Tech Tools for the Everyday Teacher

Teaching Tools

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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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.


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.

 

 


It’s been too long.

I deeply apologize for not posting in such a long time.  My wife and I moved to Korea to teach at an International School this last August.  I am teaching middle school and acting as Tech Coach for the school.  It’s been a blast, but I’ve also been rather busy.  Nonetheless, I am ready to get back to business and blog again!

I am going to start with a fairly simple tool that my students have been using a lot this year.  If you have Ipads available to you, or Macbooks this is right up your alley.  My students have been creating trailers and films using iMovie.

After we completed our novel study on Where the Red Fern Grows, my students were assigned a project to create an iMovie trailer that highlights the key events from the book.  The students absolutely loved it.  I first showed them the trailer options from iMovie.  We talked about each of the genres available.  The students were then allowed to choose which ever genre they wanted for the trailer.  Some students turned Where the Red Fern Grows into horror, others into adventure, and even some into a romance.  Then my 6th graders created paper templates of the templates available for that trailer in iMovie.  They wrote down the phrases they were going to include and where there shots were going to take place.

Then we filmed.

I have now posted all of their films on my class website – because it is easy to upload the films from iMovie to youtube.  On youtube I changed the privacy settings so you have to have the link to see the students’ videos.  They love it!

Here is an example. – the commercial is student made.

This commercial was made using Minecraft.


Online Game Creation

I am always looking for ways for students to create their own online games using class content.  I believe that this is an interactive, educational part of the internet that hasn’t been as polished as other aspects.  That being said – a beginning website for this is: Classtools.net

  • It’s free
  • Students can use it without logging in
  • Easy to input questions and answers
  • Easy to share game with others to play

 

At Classtools.net students have the ability to input information and create a game based on that information.  They then can save their game and require other students to play their game.  At first when you enter the website it looks like a poorly made website because of the confusing design and color choices.  But if you dig further you will find that it does have some hidden treasures.

The main treasure I have explored thus far is the Arcade Game Generator – which is a link on the right side of the home screen.  If you click on the Arcade Game Generator link you will be sent to a Quiz creation wizard.  You can edit the title and create questions and answers here.  The key on this screen is to put your cursor over Example because then you can see exactly how to format your questions and answers.  You can also determine the type of game you want to play with the information – although I like to leave it free choice.


Zooburst

I know that I mentioned this website on my last post – but it’s so good that I had to mention it again.  I have recently been using Zooburst in the classroom and it’s been terrific.  Zooburst is a 3d pop up book creator.  It is free and relatively easy to use. 

I began my lesson having students write poems about our school.  I then introduced them to zooburst.  Zooburst has its own database of pictures that you can search through, or, like many of my students, students can find pictures on google images and upload them to Zooburst. 

Because the “teacher-student” account costs money – I created a teacher account and had all my students login to it.  They can all work on seperate books on the teacher website at the same time.  Unfortunately, there is a maximum of 10 books you can create for an account.  You also need to make sure you have an e-mail address because the password for your account will be e-mailed to you.

The actual 3d pop up book, is awesome.  You can move it and rotate it by clicking with your mouse and dragging.  You can change colors and even add quotation bubbles.

But… the coolest thing about this website is that it has the potential for Augmented Reality.  Augmented Reality is where 3d images are displayed through a webcam.  It’s like virtual reality. 

So I started one of my students poems.  At the top there is an option (if you have the capability) to go to webcam mode.  When you go webcam mode, there is a printout for you to print.  Then – if you display that printout in front of the webcam the book will come to life in your webcam.

It’s awesome!

To review:

  • Zooburst: free
  • 10 books maximum for an account
  • 3d
  • Upload images or search for images
  • Augmented Reality available with web cams

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