Free Digital Teleprompters to Assist with Video Recording

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Free digital teleprompters (websites & apps) to assist with video recording when using technology in the classroom.

Having students create videos about topics they are studying is one of my favorite activities. It involves research, communication, collaboration, organization and planning. If you have never witnessed children video taping each other, brace yourself. Often times it can be painful to endure because they frequently "mess up" or "forget what to say". But let's be real. WE adults do the same exact thing! To help ease the video taping frustrations for everyone, I have compiled a short list of FREE digital teleprompters your students or YOU could use when recording a video.

Your browser works like a teleprompter with the first three on the list. Plug a laptop into a projector to display on your board for ultra magnification or simply prop a laptop open in line of vision of the person/people being video taped.

Free Teleprompter
  • Black or white background
  • Reverse (mirror) text
  • Change size of text/magnification


  • Change text size
  • Change text color (black or white) and background color (black, white or yellow)
  • Change speed of scrolling text
  • Reverse (mirror) text

Easy Prompter
  • Change text size
  • Change speed of scrolling text
  • Highlight text
  • Italicize text
  • Flip text
  • Show elapsed time
  • Pro version: Save scripts & change up line spacing

You also have the option of making your own teleprompter in Microsoft PowerPoint. Check out this tutorial: Create Your Own in PowerPoint

The other day the topic of what to use when you are constantly rerecording video after video came up in one of my Facebook groups (hence the birth of this post). I mentioned some of the tools above that could be used to assist in video production. Catherine Williams, a member of the FB group, posted about the free app, Teleprompter Pro Lite. I had never seen this one before! My first thought was that my old eyes had a hard enough time seeing my 17" laptop screen from afar, how in the world would I be able to use an iPad? However, kids would have no problem. What I REALLY like about this app is how one could use it behind a podium when giving a speech. WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE? I have been typing and reading straight from my Notes app. Pure genius!

Note: You have to provide an e-mail address for the app to send you a special product key code for the lite version of this app.

After downloading this app I discovered its sister app, Video Teleprompter Lite. This works the same way as Teleprompter Pro Lite, however, your video appears right next to the teleprompter words. This REALLY helps with maintaining eye contact with the camera rather than your eyes focusing elsewhere . Once you finish recording, the video is saved right to your camera roll!

Video Teleprompter app allows you to maintain eye contact with the camera while reading the built-in teleprompter.

You can purchase the Pro version for $7.99 if you want to remove the watermark.

Note: You have to provide an e-mail address for the app to send you a special product key code for the lite version of this app.

Remember, spelling and rehearsing are SO important! Check out this teleprompter mistake that caused quite a stir on a local news station this week😂


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How to Customize Padlet Walls: Plus FREE Graphic Organizers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Padlet is one of my favorite collaborative web tools to use with students that I have used for years. I love how versatile it is and how one can access a Padlet wall on laptops, Chromebooks, iPads and Android devices! If you are not familiar with Padlet then click HERE.

Free graphic organizers and tutorial on how to custom Padlet walls. Great for communication and collaboration when using technology in the classroom. Works on laptops, chromebooks and iPads.

This week I helped a 5th grade class incorporate technology into their novel study groups. The teacher wanted to use Padlet for each team to gather ideas and brainstorm the events that they read about each day. I mentioned how anyone can MAKE a background for a Padlet wall to help students organize their digital sticky notes. She was so excited about this possibility! I whipped up these graphic organizers for the teacher to choose from each week and I wanted to share them with YOU:
Free graphic organizers and tutorial on how to custom Padlet walls. Great for communication and collaboration when using technology in the classroom. Works on laptops, chromebooks and iPads.
Click the image to download
We ended up making four different Padlet walls--one for each novel study group. Thank goodness for the remake feature that allowed us to quickly and easily make four different walls! Press the button once and BOOM the new board pops up in your dashboard.

Use the REMAKE feature in Padlet to quickly and easily make multiple Padlet walls

Once the students worked together on their individual devices to add their ideas to the graphic organizer, the teacher printed the wall, deleted the post-its and uploaded a different graphic organizer for the next assignment. That way she didn't have to keep recreating 4 different walls each time. Honestly, creating a wall takes NO time and she may have spent more time deleting the post-its. However, this worked for her because she didn't have to print out different QR Codes to get to the new Padlet walls (for those who were using iPads) and didn't have to post new urls in her Google Classroom.

Note: We learned the hard way. The sticky notes will appear in different locations on the graphic organizers IF the students use different devices but work on the same board. Therefore, we had one group use iPads while the other three groups used their Chromebooks.

Here is a quick video tutorial I created to show how you can upload these graphic organizers to be the background of a Padlet wall: 

Note: As I indicate in the video, you will most likely need to expand your browser window so the graphic organizer doesn't appear cut off. 

I created these graphic organizers in PowerPoint and saved them as a jpeg. I did have to play with the formatting a bit. After a little trial and error, I finally had the size that fit perfectly on the Padlet wall. Give it a try!

Other ideas for customized Padlet wall activities include:
  • Having students label a diagram (parts of a cell, parts of a plant, layers of the Earth, maps, etc.)
  • Digital Board Game
  • Sorts (words, shapes, math sentences, etc.)
  • Exit Cards
  • Graphing 
Other Padlet Resources:

What are some other ways we could customize Padlet activities for our students? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Onomatopoeia Lesson with a Fall Themed Mentor Text

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall is FINALLY here! It surely did take awhile to show up, even here in Michigan. But now that it is here, I am so excited to celebrate with The Reading Crew to bring you our annual Fall Mentor Text link-up. Each blogger will be offering lesson ideas to use with a fall themed mentor text. We also will be giving away a copy of each book to ONE winner. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.
The fall mentor text, Wonderfall, is a great read aloud for modeling onomatopoeia.

To be honest, when I signed up for this link-up I had no idea what book I was going to choose. I couldn't think of a single fall themed book that truly excited me that hasn't been covered in previous link-ups. I drove to my local Barnes & Noble here in Ann Arbor, Michigan to take a look around.

As soon as I walked into the children's section, I saw the most beautiful book on display, Wonderfall by Michael Hall.

I grabbed a copy and stared reading. Immediately I was intrigued with how each page contained a title (single word) that substituted the suffix -ful with -fall. Wonderfall, Peacefall, Dutifall, Plentifall, Beautifall.....

The short poems that make up each page tell a story about a single tree that starts to prepare for the winter and the things it observes along the way. As I read each page, I was able to hear, see and feel the simplicities that fall offers each year. Michael's use of onomatopoeia to describe fall happenings is remarkable and is reason why this would make a fabulous mentor text. I don't want to give away the ending but it surely is adorable!

As I was standing in line to purchase this book, I turned to the back to read the author's bio. To my surprise the bio talked about Michael Hall growing up in Ann Arbor Michigan (where I just moved in June) and the things he enjoyed about the fall season in the beautiful state. It was meant to be...

Here is how I will use this text to teach the figurative language component of onomatopoeia.

Use the web tool (it now has a FREE app too!), Answer Garden, to have your students collaboratively brainstorm ideas about the kinds of things they see happening in the fall. Simply create an Answer Garden room and share the url with your students. When they submit their answer, it will pop up on everyone's screen in real-time. A garden full of ideas will start to emerge on the screen.

Once students have added their ideas, discuss what type of sounds they might hear when these fall activities occur. Use this opportunity to introduce onomatopoeia and talk about how good authors use this type of figurative language to provide sound effects for actions being described to make their writing more expressive and interesting You could even play a guessing game by having students close their eyes and visualize what they hear when you play the following sound bytes that are examples of onomatopoeia:

Once students are familiar with onomatopoeia and you have activated some of their background knowledge about fall, read the book Wonderfall twice. The first time you read it, read it just for fun. Enjoy the beautiful pictures and the story of all the different events that happen during the fall.

Create the onomatopoeia responders pictured to the left by printing out THIS sheet, cutting and gluing the circles to popsicle sticks, pencils or straws. Give one to each student. Read the book a second time and have students listen out for examples of onomatopoeia. When they hear onomatopoeia examples, they should raise their responder in the air. This makes for a cute keep sake that your students can take home and hopefully explain to someone what the responder was used for in school 🙌

One of my favorite things about this book is the extra non-fiction pages at the back that explain the behavioral adaptations animals start to exhibit in the fall as they prepare for the winter. Hibernation, migration and dormancy are all mentioned. For a fun cross-curricular activity to wrap up this lesson, check out my Behavioral Adaptations in Google Slides product. This will be FREE for one week only.

Behavioral Adaptations Student Activity in Google Slides

The main page of this slide contains images of migration, hibernation and dormancy that have clickable links that take the students to the vocabulary slides. The slides that are linked in are blank templates for students to fill in information about each type of behavioral adaptation as well as images/videos to match. BUT WAIT...they must start their description with an example of onomatopoeia that would go with the topic. Here is an example of a finished presentation:


You can purchase this book from my Amazon affiliate link below:

Enjoy this beautiful season!

