The International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) national conference just finished up after several exciting, jam-packed days in beautiful San Diego, California. I’ve been to ISTE conferences before, but it’s been a few years. I had forgotten how crazy and exciting this conference can be. Several thousand educators converged on the convention center at the edge of the Gas Lamp Quarter, and, at times, it seemed like every single one of the attendees had the same workshop schedule as me. I learned so much during the 4-day conference (you can view my unedited notes here), but in the spirit of minimalism and efficiency, I am focusing this post on my big 3 takeaways:
Social Networking with Edmodo
I’ve been creating ePortfolios with my students for over 10 years now. I’ve done them with PowerPoint, various blogging platforms, and even FrontPage; but I’ve never been completely happy with the formats. During my time at ISTE 2012, I attended 2 workshops dedicated to using Google Sites along with a combination of Google Docs and Blogger for creating student ePortfolios. The first was called: “Student-Centered Interactive E-Portfolios with Google Apps” by Helen Barrett and the second was titled: “Growing Digital: Grassroots Google Integration for Staff and Students” by Peter Pasque and Kristal Jaaskelainen.
Student-managed electronic learning portfolio should be used as a persistent learning record to help students:
develop the self-awareness to set their own learning goals
express their own views of their strengths, weaknesses, and achievements
and take responsibility for them
The purpose drives the process and content.
Step 1: Create a collection of work in Google Docsuse your mobile device to capture images, audio, video
Reflective Journal – blog entries over time
Taxonomy of reflection
What? So What? Now What?
Planning (Goal Setting)
Doing (Capture the Moment)
Level 1: Collection
Level 2: Collection + Reflection
Level 3: Selection and Presentation
This coming school year, our school is increasing the amount of iPads in my division. This is extremely exciting with a huge potential for fantastic new learning for our students and staff. It also brings a large amount of up-front work for our teachers and IT professionals. I’ve outlined several apps and tips from the 2 workshops I attended dedicated to learning with iPads. Special thanks to the presenters: Mindy Tilley, Jana Craig Hare, Tyler Fowler, Liddell Hobin, Alan Landever, Keith Mispagael and Geri Parscale who presented “21 Apps for Digital Age Learning” and Kimberly LaPrairie, with Daphne Johnson and Marilyn Rice who shared “Apps, Apps Everywhere: Top iPad Apps for Digital Age Learning”
21 Apps for Digital Age Learning
The presenters from USD 207 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas shared their 21 favorite apps that provide digital age experiences in the classroom. You can visit their website here or view the apps being used here. Below are a few of their suggestions that I took note of:
It was very refreshing how the presenters from Sam Houston State University based their app selection around Blooms Taxonomy. I’ve seen this method used before from Kathy Schorck so it was nice to see others chiming in on the importance of focusing app selection based on learning objectives instead of cool factor.
I’ve seen Edmodo several times in various conferences and workshops I’ve attended, and have always been interested in learning more about how teachers use it and what kind of benefits it will bring to students, teachers, and parents. While there was no formal workshop at ISTE 2012 showcasing Edmodo, I made a point to stop by their booth in the exhibit hall and find out a little more about this social networking tool. There are some great webinarsthat Edmodo puts on which I will be attending later this month. Here are some quick tips I picked up on during my time spent with the fine folks at the Edmodo booth:
You can change the notification section to uncheck the alerts if you are getting too many emails
Create a group for each subject (RLA, Math, etc), or just for all grade 3 students
Once you create a group, it creates a code and give the code to your students
they then create an acct and join the group
You control the group, delete posts and make students read only as a type of timeout
you can also moderate all posts and replies
There is no private messaging between students, only through the group
You can post a question, a video, a poll
you can create assignments and quizzes and it adds it to yours and the students calendars.
With assignments you can grade them, annotate on docs
You can also email parents the parent code and they will be able to see what their child is doing.
If you’re extremely bored and enjoy reading gobbledegook, below (or here) are my notes from the 4 days:
Xtra Math is a good site for Basic Math Facts practice. Teachers can easily create student accounts (copy/paste first names from a list and system gives each student an easy to remember pin) and you’re ready to go.
Who says you can’t use tech to get fit? Several of our great PE teachers at my school, along with Jarrod Robinson, The PE Geek have compiled a great list of apps to help you on the road to a healthy and fit life!
Awesome app if you want to speed up some of your music for faster beats in PE.
Some of my Personal Choices
While I admit, I am but a mere geeky tech integrator, I do like to keep in shape and would consider myself an advanced weekend warrior, having competed and placed in several adventure races. Here are 4 apps that I use on a weekly basis:
TeacherLed is a site created by Spencer Riley, a UK teacher since 2002 which aims to “provide teaching and learning resources to make the use of the interactive whiteboard in the classroom easier and more productive.” The IWB activities are mostly math-based, but there are several RLA resources and some great geography interactives as well.
If you have a Promethean IWB, hopefully you are using Promethean Planet. It’s chalk-full of thousands of free, downloadable flipcharts that have been created for teachers. Whenever I set off creating a flipchart from scratch, nine times out of ten that flipchart has already been created and is on Promethean Planet. From there, it is easy to download and add your own individual flair.
TopMarks is a great site for finding tons of interactive IWB resources. The site is divided into subjects on the left hand side such as Math, Literacy, Science, Geography, etc. From there, you choose the age level (elementary teachers would choose “Key Stage 2”), and then select the area that you would like to focus.
If you haven’t seen Eric Witacre’s amazing global video project, Virtual Choir – Lux Aurumque,” it’s a must. It is an amazing example of how technology can bring people together from around the world to collaborate and produce something beautiful.
Take a few minutes to watch.
In a recent Ted Talk, Witacre explains how this project came to fruition and what he is doing for part 2.0:
Chinese New Year (CNY) occurs this year on the 3rd of February. In preparation for the wonderful festivities, here are some sites to help your students gain a better understanding of the significance of this holiday.
Mapeas is a Google Maps mash-up that shows news happenings from around the world. The hot-spots are divided into categories: Business, Entertainment, General, Science and Sport, so you can select which one you’d like to see, or simply see all of them at once. Each dot on the map represents a story and the numbers indicate how many stories from that particular area there are. When you click on a dot it opens up a quick description of the news event along with a video that can be played directly in the site. EdTechIdeas: Social Studies teachers can use Mapeas when learning about current events and also help students understand world geography at the same time.
Sight Words with Samson allows students to learn and practice word spelling and pronunciation in a fun, easy to use way. In a four-step process students are challenged to learn words, build words, identify words, and finally, take a quiz about everything they have learned. Within each step there are 4 different levels of difficulty that contain 7 lists of high-frequency words. EdTechIdeas: Sight Words with Samson is a fantastic site for English language learners and students in lower elementary. It could be used as a center activity as it is a very intuitive site.
Qwiki is an impressive new website that just recently rolled out their alpha phase, which means they are still in testing mode, working out some bugs. Currently, you can request access via email and they’ll send you login credentials within a day or two. What Qwiki is, is this: Do you remember the scene from Wall-e where the captain asks the computer to, “define earth?” The computer then displays tons of pictures, videos and maps while spewing out (in a pleasant sounding voice) various facts and information regarding Earth. This, in a nut shell, is what Qwiki is aiming to do, and they do it pretty nicely. Users simply enter a word into the search form and a 2-3 minute “information experience” is displayed. EdTechIdeas: Once this is out of Alpha, Qwiki will be a great research resource for quick and easy information for students studying a variety of subjects. This would also be a great example for students to mimic. Make a “Quiki” assignment where students create a short film about any given subject, pulling in a wealth of facts and media and create their own “information experience.” Below is a quick demonstration of how Qwiki works.
VoiceThread is a site that allows you to upload images or video, and comment on the images via voice recording, text, images, or webcam. Here’s a recent project (still a work in progress) one of my 5th grade classes did using poems they wrote, and pictures they drew which were inspired by the poems. After everyone had uploaded their pictures and recorded their poems, each student viewed all of their classmates’ poems and left a comment of either text or voice. In the embedded version below, you can navigate through using the play button and the left and right arrows. If the text comments are a little too small, you can see the full version here. Feel free to leave a comment to any of the poems.
Vodpod videos no longer available. EdTechIdeas: Voicethread is a great platform for publishing student work and enabling others to view and comment on it. Students love hearing their peers’ thoughts and critiques. Once complete, a Voicethread can be shared around the world and comments can come from family members and friends living thousands of miles away.
Christmas came early to Singapore! We had the great honor of having Alan November at our school this week, and I sit here now, trying to hash out and piece together coherent thoughts, head still swirling with ideas and discussions from this afternoon’s workshop. I think the most useful post is one that shares what was learned that will be useful in the classroom the next day. What have I taken away from the workshop that I can turn around and begin using in my teaching that will enhance and improve student learning? Below I have outlined the key take-aways and how I plan to implement them.
Diigo is a fantastic tool. One I’ve used for quite some time now to keep my bookmarks organized and available no matter where I am. During the workshop, Alan said something to the effect of, “In the library, Dewey did all the tagging. Today, we have to teach kids how to do this.”
For those who do not know, Diigo, according to Wikipedia, is:
Diigo (pronounced /ˈdiːɡoʊ/) is a social bookmarkingwebsite which allows signed-up users to bookmark and tag web-pages. Additionally, it allows users to highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page. These annotations can be kept private, shared with a group within Diigo or a special link forwarded to someone else. The name “Diigo” is an abbreviation for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff.”
