Category Archives: Tech Tools

Vol.#62: Every Teacher a Literacy Teacher Via Technology

This past week, I had the opportunity to give a couple presentations to the new year of 2015 Kenan Fellows at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). One of these presentations, “Every Teacher a Literacy Teacher Using Technology Tools“,  introduced seven free technology tools that enable teachers of all content areas to embed the literacy skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening into their instruction and facilitate the use of higher level thinking skills with their students.

screencasted this presentation and have shared it below. The original 50-minute presentation has been boiled the down to just over 20 minutes, but as with any flipped lesson, it provides the benefit of being able to pause, re-watch, or rewind. I hope others find it useful. I plan to share the other presentation, “Simplifying a Teacher’s Life:  Free Technology Tools for Assessment” soon.

 

  • Care to share your experience or planned use for any of these tools?
  • Have a favorite?
  • Know a great tool I missed?

Hit me up in the comments!

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Vol.#58: 30 EdTech Tools in 13 Minutes

Our Technology Facilitator Luke Miles recently offered a “30 Tech Tools in 30 Minutes” session at our school. I was familiar with some of these technology options and others I’ve been trying out since. I asked him if he’d “film it to flip it” and was thrilled when he did. I love being able to reference it (“what was that great one he said that…?”) and thought some of my readers would enjoy it as well. I’m grateful he’s agreed to let me share it with you from his blog coolhandED thoughts.

Bonus: He got it down to about 13 1/2 minutes…and these tools are all FREE!

Check it out:

Vol.#56: Forgive Me EdTech for I Have Sinned

I’ve claimed that a tech tool should lead to new thinking. However, perhaps this was somewhat hypocritical, because before I can wrap my head around a new tool for the first time, I need a familiar jumping-off place.

This past month I taught a short story I’ve taught many times before (“Rikki Tikki Tavi“) and used several characterization graphic organizers which I’ve used before (linked below). They provided the context with which we explored nine technology tools. However, in what has been described as a cardinal sin of tech in education, these tools did not necessarily provide a new perspective or process for students in thinking about the content, in this case the characters.

Pragmatically, when I throw a new tool at them (or in this case nine) I choose to start with an assignment with which I am familiar because I want to navigate only so many new unknowns at once. Judge me if you must, and feel free to admonish me in the comments.

In groups, students linked the work on a group padlet and provided me with the valuable feedback on each tool in the +/- data charts pictured and summarized below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.37.02 PMvs. Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.37.28 PM

20140302-184015.jpgStudents had an option of either of these word cloud tools to display character traits for various characters from “Rikki Tikki Tavi”. Here are the recurring themes in their +/- chart sticky notes.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.37.02 PM

Positives:

  • easy to use/simple
  • no account required
  • make important words larger by typing them multiple times
  • the “undo” button
  • cool fonts/colors/designs
  • worked with JAWS (screen reader for my blind student)

Negatives:

  • couldn’t save image easily
  • hard to post created image to padlet
  • didn’t get to choose colors
  • limited color schemes
  • update/install/Java issues
  • time taken to enter text

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.37.28 PM

RTTPositives:

  • able to shape the words
  • saves easily
  • color/font selection
  • easy to navigate

Negatives:

  • Limited font selection
  • difficult to use
  • had difficulty saving

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.44.08 PMvs. Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.45.40 PM

20140302-184045.jpgStudents had two choices for displaying a Character Traits Map for the main character of Rikki Tikki. Overwhelmingly, students chose bubbl.us, which means I have very little data on gliffy.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.44.08 PM

Positives:

  • formatting/customizing options (bubble color, text, size…)
  • good controls & no lag
  • efficient & easy to use
  • neat & organized
  • “I liked it because it saved [my work] every 2 minutes.”

Negatives:

  • Hard to organize
  • Bulky and awkward
  • Hard to add a bubble, connect a bubble, paste a URL…
  • “Easy to mess up on!”

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.45.40 PM

Positives:

  • “I liked how Gliffy was an open field”

Negatives:

  • Kids who tried it said, “Gliffy was glitchy”.

The slogan stuck. 😦

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.59.45 PMvs. Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.00.16 PM vs. Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.00.32 PM

20140302-184100.jpgStudents chose two characters and completed two Character Quadrilateral with their choice(s) from these three tools.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.59.45 PM

Positives:

  • “I like it because it was easy to use. It was all organized. You can change the color of the nodes.”
  • “I liked [it] because you get to move everything and when you click something it adds a leg for you to type. It’s also easy to use and creative.”

Negatives:

  • “very confusing at first”
  • “I couldn’t access it at home.”
  • “I didn’t use this tool because it wasn’t working and I couldn’t figure it out.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.00.16 PM

Positives:

  • “Very fast, fun, and easy to use”
  • “It was really easy and simple to use. I was able to complete my project quickly and efficiently. It was fun to use and I thought it worked extremely well.”
  • “I liked spiderscribe, it let you add dates, pictures, and maps. It was interesting.”

Negatives:

  • “I didn’t like that I had to sign up with an email and I couldn’t get arrows to the main box.”
  • “The only thing I disliked was that when you tried to print, it would be small to see.”
  • “It wouldn’t go full screen. The text was small.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.00.32 PM

Positive:

“I like that you can log in and save your work automatically.”

Negative:

“I didn’t like that it was acting up when I was working on it Monday. I had to copy it and then it let me edit it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.10.29 PM vs. Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.10.05 PM

20140302-184116.jpgStudents completed an Open Compare & Contrast Chart of two characters using one of these two mind mapping tools. Creately was heavily favored over mind42.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.10.29 PM

Positive:

“I liked Mind42 because it was easy to use.”

Negative:

“I did not like mind42 because I could not move and place things where I wanted.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.10.05 PM     

Positives:

  • “What I liked was that they have different colors and shapes and you could make the presentation more inviting for an audience.”
  • Easy to use; great layout
  • “I liked that creately was able to save my work easily and efficiently.”

Negatives:

  • Sign up to use, and pay for most features
  • Hard to link my finished work.
  • “I didn’t like that it was difficulty to create new boxes and there wasn’t a color variety.”
  • “I didn’t like how I couldn’t get the bubbles to show up and make the map.”
  • “I did not like the text. When you would type, it would be font 2 and you could not change it until you were done, and then you had to highlight and re-highlight it a lot!”
  • “I did not like how long it took to enter my info.”

And by the way…I did not only throw new tech tools at the students. My favorite was the one I tried out myself to score these projects:

forallrubrics.com

Vol.#49: 14 Classroom Tech Tools for 2014

2014keyboardAs we prepare to enter 2014, I’ve been reflecting on what technology tools have served my students well in 2013 and which tools are on my list to add to my repertoire moving forward in the new year.

The Present: My favorites from 2013

1. EdmodoI love this Facebook-like environment where my class continues online after the bell rings. The mark of a good tool: I continue to find new ways to incorporate it regularly.

2. PreziHaving students create a Prezi is so much more engaging than a PowerPoint. Embedding video and pictures is simple. Also, students share the link with me on a wiki or via email and presentation day does not involve lots of hunting for files on flash drives.

3. EducreationsEducreations is my favorite app for students to create something to show off on my Apple TV in the classroom. It is intuitive and has more capabilities than “Show Me”, such as inserting text.

4. Dropbox: I can easily store, share, and access any kind of data from anywhere with the easy-to-use and free Dropbox service.

5. DropItToMe: Any size file can be submitted into my Dropbox, which means I can have students turn in work electronically. While some suggest Google Drive replaces these two together, I don’t see dropping them just yet. They are very convenient and I’m comfortable with them.

6. Actively Learn A free online e-reader that bills itself as “able to transform reading for your students by empowering teachers to reach students inside a digital text”. I have used their questions as well as embedded my own, and the ability to track mastery of common core standards is a nice feature.

7. Subtext: An iPad app very similar to Actively Learn, it has the advantage of requested texts being made available in the same day.

8. Screencast-o-Matic: I regularly use this for creating quick videos I want to place on YouTube and/or Edmodo for a flipped lesson. I haven’t found a tool more simple or more free.

9. Pic Collage: I had students use this app to create a collage related to a story, insert text to state the theme, and save as an image on the camera roll of the iPad which they shared on the Apple TV. I’ve tried several apps for this assignment and this one is simple, intuitive, and free.

The Future: Tools I plan to explore in 2014

10. EvernoteThis tool has been on my list to conquer for quite some time. It’s openness and flexibility has been somewhat intimidating when deciding how best to set it up. As I understand it, one can organize notes (scans and documents) into notebooks and tag items for easy retrieval. I have been seeking the wisdom of Andy Traub and Daniel Gold and their podcast “The Productive Life Show” for how to get started.

11. SocrativeI have not used Socrative, and since I have both a clicker system in class and use Edmodo out of class, I have not been sure where its capabilities would best suit my class’s needs. However, it tops so many Edtech lists I would really like to give it a go this year.

12. Teachers Pay TeachersI have found some wonderful resources there and have been encouraged by this guy that my materials would do well there. He’s brilliant, so I tend to listen to what he says.

The Past: One tool I used in 2013 I definitely won’t be using in 2014

13. GlogsterPart Glog, part poster; in November I had my students complete their “One Pager” assignments on a short story using this tool. I wanted to like it. I really did. However, it was glitchy and cumbersome. Students got lost in the bells and whistles instead of content. It was not intuitive. And it’s not free. I will not be revisiting this tool.

Past, Present, & Future: One tool that belongs on all lists

14. Google Apps: These encompass so much that I am forever learning new uses. I often use google forms and love the grading capability of Flubaroo. I have not (yet) used  Hangouts in the classroom and have always wanted to try Amy Mayer’s method for video grading writing in Google Docs since the day I read it. I found this presentation on the web on 40 uses of Google Apps in the classroom that includes both things I’ve tried and things I’d never even considered. Google Apps are destined to be ubiquitous in modern classrooms.

What are your favorite tech tools that should be on my list?

Vol.#24: iPad Apps for the English Language Arts Classroom

20130402-190721.jpg
Our school has recently acquired a cart of iPads for check out to use with students, and in anticipation I wrote (and have since received) a grant for Apple TV for my classroom.

I’d read things like this and this and this and this all about the uses of Apple TV in the classroom, and was stoked to get started.

Then…it arrived.

And there was paralysis by analysis.

am was unsure of where to start my students on the actual iPads. I knew I could start…

. . . a n y w h e r e .

Continue reading Vol.#24: iPad Apps for the English Language Arts Classroom

Vol.#15: The Edmodo Education

I started using Edmodo over the past couple of months. Specifically, I offered it as one option to complete a reading project. I’d thought having a smaller group of students to start would help me ease into it, however over 75% of my 109 students opted for the Edmodo choice instead of the more traditional alternative.

 
I used the Edmodo quizzes as part of the assessment for the project. Now having used them, I see the quiz feature as having a likely future in my classroom as formative assessments, such as homework, as opposed to actual “quizzes”. Edmodo does not allow retakes easily and both the timed feature and occasional glitches in the system make quizzes that “count” stressful. However, the instant feedback it provides would be very vaulable in the formative stage and would reduce class-time reviewing answers on completed assignments, allowing for more time on new, engaging tasks and collaboration.

While pondering the future of this possibility, I had my students complete the following Consens-o-gram. Continue reading Vol.#15: The Edmodo Education

Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT

I attended NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC this past week along with the other Kenan Fellows. While lots of experiences were built into our stay, the instructional focus was on educational technology.

It. Was. Amazing.

I am passionate about learning educational technology and integrating it into my classroom. Therefore, I was thrilled to be immersed into such a rich technology training environment over several days.  It was the most powerfully intensive technology training I’ve ever experienced. Continue reading Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT