For my fellow OCD peeps:
I have been obsessed over the past few months with the concept of app-smashing, the process of using, or “smashing”, different apps together to complete tasks and create rich student products. Organizing the way in which I present an app smash to teachers is something I have been struggling with, so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Graphite’s App Flow Template and lesson bank. Kelly Mendoza does an excellent job of comparing app flows and app smashing in her post on Graphite,
If you’re already using App Flows, our interactive lesson-planning template on Graphite, you might be curious how app smashing and App Flows compare. Both approaches move away from being singularly app- or tool-centric. Instead, both highlight how apps can be used in conjunction with one another to reach an objective or complete a task. However, it seems that app smashing centers on transforming student projects to be rich media creations, whereas an App Flow is a broader framework for instructional planning. App Flows include pedagogical insight, allowing you to focus on incorporating a variety of digital media tools, including subject-specific ones, throughout lesson. Both of these concepts truly encourage the seamless use of technology to meet chosen learning objectives. The possibilities are endless!
The image below shows how this framework is organized. The tool used in each part of the framework can be an app, web based tool, or just a simple discussion to clarify concepts. It truly demonstrates seamless integration and is a nice way for teachers that are uncomfortable using technology to experiment with a few tools at a time. Check out the flows that are already in the database and try creating one of your own.
Hover over each image to see a linked tutorial on how to use that program. Many of the resources also include integration ideas. This is a great place to go if you are unfamiliar with our district software, or just need some additional ideas to support your instruction. Please contact me if you would like to plan your next computer lab lesson.
- Computer Lab Activities from Scholastic
- Google Story Builder
- Discovery Education Board Builder
- Symbaloo Web Mixes
- More than 100 Web Tools for Educators
The Discovery Education Network has long been a favorite source for interactive content to support classroom instruction. Most teachers are familiar with their vast collection of streaming videos, but they also offer additional services designed to accelerate student achievement. One of the most recent additions is Board Builder, a fun and easy way for students to create digital content for all subject areas. This tool is very similar to other web based poster creators such as Glogster or Smore, but differs in that students can add content directly from the Discovery Education media library. They can also upload content they have created such as audio, images, video and attachments from their computer.
NEISD has purchased a subscription to Discovery Education for all students and teachers. Susan Reeves, Educational Specialist, Digital Age Learning for the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio, has created 2 videos to help get you started:
- Discovery Education Teacher Board Builder Directions
- Discovery Education Board Builder Student Information
DEN Team member Jeanette Edelstein created this list of 50 Ways to Use Board Builder that includes links to actual boards. These are great examples that can help you visualize using this tool. Click here for a complete list of resources to help you navigate through the Discovery Education site.
If you didn’t play the video above, stop reading right now and do it. This is probably the cutest Feb. doodle to date. Hopefully, you will find some time this month to step away from the test prep and infuse a little fun into your lesson plans. Here are a few lessons, ideas, and activities that will keep your students entertained as they learn new concepts. Check back often as I am still updating this list. Happy February!
For the next 4 months, Technology Services will be distributing new laptops to all NEISD teachers and administrators. I will continue to post examples of classroom integration on my blog, however, I will not be available for face-to-face support. Below are a few resources to help you get acclimated to the new Active Directory environment. Please continue to email me if you have any questions.
Click here to print Teacher Checklist
Override LightSpeed if video above does not show.
As the new year approaches, we naturally tend to reflect on the success of our teaching practices and seek out ways to improve our craft. The one resolution I hear most often is to include more technology throughout the year. The intent and effort is there in January as the labs see more visitors, however, as STAAR testing approaches, teachers tend to revert back to their pencil/paper driven instruction. One of the goals I have this year as an instructional technology specialist is to bridge the gap of discomfort for those teachers that find it difficult to take the “technology plunge”. My first few posts will be dedicated to rethinking how teachers use graphic organizers and worksheets in the classroom. But, before we dive into new ideas, let’s look at this month’s collection of January themed technology lessons. Below you will find fun ideas for the lab or iPad that will keep your students warm and cozy. Check back often as I am still updating the list.
(If you are viewing this post from within NEISD, make sure to override Lightspeed so you can see the above video from YouTube)
It’s a new month, which means a new holiday, which means new themed technology lessons. Of course, I have to begin by sharing a Thanksgiving Google Doodle from last year. (Remember that you have to override Lightspeed to view the video from within the district.) The following list contains free sites and apps that you can use in the classroom or computer lab. My favorite lesson you should try is the Thanksgiving Timeline virtual field trip using Google Earth. I taught this a few times last year and it will take at least 2 lab visits to complete. It’s well worth the time investment!
With the installation of VDI computers in NEISD labs and libraries, a few changes have been made on the software load. Kid Pix, Kid Keys, and Leap into Phonics are no longer available due to the fact that we are now running Windows 7 as our operating system. The rest of the software load remains the same. Below you will find a list of programs you can use with your students. Hover over each image to view a link containing tutorials and integration ideas. Contact your campus ITS for more lesson ideas.
To truly engage students, there needs to be a real audience for their work. The same can be said for teachers who want to showcase student products and share ideas with their peers. Whether your site is a classroom blog or a portal to individual student blogs, the goal is the same. How can you attract readers from all over the globe to comment and interact with your classroom?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make sure you have activated the social media plugin on your site. This will allow your readers to share your posts with others.
- Promote your blog through your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other social channels you belong to. Share each and every time you create a new post. If you are sharing through Twitter, include an educational hash tag. Ask your peers and family members to take a few minutes out their day to comment and encourage your students. They can even share on their own social media accounts to help your posts go viral.
- Add a Google Translate Widget to your sidebar to go beyond an English speaking audience. Educators from all over the world spend hours searching for great ideas to improve their craft. A great lesson can happen in any language.
- Ask other bloggers to add your site to their blogroll. This will increase the traffic flow and hopefully attract regular readers.
- Content should be relevant and engaging. Make sure you include embedded media, images of students in action, and anything else that will make your blog visually attractive.
- Provide examples of unique learning experiences. Sharing lessons that educators have seen a million times will not motivate readers to return to your site.
- Be concise. When readers are “blog hopping”, they won’t take the time to read lengthy posts.
- Invite readers to share their thoughts. Ask readers to comment by finishing your post with some simple open-ended questions on information you would like to know.
- Add your blog to Comments4Kids– Comments4Kids is a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on.
- Connect with other classes.- This resource was brought to my attention by Sue Waters, editor of The Edublogger. Click here for more information on The Student Blogging Challenges.
Oh how I love my conferences. No where on Earth will you find a larger concentration of teacher geeks (she says, proudly). I attended many sessions with new and relevant integration ideas and would like to share my new found knowledge with you.
The first session I went to was my favorite. Sean Junkins (follow him on Twitter!) and Danny Wysong presented iBook Field Trips using iBooks Author. I have used this application before, but never on this creative level. Here is his description: “In this era of interactive content, an iBook should be more than a book. iBook Field Trips are an opportunity to take full advantage of the wealth of interactive features available in iBooks Author. From Photo Safaris, iSpy books, Create Your Own Adventure novels, and Virtual Museums, there is no shortage of engaging learning experiences that can be created and carried out through iBooks.” Plan on reading many posts about this topic in the near future.
Leslie Fisher, who is one of my favorite presenter/entertainers, introduced me to a few new web tools, which poses a problem since I have no more room on my bookmarks bar.
- Edcanvas allows on-line learners to organize and share their collection of digital resources. This nifty tool is a great way to share online resources with a set audience. As a teacher, I can see it working well as a student assignment: sending them on a digital ‘ scavenger hunt’ in a particular content area. I can also see it as an easy way to set up a series of on-line experiences for students (around a particular topic) as part of a “flipped classroom”. Edcanvas even allows you to create multiple choice and true/false assessments as part of your collection. Check out this PDF to get started.
