Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do You Thing Link?

I want to introduce you to an awesome tool called Thinglink.  ThingLink has developed tools for image interaction that allow content sharing via online images. ThingLink technology changes how people engage with photos by transforming them from a static image, into a navigational surface for exploring rich, relevant content that enhances the viewer’s knowledge and experience.  ThingLink is helping define pop culture with a transformational, engaging, adoptable, and viral media/content serving format.  Here is the link to the Thinglink site:

My good friend and colleague, Tim Wilhelmus and I share this tool in our workshop titled 10 Teacher Friendly Tools to Unleash Creativity.  I will be sharing more of those tools, as well as, tools that I have picked up from recent conferences that I have attended.  This tool is one of my favorites.  Tim put together a screencast below and below that created an example of an interactive picture created with Thinglink.  At the end of this post, I have 10 suggestions that a teacher could use Thinglink in the classroom.

 Here is a screencast explaining how to create a Thinglink

Here is an example of an interactive Thinglink

Ways to Use Thinglink in your Classroom

  1. Have students illustrate their research about a local landmark. Have them take a picture of that landmark and then link buttons on the thinglink map to find more information about the the site.
  2. Have students illustrate the events of a story on a thinglink map in conjunction with Google Earth images (which could also be thinglinks).
  3. Have students create autobiographical thinglinks using photos of themselves that they have created with
  4. Have students define a word or concept by linking to examples on the web.
  5. Have students create a call-to-action persuasive thinglink that links to evidence for the student’s claim.
  6. Have students demonstrate a process by using a multi-panel image.
  7. Have students create character analyses of major characters or historical figures.
  8. Have students sell a product by creating an interactive image for that product.
  9. Have students explain artistic technique and design concepts through a thinglink of a famous work of art.
  10. Have students create a thinglink that will be the focus of a Show and Tell activity.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Detroit Airport on 3/12/2014
This week I am attending and presenting in Grand Rapids, MI at the MACUL conference.  It is a terrific conference.  It is much bigger than I expected.  I believe the total attendance is around 4800.  I am presenting with my good friend and colleague, Tim Wilhelmus.  We had quite a snowy trip from Indiana as we made our connection in Detroit, but the conference has been a great learning experience.

Today's keynote was the founder of edutecher and educlipper, Adam Bellow, who always does a terrific job.  He began with a slide of a chalkboard that read, "School Sucks!" He completed the sentence with "the fun out of learning."  He talked about how Google Glass is going to be common place for the students that we are teaching today.  As adults we are amazed about what they can do, but to the kids, it is going to be part of their life.  He showed a great student made video from the White House Film Festival.  It is very inspirational and it would probably be best if you watched it.  I am afraid my description would not do it justice.  Here is the link: PIP: White House Film Festival. He talked about how we need to enable passion in our students, ignite learning and make them want to explore and be curious.  No student ever has run home with a Scantron sheet and showed their parents what they learned that day.  We need to enable students to make their own quest.  We want them to question, think, and act.  Students need to be creating and not just consuming.  We need to make education more personable for our students.  Teachers should not be afraid of the unknown or let it stop them.  Some of his final words were that we need to individualize and not standardize!
Keynote Adam Bellow and me

Tim and I had a short conversation with Tom Whitby, creator of edchat, after the keynote session.  He had some great words of wisdom as he talked with Tim and me.  He said that "Learning is not about the technology.  We as educators need to decide what our students need to learn and choose the correct tools for the learning.  It may or may not include technology."  He is exactly right.  Technology shouldn't be something we just throw out there.  It isn't moving paper to pdf documents.  It should be used as a tool to enhance and assist the learning to take place.

I then went to a session on tools for reading and writing that was led by Nicholas Provenzano, also known as, the Nerdy Teacher.  He shared some great tools.  Some I had seen and some that I had not.  The list included, where you can create word clouds in various shapes that can go along with the the words you paste in.  You can use Padlet for class discussions or share thoughts to questions.  Storybird can be used to create books.  Even high school students could be challenged to write a "good" children's book.  He gave a link for visual writing promptsTwitter could be used to correct professional athlete's grammar.  What a great bell ringer, right?  My favorite take away from his session was to have a teacher pair up with a teacher in another school district.  They should teach the same units, novels, etc... at the same time.  Once a week or so, have the students Skype or Blog with the other class and discuss what they learned on the subjects.  Perhaps one class got something out of reading a novel that the other class didn't see or think about.  I thought that was a great idea and really enjoyed the session.

I also attended a terrific session led by Leslie Fisher.  She is always full of energy and puts on a terrific presentation.  Her topic was on tips for taking photos and videos with your mobile device.  She talked about having good lighting,  how to avoid shadows, and choosing the right equipment for the job.  She explained the difference between optical and digital zoom.  Optical zoom actually moves the lens closer to your subject, but digital zoom just blows it up and can cause ugly pixelation.  She demonstrated several photo and video apps.  I have not checked all of them out yet, but when I do, I will provide the list with some instruction and explanation.  I am not sure that all of my  notes are spelled correctly.  This will give you something to look forward too.  If you get a chance to attend MACUL, they alternate between Grand Rapids and Detroit, I highly recommend it.  I would come again for sure!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Angry Birds Makes Students Glad!

Mr. Scholz working with students.
This week's blog post is about a rock star teacher, Greg Scholz, at Perry Heights Middle School in Evansville, Indiana.  He got creative with his 7th grade science class and stepped out of his comfort zone.   He wanted to help his students get a better grasp of the standards that cover some basic physics concepts and Newton's Laws.  He utilized the Internet and came across a blog post that described an activity in which he wanted to try with his own students.  The post has some great videos and resources, so I will share the link with you.  Here is a link to that post that Mr. Scholz discovered: 

Students building their evidence sheet.
The purpose of the activity is to assess knowledge and application of the principles of motion and Newton's Laws of Motion using the game Angry Birds.  Mr. Scholz had his students play the game Angry Birds.  There is a free web version of the game that can be found at  While playing the game the students developed an understanding of the terms force, motion, mass, acceleration (positive, negative, horizontal, vertical), and the applying of Newton's Laws of Motion.

Mr. Scholz turned it into a 4 to 5 day activity that, from what I observed, was engaging and enjoyed by all of the students.  Here is a rundown from his lesson plans of what he did each day:

Day 1
We uploaded our terminology and questions to our netbooks. We played angry birds to get used to how to play it on chrome. After playing, we then practiced snagging photos of the game to show our evidence.  Learned that the Screencast-to-matic doesn’t work on the netbooks.
Day 2
On Day 2 we continued to work on our terminology.  We learned how to snag photos using FN11 and PSR program on the netbooks.  We practiced cropping them using Paint and the crop function.  We played Angry Birds again to get more  ideas of examples we could use in our terminology definitions.
Day 3
Started to focus on our questions and evidence to support our answers.  Collected more evidence photos to use in our terminology and answers to questions.  David Nickel explained how he was using the Amazon Cloud to connect with other classmates to save and crop evidence photos.
Decided to change the due date to Monday.  Realized needed more time in class.
Day 4
Today is the LAST DAY!!!!!! We hope to have learned how Newton's Laws of Motion can apply to video games and real life, and how mass and weight can affect an object in motion. We hope to have PROOF in Angry Birds land (our photos) that support our answers and help us learn the terminology

 Beginning  Questions:

How does the distance you pull back affect how the object flies?
How can you get the best distance?
How can you hit with most accuracy?
What happens if you change the angle?
Does the mass of the object change anything?

Below is a list of questions that students had to think about and answer as they experimented with the game.

 Angry Bird Questions:

How does the distance you pull back the sling shot affect how effective the bird is at destroying its target? Find evidence of this in the game.
How do you get a bird to travel the farthest?
Can multiple launch angles be used to land the object on the same spot?
What happens when you launch birds at the same angle but change the initial velocity?
What happens when you launch birds at the same velocity but change the initial angle?
What launch angles have the longest time in air flight?
What launch angles have the shortest time in air flight?
Determine the relative mass of each bird. Why does it matter?
Does the mass of the bird affect the weight of the bird? Explain how?
Does gravity exist in "Angry Bird" land? Show & explain how this is demonstrated in the game.
Does air resistance seem to exist in AB land? Find and explain evidence of this.
What does the way the different birds interact with the different materials the "pig fortress" is made of tell you about the density/type of material?
What effect does the stretch of the slingshot have on the velocity of the birds (remember what velocity includes? 
Does the stretch affect the acceleration? 
What about the force the bird hits with?

Here is a snapshot of the digital spreadsheet that the students filled out.  For their picture, many of the students took a screenshot of the game in action by using the tool called the Problem Step Recorder.  The students could also make a screencast by using a tool such as

Kudos to Mr. Scholz for making learning fun!  These are the types of ideas that we should see more and more.  These are the activities that students will remember and retain what they learned.