Tech Tools for the Everyday Teacher

Web-Based Presentation

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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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 Whiteboards (and cheap ways to make one)

Interactive Whiteboards have become ‘new technology’ in classrooms today.  Some of you may be saying – “we’ve had interactive whiteboards for years.”  Do you believe that you are maximizing your use of those whiteboards?  Others may be asking, “What’s an interactive whiteboard?”

Interactive Whiteboards are just what they’re titled.  They’re ‘often’ special whiteboards (smart boards), or devices that are placed on standard whiteboards (mimios…) that allow for users to touch the whiteboard to operate the computer. 

Positives?

  • Students can come to the board and not have to worry about ink
  • Raises level of student engagement through it’s interactivity
  • Increases student motivation
  • Promotes enthusiasm
  • Supports learning styles

Negatives?

  • Learning Curve
  • Expensive
  • Can become time-consuming
  • New applications can be confusing
  • Technology hazards

So what if you can’t afford to have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom?  Johnny Lee, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon, has created a new way of creating your own interactive whiteboard.  Watch the following film to see how easy it is to set up your own system.

You can easily purchase the wii infrared pen on Amazon.com as well as a bluetooth adapter (if your computer doesn’t already have it) = all of that is less than 30 bucks.  The software for your computer is free on Johnny Lee’s website.

I am currently installing this at school and hope to present pictures and reviews of this being used in the classroom.


A new year… a new way to present

Each school year our 5th grade has exhibition.  That means that the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program is coming to an end.  That also means that my 28 5th graders are going to have to present an issue to peers, teachers, and the community.  So how are we going to do this in a new, refreshing way?  We could be creative with a play, create puppets, or discover new presentation software.  Last year we played with a few forms of presentation software, which I blogged about in my first-ever blog post.

We used WIX – which is a flash, website editor – the students loved creating their own websites.

We used Prezi – which by now I’m sure all of you have heard about.  Very pretty – but can cause headaches if not used properly.

We used Sliderocket – which is great, easy to use slideshow software.

I recently discovered an even simpler presentation tool.  It’s called: Prezentit.  So why use Prezentit?

  • It’s free
  • It is so simple!  You can’t beat it’s simplicity.  Transitions – add text – add images… color, background…
  • Easy to upload images – you get 250 megabytes of free storage.
  • You can download your presentation after you have created it – which means that you don’t need the internet to play your presentation.  This is a huge bonus – which sliderocket does not offer.

Give Prezentit a try.  You do have to sign up – but it’s free, and you don’t have to check your e-mail to log on…


Digital Vaults – more than just another vault

I have recently been exploring a website called Digital Vaults.  Digital Vaults is a website created by the National Archives – a government organization.  The website is full of very informative artifacts related to American history.  There are teacher lesson plans and units available, as well as loads of records including: primary documents, photos and films – all pertaining to our nation’s history.  The website would be great for researching anything related to American history.  The website does offer easy help to how to research on the website: just look at this page to get started.

In addition to being our Naitonal Archives, the website also offers something very unique.  It allows for students to use information from the website to create a poster full of images and records, or a short film.  Students can apply there findings to a presentation form right there!

So – make sure you take a look at this website.  It is an excellent tool when studying American history and allows for creative presentations.


A little Gaming variety?

I took a class on gaming in education today.  That’s right – you heard me, gaming in education.   Don’t get me wrong, this is where modern education is heading, that being said – our educational structure and system won’t keep up with the modern philosophy and innovativd 21st century ideas.

Do you think the class was fun?  Absolutely!  Game-based learning is fun.  What are we seeing when we observe game-based learning?

  • Students work hard to solve problems and complete tasks.
  • Games are low risk because students feel safe to fail.
  • Students are able to share/borrow/discuss strategies they are using to be succesful in the game (collaboration)

Those are just a few reasons for game-based learning – above all else, though, games are engaging.

So here are three free web-based games I discovered today.

1. 3rd World Farmer – This game is great because it teaches students about investments, agriculture, and real-life challenges.  Students try to expand their family, while deciding what crops or livestock they will invest in.  After they have decided this they click the yearly play button, which provides them with an annual budget report displaying their profit or debt.  I found this game very addicting, because it took me multiple tries to figure out the best way to succeed.

2. Grammar Gremlins – This game provides various grade level options.  Students try and defeat the gremlins through inserting correct grammar in sentences.  Grammar can be one of the more difficult subjects to make engaging in school.  This seemed like a simple game to have on a choice list.

3. Energyville – Energyville is a game where students determine what energy sources they will tap into to power a city.  They must take into account the environment, the expenses, and the security.  The game shows the production of energy for the different types, and explains why and how each type of energy should or should not be used.


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