edpuzzle – integrating quizzes into youtube video

Have you ever wanted to use a youtube video as an interactive teaching tool?  This amazing tool lets you embed quizzes and audio commentary into youtube videos.  Students watch the video on their device.

The video pauses at your chosen spots and asks quiz questions before the student can continue watching.  This encourages active and engaged viewing.  This is huge.


Structuring Digital Storytelling – Review of a “Common Sense” Lesson Plan

Review of “Creating Narratives and Converting them to Digital Storiesby Asdril A

Asdril’s lesson plan uses the 5E approach well while using technology in a manner which directly enhances the learning experience.  4th grade students are grouped into collaborative teams as they construct a narrative for conversion to digital form.  I like how there are several stages of revision and reflection as the students are required to give feedback to one another and are guided as they work through the story telling process.  The lesson plan focuses on student’s development of tense and sequence as the backbone of narrative while encouraging their use of descriptive detail.  After students have developed and refined their stories they are set loose to create their story using the software – in this case Toontastic – though Scratch or any other platform could also be used.  The technology here (an animation platform) presents an opportunity to bring together the use of sequence and detail to tell their stories.  Its an intentional approach to guiding kids through the creative process that I like.  Often I find that students are overwhelmed by the possibilities which a blank canvas offers and either freeze up or get distracted.  Well done Asdril!

PenPal Schools – Global Citizenship via Cooperation

PenPal Schools allows you to match each of your students with a small international group of student peers to work together on a project.  It is a really creative idea for building group cooperation and communication skills in a multicultural context.  It sounds like an amazing opportunity to develop both digital citizenship skills and meaningful collaboration skill


Review: Contraption Maker – “The Incredible Machine” lives again!

As a kid one of my favorite games was “The Incredible Machine.”  I spent many an hour figuring out how to make a hamster launch a rocket to turn on a blender.    The beauty of this kind of game is that it encourages open ended problem solving skills.  There is a large set of puzzles which provide a gentle learning curve and that introduce new concepts and possibilities.  Some students love having a prescribed problem to solve while others are driven by their own curiosity and creativity.  Since this is basically a whimsical physics sandbox it is an activity which requires some structuring if you want to use to to introduce specific scientific principles like gravity, mass, density, velocity, changes in state etc.  This reboot offers multiplayer functionality which is a collaborative environment in which students would need to foster good digital communication skills and learn self control as they work together to build a machine – a challenging but worthwhile venture.

This app has a “Gold” rating on the WineDb which means there is a good chance I can run this in our linux Lab using Wine.  I can’t wait to give a shot.  Of course we already have the original running great in Basilisk but this one looks like a fun reboot and the multiplayer aspect offers another great opportunity for my kids to learn how to work together in a collaborative space where one’s actions affect everyone else.


TED Talk – Sugata Mitra

Education researcher Sugata Mitra talks about his research with “Hole in the wall” computers and how children can teach themselves if they are given access to information and encouragement.  Provocative and inspiring.

I was particularly inspired by Mitra’s approach to self guided instruction.  His belief that children can teach themselves and teach one another is both bold and inspiring.  I feel that formal education needs to find ways to tap into the motivation and self development that Mitra witnesses in the the children of India.  Certainly the context is different, but the underlying truth that kids ultimately want to learn and can teach themselves things with the right resources and framework is exciting.  I want to be that kind of teacher.

Tool Review – Padlet – Civilized group sharing

Collaboration tool.  Great place to gather information and organize it with a group.


Padlet is an amazingly flexible communication and collaboration tool.  It is a micro publishing platform that allows for posting of text, pictures, video, and audio.  For me is is the missing link to tie together all of the digital classroom communication and posting.  Padlet offers a free account to try it out with three pages with unlimited posts.  For $99 a year it offers a classroom bundle and a personal pro version.  I definitely plan on using it.  With it I can create classroom or assignment specific pages that students can post their work on or can refer to for instructions and content.  It is a very flexible platform.

A little bit about me.

Chasing the Solar Eclipse to Idaho last summer with my uncle.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about me you can visit my newly created About page.  I bet you will learn a few surprises.  About Mr VinCross.

Here is a video that my son and I made.



Technology in the Classroom @ LaSierra

I’m taking a class called Technology in the Classroom at LaSierra.  It is going to cover a bunch of great web-based tools for classroom teaching.  I’m super excited about it.  I know a lot of bout technology but so far the tools we are looking at are new to me.  I love learning new stuff.  I’ll be posting stuff about what I learn as we go.