Three tools you can use this week!

Valerie on Flickr (Creative Commons)

This week on the blog you'll find:

  • One tool I've been looking for for many years,
  • One tool that allows the little monsters in your classroom to create their own monster avatar, 
  • One tool that transforms science lab reports.

Today I will share just a few of the many innovative uses of technology that I have seen in your classrooms over the past few weeks. Thanks to all the teachers who have opened your doors to me and allowed me to share these great ideas. In addition to these examples,  teachers are planning to use StoryBird, VoiceThread, WeVideo, QR Codes, and other tools in coming weeks, each of which I will focus on in a future blog post once we have student work and teacher tips to share. I hope you find something here you can use in your own classroom!

If you would like support in implementing any of these, or other, tech tool in your classroom, just email me! I'm in Glenwood schools every Tuesday, Carbondale every Wednesday, and Basalt every Thursday. I want to visit as many classrooms as I can and work with you to achieve your existing instructional goals using the best tools available, so please let me know how I can help.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT and BEHAVIOR: CLASS DOJO *thanks to Jeremy Heiser at GSES for sharing this one with me!

Class Dojo allows you to encourage specific positive behaviors with a simple and fun tool. It is completely free (for now, at least!)

Teachers at GSES are experimenting with Class Dojo to recognize and encourage positive behaviors. As explained by NPR Ed, "ClassDojo might be described as a way to help students find their classroom mojo. The app lets teachers recognize both positive and negative behavior in real time during class." Students create fun avatars, teachers determine which behaviors they want to encourage, and parents (and students) can see how their kids are doing every day. You could focus on the Habits of a Scholar, or the Expeditionary Learning Core Principles, or your school's specific focus areas.

Some have criticized ClassDojo as just a high-tech gold star system that attempts to modify behavior via external rewards rather than helping students develop the intrinsic motivation they really need. But supporters say that it taps into students' familiarity with game mechanics and allows teachers to easily document, track, and give feedback to help students move toward the behaviors we want to see. I encourage you to have a look at this tool and decide if it aligns with your classroom and behavior management needs and philosophy.

The video below provides a quick overview, and the ClassDojo website also has teacher resources, stories from classrooms using it, and ideas for using it in your classroom.


Zaption allows you to take any YouTube or Vimeo video and add questions, written explanations, and other interactive elements to prompt students into more active and thoughtful viewing. I have been looking for a tool like this for many years, and finally found it this week. Instead of giving students a list of questions to answer on paper as they watch a video, you can insert the questions right into the video itself, so it pauses and prompts them to respond as they watch.

Zaption calls these interactive videos "Tours," and you can start by browsing the Tour Gallery to see if another teacher has already created the Tour you're looking for. You can copy any Tour from the Gallery and edit it to fit your specific needs. You could even put students in the creator's role, and have them select a video on a topic you're studying, then add their own questions and written explanations, before sharing it with the class. What a fun way for students to learn about a topic and share and learn from each other!

Analytics are provided for each of your published videos, so you can see students' responses and have a class discussion about them.

You can sign up for a free account with your Google account, and if you want more features (like the ability to set up a class group, add multiple videos to one tour, and use advanced interactions like the drawing tool), you can upgrade to a Pro account. Try getting started with the free version and consider an upgrade if you run into its limits later.

Here is a sample "Tour" that I found in the public gallery, then copied to my free account, and republished. I could share this with a group of students via the link, and just see the analytics for my students' responses. I actually used this YouTube video when I taught Geography at RFHS, but I did not have Zaption to add interactivity to it two years ago. So much better now!


Kellie Land's students at CMS were busy writing up their lab reports in Google Docs when I visited her classroom this week, but they wanted to create high quality charts from the data they had gathered, and they were unsure how to do it. So here's a quick video to help you and your students use Google Sheets (the spreadsheet tool in Google Drive) to create a nice chart or graph from the data you collect. If you try this and get stuck, just Google it, and I bet you'll find an answer! If your students are using online tools for data analysis in your classroom, please let me know so I can share other ideas here next time.


  1. Ben-
    Would it be possible to set up a google group or interactive board for certain tools, so that we could share questions/success stories/comments? I've been using ClassDojo this year, and would love to talk to others who have been as well..
    Kendall Reiley
    BES Second grade

    1. Thanks for the comment and the great idea Kendall. I'm looking into the best way to facilitate the kind of collaboration you're talking about and I"ll let you know what I come up with. We can start by sharing right here in the comments on this blog, and perhaps extend active conversations to a Google Group or other forum. I'd love to see how you're using Dojo in your classroom...maybe I can stop by next Thursday?


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