Tech Tool: Tellagami

tellagami iconTool:  Tellagami App
Platform: iPad/iPhone and Android
Cost: Free version (with optional in-app purchases), Tellagami EDU version is $4.99
Ages: All ages (K-2 may need support)
Learning curve:   Green    (what does this mean?)
Account: None required
Sharing: Save to camera roll, SMS/text, Facebook,​ Twitter, email​

TEKS covered: K-2: 1B, 1D, 2D 3-5: 1A 6, 7, 8: 1B

Tellagami allows students to customize an avatar, select a background, and record their voices to make their avatars talk. My 2nd and 3rd graders used this tool to create digital booktalks. Tellagami has a few more steps than Chatterpix but is still quite easy to use, so this was the perfect tool for my 2nd-3rd graders. After downloading the app:

  1. Write your script​/practice reading it
  2. Customize your avatar. You can change the gender, hair, eye, and skin color; height, outfit and mood. The kids really enjoyed this part!
  3. Find a photograph online and save it to your camera roll, select a pre-loaded background, draw a background, OR take a photo in the Tellagami app​
  4. Record your voice to create the video
  5. Preview and save and/or share

Watch the example video from the Tellagami website below:

Teacher tip: Similar to the first graders’ Chatterpix videos, I edited the videos together with iMovie shared them to a private channel on YouTube so I could easily present the videos for an entire class.

Tellagami can be used to briefly present any subject area or to introduce a topic or assignment. I can also see this being a great tool to use to present biographical information in first person (social studies, writing, and tech! Win-win-win!).

Share your ideas for using Tellagami in your classroom in the comments below!




Tech Tool: Chatterpix Kids

chatterpix kidsTool:  Chatterpix App
Platform: iOS for iPad and iPhone
Cost:  FREE
Ages:  All ages
Learning curve:  Green (what does this mean?)
Account: None required
Sharing: Save to camera roll
TEKS covered: K-2: 1B, 1D 3-5: 1B

Chatterpix allows you to create a “talking image” by syncing up an animated mouth with your voice. It is incredibly easy and fun to use! My first graders used to create digital book trailers during their library rotation with very little help from me.

After downloading the app:

  1. Choose a picture from your photo library or take one. My students took pictures of their book’s front cover if the book was readily available, or saved an image found online to the camera roll.
  2. Use your finger to draw a straight line where you want the mouth to be. Some students drew them on book character’s faces, some made it look like the whole cover was talking.
  3. Record your voice (you have 30 seconds!)
  4. Add filters, borders, or “stickers” if desired.
  5. Save to camera roll.
  6. Play it over and over again, and show it to everyone you know. (This step is optional, but enjoyable to 1st graders).

View the 36-second intro video made by Duck Duck Moose, the creators of the app.


Teacher tip: To get these young learners started, I created a script with sentence starters. I edited the videos together with iMovie (you’d be surprised at how easy this is!) and shared them to a private channel on YouTube so I could easily present the videos for an entire class.


This tool could also be used to create center instructions, present information on any subject (historical figures and animals come to mind). How would you use this tool for your subject area?



Break the Ice with Thinglink (and 80+ more ideas)

thinglink logoIf you haven’t tried Thinglink (or haven’t used it in awhile), this application is a MUST use for this school year. It is visually appealing, easy to use, and extremely versatile. As mentioned in a previous post, it is also one of AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning for 2014:

Thinglink is an application that lets you make any image interactive by adding links and media directly to the image. This is an extremely easy-to-use and versatile tool that can be used with students of all ages and for any topic.

When I say versatile, I mean VERSATILE-use this tool for any subject, any age level, as a presentation tool for teachers or students. I was already sold on this tool from my own personal use, but a post I read on Free Tech for Teachers really sealed the deal. Retired educator Donna Baumbach has created a Google Slides presentation in which she shares “81+ Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom.”

Here are some of my favorite ideas from the presentation for back to school:

#1 Getting to Know You and #20 Make Yourself Interactive

Consider trading your pencil and paper “All About You” activities for a shareable digital version. Allow your students to make an image or self-portrait of themselves interactive by adding links/media files that tell a little more about them. You could also use this to introduce yourself to your students or to your staff, as well as model the tool before assigning it to students.

#14 Fly on the Wall and #70 Introduce Parents and Students to a New School

Help your students and their families get to know your school and classroom by adding links/files of important information (such as the school’s website, your classroom website, a map of the school, etc.) to images of your classroom or campus.

There are so many ways to use this; I bet you’ve already started brainstorming some for your own classroom! Share your ideas and Thinglink in the comments below, as well as adding it to Donna Baumbach’s presentation! Create a slide about your idea here (be share to give yourself credit) and she will add it to the main presentation.






Tech Tool: Sweet Search

sweetsearchTool: SweetSearch, SweetSearch4Me
Cost: FREE
Ages: All ages (SweetSearch4Me is targeted to Elementary students)
Learning curve: Green (what does this mean?)
TEKS covered: K-2: 3A, 3B, 3C 3-5: 3A, 3B, 3C 3D  6-8: 3B, 3C

SweetSearch4me-LogoI wanted to take a minute to share a student-friendly search engine that supports the teacher objective of having students locate appropriate, useful information AND the student goal of finding things quickly and easily without having to login to a database.

When you ask your students to look something up online, chances are they are first going to go straight to Google or Wikipedia. While these have their merits, are not always the best first choice for our young researchers.

I prefer SweetSearch as a go-to search engine for  students for several reasons:

  1. As advertised on the main page of, “Every Web site in SweetSearch has been evaluated by our research experts.” This means that students won’t enter some completely benign (or not) search term and end up with information or images that are irrelevant and inappropriate
  2. Search results are educational, so searches should pull up informational sites rather than ads for products
  3. Results are heavily annotated and the search terms are highlighted in the results, so students are able to evaluate the resource and determine its relevance to their research questions BEFORE visiting the site (LOVE this)

Here’s an example of the results page for the search term “Declaration of Independence”:

sweet search screen capture

Because each result shows relevant text from the website, students who were looking for primary source related to the Declaration of Independence, for example, would be able to go straight to that page rather than going down the list and using trial and error.

Limitations: The only downside here is that searches in SweetSearch will not yield as many results as a Google Search. While this can be a good thing (weeding out inappropriate or irrelevant content), it can also be a hindrance if your student is researching an obscure topic.

Advice from a librarian: No worries! Research is an ongoing process and struggling to find information is a part of the process. This is the suggested order I give students for selecting digital resources:

  1.  Check the library’s subscription databases AND/OR online catalog to check for print or electronic books about the subject
  2. Next try SweetSearch/SweetSearch4Me (or sometimes suggest specific websites to use)
  3. If all else fails, Google it…AFTER trying resources created especially for students

BONUS: Do you have a class blog or website? Support your student researchers by embedding a SweetSearch widget onto your page!

What other educators are saying about SweetSearch

More resources from the creators of SweetSearch

Share this resource with your students and let me know what you guys think!






Kid Tested, Librarian Approved: Little Bird Tales

In my previous post about Little Bird Tales, I gave an overview of the tool and some possible ways to use it. Now, I’d like to share a couple of ways that my students and I have used the tool so you can see some real examples.

1) Individual Poetry Tales:

The first time I used Little Bird Tales was when working with a 3rd/4th GT pull-out group. They were a smart but “busy” bunch and were most successful when they had a technology-based project to dig in to. Their classroom teacher was covering different types of poetry, so I designed an assignment in which they could flex their tech chops and publish some original poetry.

The only parameters of the assignment were that each student create a Little Bird Tale with at least five poems in different forms. They added photographs or other images with their text, but we did not add audio at this time (there were not many functioning microphones in the lab at the time).

I created a class in my teacher account and assigned their names and passwords (I used the same log-in information as their Accelerated Reader accounts so it would be easy for them to remember.) It was then easy for each student to log in and for me to view their work.

They kids liked doing these (they even made additional tales on their own time!) and they were easy to share online as well.

Tech TEKS addressed: K-2: 1B, 2C, 3-5: 1C, 2A, 2B, 6-8: 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 5B

2) Collaborative Tale:

This time I used the tale with a second grade class and we made a collaborative tale. As a librarian, I try to support classroom teachers by keeping up with what they are teaching so that I can provide resources and opportunities for collaboration. I noticed in the district curriculum that second grade would be doing two brief lessons related to American holidays and symbols and saw an opportunity to expand the lesson so that students would get a chance to do some more in-depth research about these topics and create a product that they could share online.

One of the second grade classroom teachers and I created a collaboration plan in which she would introduce the content in class and divide students into groups, and I would lead the research and product portion in the library.

Here’s how the project progressed in the library:

1) Students used a Super 3 research organizer to plan their research questions, collect information, and evaluate their work.

2) Groups used print resources, electronic databases, and pre-selected websites to find information about their topics.

3) When they had collected all of their information, they wrote a rough draft of their paragraph and added an illustration about their holiday and/or symbol.

4) When groups were ready to publish, they typed their text in the tale using my laptop. We either took a photo of their illustration and added those, or found an image online.

5) Groups practiced reading their work fluently and we recorded those as well when we were ready.

6) Finishing touches: I added some information about our project and added a citation page at the end, including the sources that students recorded on their organizers. I took a class photo for the cover and did a few group recordings.

The classroom teacher, students, and myself were so proud of the work the students had done! I shared this book with some other classes that came in the library when they were discussing the same topic and they seemed to enjoy viewing a book made by other students.

Here’s their tale:

Notes: This activity would been completed more efficiently if the students had had time to work on it in their classroom or had been able to record their parts when they were finished with other tasks. Make sure you have a working microphone before you get started, and know that if you create something using the web app, you cannot access it on the iOS app.

Tech TEKS addressed:

K-2: 1 B, 1D, 2C, 3B, 4C, 5C 3-5: 1A, 2A, 2B, 3B, 4C, 5B 6-8: 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A,5B

How would you adapt this lesson to your grade and subject?



Tech Tool: Plickers

Tool: Plickersplickers
Cost: FREE (You can download the iOS or Android app and print the QR codes for FREE)
Ages: All ages
Learning curve: Yellow (what does this mean?)
TEKS covered: K-2: 4D, 3-5: 4B, 6-8 4C

I stumbled upon Plickers earlier today while checking my Facebook feed. I follow Richard Byrnes’s blog, Free Technology for Teachers, and also like the Facebook page by the same name (I am more likely to check my Facebook page on a daily basis then any blog, honestly, so I really like seeing new posts pop up in my feed.) The post about Plickers caught my eye as I have had student response systems on the brain lately.

Like Kahoot! (see previous post), Plickers is a free student response system that doesn’t require the purchase of “clickers,” which are proprietary, single-use devices. As I mentioned, I think Kahoot is fantastic and would love to integrate into my teaching; HOWEVER, it does require that each student use an internet-enabled device to participate. This could be an issue if you are like me and do not work on a BYOD campus and do not have enough devices for each student.

Enter Plickers! To use Plickers, teachers print out a class set of cards, download the free app to work as a QR code reader with augmented reality functionality,  type in their questions on the web version, and scan the room to gather student responses. Huh? See it in action and it will make more sense…


Each student has been assigned a card, and each card can be held in one of four positions to indicate A,B,C, or D without other students seeing their answer. A quick scan of the room with the iOS or Android device allows the teacher to gather data about student understanding.

Ideas for implementation:

1) Voting-gather input from students quickly (and silently!) to make decisions about things like class incentives, the direction of a class project, potential field trips, etc.

2) Formative assessment or review games-Check in with students to see if they understand the material you are working on and then reteach or move on as appropriate.

3) Student-led polling-Older students could also use this as a polling device to gather data from classmates for assignments (surveys for graphing or research assignments, etc.)

4) Staff meetings-Administrators or peer trainers could use this in staff meetings to gather information from faculty members.

BONUS: you can also use a “demo class” to survey anonymously so that answers are not connected to specific individuals.

Limitations: As with any QR code reader, it may take a second or two to recognize the code and will probably take slightly longer to gather all responses than with clickers or electronic devices.

As a librarian, I see all of my students weekly but for shorter amounts of time, so a tool that allows me to assess students quickly will be very useful. How would you use Plickers?


AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2014

AASL_Best T&L 14

Each year, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) releases a list of their top 25 (free!) websites that support teaching and learning in the 21st century. The websites are always fantastic (the lists are created and curated by librarians, so of course they’re great 😉 ), and I have used several of the tools from past lists with great success.  I have personally used only a few thus far with students, but had the privilege to interact with several via in-district EdTech trainings and at the Texas Library Association Conference and I’m looking forward to using them in the 2014-15 school year. The categories and sites the 2014 year list are:

  • Media sharing:
    PowToon, VideoNotes, Thinglink, HaikuDeck, Canva

Tried it: Thinglink is an application that lets you make any image interactive by adding links and media directly to the image. This is an extremely easy-to-use and versatile tool that can be used with students of all ages and for any topic. I used PicMonkey to create a collage of book covers from the 2013-14 Texas Bluebonnet Award List and then added links to author websites and book trailers directly from YouTube. (Which reminds me…I need to make one for the 2014-15 list!)

My 2013-14 Bluebonnet List Thinglink

  • Digital storytelling:
    Glossi, Recite This, Meograph, Metta, Figment

Tried it: Recite This is as easy as it gets. In literally two steps, you type or select a quote and then select a visually appealing format. Voila! You have an attractive printable or shareable quote that you can print and add to your classroom walls, presentation, or website.

  • Manage and organize:
    Droptask, Gibbon, Kaizena
  • Social networking and communications:
    Pearl Trees, Kahoot, TodaysMeet, Storify

Tried it: Kahoot! is a FUN way to “gamify” formative assessment by creating “Kahoots” that students can interact with using any internet-enabled device (a great alternative to “clickers” …and more fun, too!) At a Nerdy Book Club session at TLA 2014, I used my iPhone to play an interactive trivia game with about 200 other educators. It was so much fun! This is on my must-use list for this school year.

  • Curriculum collaboration:
    Alchemy Learning, Stoodle, MixedInk, EduCanon

Tried it: Educanon allows educators to add checks for learning throughout a YouTube video. (Better pay attention, students-you can’t advance the video without answering the question!) Teachers can also assign videos to individual students and then see their results. A great tool to add a layer of engagement and accountability to educational video use in the classroom, as well as a tool that would work well with flipped or blended classroom models.

  • Content resources:
    RemixT, Media History Digital Library, Why Files, Vocabulary

Which tools can you see your students being the most engaged with? Which tools do you want to try to use at the beginning of the new school year? I will definitely be incorporating Kahoot, Educanon, and Thinglink into my instruction this year, and I am looking forward to trying PowToon as well.

Check out tools from the previous Top 25 lists as well




Tech Tool: Little Bird Tales

little bird talesTool: Little Bird Tales
Cost: FREE (Premium version is $24.99 for teacher account and 20 students), $2.99 in the App Store
Ages: All ages
Learning curve: Yellow (what does this mean?)
TEKS covered: K-2 and 3-5: 1A, 2A, 2B


Overview: Little Bird Tales is a digital storytelling/presentation tool for young students that can be used online or through an app (iOS). Students can import images or draw their own using the applications drawing tool and add text and/or voice recordings to tell their “tales.” Tales can then be shared via email or by creating an embed code that you can then add to your class website or blog.

Teacher Features: There are several features that make this very teacher and student friendly, including the ability to create classes and add students to the account so that each student is able to create his or her own tales. Each student will have a unique log-in WITHOUT having to enter an email address. This a HUGE perk for elementary schools, IMHO.

Teachers can also assign lessons for students to work on independently. Each lesson page includes instructions from the teacher, as well as the typical editing tools that students would access when creating a tale. You can also add some elements to pages of the tale that are locked (a title or image that you want to be included, for example), but will still allow the student to add their own text, images, or audio to demonstrate knowledge of the subject or contribute to a digital story. If students have already created works of art in class, you can scan or photograph the art and upload it to the book.

Ideas for implementation

  • Create a class book: Update the class book tradition centered around a theme in which each student creates a page and adds text, audio, and images. The class book can then be shared in class, on your class webpage, or via email so that parents can see the class’s creation. You can scaffold this based on the student abilities, adding images yourself if needed.
  • Student publishing opportunity: Allow students to publish their writing (fiction, narrative, poetry, procedural text, etc)  and/or art. In addition to the sharing options mentioned previously, they can also designate their story as a public tale for others to view on the Little Bird Tales gallery.
  • Curation tool: Pair images found online (diagrams, fair use photographs, primary source, etc.) and recorded student explanations to present research or demonstrate understanding of concepts learned in class.

Limitations: The drawing tools are simple to use, but images/word art cannot be easily moved around. If you find this frustrating, you could always create an image in another program, save as a jpeg, and upload instead. You cannot access the tale you have created online through your app and the online version uses Flash, so you can’t go between iOS and the online version.

How would you use this tool in your classroom? Share your ideas for implementation in the comments below, or add a link to a tale you or your students created!


Let’s Teach Some Tech TEKS Together!


Hello, and welcome to TeachTechTEKS! I created this blog to help fellow educators of all types find ways to engage their students in meaningful learning using technology. In my role as a school librarian, I have seen how motivated students can be when they have a chance to explore their interests and demonstrate learning using technology.

Chances are you have attended trainings or conferences where you were bombarded with wonderful ideas that you couldn’t wait to try, but returned to work the next day/week and got swept up in all of your other duties without getting a chance to implement what you learned. I know that this has certainly happened to me! Let’s work together to ensure that we are passing on the learning to our students.

I have three main objectives that I hope to accomplish with this blog:

1) Technology NOW-I aim to feature tech tools and tips that you can start using right away-I know you are busy! When I do feature a tool that has more of a learning curve, I will give you a heads-up and try to offset this by providing plenty of ideas for implementation. I’ll also align each tech tool with at least one standard from the Technology Applications TEKS. (These are the standards used in Texas, but you’ll be able to use these tools no matter where you teach 😉 )

2) Learn and share-Writing this blog also has a built-in measure of accountability for me to challenge myself to find new tools to share with my students, evaluate the tools and  how we used them, and to help you find some new ideas for your classroom as well.

3) Connect and collaborate-I am big on collaboration, so please feel free to suggest tools and ideas in the comments section or via email! Let’s connect on Twitter, too; I tweet as @cassiejanda.