Social media can be a great way for teachers to learn about new tools and to interact with other educators. For this week's Tech Tip Tuesday, I am focusing on how educators can utilize Twitter. Twitter was started in 2006, and soon after it began, teachers started using it to share resources and ideas from all over the world. Twitter is considered a micro-blogging platform; Tweets are restricted to 140 characters with a few exceptions. This makes it a great way to engage in conversation, share concise ideas, and link to useful websites, blog posts, and other educational resources.
Lots of great resources exist to help teachers get started on Twitter, so to save time, I am going to link to some of the best I've found. Check these out:
Twitter for Educators: A Beginner's Guide by Amber Coggin
Twitter for Teachers: A Guide for Beginners by Creative Education
Getting Started Using Twitter for Educational Excellence (podcast) by Vicki Davis
Twitter Tutorial for Beginners - Especially Teachers (YouTube video) by Julie Smith
The Twitteraholic's Ultimate Guide to Tweets, Hashtags, and All Things Twitter by Sue Waters via The Edublogger
Educators New to Twitter (website)
If you need more help, please send me a message! Once you have set up a Twitter account, here's a list of educators I would recommend following. After you have followed several, Twitter will suggest other accounts to follow. I follow all the people I am recommending, and they are all active on Twitter and share great information and resources. Several of the guides linked above give follower recommendations as well.
Next, consider participating in or lurking during an education Twitter chat. Twitter chats are generally held every week at a specified time. For example, educators in Oklahoma (#OklaED) lead a Twitter chat every Sunday from 8:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. (central time). Some Twitter chats are based on a specific subject (English) or grade level (3rd grade), while others may be organized around a book (Teach Like a Pirate, #TLAP) or an educational practice (flipped classroom, #flipclass). This Google Site lists all official Education Chats on Twitter and also provides a Google Calendar of the chats, which can be configured for the major U.S. time zones. Look for one or two education Twitter chats that interest you. The hashtag (#) is important because that's how you will follow the conversation. Although you can use the regular Twitter app or website to participate in a Twitter chat, I would recommend using TweetDeck (on a computer) or HootSuite (on a mobile device). Both of these tools make it much easier to follow a hashtag (#). If you would like more information about how to participate in/lurk during a Twitter chat, please check out one of these guides:
How Do You Participate in a Twitter Chat? by Matt Renwick
How to Get Started with Twitter Chats by Monica Burns via SimpleK12 (this post includes a short video)
Participating in a Twitter Chat by Alice Keeler
My final recommendation with respect to Twitter is a service called Twurly. I will admit that I don't make time for Twitter every day; in fact, I will sometimes go several weeks without really checking out my Twitter feed. However, I still like to know what people are sharing on Twitter, especially what resources are being shared by other educators. Twurly allows me to see all of the great links without having to weed through my Twitter feed. Once you sign-up on Twurly's website with your Twitter account, Twurly sends a daily email with the best links that were shared by the people you follow on Twitter. It only takes me about a minute to scan through the 50 or so headlines of the shared links to decide which links (if any), I want to click on and read about. Here's a small sample of the email I received today:
Twitter can be a lot to take in. The best advice I have received about it is don't worry about trying to catch all of the information and resources. It is impossible. Instead, dip your toe in every once in a while and look for resources that will help you improve just one thing in your teaching practice.
Do you use Twitter to improve your practice or to learn about educational resources? What educators would you recommend that teachers follow?
For this week's tech tip, I'm going to change it up a bit and share one of my favorite mobile device apps: WordSwag (for both iOS and Android)! This is the one app I wouldn't want to live without. Although I use it mainly for personal enjoyment and creativity, I have used it with my students and will suggest ways to use it in education in the post today.
The WordSwag app allows the user to combine a picture with text. Several apps exist for this, but I love WordSwag because of all the options it offers. For starters, the WordSwag user can select a stock image, a solid-color background, an image from pixabay, or a picture from his or her own camera roll. The image can then be cropped to fit several different social media posts or can be left original size. After the size has been decided, a filter (such as 'Vibrant' or 'Broadway' - shown next to the original flower image below) can be added and the brightness of the picture can also be adjusted. (Photo Credit: Hillary Hurst)
The next step is to add text. The user can type in a word, phrase, or quote of his or her own or can let the app generate a quote from one of these categories: Classics, So True, Stay Hungry, Get Hyped, Good Morning, BFFS, Be Mindful, Cheese Please, or Quickies. The text can be formatted with many different "font" types. Some of the "font" options actually combine several fonts and font sizes to create a unique look. I have the paid version, which offers more choices, but the free version still has plenty to choose from. The user also chooses the text color or colors and the level of color transparency. Three examples are shown below with different fonts and font colors.
The short video below (from the WordSwag website) demonstrates some of the available options and highlights some of the ways people use WordSwag.
WordSwag has several possible uses in education:
WordSwag is user-friendly and intuitive. The final creations are easy to save to the device's camera roll and share via social media. I have created images for several different purposes, including the Tech Tip Tuesday icon on this post. Some of my favorite creations are below:
On President's Day, I had the privilege to lead four district-wide professional development sessions over technology apps and websites. I chose to focus the sessions on tech creation and presentation tools for teachers and students. I created the following Symbaloo Webmix to share with attendees so they could check out the websites as I introduced them and have the Webmix as a future resource.
Almost all of the websites on the Webmix offer a free version of their product(s) or at least offer a free trial period. I know most teachers don't have a ton of personal money to spend on additional classroom resources and tech tools!
In my original presentation, I introduced the websites in six categories: slideshows, posters & infographics, timelines, videos, website & portfolio builders, and others. In the Webmix, they are not delineated by category, but they do follow the listed category order. (For example, the websites in the top row are all slideshow resources. The next two websites are excellent for creating posters and flyers, and the following three websites can be used to create infographics.)
So far I have only used a handful of these websites personally, but I have my students create presentations and timelines using several of these tech tools. I enjoy showing them free, creative, web-based alternatives to Microsoft Office products. In addition, I like for them to figure out how to use the websites on their own. Most of these tools are simple to use and allow students to learn a new skill without step-by-step instructions. If a student does run into an issue, I'll often ask another student to help them solve it. Sometimes we run into non-fixable problems (such as how they can save their projects in a format to turn in to Edmodo), but I remain flexible and give them plenty of latitude as long as they show effort. Ultimately, it is a lot of fun to look at final projects created with many different tools.
What are your favorite edtech creation and presentation tools? What websites do I need to add to the Webmix? Please comment below!
P.S. I added Common Sense Media, Twitter, and this website to the Webmix as resources for additional edtech information. I also added a link to a survey to gauge the impact of Monday's presentation and Tech Tip Tuesday.
Each week I receive a few emails from educators highlighting their most recent blog posts. Some of the emails I regularly find useful are from Matt Miller, author of the book, Ditch That Textbook. He has also created a website with the same name, where he shares practical education technology ideas (often Google-related as he is a Google-Certified Innovator) and reflections from teaching. Find out more about Mr. Miller HERE.
His most recent blog post is actually a guest blog post by Rayna Freedman, a 5th-grade teacher from Massachusetts. This post is particularly timely because Ms. Freedman writes in detail about the process she uses for student blogging, which is something I mentioned in last week’s tech tips. Even though Ms. Freedman works with younger students, her process is well thought out and helpful for any teacher who would like to try student blogging. In the post, she shares comments from her students, and it’s easy to understand why her students enjoy blogging as an alternative to regular homework.
In another recent post, Mr. Miller provides “Quick Google Forms time savers for teachers.” This blog post gives simple instructions on how to create a Google Form and offers several ideas on how teachers can use Google Forms to save time and collect needed data. The following link, http://forms.google.com/create, will take you directly to a new Google Form, ready for you to begin.
Finally, in a blog post from February 2, Mr. Miller reflects on a statement made by Levi Lusko, “Commitment is good. Connections are better.” I appreciate Mr. Miller’s thoughts about connecting and learning for both teachers and students. Sometimes even committed teachers can feel isolated, but connecting globally with other educators can provide new opportunities to grow and become a better teacher. Similarly, students should have the chance to interact and learn with others – both locally and globally.
Take a few minutes and check out Matt Miller’s website for more awesome information! You can also sign up to receive his emails and receive a free e-book: 101 Practical Ways to Ditch That Textbook.
Today I am sharing several awesome website builders and blogging platforms. These (mostly) free web tools have many uses in education including
My first recommendation is Weebly. When I started this website a few years ago, I researched the options and Weebly was my top choice. The drag and drop website builder is easy to use and doesn’t require users to know how to code. Weebly has a decent number of templates from which to choose and is often adding new ones. I’m still using the free version of Weebly, and it does have some limitations. However, I like that Weebly offers paid versions that would allow me to purchase my domain name and have more functionality. I look forward to doing this in the near future.
A very similar website platform is Wix. I don’t have any personal experience with Wix, but it looks a lot like Weebly. Wix also uses drag and drop and has many beautiful pre-designed templates. According to this comparison of the two website builders, Wix is more popular but definitely has some drawbacks. For example, users can only select the pre-designed Wix templates and cannot change the template after it is chosen. However, Wix does offer more design flexibility because users can drag and drop elements anywhere on the webpage.
A third website builder is WordPress. WordPress has long been known as the most popular and professional blogging site, but it also has features that make it similar to Weebly and Wix. Users can build an entire website with multiple pages and not just a blog. It is helpful to know how to code when using WordPress.
Another great option is Google Sites, which has the obvious advantage of integrating seamlessly with other apps in the G Suite. Google Sites has been around for a while, but few people used it because it wasn’t user-friendly and it didn’t have a lot of options. However, Google recently made a major upgrade to Google Sites, and it now functions similarly to the sites listed above. I haven’t really tried it yet, but I love that it would integrate with my Google Classroom and Google Calendar. Therefore, it may be something I use in the future for a classroom website.
The four options above are website builders, but each platform includes the ability to write and post blog entries. The advantage is the ability to create an entire website with multiple pages. On the other hand, Google’s Blogger is a great option if the user just wants a blog without the hassle of a website. Blogger has unique templates and simple blogging tools. Content is added on Blogger sites strictly through blog posts. My first blog was on Blogger, and I really liked the simplicity.
A few other websites that deserve mentioning are Kidblog and Edublogs. Both sites were created for students to blog and post original content. The teacher creates an account and student accounts are linked to the teacher’s. The teacher can monitor all student activity and decide how private or public to make student blog posts and comments. The downside of Kidblog is that it is only free for a 30-day trial. However, at $44 per teacher per year, it may be worth the investment. One advantage of Edublogs is that it is powered by WordPress, which means it utilizes the same templates and website-builder tools as WordPress. Plus, it would be fairly simple to move an Edublog website to WordPress.
The final tool I would recommend is Seesaw. It is a simple digital portfolio tool aimed at elementary-age children. Although it may be too young for high school students, I like how it empowers students to document their learning and allows parents to see what their children are doing at school. I appreciate the fact that content can be added from various electronic devices using both the Seesaw website and the Seesaw app.
Although I haven’t tried it with my students yet, I really like the idea of student blogs or digital portfolios. I like that my students would be creating projects for an authentic audience and not just for me. Additionally, students would be able to take their work with them after they leave my class and could possibly submit their digital portfolio as part of a job or college application.
If you have thought about creating a teacher or classroom website, I encourage you to do it! It can be a great communication tool for you, your students, and their parents. It can also be a great way for you to share content from your lessons with other educators. I have found a lot of great lesson plans and project ideas from other teachers’ blogs. Be willing to share your knowledge and ideas with others – who knows who you might help and inspire!
This week I am sharing at least one resource for each of the core subject areas and a bonus website that I have used for character and digital citizenship lessons.
English – Several educators I know have recently talked a lot about the website, NoRedInk. It is an online tool for students to help them improve their grammar and writing. A teacher creates an account and sets up classes, similar to Edmodo, Google Classroom, and some of the websites mentioned last week. Teachers track student progress and understanding using five different types of assignments: planning diagnostic, unit diagnostic, practice, new quiz, and measure growth. The following video provides more information the benefits of NoRedInk.
Math – One of my favorite math websites is Desmos, in particular, the Desmos Classroom Activities. All of the activities are free and easily accessed. Again, teachers can create an account and add classes. This allows teachers to track their students’ progress and see how they are answering questions. Please watch the Desmos Welcome video below.
Another quick math resource is Would You Rather Math. The website author periodically releases “would you rather” questions that require students to decide which option (of two) they would choose. The twist is that students must use math to make and justify their decisions. The most recent question asks students to compare two credit cards and decide which credit card is the better option. Generally, there is no right or wrong answer, which gives students an opportunity to debate the answers.
Science – PhET Interactive Simulations is a website I recently found. It is a website created by the University of Colorado and offers free interactive simulations for science and math. Teachers can register to use the site, but I was able to run the simulations without an account. The simulations are organized both by subject and grade level. The website also has a Teaching Resources section and Teacher Tips for each simulation. The Teacher Tips are only available with a free account.
History/Government/Geography – Three good resources for history, government, and geography teachers are Library of Congress, The National Archives and Records Administration, and National Geographic (also great for science). The Library of Congress website can be used to find historical documents, photos, videos, maps, art, audio, and other artifacts. The National Archives has an overwhelming collection of material on U.S. history. The site does have resources specifically for educators. National Geographic also has an education section and teaching resources, which includes activities, lessons, and educational games.
Character/Digital Citizenship – One website I have used a lot is Common Sense Media. The lessons over digital citizenship and digital literacy are great conversation starters and help students think about online safety and responsibility. The website also has an area for educators to look for edtech products and see how other teachers rate the suggested websites and apps. The parent section has TV show and movie reviews.
What subject-specific websites or apps do you use and recommend? Please share resources in the comments!
If you are looking for a quick way to check for student understanding of new material, to give a quiz or formative assessment, or to provide a fun way to review for a test, several awesome websites are available! Here’s a short description of four that would be fun to try. Numerous others are available, too. I’ve tried to highlight a few things that make each of these unique.
Kahoot! is the “original” of the online gameshow-type review games. Teachers set-up the quiz in advance – either creating a new quiz or using one of the millions of Public Kahoot!s. Students join the game by going to kahoot.it on any device and entering the Game Pin given by the teacher. All questions and answers are displayed on a projector (and not on individual devices) so everyone answers at the same time. Points are awarded based on correct answers and speed of answering. The class works through one question at a time, which allows teachers to pause and discuss questions as needed.
Quizizz is one of the newer websites I have heard about, and it is often listed as an alternative to Kahoot!. One of the main differences from Kahoot! is that the questions and answers are displayed on each individual device, and students work through a quiz at their own pace. Students join a game with a code like Kahoot!, but Quizizz games can be played in class or can be assigned as homework.
Click HERE for a comparison of Kahoot! and Quizizz by Becky Keith on infogr.am
Socrative has three different options for assessment: Quiz, Space Race (competition), or Exit Ticket. A teacher can also ask a quick question, which gives generic answer choices to a verbal or projected question and answers. Students join the quiz or game with a code that allows them to join a “room” created by the teacher. Teachers can tag questions with state standards and can share quizzes with other teachers. Questions can be multiple choice, short answer, or true/false. Additionally, teachers can use the mastery tracker and reports to determine student understanding and progress.
Plickers is different from the others in that students DO NOT need their own device. Instead, students use a pre-printed card to display their answers. The cards can be printed for free on the Plickers website. Questions are restricted to multiple choice (up to four choices) or true/false. The teacher must have the Plickers app on his/her mobile device to scan student answers. Class and student information can be set-up online, which allows teachers to track individual student understanding and progress.
Two other review/quiz websites worth mentioning are Quizlet and Quizalize. Quizlet provides additional tools for studying, including flashcards. Quizalize touts itself as “the number one formative assessment tool” and is most similar to Socrative.
Let me know in the comments if you have used any of these formative assessment/quiz platforms, and if you have used more than one, let me know which one is your favorite!
EDpuzzle is a FREE interactive website (and app) that allows a teacher to take almost any video from the internet, edit it to include only the parts wanted, add audio commentary and questions for students, and create a virtual classroom to track student work. Click HERE for an EDpuzzle welcome and to give EDpuzzle’s tools a trial run.
Once teachers have created accounts, they may create their own content from videos already on EDpuzzle or may create content using an online video from elsewhere. Additionally, all created/edited videos are public, which allows teachers to use content created by others.
This is a great tool for using the “flipped classroom” model, but it has many other applications as well. In my class, I have shown an EDpuzzle video on my SmartBoard that included embedded questions for my students. I had edited the video to pause and display a question at several different points. My students answered these questions in an Edmodo assignment on their computers. I have not sent out a video to my students individually yet, but I plan to try it soon.
I also see this as a good tool for a teacher to use when he or she is planning to miss school. The substitute teacher can show a teacher-created or teacher-chosen EDpuzzle video on the SmartBoard and students can answer questions either on paper or digitally. The pauses and questions are built into the video, which can encourage better student engagement. As mentioned above, EDpuzzle also allows teachers to crop videos to show only specific parts, if needed.
EDpuzzle integrates with Google accounts, which allowed me to import my Business Management students directly from Google Classroom. It was a one-step process, and all of those students are now set-up within EDpuzzle. I do not currently use Google Classroom with my other classes, but it will be relatively easy to give my students a class code and have them create their own student accounts. Students are not required to have or use an email address to register. In addition to watching teacher-assigned videos and answering questions, students can create their own private videos using EDpuzzle’s tools.
If you are interested in learning more about EDpuzzle, I would suggest taking a look at these two blog posts:
Catlin Tucker provides step-by-step EDpuzzle instructions HERE.
Richard Byrne’s video shows the main features of EDpuzzle HERE.
This is a tool I plan to use more frequently this semester!
One of my goals for 2017 is to frequently share resources and online tools with my coworkers and administrators and help them implement more technology within our school. To keep myself on track, I stole a popular idea (Tech Tip Tuesday) and adapted it for my use. I sent out my first tech tip via email on Tuesday. This week, I shared about Symbaloo EDU, which I have also written about in the Resources section on this website. The following is my information about Symbaloo and how I use it with my students:
One of my favorite FREE online tools is Symbaloo, specifically Symbaloo EDU. Symbaloo is a website and an app that helps you remember, organize, and manage your online resources. In other words, it is a tool that saves your internet bookmarks so you can access them from any device! I often work from different devices throughout my day (school computers, laptop, tablet, phone) and need access to various websites for both school and personal use. This tool allows me to access a web resource regardless of what device I originally saved it on. Symbaloo helps save and organize resources by allowing you to create a Webmix (or multiple Webmixes) that is stored in the cloud. Below is a Webmix I created with links to EdTech Tools for Teachers. Each icon on the ONLINE VERSION of the Webmix is a link to that particular website.
I have also found uses for Symbaloo with my classes. Before doing a short unit on the basics of computer coding, I created a “Coding for Kids” Symbaloo Webmix (shown below). I shared the link to this Webmix with my students via our class Edmodo page and told them they could try any of the coding websites linked there. This gave them freedom to choose what type of coding they wanted to learn and also gave them a resource for learning coding on their own time.
Another Webmix (shown below) I created for my students gives them links to different “presentation and/or infographic creation” websites. After we cover Microsoft PowerPoint, I like to show them similar tools that are available online. We usually do at least one project using the websites on this Webmix, and I let them choose which one they would like to use.
Symbaloo is an easy way to share any online resources with students. For instance, if you would like your students to only use specific websites for a research project, you can create a Symbaloo with links to those webpages.
I am not going to go into the specifics of creating a Webmix here, but if you like what you see, go to www.symbalooedu.com or download the Symbaloo App and create an account. It does not take a lot of time to set up your first Webmix. Additionally, many awesome Webmixes have already been created by teachers, and you can use them without having to create your own!
High School Business & Technology Teacher in Skiatook, Oklahoma.
Tall Tech Teacher Website by Jamie Fithian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.