Laura A. Diaz ____ Teach Write

TEACHER, AUTHOR, EDUblogger "I want to (read and) write books that unblock the traffic jam in everyone's mind." ~J. Updike

Summer Teacher Tech: 7 Tools For Your Toolbox

In my quest to build my own Teacher Toolbox I have been  getting rid of outdated tools and collecting new shiny ones.  Now, why would I bother?  What is wrong with just assigning my students an essay of some sort? The answer?  Motivation.

If the students do  not find the  assignments you give them to be relevant and engaging they will not “buy-in” to what you are selling.  Below are a few ideas that I have collected.  Some involve tech. Some do not.  All can be adapted to fit whatever technology (or lack of) that you and your students have available to them. And that’s the point. As connected educators we want to share our ideas and what we have “stumbled upon” with other educators.  You look at what others have done successfully and think, “I like that…. but, you know…. if I did this... or that… it would be even better.” And then,  you own it! You’ve made it fit your classroom and your  students needs.

So, check out what is below… then tweak it and make it your own!  Happy teaching! 🙂

#1 Fakebook Timeline Character Page:

This is a sample I made for the “The Outsiders”  The template can be found in google templates under students & Teachers :Facebook Timeline Template. 

This is a great “snapshot” on certain characters in a book your class is reading. It teaches perspective and point of view.  However, I personally would like to add an “ABOUT” page that is similar to the TIMELINE .  I believe this would help students dig deeper instead of just scratching the surface.

This can be done in group collaboration or independently.  In addition, I have seen the low-tech version of this where the teacher printed out the blank template and brought in magazines. The students cut out magazinepictures and the information was handwritten into the section.

On the particular assignment below the directions were to make a Facebook page for  (character) begginning in chapter (?).  Based on what was going on in that chapter, what would his/her status be and what could you now say this characters likes and dislikes are?  I can see this “Timeline” changing and evolving as the studetns read further in the text. Ultimately, a final page based on the ending of the story could be created.   Facebook Timeline Ponyboy Curtis of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton   Here are some additional links to some other styles of “Fakebooks” and how they are being used. Explore and see what you like. I know there are a couple here that I am going to integrateinto my own lessonplan. 🙂

> Facebook Template-doc.stock

>Historical Character Facebook Template via

>Historical Facebook  via

>Blank Facebook Template  via jadaimani9 using

>Facebook Template via Kent Strait

>Facebook Timeline Template via _____________________________________________________________________________


I’ve used this as an EXIT ticket in my own classroom.  It’s fun, creative, and the kids get a kick out of it.  Of course, like anything, you do not want to overuse it or it becomes B-O-O-R-I-N-G.  🙂

I have easily created my own using google docs.  However, I could have saved myself some time because I just found this for FREE on Teacher’s Pay Teachers.   TWEETSABOUT TODAY’S LESSON

Now… for the techie version of this.  Hold on to your seats, this is cool!

I have one collegue that actually allows her students to use their phones in class.  Gulp!  That’s right!

At the beginning of the year she does a Get to Know You survey (via Google forms).  There are a couple of questions on her survey that allow her to know if each student has a phone. If the majority do ( one or two students can share to do this activity) she knows that she can (for the most part) do this activity.  By the way, she also makes sure that they have set up a TWITTER account.

Say, they have just read chapter two of A Tale of Two Cities.  She will have them #(hashtag) TTCch.2 and then direct them to just tweet as many times as they can (using that hashtag) in 4 minutes.  She will then pull up TWITTER from her laptop and  single out her designated hashtag.  She’ll set her timer for 4 minutes and say GO!  

What you will see on the big screen up front is a whole lots of tweets flowing fast. When the screen gets full she screen shots it and saves it. You may have to screenshot 2 or 3 times depending on the students knowledge of the chapter.

When the time is up, this teacher now has an informal “formative assessment” (documented because of the screenshots) where she can clearly see who actually read the assigned chapter.  Crazy, right? But I love it! 🙂 _________________________________________________________________________

#3  If the character in your Story had Instagram

“Imagine if the characters in your story had Instagram.

“What would they take photos of? Where would the setting/location be? Who would leave a comment on their picture?

This activity allows students to be creative as they put themselves in the lives of their characters. They story begins to come to live as they show how they’ve visualizing what they’re reading. They also naturally begin to make inferences as they determine how the characters would respond to each other.My kids loved this idea, and it made a wonderful bulletin board display!” Erin Klein

This is another FREEBIE from Teacher’s Pay Teachers. LINK –> If the Characters in Your Story had Instagram  This is highly adaptable and can be as high tech or low-tech as would meet your studetns needs. ___________________________________________________________________ #4 BOOK Trailers

How about making a book trailer instead of a parapgraph about that book you read?  Some great examples of this can be found at Book Trailers for Readers.

Below is a sample one student made and with youtube.

The low tech version of this would be to present it to the class “Reading Rainbow ” style. They want to be able to “sell it,” in other words. This can also be acheived by recording the video on your phone (or the student’s) and presenting them on another day.



NARRABLE is a great way to do a book report in a more on traditional way. It is engaging and innovative and speaks to the 21st century  studetns we are teaching.

It is a slideshow type tech that allows you to add narration to images you upload.  They can be your own or they can be something else. It is all up to you and from each student’s personal creative flair. ___________________________________________________________________________

 #6 A Virtual Field Trip

Below is a screen shot from a Literacy Field Trip I added to supplement one of my Figurative Language Lesson Plans. LINK–>Understanding Figurative Language Virtual Literacy Tour


This  will lead the students to different examples and educational resources around the interenet that will reniforce or introduce content area information.  Again it is an engaging way to get out of the class (so to speak) to learn what you need to learn as opposed to the student sit and teacher talk-lecture format.

I have also seen this done for Social Studies, Science and Math content areas.

Here is a great article that  explains what Virtual Field Trips are all about and the myriad of ways techers have implemented them in effectively in their lesson plans.

Additional articles on the subject:

–>Virtual FieldTrips via PadTEch

->Virtual Field Tour via ReadingRockets

–>LEARNz Virtual Field Trips

–>Think Classroom Interactive Classroom Trips

–>6th Grade Social Studeies Virtual Field Trip

–>Literacy Field Trips

–> Google Lit Trips


#7  Klikaklu Inspired

This is a lesson plan activity that is inspired by the game KLIKAKLU.

Imagine treasurehunting, geocaching, and scavenger hunts but with a classroom/educational twist.  You type in the “Essential Question” from your lesson plan objective and then take pictures that will either lead them on a hunt around the school/classroom or a virtual internet search tour.

Which actually makes this a new way to do a Virtual Field Trip. 🙂   ___________________________________________________________________

Now that you’ve got some ideas sparking , go to it!  Get creative and inspire your students to create. Differentiate, scaffold, work those Bloom’s Learning Intelligences…. you can do it. I know you can! 🙂


8 comments on “Summer Teacher Tech: 7 Tools For Your Toolbox

  1. AllenS.
    April 23, 2016

    Helpful post, keep them coming!


  2. JeremyFreese
    March 30, 2015

    Fantabulous! Great finds. 🙂


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    July 3, 2014

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    June 22, 2014

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    April 29, 2014

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