Thursday, May 28, 2015

Make Beliefs Comix


As a technology integration specialist, I'm a firm believer in utilizing technologies that naturally fit in the classroom that are time efficient and convenient for both the student and the teacher. There are quite a few tools out there that allow students to create custom comic strips. Most of them are either not free or they are too tedious to make it worthwhile recommending to teachers due to time constraints in the classroom...that is unless the teacher specifically asks for it. Make Beliefs Comix solves that issue.

How to Make a Comic!

Publishing

There are also fun ways that the students to publish their comics. Students could post on a class blog, share in a class Google Slides presentation, upload to a shared Google Drive folder or even print them to hang around the room. Teachers could also use their class Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook page to share with the community members. Social media provides an exciting opportunity to keep families informed in the educational process. What better way to engage parents than by posting a class set of comics made by their kids?

If students require more than one comic to complete a project, they could piece them together in a Google Slides presentation, Keynote, or PowerPoint. Keynote and Powerpoint already have a voice recording option within the program. The voice over option would really enhance the project without much extra time spent. On Google slides, Students could record the presentation using a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Snagit. On an iPad, they could piece the images together and do a voice over using Shadow Puppet or 30 Hands. Any screencasting tool would get the job done. 

More Resources

Make Beliefs Comics also provides other great resources and materials for teachers to use. There are lesson plans, various language options, special needs resources, printables, writing tools and much more. These tools are all available toward the bottom of the site and they are for free. 


Other Alternatives

Earlier this week, one of my colleagues was having students create comic strips in the traditional manner with paper and colored pencils. She wanted the project digitized because of the ease at which students can share their work. So the students took pictures of their comic strip, inserted them into Shadow Puppet, and recorded their voice reading the comic aloud. It only took a few more minutes for the students to publish their comic in this format. Combining traditional methods with newer technologies provides a fun twist to the learning experience.

Another fantastic tool that you can use is Storyboard That. It gives the students more options and would work better if more time was allotted for a project. With Storyboard That, students can actually manipulate the individual parts of the characters. This requires quite a bit of time and more of a learning curve. It would make a good project for students to complete both at school and as homework. The great part is, the website is both computer and tablet friendly. No special app is required.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kindergarten Sea Animals

A photo posted by Lance Yoder (@edgaged) on

Mrs. Kuehnert's kindergarten just wrapped up a sea animal project today! They used a variety of tools over several days to make this possible. I met with Mrs. Kuehnert last week to discuss tools that would work best for her students and followed up this week helping her students place all their images into Shadow Puppet.

Throughout the week, Mrs. Kuehnert would read texts and provide information about various undersea animals (roughly one per day). The students found an image and wrote a fact that they learned about the animal on top of the image. After several days, they had four images and four facts written. They later pieced the images together in Shadow Puppet and recorded their voice reading their facts. To wrap it up, Mrs. Kuehnert created a Google Drive folder and shared it with her students to create a gallery. Students really enjoyed watching the class' videos.

Here is what they used:

Photos for Class

One of the best tools that came out in the last year is Photos for Class. Here, students can find creative commons images that are (mostly) safe for the classroom. Occasionally there are some questionable images, but teachers can report them to be evaluated later. Students were able to quickly search and save images. 

















Hello Chalk

The kindergarten students were accustomed to Hello Crayons and Hello Color Pencils as they have used these tools in multiple projects. The problem with Hello Crayons is that the writing is too big for full sentences. The problem with Hello Color Pencils is that the writing is too small and is too hard to see over top of an image. The students imported their images into Hello Chalk as their sentences showed up clearly and were just the right size for full sentences. 


Shadow Puppet

Shadow Puppet is the tool I reintroduced to the class. It had been a few weeks since they had used it, so a refresher was necessary. We placed each annotated, saved image into Shadow Puppet. The students were to introduce themselves and read their undersea animal facts to make a whole video project. As students become more familiar with Shadow Puppet, they could insert pointers, text, and music to enhance the video. Since I was dealing with kindergarten, we only focused on inserting their images and recording their voices.

Google Drive

Lastly, the students uploaded their projects into a shared Google Drive folder. That way the teacher can receive their video, and their classmates can enjoy watching the videos. They love the opportunity to share!

Samples





Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PingPong


Visit www.gogopp.com to try out PingPong. It is a free interactive response system that works on any Internet-enabled device. Students can submit multiple choice, true and false, text, and drawing/image responses from a web browser or mobile app (Android or iOS).

Before beginning, teachers will want to make sure that they have an Evernote account. It is the only way teachers can import images into their presentation or export data. Evernote is free with up to 60 MB of usage per month. Beyond that, teachers will need to purchase more access. If you are not a heavy Evernote user, casual use of PingPong will work within your free limits.

I created a video tutorial to give teachers/presenters a feel for how PingPong works. I presented from the web version which has limitations. One major limitation is the ability to download data; the teacher must be using the iPad or Android app. From the iPad or Android app, a teacher can choose to export the data and it will be sent to the user's Evernote account. The other limitation is the ability to teach straight from the web app. The mobile app allows the teacher to have a whiteboard screen which would be handy if the teacher were projecting his/her device.

To get students connected, the teacher has a class code. The students connect to the class through the mobile app or from www.gogopp.com through the web version. Here is the basic rundown of a PingPong session.


Teaching from PingPong

Another feature that I like is the ability to teach from PingPong. If the teacher can project his/her Android or iOS device onto a screen, the teacher can import images from Evernote, use the presentation tools (timer and name randomizer), and draw directly on the screen. In a sense, PingPong can replace an interactive whiteboard as the teacher projects his/her screen, and students can respond with their own devices in multiple formats.

Here is what you will need/how the presentation mode looks:



My favorite feature in PingPong is the drawings. I've been looking for a student response system that allowed drawing since Infuse Learning shut down in the spring of 2015. The drawing feature makes PingPong usable at any grade level. I'm looking forward to trying this with kindergarten and first-grade students!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Educreations.com


Educreations is a free service that has been popular for quite a while. It was mostly made popular for its iPad app. As more of a variety of device types have appeared in the school realm, the web version provides a simple and easy platform for teachers to flip lessons and students to respond.

With the free version, the user space is pretty limited. (50 MB.) However, it provides a good platform for casual flipping needs or for those just starting to create instructional videos. It works especially well for teachers that desire for students to create video lessons in a nice convenient manner where the student videos appear automatically in the teacher accounts hassle free. As a teacher, I love having quick feedback about a lesson. How easy would it be to send a quick problem in picture format to students and have them respond in screencast format?

This blog post features how to use the web version of Educreations and get students connected to your Educreations class. If you are looking for a simple and easy webtool for students to express their learning, Educreations is for you.

How to Create an Educreations Screencast

Creating a video on Educreations.com is really simple. It is nice for teachers that want to create quick videos without the burden of hosting the videos on a separate website. The web version features an image import, several colored markers, and an eraser. The simplicity of Educreations allows you to focus more on the lesson and less on the tool.



Create a Class

If teachers are planning on using Educreations, he/she will want to take advantage of creating classes. Classes would obviously allow the teacher to separate information by subject area. However, teachers could also use classes to differentiate or personalize the learning experience within a subject area. Here is how to create a class. 




Student Sign Up

It is really easy for students to sign up for Educreations. However, teachers will need to provide their class code so that students can easily connect the accounts. Make sure you get your class code by clicking on your classes and selecting the class name that you want to have students connect with. 





Share Videos with Students

Once students have accounts, you are ready to start sending videos to the students. You can select your video and assign them to multiple classes. This would allow you to differentiate or personalize learning within multiple groups. 




Access Student Videos

Finding student videos is simple. Once you select your class, the list of student names will appear. Clicking on the student name will reveal any videos they have created for that particular class. 




Students Can Join Multiple Classes

Once the students have an account, they can connect to multiple classes. This is handy for students with multiple teachers or teachers that want to better organize their videos or student videos. 



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

OneNote Class Notebook Creator

OneNote Class Notebook Overview


















OneNote Class Notebook Creator provides a great opportunity to keep students organized. Through your school's Office 365 account, you can quickly set up a shared notebook on any topic. Students can collaborate in the Collaboration Space, pull classroom content from the Content Library and provide easy access to their work in their own section.

I've posted about OneNote in the past from the perspective of students creating their own notebooks to organize research and utilize as reading/writing notebooks. It is a great tool as students can import materials from the Internet into their notebooks and take notes directly on top or to the side of the content. They can do the same with physical materials as they can snap photos from their mobile device or use the webcam on a laptop. I've had teachers use it as digital portfolios as well. Either way, it makes a good choice for students as there are multiple ways to import and input information no matter what device you are using.

OneNote Class Notebook Creator will streamline the process as teachers can quickly share and gain access to a class set of OneNote Notebooks. Multiple class notebooks can be created to fit your students' needs. If you need a small group workspace or a whole-class book study, OneNote will fit the bill.

Adding Class Notebook Creator

Your system administrator will need to add Class Notebook Creator to your Office 365 accounts. After they do so, it would be in your best interest to add it as one of your apps on your app quick launcher. To do so, access your school's webmail or OneDrive account to find the quick launcher.


Create Class Notebooks

The next step is to create your notebooks. Decide on your focus as you create them for multiple purposes. Start with something simple like a math notebook. Decide what section tabs each student should have in their notebooks. Think about how you want it organized so you can quickly flip through each notebook and find the student created content. Once you create those sections and share it with your students, every student will have a notebook organized the same way.



Sharing Notebooks

Students automatically receive and email stating that they have gained access to a notebook. The only problem I see is that the link in the email takes them to the web version of OneNote. Then the students have to log into their accounts and choose "Open in OneNote". To save them from the hassle, I suggest you copy the link to the notebook and either post it on your learning management system or email it. The copied link will cause the student devices to open the link in OneNote rather than the web version.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Safeshare.TV


I recently had a teacher mention to me her frustrations with Youtube. This particular teacher understands the value of Youtube as there are a vast amount of resources on it. However, the advertisements can be frustrating. Some are a little too graphic for elementary students. This can cause your amazingly well-planned lesson to completely derail. I think we've all been there at some point in time. 

Julie Becker introduced Safeshare.TV to me recently. This is a great resource for displaying ad-free versions of Youtube videos. It eliminates the suggested videos on the side. It also removes the pop-up adds that occur in the middle of a video. In my video, I demonstrate how to use Safeshare and make bookmarks in Chrome with your "safe" videos. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Money Madness


Ms. Abbee's third graders had a blast pulling in all the information they learned about money and currency and putting it into a cool presentation on Shadow Puppet. The inspiration for this project came from the book Money Madness by David A. Adler. Many technology tools were used on the class set of iPads. I want to highlight each of those.

Photos for Class

Photos for Class is a great resource if you need school appropriate creative commons photos. The attribution is directly posted on the images, and the images are of high quality. I've been thrilled with this site as I have been waiting for a good image safe search since East Noble began their 1:1 technology journey. Ms. Abbee informed me that the students found a few photos that were not class appropriate, but the "report photo" option gives her assurance that the product can be improved.

Crayola Photo Mix-N-Mash

Crayola Photo Mix-N-Mash has become a favorite as students can import pictures, text, and drawings onto a canvas. The flexibility of this tool makes it a winner as students can use a multitude of digital art tools for free. A detailed review of the app can be found here. Ms. Abbee had her students make "slides" for their presentation. The combination of the borders, text and images provided an authentic experience for the students.

Shadow Puppet

Shadow Puppet has been my "go-to app" for recordings. The ease of use, web hosting by Shadow Puppet, and the ability to download your videos to the camera roll as well as other apps make this app a must for every classroom K-12. (More information on how to use Shadow Puppet can be found here.)  Ms. Abbee had her students place all their slides from Crayola Photo Mix-N-Mash into Shadow Puppet to record their presentations.

Google Drive

Google Drive provides a fun an exciting opportunity for students to share big video projects such as Money Madness. Ms. Abbee creates a shared folder for the students to access and the students upload their videos for all to view. This creates a video gallery that all students can easily access. The process is so simple that I've done the exact same thing with Kindergarten students. I also helped Ms. Abbee make the Google Drive folder available for parents to view by making a "view-only" link to post on her blog.

TodaysMeet

TodayMeet is a fun way for students to collaborate or back-channel about a topic. Without my prompting, Ms. Abbee created a TodaysMeet room, posted the QR code to the site and had students give feedback about the videos uploaded into Google Drive and the learning experience in general. She plans on using this tool to engage students in class discussions and teach them how to properly read and respond online. (More information on how to get www.todaysmeet.com rolling in your class can be found here.)

Samples

I'll wrap up this post full of quick reviews with several prime examples. I apologize for the volume level of the classroom, but it is an issue that is tough to avoid when there is a time-crunch. I suggested to Ms. Abbee to have a few of the students make a second recording in a quiet location.





Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kahoot: Ghost Mode


Kahoot has been a popular choice among teachers as it allows them to create and share assessments, collect data or even drive a discussion. (More information on how to get Kahoot started can be found here.) It is also popular with students as they love the competitive nature within it. I actually used it for family tech nights when teaching digital citizenship to students and their family members. It works great as a presentation as you can pause between each question.

Ghost Mode

Kahoot recently added a feature called "ghost mode" where teachers can launch a previous Kahoot game and students can compete against that session. This could be handy for a post assessment scenario or a review for a small group. Here is how to run a ghost mode Kahoot game.



Parent Involvement/Home Connections

I also envision ghost mode to be something usable for students to use at home. This would be a great way for parents to stay informed about the learning experiences in the classroom and students can review concepts as homework. However, this does limit who can participate at home as only students that have more than one Internet-enabled device can participate. 

I created a parent letter that you can download and modify for yourself. It includes a link to a video to inform parents how to run a ghost mode game. Feel free to change the letter to suit your classroom needs. If you have suggestions on how I should modify the letter, please feel free to share those in the comments. 


Ghost Mode on Your Website

Another great way to keep students and parents connected to your ghost mode sessions is to post it on your teacher website. Adding a link directly to your website will drive families to your web page and help improve the parent/teacher communication. This could also be handy if you have students in the class that need to review a concept you covered on Kahoot. Students could partner up with their devices. One could run the session and one student could have the clicker. 

I'm a big fan of Blogger, so the directions for adding a ghost mode link on your website pertain to using Blogger for a teacher website. The same concept applies to all website building resources teachers use as links can be posted. 




UPDATE ALERT (5/19/2015)

My previous video is only slightly outdated. Because of my post about Ghost Mode, Kahoot was kind enough to give me a "heads-up" to let me know they were making a slight change to the site. The only difference is now they have an official "share link" button that allows you to quickly copy the ghost mode link. This makes it much easier to find than the method in my previous video. See video below.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kindergarten Family Tech Night


Kindergarten Family Tech night was a blast! We had a pretty good turnout as several families were able to see what kinds of fun learning experiences their young ones can have using their school-issued iPad. We even had some students in more advanced grades join us with their iPads from home to try out the activities! 

For Kindergarten Family Tech Night, students made a video project using several tools. Here is an example: 


Here is a rundown of how they made it: 
  1. We first used Photos for Class to find pictures that match a specific color. I love Photos for Class as it provides students with creative commons photos with the citations directly on the images. For the most part, the search is safe for elementary students. From time to time, a questionable photo appears, but users can press "report photo" so that Photos for Class can review the image and determine the future of it on their site. For the images in this project, the students searched a color and numerous images popped up to match it. 
  2. Next the kindergarten students used either Hello Color Pencils or Hello Crayons to write their name and a sentence in relation to the image. So I shared the example of a green pepper and wrote, "The pepper is green." Make sure students save when they are finished so that they can use the annotated image in another app. 
  3. The third app we used was Chatterpix. The students imported their annotated images into Chatterpix, drew a smile and recorded their sentence read aloud. Kids love to make images come to life with the use of Chatterpix. Teachers love it as they can glean a lot of information about the student's learning through these 30-second videos. 
  4. Last step was to upload all the videos to a shared Google Drive folder. Not only does this allow me to receive all the videos, but it creates a gallery where they can view their friend's final products as well. Students love the ability to share their work through Google Drive. 
Want to view a few fun samples? Look no further. 





We wrapped up the evening with a quick game of Kahoot with kindergarten sight words. I used number and color words and the students had to select the correct spelling. If you are not familiar with Kahoot, please check out my post about it so you can familiarize yourself with this valuable teaching resource. If you are already a Kahoot user, here is the direct link to my Kindergarten Sight Words Kahoot game. 

I look forward to doing more Family Tech Nights next year. It provides a fun opportunity for the students to share the benefits of technology in the classroom with the community.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Quizizz


Earlier this school year, I posted some information about Kahoot and the response from my teachers was great. Teachers and students love it as it spices up the world of assessment. One drawback of the way Kahoot is designed is that it is primarily teacher paced. This is great for discussion, but students tend to look at their neighbor's device when they don't know an answer. The solution to this issue is Quizizz. 

Launching a Quizizz Session

Quizizz, much like Kahoot, requires that students participate by using a code on the site. Students will access http://join.quizizz.com. Once the students punch in the code and give their name, they are ready to participate.

What makes it different is the fact that it is student-paced. As a student answers a question, they do not have to wait on their peers. The next question will pop up on their own screen and they are free to answer when ready. This helps eliminate the issue of cheating. To add test security, the teacher can also launch Quizizz with the questions randomized. View the video below to get a better idea of how a session would run.


Public Quizizz Games and Editing

Teachers have the option of sharing their games with the public as well. This benefits everyone as teachers can utilize premade Quizizz games or make a duplicate copy of one to customize and tailor it the class' needs. The following video demonstrates how to find public Quizizz games and make a duplicate copy so that it can be edited. 


Reports

After your session is over, make sure you grab the report before you leave. Then you can go back and analyze the data to help drive instruction and provide insight on student learning. At the point of this post, I've had difficulty locating the reports after a game has been run and I've left the site. I recommend making sure you download the data after the round is up regardless to be sure you have it regardless of how you plan to use it.





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Plickers


Plickers is a free resource that works well for classrooms that do not have an abundance of technology. Even classrooms that are in a 1:1 technology scenario can benefit as there are frequent times that student devices fail, aren't assigned to new students, or the teacher just needs to mix things up.

In the picture above, Plickers is being used with about 40-50 middle school kids in my church's youth group to review content, as well as drive some discussion. The instant feedback allows issues and discussion topics to arise. This is especially handy in scenarios where you need to get to know your audience. A presenter cannot assume too much.

My principal at Wayne Center Elementary, Ms. Karen Gandy, used it to poll staff on their feelings about the progress they have made this year as a staff. These questions helped the entire staff know how they were feeling as everyone had a voice, and it was kept completely anonymous.

How a Plickers Session Works


Materials you'll need:

Creating Classes

Once you create your Plickers account, you'll need to create some classes. In order to keep data separated, I highly recommend making several classes for various purposes. As a former fourth grade teacher, I would consider even making a different class for each assessment I run and then archiving them when I'm finished. This will ensure that the data does not get intermingled with multiple sessions.


Question Library

The purpose of the library is so that you can recycle questions and assign them to multiple classes. In the library, teachers can create new questions or utilize old ones to build an assessment or poll. Items in the library can also be archived for later use to reduce the amount of clutter in your library. 



(Update 5/16/2015)

Plickers recently added the ability to add images to the questions. Adding images not only broadens the capability of questioning, but it also makes it more accessible for struggling readers or primary students.


Reports

Teachers and presenters can use the reports feature to go back and analyze data. This data could be used to further instruction, guide discussion, or refine the way their material is presented. 


I highly recommend using Plickers to start a discussion. Just try one question to get a feel for how your students feel on a topic. It gives all students a voice.