Wouldn’t it be Cool if…

… you could design a lesson any way you wanted without platform limitations?

The term App Smash was coined by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec), who shares much of his work and thinking on his website, The History 2.0 Classroom. After working with iPads for some time, he quickly realized the following, 

“Most processes couldn’t be completed with just one app.  While many apps slightly overlap in terms of functionality, there tends to be a few black holes in each app that require the use of another app to complete the process.”   

The same can be said for web based tools such as G Suite. In a perfect world, I would have the ability to embed content within a Google Doc. There are a few hacks you can use to embed a YouTube video, but it’s really not the same. When platforms allow you to work in conjunction with other platforms, then your “what if?” can become a reality.

Recently, Sutori announced a game changing addition to their product. You can now embed content created on other sites. Over the past few weeks NEISD Social Studies Specialist, Carly Dodd, and I have been collaborating on a project for 4th grade students using Sutori and my other favorite web based app, Thinglink. Many times when a platform has functional limitations, you have to reshape the learning objectives to fit the nature of the tool. What we noticed when designing this lesson was how the learning objectives came to the forefront because the tools had so many functionality options. Carly and I were able to frantically brainstorm ideas and we never once said, “This tool won’t allow us to do that.” We wanted to create a lesson where students could travel back in time to the year 1836 to see the Alamo before the infamous battle. Because we live in San Antonio, many students have visited with family or on school field trips. What most people from outside the state of Texas don’t realize is that only a very small portion of the Alamo still stands today. It’s located in the heart of downtown surrounded by tall buildings. Our learning objective was for students to be able to tell us why the Alamo is an important landmark in Texas and the significance the battle had on the road to Texas Independence. This is where you meet our 3rd collaborator, the amazing James Boddie.

James has been working on an incredible project called Alamo 2.o. He’s using CGI technology to build a 3D model of the Alamo in 1836. This was the perfect background image to use with the Thinglink 360 video editor. I was able to upload his 360 image and annotate it with additional 3D content created by James. The end result is a totally authentic, immersive experience that makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.

Having the ability to embed this Thinglink resource allows content to be brought to the students. Everything they need to master these learning objectives can be found, for the most part, on one landing page, thus making Sutori the perfect vehicle to facilitate engaging experiences for students. Click here to view the lesson on the Sutori website. I’d like to thank Carly and James for collaborating with me on this project.

Web Apps + Sutori = Pure Joy

Yes, I recognize that I obsess over certain web based tools, but there’s a reason. We are in the middle of an educational transformation. Think about how we taught students just 10 years ago. There were no iPads (those came in 2010).  Web 2.0 was still new to most educators who didn’t even know the difference between consumption vs. creation. We had dry erase boards instead of SMART Boards, and books had to be held up to students at the front of the room because there were no document cameras. 

Technology didn’t just change the physical classroom. It also changed the way we interact with students and the way in which students interact with the world. So when all of my favorite tools jump into the giant technology pool together, I get giddy. 

Sutori (formerly known as HSTRY) recently announced that you can now embed content from other web based platforms. The ability to utilize multiple tools to engage students in the learning process increases attention, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills and promotes meaningful learning experiences. You can read more about their embeddable content on this blog post.

Click here for the NEISD Sutori Training

ClassroomScreen is a Teacher’s BFF

ClassroomScreen.com is a simple webpage full of digital widgets that help your students stay on task as they work. Think of it as “Command Central” for your classroom activities. Here are just a few things you can project on your screen:

  • Choose from 21 different languages
  • Add a background from their library or upload your own
  • Copy/Paste a list of student names for a random pick
  • Display an interactive calculator
  • Paste a URL to generate a QR code
  • Display a full screen or widget size drawing pad
  • Open a text editor to display instructions or agenda for the day
  • Display work symbols to identify individual or group work
  • Display a traffic light to control voice level
  • Show a timer or a clock

 

It is not possible to save your screen, but you can quickly customize within seconds. Check out the video walkthrough.

Digital Reflection Tools for PLC Book Studies

Something I noticed this summer in the Twitterverse was the abundant sharing of thoughts, ideas, reflections, and connections made by teachers to many popular books on the subject of educational pedagogy. In fact, most of my personal book choices actually came from #booksnaps or #sketchnotes posted in my Twitter feed. I started doing some research to find engaging ways for readers to use technology during a book study. I found this one resource from FLDOE (Florida Department of Education) that serves as a handy guide for staff book studies. The first paragraph states:

“Book studies can be powerful tools for developing the teacher expertise necessary for improving performance and enhancing student learning through deliberate practice. What sets an effective book study apart from an ineffective one lies in both the initial planning of the book study itself and the utilization of the knowledge, skills and practices acquired.”

Staff book studies are a great way to introduce the use of digital tools to teachers. Once they become proficient users themselves, they can then start using those tools to support classroom instruction. Nadine Gilkison, author of Franklin Township Tech Tips, recently shared this Google Presentation with 5 suggestions to offer participants. If you are an administrator who wants to kick your book studies up a notch, check out the presentation below:

App Flows Aren’t Just for iPads Anymore

Graphite App Flows (Now called Lesson Flows from Common Sense Media) were something I discovered a couple of years ago. A Lesson Flow is a lesson planning framework that helps you integrate digital tools with pedagogical insight. They helped teachers in my district move away from unstructured “skill and drill” use of the iPad to a purposeful lesson that made students accountable for their time spent on the device. 

Since then, app developers have realized that districts purchase multiple types devices, not just iPads. Many popular productivity iPad apps now have an online alternative. This allows for more flexibility when teachers are planning and checking out iPad, Chromebook, laptop carts or scheduling time in the computer labs. Here is a list of some of my favorite apps that now have a web based counterpart.

G-Suite                              Thinking Blocks         
Thinglink Haiku Deck
SeeSaw Virtual Manipulatives
Book Creator Learnzillion
Google Earth Math Learning Center
Google Maps BrainPop
Canva Educreations
Nearpod Padlet
Edublogs Popplet
Google Classroom Snapguide
Quizlet Animoto
YouTube

In my district, elementary teachers usually have about 3-4 iPads per classroom. That’s all fine and dandy if your lesson is designed to be in a workstation or center. It’s also difficult to manage multiple users logging into different accounts on 1 device. That may be a simple task for secondary, but try that with a kindergartener. Turning your App Flow into a Web/App Flow may be your solution. It’s the same lesson using the same resources, but now you have a choice of which device you would like your students to use. I just finished this one to support 4th grade Equivalent Fractions. Here is the link if you would like to use or modify it to fit your needs: https://goo.gl/t5devp

 

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