Using Booktrack in the Classroom

“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.” By Maurice Sendak

Booktrack aims to improve student literacy through encompassing technology and Common Core Standards. It can be used two different ways: One is students can read stories, poems and other texts that are associated with a ‘movie-style’ soundtrack or two, students can create Booktracks, using their own writing.

How does it work?

You choose a book. As you read, you’ll see an arrow going down the right-hand margin of the page. This arrow moves down the page as you read so that your reading speed goes with the soundtrack. If the arrow moves too fast or slow, use the plus and minus icons at the bottom of the page to change the speed.

If you want students to create their own book, they can do so in a few easy steps:

1. Click on the icon create

2. Type the story

3. Add the sound track by highlighting the text you want to each part of the story from the library of over 20,000 sound clips.

4. Preview and then publish!

Here are my ten reasons why I like Booktrack:

1. FREE

2. Lesson plan library created by teachers, for teachers

3.  It is easy to create a class account. To enroll your students into your class add their name and select add or just upload a CSV file – Booktrack will set them up for you.

4. Books for all levels of students elementary, middle and high.

5. If you have any questions or need assistance just click on “Help” in the upper right hand corner. There are video tutorials to help guide you as well, which makes it very user-friendly.

6. Works on all devices! (Great for BYOT classrooms)

7. The books are all labeled with genre, type, language and ratings.

 

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8. Students can create their own books and publish them so others can read as well.

9.  The sound track can distract some students but you can mute it and read it just like a regular e-book.

10. Teachers can use the books as their read alouds; modeling on an eReader can help promote 21st century digital literacy skills.

Articles about Booktrack:

Booktrack Raises $3M To Add Soundtracks To E-Books, Launches Classroom Version

Booktrack – Create and Listen to Soundtracks for Books

 

Using Google’s Smarty Pins in the Classroom

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”By  B.B. King

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game. It is very user-friendly like most Google products are. The purpose is to answer as many questions as you can before you run out of miles.  Miles are lost when you answer incorrectly based on how ‘far off’ your answer is. You can decide if you want random questions, or if you want a specific category and there are six categories to choose from such as arts and culture, science and geography and sports and games.

Once you start, your first question will appear on the left-hand side of the screen. To answer you have to drag the map pin to the correct location. (I have found the map will start near the area you need to go) You can zoom in and out as well based on the level of detail you want.

Once you find the correct location you drop the pin and the name of the location will appear, for example Charlotte, NC. You can then submit your answer or get a hint if you would like. The hint show up on the left hand side under the question. If you chose to use the hint, you do not get to earn bonus miles. Bonus miles are given for answering a question correctly within 15 seconds. There are funny captions after you answer each question no matter if you get it right or wrong. When you answer a certain number of questions correctly you earn awards: bronze, silver or gold.

Smarty Pins

How Could You Use This in the Classroom?

1. Each day as a class, (or one day a week) you can use Smarty Pins as a class team building activity (ex. during morning meeting). Together the class can see how many questions they get right before they run out of miles. Each day or week they could track their progress and then graph it for each month. This allows team building, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving along with learning geography.

2.  Use Smarty Pins as a base for students genius hour or passion based learning ideas. As the students plays the game, they will learn facts and geography of places that they might find interesting and want to learn more about. For example when I played, I found myself interested in more about the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ as I had a question about the bell tower.

3. This game could be used for when a student finishes an activity early as a fun extension or during when you find you have a few minutes before a transition.

As always, I would love to hear how you would use it in the classroom! Please share in the comments section.

 

Ways to Use Canva in the Classroom

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” By Pablo Picasso

I used to spend hours using photoshop and other similar graphic design tools to create graphics for my classroom. Not anymore because I am now using Canva; a FREE new simple graphic design web tool that I am loving. It is user friendly and simple to use.

Canva is loaded with templates that you can simply drag and drop your content information from images to text. There is one millions stock photos and text options for you to use plus you can also import images from your documents to produce more specific content. You can create posters, presentations, blog graphics and social media graphics. There are many tutorials for those that also want to learn more about graphic design ‘rules’.  You can even have others edit  your canvas by clicking on the link and publish button and then clicking anyone with this link can edit. Once you have competed your graphic design, you can publish it many ways such as a link, image (see example below), PDF or using social media.

Below is 5 ways you can use Canva in your classroom:

1. Students can create a persuasive poster for the book they have read to entice others to read it. The student will be using their 21st century skills (communication, critically thinking, creating and collaboration) about what content needs to be in the poster.

2. Students can create graphic visuals and ‘app smash’ it with Thinglink.

3. Students can create presentations on the topic they are working on in any subject.

*Bonus: Teachers can create posters for any event such as publishing party, parent teacher conference information or any other school event. Teachers can also use Canva to promote what is happening in their classroom.

*Please not in Canvas terms of use: “Canva is a great service to use for creating your designs, but you have to be at least 13 years of age and fully able to form binding contracts in order to use it. You may not use the Service in violation of these terms or any laws or regulations.” This means you will have to have parent permission for students under 13.

I would love to know how you could use this tool in your classroom?

Edulum 14

 

 

Using Kahoot! with Learners of Any Age and Subject

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” By Carl Rogers

Recently I was introduced to Kahoot! via Twitter (my favorite professional development) and asked to be a beta tester. I have been testing it out and love it. Kahoot! is a great new game-based response system that is FREE, works on all devices AND allows students to create as well! You can use Kahoot! with learners of any age and using any subject matter. Here are three ways to get started with Kahoot! in your classroom:

1. Quizzes: – Create your own quiz, have a student create one or find a public quiz! To start a quiz,  decide on a title and then drag and drop your content and add your questions. Your content can feature pictures or videos which makes it great for all grade levels.This is a great way to flip your classroom and use the data to drive your next days lessons or small groups.

2. Discussions:  Create discussion questions is easy. Decide on a title and then ask your probing question. You can also have your students pose questions to launch a discussion using their devices.

3. Surveys: Take a real-time poll of your students wants/needs? For example: what type of devices do we have in our classrooms from BYOT? This can also be used for an exit ticket to determine how a lesson went or gauge the students knowledge on a topic.

If you find a public quiz, discussion or survey you can also ‘favorite’ it by clicking on the heart.

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Students do NOT need to have a Kahoot! account to play the games, but you can sign up your class easily once you created an account. If you have students under 13, Kahoot! has an under 16 where their account doesn’t allow students to post their content publicly, or browse public content created by others. To create student accounts, download their template and send it to Kahoot! They’ll create their accounts for you, yes you don’t have to create them!

This infographic explains how Kahoot! works and the benefits to both educators and learners.

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Other Kahoot! Resources:

How to play a game of Kahoot! — 3 Minute Screencast

Kahoot – Create Quizzes and Surveys Your Students Can Answer on Any Device

The Whiteboard Blog Post

If you have used it in your classroom, let me know how!

Digital Creations with EdCanvas

“In creating, the only hard thing is to begin.” By James Russel Lowell

Edcanvas is a tool I shared during the Edulum’s tool smack down and figured it needed more explaining then just the two minutes I had. Edcanvas is a place where you can create presentations, projects, share resources, flip the classroom and so much more. You can create meaningful content on any Common Core or Essential Standard in minutes, yes minutes! You can also use any device as it is mobile responsive.

Once you create an account and are logged in you will see that on the left hand side you can see your canvases, classes and gallery. To start a canvas, click on creating a canvas and enter the title for the canvas at the top. You can search for resources using the search options on the right. Notice there are many options of things you can use such as YouTube, Google Drive, Flickr, Website Links and Educreations. Once you have the resource you want drag it to a box and drop it. That is it, how easy! At the top you can change your theme and templates. Notice when you scroll over a box you can add text and/or embed a quiz!

One of my favorite features is the sharing options Edcanvas has. You can share the canvas so many different ways but it also has a unique way as well that I haven’t seen on many web tool sharing options. On Edcanvas sharing you also have the option of creating a QR code; how convenient is that!

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Here is my Edcanvas that I made in 5 mins. http://edcvs.co/133iyic

Creating a class is just as easy and a great way to help you differentiate. To start click on add class, select a new class and then name your class. It will give you a code that you can post on your workflow platform. Your students will go to Edcanvas.com and select sign-up then click the student tab. Have them register using the course code. (Notice no email address is needed as it is an option only.)

Other Awesome Features:

– Autosaves (great for students who forget to save)

– It can integrated with Edmodo

– Gallery of resources from other educators

– Click on play to present your Edcanvas

Using ThingLink in the Classroom

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” by Edwin Land

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Thinglink was introduced to me when I was at the NC Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference during a presentation by Richard Byrne (@rmbryne). I thought it was a really great FREE web tool but was disappointed it didn’t also have an app. A few weeks ago, Thinglink launched their FREE app, which I love!

What is Thinglink? Thinglink makes pictures interactive with text, video, images and links. When you click on a Thinglink image, you’ll see symbols such as red video circles and dots where it is interactive. Thinglink has endless possibilities in education. My top 3 ways of using it in education are below:

1. Student Portfolios: Teachers can use a picture of a student and through-out the year, students can add images of their work or video to show mastery of content. By doing this each quarter the teachers, students and parents can see the progress over the year. Each corner of the picture could represent each quarter/semester.

2. Assessment, Projects and Presentation: Students can create Thinglinks to show their understanding for any Common Core or Essential Standard. Teachers can have a rubric setting the expectation for what they want in the Thinglink. For example you could require, two text boxes, a link and  a video. Or you can set the expectation that the student must show mastery of a standard, and the student has a little more freedom to determine what that looks like. Having the students creating Thinglinks lets them use all their 21st century skills of critical thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating (if they work with a partner).

Ex of Assessment: The student can draw out any topic, for example the water cycle or a math problem, using the free Skitch app. The student can save it to their camera roll and then create a Thinglink demonstrating their knowledge by adding recordings, text and links explaining their thinking.

Ex of a project: The students can make book reports by taking a picture of the book cover and embedding a movie trailer that they have created for the book. Or for non-fiction the student could find a picture of the person like Steve Jobs, and they can show their understanding of the book. Click here for my example, I chose to do a favorite quote and speech.

A fabulous teacher, Lisa Maples, embedded her class Thinglink into her wiki, as an end of year project. There are  links to various digital projects that the students have created. http://maples.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Thinglink+2012-2013

3. Lesson Plans and Homework: Teachers can create Thinglinks to help differentiate lessons and homework. Using any image, the teacher can add the content they want the students to know. You can even spice up graphic organizers and info-graphics.

Ex of  a Lesson Plan: The teacher can take a picture of an ecosystem and add all the vocabulary words and/or videos that can help the students learn the topic.

Ex of Homework: This is a great way to flip the classroom. You can embed videos and practice problems on a  topic and have the students complete for homework. Click here for an example using comparing fractions.

Thinglinks are easy to create on both the website and in the app. First create an account at thinglink.com (it is free). If you want to create a Thinglink on the app, download it, and then sign in. Using the pictures in your camera roll, chose one and then tap anywhere on the picture. Here you add the content you want such as video or text, add a title and you are done. You can share it by emailing the link from the app but it also automatically syncs; when you log into your account through the website, you can share it many more ways. If you are creating a Thinglink on the website, click on create in the top right corner and chose an image that is on your computer or for a website (make sure it is a creative commons imagine) and add your content. That is it, I love free and simple!

Any of these Thinglinks can be made into a QR code as well. You can have these posted around the room as helping aids or to inform the students. Just copy the url and paste into any QR code creator such as qrstuff or follow my directions on my blog post about making  QR code in google drive.

I would love to hear how you have used Thinglink or want to use it in your classroom, please share in the comments or on this open Thinglink I created by clicking edit and adding your idea. (To make a Thinglink where anyone can add info, click on the edit tab and set your settings to anyone.) Another great way to have students collaborate in the classroom.

Follow me on Thinglink:  Edu_Thompson. Here are some more great Thinglinks done by other educators! Click on the links to view.

Flexible Learning Paths

Web Tools and Literacy

Let’s Teach Kids to Code

Digital Portfolios and Student Lead Conferences

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” By Margaret Peters

Digital portfolios (or sometimes known as e-portfolios) allows opportunity for students to showcase mastery of content through a variety of methods other than paper and pencil. It allows students to show evidence that they are working toward a goal and improving skills based on objectives. Students gain confidence, learn to reflect on their multimedia work, track and demonstrate growth based on their level of learning and most importantly improve self reflection and build learning independence.

Why are we hearing more about digital portfolios lately? Because more colleges and Universities are not just excepting SAT scores but portfolios. There are many applications you can use for digital portfolio such as blogging, 3 Ring, wikispacesGoogle Drive, Livebinders, Gaggle/Edmodo, or Evernote. Evernote is my favorite for many reason but mostly because it’s free, works on all devices and you don’t need internet except for syncing.

In Evernote you can make folders for each students, where they can upload their projects or documents to show mastery. I prefer portfolios because it takes the pressure off of grades and focuses on growth. It also helps set the tone in the classroom environment that we are all different and we will make mistakes but we can learn from them.

I set up my conferences so that I was conferencing with my students in every subject, at least once a week. During this time (because I only had one iPad) I would write the conference notes in their digital portfolio. Over time we could see their progress and growth.

During the conferences, I would discuss with the students individually about what they did well, what they needed to work on and a plan on how they were going to improve. This allowed ownership and also held the students more accountable through reflection. I became the facilitator making sure they made goals that were best for them and that were based on their needs.

Inside the portfolios the students would take pictures of projects they had created, such as the thermal solar house they built or they would upload their best writing piece. Sometimes we recorded our reading fluency so they could hear themselves and make improves. Setting up my portfolios this way allowed the students and I to build a relationship and helped me easily differentiate based on needs and their interests.

Naturally came student lead conferences, where the student walked their parents through their digital portfolio. The students knew their strength and weaknesses and didn’t need ‘prepping’ because they did this naturally every week. It showed the parents the students understood their strength and weakness and allowed the parents to ask their students questions. Because the parents realized that their children understood their learning so well, I found that more parents engaged with their child’s education because they didn’t feel the pressure of figuring out what the student needed to work on. It also naturally helped me, get the parents to see that there is more to education then just grades, taking pressure off some students by default. I also noticed that students had more confidence in themselves because they weren’t comparing themselves against anyone but themselves.

When I left the classroom, I was able to help other teachers set up these portfolios. One teacher @missbrinnsclass, started them. The students are in first grade and it is amazing to see them take control of their learning. Here is a sample of a students writing and her reflection on her work.

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This is a video of Madison leading her conference in front of her parents and teacher.

I would love to hear how you are using digital portfolios in your classroom or tools that you are using.

Bridging Coding and Common Core with Tynker

“Research shows that you begin learning in the womb and go right on learning until the moment you pass on. Your brain has a capacity for learning that is virtually limitless, which makes every human a potential genius.” by  Michael J. Gelb

Tynker is a great new  FREE web tool designed to teach students computational thinking and coding skills. It is similar to Scratch but you don’t need to download and it works on multiple browsers which is great for schools that are bring your own technology (BYOT). It is easy to set up a class and only takes minutes.

What I like most about Tynker is it balances the left and right side of the brain while using 21st century skills. The students have to critically think about the challenge that you give them, collaborate with others and create using coding skills. Below you can see a screen shot of what is shown in Tynker once you have completed one. My challenge to myself,  so I could help learn coding, was to have at least 1 actor, 2 costume changes and a background.

tynker

You can give your students challenges that are similar or you can have them use certain coding blocks such as you must have 2 ‘if, then’ statements or you must use 1 coordinate grid code. You can also have them use different coding block themes for a challenge such as 3 events, 1 flow, 2 motions, 2 stage changes. You can also use it to help differentiate because you can assign different challenges to different students.

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Below the students challenge was a little different, the students had to reinvent the game ‘Pong’ so they could play it. There is a backpack button in the top right corner that also lets you store coding blocks so you can ‘favorite’ ones you like to use a lot or if you want to ‘steal’ someone else’s coding block to learn how to do it, you can. The possibilities are endless with Tynker and the students are having fun, problem solving and using many of the common core skills such as computation, angles, coordinate grids, physics, digital story telling, cause and effect and if, then statements and much more.

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You can create lesson plans inside Tynker along with using ones that are already created for you. You can also view other’s Tynler projects to gain ideas about how you want to use it in your classroom. When visiting schools recently, I have watched 3rd graders recreate the ‘mouse trap’ game. Fifth graders created interactive ebooks that explained force and motion. While in a 6th grade classroom, their challenge was to create a 1 min screen that had to sync 5 actors with music to the Harlem Shake.

Here you can see how Common Core 3.NBT is met with this project that is in the lesson plan section.

Math

I would love to hear how other educators are using Tynker in the classroom. Please share in the comment section. Below are some other articles about Tynker that have been in the news that also have great examples of how it can be used in the classroom.

Code Alert: Tynker Wants to Teach Your Child to Tinker With Tech

From Animated Animals to Algorithmic Art

Check Out This Learn-To-Code Platform Just for Kids

Web Tools for Shift 6 – Academic Vocabulary of the Common Core

“One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.” Evelyn Waugh

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In the Common Core  State Standards (CCSS)- Literacy there are six instructional shifts that are needed to effectively implement the CCSS. In this post I am going to focus on shift 6.

We can use web tools seamlessly with shift 6 to build academic vocabulary. It is important to remember even if we teach math, science, physical education; vocabulary is crucial in learning. The shift 6 – Academic Vocabulary tiers are:

Tier 1: Words we use every day such as chair.

Tier 2: Words that frequently appear across all domains and have shades of meaning such as relieved.

Tier 3: Words that have a specific domain such as photosynthesis- domain: science.

The web tools I highlight can be used in any subject and within each tier.

1. VisualThesaurus is a free mind mapping vocabulary tool that takes one vocabulary word and branches out related words visually. The students can see the different parts of speech and these are color coded. If the student spells a word wrong they offer suggestions helping the student learn the vocabulary. You can have students make their own individualized tier 2 and 3 vocabulary lists to help differentiate. You can also search for word lists, such as this general academic vocabulary.

2. Make Beliefs Comix is a free comic strip maker that allows you too create simple free comics strips. Having the students show master of a vocabulary makes the students critically think, create and communicate their knowledge. Giving them a vocabulary word such as ‘absurd’ and having them demonstrate though making a comic. You can assess mastery without a paper and pencil vocabulary test.

3. Sketch Odopod is a free web tool that you can have the students draw out their vocabulary knowledge. Having the students represent a non-linguistic approach. You don’t need to have an account unless you want to save the pictures. Here is one done on the elements of fiction and on the water cycle.

Ninjawords is a fast dictionary students told me about the other day….they love it because it gives them the definition fast. (It is an iPhone app as well)

Want to learn three more web tools for shift 6 you can use in your classroom check out this blog post, 3 Digital Tools For Common Core Academic Vocabulary by Susan Oxnevad

Please share other ways you are teaching shift 6 in your classroom so we can learn and grow together!

Reflecting on NCTIES Conference

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” by Leo Buscaglia

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The North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) took place in Raleigh, NC this week. It was a great time to present my knowledge but also gain knowledge from others. After synthesizing everything I decided to share  some of my favorite sessions and resources.

1. Richard Bryne, @rmbyrne, was a featured speaker at the conference. One of his sessions was sharing 65 web tools in 50 mins. It was a fast paced session and some I knew but I learned some new tools as well. Three of my favorite that I learned and will be implementing are…

–  Pixabay:  Has free public domain images with no login required (Like the one at top of the page)

Meograph: Four-dimensional storytelling

Real Time Board: Great for online collaboration, sharing ideas or presentations.

2. The conference theme was ‘Game On’ and many sessions were on Game Based Learning. One of my favorite sessions curated all the GBL sites by type of game (ex. strategy, puzzle, role play etc). Check it out here: https://sites.google.com/site/kbkvgenz

3. Sam Walker, @swalker2, presented on how to use digital passport to help teach digital citizenship with gaming. Check it out here: https://digitalpassport.org/educator-registration

It was a pleasure to also present on the topics of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and Twitter for Educators.