Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tech PD has moved!


Image result for new homeIn April, I decided to move my Tech PD website and my Tech PD blog into one new home.  Like any new move, there is packing and unpacking that must occur.  I have packed up all the pieces from this blog and the Tech PD weebly site, and have begun the unpacking on the new website, techpd.org.  All new content and updates will now happen there.  Please, if you followed Tech PD here, and don't mind stumbling over a few boxes for awhile, go and subscribe there to continue being updated with Tech PD information.  The subscribe feature shows up at the top of the page.  You will find here, in our new web home, not only the Tech PD website and blog, BUT also all the content for the Tech PD courses I offer.  Please come and visit Tech PD in its new home at techpd.org.  


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why use the Epic app or website? Lots of reasons why........

Epic!If you are not using the Epic app or the Epic website with your elementary students, you are missing out.  Here is an overview of the amazing features within this FREE TO EDUCATORS tool.

With a quick free sign up feature for educators, you and your students will have instant access to one of the world's largest online libraries of books.

You, the teacher, can create student profiles that will allow you and your students personalize their reading interests and also track their reading progress.

Epic empowers students by allowing them to read books of their own choice and it may engage reluctant readers due to the amount of books and being able to choose and read online.  There is a wide range of both fiction and informational texts available to support all areas of the curriculum plus new books are added weekly to keep the library exciting and engaging.

Teachers ~ begin your process by setting up your free account at www.getepic.com/educators.. Make sure you note you are a teacher, not a parent, to get the free account.

What kinds of resources are available?

  • Large selections of Read-to-me books
  • Educational Videos
  • Informational texts that are great for deeper learning and research
  • Featured book collections such as Big Nate, Box Car children and more...
  • High interest popular titles to engage reluctant readers
As a teacher, you can search books
  • search term
  • reader's age
  • by lexile level
Epic would be a great asset to your classroom. Use it in the following ways:
  • independent reading
  • group reading
  • Daily 5
  • Leveled reading groups
  • Listen to read
  • Whole class or small group reading (on smartboard)
  • Researching a topic
  • Create questions around books in Epic through the Epic tool to check for student understanding.

Give it a try! You will not be disappointed!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

iPad Lunch Bunch ~ November

During the November iPad Lunch Bunch, we talked about the following topics.  

Duck Duck Moose Apps

A whole collection of excellent Early Learning apps became free this summer thanks to Khan Academy purchasing Duck Duck Moose.  Click here to see a list of the apps that are available.  To investigate an app further, click on the picture of the app to learn more about the skills that the app covers, what standards may be addressed, as well as other information about the app and using it with your students.  

The Epic Library on iPads and Chromebooks

Epic is a great tool to use in your classroom, either on iPads or Chromebooks, because it gives student's instant access to over 20,000 books.  AND  teachers get free access to this library.  Click here if you haven't setup your free login. The teacher login is free to use in your classroom.  Once you have your login, use that login and password to login to the Epic app on each of your classroom iPads.   (or getepic.com on a Chromebook) These credentials will hold and students should be automatically logged in each time they use the app.   

You also can create individual student profiles in Epic.  The benefit of this is that you can view a student's reading activity, you can assign books to students as well as create and assign collections of books to students.  

There are also educational videos in Epic.  Videos are from the Smithsonian, Blue Wonders, Animal Wonders, and Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Finally, Epic now allows you to import student rosters from Google Classroom. This saves you a ton of steps in creating Student Profiles.

Read here to learn more:  https://www.getepic.com/faq




Sunday, June 19, 2016

Add Interactivity to Class Videos with EdPuzzle

EdPuzzle is a tool you should check out if you use videos in the classroom because it allow you to create custom integrated assessments within video content that you want your student to watch.  They allow you to check for student’s video comprehension of the concepts being conveyed immediately, while the student is watching the video.  Teachers will get feedback for each student, based on these student responses.  EdPuzzle allows users to search video content from YouTube, Khan Academy, LearnZillion, National Geographic, TED, Veritasium, Numberphile, Crash Course, and Vimeo. Teacher created video lessons are public and searchable in EDPuzzle. A huge bonus is..... it is a free tool.  

