Thinglink for Educators

Thinglink is a free, easy to use online tool that allows you to make any graphic or photo interactive. Create multiple hot spots on specific parts of your image that link to a website, video, music, text, or audio file. Thinglink education accounts lets teachers and students store an unlimited number of images. ThingLink works on all modern web browsers as well as iPad, iPhone and Android.

Follow the directions below to create a free educators account for you and your students.

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Once accounts have been created and you have printed the initial log in credentials provided by Thinglink, you can go in and change the username and passwords of each student to match their Google Drive credentials. Older students should be able to do this step by themselves.

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Below is a slideshow with examples of how Thinglink can be used to support classroom instruction. Click on the arrows to advance through the presentation. Additional resources can be found at the bottom of the page.

Additional Resources:

Interactive Websites for Your SMARTboard

There are so many great interactive websites that work perfectly on your SMARTboard. They can be used for whole class instruction or small group center rotations each week. I’ve compiled about 30 of my favorites, organized by subject area, for the SMART Users Conference held this past summer. Many of the websites featured in this Notebook file are free and easy to use. Some are more complex and require a user guide for deeper understanding. Click on the attachments tab to download user guides or view quick video tutorials to assist with site navigation. My favorite site to use with the board or in the computer lab is Elementary Science from Discovery Education (NEISD login credentials are required). Below is an archived webinar from Discovery Education.

The New Interactive Classroom

Interactive Classroom

Imagine a bulletin board that plays videos created by your students, or a word wall that actually pronounces vocabulary words and provides definitions. Display student work that, when scanned by parents or other class members, gives a brief description of how it was made and learned concepts explained in their own words. Create a collaborative timeline of a historical event that comes to life. Easily gain instant insight into how well the class grasps a lesson. Create a video production area in your classroom to facilitate creation. All of these interactive ideas are possible with just a few digital tools and a creative mind. Below are a few examples of interactive projects that you and your students can create.

      Augmented Reality Tools                                     Augmented Reality Examples                               
     QR Code Tools      QR Code Examples
     SMARTboard Tools      SMARTboard Examples
     Formative Assessment Tools       Formative Assessment Examples
     Collaborative Wall Tools       Collaborative Wall Examples

Aurasma Video Tutorial

 

LMS Blog Challenge: Interactive Thinglink Widgets

Lisa Johnson (@techchef4u) recently wrote a post for Edudemic titled, “These Real-World Professional Development Setups Actually Work“. Lisa talks about the growing trend of differentiated professional development opportunities and resources for educators. She included a quote from Austin Kleon that really resonated with me:

“There’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing.”

Many teachers in my district think I’m so “tech smart”. Sadly, I’m really not. I just surround myself with extremely smart and creative co-workers and members of my PLN. The entire purpose for having a PLN is to gain the necessary knowledge needed to become better educators for our students. If you have a great idea, share it! 

Lisa recently tweeted a request:

Capture

 

I immediately responded with my confession. I stole it. Yes, it was an idea worth stealing from the incredible Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad). I participated in the Teacher Thinglink Challenge over the summer and noticed she had utilized Thinglink as a PD calendar widget located in the sidebar of her blog. This is a great way for me to let teachers know when and where I will be offering PD in our district. Now that I’ve fessed up, here’s how to do it.

  1. Create your own calendar image using software of your choice or search for royalty free stock images from sites like this one.
  2. Upload your calendar image to Thinglink and add media tags providing additional information.
  3. Copy the embed code from your interactive image and paste in your sidebar widget. In my case, I used the text widget in Edublogs. You can play around with the width, if needed, within the html code.

That’s it. Easy Peasy. 

So, I would like to start a challenge (much like the ALS bucket challenge). I’m starting with the 3 people from which I steal the most, Lisa Johnson (@techchef4u), Terri Eichholz (@terrieichhotz), and Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad). What is one idea worth stealing that made you a better educator/blogger? Share your experience through a blog post, tweet, or whatever platform you prefer. Make sure to pass on the challenge so we can all benefit from new knowledge. Use the #LMSchallenge. GO.

What Will You Create Today?

The biggest obstacle teachers face when trying to integrate technology is time. There aren’t very many opportunities during the day to explore new tools, think of ways to use them with the curriculum, or actually sit down to write a comprehensive lesson plan. Plus, the implementation of Standard V just adds to the already existing high levels of stress. Fortunately, higher levels of technology integration promote student choice, which means less planning on the part of the teacher. Over the summer, I worked on some computer lab posters that will help guide students in choosing the right tool for their project, and support teachers in their efforts for easier ways to integrate. I chose the theme of a graphic novel (created using Comic Life) to bring a little adventure into the computer lab. The first poster is attached to the door of the lab and asks, “What will you create today?” This represents the cover of the graphic novel. When they enter, each page of the novel gives them ideas and tools to use to accomplish their task. I encourage all teachers to bring their mobile devices to the lab each week, as adding the component of a camera adds to the diversity of projects students have as options. 

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Many teachers may find this amount of freedom somewhat daunting, especially if they are unfamiliar with how to use the software, web tool or app. This provides the perfect opportunity to bring collaboration into your lessons. Allow students to work together to figure out how the tools work, and then let them teach the rest of the class. You can also utilize a QR code tutorial section where students can view videos for quick instructions. I’ve included a link below to the PDF version of the posters. There are some that are very NEISD specific, but hopefully they will inspire you to create more personalized versions for your own students. I’ve also included directions for printing them poster size.

printing poster

Beginning of the Year Survival Guide

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It’s that time of year again when teachers sadly put away the swimsuits and flip flops, and break out dress pants and heels. Hopefully, all of the Pinterest to-do projects were successful and the summer vacations provided a much needed break from stress. For the passionate teacher, a new year also brings that feeling of joy knowing that they will have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of students. That excitement is often coupled with anxiety when tasked with connecting all of your classroom technology and making sure it works properly for the first day of school. Have no fear, the BOY survival guide is here!

This guide contains video tutorials on how to connect NEISD issued equipment, resources for gathering student login information, lesson ideas to use in the computer lab, and much more! Click here to access the complete survival guide.

Thinglink Teacher Challenge 2014

One of my favorite parts about summer is the opportunity to focus on my own professional growth. Last year, I participated in the Mapping with Google Online Course. This year, I chose to learn more about one of my favorite tools, Thinglink. Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad) facilitated a 9 week challenge for teachers to learn to use interactive images to redefine learning in the classroom. This was a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge of this platform, learn new tools to use in conjunction with Thinglink, and connect and share with educators from all over the world.

Each challenge combined the curriculum with either a digital tool or a new way of using Thinglink. I was fortunate to try out Thinglink Video, a similar platform that allows you to tag video with digital content, making the viewing experience interactive. I also learned how to use tools such as Audioboo and Polldaddy to enhance an interactive image.

The final challenge was to create a channel of all the projects created over the summer. The free version of Thinglink does not allow you to embed channels, so I’ve created a Thinglink of my Thinglinks. You can see the full channel here.

Below are links to each challenge. It will walk you through the steps to create your own interactive interpretations for each topic. Click here to view the entire Thinglink Teacher Challenge showcase.

Intro: 3 Reasons to Take the ThingLink Teacher Challenge
Week 1: Get Started
Week 2: Design Your Digital Self
Week 3: Digging Deeper Into Vocabulary
Week 4: Create an Interactive Map
Week 5: Flip It with ThingLink for Video
Week 6: ThingLink UnPlugged to Extend the Classroom Walls
Week 7: Turn it Up a Notch with Sound
Week 8: Engage Students in Informed Decision Making
Week 9: Create a Portfolio Channel

I Need a Blue-Tongue Lizard

What do you do when insomnia kicks in on a Sunday morning? Explore Australian websites, of course. I found a gem called ABC Splash. In a nutshell, ABC Splash is affiliated with ABC News and Radio in Australia. They partnered with Education Services Australia  to link hundreds of new learning resources directly to the Australian Curriculum. Everything is free and there is no need to register for an account. The first resource that caught my eye is a series of interactive videos that have related questions for each stage of the viewing process. My favorite is the blue-tongue lizard that Isabel keeps as a pet. It’s not only informative, but highly entertaining. See the full video here.

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Some content on the site has been geo-blocked to Australia and territories. This is where the owner of the content has requested this to protect their content rights, so some videos will not play. However, I found many that align with Texas curriculum that you can use with your students.

Resources on this site support all areas of the curriculum. Digibooks are multimedia stories on a wide variety of topics. The videos won’t play due to the geo-block, however, the text is easy to read and supports all comprehension strategies. The Geography and History sections do pertain to Australia, however the Math section contains many interactive games to support the same skills we have in Texas. I really liked the Wishball series of games for place value. 

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“Test your understanding of decimal place value with numbers that include thousandths. Receive a starting number, such as 3.569, and work towards turning it into a target number, such as 7.832. Spin a random digit, choose its decimal place value and decide whether to add or subtract the random digit from your starting number. You can use the ‘Wishball’ to help you reach the target number. Try to achieve the target with as few additions or subtractions as possible.”- http://splash.abc.net.au/media/-/m/32408/wishball-thousandths

 

Making Posters Interactive With Aurasma

 

The days of student created posters using text and images alone are well in the past. We all know there is no such thing as the perfect app, which is why app smashing has become essential to the creation process. The same can be said for devices. Many tasks are more suited for a web-based tool, whereas others are perfect for the iPad. This year, one of my goals is to get teachers to bring their iPads to the computer lab so that students have the opportunity to “Device-smash” – using more than one device to create a student product. The above project is an example of such a task. The poster itself was created with Lucidpress, a web-based Google app similar to Publisher. Videos can be created on the iPad and then Auras (Using Aurasma) can be created by holding the iPad up to the computer screen to capture the trigger image from the poster. Interactivity is indicated in the lower corner of each image to let the viewer know which app to use for scanning. QR codes can also be used to combine additional projects such as Haiku Deck slideshows, which can be created on the web or on an iPad. The final product is not only an interactive digital poster that can be embedded on a website, but an interactive poster that can be printed and displayed on a bulletin board in the hallway. 

Richard Wells, author of iPad 4 Schools, created some beautiful guides that walk you through making an aura using Aurasma. For additional ideas on making your classroom interactive, visit the Interactive Classroom Experience.

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