Tech Tools for the Everyday Teacher

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Google Summit South Korea Round One

I recently attended the Google Summit in South Korea.  After two days of Google Boot Camp training, the conference was a break from the intensity of the boot camp.   There have been so many great tools presented.  So it’s hard to decide what to share.

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Ed.ted.com is completely different from ted.com.   It’s a website that has been created to better enable you, as the teacher, to incorporate youtube in your classroom.  You can easily create lessons using youtube movies.

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Docs Story Builder is a great website for creating google docs video.  It is so easy to use and has numerous applications in the classroom.  Students can create videos as characters in a book, famous people, science elements, or historical leaders.  It doesn’t require any log in to create the video and share the link.

 

 

Have you been using Google Chrome Apps and extensions?  There are some incredible apps and extensions – one you can’t go without is called: Youtube Options.  This extension allows for you to automatically remove sidebar ads, ads at the beginning of youtube videos, comments below, and banner ads.  Check it out!

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An Interactive Picture: thinglink.com

Thinglink is a free website that allows you to upload images and then make them interactive.  Comments can be added, video links can be added, and this can be either collaboratively or purely for viewing sake.

The images can then be embedded on your class website.

I have used it for posting a picture to my class on our website.  The class then had to click on the picture and write a comment on a specific location.  The students enjoyed it and it was interactive.

The 21st Century Conference in Hong Kong: just a red dot

imagesI spent three hours today with Dan Meyer – renown High School Math Teacher and TED talk contributor.  It was excellent.  He led the 3 hour workshop with some provocative questions.  Honestly, he’s one of those educators where three hours flies by.

Throughout the conference keynotes and speakers have been talking about various technologies that can aid instruction in the classroom.  One of the buzz topics is the constant evolution of technology.  The speakers have stated that we need to teach students to adapt and be flexible with new technologies.  Therefore, we shouldn’t expect students to dig too deep into one tool, rather, students should be able to experience as many tools as they find useful.  The result is that students aren’t experiencing depth.  Just hours before, Dr. Larry Rosen discussed concerns regarding attention spans and breadth vs. depth in content.  Would it not be appropriate, dare I say  - beneficial for students and teachers to choose specific resources to engage with at a deeper level?

Here I run a blog called tech4teacher – where I describe the many free resources available to teachers and tell about how I use them in my room.  I do sound somewhat hypocritical.  I just wonder if we are looking at technology the wrong way…

Anyway – Dan Meyer introduced our class to a website: click here.

This website is so simple – but has so much teaching potential.  Now I might lose some of you because to use this website in its true nature each student would need to be on an ipad or a laptop.  Nonetheless, I suppose it is possible to use it as a teacher showing it to your students.

The website allows for you to upload an image.  Then create a suggestion for an audience to put a red dot somewhere on the image.  Every student who has that link can move their own red dot and they can’t see each others.  There’s also a teacher link which allows for you to see where everyone has placed their red dots.

Dan showed us a number of examples of how this can strike up conversation:

Here are a few student-view perspectives.  Hopefully you can see how this might strike up conversation:

http://activeprompt.herokuapp.com/SUVMN

http://activeprompt.herokuapp.com/SNQFY

http://activeprompt.herokuapp.com/SFVOM

You start to get the idea.

It can be powerful because it is anonymous – so students don’t get scared of showing where they think the red dot should go.  It’s also powerful because if you place up questions that have undefined variables, or that have multiple answers – it can create incredible conversation.

Really – it’s all about encouraging an intellectual need in students, rather than social or economic needs.

Crash Course in History

There are a number of excellent educational youtube videos available.  Working through them to find the right ones for your class can be a challenging task.  One set of movies that I have been using recently are created by John Greene.  They are called Crash Course in World History lessons.  The animation and information presented is both engaging and right on par with the information I help teach in 6th grade.  Now, that being said, John Greene speaks so fast.  To counter this – I have Splicd the youtube to just the portion I want my class to watch.  Then I embed the Splicd edition on the class website.  There is also a toggle to show subtitles.  My students then watched the video and filled out guiding questions, at their own pace, rather than watching it together as a class.  I found this to be extremely effective.  My students told me they went home and watched it a few more times just to fully understand the concepts.  John Greene has created videos on all of the major ancient civilizations, as well as well-known wars and revolutions.  Above is the video I used to show my students (just not spliced).

Resource Hunting

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Our school has often looked into getting clickers.  Unfortunately they can be quite expensive.  Some of the teachers have put it before me to see if I could find alternative technologies.  After searching I discovered Socrative and Infuse Learning as the primary two resources.  Having used both in my class now I am not overly excited about either one.  Both have their flaws and challenges.  Socrative seems to be improving the most recently with their I-pad app.  When I used Infuse Learning last my students enjoyed it.  ImageI had them answer the questions during class time.  I projected the results on the board so they could have immediate feedback.  It was really a contest in the end.  Nonetheless, in order to use Infuse learning you must have the quiz up and running on the teacher computer otherwise the students can’t log in.  There are some other options, which have less potential, but better stability.

ImageQuizlet would be a good example of a more stable resource.  Quizlet is excellent for building vocabulary.  It has games to play and practice quizzes.  Of course it is free as well.  You can even embed these games onto your class website – which I found super handy.

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Honestly, kidblog is still up there as one of my favorites.  Posting a blog post and having students comment their responses seems preferable.

It’s nice that other students can’t see their peers responses until I have checked them.

Interactive Simulations

phet-logo

We know students have different learning styles.  Some excel visually, some auditory, some need that hands-on activity to truly understand the lesson.  When there aren’t materials accessible here is a website that could easily help you.

It’s full of excellent simulations in:

  1. Physics
  2. Fractions
  3. Biology
  4. Plate Tectonics
  5. Chemistry

 

I have a co-worker who has been using it with his 8th grade students and says that they have loved interacting with the simulations.  The simulations look appropriate for all levels and seem extremely applicable to most science and math classes.  Whether the teacher is showing the simulations to the class or the class is experimenting with the simulations themselves – Physics Education Technology would be a great resource.

when in need of review

jeopardylabs

I’ve always been that teacher that tried to make review fun.  Whether its having the students create their own online games, using quizlet.com, or making a Jeopardy review for the class.  If you are tired of using powerpoint for Jeopardy reviews… maybe you want a quicker method: Jeopardy Labs is for you.

Start building right away- free and easy.  All it needs is a password that you can use to re-access the Jeopardy template when you are ready for review.  Everything is done for you and you just need to insert the topics/answers/and questions.

The only issue (and might I say that it is a big issue) is that it does not allow pictures to be embedded in the Jeopardy game.

 

 

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