Here is a list of a few of the things Edpuzzle can do:


  • can crop videos
  • can embed multiple choice questions, text slide/cards, image slide/cards, and links to video content
  • Instructor can record audio over the video
  • Teacher can share via email, link, embedding, and social media outlets
  • Students can login with their Google credentials if you want to collect data OR as guest if you do not want to collect data



Check out the EdPuzzle Help Blog if you have more questions.


Using Technology to Check for Student's Understanding

Research shows that checking for student's understanding and progress and changing instructional strategies based on the result has a positive effect on student achievement.  With the onset of technology in the classroom, here are some tools to help determine what students understand while making learning engaging and fun.  

Also, in regards to checking for student's understanding, here is an excellent article with information and ideas to use in the classroom:





Saturday, June 18, 2016

Backchannels in the Classroom

A backchannel is digital conversation that happens at the same time as as the classroom face to face conversation. Of course, I am a fan of the tool Padlet for this.  Another tool you could try is Backchannel Chat or Today's Meet. Here are a few reasons to use a backchannel in your classroom.


  1. It gives students that typically wouldn't use their voice in your classroom a voice. Students who are reserved, shy, or not comfortable sharing feel much more able to share in this "safer" environment.
  2. It helps students who need more think time than their classmates. They can read, think at their own speed and then respond. It also gives them the time they need to brainstorm and be able to share their thoughts.
  3. It increases the number of student who participate in a classroom discussion.
  4. Using it as a reflection tool for students' reading allows student to read undistracted and then contribute their ideas while having the ability to work at their own speed.
  5. A Back channel would be a great way to actively watch a video as a class and have students listen and look for specific details or content.  
Here is a list of ideas for classroom backchannels:
  • Take a class poll on a specific question or topic
  • Crowdsource feedback or gather input from students to inform instruction
  • Empower student voice and make them active participants in knowledge building in the classroom
  • Conduct informal assessments
  • Assess student prior knowledge about a topic
  • Brainstorm ideas for a writing project
  • Allow students to ask questions about today’s learning they didn’t understand
  • Conduct a class discussion
  • Allows all children to be a part of classroom conversations, even those who are not comfortable  speaking in class
  • provides students with an outlet to engage in classroom conversations
  • Share links, resources, and knowledge

If you haven't tried a backchannel in your classroom. Try one!

Try Backchannel Chat here ( as a student)


Try Padlet (as a student)   


Try Today’s Meet here (as a student)
 

The Impact of Digital Parent-Teacher Communication on Student Achievement

Any teacher will tell you that technology has changed all facets of education, including how we communicate with parents.  But, what are the best modes of communication when bridging the home and school connection.  Research, including that of John Hattie, will show that students perform better academically when there is a strong parent involvement. 

Current research by Harvard University found that text messaging between teachers and parents did connect with improved student achievement when the content of the texts was focused on instructional goals, rather than management or behaviors.

It was also noted in these studies that the tool of choice for parents is the SmartPhone.  The percent of parents owning such a device has increased greatly over time with the % of parents owning such device being near or over 70%.  

Tools, such as Remind and Class Dojo, are tools that support this type of parent communication.  NOt only should teachers send out messages that inform all parents of instructional practice sand goals, but teachers also need to make individual contact with parents about their child's specific needs.  Reaching out with not only concerns but with positive messages helped students be successful.

With that said, we need to be selective in choosing the right technologies to be connected.  Maybe we should survey parents which technology best meets their need or which they are most apt to pay attention to.  We certainly do not want to overload parents with more too much information, but rather, we want to find the best means of getting them the meaningful information.

Are you providing effective communication to your student's parents?  Are you using tools that meet both your needs and their needs?  What could you do differently to bridge the home - school connection?


Works Cited for this post:
Gilgore, Sara. "Probing the Impact of Parent-Teacher Digital Communication." Education Week. N.p., 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 June 2016.
Petrossi, Nadia. "Pupils and Schools Thrive When Parents Become Involved | The National.Pupils and Schools Thrive When Parents Become Involved | The National. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 June 2016.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finding Time to Build a PLN and Learn

It is more important today than ever to build an understanding and appreciation in our students that learning is a life long process.  Change is happening at a rate faster than ever before.  This video reflects just how fast change is occurring.

With that said, you need time to learn as well.  Here are a few things to keep in mind, so that you can be successful in your building of a strong PLN and stick to learning.

1.  Learning styles and personal preferences:  Consider how you learn and prefer to learn and know that they are unique to you, so the way you learn or the tools you use are truly not the focus.  Rather, find a way that works for you and meets your style and needs.  I may tell you that Twitter is the best thing ever, but if you aren't feeling it, that is ok.  There are other great tools to use for your PLN.  Pick one and concentrate on one.  You can not embrace them all; you will go completely crazy.  

2.  Set a goal:  This can be whatever is realistic to your circumstances.  Setting a goal helps many of us see the task through.  A goal could be like, I am going to stick with Twitter and embrace its power as a learning tool for this summer and then reflect on the process OR I am going to follow 6 professional blogs of people who are in positions in education similar to mine.

3.  Set a routine:  This is an important piece.  The routine could be as simple as you will check Twitter or whatever tool you choose each day for 15 minutes OR every Saturday for 1/2 hour.  What works for you?  What can you stick with?  With that said, you do not need to read every tweet or every blog post. You decide how much and how long.  In fact, it is an impossible feat to expect to read every piece of information out there, so do not even try.  Take in what you can in the allotted time. Scan and sift and find the good stuff that is relevant and of interest to you.

4.  Try and Try Again:  Keep working at finding the right resources, the right connections, the right routine.  This will not just happen over night.  Building a strong network truly takes time....months perhaps.  Just do not give up.  Give it the time it takes to be powerful and rewarding.

Read this article about Connecting PLCs with PLNs




Curating Your PLN Learning and Resources

Image result for personal learning networkAs you are building your Personal Learning Network, I promise you .... you will find great stuff.  So, what do you do with it all or how do you organize all the resources and links that you find.  There are so many ways to approach this and the best way truly depends on you and your preferences.  Read this blog post about this topic.  Here, I will give you a few suggestions that might help you.

In Twitter, if you like a Tweet (click the heart), it will appear on your Likes list. Likes used to be called Favorites.  This will help you "save" tweets that you may want to come back to at a later time.  

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that will allow you to save weblinks, share and organize weblinks so that they are easy to find.  Please follow these steps to learn more about Diigo and setting up an account if this feels like it will work for you.

Pinterest is a very popular site for curating and sharing resources with others. Part of its appeal is how visual it it.  Pinterest is also a great place to go and learn.  Please read this online article to learn more.

OneTab is a Chrome browser extension (click here to add it to your Chrome account) that is very useful when you are in the midst of a big research or PLN viewing session and you need to save a bunch of links fast. Imagine you are reading and learning and lots of Chrome browser tabs are open to all the awesome links you have been sifting and finding.  OneTab is a great tool that can curate all those open tabs into one savable link that you can refer back to later.  Click on the One TAb extension and all open tabs are saved into a simple list, with one address as a reference.  From there, you can save that list as a webpage to open later, or restore them all immediately.  Give it a try!

Chrome Bookmarking: click here to learn more.  The beauty of bookmarking web content in Chrome is that if you are logged into Chrome, your bookmarks are also saving to the cloud.  Chrome also has an extension called Bookmark Manager.  While I haven't used it yet, it might also be helpful in saving and organizing weblinks.

Feedly:  A few years ago, I loved Google Reader but it went away and while I loved that tool to collect all my favorite blogs into one place, I haven't adopted a replacement tool for it.  IF I were to however, I would use Feedly!  If you are wanting to follow blogs for your PLN, I suggest you give it a try!  What is very helpful about this tool is that it is an RSS feed that will pull all of your blogs together and save you the time of having to navigate to multiple sites OR get email notifications from multiple blogs which then clutter your inbox.

There are many more ideas and tools to use.  These are a few that I have used to keep all my new learning handy and organized.  What tools have you tried?


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Google Classroom ~ Should I Add it to My Classroom?

This is the beginning of a journey to learn Google Classroom.  Are you in?  Do you want to learn more and possibly implement this tool into your classroom's landscape?  Here are some things to make you think and decide.  If you decide yes, I will be sharing nuggets of learning about Google Classroom that you can read, learn and implement (a 21st century style "make and take" workshop) right into your classroom and your practice.

Graphic from:  http://goo.gl/21QIDM
Google Classroom was introduced in 2014 in August, so it is a bit over 1 year old.  Google Apps, Chromebooks, and Google Classroom have truly taken off as a device and tools of choice in classrooms worldwide.  

Google made Classroom so that teachers could spend less time on paperwork and administrative tasks and it does this very well.  It is a seamless tool for managing the sharing of Google Drive documents between students and teacher.  This exchange works both ways.  Teachers can share very easily with students and students can share back.

One of the amazing things about Google Classroom is it is constantly being updated with new and exciting features.  Teachers are able to give feedback to Google and they listen and change Classroom to meet our needs.  As the video states, it is like the classroom's mission control.  

Are you ready to blast off and learn about this powerful classroom tool that will make your life and your student's life easier, more efficient and open new channels of communication, collaboration, and more?


Stayed tuned in the upcoming days for nuggets to start your journey!




Friday, October 30, 2015

ELA in a Digital Age: Online Text Sources

Check out this collection of Online Informational Text Source I have put together.  Some offer leveled text and others do not.  All are targeting students as their audience.


Consider subscribing to Tween Tribune as a teacher and setting up student accounts.  It is a “a free online educational service offered by the Smithsonian for use by K-12 grade Teachers and students. TTribune consists of daily news sites for kids, tweens, and teens, and includes text, photos, graphics, and audio and/or video materials prepared by the Smithsonian and others about current events, history, art, culture and science.”   When you set up your students, you enter their lexile level, so that they receive content at their level.  Awesome!


Give it a try using one of my sample student accounts:
User Name
Password
Lexile Level
primary-sch
cherry8677
500
intermediate-sch
kiwi7164
830
middle-sch
apple4989
1050
highschool-sch
mango0661
1200
Once logged in,


1. Check your assignment dashboard.
2. Read the assigned article(s).
3. Take the quiz and answer the critical thinking question for each assigned article.
4. Review your assignment dashboard and complete any outstanding work.


From the teacher end, quite easy to manage.  Can’t wait to see what data I get. It might get messy with many of you using the same log in, but give it a look.

       
Another interesting site for upper Elementary and Middle level teachers is Common Lit.  It is created by teachers for teachers.  Teachers identify texts that will engage students and are good for discussion. The articles are sorted by Lexile levels and text complexity and also by theme.  It is FREE!  It is a great site to check out and use to help students read, form opinions and discuss topics and themes of interest.


Other sites to Check out (if you aren’t already):
Readworks ~ this site provides text and reading passages at different levels for different themes, topics, and reading skills.


Myvocabulary ~ a great vocabulary resource for all subjects and skills.  Give it a look!


Wonderopolis ~ one of my favorite text based sites, for all ages.  Check out the Wonder of the Day and all the wonders …..


Readtheory ~ a free web tool that determines student’s individual reading level and then gives them reading passages and questions to develop reading and comprehension skills


Actively Learn ~ a website that connects, reading, higher level thinking, discussion, assessment, annotating text, and more into one web tool.  Geared to middle and high school grades.  




Resources used for this post:
Ebener, Sarah. "Using Engaging Informational Articles in the English Classroom and Beyond." Straight Outta Kemper. N.p., 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. <https://ebenerblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/using-engaging-informational-articles-in-the-english-classroom-and-beyond/>.

Tucker, Catlin. "3 Websites Where You Can Find Complex Informational Text." Blended Learning & Technology in the Classroom. N.p., 8 Sept. 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. <http://catlintucker.com/page/3/>.