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Here are some of the great sites and tools being used by the amazing educators that I work with:


Thinglink and Kahoot are two sites being integrated by a large number of our teachers. What makes these sites popular? Thinglink is all about making an image interactive with hotspots; something that is easy to use in any academic area. And Kahoot is just plain fun. Reviewing content in a game-based platform is so appealing to teachers and students.

Google Classroom has taken our high school by storm. This past week when I was helping a teacher to get his students onto Google Classroom, I asked the students in 5 different classes if any of them were not already using Classroom and not one hand went in the air. Teachers and students love the simplicity and interface of this LMS.

Keegan is having his students create videos using WeVideo and Screencastify. Did you know that you can use the Webcam option on the extension Screencastify to record a video and then edit that video in WeVideo?  Make sure to check the box to show the preview window for Screencastify.



Catherine had her students create children's books in Spanish using the site Story Jumper.  Even though this site is geared towards younger students, the high school students found this tool to be just the right fit for their needs. Catherine knew to have the students keep the tech simple, in order to focus on the larger task at hand, writing stories coherently in Spanish.


John's ELL students used Animoto to create a personal dictionary video.  One of the useful features of Animoto is the option to include a caption with an image. The students wrote sentences using the words in their video to show meaning.


I shared a presentation with our teachers on QR Codes. These scannable codes are an easy way to provide students with new information in a more interactive way.

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Click here to view the QR Code Presentation

One of my favorite new audio tools is Audioboom.  Students can record up to 10 minutes with a free account and then there is the option to create a QR code with an image to play back the audio recording.


Our World Language teachers were impressed with QR Voice when we discovered that we could have text read to us in many different dialects. The other amazing feature of QR Voice is that the text can also spoken in any of the featured languages.



A special thank you to all of the educators out there who are making an effort to use technology on a daily basis with their students. Your efforts to give students a rich technological education are appreciated!!

"Games empower students to get the critical feedback that they need to learn and be engaged." Sasha Barab

Are you looking for some simple ways to incorporate games into your students' learning? Watch this Chat with Deb to learn about three great sites to do just that!

Links from this Chat with Deb:


Thank you to Intel's Teacher's Engage for sponsoring this Chat with Deb. 

Click here to view other Chat with Deb videos.

Try Interact - create a visual quiz that will engage, assist and bring meaning to your studying. This is not your typical quiz maker.

This site has several great features such as:


  • Quiz content that allows for visuals and explanations
  • Quiz design that allows for choosing colors, fonts and photos
  • Get feedback and results, embed on your site and provide a link to other resources.


Watch this Chat with Deb to see how Try Interact works:

Thank you to Intel's Teachers Engage for sponsoring this

Chat with Deb.

Let me know what you think of Try Interact and its potential.

Common Core Anchor Standards



I could go two ways with this blog post, I could discuss games-based learning and show you games that are aligned with the Common Core, or I can discuss how gamification of learning supports the Common Core. Because I know that many of the resources you will find on Teacher Engage this month will focus on games-based learning, I will focus on the gamification of learning to engage students and increase achievement.


The Common Core Standards call for students who are self directed, able to draw evidence and use that evidence to support their claims, solve problems, and apply what they have learned in the real world. We must remember that the Common Core Standards do not dictate how we teach, they are simply a list of skills and knowledge that students should have by the time they leave our classrooms and enter the real world. When you approach the standards in this manner, you will see that you are freed up to teach as you see fit. To that end, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try!


Gamification of learning is when you use game design strategies to drive student learning. This can be as simple as awarding points, or as complex as designing quests. Both Challenged Based Learning and Problem Based Learning are frameworks that you can use to add game like excitement to your classes. Both frameworks call for student directed learning, which fits appropriately with the inquiry based learning the Common Core calls for.


Lets look at some of the game design principles we may wish to utilize in our instructional design:



All good games have a good story line. What would be the point of Super Mario Brothers 2 if Mario did not need to rescue Princess Toadstool? Have students reflect on their learning throughout the process, then tell their story of the process, and at the end of the unit. What did they struggle with? Where do they need additional support? Where did they excel? This will allow you to individualize the instruction for each student as the reflections serve as formative assessment opportunities. When playing games, students like to analyze what they need to change to win the game, why not encourage this same behavior in the classroom?


Levels, Points and Badges

All good games have multiple levels to work through, each level adding a new layer of complexity. Build in multiple assessments for learning as levels in your content, don’t wait until the end of the unit to give them a big test, assess their work as they move through the materials. Make sure they are ready to move on to the next level before you push them forward. Go beyond the traditional “quiz and test” method. Give them a challenge. Ask them to apply what they are learning, not just spit it back at you. Additionally, if students are able to work through the levels at their own pace, and are rewarded as they accomplish each task or gain each skill, there is more motivation to advance in levels. Consider using a Badging program to award badges or a point system that awards points for each level, rather than grades. Allow student to choose their own level of mastery, rather than push all students to do the same things. Work on a point system and create levels of mastery for your students. Newbie, Apprentice, and Master are levels used in many of the popular role play games.

Those students who are satisfied with the level they have achieved do not have to continue moving up in levels, those who wish to become masters, can. For that matter, design your badges around the standards themselves. The Challenge: How will you show me mastery of each standard? To what level have you mastered this objective? This type of challenge will allow students to display their skills and knowledge in any way they choose, and will also allow them to do the necessary cycling back and scaffolding throughout the year, as they work on different levels for each standard!



Be flexible in how you present your objectives and curriculum. You know that there are certain objectives that must be met for student success, and create a path to meet those objectives, but also offer side challenges throughout your units that allow learners to further explore content that interest them. Require students to complete at least X side quests on their way to completing the main challenge of the unit, but they get to choose which ones excite them.


Badges and points are not enough to engage your learners, Give them real world challenges that matter. You can design the challenges yourself, reach out to the community, or ask students to identify their own challenges. What problem would they like to solve? What would they like to see change? How would they fix it?


Both games-based learning and gamification of learning have a place in your classroom, both approaches can increase students engagement, which in turn, increases student achievement. Utilizing points, levels, badges, challenges and quests can help your student internalize the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in college or career.


Booktrack Classroom

Posted by deb_norton Nov 3, 2014

Booktrack is amazing and free! It allows you to take a piece of writing and add sound. When a person reads your writing, they will be also listening to music or sound effects that you have added.

Watch this video explanation:

There are also hundreds of stories just waiting to be read with music.

Choose to import your own writing or use one of the free books available. Book track is very easy to use. There are free video tutorials to watch and learn how.

I highly recommend giving Booktrack a try!

This November, Engage explores the world of game-infused learning. Activities and events will look at how gamification can push the boundaries of learning for both education professionals and students alike. In this context, we'll explore how the data stream available via online games can help inform assessment and provide new avenues for educators to demonstrate professional growth. The content area focus for November is STEAM, that sweet spot where the arts intersects with science, technology, engineering, and math.  Sound exciting? Check out all the great content related to education gaming and gamification. Want to dig into the world of STEAM-infused learning? Click here.


In honor of our theme, Engage also celebrates International Game Day on November 15. Are you celebrating? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you're doing.


When I think of gaming in the classroom, I recall my days in elementary school in the early years of personal computing. We had early Apple 2Es and 2gs in the our classrooms, and I spent a good bit of free time running my sidewalk corporate empire in Lemonade Stand, and later the navigating the wide open west in the original Oregon Trail. Did you have computer and/or online games in your classroom as a student? What were they? Tell us in the comments below.




For old times sake...



To see see the themes and content areas of focus from prior months, click here.

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