Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

teacher appreciation week

Every May the U.S. celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week. At Edcite we appreciate teachers every day, but we use this week to shout it from the rooftops!

Our team is made up of several former teachers plus team members who have had important teachers in their lives. Every day we work to offer a platform that will help teachers and their classrooms. To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week this year, the Edcite Team wanted to share words of gratitude for our teaching community.

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megaphoneShow a colleague how much you appreciate their hard work using Edcite by posting a message on Twitter or Facebook. If you tag @EdciteTeam, we’ll share your post!

History of the Olympics Playlist (Teacher Resources)

Our Olympic Games series is continuing, and this time around we have fantastic formative assessments related to the history of the Olympics! In case you missed our first Olympics post, you can check out our playlist here. Be sure to stay tuned for more when our Olympics series continues next month!


In this assignment, students will watch a video and answer interactive ELA and math questions related to how the Olympics began.

In this assignment, students will watch a video about Olympic high jumping and answer interactive math and ELA questions.

Middle School

In this assignment, students will analyze a news article about sports eliminated over the years by the International Olympic Committee.

Students will watch videos and work with word problems to answer, “How fast are Olympic athletes moving in their events?”

High School

Students will analyze two texts about the return of the modern-day Olympics and will then write a speech, giving opening statements on the first day of the Games.

Students will watch videos and work with interactive math questions.

shutterstock_371636536Pass the torch! Did you enjoy one of our Olympics assignments? Share a message on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @EdciteTeam, or share an assignment on Facebook!


Why Twitter is an Invaluable Tool For Teachers


I taught English in LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) — the country’s second largest school district — for nine years. At two schools, I taught a wide variety of students, from those who read far below grade level to gifted readers and writers. My classroom was rich with differences: various academic levels, backgrounds, and home languages. I needed to learn how to best build upon these differences and teach well. It wasn’t enough for me to try and just figure it out on my own, so I became a collaborative teacher. Aside from connecting with my co-workers, I went to weekend PDs and conferences and spent hundreds of hours poring over the Internet to find fresh strategies and ideas that other teachers out in the world had shared.

There was one thing, though, that I refused to do for years: use social media to collaborate. LAUSD has a code of conduct like many districts do, and teachers are prohibited from interacting with students on social media. Teacher scandals had rocked the district the past couple of years, and principals urged all of us to be very careful about social media. Most teachers I knew wanted to stay far, far away from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, in order to protect themselves. Besides, I thought, who cares about pictures of people’s brunches or quips about celebrities?

I never would have guessed that I would completely change mind about using social media. In fact, it has become my favorite way to grow as an educator.

Twitter Is a Teacher’s Friend

My Edcite co-worker Talia (@taliaarbit) encouraged me to check out Twitter as way to connect with teachers. I didn’t realize that so many educators used Twitter professionally. I started perusing Edcite’s Twitter feed (@EdciteTeam) and Edcite team members’ feeds. From there, I found English teachers and middle school teachers. I discovered that educators aren’t posting about their meals or pop culture; they post articles and blogs about education, pictures of hands-on classroom projects, videos about technology, and a lot of positive messages. I realized that I had been missing out on a huge opportunity to better serve my students. Twitter was not something to be afraid of or turn away from. It was something that could help me take charge of my development as an educator!


To my surprise, I started “meeting” educators from not only California but from around the world. I connected with teachers across the U.S., Europe, and even Australia. It was amazing to see what these teachers were doing in their classrooms and to hear their perspectives on education.International T Pic 1

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What I had created, by following others on Twitter and gaining followers in return, was a Personal Learning Network (PLN). This was exactly what I had been seeking when I spent all those hours on the Internet searching for other teachers’ new ideas. Now I have instant, constant access to new ideas, whether they are related to innovative pedagogical practices or curricular suggestions.

Twitter Example 2

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Twitter Example 3

I chose to write this blog post and share my own journey in the hopes that it might inspire educators and administrators who fear using social media as a tool, like I once did. Our students use social media constantly, and it’s time we as educators embrace the power of sites like Twitter and use them to our advantage with students. Let’s model what it looks like to use social media tools responsibly; to build an intentional community you can learn from and with. 

profileNicole Bixler taught middle school in Los Angeles for nine years. She taught English, Theater Production, Creative Writing, and World History. Nicole used sites like Edcite often in her classroom to incorporate standards-based assignments and help students practice for the end-of-year exams. Now, Nicole works on both content development and outreach for Edcite in the Southern California region. Feel free to connect with her anytime at nicole@edcite.com or @nicolebix on Twitter!

Keep Calm and Proctor On: 10 Ways to Keep Calm During Assessment Season

Testing season has officially begun in many states.  If your reaction to this is “AHHHHHH!!!”, you’re experiencing uncontrollable visions of someone banging their head against a wall, or you’re thinking this is the ideal time to get pink eye, this article is for you.

1. Carve out relaxation time:


After long days spent walking up and down aisles, surrounded by colleagues and testing students, it’s important to be intentional with your self-care. One simple way of doing this is by planning a relaxing activity (a bubble bath, meditation, candle-lit yoga) every day. If you choose meditation, check out this free meditation journey from Deepak Chopra and Oprah to guide you through your beginning experiences.

2. Make time for yourself:


You are going to be spending a lot of time with your students and modeling the positive attitude they need to get through testing–give yourself some space to just be on your own. Make time for yourself — alone time — every day. Even if it’s 1 minute, it’s worth it!

3. Get Creative:

Though you’re not the one taking the test, proctoring an exam for students can be stressful on your brain too. Try to counter these challenges by being silly and allowing your brain to be creative. Color! Paint! Rediscover crayons! Or get some splatter paint going like Napoleon Dezaldivar, a teacher from Arkansas.

If the splatter paint isn’t an option for you, Go Noodle is a GREAT site for Brain Breaks! Who says products made for the classroom are only for the students to have fun?!

4. Exercise!

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One of the best ways to let go of any stress is to work it out! Whether you want to play a game of basketball, go for a run, or get your power walk on–the physical movement is great for your head! If you don’t have the time to squeeze in some exercise before or after school, get intentional with your proctor walk.

Jeff Kohls, a teacher from Colorado, wears a pedometer since he can bring that into the testing room and intentionally works up his steps all day-last I checked he walked more than 5 miles during one proctor day!

5. Read Baby Read!

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Whether you read a fun novel, a magazine, some buzzfeeds, or all those great articles on Twitter that you haven’t had time to check out yet, make some time to read. You spend all day telling students the importance of reading and how FUN it can be–carve out a moment to enjoy it, too. 🙂

Plus, you can join in on the #Read4Fun twitter chats and March reading challenge!

6. Brain Snacks

We’ve gone over brain breaks, exercise, and time for yourself–but you can’t forget the fuel! Make sure you are eating well! You can take that however you would like ;). Some may think well means super healthy, while I tend to interpret well as lots of sweet treats! Maybe find the happy medium with chocolate in moderation. As Gwen explains below– chocolate is good for the brain!  (Disclaimer: I don’t have a medical degree.)

If you can’t force yourself to find the balance between healthy snacks and sweets, there’s no harm in a little trickery!  Feel free to recruit help on this one.

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7. Sleeeeeeep…

Being that great of a teacher is going to take more than chocolate and meditation–you need to energize properly each night! The students will do better if you’re well-rested. In fact, everyone will do better if you’re well-rested.

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8. Find Tranquility in Nature

During testing season, you often have to take down any academic content from your walls. But that doesn’t mean they have to be bare and boring, do they? Put up posters of your favorite spots in nature, and photographs of you and your students outdoors. The best part is that the happiness and calm that comes from viewing pictures of nature can actually improve student performance overall!

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Beyond bringing nature to the walls of your classroom, try to get out in nature after the assessments. Fresh air is great and being near nature can have profound impacts on your physical and mental health. You can read about some of the great aspects of being in nature here.

9. Stay Positive

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Not only are your students going to feed off of the energy you bring into your room, but remaining positive is just going to make you feel better. One way to get the happy vibes flowing is to make sure you tell your students how great they will do-you can also get family members in on the action:

Or, perhaps you could use some tunes to get the right feeling before you head into test mode! Rosy shared this great playlist that pumps up her students and her on Monday mornings.

10. Remember you are not alone!


Assessment season can be hard for everyone! Just know that there are many teachers going through this too and we can all support each other. Connect with teachers on Twitter if you’re looking for some inspiration during this time. Here is the Twitter Chat schedule on education topics and #BFC530 is a chat of educators that happens every weekday morning at 5:30am & 7:30am EST!

Let us know if you have any strategies for keeping calm during assessment season! Feel free to leave comments below or tweet with #proctorchat or @edciteteam!

We know you and your students can do this!

And if all of these calming tips fail, just close your eyes until it’s over and eat donuts.

Edcite is a free international educational platform where teachers can find, customize, and create digital content to use with their students. Edcite has PARCC and Smarter Balanced aligned question types and Common Core aligned content. We hope that Edcite can help teachers ensure students are prepared when they take end of year assessments, without having to sacrifice any content or learning time. For more information about how Edcite is helping teachers specifically with digital assessments, feel free to reach out to us at hello@edcite.com.

In Awe of Appsmashing

Have you ever heard of Appsmashing? If you haven’t, be prepared to have your mind blown.


Last week, the Edcite team gave you tips for adapting your curriculum during the summer. While you have some extra time, here’s another trick you should try with the edtech tools you currently use — Appsmashing.

I first learned about Appsmashing from Joe Dale at the #ICTedu conference in Thurles, Ireland. Ashutterstock_170270615ccording to Dale, Appsmashing is the process of taking multiple apps and using them in combination to create an even greater product than any individual product could produce on its own. At the core, Appsmashing is very intuitive. If I like a voiceover app that only allows me to record thirty seconds at a time, but have an app that can combine videos from my library, I can smash both techniques together to adapt my voiceover to be the length I desire! Appsmashing removes limits that come with using apps in isolation.

With the Appsmashing idea in mind, I used the following three apps to enrich my resources on Edcite:

Yakit Kids: This free app allows you to animate any picture and record your voice.

Tellagami: This free app allows you to create an avatar in front of any background picture and record your voice.

YouTube Capture: This free app allows you to combine different video clips, trim the beginning and end of specific clips, add background music, and save to your phone or upload straight to YouTube.

Once you create your video, you can follow the directions below to get your videos uploaded into your Edcite assignment.

1. Upload videos onto YouTube.

Once you have your videos created on YouTube Capture you can upload them onto YouTube. You can either do this directly from the YouTube Capture app or by saving the video to your camera roll and then going directly to YouTube.com to upload the video into your video library. I like to post my videos as unlisted; although they are not private, they are unsearchable so only people accessing it from Edcite or those with the URL will be able to see it.

2. Add videos into the different questions.
You can post your video from YouTube to Edcite with these 7 easy steps!Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 2.41.59 PM

Step 1: It is much better to link a video from YouTube instead of uploading a video from your computer. From the YouTube home page, click on the “share” button (green circle). The
n click on “embed” (red box). From the embed tool you see the whole HTML video URL.
Pull out the part that starts with //www. and looks like a link.

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Step 2: On Edcite, click on the video
editor from the editor toolbar (green box).

Step 3: From the video upload page, select “Add Video URL” to upload your YouTube videos into the library. Be sure to fill in any tags you want associated with this video—this is also important for finding your videos in the library. For example, I tagged my videos as Mussels Meal Q1, Mussels Meal Q2, etc., etc. When it asks for the image URL towards the bottom, insert the link from your YouTube video. Add http: to the front of the URL.

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Step 4: Once you have copied and pasted the link into the Image URL box, select “Add to Video” at the very bottom and your video will be added to your video library. Go ahead and exit out of the video upload box and search your video library for the tag you attached to your new video. Add your video once it appears by clicking the select button. Be sure to save each question after you add the videos in order to update the questions library and the assignment you are creating.

Appsmashing removes the limits of each indiviual education app to help you maximize your pedagogy. This summer, take the time to try out different combinations and see what is best for you! Luckily, Edcite is a flexible platform that allows you to “Appsmash” with many different tools in your edtech toolbox.  Do you have any favorite ways to Appsmash? Share with us on Twitter via @edciteteam or on our facebook page!

Bio PictureJulia Sweeney, although currently working for Edcite in Ireland, is originally from Roseville, CA and went to University of the Pacific. She joined the Teach For America Delta Corps in 2011, where she taught middle school English and American History. She has a passion for education and exploring the vast potential technology offers  education systems, worldwide.

Note to any Irish Teachers: Reach out if you’d like to sit down and go through the site, give any feedback, or brainstorm ways you can use Edcite in your class! You can reach her via email at julia@edcite.com or on Twitter  @juliasween.