Tech Tools for Teachers is Back!


Simon Collier and I began a free e-newsletter for educators called Tech Tools for Teachers in January 2010.

Each edition of the e-newsletter highlights an online tool or site that can be used in the classroom and provides step-by-step instructions on how to use it.

Tech Tools for Teachers is suitable for both primary and secondary teachers and we provide practical examples of how the tool or website could be integrated into the curriculum.

The purpose of Tech Tools for Teachers is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to staff who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the net.  This in turn, increasing the use of the wonderful educational tools available online.


This year we are making Tech Tools for Teachers bigger and better.

Matt Limb has joined Simon and me, and together we are Teaching Generation Now.

Today we launched our website

Tech Tools for Teachers - Teaching Generation Now


We are continuing the Tech Tools for Teachers emails this year, but this time, due to popular demand, they will come out fortnightly rather than weekly.

Our format has changed slightly. You will still receive emails from Tech Tools for Teachers, with easy to understand, tried and tested technology ideas for your classroom. The bit that has changed is that these emails will be linked to our website where you will find the most recent Tech Tool in full detail, to help you out step by step. You can also browse an Archive of 2010 Newsletters at your leisure.

Of course, Tech Tools for Teachers is completely free and we encourage all educators to sign up. New subscribers can enter their email address on the right hand side of our website.

sign up





Teaching GenerationNow


techtoolsforteachers email

Stay tuned and spread the word! It is going to be an exciting year as we strive the meet the needs of this generation.

What ideas do you have for future Tech Tools for Teachers newsletters?

Holidays are Here!

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Thank you to all my readers for you support throughout the year.

2010 has seen over EIGHTY posts on this blog!


I have also collaborated on THIRTY Tech Tools for Teachers email newsletters with Simon Collier.

These free weekly e-newsletters for teachers offer instruction on ICT tools and sites that can be used in the classroom.

If you have some spare time over the holidays, why not check out the newsletters which are all in PDF format on this page of my blog.

We plan to continue with Tech Tools for Teachers in 2011, so if you haven’t signed up – here is the link to do so.


Have a safe, happy and relaxing Christmas period and look our for more posts in the new year!

What was your highlight of the 2010 year?

Tech Tools for Teachers #22 PrimaryPad

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the site PrimaryPad

PrimaryPad  is a tool that allows students and teachers to collaborate on a word-processor style document. Despite the name, PrimaryPad could be used with both primary and secondary students.


We like PrimaryPad because it:
* is free.
* doesn’t require users to sign up or log-in.
* is very easy to use. You can create a page in seconds.
* has a wide range of uses for all ages and curriculum areas.
* allows for collaboration across the class or globe.
* is secure – only people with the unique URL can enter a room.
* is ad-free.
* provides an authentic opportunities to discuss netiquette and cyber safety issues.

An example of how I used PrimaryPad in my Grade Two Classroom
Last week, I used PrimaryPad with a small group of students each day.
I wanted to use this tool, not only for the powerful collaboration opportunities it offers but to create an authentic opportunity to introduce my students to chat rooms and netiquette in a controlled environment.
For the task, there were six members of the room (including myself) each on individual computers. We first started by having a general online chat to get the students familiar with the tool. I had my students focus on
reading others’ messages, responding appropriately and remaining on-topic and polite.
With the first group, the chat led to a discussion of the school Festa that was held on the weekend and the group decided to use the collaborative space to create a top 10 list of the best aspects of the Festa. The chat feature of the tool was used to decide on what to put on the list.
The students got so much out of this session. Afterwards, we were able to reflect on how the students did with reading and responding to messages and we had a rich discussion about netiquette (ie. CAPTIALS means shouting, the importance of taking turns etc).

Other examples of how PrimaryPad could be used (note some ideas from

* Import a document and students edit it collaboratively.
* Students write a story, movie/book review, essay or other text in small groups.
* Brainstorming in groups what students know about a new topic.
* Import an opinion piece and have students use the chat function to debate the topic.
* Make a chain story. One class starts a story, another class continues it and so on.
* At the end of a unit of work, students collaborate to document what they’ve learnt.
* Students help their peers to make their sentences more interesting.
* One child types a word in and other children try to list as many synonyms of it as possible.
* One child takes on the role of a person (e.g. Roman soldier, environmentalist, land developer etc.) who must answer questions posed by other children.

For more information about how to use PrimaryPad, download the PDF of this week’s Tech Tools for Teachers Newsletter Newsletter #22 PrimaryPad

Have you ever used PrimaryPad?

Do you know if any other tools like PrimaryPad?

How could you see this tool being useful in your classroom?

PrimaryPad is a web-based word processordesigned for schools that allows pupils

and teachers to work together in real-time.

Tech Tools for Teachers

Since the beginning of 2010, I have been  collaborating with a fellow teacher, Simon Collier on a free weekly e-mail for teachers.

With our 20th newsletter milestone approaching, this post is a reminder if you or someone you know has not yet signed up for the newsletters.

Each week our email newsletter features a useful online tool or website for teachers to use in their classroom.

The purpose of the email is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to teachers who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the net.  This in turn, hopefully increasing the use of the wonderful education tools available online.

The newsletter is suitable for both primary and secondary teachers and provides practical examples of how the tool or website could be integrated into the classroom curriculum.

To access the previous newsletter, click here to visit the Tech Tools for Teachers page on my blog.


CLICK HERE to sign up online

tech tools

What topic would you like us to write a Tech Tools for Teachers newsletter on?

Tech Tools for Teachers #14 BTN

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on an email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. Click here to find an archive of past newsletters and to subscribe.

This week we review the website Behind the News (BTN)


Behind the News (BTN) is a fantastic Australian site by the ABC that helps students learn about current issues and events around the world. Each Tuesday a new episode of BTN is released online comprising of about 5 different stories that are each under 5 minutes long. The stories can be watched individually on the BTN website and also screen on ABC1 television (currently Tuesdays at 10am and Wednesdays at 10.30am).

Apart from the videos, the BTN website also contains activity sheets, links, quizzes, polls etc for follow up work. After you watch an episode you can visit the Guestbook on the BTN site to leave a comment.

While BTN is promoted for students in upper primary and secondary school, I have had great success using it with my Grade Two students. I incorporate a weekly BTN session into my curriculum. There are always a range of stories, many of which are less complex and can be understood by younger students. My class has had many rich discussions and experiences based on BTN stories and it is a fantastic way for students to learn about the world in which they live!

On the Teachers Page of the BTN website you will find a list of topics which you can go to to find archived BTN stories around a particular subject. Each topic collection contains a teacher resource pack with focus questions, activities and additional links. There are currently 15 topics with archived stories ranging from Water, to Natural Disasters to Space and Astronomy. Hopefully this section will continue to expand.

Tip: go to the Teachers Page and sign up to be on the mailing list. You will receive an email each Friday telling you what stories are coming out on the following Tuesday. If you are a Twitter user you can also follow BTN on Twitter for story updates.

We like BTN because it:
• is free
• is Australian
• is not geo restricted which means the videos can be streamed outside of Australia
• is presented in “plain language”
• doesn’t require a sign-up or login
• is suitable for all year levels from Grade Two to secondary school
• covers a huge range of current affairs and news topics
• can be used as a whole class on the IWB, or individually on student notebooks or classroom computers
• can be integrated into many subject areas
• can be used as a quick ten minute activity (5 minute video and 5 minute discussion) or as part of a more lengthy session with follow up activities.

How have you used BTN in your classroom?

Tech Tools for Teachers #11 VoiceThread

Each week, Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter called Tech Tools for Teachers to inform teachers of useful online tools. Find out more here.

This week we review the website VoiceThread


VoiceThread is a popular tool that allows you to narrate images, documents and videos. Others can join in the conversation too. Your completed VoiceThreads can be embedded in a blog or website, emailed or simply stored and viewed on the VoiceThread site.

We like VoiceThread because it:

* is free (there are paid options but these aren’t necessary)
* is easy to use
* permits you to have one account for your class with individual identities so students don’t need to sign up
* is suitable for all year levels and curriculum areas
* has a range of possible uses
* is a great tool for collaboration, reflection and creativity
* allows you to control who is able to view and contribute to your VoiceThread.


To sign up to VoiceThread go to You will see “sign in or register” in the top right hand corner of the home page. Click here and then click “register.”

* Note: VoiceThread is offering a free upgrade to K-12 educators, called the VT Educator account. This account allows you to create up to 50 VoiceThreads and gives you 250 MB of storage. It also allows you to upload audio files as comments. You can take a look at the features of the VT Educator account here.
For step by step instructions on how to use VoiceThread, check out our newsletter here Newsletter #11 VoiceThread


There are many ways to use VoiceThread in the classroom. Here are a couple of ways Kathleen’s Grade Two students have used VoiceThread in the classroom. They were all embedded on her class blog so check out the links to see the actual VoiceThreads.

1. Happy Father’s Day
The students made a comment on why their Dad is special.

2. Monster Adjectives
The students all drew a picture of an monster which they described using all the adjectives they had come up.

3. Winter Poems
Students all wrote a poem about Winter and narrated their favourite line from their poem.

4. World Earth Day

All the students left a comment with a tip about looking after the environment for World Earth Day.


VoiceThread is also great for peer assessments, self reflections, discussions around videos or artwork, digital portfolios or collaboration with other students/classes. There are obviously many more great ways to use this tool, only limited by the imagination of the teacher and students!


We have set up a VoiceThread as a means for you to try it out and share your ideas on how you could use VoiceThread in the classroom. Please leave a comment!

Tech Tools for Teachers # 6 – Word Magnets

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter to inform teachers of great online tools. Find out more here.

This week we review the site Word Magnets.

word magnets

Word magnets is a tool that allows you to paste in some text and then change the text into word tiles like fridge magnets that you can drag and rearrange.

There are background proformas you can use to arrange the magnets, like Venn diagrams, tables, A-Z, numeric lists etc.

We like Word Magnets because it:

  • is free (Note: there is also a paid version of this tool available called Word Magnets 2.0. You are shown the ad for it when you first enter the Word Magnets site.)
  • is suitable for all year levels
  • has a range of uses
  • is quick and easy to use (no preparation required)
  • is great for thinking skills and all subject areas
  • is a form of assessment


  1. Go to and press “next”
  2. Type in the words you want to turn into magnets and press “next” (if you want to type in your words later, you can just leave the box blank and press “next”).
  3. Choose the background you want to use and press “next.”
  4. Drag your magnets to where you want them.
  5. You can add magnets by typing them in up the top and then pressing the + sign.
  6. You can change the colour of a magnet by clicking on the colour and then clicking on the magnet.
  7. You can delete a magnet by clicking on “remove” and then clicking on the magnet you want to delete.
  8. Use the up and down arrows to increase or decerease the size of the magnets.
  9. You cannot save your Word Magnet but you can take a screen shot of it using the “Snipping Tool” in Windows 7 or by pressing “Prtsc” key and pasting in MS Paint in other versions of Window.


Kathleen has used Word Magnets with her Grade Twos as a sorting activity. The students simply brainstormed uses for the sea and then sorted these ideas into “fun” and “work”.

sea word magnets

In the above activity the students came up with the words. Another activity Kathleen’s Grade Twos completed involved the teacher coming up with the words. For a food A-Z brainstorm, Kathleen created word magnets of foods with the first letter missing. The students had to drag them to the correct letter.

Word Magnets has many other uses in the classroom such as…

  • type in a sentence or copy a paragraph of text and have the students arrange the words into the correct order
  • type in a sentence and then have students create extra word magnents to extend the sentence
  • colour code the nouns, adjectives, verbs etc in sentences
  • sort ideas about any topics into a Venn diagram
  • create a flow chart or mind map about a certain topic or idea
  • create a family tree
  • make all sorts of lists or comparisons!

Have a go at using Word Magnets with your class!  Let us know how you went by leaving a comment.

Tech Tools for Teachers #5 – Creating Google Docs Quizzes

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter to inform teachers of great online tools. Find out more here.

This week we review the use of Google Docs: Forms (

google docs

No doubt you have all heard of Google, and possibly Google Docs.  Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

You may not be aware of some of the powerful tools that come with this free online tool for educational use. There are some great ways to use Google Docs for collaboration, assessment and investigation.

In this edition, we are going to show you how to create an online quiz in Google Docs and use it to generate a spreadsheet and graphical representation of results.

We like Google Docs because it:

  • is free
  • is suitable for all year levels
  • has a range of uses
  • is accessible anywhere (not just from one computer)
  • allows you to invite others to edit or view your work
  • provides a spreadsheet of results without you having to plug in each students’ data
  • displays graphical representation of your quiz results
  • allows you to design a quiz using a range of question types


This PDF files shows you how to use Google Docs to create a quiz for your students

How to Create a Google Docs Quiz


Google Docs could also be used…

  • as a way for students to collaborate on projects
  • to design classroom tests and quizzes with automatic data collection
  • to collect student results to help inform your teaching
  • to give students homework tasks to avoid photocopying and distributing hard copies
  • as a way for teachers to give students feedback on their work
  • for tracking of grades, attendance, or any other data using the spreadsheet application
  • to collaborate on lesson plans with other teachers

Have a go at the Tech Tools For Teachers Quiz. We will show you the results in an upcoming newsletter.

ALSO a great overview of how to publish a quiz using google docs can be found here: Mr Byrnes post on the Free Technology for Teachers Blog.

Have a go at using Google Docs in your classroom and leave a comment to let us know how you went!

Tech Tools For Teachers #4 – Zuitube

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter to inform teachers of great online tools. Find out more here.


This week we review the site, Zuitube (


Zuitube is basically YouTube for kids. The site promotes itself as the “largest collection of videos for kids on the web“.

YouTube videos can be very useful in the classroom however, finding appropriate, kid-friendly videos on YouTube can be like finding a needle in a haystack! Zuitube allows you to search for specific topics or browse categories and channels.

All the videos on Zuitube have been reviewed by parents or teachers and there are currently over 60,000 videos on the site.

ZuiTube is part of KidZui, a web browser and search engine for kids that filters internet content.

We like Zuitube because it:

  • is free
  • is suitable for all year levels (NB: there seems to be more content for primary rather than secondary kids)
  • doesn’t require any login
  • there are videos that could compliment every curriculum area
  • the search function is very kid-friendly (when you type in a search word, suggestions pop up and search results also include a picture – great for non-readers)
  • is safe for kids.

The only downside of Zuitube that we can see is the fact that you have to actually go to YouTube to get the link to embed videos on blogs or websites.


To use Zuitube

  1. Go to
  2. Search for the video or category you want by clicking on
  • channels,
  • tags (categories), or
  • search. zuitube

  1. You can also browse the featured pages such as “Funniest Videos”, “New TV & Cartoons”, “Movies”, “Silly Songs” or “New Music”.
  2. When you watch a video, other related videos will appear down the bottom of the screen.


Zuitube could be used…

  • as a lesson introduction in any subject area (on an IWB or projector)
  • in a music lesson or sing-a-long session (there are lots of great songs for kids)
  • to find kid-friendly videos to enhance blogs, wikis or websites
  • as a stimulus for a listening or comprehension activity (students could answer oral or written questions about a video)
  • to analyse characters, plots etc in clips from tv shows and movies
  • to add some humour to your classroom! At the end of each day you could watch a funny video with your class.

Have a go at using Zuitube with your class!  Let us know how you went using this tool in your classroom by leaving a comment.

Tech Tools for Teachers – Newsletter #2

Each week Simon Collier and I collaborate on a weekly email newsletter to inform teachers of great online tools. Find out more here.


This week we review the site Wordle (

Wordle is a tool for generating “word clouds” from your chosen text. You can edit your clouds with different fonts, layouts and colour schemes. The images you create with Wordle can be printed, saved as a screen capture or you can save them to the Wordle gallery.

Essentially Wordle has two functions. You can input text from a website or document to create a visual representation of the most prominent words in the text or you can create a Wordle by inputting your own words. The more times you input a word, the larger it is in your word cloud.

We like this site because it:

  • is free
  • is suitable for all year levels from Prep to Year 12
  • is really easy to use
  • doesn’t require any login
  • is great for visual learners
  • has many applications in the classroom in all curriculum areas.


To get started with Wordle

  1. Go to
  2. Click on create“. Here you can add your own text, copy and paste from a document or add a url address.
  3. Once you have your text ready, click “go”. Your text will now be displayed as a word splash.  (Note: if a word is repeated it will show up larger)
  4. You can choose to randomize your wordle design or you can edit using the tool bar along the top. Here you can change the font, colour and layout of your Wordle.
  5. When your Wordle is complete you can print or save it.
  6. If you want to save an image of your Wordle simply press the prtsc button on your keyboard, paste it in Paint and save it as an image. If you have Windows 7 you can use the snipping tool to create a screen capture. Alternatively there are programs such as MWSnap and Jing to create screencaptures.


Kathleen used Wordle with her Grade Two students as a way to brainstorm and assess what the students knew about the term “healthy food”. They created this Wordle as a class on the Interactive Whiteboard. All the students suggested words to input into the Wordle. The Wordle shows a relationship between the size of the words and the number of students who nominated that word. When the Wordle was complete, Kathleen took a screen capture using the prtsc-Paint method and saved the image as a JPEG to embed onto her class blog.

Simon has also used Wordle as a brainstorming task with his Year 11 Biology students.  Students used their prior knowledge of the various organelles found in cells to design their own Wordle which was then printed out. A homework task was then set to choose 5 of the organelles and identify location and function within the cell. At the completion of the topic, the Wordle will be used as an assessment tool. Students will be required to see how many more organelles they can add to their Wordle.

Wordle could also be used…

  • as a vocabulary development tool (eg how many synonyms can you think of for “big” or “said”)
  • as a summary tool (eg. paste in an article, story or essay and see what words are the largest)
  • as a way to brainstorm new and reviewed topics
  • as a tool to conclude a topic and assess learned knowledge
  • as a getting to know you tool. Students could create a Wordle about themself to share with new classmates.
  • as a presentation tool for classroom or book work
  • for creating word list posters outlining misspelled words or words on a spelling list
  • a guessing game. The website Guess the Wordle has a new Wordle every day for students to guess the topic. Or you could make your own!


While Wordle is a great classroom tool, students could view inappropriate content by viewing the gallery of Wordles made by others. Apparently if you have your network administrator block the following base URLs it will stop students from being able to view the galleries while still being able to make the most of this excellent tool.


To read about some other tools that are similar to Wordle, check out this post on Marisa Constantinides’s Blog.

Have a go a using Wordle with your class and leave a comment to let us know how you went!