Tag Archives: digital tools

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. ūüė¶

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.#51: Edtech in Images

For this week’s post, I’d like to share a few images with quotes in relation to my thinking on #edtech.¬†I’ve talked about my passion for integrating technology from free¬†iPad Apps for the ELA classroom to my list of tech tools for this upcoming year.¬†I’ve also said technology is the power tool¬†of education, and if you have a leaky pipe but grab a hammer, you are missing the point. A tool is only as good as the user.

I saw this picture via a tweet from Zach Snow which makes a similar point brilliantly:

 

This brilliant tweet from the brilliant Josh Stumpenhorst explained how too many teachers have this attitude surrounding technology integration:

 

At first glance, it would look like these two images might be poking fun at those that use educational technology at all, but really it’s about using it correctly. Here’s a wonderful list about this very concept by the radical Bill Ferriter:

 

Even if one weren’t inclined to use technology in the classroom, its use is required in several Common Core standards. So…What makes technology an¬†effective power tool? How does one know if s/he is using it “correctly”? Is there a litmus test? I pondered this question and came up with:

new-tech2

 

What do you believe makes a technology tool “flash over substance” versus a valuable classroom tool?

Vol.#33: A Fresh Year, A Fresh Perspective

bud
Image Credit: Pixabay user JamesDeMers

A¬†new school year is budding: I¬†teach in a multi-track year round school, and our students’ first day of school is tomorrow.¬†¬†We¬†both¬†have wonderful staff members returning and¬†are welcoming a large number of new staff members to our building.¬†The faculty kick-off last week was truly exciting.

We have a very large staff, and we learned from a clicker session by our media specialist that we are almost exactly divided into thirds between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y.

We viewed some funny & informative clips from speakers on generations in the workplace like Jason Dorsey and Cam Marlston like this and this, as well as looked at other information. Teachers were asked to reflect and discuss which parts pertained to them and which did not.  It all led to a really rich discussion of our staff, the strengths of each generation, and led to what it means in terms of technology and instruction.

We then shifted focus from who we are¬†…to who we teach.¬†

Continue reading Vol.#33: A Fresh Year, A Fresh Perspective

Vol.#21: Wake NC State STEM Early College High School

This is the final of four schools from the discussion started in¬†Volume #17¬†about the County’s various options for parents.¬†

IMG_3124

Our group of forty-four 2013  Kenan Fellows is pretty amazing, but even in this elite company I zeroed in on wanting to visit Carrie Horton immediately. Her school, Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School, as the lengthy title implies, is committed to instruction in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Ms. Horton, like myself, is an English Language Arts teacher. Also like me (probably more so) she is tech-savvy and innovative.

Image Credit: WRAL @ http://wraltechwire.com/business/tech_wire/biotech/blog/7521546/?s=255
Image Credit: WRAL

So, I get the “T”. I’m totally on board with the “T”. But, what about those three other letters?¬†Science, Engineering, and Math… in an English class? What does that¬†look¬†like?¬†I simply had to know.¬†Full disclosure: I wondered how she couldn’t possibly help but be a second class citizen as an ELA teacher in a STEM¬†school.

IMG_3090

My first glance could have confirmed my suspicions. Continue reading Vol.#21: Wake NC State STEM Early College High School

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.#12: Social Media @Classroom #Revolution

As I continue my work this week at the North Carolina Department of Instruction with the Kenan Fellows program, I have been presented with the following intriguing question:

“As some districts ban the use of social media in and out of classrooms, and others encourage its use, how do you explain such polar viewpoints?”

Welp, in a nutshell: Continue reading Vol.#12: Social Media @Classroom #Revolution

Vol.#10: Technology and the Common Core

Considering the significant curriculum changes taking place as a result of the Common Core and NC Essential Standards, do you think that the Common Core or the NC Essential Standards is more likely to positively influence the use of technology for learning or is it another impediment to implementing digital tools? 

The Common Core came about due to the fact that students leaving high school were not college and career ready.* [see below] Therefore, I cannot fathom it is in the spirit of the Common Core to exclude technology, as surely students will need to be technologically literate in college and the careers of the future. Other countries have figured this out;¬†100% of first graders are learning to¬†code…in Estonia. [source]

I envision the best model for threading technological skills through the Common Core metaphorically like light through a prism. The Common Core is the white light passing through a prism of technology, thereby creating multiple wave-lengths which differentiate for abilities, cultivate 21st century skills, and generate relevance and student-interest.

Technological agnosticism is important, as well. Continue reading Vol.#10: Technology and the Common Core