- Infuse Learning is a free online student response system similar to Socrative but a little more robust in that students can also hand-write, or draw responses. Like Socrative, students respond using a device (computer, iPod/iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, and Android based phones and tablets) to teacher questions presented either verbally or through a pre-made quiz. Infuse Learning also offers the ability to push out internet links and images to connected devices.
- Learnist allows you to create “learn boards” that are dedicated to a particular topic of choice. The learn boards are basically file folders that keep track of all the websites and resources that your students would need to access for research or projects. It is very similar to Pinterest, but many districts have blocked it due to social networking categories. Learnist is not blocked by our district (NEISD) and provides a safe environment for your students.
- Let Me Google That For You – People may think you’re a genius when you’re actually a master Googler. Learn how to gently tell people to look up the answers to their questions by themselves. – See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com
Tammy Worcester presented Tammy’s Top 20 Tech Tools. The one tool I was unfamiliar with was Batchgeo. This is a site that will generate a map based on location data. You can use a Google Form to collect the information and then copy/paste the data directly into the site. Some possible ideas for implementation include place-based story telling, mapping the birth places of your students, and visually displaying data for students to create their own math problems and solutions. Fortunately, I found Tammy’s presentation on You Tube so you can experience her knowledge first hand:
Kathy Schrock is the foremost authority on how to students can use the iPad to support higher order thinking. Her presentation focused on apps that support each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. She has an entire website that will guide you through the implementation process. For more information, visit Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: iPads in the Classroom.
Needless to say, my head is still spinning from the abundance of information presented at this conference. Look for future posts showcasing how teachers from our district are using these ideas with their students.
Every month or so I find a new tool to fall in love with. I think this might be my favorite tool of the year. Smore is a free online service that allows you to create dynamic flyers that include links, video, text, images and even maps. Over the past few weeks, Mrs. Davis’ 5th grade class at Bulverde Creek have been learning about different inventions and how a simple invention can change the world. Each pair of students chose an inventor to research and then used smore.com to create flyers. Click here to see a few of the AMAZING results. Below is an introductory video that demonstrates how easy it is to use.
With more and more online tools requiring specific and unique passwords, I am finding it very difficult to remember my username and password combinations (and, of course, has nothing to do with my age). I have found several free web-based services and apps that will securely store this information and it’s easily accessible. Below are some of my favorite options:
- PassPack– Web based version, can be viewed on any computer or iDevice. There is a PassPack Offline and PassPack Desktop that can be downloaded as well. It will choose a password for you and has a notes section to record past passwords. It does require a username, password and packing key phrase (the phrase cannot be recovered if forgotten)
- Keeper Password and Data Vault for iPad– Not for use on student devices, only on personal iDevices. Includes web based access for computer. It will also choose a password for you.
- KeyPassDroid– For Android devices
- Google Docs– Can be accessed on any device or computer. Requires Internet connection, unless you have it synced in Google Drive on your computer or iDevice.
- Password protected Excel-can be saved in Dropbox. If you add to favorites, it does not require internet connection
*Disclaimer- With the exception of Google Docs, these services are entities outside of NEISD. We cannot provide troubleshooting support. Use at your own risk.
Notebook 11 makes it easy to include a Voki avatar in your SMART Notebook lessons. Below you will find a video showing how to download the widget and embed the HTML code right into the software. This will make your presentations much more engaging for students and allows them yet another way to demonstrate understanding of a concept. Visit the SMART Exchange to find this Voki widget and more. Click here for a PDF tutorial on how create your own Voki: Voki Tutorial
You will need to have a Voki account in order to use this widget. You can also create free accounts for your students using their Google Docs credentials. See your campus ITS for more information. Here are a few examples of how you can use Voki avatars within the Notebook Software: