5 Digital Tools to Promote Collaboration

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Having students collaborate using different digital tools helps build students communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Here are five ways to promote collaboration in both a physical and/or virtual classroom space.

Video Ask: It was created for business but teachers can turn anything into a learning opportunity with VideoAsk. Teachers and/or students can pose questions and you can reply back different ways such as with video, audio, or text. It works asynchronous so students can reply back with they have had enough time to process and/or when it is convenient for them.

Wakelet: This application allows teachers and students save, organize and share content from across the web. It can be used multiple ways in the classroom such as co-creating a digital newspaper or newsletter. You can provide your students with a topic and theme such as Ecosystems and students can find current events around that topic and have discussions.

StoriumEdu: StoriumEdu is very unique as it gamifies creative writing. Students get different digital “story cards” that represent different aspects of storytelling and character development. The cards serve as writing prompts, helping students figure out what to write next at each step of the game.

Gimkit: Similar style to Kahoot, Gimkit is a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. It makes it great for remote learning because each student can play on their own devices

Dotstorming: Have students brainstorm together and vote on their favorite ideas. Last week I collaborated with a teacher to help create their virtual classroom rules/norms together with the students using Dotstorming. The students add cards of what they wanted the rules to be for their virtual classroom and then they voted on the top four rules co-creating their rules together.

I would love to hear your favorite digital tools to promote collaboration in the classroom. Share in the comments!

Collection of Digital Learning Activities and Lessons

“I dream of a digital India where quality education reaches the most inaccessible corners driven by digital learning.”By Shri Narendra Modi

Over the last week I have been capturing lessons and activities that educators are posting to help other educators. #bettertogether

Resources for School Closings: COVID-19

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’”by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

With COVID-19 causing uncertainty in schools, I started curating resources that I have been seeing that support you and your students. With all the free digital resources, don’t forget about non-technology learning such as books, puzzles, cooking (following a recipe), playing outside, and conversations!

It is also important to recognize that this is an emotional time for everyone and we need to make sure we are thinking about the social and emotional needs for all.

Teachers:

Principals:

District Leaders:

All Educators:

Please share any resources you know of in the comments for all to see!

How to Build a Digital Innovation Playground for Educators

“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.” By Li Keqiang

I had a goal that I wanted teachers to see technology tools as not as a another thing but how it could enhance lessons. Previously, I would tell educators that technology was a tool but I realized that wasn’t working. I decide to change my thinking and SHOW them HOW technology could be a tool. This is where my idea for creating a digital learning playground came from. I wanted to share my experience so that other schools or districts could build one too. 

  1. Find a space where you could house the technology in a “showroom” type of atmosphere. 
    • We chose to create ours in our Professional Development Center in a classroom. 
  2. Create a list of technology tools that you think teachers would like to utilize in the classroom. 
    • We started our list with items we knew some schools already had but did not know what to do with; they had purchased them because they “looked” fun such as Spheros.
  3. Start to contact technology companies to see if they would donate their technology tool to your playground; understanding the return could potentially be that teachers/schools would purchase the technology for their classroom. 
    • Not many technology companies donated but it was a good place to start
  4. As donations came in and while you make purchases, learn how the technology tool works and start to build lesson plans that incorporate standards. 
    • We played with the tools to learn them and then created lesson plans based on NC standards for all different grade levels and subjects. 
  5. When educators visit the room allow them to play with the resources and see the lesson plans that connect to the curriculum. 
    • We created a schedule to allow teachers to know the times the room would be open. We also created a professional development around the tools and soon had a smaller digital playground “on the go” (via a bin) so we could recreate the room at different schools when giving PD. We also created guidelines to help educators design their own learning experience when they came to the room.

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Digital Writing in the Classroom

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” By E. L. Doctorow

Digital technologies are a great way to enable communication, collaboration and help teachers design authentic tasks for their students. Here are a few of my favorite apps that you can incorporate digital writing into the classroom.

iOs Apps: (Free)

WriteReader 

Day One Journal

Pages

Paid: MyScript Nebo 

Web-based:

G Suite

Evernote

Bookcreator

 

 

5 Google Instant Searches To Help You in The Classroom

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” By Albert Einstein

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Google aims to make their search site as useful as possible including having what is referred to as instant search cards. Instant search cards are when interactive information is the first result which allows you to “experience” what you searched for. Below are the top ten instant search cards you can utilize in your classroom with your students!

  1. Roll a die: When you type this in a six sided die will appear for you to interact with by rolling it to see what number appears.
  2. Timer: When you type this in a timer appears that you can use for multiple reasons in the classroom such as for transitions. Student also love using it to help with time management.
  3. Weather: When you type in weather your local weather will appear.
  4. Flip a Coin: When you type flip a coin, like the die, a coin appears so you can “flip” it. It is a great way to see who starts first or for probability lessons.
  5. Definition of: When you type “definition of” and the word you want, the results will bring up a featured definition snippet in Google. No more going to a dictionary website for what you need!

There always fun Google “easter eggs” (an intentional hidden message, joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, webpage, video game etc) such as pacman and “do a barrel roll”. My favorite is Google in 1998 as it takes you back to what Google looked like when it first launched in 1998!

NCTIES18 Recap

“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” by John Emmerling

One of my favorite conferences is #ncties18. This conference always gets my brain thinking in new ways and reenergizes me. There is a lot of great information in just a few short days so it always takes me a few days to process. The one word I could sum up this conference this year would be #inspired.

People:

  1. Marley Emerson Dias: She is the amazing young lady that started #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign and wrote the book Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! She is the youngest to be named Forbes 30 under 30. Check out her resource library here.
  2. Kevin Carroll: I can’t say enough things about Kevin Carroll as he truely is a game changer and amazing at his job! I often times feel guilty that I don’t have the best work/life a balance but he made me realize that it is okay not to because I LOVE what I do! He had so many great quotes but these three are my favorites
    1. “The master in the art of living makes little distinction …..blur the lines of work and play and find the joy every single day.” Kevin Carroll
    2. It’s not enough to have an idea. You have to advance it.   The difference between a dream and a reality is action.” Kevin Carroll
    3. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
  3. Students at Stedwick Elementary School: I can’t do this video justice with words….just watch, The Lie.

New Tools and Ideas:

  1. YellKey – cool shorten link site
  2. Ziteboard: – white board for web browser
  3. #booksnaps – great way to add in digital literacy into your lessons

“Technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with the liberal arts married with the humanities that makes our hearts sing. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact.” Tim Cook

 

Assessing Your Technology Integration

“The technology itself is not transformative. It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative.” – Tanya Byron

I am in schools and classrooms daily and too often I see the misuse of how technology should be used. Often times I hear Principals or teachers sat, yes we are using technology, see how this teacher is using ______ (fill in blank with website or tool) but the students are not using anything. Or I see technology beginning used as – lack of a better term – “babysitter”. They will tell me how they use Dreambox or Compass Learning etc as a station or something students can do after they finish their classwork.

tech

Technology should be used to transform the classroom and school to allow fo authentic, real world application. Technology should be supporting the curriculum goals, and helping the students to effectively reach their learning goals.

Here are some questions to help you asses yourself to see how you or your school are integrating technology. Rate yourself by using the scale, zero we don’t do this or 5 we do this with fidelity, in all _______ subjects (if you are a teacher) or classrooms (if you have a school perspective).

  1. Are digital resources being utilized with purpose?
  2. Are teachers/administration modeling for students/teachers using transformative technology in their classroom/school?
  3. Do assignments provide opportunities for creativity and critical thinking?
  4. Do students own their own learning? Do they have choice in what tool they use or product they create?
  5. Do students use technology to create authentic products that are for authentic audiences to show their understanding of learning outcomes?

20 – 25 Score: You are showing mastery with using technology to transform learning. Ask yourself, “How can I contribute in helping others integrate technology to transform learning?” Use this as your next step to empower others.

10 – 20 Score: You are on your way with using technology to transform learning. Look at your lowest score for the questions and ask yourself what can I do to make this better?

0 – 10 Score: You are starting your journey in implementing technology into your school or classroom. Take a look at the first question and see how you can improve in this area. If you did well on this question, then look at the next question as the question go in order of transformation. Only select one question to improve upon to not overwhelm yourself or anyone at your school.

Other resources and ideas to help you integrate technology into your classroom:

Previous blog posts on integrating technology

The 4 Stages of EdTech – The SAMR Model for Technology Integration

TPACK 

Creating Google Slide Templates

“Design is how you make your first impression with your consumers. Make sure it is a lasting one.” By Jay Samit

Tired of using the same old templates. Why not create your own! Below I give you step by step directions so you can create your own Google Slide templates in only a few minutes. Make them for your classroom, meetings or professional developments!

  1. Start by opening a new Google presentation and choose the “Simple Light” template.
  2. Decide what image/design you want for your template. For example, I am creating a template for a Google Training I am doing; so I am going to use the colors of Google as my background!
    • Tip: I like creating my images/designs in Google Drawing as it is FREE. Once I finish my image/design then I click on File, Download As, PNG. I can then later upload the image for my background.
  3. In your Google Slide template, click on View and then “Master”.
  4. Then click on rename at the top of the slide and name it based on what fits best for you. 
  5. Next click on the master slide and background. Here you can choose your color or upload the background you created from Google Drawing.
    • Tip: If you would like to change the fonts, this is a good time to do it because you will only have to change it in the Master slide verse changing each slide.
  6. To exit, click on the X in the top right corner and you are done!!

My Master Google Slide Template

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Incorporating Digital Learning Strategies in the Classroom

“Curriculum tells you what to teach, but doesn’t tell you HOW you have to, make the shift to the 21st century learning environment.” by Stacy Behmer

Digital learning is when instructional practices is coupled with technology. It can work in any grade and subject as it is a way of learning, not a type of learning. Digital learning encompasses digital tools and content, along with practices such as eLearning and blended learning. Digital learning has the potential to increase opportunities to personalize the learning for the diverse needs of our classrooms.

In order to create a successful digital learning classroom environment there are a few strategies that will help you:

  1. Start with one digital learning tool, content or practice then master it before moving on. For example, using digital assessment offers students and teachers real time data allowing teachers to use data to drive instruction.
  2. Choose digital tools that allow students to be active, engaged and use higher order thinking skills such as iMovie, Toontastic or podcasts.
  3. Identify student digital leaders so students have someone to go to when they need help besides the teacher. You can create digital student leaders daily, weekly or monthly but allowing students to also be digital experts in the room builds stronger classroom culture.