Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's the Christmas Season: The 12 Sweet Days of Technology

As a way to engage our staff in checking out some tech resources, one of our instructional technologists, Melodi Kunn, cooked up the idea of The 12 Sweet Days of Technology; we're already on Day 3! She put together some very easy tech tasks that incorporate some of our favorite tech tools! Now that's a sweet mix! Just scroll backwards to go through all of the days. Check it out and join the fun...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Aurasmas Bring New Interactivity to The Interactive Notebook

I love using Interactive Notebooks in history classes. The structure of these notebooks provides students the ability to detail history in an organized manner and to then reflect, respond, and process those details. I used them for years when I taught history. Two years ago, when I was still in the classroom, I was fortunate enough to pilot a 1:1 iPad classroom and I really wanted to take my Interactive Notebooks to a digital format. My choice was Evernote. It was a perfect, or almost perfect, tool. I created a "Classroom Notebook" that I shared with all of my students. It was the template for their notebook. I posted outlines of notes, bell ringers, and class activities in my notebook that students copied, transferred, and completed in their own notebooks. Each student shared the link to their notebook that I kept on a page in the class notebook. At any time I or anyone in the class could peer into their notebooks to see what they were constructing. (Evernote-at least at that time- only allowed you 100 shared notebooks per account so this was my workaround to that; this page has since been removed.) It worked well and I was pleased with the outcome. Those who weren't artistic still had very cool notebooks. They were filled with images and links to video, audio, and primary source documents. But for those students who loved to draw, it definitely fell short of their expectations.

Several weeks ago I was discussing a different take on a digital version of an Interactive Notebook with the teacher who took my place when I left to become an instructional technologist for our district. (This teacher also happened to be my student teacher the year we tried the digital notebooks.) He doesn't have the class set of iPads, but he does have access to iPads and laptops as well as BYOD. His students have gone back to the paper version of the notebook, but he had the idea of using auras to bring the written notebooks to life. I loved this concept! It's basically the opposite take on what I was trying to do. And...this provides avenues for expression, reflection, and analysis both digitally as well as written.

So, here's the plan... any pages students want to create auras for, they just create a unique design or drawing on that page and they take a picture of it to become the trigger image. Then, they create videos, audios, graphics, 3D models to expand, reflect, analyze, predict, compare, contrast the information/events/people being explored. Viola...a paper notebook that springs to life!

Some ideas for use in the classroom:
  • Tutorials for homework-This is a great way for teachers to easily implement blended learning or flipped learning options.
  • Reflective activities that students create discussing their learning on a given topic
  • Adding a digital component to a paper/physical project
  • Book trailers/book reports
  • "You Were There" details of research
  • Interactive bulletin boards
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Content area Stations
  • Interactive writing
  • Interactive student-created books
Need to know more about auras and how to make them? I love Erin Klein's great blog post on the use of Aurasma in her classroom. Also, check out this Thinglink below:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Google Forms Made Easy, 2014 With Add Ons

I love Google Forms and with the proliferation of Scripts and Add Ons mostly thanks to New Visions for Public Schools' Cloud Lab, teachers now have the ability to automate tasks like never before! But this update just in! To make fabulous forms even better, Google introduced Add Ons directly in forms! Need to add those beautiful equations in your next quiz? Add them directly in Forms with the gMath Add On. Want to eliminate answer choices as they are selected, i.e. selecting parent conference times? Use the Choice Eliminator Add On. Check them out! They are right there in your Forms now! Here was the blog post from Google Drive announcing this addition. Want to get started? Check out the graphic below. 

I have been using Google Forms for years for a wide variety of reasons: 
  • Surveys
  • Assignment Dropbox
  • Idea Collector
  • Quizzes that grade themselves
  • Data Collection (Great for science classes)
  • Voting
  • Peer Review
  • Research (Just a different type of data collection!)
and much has been written about their varied uses like the ever-popular 80 (Now up to 81) Ways to Use Google FormsWe have some new-to-Google teachers in our building this year and prior to meeting with them, I decided to put together a little up-to-date cheat sheet they could rely on as they begin to discover the wonderful world that is Google Forms...

Creating a Google form isn't hard. And with all of the most recent updates, the possibilities for creating dynamic, beautiful forms is even easier! I know there's a lot of information here, but if you're not familiar with Google Forms, poke around and refer back to this graphic.

With the addition of images, math teachers can use the gMath Add On in Docs and Sheets to create equations for math quizzes. (The developer, John McGowan, is a great educator who every math teacher needs to follow!) The use of images is also a great way to structure social studies questions analyzing primary source documents with standardized testing type questions. The possibilities are endless. Features such as randomizing questions or just answer choices makes it harder for students to copy from their neighbors.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

YouTube Tips & Tricks for Teachers, Even If It's Blocked

I will admit right off the bat I have a love hate relationship with YouTube. With all of the amazing content uploaded daily, there is no denying it provides the richest learning experiences at your fingertips. It has become my go-to for all types of tech help. Since we have become a Google Apps school district, it makes it very easy to upload tutorial videos needed for training. Many teachers are utilizing this feature as well for their classrooms. Therein lies the problem...while our teachers aren't blocked from YouTube, students are, so using this uploaded content for learning opportunities that aren't teacher-directed, these videos become unusable...but not at home in a flipped environment. Another issue has been the "Related Videos" that populate the right side of the interface. Can that be turned off? No. Can it be manipulated? Yes! Tag your videos properly! Your video's metadata is what helps YouTube select their 'suggested videos' that appear on the video player screen. Check out the graphic below that details how you can make the most out of your YouTube account to maximize student learning opportunities. Also, since our district uses iBoss for our filter, they offer a YouTube Clean Search. Students are able to view YouTube videos using the URL addresses they create for the YouTube videos. I've also included a graphic that details how to maximize this service for student learning and projects. 

Click below to check both out: