A.D.I.E.E (Research, Explore, Access, Develop, Inform, Execute, and Evaluate) for BYOD. Whether you already have a BYOD initiative or want to start one, this webinar offers excellent tips for teachers, administrators, librarians, and other tec....read more


20 Fun Creation Tools for a Summer of Making

Learn by doing with these creativity-boosting apps, games, and websites.

Know any kids who light up at the thought of taking apart electronics, building an app, or making their own video game? Summer is the perfect time to focus on creating, rather than consuming. Naturally curious kids can take risks freely, learn from mistakes, and solve problems -- without the pressure of deadlines or grades. Making use of tutorials and how-to guides, kids can easily create cool stuff with these nifty apps, games, and websites. Try out Scratch or Minecraft for open-ended, limitless digital creation geared toward younger makers. Kids a little older can dive into Gamestar Mechanic or LittleBigPlanet 2, two captivating game-making platforms that will expand their minds and involve them in a vibrant community of....read more


4 Quick and Easy Steps for Spring Cleaning (in the Summer!)

Find inspiration and set goals for the coming school year.

Summer, for teachers, is an opportunity to hop off the hamster wheel and spend some time relaxing. It's also a great time to do some "spring cleaning." I’ve never been one to find cleaning my house particularly inspiring, but a summertime cleanup of both my actual and virtual teaching and working spaces does more than just leave me with a clean space in which to begin my fall planning. I’ve discovered the sorting and reviewing process helps me to identify what needs attention, improving, or refreshing, and to set some concrete goals for the coming school year.  1. Purge The place I like to start is with my files, both digital and -- though I have a lot fewer than I used to -- pape....read more


It’s About the Learning, Not the Technology … Until It Breaks

This is the second in a series of posts that examine how schools and districts are planning for and implementing digital learning efforts. We are also hosting monthly webinars to dig deeper. The first two webinars are archived and available here. Providing technical support for a large fleet of devices that travel between school and home is no simple task. Management and support of technology is a lot like managing and caring for people. When people break (i.e., get sick), a doctor can see symptoms, but only extrapolate from those symptoms the cause. Technology is much the same. We can’t always say why things don’t work, but we know the symptoms. We can troubleshoot (i.e., poke, prod, run some tests, and even ask our computer....read more


Make the Most of Mindfulness with these 9 Apps

Increased mindfulness can enhance a wide range of social and emotional skills for kids of any age. These best-of-the-best apps will introduce kids to meditation exercises, physical activities, and calming strategies as they build emotional intelligence. For young kids, the songs and activities in Daniel Tiger's Grr-ific Feelings will help them recognize, understand, and express their emotions. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame teaches them strategies to calm down and overcome their frustrations. Older kids will like IF...The Emotional IQ Game, which promotes wise decision-making and respect for others through fun, adventure-based gameplay. High school teens facing stresses like high....read more


4 Tools to Take Learning and Fun Outside

Use these fun ideas in summer camps, share them with parents, or file away for back-to-school.

The summer months are a great time for kids to explore new places and enjoy the great outdoors. Playing outside is important for developing problem-solving skills, improving gross motor skills, getting that daily dose of Vitamin D, and more. That doesn’t mean technology and the outdoors can’t go together. Here are a few ways to integrate technology into outside learning and fun. Teachers can use these ideas in summer learning camps, share the list with parents, or file them away for back-to-school. iMovie Have kids make a movie trailer about a trip or adventure in a matter of minutes using pictures and video stored on an iPad, iPhone, or MacBook. Kids can also plan the activities they’d like to do on a ....read more


16 Absorbing Games to Combat Summer Brain Drain

There's undercover learning to be found in these great games.

Anything remotely school-related is a total summer break bummer! But that doesn't mean the learning has to stop. Summer is the perfect time for kids to discover that learning isn't limited to the classroom or the school year. There's undercover learning to be found in their favorite summer activities, especially playing games. This week, we're highlighting 16 games that successfully combine playing with learning to boost skills while having fun. For kids who like to make stuff, Contraption Maker and LittleBigPlanet2 will get them solving puzzles while they create their own games and machines. History lovers will have fun with Sid Meier's Civilization V as they explore world civilizations and grow t....read more


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