Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drinking From a Firehose - iPad Summit Day 1

I spent the day at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in San Diego and will return for another full day tomorrow.  Driving home tonight in the quiet of my car, I could almost hear the neurons firing in my brain.  I was feeling that wonderfully inspiring, yet at the same time exhausting, post-conference buzz of information overload.  My husband works in technology and he often attends big tech conferences.  When I call him and ask how it is going, "I feel like I am drinking from a firehose" is among the responses I usually get.  This analogy is very fitting to how I feel today.  So much information is being fired at you all at once and you feel like you come home with only bits and pieces of the good stuff.  There is too much to get it all down and remember it all.  I find in that moment, when you are left drenched from the firehose of great tips, tools, and lesson ideas - immediate reflection is critical.

Today's post isn't a specific tip or trick.  I know it is straying a little bit from my pattern here on the TeachingTechNix blog, but I feel there is value in it.  My principal and school administrators are amazing and I am given the opportunity to attend conferences like this a few times each year.  I owe it to them, to my colleagues, and to myself to get the most out of these experiences as I can.  Part of that is bringing back all the goodness to share.  Since I started this blog for the colleagues at my school site, but for all of you as well, I figured a blog post as a reflection was fitting.  I want to share a few overarching themes I came away with as well as some neat tools and apps that I was introduced to today.  I left with my brain spinning and I hope that reading this post can help get your brain buzzing as well.

The Big Ideas

The big idea that seemed threaded throughout every session I went to today was about student creation.  Allowing students some choice and allowing them to show their understanding in a way that makes sense for who they are.  Shawn McCusker lead a session titled "Unleashing Creativity", but said he could have also called it "Unleashing Identity".  Giving students the option to showcase their learning in a way that allows their unique voice to shine through gives you a glimpse of the mind, and often heart, of a child that you never would have had otherwise.  Giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding in a meaningful way takes the learning to a whole new level.  That meaningful piece is important, too.  How can they take what they have learned and impact their school, their communities, their world in some way?  The wheels in my brain just start turning like crazy when I think about this.

Another thing that was discussed today was if you are sharing student work, which I think you should be, who is the audience?  Your own class?  Your school?  Parents?  The whole World Wide Web?  Be purposeful about who you share student work with.  Think carefully about sharing work and be sure it is careful and meaningful.  Shawn McCusker led a thought provoking session discussing this.

Something else I heard a lot about, was showcasing the end products that kids are creating, but also being sure to showcase the learning process itself.  There is so much that is lost if we only see the end product.  The learning happens in the midst of the process and value should be placed on the journey, not just the destination.  Kelly Scholten led a great discussion talking about process portfolios.

Makes complete sense that we would be talking student creations at an iPad Summit.  iPads are amazing tools for easily creating video, eBooks, audio, blogs, etc., no matter what the age of your students.  That saying..."There's an app for that"...well, it happens to be true!  There is an app for that, I can almost guarantee it!  I was a little worried about attending the conference because we don't have 1:1 iPads in our classrooms, in fact we only have one iPad per classroom and it is the one assigned to the teacher.  Kindergarten has 6 iPads per classroom, and the rest of us have Chromebooks.  I'm still glad I went.  I feel that the overarching idea is something I can take value from and my kids can use the devices I do have, along with my one iPad to create amazing things.


Speaking of apps, I was introduced to several cool ones today that I want to share with you.  Some of these apps I have heard of before and maybe even used, but many of them are new to me.  I can't guarantee they are the best apps out there, but someone who presented today uses them and loves them enough to recommend them, so I figure they are worth passing along.

Paper 53 -  Free - Sketching/Note Taking
This app I have known about for a long time.  I've been wanting to use it but I didn't want to pay for the individual art tools.  Now the app and the tools are free!  I used it today to take notes and I LOVED it!!  It is my new favorite note taking app so I figured I'd share it with you.  I'm NOT an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to be a little bit of a doodler when I'm taking notes.  This gave me an outlet for that doodling urge with beautiful results.  Here is one of my notes pages from a session I had with Jodie Deinhammer.  She is phenomenal by the way.

Photo Editor by Aviary - Free (has in-App purchases)
I've never used this one, but it came highly recommended.

Explain Everything - $2.99 - An interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool (recording what is happening on your screen along with voiceover)
I haven't used it yet, but I have heard great things about this app before, and today someone said they have teachers tell them that if there was only one app they could have on their iPads in the classroom, it would be this one.

Draw and Tell - $1.99 - A creative tool for kids to draw and create and record their voices.
I have not used this App, but it was recommended because it allows kids to first make their drawings and then do the recording.  Some other apps require the kids to do this simultaneously, which can be tricky for younger kids.  I haven't used it, but it came highly recommended.

Book Creator - $4.99 (There is a free version) - Students can create their own iBooks using video, audio, text, photos, drawing, etc.
I played with the free version briefly today.  Seems pretty intuitive and easy for all ages.

Popplet - $4.99 - Allows you to capture and organize your ideas
Haven't used this one.  Seems handy for pre-writing and outlining.  Neat way for kids to take notes or showcase learning even.

Skitch - Free - Take a picture and add annotations
I've actually used this one and I like it a lot.  I use it to take pictures of student work and discuss it on the board, especially in math.  It is nice for students to be able to explain their thinking about something or use a picture with annotation to display their learning.

Web Tools

PowToon - Create animated videos and presentations
I haven't used this one, but I saw a presentation that was created with PowToon and I was impressed.  I am definitely going to play with this one.

BulbApp - This appeared to be a type of blog space for kids (or you) to publish your work for people to access.  I only saw it briefly, but it looked neat.

Thinglink - A website that allows you to take an image and make it interactive.  People can click in certain places and get explanations via text, audio, video, etc.  This seems really cool and I'll be checking it out for sure.

Padlet - On online bulletin board of sorts, but collaborative.  The examples that were given were students creating a padlet to display learning, or teachers having students all posting on a board to create discussion or even an exit ticket type activity.  I haven't used it yet.

Shoutkey - Shoutkey allows you to create a shortened URL.  If you need to know more about what a short URL is, read my post here.  Shoutkey does the same thing as goo.gl, but it makes a simple link using a word instead of an alphanumeric code that can sometimes be tricky to type in.

Well, I think that wraps up my reflection for day 1.  I'm looking forward to day 2 tomorrow!  I'll post another reflection tomorrow night.

Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  I hope you found something that got your brain buzzing and those neurons firing!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Organization Tip for Drive - File Names with Numbers

As a teacher, I tend to have many file or folder names that require numbers.  I save all my weekly plans and number them all, week 1, week 2, etc.  In my Google Drive, I have a folder with all my weekly math plans in it.  With the way Drive puts numbered files in order, this is how it looked:

I was a bit frustrated that it didn't put them all in the correct order.  Then I discovered how to solve the problem.  I went through and renamed all my single digit weeks with a 0 in front of the single digit. 

To rename your file or folder, click on the name to select the file and then click on the "More actions" button.  That is the one with the three vertical dots.  Then choose "Rename".

Rename your file so that it has two digits, the 0 being in front of your single digit.  Then press "OK".

Once you do that with all your single digit files, you will have them all in order the way they should be.  

I hope you found this tip helpful.  Thank you for stopping by the TeachingTechNix blog!  Stop by again soon for more handy tech tips.

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.