Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tech Bytes - February

Hey, Guys! I have so much to share with you this month! I'm excited to share some grant and growth opportunities as well as some tools to use in your classroom. Let's get started!
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Be In the Know

Association of American Educators Classroom Grants (K12) - These classroom grants of $500 or less can be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Funds must be used within one year of the application deadline. Application deadline is March 1. You can find more information here.

Carton 2 Garden Contest (PK12) This contest rewards preK-12 schools that creatively repurpose at least 100 milk or juice cartons for their gardens. Schools don't need an existing garden to apply. There are 14 award packages and the Grand Prize is $5,000. Deadline to apply is April 16. You can find more information here.  

Want to go to ISTE in Chicago this summer? There are two Award opportunities that can help get you there! Check out ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award and ISTE's Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for details. 

Penn State Interdisciplinary Materials Research Experience for Teachers K12 - Teachers selected to participate in this six-week program will receive hands-on nanoscience and technology experience through research, with applications to bio-engineering, chemistry, electronics, materials science, optics, optoelectronics, physics, and life sciences. Teachers will engage in a week's worth of seminars, demonstrations, workshops, and activities geared towards connecting state-of-the-art research with K-12 education. Teachers will earn a $6000 stipend ($5000 for pre-service teachers). Housing is provided if needed, and reasonable travel expenses will be covered. At the end of the summer, RET fellows will present their projects at a scientific mini-symposium to their research collaborators, peer teachers, and undergraduates. Interested? Check out details here. Deadline is April 15. 

iPad App

Adobe Spark provides an easy way to make video stories in minutes. The good news is they recently announced students under 13 can now use this tool and sign in will be a single sign in with Google. And for more good news, it is also available for use on Chromebooks, so iPads are not needed.

Cool Tools Corner

With so many of you 1:1 with Chromebooks, I want to share a few tools that you can explore for using with your students.

Classroomscreen is an awesome one-stop shop for many tools that teachers and students can use, tools such as random name selector, timers, noise meter work symbols, and more.  Click on the menu in the upper left to see Tips and Tricks and other options. Students can use the site to self-monitor group work. 

Nearpod & Interactive Reading Lessons - This past week one of the large state technology conferences was held in Florida - FETC. One of the presenters did a session on using Nearpod with reading. (By the way, Nearpod is also available as an iPad app.) She uses this tool from Kinders all the way to adults. I truly recommend taking the time to read her post and give this a try in the classroom. 

You know I love Book Creator and I have blogged about the Chromebook app for it. There is a similar tool for young learners called WriteReader that allows students to publish books with their spelling (no underlines for incorrect spelling) while providing a space for the adult to write the correct spelling. This makes it totally collaborative between teachers and their students. Students can use embedded images, upload images, and use the camera on the Chromebook and record their voice. Completed books can be shared online, saved as PDF, and/or printed. 

And last, but not least! I've told you about Flipgrid too. Well...Starting February 12, there is an opportunity to follow along with a marine biologist during a two-week exploration of diving with sharks. AMAZING! And, wait for it....there is a hyperdoc that goes with it!!!! Can you tell I am over the top excited about this one? Check this link for more information. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tech Bytes - January

This month's blog post is going to take a little different format and flavor from the previous Tech Bytes.

Our county has a fabulous, highly-esteemed program called Pinnacle Leaders Program. The program was begun to identify, nurture and develop teacher technology leaders. Pinnacle leaders are role models for the county, their schools, and colleagues.

Recently, our latest cohort group was tasked with sharing a "favorite thing." Their work includes all components of Tech Bytes from Be in the Know to Cool iPad apps. So without further ado, here are Pinnacle 22's Favorite Things (and my tech byte for January!).

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!