Friday, December 8, 2017

Tech Bytes - December

It's December, and to borrow a line from Silver Bells, "in the air there's a feeling of" excitement. In the midst of the wonder of the season, try out these ideas for technology integration.

Be In the Know:

Seesaw released Activities earlier this year. Just a couple of weeks ago, they added the ability for teachers to share their created activities with each other. Here is an example I made for understanding characters and one for a word sort. A fellow educator shared a fabulous creation of templates that can be utilized for the activities. And educators are sharing links to their creations that can be added and edited from your Seesaw Activity library. I hope you take advantage of this ability to layer student thinking over their Seesaw submissions. If you want to learn more, please ask your ITF, we will be happy to assist.

iPad App: 

Scratch Jr
 for iPad - We are ending the Hour of Code week today, but my hopes are that our students continue to code. I was fortunate this week to be in classrooms where students were coding. I had the privilege of introducing a class of second graders to Scratch Jr. This app allows students to snap together programming blocks to make their characters move and talk. While programming, they are solving problems, designing projects, and expressing themselves creatively. They are using math and language skills in a meaningful context allowing them to not only learn to code but "code to learn."

Our lesson this week was on understanding characters in the story by knowing what the character thinks and feels throughout. So what better way to show understanding than to recreate the story's beginning, middle, and end through coded characters. Check out this lesson for the details. 

Cool Tools Corner:

Escape Rooms are a great way to have some fun with friends and family. Perhaps you are thinking about participating in one over the holiday break. You can bring that excitement into your classroom tied to your curriculum. BreakoutEDU has physical kits with locks for boxes or you can do a digital breakout using Google Forms. You can create digital breakouts that use Google Apps to create and share a series of critical thinking puzzles to open the virtual locks in the Google Form.  The ITFs have created some for the district and will be happy to help you create one specific for your standards.

If you want to give it a try before Christmas break, check out these options for elementary students. K-2 would need help and hints, but 3-5 could probably solve collaboratively. For K-2, perhaps you could do the breakout as a class activity. You are only allowed 30 minutes to solve the clues.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tech Bytes - November

Welcome to the busy holiday season and time spent with family and friends. As you are gearing up to head out for Thanksgiving, ponder these technology integration ideas. How can you integrate them into your upcoming units and standards?

Be In the Know:

Image from Pixabay

Emojis and Educators...Oh What Fun!

Students and teachers alike love Emojis right? So why not incorporate them into your content? For example, did you know that you can insert emojis into Google Docs? Yes! From the Menu bar, choose Insert > Special Characters. Then click the drop-down and choose Emoji. If you are having your students publish writing in Docs, let them use emoji's to enhance their story. They can even draw their own Emoji (I'm thinking character, self-portrait...). Eric Curtis has published a blog post on 5 Emoji Learning Activities complete with screenshots and directions.

My latest find that I LOVE is using emoji's to help organize files and folders in Google Drive. Did you know that you could use special symbols to group and organize your Drive? Well, thanks to an extension called Emoji For Google Chrome, you can organize with Emojis! Check out information on how that works here.

Share any ideas you have or have found on using Emojis in the classroom.

iPad App: 

Notes App for iPad - The native notes app will do so much more than just keep a list for you. Notes provides a way to include photos, videos, drawings and text all in one place. Of course, it saves to your camera roll, providing an opportunity to upload into another app to continue creation and learning. With iOS 11, you can even scan a document in Notes. The Document Scanner automatically senses it is a document, cropping the edges and removing tilts or glare.

Cool Tools Corner:

20 Questions is a favorite of children, parents, and teachers alike. It's a sneaky way to get some critical thinking skills past the students! 😉 Google is using its Artifical Intelligence interface to bring the game to you today called Mystery Animal. You can play this game on the Chromebook. Check out the video below for more information. Have fun guessing the animal!

A Little Something Extra:

Looking for templates to use with Chromebooks? Then check out these two sites for a jackpot of resources!   Technotes Blog   and    Engaging Students Google Resources

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tech Bytes - October

Can you believe that October is almost over? It's time for this month's Tech Bytes and the wonderful things in the world of technology integration. 

Be In The Know:

Are you ready to teach untethered from the front of the room and make the shift to "guide on the ride?" Many teachers in our district have fallen in love with Annotate has a free feature that allows you to use your mobile device as an interactive whiteboard while presenting to your computer's attached presentation device. It even has built-in formative assessment tools that you can add to your lesson.

You can create notebook presentations with the software or import content you have in your Google Drive. Check this document for more information and instructions if you are interested. 

Note: At this time, GCS does not use the downloaded version of Annotate Client. 

iPad App:

 iOS 11 brings some new features for ease of classroom use. First, you no longer need a separate app to scan QR codes, open the camera app on the device and scan away. Tap the notification to open the site for the QR code.

The new dock will now hold up to 13 apps. App icons will appear in the dock as you open them. This feature makes it easy for our young learners to find the most used apps. 

Cool Tools Corner:

I have long been a huge fan of the Book Creator app for the iPad. It is the. best. paid. app. for education ever! I always felt sorry for classes that didn't have iPads to take advantage of this tool. Why do I love it so much? It is an easy tool to create multi-media books that can be shared with others. Imagine your students' creations containing images, text, sound files, and videos. Yes, all that is possible with Book Creator. So, this past summer when they announced they would be bringing to Book Creator to the web, I got all goose-bumpy with excitement. I am excited to share that the web version is just as wonderful as the app. You can create a library and invite your students to share. Together, you can create 40 books for free. If you want to know more, let your ITF know. In the meantime, here are instructions for creating a book. Enjoy! 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

STEM Resources for the Elementary Classroom

Today, I want to share with you guys some resources that are freebies for STEM in your classroom.

CalAcademy's Science Video Vault - I know some of you are looking for additional video resources to use with your students. Take a moment to check out CalAcademy's Science Video Vault for hundreds of short videos. The site provides a search feature as well as the opportunity to drill down for grade level appropriate resources. While there, check out their Ideas for Using Video in the Classroom. 

NASA Knows! Elementary students are curious about the world around them, including space. If you are looking for informational texts and if your students have questions about airplanes, astronauts, rockets, planets, technology, and more, check out NASA Knows. You will find sections for  Grades K-4, 5-8, 9-12, and Higher Ed.

Water Cycle Resources:
For the past week or so, I've been in 5th-grade classrooms in our districts helping students with a water cycle project. The Story of Water in Dryville: The story takes students to the desert to start a new town and shows them how water plays a part every step of the way, from finding an initial water source to getting water to homes, creating a system for wastewater, and meeting additional needs as the town grows up. This would be a great PBL intro to rebuild an area devastated by a natural disaster. Also available as a downloadable script for a class play, students could recreate the story with a miniature green screen and Doink Green Screen App.

Last year I was fortunate to visit a Lego School in South Carolina. Who doesn't love Legos? (Ok, maybe parents that moment they step on them with bare feet.) You don't have to be a Lego School to tap into the learning possibilities. Check out Lessons with Legos to find lesson plans for using Lego bricks and other Lego educational materials. Maybe the lessons will spark an idea that you could use to write a proposal for funding through Donor's Choose.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reader's Workshop & Technology Integration ... Yes It is Possible

You don't need me to point out that literacy is changing. Don't get me wrong, this digital girl still prefers to read books....that are, well, ... actual books. And my idea of reading is not to read to take a test. (Can I get an amen?) To quote The Book Whisperer (Donalyn Miller), "The only thing kids need to be doing during reading workshop is reading books, talking about books, and writing about books." And, oh, the ways technology can help kids do all three.

Reading Books:

First, let's have a balance of reading printed text and digital text. And let's examine the need to always have students read digital text just for research purposes. A terrific digital resource for elementary students is Epic Books. Did I mention it is free for elementary teachers and media specialists? Epic
offers thousands of high-quality children's books and even allows teachers to create a collection for students to read (think digital book box).

So by balance, I'm not just talking about reading printed and digital text, but let them respond to the text both digitally and with print. If they are reading a digital text, let them respond by writing their thinking, their stop and jots. If they are reading a printed text, let them respond digitally, perhaps a #booksnap. And yes, elementary students can do this, we just wouldn't use Snapchat.

Since digital reading requires a different set of skills than reading print, (clarity of words on a screen, hyperlinks, extraneous material on screen, etc) teachers have to model and teach students during mini-lessons how to successfully read digital text.

Talking About Books:

Turn and talk is prevalent in reader's workshop, we ask students to share their thinking about their reading, the action of the story, information about characters, and more. As a teacher, it is impossible to hear each child every single day. Let's harness the power of technology to get students talking about books. Have you tried Flipgrid yet? It's a digital discussion platform easy enough for Pre-K students, but also robust enough for adults. Give it a try with book talks and see what happens.  Build a community that talks about books, recommends books, and gives students an audience for their work. You will be amazed and surprised at the possibilities. Plus it gives you a chance to hear from your students more and adjust instruction to meet their needs.

Writing About Books:

Ever notice how popular Goodreads is? Ever notice how unpopular the reading log is? I have an idea...Let's use a digital tool such as Seesaw to transform the reading log. Students can use Seesaw to take a photo of their book cover, annotate on it, add an audio recording of their personal response, and even upload book trailers from other apps into a "Goodreads" folder. Students can comment and have conversations as they write and talk about the books within Seesaw.

Every tool I mentioned will work on iPads and Chromebooks. Every tool I mentioned is free. If you want help implementing any of these ideas or want to talk about ideas that have sparked in your head, please contact your ITF. We will be happy to help!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tech Bytes September 2017

Happy Friday! I'm excited about the items in this post. I hope you find a tool that you want to try with your class. 

Be In The Know:

You may have noticed an additional extension that was pushed to you and your students called Share to Classroom. The extension supports your digital environment by allowing you to push websites to your students easily. The website will open on student devices as soon as you push. The extension also allows you to create an assignment, make an announcement, or ask a question in your Google Classroom right from the site. 
Watch this quick video from Google Guru to see how it works. By the way, you can also send them a visual to switch gears or stop working on the device.  

iPad App:

Camera app - Ever consider this is a powerful tool in the hands of our learners?
It's pivotal when doing app-smashing and it's a life skill. Imagine teaching our students how to be really good at taking photos. I found this course on iTunes, (lots of free cool courses) that you could use as a springboard for ideas to help students learn to be photographers. The course is called One Best Photo. Use the idea and think of your content to mesh the two. By the way, soon, iTunes courses will be found within the Podcast app on the device. 

Cool Tools Corner:
This news made my day, and I hope it will make yours as well. You have probably heard of Storyjumper. It's a great site that allows your students to publish stories easily. The site has tons of props, scenes, and characters that students can use as they publish or even upload their own images. Now, Storyjumper uses single sign on with our Google accounts. Yay, no extra user names and passwords to remember. 

As always, with anything mentioned in this post, if you want to give these things a try, let your ITF know and we will be happy to help!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tech Bytes - August 2017

August is coming to an end and school is underway. So excited to walk through my schools and see the excitement of the new year on everyone's face.

Thought I would share a few pieces of information to keep in mind for the new school year.

Be In The Know:

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Effective July 1, 2017, technology credits are being replaced with Digital Learning Competencies. If you renew on or after June 30, 2019,  you will need 2 DLC CEUs.

Digital Learning Competencies are broken into four focus areas. Check out this document that unpacks those areas for teachers. If you are an administrator, check this document designed for you to view the unpacking for the five focus standards.

DLC credit requires identified goals and objectives that are designed to improve teacher practice and drive student learning within teachers’ classrooms.

DLC PD should:
  • Align standards & DLC competencies
  • Be blended with content area & best practices
  • Continue through integration and/or application within the practice

  • Be demonstrated by evidence-based learning (from submitted artifacts such as teacher/student portfolios, classroom walkthroughs, etc.) showing teacher mastery
  • Positively impact student learning

Be on the lookout for things happening during the year at your school that you can participate in to start earning those credits.

iPad App of the Month:

Looking for an easy way to have your students showcase their learning via videos? Then check out a new favorite iPad app called Clips. Allows you to make videos with text and effects. Easy Peasy! Let me know if you want it pushed to your student iPads. Don't forget, we could plan and co-teach together. ;-)

Cool Tools Corner:

Cool Tools Corner:
Check out Flipgrid. This hot tech tool will allow you and your students to create a community of learners via video discussions. Easy for students as young as Pre-K. Great way to incorporate Making Thinking Visible strategies into your lessons. Let me know if you want help introducing to your students.
Flipgrid - Great tool for Making Thinking Visible! I’ll be happy to help get you started.