Teacher Tap

child on swingStarters

Participants will be able to identify, create, and integrate STARTERS that jumpstart technology usage in teaching and learning.

Sometimes children and young adults just need a little push to get them started. How will you jumpstart learning?

Explore examples of starters across the curriculum including numeric data, texts, graphics, and multimedia.

Numeric Data

Why do flowers blooming at different times in different places?
Why are there more homeless people here than there?
Why are fire ants moving north?
Why do some people recycle and others don't?

Use data sets including databases, charts and graphs, GIS/maps, and polls and surveys to jumpstart thinking.

Teacher Setup

Student Steps

  1. Identify specific questions or problems that can be addressed using this data.
  2. Analyze and apply data to solve problems or forecast future.
  3. Collect new data for use in making comparisons.

Example Resources

Start your own project or initiative to collect and share data. For instance, MyStart! from the American Heart Association a social network that promotes healthy living. Participants can track their activities and nutrition and even see how they're doing in relationship to others in the program.

Seek out online data for your own professional development. This is a great chance to model the use of technology. Try Pew Research Center and Pew Internet & Ameican Life Project.

computer personTry It!
Explore data sources from Swivel. Create your own survey. Or, try a variety for easy-to-use tools for creating graphics such as Grapher for young learners and Create a Graph for older children.

Texts: Nonfiction Reading Online

Why do newspaper headlines vary in different regions?
What court cases will have a direct impact on my life?
What new discoveries have been made since my parents were in school?
What are the different opinions about alternative energy?

Involve young people in reading nonfiction information sources online to stimulate questioning.

Teacher Setup

Student Steps

Example Resources

Students can easily find papers on the Internet. Eliminate plagiarism with high level assignments. To shift from low level to high level activities, transform learning activities from "copying" to "thinking" activities. Let's say your students are reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It's easy to copy a book summary or book review, it's more difficult to critique a book review and provide high quality examples of where you agree and disagree. Use websites like BookHive to locate book summaries.

Rather than asking students for a character analysis. Go to Sparknotes and ask them to critique the character analysis. Explore other study guides. How could these be used for high-level thinking rather can "copying" activities.

Some students need the support of audio. Check out the Listen & Read news articles at Scholatic News:

Choose readable texts that students can scan such as websites with FAQs. Also look for video support. The U.S. Air Force ROTC page is an excellent example of this combination.

Looking for more online reading sources, check out my list of Electronic Books and Online Reading.

For elementary grades reading practice and resources, check out Reading, Technology and Differentiation.

From online journals to current reports, use the web for your own professional reading needs.

computer personTry It!
Explore nonfiction resources. Design an assignment that uses nonfiction readings for making comparisons, inspiring original works, or high level thinking. To get started, go to Google Books. For lots of examples of online reading, go to Readers Rock and choose a level.

Graphics: Illustrations, Maps, & Photographs

Why are the people in the picture reacting this way?
What might it be like to be the people in this photo?
What's in the photo and how does it apply to what we've been learning?

Nancy, Glenn, BobProvide visual prompts to stimulate discussion and questioning. Most libraries and museums allow their works to be used for educational purposes. Use a "set" of these resources so you only need to make one contact for permissions. These are also effectively because they're often focused on a particular person, place, thing, or event.

Go to NYPL Digital Gallery for examples that can be used for "Then and Now" assignments. Examine the history and economics of street vendors in New York City.

Use Google Images effectively by narrowing your search and using sections such as Life Photo Archive.

Seek out images of children such as Boys Working in Mill, Picking Berries, Working in Mill, Listening to Radio, or Camp in Depression.

Teacher Setup

Student Steps

Example Resources

To learn more about Google Earth, go to my workshop GIS and Google Earth in the Classroom.

To learn more about primary sources and elementary grades, go to my workshop Their Own Words, Pictures, & Sounds: Primary Sources in Learning.

computer personTry It!
Right-click and save Story.ppt. Write dialog based on one of the photos. Can you write the dialog in both English and Spanish? If you have a microphone, record audio of the conversation.

Right-click and save Historypic.ppt. Write an assignment in the Speakernotes. Or record an audio assignment. For more images, go to Library of Congress and do a search. For instance, search for "children," "kitchen" or "general store." Also check out the Library of Congress Flickr Photo project.

Multimedia: Animation, Audio, and Video

What other areas of the world are experiencing this type of poverty? Why?
Why are some public service announcements more persuasive than others?
What are other ways this story could be told?

Use multimedia projects to jumpstart inquiry.

Teacher Setup

Also look for websites that allow downloads such as Vimeo.

Student Steps

  1. Use the examples to stimulate conversation
  2. Discuss how the multimedia format can be used to create and share.

Look for useful channels on YouTube such as the Ad Council and PBS at YouTube and download clips you want to use.

Example Resources


Rather than watching a full video program, look for video clips as springboards or focused information presentation. Search for specific topics such as "math rap."


Rather than starting with a "topic" for a project. Start with an audio program, audio book review, speech, or music to kickstart a lesson or student assignment.

Multimedia (images, audio, video)

computer personTry It!
Select a video that could be used as a starter.
Try downloading a video using ZamZar.
Or, try using SafeShare.tv
Brainstorm ways that live cam websites could be used in your classroom.

Looking for more starters? Go to my online workshop STAR Ideas: Simple, Technology Application Resource Ideas.

Explore the scaffolds section next.

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