Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Just Do It

"That's so cool!  I'd like to try that."
"Yeah, that seemed neat.  I should check it out."
"I really need to learn to do that."
"I'll try it after report cards...after parent conferences...after this project is graded...maybe during summer...maybe once my year gets started..."

Sound familiar?  We've all said it.  I know I have.  To address this issue, I'm going to borrow some advice from our friends at Nike.  JUST DO IT!

When it comes to those things we view as extras in our teaching, they often get pushed aside for "later", but later never seems to come around.  The problem is that many of those extras that have to do with technology can no longer afford to be seen as extras.  They are necessary.  Innovation in the classroom is necessary.

My advice to you today is to just do it.  Pick something that you've been wanting to try or look into that is related to technology and take an hour, or more if you have it, and check it out.  Plan for how you can use it with your students next year.  Go for it.  Take the time.  Do it now.  You won't regret it.

Having just finished the CUE Rock Star conference, I have a few ideas for you on things you can check out in case you have misplaced your "I need to check into this later" list.

Student Response Tools
Want to increase engagement and get every student involved?  Hear every voice?  Check out these online student response systems.  They are easy and oh so much fun!
  • Kahoot
  • Socrative
  • Go Formative
  • Google Forms fits in this category too, but Google Forms is so much more.  Google Forms is a teacher's best friend.  My students used it almost daily.  If you are only going to look at one tool this summer - this is the one you should look at.  Here is a link to my Google Forms 101 blog post.  There are some links at the bottom of the post to give ideas on how to use Google Forms in the classroom.  I've got more Google Forms posts planned for you as the school year gets closer.  

iPad Apps for Teachers and Students
  • Paper 53 - Amazing drawing app for making art as well as sketch notes.  This app is free.  Available only for iOS.
  • Explain Everything - This is a whiteboard app which allows you to draw like you would on a whiteboard and make a video recording.  It allows you to import images, video, text, etc. and include them all in a video with your voice over.  Very handy to make instructional videos or for students to create movies and show evidence of learning.  This app is worth every penny of the $2.99!  Available for iOS and Android.
  • Tellagami - This allows you or your students to take a photo, a stock picture, or a background you create, and make a little animated character to go in it.  You can record your voice and make your character "talk" and turn it into a video.  It's pretty neat!  This app is free, but does offer in app purchases. Available for iOS and Android. 

Other Cool Stuff
  • Doctopus - This is an awesome free tool with a strange name.  To quote the Chrome Web Store - "Doctopus gives teachers the ability to mass-copy (from a starter template), share, monitor student progress, and manage grading and feedback for student projects in Google Drive."  If you don't use Google Classroom or Hapara to manage student work in Google Drive, then Doctopus is a pretty handy tool!  It is an add on that you put in Google Sheets.  It used to be a script you had to install for each individual sheet and it was pretty messy.   It is much nicer now that it is an add on and you only have to do it once.  Here is a little video about how it works.  The New Doctopus  I'm not generally a huge fan of video tutorials, but this is a good one and is only about 12 and a half minutes long.
  • - This allows you to make notes to go with a video and synchronize the notes with the time in the video where they are applicable.  You can click on the notes and it takes you to that part of the video as well.  This seems really cool and it can connect with your Google Drive so you can store your videos there.  
  • ThingLink - This is a fun one.  This website allows you to take a picture, and make it interactive.  You can place little "buttons" on your photo and make text pop up, a video can play, or it can even be a link to a website.  This has many possibilities.  You can create one on a certain topic for your students to explore, or you can have the students make one as part of a project of some sort.  
  • Padlet - Padlet is a great collaboration space.  It gives you a sharable poster board so to speak.  You can share the link and others can then post things on it that are like little digital sticky notes.  They can share ideas as a brain storm, post links, photos, or videos to "turn in" an assignment of some sort.  There are many possibilities for this tool.

Ok.  That should be enough to at least get you started with something.  No excuses now.  Take the time to check out those things you've always thought of using, but have never taken the time to learn.  Just do it.

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog today.  I hope you found something helpful.  See you again soon for more helpful tech tips! 

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