30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 22 EDpuzzle

Day 22: EDpuzzle

Videos are an excellent instructional tool and the internet is filled with high-quality videos for all age levels and subject areas. However, watching a video can be a passive activity. Just because a student watched a video does not mean they understood it. EDpuzzle is a wonderful web-based tool that allows you to add interactivity and assessments to your video library.

Add comprehension checks to any video.

With EDpuzzle, you can curate videos from your favorite video sites such as YouTube, Kahn Academy, Crash Course, or TED Talks, and turn them into lessons with integrated quizzes. Using the EDpuzzle creation tool you can select a video, trim it, add narration, and add formative assessments throughout to check for student understanding.

Assign your lessons to your students by creating classes that include a class roster and gradebook so you can track students’ progress as they watch the content. EDpuzzle also integrates into Google Classroom.

Student view of your video.

As your students watch the video, they are presented with your questions. To continue watching, they must answer the questions. Their responses are recorded in your gradebook so you can see if your students understand the concepts from the video.

All your videos are saved in your content library. From your library, you can share your content with other educators in your school or make it public for all educators to discover.

School Video-Library

The newest addition to the EDpuzzle environment is the School Video-Library. Now you can search through hundreds of curated lessons for elementary, middle grades and high school. Saving you time. In addition to the Video Library, EDpuzzle also provides a My School channel for videos created and curated by your colleagues.

Categories of Middle-Grade Video Lessons


Collection of Geometry Videos for Middle-Grades

EDpuzzle is the perfect way to flip your classroom and track your student learning. Whether you created your own videos or chose from the vetted library of pre-made lessons, EDpuzzle is an excellent tool for integrating videos into your classroom. Best of all – it is free. Yay for free!

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 17 MathPickle

Day 17: MathPickle

Today’s tool (website actually) goes out to all my Math Nerd buddies out there. (I say that with love and admiration.) Those folks who get excited about puzzling through a good mental challenge and those teachers who want their students to become the next problem solvers and mathematical thinkers. If that is you, then you need MathPickle.com in your life.

MathPickle.com is a website that contains standards-aligned puzzles, games, and problems for K-12 students. The original mind-bending, grade-appropriate puzzles, created by site founders Dr. Gordon Hamilton and Lora Saarnio, are designed to give all students the experience of productive struggle through challenging puzzles. According to the site…

 MathPickle gives every student – especially the top students – a regular experience of failure – starting in Kindergarten. This removes the stigma of failure from the classroom. MathPickle also gives every student a regular experience of success.


Puzzles by Subject

When you visit the MathPickle puzzle page, you can browse through the puzzles by grade level or by subject. Each puzzle includes a clear description, printable materials for students, and a list of related Mathematical Practices. (Sample puzzle – Pollinator Puzzle) I also love the fact that all the materials are Creative Commons Licensed so you can freely use them in your classroom and share the materials (with attribution, of course) with your students and colleagues.


The MathPickle Games page has a list of board games for home and classroom that build mathematical thinking and problem-solving. It is a great list of some fun games including the MathPickle 2017 game of the year Santorini, created by MathPickle’s very own Dr. Gordon Hamilton.

Inspired Mathematicians I MathPickle
Inspired Mathematicians

In addition to puzzles and games, there is an informational blog and (one of my favorite parts of MathPickle) a list of inspired people. Browse through the list of amazing mathematicians, educators, gamers, programmers, and more. Students can scroll through bios of some of the most inspirational problem solvers, thinkers, and dreamers of our time. The folks at MathPickle have also included pages of motivational quotes.

It is obvious that the MathPickle team is passionate about problem-solving, mathematics, and learning. Their puzzles are not just geared towards the high achieving kids but designed to support and encourage all learners to be problem-solvers and gain the skills needed to face wicked, messy, real-world challenges. Thier “About Us” page says it best.

MathPickle goes beyond arithmetic and computation and gets students into a pickle. Lessons are not nicely wrapped up. Students are left with raw and unresolved questions.

Keep up the great work MathPickle!





30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 15 Quizizz

Day 15: Quizizz

Quizizz is a free online quiz tool perfect for classroom assessments, games, and more. There are so many online, game-based assessment tools out there. Kahoot!, Socarative, Quizlet, to name a few. Each one has their own pros and cons that set them apart. Quizizz and Kahoot! are my two go-to tools. We’ll talk about Kahoot! in a separate post.

Quizizz just launched some new updates and I really like them. Their newly designed website is clean and easy to use. Great updates.

Using Quizizz is easy. Log-in with your Google account or use any email to get started. Search for public quizzes created by the community or start from scratch and create your own custom quiz. There are tons of pre-made quizzes to choose from. Use them as is or edit them to add your own questions.

Search for Quizzes
The new Quizizz website. Clean and easy to use.

Here are a few of my favorite features from the new Quizizz.

  • Search for public quizzes using keywords or the new subject buttons.
  • Easy to create custom quizzes.
  • Create your own mems or choose an available meme set, to display for right and wrong answers (These are super cute! Because, you know, memes!)
  • Share your quizzes or keep them private.
  • Organize your quizzes into collections.
  • No student log-ins are needed to play, just a code.
  • Play the quiz live or assign it to homework.
  • Works on multiple devices and platforms.
  • Shuffle questions and answers when you play.
  • View reports on student performance. See class average, performance per question, and individual performance.
  • Email individual reports to parents.
  • Download data into Excel for further analysis.
One of my custom memes.

As mentioned above, one of my favorite features is the custom meme designer. After students answer a question they receive feedback (correct or incorrect) as a meme. You can use the pre-designed memes or create your own set with your own images. What a great way to personalize the quiz for your class. Take a picture of each student cheering and frowning. Use these as your own custom memes. So much fun!

I’ve also used Quizizz for a live trivia game during an open house. It is a fun way to engage adults, too. They are just as competitive as kids.

Quizizz can make formative assessments easy to create and share and super fun to take! It is an excellent tool for gathering usable data on student understanding or, just play for fun!

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 13 Sketchboard

Day 13: Sketchboard

I have fallen in love with Sketchnotes. Let me rephrase that. I have fallen in love with the idea of Sketchnotes. I have never created one myself but I love how others have taken ideas, concepts, and processes and turned them into drawings that use interesting visuals to convey the information. If you don’t know what Sketchnotes are, check out the work by Sylvia Duckworth. She is my Sketchnote idol. Basically, it is visual note-taking. I am not good at it at all. But as I said, I love the idea.

I’ve been trying to find a tool that could help me build my Sketchnoting skills. Lucky for me, I came across a tweet from Jennifer Gonzolazes (@cultofpedagogy) from Cult of Pedagogy that identified the six ed tech tools to try in 2017.  One of those tools was Sketchboard, a collaborative whiteboard tool that integrates with other collaboration apps such as Slack and Google Drive. It looked promising.

Scketchboard is designed to help teams work together virtually. At its heart, mind mapping tool that multiple people can contribute to in real time. I tried out the free version and created my first board. I did not play with it much but my first impression is positive.

SketchboardScreen Cap
My first (kind of lame) map.

Some of the things I like.

  • The elements of your board have a hand-drawn feel. Gives you the look of a sketch but in a clean way. Not in the messy way that you might see on my whiteboard when you walk into my office.
  •  You can usee icons and shapes form the library or draw freehand.
  •  The drawing space easily expands as your ideas grow. It is very easy to navigate around your canvas. No matter how big your map gets.
  • You can add members to your team and give them different roles.
  • Integrates with Google Drive.
  • You can turn your map into a presentation by turning areas of your map into slides. (Kind of like you can with Prezi.)
  • Boards can be public, private, or password protected.
  • You can add comments to your map or live chat with your team as you create.

The one thing I don’t like.

  • The free version is limited. Not in features. You have full access to most of the tools and features. However, free users can only have 3 private boards for up to 5 team members. If you are not going to use it with a team, you can get an individual account for $7.00/ month. Organization/team memberships start at $14.00/month for up to 3 members. The business membership is $79.00/month. I’m a big fan of free stuff so I don’t think I’d pay for the upgrade. However, if your team is global and you need the ability to collaborate visually, it might be a good investment. Note: It looks like there might be a special rate or educators. You can email them for more information. I have not emailed them yet to get more info.

I’m interested in what type of price package is available for education. I could see this as a valuable tool, especially for students working on group projects. My problem is that there are so many mind mapping tools out there I find it hard to commit to just one. I’ll need to explore Sketchboard further before I can say this one is my favorite.

Sketchboard may not be the answer to my Sketchnoting dreams but it is a solid collaborative whiteboard tool. especially if you are already using Slack or Google Drive to connect with your team. My quest continues for the one tool to rule them all and get me sketchnoting. Until then, I’ll be here with my pens and my Leuchtturm1917 notebook taking notes and doodling ideas. 

For more information on Sketchnotes, check out the links below.

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 12 Office Mix PowerPoint Add-in

Day 12: Office Mix PowerPoint Add-in

One of my favorite things about going to a conference is the time spent between sessions chatting with colleagues you only get to see once or twice a year. As much as I enjoy going to sessions, I seem to get more out of these impromptu conversations. This year’s Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Conference was no exception. There were some great sessions but there were even better side conversations in the hallways, elevators, and in the foyer. My absolute favorite conversations start off with, “Hey, have you ever used…”

It was a conversation such as this where I learned about a new, PowerPoint add-in, Office Mix. How did I not know about this one? Office Mix is a free add-in that lets you create and share interactive videos. With Mix you can record your slideshows, insert polls and quizzes, and keep track of your mix analytics.

Mix Welcome Slide. Watch the What is Office Mix video to get started.

To get started, download Mix from the Office Mix website. The next time you open PowerPoint, you will have a new Mix tab at the top of your screen. This is where the magic happens.

If you are an experienced PowerPoint user then you should be able to jump right into this app. I recommend watching the 2-minute overview video just to help you get started. Like most Microsoft tools, there are good support resources to help you create your presentation.

From the Mix tab you can insert various apps including multiple choice quizzes, polls, open response questions and even…wait for it… Open Content from sites such as Kahn Academy and cK-12. That was the part that blew my mind. They had me at OER. You can also add screen recordings, screenshots, as well as video and audio files.

Editing an embedded quiz.

Use the Slide Recording feature to record your presentation. Add narration, ink, and even use your camera so people can see your smiling face while you present. It seems that Mix gives you the power to create interactive videos that could rival Captivate. (Maybe – more exploration is needed. They might be just different enough to serve different purposes.)

Completed videos can be downloaded as an MP4 file and are SCORM compatible. Since I work at a university that is a Microsoft campus, I am excited to try this tool out and turn some of my slide decks into full interactive presentations with embedded quizzes.

At first glance, Office Mix appears to be a powerful addition to the PowerPoint tools set. There are so many classroom uses. From creating interactive videos for the flipped classroom to giving students the power to turn their presentations into something more to producing self-directed learning modules for online learning. There are many possibilities and since it is an add-on to an old friend, there is not the huge learning curve that comes with a brand new tool.  Another one for my “Explore Deeper” list.

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 11 Awesome Table

Day 11: Awesome Table

While working on a project for work this week, I was on the hunt for a way to take data from a Google spreadsheet and display it in a dynamic leaderboard. I know that I could have just spiffed up my Google Sheet, but I was looking for something more dramatic. My other problem was that it needed to be easy to set up and update without a lot of coding. It has been a long time since I have coded from scratch and I did not have the time or patience to teach myself on the fly. A colleague came to my rescue and suggested I try the Web app Awesome Table. So I did. I was rather pleased with the results.

Awesome Table integrates with Google Drive and links to a Google Sheet for the data source. To make the sheet compatible, you might need to tweak the format. The sheet headers must follow the given format (no special characters) and you must include a blank row under your header row. This row is reserved for parameters and filters. It sounds a bit complicated but if you follow the clearly written support documentation, it should be no problem to set up. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.

I was able to create an interactive leaderboard from an existing spreadsheet in about five minutes. It even updates if my source data changes.

Leaderboard sorted by Brag Totals.

My leaderboard is not really pretty but if you are more tech-savvy than I, you can create an HTML template and Custom CSS to pretty it up. I might shake the rust off of my HTML skills and see if I can make my leaderboard a bit more dramatic.

Awesome Table has other templates for visualizing your data. From creating custom maps, photo slideshows, and data dashboards to visually pleasing announcements, product lists, and people directories. I have not played with these templates but if they are as easy as the leaderboard then I’m excited to give it a try.  I’m intrigued by the photo slideshows and custom maps.

Screenshot of some of the available templates.

I can also take this leaderboard (or any of the Awesome Table views) and embed it in a Google Site or other website. I used the new Google Sites and the app integrated nicely. As I mentioned before, the support documentation is fairly good. It was easy to follow and answered most of my questions. It looks like there is also an active G+ support community.

I know that I have just scratched the surface of what this app can do. I’m adding this to my “Explore Deeper” list. Definitely, one to check out if you want to take your data tables from “Blah.” to “Whoa!” or if you want to gamify your classroom with custom leaderboards. I’d also like to see what a data dashboard might look like. Oh, did I mention it’s free? Yea. That’s 50 bonus points right there.

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 10 Parable of the Polygons

Day 10: Parable of the Polygons

Today’s tool is Parable of the Polygons, a playable blog post presented by the brilliant Vi Hart (one of my all-time favorite Math doodlers) and systems storyteller and interactive thing maker, Nicky Case. They have collaborated to create an adorable simulation with an important message about society and how our individual biases, and the choices we make based on those biases, shape the world around us. Even though the little triangles and squares are incredibly cute, the message they help to deliver is a powerful one.

“This is a story of how harmless choices can make a harmful world.”


Their story begins with an unhappy triangle who is slightly shapest and wants to be moved into a more diverse crowd. You, the reader, can drag the little guy around to make him happy. As the parable continues, you are faced with more complicated scenarios and interactive simulations that demonstrate the impact of individual biases on the segregation of this little polygon society. By changing the level of individual bias, you can see how quickly or slowly the segregation of their society shifts making those bias little guys happy, unhappy or just meh.


The simulations are simple but effective. I was shocked to see how quickly a society can change. You start to realize how individual biases lead to collective biases and those collective biases change the diversity of society.


Hart and Case do a wonderful job of mixing interactive simulations with informational text and explanations that are both easy to understand and entertaining. They have taken a heavy topic and presented it in a way that seems non-threatening and approachable. It gets you thinking about your own biases and how you, this little individual polygon, can impact the world around you. They leave you with the message that your demand for either more diversity or less can have a huge impact on your immediate neighborhood and the larger society.


Parable of the Polygons is a great way to introduce the idea diversity and bias into a classroom and start some amazing conversations. It could be a catalyst for a larger project-based learning activity on diversity in society or the tool a teacher uses to demonstrate an individual’s impact on society over time. At the end of the post, they share some fantastic resources, links to research, and other mathematical models used to describe institutionalized bias.  They have also included links to organizations that are working for diversity such as Black Girls who Code, Girls Who Code, and Code 2040.

What I love most is that Hart and Case shared their creation under a Creative Commons Open License. (In fact, I first stumbled upon their post while browsing the Creative Commons website.) They want you to share and use this powerful story. So, use it and share it.

If you love Parable of the Polygons as much as I do, be sure to check out Hart‘s videos  (I’ve shared a couple of my favorites below) and Case’s interactive things such as Explorable Explanations and Neurotic Neurons.

Doodling in Math Class: Snakes + Graphs from Vi Hart on Vimeo.

Doodling in Math Class: Dragon Dungeons from Vi Hart on Vimeo.


30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 9 Text 2 Mind Map

Day 9: Text 2 Mind Map

Even though I am not the best planner when it comes to writing (I am more of a pantser) I do love a great graphic organizer. When I was planning my dissertation research, I used the program Inspiration to organize the theories and ideas that would become my theoretical framework and my questions and thoughts that would become the basis for my research. I do not think I would have made it through my doctoral research without a way to visually represent my thinking. However, for many, learning how to use a concept map takes a bit of practice. Inspiration is a great tool but can seem a bit intimidating for someone who is just learning how to use graphic organizers. I would start with something simpler. There are several easy to use tools available. One super easy tool is a web app called Text 2 Mind Map.

Text 2 Mind Map does exactly what the name says. It converts your text outline into a visual map of information. You enter your information, ideas, and thoughts into an outline, hit the Draw Mind Map button, and Text 2 Mind Map converts your outline into a lovely concept map. There are not a lot of bells and whistles but that is what makes it easy to use even for a beginner. You can control can change the font style, color of the branches, and the line style using the options tab. This gives you just the right amount of control without overwhelming you with design choices.

Enter text to create a visual map of the information.

When your mind map is complete, you can save it or download it as a PDF or an image. The free version of the tool saves your map to a link where you can access and edit it later. You have more saving options with a subscription, including add-free downloads. Subscriptions start at $5.00 a month.

Text 2 Mind Map makes concept mapping easy. It is also a great way to help your students learn how to outline information. There is a very low learning curve and the minimal design makes the tool intuitive.

For more information on how to use  Text 2 Mind Map, watch this quick tutorial from Free Technology for Teachers.

Want to learn more about how to use concept maps in the classroom? Here are a few great resources for you to explore.

Happy organizing!



30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 8 Radial

Day 8: Radial App for Android

Yesterday I found myself sitting at the airport feeling a bit bored. Getting through security took no time at all (which was surprising). So, there I sat. Two hours early for my flight, looking for something to do. I read a little. (The Detective’s Assistant, a great middle-grade novel by Kate Hannigan.) But I found I just needed something mindless to pass the time. Then I remembered an app I downloaded on my phone a month or so ago and decided to play. I opened Radial and began to draw. It was mesmerizing.

Radial is a simple, free app that lets you create integrate mandalas and symmetrical radial drawings (hence the name). It’s intuitive controls have you creating beautiful designs in no time at all.

Opening Screen. 

When you open the app, you are greeted with a friendly screen that tells you to draw. Without any further instruction or too much thinking, you can create an amazingly detailed design.

One of my first creations. 

It really is quite addictive. I spent a good hour at the airport drawing new designs over and over again.

If you touch the color wheel icon at the top, you can change your brush and canvas settings. There are about eight different colors to choose from which is limiting but not too bad. Sometimes when I have too many choices, I spend too much time thinking about what color to choose and less time creating. So the fewer choices worked for me. You can also control the thickness of your brush, line smoothness, the number of times your line is replicated, and how your line is replicated.

Brush controls.

Once you have completed your design, you can save it on your device, or share it out through your social media channels.

Here are a few more examples of my art. Each one of these took very little time to make. I had fun changing the settings and challenging myself to try new line styles.


So, I know what you are thinking. “That’s great and all. I’m glad you found a new art calling. But what does this have to do with classroom technology?” OK, maybe only a few of you are asking that. My Math and Art friends don’t have to ask. I bet their minds are already spinning with ideas. This simple app could be a great addition to the STEAM classroom (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Mandalas are a beautiful way to demonstrate the connection between art and math.

Here are just a couple lesson ideas about using symmetrical designs such as Mandalas, to teach mathematical concepts.

What seems like a simple, free app that helps you pass the time waiting for your plane, is actually a tool for unlocking the beauty of Mathematics through the intersection of the Arts. Download this one today and make something amazing!

30 Tools in 30 Days: Day 7 Ruby Rei

Day 7: Ruby Rei

Ruby – Character image from Ruby Rei Press Kit

Learning a new language is hard. At least for me. So I’m always interested in new strategies for learning and teaching language. Ruby Rei is a new mobile app by Wibbu designed to build student’s language skills through a beautiful adventure game.

I downloaded Ruby Rei on my Android device and played the first two levels. The goal is to guide Ruby Rei as she tries to find her robot friend Moli who has crashed on a strange planet. As you explore the world on your quest, you encounter different challenges. The game dialog is in the language you are trying to learn. For me, I selected Spanish. As Ruby and other characters spoke, a dialog box appeared with the text. I heard and saw the dialog in Spanish. By clicking on each phrase, I could translate the text into English. In addition to the dialog boxes, there were times where I had to record or type phrases. I really like the multi-modal language interaction.

Screenshot of Ruby speaking to Gulla.

To move Ruby through the strange planet, I tapped the screen and she moved. The gameplay was fairly simple and easy to follow. There are not a lot of instructions to get you started, however, there are just-in-time hints to help you along.

The first two levels were good and I would be interested in continuing. The first two levels are free. You can download the full game (18 levels) for $2.99, which is not bad.

The website has some information on how to use Ruby Rei in the classroom and in a district. According to the game website, there are additional standards-aligned teacher resources. Districts can purchase a site license that allows the district to distribute the game through their learning management system (LMS). Read more about a district license here.  It was not clear how much a site license would cost a district.

I did not see any way to explore the teacher resources so I cannot speak to the quality of the materials. I did like how Wibbu provided a white paper on the research that supports game-based learning. It is clear that the developers were not just focused on creating a good game but also on sound pedagogy. It was a nice blend of research-based learning strategies, good gameplay, and high-quality graphics. You don’t always find all three in an educational game.

Overall, Ruby Rei is an interesting approach to game-based language learning and worth a look.