Tag Archives: instructional approach

10 Reasons to Use E-Cards in the Classroom

Is there educational merit in having your students send e-Cards to each other? Yes! For both skill building purposes and for engaging digital savvy young people, e-Cards can be used in an educational setting with a variety of benefits.

Meaningful language arts activity

Inspire creative writing by assigning an e-Card activity. Students can browse through an electronic card site for suitable suggestions. Alternatively, teachers can assign a specific topic, such as a celebration, an ‘end of project’ congratulations, or encouragement notes. Require students to write a brief but expressive and original personal message with the card.

Advocate for a cause

There are e-Card sites hosted by organizations that support important issues. For example, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund both have web pages that allow students to send free cards. By choosing a card and adding a personal message, students express their support of environmental issues. Integrate this activity with a unit of study about conservation and stewardship to help students promote awareness.

Learn letter writing skills

Instead of a traditional letter writing activity, use digital cards to teach the lost yet valuable art of writing friendly letters. E-Cards have many conventions of basic letters: salutation and closing, address, date (some sites let the user set a future date for sending), letter body with the personal message, and preview feature for editing.

Suitable for primary students

Young children who have limited reading, writing, and keyboarding skills can use e-Cards with their appealing graphic displays and simple text. They can easily choose a card, write a brief message, and send it.

Creates a team environment

Sending and receiving cards supports a feeling of mutual support and kindness. As students write e-Cards to each other, they build a common mood of thoughtfulness, concern, and empathy.

Extends home-school connection

Students can send cards home to their parents, promoting communication about their classroom activities, demonstrating their technology skills, and cultivating a strong connection between home and school.

Celebrate successes

E-Cards can be sent for an infinite number of occasions: recognize school or class accomplishments, observe important events, and celebrate individual dates such as birthdays or graduations.

Go green

No trees are harmed in sending e-Cards! The ecofriendly aspect of digital greetings and letters supports environmental school goals.

Teach manners and courtesy

Young people should be aware of the formal language conventions of letter writing. Often online social interaction involves a much more informal use of spelling, grammar, and word choice. Sending e-Cards with a personal message is an opportunity to teach netiquette and mastery of conventional language skills.

It’s fun!

The appeal of online social communication for young people is certain. We can tap into this attraction using e-Cards and, at the same time, build essential and valuable curriculum and life skills.

In my next post, I’ll list some great sites with free e-Cards that are suitable for classroom use. Then I’ll list some tips for both students and teachers when searching for, sending, and receiving e-Cards.

Digital Collage in the Classroom

Why Make a Collage?


Collage about Amelia Earhart created with Windows Photo Gallery

Art assignment, end of project celebration, technology integration activity, communicating learning visually – these are just a few reasons to create a collage in the classroom.

The traditional way of making a collage is to cut out pictures and glue them into place on a background. But using the computer to create a digital collage from photos or images offers a different option that has lots of ‘WOW’ factor to capture students’ interest while building technology as well as creative arts skills. Do you have a classroom project in which students have already gathered a collection of themed digital pictures? Making a collage is an alternate or additional way to display the work. No existing folder of pictures? Make one: students can search for a series of images about a subject online and then create a unique display using the collage technique.

Generating a collage using technology is easy and fun, enhances design and layout skills, encourages creative expression, and will actively engage your students to bring out their ‘inner artist’.

Use Windows Photo Gallery

If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can download a free program called Photo Gallery to organize, edit, and share photos. But it can be used to make a collage as well. Here’s how in 5 easy steps:

  1. Open Photo Gallery.
  2. Add your collected folder of images.
  3. Select a minimum of 7 images.
  4. From the Create tab, click Auto Collage.
  5. Name the collage file and select a location to save it.

Use a Free Online Collage Maker

There are many free programs online that you can use to create a picture collage. They offer a variety of options for editing and creating distinctive collages. Some offer additional features with a paid subscription or membership. Here are a few along with some of their distinguishing features:


Fotor Photo Collage

  • Choose from a variety of collage layouts, including funky shapes
  • Photo stitching options include spacing, corner design, colors, and background

The World’s Best Collage Maker

  • Add text, labels, clip art and more
  • Save to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, or the desktop


  • Shuffle feature easily changes layout of pictures randomly
  • Apply photo filters such as ‘Black & White’ and ‘Sepia’
  • Signing up for an account is free



  • Basic options available without creating a free account or log in
  • Add stickers and speech callouts
  • Cut out tool allows user to select specific areas of photos

Photovisi Photo Collage Maker

  • Choose and edit a background design from a fun and extensive variety of choices, including ‘Magic’, ‘Girly’, ‘Scrapbook’, ‘Words’, and ‘Sports’
  • Add photos from a saved folder or from a webcam
  • Free collage has a watermark

Collage of Amelia Earhart

Canva’s Collage Maker

  • Many free images, photos, shapes, clip art, and backgrounds
  • Upload your own photos
  • Easy drag and drop format
  • Export and publish as a png or pdf

A Teacher Speaks Out: Yes, you should teach Internet skills!