Enter the Rafflecopter here and then be sure to check out the other Fall Mentor Text posts:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 EASY Techie Ideas for Digital Citizenship Activities

Saturday, October 1, 2016

It is October and that means Common Sense Media is sponsoring Digital Citizenship Week--- October 16th-22nd. Every school district has their own way of teaching digital citizenship (or maybe not?) and it is really one of the most important things we can do as educators in today's digital world. If you are a classroom teacher, librarian, technology teacher or anyone else that might have the responsibility of teaching digital citizenship without a curriculum, then I highly suggest looking into Common Sense Media's resources. They provide low-prep lessons in three different formats: downloadable PDFs, Nearpods and iBooks Textbooks as well as a comprehensive curriculum.

5 EASY techie ideas for digital citizenship activities: iPads, GAFE, websites

Here are 5 E-A-S-Y techie activity ideas you could carry out with your class once you have reviewed all of the main components that make up digital citizenship:

The other day I stumbled upon Southfield Christian School's Digital Tattoo lesson that can be downloaded HERE. They used PicCollage to create a digital tattoo poster that contained words of wisdom when it comes to using technology. "Everything you do online is permanent, just like a tattoo." How cute did this turn out?

This got me there an app that you can put tattoo images on yourself? Well, OF COURSE there is...there truly is an app for everything. Tattoo ArtTattoo Me and Tattoo You are three FREE apps that I found. Here are my reviews of each:

 Tattoo Art
  • Very child friendly
  • Ability to add your own text
  • Ability to add a variety of images & fonts
  • Has images of technology devices
  • Ability to change color of text & images
  • Make a collage or a single picture
  • Ability to add a border
  • Ads popped up on free version
  • Saves without a watermark

 Tattoo Me
  • Most realistic out of all three apps
  • Only images can be added
  • Very easy to use
  • Ability to add a variety of images
  • Some of the fairy tattoos are somewhat questionable
  • Free version has an ad banner at the bottom
  • Saves without a watermark

  • Ability to add a variety of images
  • Ability to add text (free version has 2 fonts you can choose from)
  • Limited images available but you can purchase packs
  • No ads
  • Saves without a watermark
I would use this digital citizenship activity to also tie in a little lesson about symbolism and have students choose images that symbolize how they will conduct themselves when using the internet. Make it into a writing activity! Here is an example (We pulled the image into PowerPoint (you could also do a Google Doc) and added text):

If you don't have access to iPads but you like this idea of a digital tattoo, check out the website Photofunia. Students can upload a picture or take a picture within the website and type a short one liner (talk about summarizing practice!) to create something like this:

Website that you can make your own digital tattoo
My words read "Kind Words Always"
You could also pull a photo into a PowerPoint Slide or Google Slide and add text & images overlays.

The idea that everything you do on the internet is permanent, just like a tattoo, is truly meaningful!

Another easy activity is to have students create their own digital citizenship memes. Kids LOVE memes! Use a meme generator like imgflip to choose a photo and add a catchy tagline like these two examples:

Students can even upload pictures of themselves using technology and make a meme! Here is an example:

This website also works on iPads! 

A super fun activity that I have blogged about before (read more HERE) is creating commercials using the free app, Yak-It Kids. Have students take a picture of technology in their classroom and make it come alive and talk using the app. Here are some examples of Internet Safety commercials a 5th grade class created last year:

Internet Safety Commercials

If you don't have access to iPads to make pictures come alive and talk then you could try the free websites ABCya Talkify and Blabbersize. Note: I have had issues in the past with ABCya Talkify not downloading correctly and Blabberize requires you to create an account. Will someone PLEASE create a website or Chrome extension that will let our students easily make their pictures come alive and talk without having to create an account??? (Let me know in the comments if one exists and I have missed it!) :)
Something your students might really enjoy while also applying their understanding of digital citizenship in a creative way is to make a comic strip. There are many online comic strip makers but one of my favorites is the website StoryBoard That. I like this particular site because you can customize SO much and there is a large variety of scenes, characters, and props. Students will love being able to: 

  • change the color of most everything on their characters & props
  • change their characters' poses & facial expressions
  • choose from a variety of scenes and make them appear in daylight or nightlight
  • apply filters
  • upload their own images to add to their scenes
  • search for whatever they might need

Here is an example of a finished comic about digital citizenship (YES, they have most Social Media icons!):

In order to save your image the website asks for you to create an account. However, a work around for this is to have your students simply take a screenshot before closing out.

Do you have access to iPads? Then check out Technology Integration's post about making comics on the iPad by clicking HERE. Tons of great ideas over there!

If you are gaagaa over Google, then you might be interested in my Digital Citizenship in Google Slides student project that is available in my TpT Store.

Use this as a culminating project for students to summarize their learning and understanding of digital citizenship. Two different grading rubrics are provided: one that is just print & go and another that allows you to customize your own grading criteria categories. Check out my promo video to see this product in action:


I also have some close reading passages (yes, ON PAPER) that I created for teachers to use when they do not have access to technology, send home as homework, or just need a good old fashioned paper & pencil assessment:

Be sure to grab my Digital Citizenship Badge

to give to your students once they have completed your digital citizenship "course".

Today's children NEED to be exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly that revolves around digital citizenship so they are prepared to act accordingly when they run into trouble that is lurking within the cyber world. Have fun molding your students into exemplary digital citizens (well...that's our goal, right??). Heather Marrs who blogged on ISTE's website said it best: "Don't just teach digital citizenship, EMBED it!"

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5 Chrome Extensions That Support Digital Comprehension

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Chrome Extensions That Support Digital Comprehension

Today I blogged over at Classroom Tested Resources about 5 Chrome extensions that help support digital comprehension. Be sure to hop over and check it out! Click HERE.

Teach Synonyms with Emoji Word Clouds

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Do you have an emoji themed classroom? Even if you don't, I have an E-A-S-Y technology project your students will totally love and it even makes an adorable bulletin board...

Emoji Word Clouds Bulletin Board Idea using the word cloud site, Tagul: a lesson about synonyms

Word Clouds consist of an image composed of words that are relevant to a particular topic. There are a ton of really awesome word cloud generator websites out there. The other day I was looking for a word cloud generator that had a shape of a footprint for a digital citizenship lesson a teacher wants to carry out and I stumbled upon Tagul. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Tagul had a whole collection of EMOJI images.

It just so happened that the day after discovering this tool I had to tutor a small group of 3rd graders. Their teacher had emailed me saying that they would get confused between a dictionary and a thesaurus. So, I set out in my emoji gear..

to teach these kiddos the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus using word clouds!

We focused on the thesaurus this past tutoring session. Next week we will focus on the dictionary. Here is what we did:

I was actually the anticipatory set for this lesson. As soon as I called the students out into the hallway and they saw my incredibly awesome emoji tshirt, we immediately started talking about emojis and their symbolism. Ya know how excited you get when a lesson kicks off even better than you would have imagined? THIS was one of those times.

Next, each child turned on their laptop and visited the website Tagul. I had them click on the Shapes button first, then the Emoji button and had them select the emoji they liked the best (student choice all the way!). The only catch was they had to tell me the emotion their emoji represented.

Then we clicked back on the Words button.

Students entered their emotion (ex. happy) in the first box. Then we got out actual thesauruses. That's right, I didn't have them go to because I personally believe that there is just something about a tangible book that makes it more meaningful. However, that's not to say that wouldn't also be effective. We talked about the types of information we could find in this type of reference source and then the students looked up their emotion. They had to find at least 5 other synonyms to add to their list.

You will notice a column labeled Size. If you would like to emphasize certain words to stand out, make the size bigger. This is just an option.

Their next step was to take 2 minutes to pick their font and layout. I always put a time limit on these types of selections because if you don't, THEY WILL TAKE ALL DAY. I even take all day.

Finally, the students chose the color(s) they wanted their word cloud to include. To do this, deselect the box next to Use shape colors and hover your cursor over the color numbers in the rectangle to the right. Click the Xs to get rid of them. The students had so much fun clicking the Random button a few times to see what colors would be chosen for them. You can also add the colors of your choice by clicking the color palette and then clicking Add.

We wrapped up the activity by having the students click Visualize...

The best part of the day was seeing their reaction when their emoji was generated.

But of course we didn't stop there.

Students clicked Download and Share...

and then the only saving option given if you don't create an account...Save as a png...

Note: Students could just print at this point straight from the website

Some of the students asked if they could color in parts of their emoji to make them stand out and I thought that was a great idea:

Emoji Word Clouds

Since time was a factor, I had students send me their work and I put their images on a PowerPoint, added their names and printed for their teacher to hang up:

However, if I were to do this as a whole group lesson, I would want to be more efficient with collecting and displaying their work. One idea might be to have them post their emoji word clouds to a Padlet wall. Or, students could add their word cloud to a collaborative Google Slides presentation. Click HERE for a FREE  template. Students simply double click Name, type their name, press the Enter/Return key and then drag and drop or import their word cloud to their slide. Then you can email the presentation home to parents or embed on your class blog/website! You can also click on File>Print and it will print all the emoji word cloud posters in one shot.

Like I said in the beginning, this was an E-A-S-Y activity! Classroom teachers can totally do this on their own. Give it a shot. I promise, your students will be engaged the entire time.

Want more Emoji activities? Check out these in my TPT Store! Just click on the images to take you to the product.
Create Your Own Emoji in Google Drive
Check out THIS blog post about this project

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