What I didn’t know, (or knew, but forgot) is that educators can create groups and student accounts for free. It’s a fairly simple process that does take a bit of initial set up, but once you have it rolling, you and your students will be tagging, collaborating, researching, and learning at a whole new level. Here’s a link to specific directions on setting up your groups and student accounts. Ed Tech Ideas: I teach 3 different grade levels, and my different classes are always researching for one project or another. Students are always finding great sites, but at best, they bookmark it to their local computer, never to be seen by others. Now with our Diigo groups (I created one for each grade level), kids learn how to tag, organize, and share their finds with everyone else in the group. Everyone benefits from group knowledge, and the students learn an important skill that will stay with them and grow throughout their academic lives.
Who Owns the Learning in the Classroom: Teacher or Students?
This was a question Alan posed an hour or two into the workshop that really got me thinking about how the traditional role of a teacher has changed over the last 20 or so years. Gone are the days (hopefully) of the sage on the stage teacher at the blackboard spewing out information to struggling students with 30 different learning styles. However, we do still need to recalibrate the balance of learning between teacher and students.
Who works harder in the classroom? The teacher or the students?
Ask yourself this question and see what answer you come up with. Then ask yourself, what can I do to recalibrate to enable students to own their learning. For inspiration, watch Michael Wesch’s Ted Talk called, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able.”
EdTechIdeas: Have students take a photo of something in your life and use it to explain a concept. Take a character from a book and have students write dialogue of a topic that is not in the book, that shows their understanding of the character’s qualities/personality. Use a hotseat-type activity and ask students questions. Have students go to the cafeteria and video what kids are eating for lunch – make a production about healthy choices; graph the results. Take photos of simple machines – use photoshop to diagram the parts of what makes the subject a simple machine. Ask Google-proof questions. Create a Google Map assignment. Have students make book trailers instead of writing book reports.
As with most workshops, the overwhelming influx of ideas from Alan’s workshop left teachers with a mix of emotions, feeling somewhere in-between, “I’m not doing enough” and “There’s so much out there, I want to try everything now!” A suggestion that Mike Pelletier aptly calls, “TBC” (Tech Baby Steps) is always a good idea. Begin with just one thing that grabbed your attention and go with it – make it work for your classroom, not as an add-on, but as an integration.
Notes, take-aways, the Tweet Sheet, and workshop info can be found here, thanks to Jay Atwood. Also a very special thanks to Alan November for an inspiring, thought-provoking, mind recalibrating day!
PicLits is a site that allows users to choose a photo and then drag words onto the picture to create sentences. There is a freestyle option that allows you to simply type on the picture, and keywords are suggested to help you out. When finished, you can save (free account required), email your piclit, or share it via Facebook, your blog, or other places. Soon there will be a print feature, a weekly contest, and the ability to search and tag photos. EdTechIdeas: This is a great site for inspiring struggling writers and for those times where you hear the complaint, “I don’t know what to write about.”
CyberChase from PBS is a fun place for kids with 45 games that focus on problem solving abilities. Challenging games like Crossing the River, U Fix It, Tangrams, and more will have kids thinking out of the box in no time. EdTechIdeas: Fantastic site for problem solving and creative thinking. Would make a good go-to site for center time in your classroom or a fun activity to spend time on after working out difficult concepts. Use the lessons and activities section for ideas that are tied to the NCTM standards.
Incredibox gets my nod for the Odd Site of the Week Award, and I’m throwing it in, just because we all need a little obscure fun in our lives. Not sure of its educational implications, so I don’t have too many EdTechIdeas, but perhaps for music teachers, it could shed light on rhythm, vocal appreciation, harmonic structure, and polyphony. For the rest of us, it’s a great diversion and a good way to bring a little music into your life.
Pindax is an online message board similar to Wallwisher, where users can add post-its about any given topic. You begin by creating a free account and then build a new board with a name and specific directions about what you want posted on the board. As a teacher, you can create a board and direct your students to the URL to have them each add their thoughts and opinions about the subject of the wall.
Google is a lot more than just a search engine. With Google Things to Do, you can learn how to instantly convert currencies, check flight arrivals, read a book, even search the web like Elmer Fudd! Now, who doesn’t want to know how to do that??!
It’s been one full year now since I said, “Hello World!” with Tech:-)Happy. It’s been so much fun writing about what I’m doing in the lab, sharing resources with educators, learning about great new tools and methods, and connecting with so many amazing people. I just wanted to post a big THANK YOU to all my subscribers and readers. It is you who make the time I spend on this blog worthwhile and fulfilling.
The acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning provided the learners are given access to a suitable computing facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance.
One of the 5th grade teachers I work with saw that video and was inspired to “re-create” it with his students. See for yourself what happens: