Thursday, March 26, 2015

SAGE Tips and Tricks

Now that SAGE is fast approaching, here are some additional resources for teachers to use to prepare students:

1. Plickers - these are great tools and a lot of fun for students to review. (Ask your ed tech if you need any help getting started!)
2. iPad Camera - have students take pictures of each part of the scientific process in experiments. Have them interview each other after the pics are taken.
3. Haiku Deck- a great way to review. Have your students write reviews on core curriculum areas such as math skills, etc.
4. Flash card apps - these will help students with their speed in basic math facts which are necessary to solve more difficult problems. (there are many great ones)
5. Khan Academy - this is a great resource for practice, remediation, or drill.
6. iTooch Elementary - This is a great app for ELA, Math, and Science.
7. Bill Nye App - this is a great app for science. Kids will stay engaged while learning concepts that will be found on the SAGE.
8. Science Glossary App - just as the name implies, it is a great glossary of all science terms with some good examples.
9. Math Word Problems App - this app is for all grades from 3-up. There are haptic types of questions, just like those found on SAGE also.
10. Learning Games app - Again, this is for all grades from 3-up. There are activities in all subject areas including ELA, Science, and Math.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Share Student Work....Digitally

This week in our digital storytelling class we are talking about the importance of sharing student work, and since this is a technology class we are focusing on sharing projects digitally.  I recognize that you can always find reasons for or against something, so this blog post is going to focus on reasons for sharing projects digitally. I received input from my fellow ed techs and created a top 10 list for sharing student work.

Note: Make sure that before you have students share anything online you have principal and parent approval.  The last thing you would want to do is have students share work without getting the proper permissions.

10.  Promote Safety and Responsibility
We live in an over-share world, and many kids aren't aware of the dangers that are present when they share things to the internet.  Sharing projects online can help teachers educate students and parents about digital safety and citizenship, and also it can be an effective way to teach students how to share quality work, and how to do so safely and responsibly.
9.  Spark Ideas
Shared projects give other student (and teachers), world-wide, ideas on what they can do in their own classrooms.  Sharing can spark an idea for anyone that watches or views the shared projects.
8.  Confidence
Sharing work can help boost students confidence. Many students will even develop a sense of pride of the work they are sharing.  However, be sensitive to the needs of your individual students.  For some, sharing can be a cause for anxiety.  If sharing openly, online is not for a particular student find another way he/she can share within the classroom or to family members.  
7.  Larger Audience
Sharing online allows projects to be shared with a wider audience. Friends and family all over the world can see what the students are creating.   
6.  Students Work Harder
Many students will put in more of an effort if they know their work is going to be viewed by more than the teacher and even mom and dad. Many students will work harder because they know that they will be sharing their work with their peers, and could even be seen by people who have similar interests.
5.  Accomplishment
Students (and teachers!) will have a sense of accomplishment when they see their finished product. This goes with helping students build confidence about what they have created.  They will be proud to show others what was created. 
4.  Celebration
We celebrate every athletic achievement like it makes all the difference in the world. Shouldn't we celebrate academic achievement and projects just as much. We’ll never have trophy cases, but we have lots of avenues for sharing projects. 
Standard 2 says, “Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.”
“Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.”
Standard 5 says that teachers should contribute! “Contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.”
If teachers want their students to share, they should set the example and share their creations/projects as well.  Every reason listed in this top 10 list also applies to teachers.
1.  Sharing is Caring
Finding ways for students to share their work is a way to show them that you actually care about the final product, and that they show off what they have done.  You are letting them know to be proud of their work.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Ed Tech Salad- Great Ingredients that Combine to Make Teaching More Delicious

Since becoming an Ed Tech I have had the opportunity to explore a variety of amazing technology tools. Some of them are redundant and have caused me to see which tool does the job I need the best. My favorite tools play together. When integrating apps, sites, and/or programs effectively, I can make several tools work together in concert and so become a more powerful educational super tool! This Ed Tech Salad has purposeful blending of ingredients that make all the flavors better.

One example that illustrates this point is the recent adoption of Nearpod and my role in training teachers and finding the best ways to bring it into classrooms. Here's what I've learned so far: When I make a Nearpod, I use Haiku Deck to make pleasing slides. I use Doceri to create short whiteboard demonstrations. I use  Kahoot to insert a fun game-like activity inside the presentation. Just as a good teacher works to integrate content areas together to give valuable context for students so learning is improved, efforts to make a tool more powerful include finding how they all tie together. I learned about Haiku Deck in my Ed Tech Endorsement more than a year ago. At the time, I thought it was nice and made pretty presentations, but hadn't given it much more thought since. It wasn't until I was preparing materials to share with teachers with the recent adoption of Nearpod that I saw Haiku Deck as a valuable aid in making professional-looking slides I could use in my Nearpod presentations. I found that I could easily export the simply made presentations in PowerPoint format and then drag that file to my Nearpod and use those slides for the presentation.

I have loved Doceri since I learned about it a few years ago. I had used it primarily as a live lesson delivery tool to control my computer that was connected to a projector. I knew about the capability to record lessons and use the whiteboard function to demonstrate concepts for students. I needed a way to have a whiteboard demonstration in a Nearpod presentation and this caused me to really explore how I can use these amazing capabilities Doceri offers in my Nearpod. The marriage of these tools has made them all powerful weapons in my teaching arsenal.

Where to begin? I've been most successful finding great tools when I start with a question. Here are some examples of questions answered by specific tech tools.

  • I would like to make attractive slides for my Nearpod presentation- what tool have I learned that can do this and export easily? Haiku Deck
  • I would like to demonstrate concepts on a whiteboard and put that into my Nearpod presentation- what tool have I learned and can export easily? Doceri
  • I would like to break up my Nearpod presentation with a really fun game- what tool have I learned and can do this easily? Kahoot!

These are all great tools on their own, but when joined together, they are a recipe for success. This learning salad improves as more ingredients are found. It really motivates me to pay attention to apps, sites, and programs that can empower my lessons to be more engaging. Instead of starting all over- I see how the new ingredient works with the ones I already love.

Photo Credit: _Nezemnaya_ via Compfight cc