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Chalk: a great tool for managing school and class forms

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


Chalk is an excellent web tool that teachers and educators can use to reduce their paperwork. Chalk allows users to convert any document into a form that can be easily signed or filled out online. As a teacher you can use this tool to distribute forms to be filled out and signed by others (e.g parents, students, school personnels…etc).

Chalk works with all kinds of forms including permissions slips, registration forms, evaluation forms, staff time sheets and many more.If you want to use data you have in store to prefill forms, you simply upload the spreadsheet containing that data into Chalk and use it to personalize your own forms.

Some of the interesting features offered by Chalk include: the ability to track people who have filled out your form, share forms using a generated link, recipients do not have to have an account with Chalk to fill out received forms, distribute the same form to many recipients, collect attachments along with forms, and many more. Chalk offers a free trail period after which you will have to pay to use it.

Another powerful App for teaching kids coding

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


Pyonkee is a powerful iPad app for teaching kids and adults about coding. Pyonkee has been developed from the open source code of the popular coding app Scratch from MIT Media lab. This means that learners can use millions of Scratch projects for reference. Pyonkee provides student friendly programming environment where kids can use it to learn programming through engaging games and activities. They will also get to program their own games, animations and stories and boost their creative and collaborative skills. Pyonkee’s user interface is optimized for touch interfaces. It also supports pinch out/in display and font scaling for some devices. Sound recorder and camera are also provided for importing your sounds and pictures into the projects. 

Do you know about these 7 learning zones in your class?

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


7 Learning Zones is a beautiful visual created by Edutopia featuring an interesting system teachers can use in their classrooms to organize and manage students learning experiences. This system is composed of 7 zones, each zone targets a specific area in the instructional process and suggests some examples of what it is designed for.

The 7 zones included in this visual are:

  1. Discovery Zone. This one is for providing a central focus, sharing examples. recording observations and using the data.
  2. News Zone. This is for displaying the learning targets, managing class-work and homework.
  3. Supplies Zone. This one is for sharing reference materials, creating hubs for students work, and providing a place for lost and found.
  4. Community Zone. This is for assessing progress, clarifying and correcting misconceptions taking notes and planning ahead.
  5. Quiet Zone. This is a place for quiet zone for reflecting, reading and writing and studying.
  6. Teacher Zone. This is to help you define the professional space to work with learners and adult visitors.
  7. Subject Zone. This last zone is for providing examples and resources for connecting subjects.

Download the "7 Learning Zones".

Prodigy Math Game: Gamed-Based Learning for the common core

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

prodigy With more and more educators embracing game-based learning, it’s important to evaluate and choose the program that works best for you and your students. But with an abundance of educational gaming options available, how does one decide which one is best for them? It’s no secret that there are hundreds of math games out there, many of which are fantastic and are changing the way students and teachers approach math. Be on the lookout for adaptive games that help you differentiate and are engaging to the point that students are likely to play outside of the classroom.

One program that is doing an unbelievable job of gamifying math is Prodigy Math Game. Prodigy is a free, adaptive math game that integrates Common Core math (1st-7th grade) into a fantasy style game that students absolutely love playing. Prodigy takes game-based learning a step further and provides teachers with a powerful set of reporting and assessment tools that allow them to easily identify trouble spots, differentiate instruction, and better manage classroom time. Prodigy has recently expanded its content offering to include skills that align to the Math Florida Standards (MAFS) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). As a web-based game, Prodigy can be accessed at school and at home on virtually any device.

Prodigy is extremely effective at engaging students using an adaptive technology to cater to each individual. Prodigy’s personalized approach quickly identifies gaps in students’ understanding and works with them by pulling them back to prerequisite skills and then scaffolding them forward through more difficult concepts. Prodigy has also built out tools like virtual manipulatives, which teachers can use to walk students through solving certain problems. Prodigy also has a fantastic assessment feature, which allows teachers to customize content and align the game with what they are teaching in class. Assignment questions are integrated right into the game so students have no idea they are working on an “assignment”! The program is very user friendly and makes teaching math easier and more enjoyable.

Sign-up your class for free in less than 2 minutes, and see why teaching math will never be the same!

Put working memory to work in learning

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


The good news for teachers and students is that it is possible to improve our working memory. These strategies can help activate and, over time, enhance the central executive function of working memory.

Repeat after me.

Asking students to repeat what you have said or to paraphrase it in their own words is a simple way to both assess and increase their working memory. The acts of listening and speaking what they have heard focus their attention on the lesson content and activate several components of the working memory model.

Make a game of it.

Children and youth love to play games, and card games like Concentration, Crazy Eights, and Uno can help to build working memory. Better yet, design learning activities based on memory games to help reinforce key content.

Emphasize relevance.

Lead a class discussion on the importance of identifying and focusing on relevant data in learning. Life is full of irrelevant information and distractions. When researching a topic online, for example, it's easy to get sidetracked by entries that are interesting but not relevant to the task at hand. A key aspect of improving working memory is developing your ability to attend to what's important now.

Hone short-term recall through practice.

Provide plenty of learning activities that involve working with bits of information. Word problems in math require students to identify, remember, and process data.

Visualize it.

Learning to picture the components of a math reading problem (as just one example) in their minds is another strategy that engages and enhances multiple components of working memory.

Teach it to learn it.

The act of teaching also engages working memory. Through activities that involve peer teaching or learning in pairs and small groups, students can enhance learning by applying their working memory to the task of explaining and teaching new content to others.

How video is redefining teacher development

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


Grounded in research on the effects of video on teachers’ professional learning, Teaching Channel Teams uses video to help teachers collaboratively reflect on - and improve - their instruction. In this eSchool Exclusive Ed-Tech Point of View, see how the Teams approach has transformed Common Core instruction, teachers' attitudes toward professional development, and so much more.

Click here to learn more.

ShowMe: a great learning App

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


ShowMe is a great learning app for educators. It allows its users to create and share lessons on the iPad. It offers a nice and intuitive whiteboard surface where lessons can be shared very easily. This app , though still in closed beta, looks like it is going to be a great app for educators. Teachers can use it to create lessons on the go and share them with their students. I am hoping ShowMe will go open to public in this summer for it is the ideal tool for this season when teachers have much more free time to create nice staff to share with their learners. I have picked up this video to let you have an idea about what this app is going to be all about. 

A good tool for reading and summarizing long articles

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


Not having enough time to read a long article? Too long didn’t read (TLDR) does the job for you and provides you with a condensed summary of the main ideas of the article. We have installed the app and tried it on few articles and it appears to work perfectly.

TLDR analyzes the content of the article and creates a synopsis of it. You can also highlight text to be TLDR’ed for use with comments or on social media. We have checked user reviews in the Chrome web store and noticed several people gave it good ratings. We thought you may want to give it a try and see if it works for you. Watch this video to learn more about "Too long didn’t read app".

Gianfranco D'Aversa

Mexico City // Rome // Foggia


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Writing this blog has given me the opportunity to work with some great people in the education community. I cannot accept every invitation that I receive, but I do give serious consideration to all invitations. If you are interested in having me speak at your School, College or Conference please use the email addresses below (Contacts) or complete and send this Form.

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