I recently conducted an interview with the classroom teacher upon the completion of teaching TechnoJourney to learn more about her thoughts and ideas about the experience.

UPDATE: TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.

Your students just spent the past few weeks completing activities from the technology project TechnoJourney. What was your overall impression of the experience?

I was really impressed with the project. It’s a great computer curriculum. The assignments were easy to follow and the students learned the skills.

TechnoJourney is full of a wide-range of Internet-based activities. You selected several from the technology project to use with your students. How did you make that decision?

Students learn Internet skills using TechnoJourney computer project

The students were engaged and focused in all the TechnoJourney activities.

From all the activities available in TechnoJourney, I chose the following:

  • Visitor’s Center: Safety Booth, Search Engine Station, Favorites Center
  • e-Library: Research Center
  • e-Playground: Webcam Observatory, Arcade
  • e-Media Center: Video Theatre, Image Gallery, Map Collection
  • e-Mail Depot: e-card Shop

I based my choice on what I thought was relevant for my grade 3 students and what skills I knew they would be able to apply in other areas of the curriculum. If I had to eliminate any of the activities, I would probably not do the Arcade again. The students really enjoyed playing the games, but I think they have a lot of opportunity to do that outside of school.

Your students have spent the past few weeks engaged in Internet-based activities. What skill do you think your students learned that is the most valuable? Why?

Learning effective search strategies was most valuable for my students. They learned to identify trustworthy sources on the Internet. I saw them apply these skills in other themes we studied in the classroom. When they undertook their research for both our Oceans project and the Body project, students showed much more independence and asked for less help from me as they were searching for information online.

I often hear that technology skills should not be taught. Do you believe that teaching Internet research skills to your students was a good use of instructional time or do you think they would just learn them on their own?

I definitely think that TechnoJourney was an important use of our time in the computer lab. Not only did the students gain new skills, but I learned a lot too! Learning the search skills formally as opposed to just figuring them out on their own was certainly beneficial. I believe the students will retain these skills more effectively since they’ve explored and tried them out, talked about them during instructional activities, and finally reviewed them when they shared their new skills with another class in our final Internet Tour Guide activity.

TechnoJourney was scheduled for 10 classes, but ended up being 12 classes due to the addition of the Internet Tour Guide activity. At first glance, this does not seem like a lot class time, however, with only one computer class per week the reality is that this technology project has stretched from January to May. That is a lot of time to spend on one technology skill. Are you happy with the pace of instruction?

The students always retained their enthusiasm, so the pace was fine. It seems like a long time to spend on one project, but with all the different parts of TechnoJourney, the students were always doing different activities and learning new things. They were always excited and looking forward to the time in the computer lab.

Students teach each other their newly acquired Internet skills

The Internet Tour Guide activity was a great success using peer to peer teaching.

Would you teach activities from TechnoJourney next year? Why or why not?

Yes, I will certainly teach TechnoJourney next year. I plan to teach it in the first term, so that the students can benefit from using and applying the skills throughout the year. I think the safety guidelines are very important. Next year, before my students use the Internet, we will do these activities to ensure that they are responsible digital citizens.

At the end of the project, your students participated in an Internet Tour Guide activity. What educational value does this activity have on your students?

Students are reviewing and reinforcing the skills as they are teaching them to their peers. I’ve also noticed that the students’ self-confidence has been boosted. They’re very proud to show the other class what they know. This was especially important for some of the students with low self-esteem. I was surprised by how confident they were as they instructed the other students.

In one word, how would you summarize your experience with TechnoJourney?


Other Articles about Teaching Internet Skills using TechnoJourney

Now the Students’ Turn: Reflecting on TechnoJourney
A Teacher Speaks Out: Yes, you should teach Internet skills!
Peer to Peer Teaching – Students Become the Teachers
Internet Tour Guide Activity
Use YouTube Videos in your Classroom
Students Love Google Maps
Review How to Sort Google Images with Your Students
Teaching Internet Skills – The Trust Test
Wikipedia in the Classroom
Bookmarking is a Basic Internet Skill that can be Complex
Metacognition and Teaching about the Internet
4 Strategies for Reviewing Internet Search Results
When Should Students Start Using the Internet?
Should you Teach Internet Skills?

Peer to Peer Teaching – Students Become the Teachers

Peer to peer teaching is an effective teaching method that can be used in the computer lab to enhance learning. This blog article examines an example of how this method was implemented, elements of successful peer teaching, and the educational value of this approach.

What is Peer to Peer Teaching?

Peer to peer teaching has students take on a teaching role in a school setting in order to share their knowledge with other students.

Students teach Internet skills to their peers

"Internet Tour Guides" teach their recently learned skills to "Tourists"

An Example of Peer to Peer Teaching used in the Computer Lab

I have been teaching the technology project TechnoJourney to a class of Grade 3/ 4 students. Each week students completed a range of Internet-based activities. To celebrate our learning, at the end of the project, another Grade 3 class in the school was invited to participate in an Internet Tour Guide Event.

UPDATE: TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.

In the Internet Tour Guide Event, students became Peer Teachers. The Peer Teachers were divided into groups and then assigned a topic to teach. There were six topics: Super Searcher, Trust Test, E-Library, Picture Power, Learn with Videos, and Making Map. To prepare for the activity, prior to the event, each Peer Teacher group practiced teaching to each other using instruction sheets as a guide. This allowed them an opportunity to gain confidence in their ability to teach. To learn more, refer to the blog post, “Internet Tour Guide Activity“.

The following week, the Grade 3 class visited the computer lab as “Tourists” or students that would learn about the Internet from the “Internet Tour Guides” or Peer Teachers. To get more than 40 students into the computer lab at one time required organization. To start, the Grade 3 / 4 students arrived in the computer lab, assembled into their Peer Teaching groups, grabbed their worksheets, and then stood behind a computer chair.

Peer to Peer Teaching

Student instructors were enthusiastic about their role as teachers.

In the meantime, the other Grade 3 class was patiently waiting outside the computer lab. Once the peer teachers were ready, three to four students were let into the computer lab at one time, and directed to sit in front of a particular computer. Once everyone was seated, the activity was introduced.

Students were told that they were going to become Tourists and would be taking a journey through the Internet. Their Internet Tour Guides (Peer Teachers) were going to guide them to online destinations. Tourists were informed that they needed to follow their Tour Guides’ directions.

With over 40 students in the room and active teaching happening in every group, it was a busy but exciting place! The room soon became a hive of active learning as the Tour Guides were eager to share their newfound skills. The Tourists enjoyed the novelty of the learning experience from their peers as well as getting to visit new places on the Internet.

After about 8 minutes the lights were turned off to signal it was time to move to the next destination. Once the room was quiet, the Tourists were rotated clockwise to the next group of Tour Guides. For example, the Tourists at the Super Searcher destination, moved to the Trust Test destination, the Tourists as the Trust Test destination moved to the E-Library destination, and so on.

Although we ran out of time and only managed to rotate the Tourists through three of the six activities, it was a complete success.

Elements to Successful Peer to Peer Teaching

Below are the elements that helped to ensure the success of the Internet Tour Guide Event:

  • Peer teachers had instruction sheets to use as a guide
  • Peer teachers were able to practice before the event
  • Challenges were available to keep students focused or if there was extra time
  • Teachers never touched the mouse – used only words to explain or fingers to point at the screen
  • The lesson should be adjusted to the learner – areas of interest were used for searches
  • Decisions were made prior to the event about how to organize peer teachers and students within the computer lab
  • A signal was selected in advance to rotate the students from one group of peer teachers to another
  • Each rotation was brief to make sure that peer teachers and students stayed focused on the task

Peer to Peer Teaching Benefits

There are many benefits to peer teaching:

  • Consolidate Learning: By teaching to a peer, students review their own learning, which allows them to strengthen their own knowledge and skills.
  • Increase Confidence: This type of learning activity boosts self-confidence because students realize that the classroom teacher perceives them as experts and trusts them enough to share their expertise with a peer.
  • Develop Communication Skills: Students must use strong communication skills to be able to provide clear directions, listen to feedback, and then adjust the next set of instructions accordingly so that their peer is successful.
  • Assess Learning: The teacher is able to assess students’ understanding of the material based on their ability to share their knowledge and skills with a fellow peer, that could not be accomplished using a paper and pencil test.

Other Articles about Teaching Internet Skills using TechnoJourney

Now the Students’ Turn: Reflecting on TechnoJourney
A Teacher Speaks Out: Yes, you should teach Internet skills!
Peer to Peer Teaching – Students Become the Teachers
Use YouTube Videos in your Classroom
Students Love Google Maps
Review How to Sort Google Images with Your Students
Teaching Internet Skills – The Trust Test
Wikipedia in the Classroom
Bookmarking is a Basic Internet Skill that can be Complex
Metacognition and Teaching about the Internet
4 Strategies for Reviewing Internet Search Results
When Should Students Start Using the Internet?
Should you Teach Internet Skills?