Make Your Techsperts Do It!

Teaching is hard. It takes years to learn how to juggle curricular, administrative, management, and instructional tasks all at once. Untied shoes, stomach aches, and unexpected schedule changes thrown into the mix can create a long and unproductive day. So what usually happens when there are technical issues with your classroom equipment? In my experience, teachers tend not use it and go back to more reliable, yet outdated, analog activities. What if you had help? To be more specific, 22 extra sets of hands to manage and maintain your classroom technology?

The answer is simple. Teach your students (yes, even the littles) basic skills that become part of your classroom routine. Here’s just a few examples of how they can help take some things off your plate:

  • Explore new iPad apps and teach the rest of the class using your Document Camera or Reflector
  • Make sure mobile devices are plugged in and charging
  • Organize laptops and untangle cords in carts
  • Dust power cords and smart boards
  • Update apps (unless it asks for your apple id password)
  • Help other students who are struggling using a device during a lesson or station
  • Unplug and replug the Smartboard when it loses interactivity

By identifying your classroom “Techsperts”, you not only have more time for actual instruction, you are allowing the students to take ownership of THEIR digital tools. Take some time to train a small group of students the basics of whatever you have access to in your classroom or computer lab. Rotate your “Techsperts” on a weekly or monthly basis so all students have the opportunity to be class leaders. Below you will find a set of Techspert badges that you can print and laminate. It’s a Google Doc, so feel free to modify the content to fit your needs. Click here to make your own copy.

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. 

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

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.

i4s-appsmashing-004school-aurasma

Tool of the Summer: Bulb

I’ve been a busy little bee this summer creating PD classes for the new school year. One of the tools I’m using to gather my resources is Bulb. Oh, how I love this site! Bulb allows you to organize content into collections, making it very easy for the user to separate content into different sections. I like it because you are not overwhelming the participant with lots of information at one time. This also makes the perfect tool for flipping lessons or collecting work for student portfolios. You can learn how to get started by visiting their Bulb for Teachers and Students.

I’ve seen many differentiated resources on the Internet lately and decided to make one for an App Smashes and Flows class I will be teaching in August. I created a Bulb with 6 different sections. The idea is to introduce the concept of App Smashes and Flows, explain the differences between the two, and then allow the participants to choose their tasks based on their comfort level with the iPad. Bulb is the perfect tool for this purpose. 

app smash and flow

I’m not the only NEISD fan of Bulb. Sue Carlson, NEISD Instructional Technology Specialist, also used Bulb to curate her resources for our district’s What’s New in Office 2013? professional development course. Sue was able to create separate pages for each of the different software titles within the Office Suite. Participants are able to return to her Bulb for quick reminders, if needed.

Capture
Check out some of my other PD courses I’ve created using Bulb: