Oct 8, 2017

My School is Going 1:1 Where Do I Start?

My School is Going 1:1 Where Do I Start?

My School Just Announced We Will Be 1:1 Where Do I Begin?!

School Expectations

First of all, don't panic! Spend some time finding out what the school expectations and rules about 1:1 devices are, how was the devices will be assigned, where will they be stored and what training is provided. Also think about how often will you be expected to use them, or how often you want to use them? What school policies may be in place around students carrying them between classes, or bringing them home? What is the devices aren’t charged? What will the behavior policies be for students who are on other websites? Some of these questions may not have quick and easy answers but they are important to start thinking about, as you begin framing how you want to use technology in your classroom.

Technology is a Tool

Don’t get overwhelmed, but realize that the technology is a tool just like any other tool. It is there to help you and your students. Using technology could completely transform the way that you teach but there are lots of small steps for you to start with as well. Using technology in your classroom doesn't have to be an overnight dramatic shift.

Procedures and Skills

As you get started make sure you allow some time to teach procedures and teach technology skills. Even though we think students grew up with technology, and that they know a lot about technology, it often turns out that they don't know how to use technology for academic purposes. They may know how to use it for YouTube or other ways, or know how to do things on their phones, but may not know how to do some of the tasks that we ask them.

Some procedures and introductory lessons that you may want to cover in your classroom if they are not taught in school as a whole include: digital citizenship, procedures for carrying a Chromebook or laptop, where they will be stored, charging procedures, what to do if a student's technology is not working or is missing that day. What classroom rituals and routines do you want to set up around the devices. Some teachers have students put in only one earbud, close the lid of the laptop or chromebook, or put tablets face down when the teacher is speaking, etc. What will be the consequences if a student doesn't follow the technology directions? If you take the device away do you have an alternative assignment? If it WiFi is down or technology is unavailable do you have an alternate emergency assignment? These are things to think about and to try to clarify in your head as you begin to picture your classroom with technology. These are not meant to scare you off but to prevent future problems.

How Do you Want to Use Technology 

Once you have some of those procedural things out of the way, start thinking about how and when you want to start to build in technology into your classroom. Do you want to use them at the start of class everyday? At the end of class everyday? (There are a lot of great ways to do formative assessment or warm ups using Google Forms). Do you plan to use them only as needed for certain interactive activities or stations? Especially for science, there are a lot of good videos (BrainPop, CrashCourse, Bozeman Science, Amoeba Sisters) and interactive virtual labs and field trips to use for particular topics).  You could also look into Digital Interactive Notebooks, but probably not as a first step. 

Using technology in the classroom really provides a lot of opportunities to engage students, to individualize instruction, to free up your time to work with students rather than being at the front of the room and for students to connect with others outside of the classroom walls.

My advice would be to jump in and get started. Emphasize to the students that you are learning along with them, and take it one step at a time.

Inspirational Ideas and Resources

Just for inspiration, here are a few of my favorite resources for technology in education happening very differently through technology!

Jump In and Give It a Try! 

Don’t get overwhelmed by learning the tech tool. You can do that with a bit of training or some searching of online tutorials/videos. Instead, spend your time thinking about how you want your technology-infused classroom to look. What will it look like in the long-run? What smaller steps can you take now to go toward that goal? Maybe each marking period you can add on to that? Or maybe take one unit and re-vamp it, but leave your others for now.

What are your 1:1 technology questions and concerns? Leave your questions below or in our Facebook group, but don’t be afraid. Give it a try!

Sep 27, 2017

4 Technology-Rich Ways For Students to Demonstrate Knowledge

4 Ways to Students to Demonstrate Knowledge with Technology

4 Technology-Rich Ways for Students to Demonstrate Their Knowledge

Many times we asked students to do class work in such a traditional manner, such as to write a research paper, write an essay to present their knowledge, in written form only. While it is important that students can read and write, This is not the only way for them to show their knowledge. It's important to give an element of choice as well as to give variety throughout the year so that students who excel in other areas, or who struggle with writing have a chance to show their knowledge.

Why not just write an essay? 

Perhaps that particular student is not a strong writer, but really does know the content. Or may they are really good at animation, graphic design, sound effects, or some other aspect. It's time that their knowledge show through. Some great ways for them to demonstrate their knowledge, other than written expression would be a screencast, Thinglink, a PowerPoint or Google Slide presentation, a podcast, or even an animation such as PowToon. Sometimes, even if the student is a stronger writer, having an aspect of choice is so important. Allowing the student more choice over how to demonstrate their knowledge is a way to get more buy-in and engagement from him or her, and more excitement about the assignment.

Podcast

A podcast is a very easy alternative to implement, and has many different applications in the classroom. Students could simply do a voice recording on a tablet, phone, computer with a microphone, or many other devices. If you actually want it to be posted as a podcast available online, this is possible too, and there are a lot of tutorials and guides online. However, for a single assignment, it would be appropriate for students to just make a recording, and it could even be shared as an audio file on Google Drive, if you choose. The downside of this is it of course you can't include any visual elements but for some students and some topics this will be enough.

Screencast

A screencast is a recording of the computer screen it can be done with a camera with it, showing the student's face, or without and can record only the tab or the desktop of the computer, along with recording audio. This is a very simple way to record a short presentation with narration, a technology skill, or student presenting or showing a particular topic or skill. There are lots of ways to do a screen test but my personal favorite is the Chrome extension screencastify I believe you can make a free recording up to 10 minutes and the results is saved right in Google Drive. Very simple!!

Thinglink

Thinglink is a paid product, but there are also free accounts with a few limitations. Thinglink allows the student to start with a picture such as a map, photograph, diagram, etc and then add certain buttons with information and links, videos, sound files, or even text documents and callout buttons to make a multi-media clickable image. Again, this depends on the topic, and how it is best suited. I think this would be great for presentations where you want to show a lot of information from different sources. A word of caution, be careful that the student is able to summarize their information, or paraphrase and cite the information, because it can be very easy to just cut and paste a lot of information. Thinglink is a great way to make a really different kind of presentation and include various kinds of information. Here is a great example of a human body presentation.

Powtoon

Powtoon will allow students to create an animation. They write the script, and record the audio, and then choose different backgrounds, characters, and what they will say. Here is an elementary example


Example Human Body Thinglink

Powtoon can be a lot of fun and very interactive for the students. It is quite different than what they may have done before. The warning on this one is that there will be a bit of a learning curve for students. It may take some time for them to get comfortable, so allow extra time to learn the technology if you choose this method.



Lastly, don’t rule out a PowerPoint or Google slide presentation. This is not really a brand new method, but can be an alternative to a written presentation. Both allow shorter, more broken up writing, and the insertion of videos, images, and other multimedia formats into the presentation. Google Slides is easier to insert videos and easier to share the final presentation. PowerPoint is easier to insert narration or sound files if this is something that you want students to do. Adding audio to Google Slides is difficult.

As we transition to using more technology, under the SAMR model, these may be some ways to push your teaching, and your students learning, to the next level, and to further engage your students. Have you used any of these in your classroom? What other alternatives do you utilize, besides a written essay, do you use for students to demonstrate knowledge? Please share in the comments.

4 Ways to Students to Demonstrate Knowledge with Technology

Sep 10, 2017

5 Free New Technologies to Try in Your Classroom Right Now


5 Free New Technologies to Try In Your Classroom Right Now

With all the technology available, it can be overwhelming. Here are 5 (and a bonus) new technology options that I suggest you try in your classroom this year, in bite-size pieces. They are easy ways to liven up some of your instruction and find new ways to engage with and connect with your students.

Screencasts in the Classroom

It can be intimidating to think of doing a video, but don’t be intimated. First of all, you don’t need to have your face on camera! This is key! You can do a screencast of your computer screen, of a file or PowerPoint, or a series of photographs or images, so you are really just doing a voice over.

There are several easy ways to do a screencast. If what you are doing is short, there is a Google Chrome extension called screencastify that will allow you to record camera, your desktop, a browser tab, audio only, or other combinations of that. It will save to YouTube and/or Google Drive, making the sharing of your video very easy.

If you are making a screencast based on images or slides, my favorite way to do it is in PowerPoint. It is pretty easy to “Insert Audio” and then have it play with the slides (you can set timing as well). Then export the whole thing as a movie when you are happy with it.

Why make a screencast? I have seen people screencast instructions or a mini-lesson for a sub, although I haven’t done that myself. I have used it to allow me to be in two places at once time. For example, I have used it to give directions at a station, while I’m free to circulate. I can show a lab demo, and kids who were absent can replay it. I can give instructions or introductory information, and, again, students who were absent can catch up easily. I have even used a video at one station, while I work with students at another stations.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid allows you to have short online video discussions with students. You post a prompt, and student can response via video. It's like FaceTime or Skype, with classroom applications! Here is a great write-up of some ways to use Flipgrid in class. Here is a really awesome example of a class using it to connect with a researcher in Antarctica

Plickers

We already have a lot of formative assessment tools available. What’s different about Plickers? Students don’t need devices! It's a technology tool because it uses technology to improve speeds, data collection and to make your life easier, but if you don’t have a lot of student tech, this is a great one to try.

To use Plickers you get free printable cards. They have a symbol on that that will not be recognizable to other students (so students won’t know what choice their peers are making). Also on the card, in small, lighter print, are choices (A, 1, B, etc). These cards can be assigned 1 per student, so you can collect data on each student’s individual answers.

When you ask a question, students hold up their card with the answer choice that they are selecting facing up. You take a picture, with the app on your phone, and your data is collected. Here is a video that shows in more detail.

Edpuzzle

If you want to use videos in your instruction, whether they are your own videos, or those from another source, consider EdPuzzle. You can make questions that go with a video, on a worksheet, or you can build in questions and quizzes into the video itself with EdPuzzle. This also gives you the option to enforce that students watch the entire video.

Lastly, there are many videos that already have questions. You can choose from these videos, and copy and modify the questions yourself. Here an example of an Amoeba Sisters Mitosis Video that I found (I did not make up the questions).



As a teacher, you can have your students sign up for a class, assign videos, and you will be able to see their progress in the video and all their quiz answers. You can also just give students a link to a video directly, if you don’t need as granular data.

Padlet

I have used Padlet only minimally myself, but it is one that I want to try more, and it is growing in popularity. It has a lot of potential uses, so I think it should be included on this list. Again, its very easy to use. It bills itself as “the easiest way to create and collaborate in the world.” The teacher (or someone) makes a prompt, on a ‘board’ and students can respond. Think of it as a big wall with sticky notes. However, those responses can also include links, images, etc, and you can build connections between the responses. Padlet is an extremely easy way to collect a lot of information quickly, and to have collaboration.

Bonus… Nearpod

I have not used Nearpod myself, so I’m not writing a lot about it, but I wanted to at least mention it here, in the bonus section. Nearpod allows you to add interactive elements into a PDF document, or into slides. In other words, it add more interaction into a 1:1 classroom. Here is a video showing it in action.



This is Nearpod: the 21st Century Classroom from Nearpod on Vimeo.

What's on your list of new classroom technologies to try?  Have you used any of these?  Tell use about it in the comments!
5 free new technologies to try in your classroom right now
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