Monday, March 31, 2014

So Many Technology Tools...How do I choose?

In the world of Education there are so many great tools that a teacher can use. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming because there is so much to choose from. The best advice I can give is to "Plan with the End in Mind". I do not suggest that you jump on new technology tools because they seem cool and you might seem cooler if you use them. It is crucial to know what you want your students or teachers to achieve first and then see what technology or technology resource will help you achieve your outcome (the end). If you keep that in mind, you will be successful. I always tell people to take "Baby Steps" when it comes to technology. Do not overwhelm yourself with doing to much too fast. You want to master one or two things before adding on something else. I have had this discussion with teachers and students on Web 2.0 tools, ActivInspire tools, resources/activities in Moodle and just about every Educational Technology topic.

With that in mind I am going to share with you 3 tools that you should surely try. I am going to focus on the 3 programs I listed above and give you 1 tool to master for each and why it is beneficial to use.

Web 2.0: Animoby has become one of my favorite tools to use as a teacher and allow my students to use it as well. Animoby allows the user to create quality presentations using VOICE and a variety of design tools (draw, paint, type, images), and publish or share via e-mail. Animations are created when users pick a tool and simply touch the screen, and voice can accompany designs by the press of the record button. It is very user friendly, free, and available on multiple platforms. I love it!

Great articles to read:

ActivInspire: The "Hidden" feature located in the Action Browser. I love this tool because it quickly makes an object disappear/appear when you click on it. The kids think it is magic. This allows you to make a memory game, reveal answers, and so much more. Your students will truly enjoy it and retain the information better by adding this tool to your mastered list. If you have ActivInspire and like to import Smart Notebook files, you will find that you will need to reset the hidden feature in ActivInspire. It is a quick way to get your Smart Notebook files just the way you want them in ActivInspire.

Check out these great videos on how to set it up:

Great How to article:

Moodle: I have many favorite tools on Moodle, but I will only tell you about one today = )
A great feature that I love is the Forum because so many times in an online class or even in a face to face class we don't get the chance to talk to the people in our class or the person next to us. Forums allow you to ask questions and get answer to problems you have been trying to solve for a long time. If someone has a great idea, why reinvent the wheel? I love the collaboration that goes on and the wonderful ideas that come from using a Forum. You will surely see student engagement go up and students will feel included in the class environment. There are different types of Forums you can set up so make sure you find the one that best fits your needs.

I love this illustrated guide for teachers

I hope you found the information valuable from this post. I will keep you updated with more of my favorites.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Need a resource? Just ask.

Have a great week!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Webster, The Dictionary Man L.2.4 Plus Apps and More

Use glossaries and beginning dictionaries, both print and digital, to determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases.
Do you use i-Ready?
i-Ready offers an adaptive diagnostic, and both teacher-led and individualized online instruction for a complete blended learning solution. It's all you need to drive student success in reading and math for grades K–12. 
This is our 1st year using iReady. 
Our district received a "Try-It Version" to use to supplement instruction.  
I use it almost every day in both Language Arts and Math.
The lessons are engaging and they expose students to technology skills needed to be successful on  upcoming PARCC assessments. 
Technology skills include keyboarding, cut and paste, drag and drop, highlighting, on-screen calculators, manipulating graphs, running simulations, changing font size and background color, knowing when to select multiple answers (square boxes) and when to select only one (circles), and a variety of other technology skills. 

I found a great lesson (Vocabulary #118) to teach how to use print and digital reference guides to determine word meanings. 
Even though it was labelled Mid Grade 6, I used it with my 2nd graders (whole group) to expose them to print vs. digital references to determine word meanings. 
Students were very proud when they took the quiz and did well 6th grade style :)! 

Students chose the correct tab to look up the word.
They also give the students the opportunity to simulate an online dictionary! My favorite! 

If you use i-Ready don't forget to take advantage of the extra lessons for whole group instruction! 
There are a million FREE dictionary/thesaurus apps available to use on iPads, iPods, and Tablets. Students enjoyed using them to complete WEBSTER below!

We also used $1.00 Dictionaries 
from the Dollar Tree!

Click HERE to get Webster Craft. 

Click HERE to visit previous post above!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

A colleague asked...

A colleague asked me to answer the following questions for one of her graduate assignments. I am curious on your thoughts on either of the following:

  • If technology were removed, what learning would be impossible/impaired?
  • How do you support professional development?
  • What is the best “advice” you would give for moving technology/learning forward in a way that will make more impact for all students
My thoughts are.....
If technology were removed, what learning would be impossible/impaired?
If technology were removed, I believe, it would hinder our learners to neither advance beyond knowledge and comprehensive learning nor facilitate student driven learning experiences needed to assist our student to thrive in today’s world. The utilization of technology fosters collaboration among students promoting an engaged-learning environment, which I believe, enhances critical/higher level thinking skills.
How do you support professional development?
Our technology department supports professional development in many ways to assist in meeting the needs of our staff. Our technology professional developments concentrate on increasing student achievement utilizing backwards planning to recognize the desired student’s behavior.  Additionally our professional developments are centering around the 21st Century learning skills which encompass the 4C’s: Creativity, Communication. Collaboration and Critical Thinking.
What is the best “advice” you would give for moving technology/learning forward in a way that will make more impact for all students.
The best advice I can provide is to consider the SAMR technology integration model - developed by Dr, Rubin Puentadura.  When integrating technology consider centering the lesson around the following questions:
  • What do I want my students to learn?
  • What are the student behaviors? 

The SAMR model is a useful tool to assist teachers to gradually shift to transitioning from below the line to above the line of technology integration. I highly recommend you viewing the following post by Carl Hooker, Director of Instructional Technology in Eanes ISD. He approaches the SAMR model to the analogy of a pool (“Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool”) compared to the ladder approach. His explanation of the “SAMR Swimming Pool” provides a straightforward explanation of the SAMR model.
What are your thoughts?

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

ClassDojo Messaging Launches Today!

Hi everyone this is Kristen Hernandez from Teacher Playground and I am so excited to have been a tester of the new ClassDojo Messaging add-on! I am beyond thrilled to have this as now I no longer need to have different programs to keep track of Classroom Management and Communication with parents. Being an educator we already have so much to keep up with so to me less is better.

ClassDojo Messaging is a new feature within ClassDojo’s app on iOS and Android devices. I am in love!!

I am so excited that teachers can access Broadcasts as well as Direct Messages within their class’s Messaging inbox.You can even send images through the Direct Messages....big plus for me!!
Another bonus is the accountability part...A teacher can click on the broadcast message they have sent to see which parents have seen it! No more hearing well you never told me that or it never got sent now have proof = )

Quick summary points  from ClassDoJo
● ClassDojo Messaging — a new feature within ClassDojo’s existing platform — launches today, enabling teachers and parents to easily and meaningfully communicate about student progress.

● Teachers will be able to send parents private, “Direct Messages” to update them about their child’s progress as well as “Broadcast” message an entire group of parents with ease about class events.

● We believe this new feature is a major step forward for teachers, many of whom currently converse with parents using non-ideal tools such as formal emails, impersonal text messages, or handwritten notes all of which require more effort, are overwhelming, do not engage parents in a meaningful conversation, and ultimately result in less real communication about students and their progress.

● The feature launches initially on iOS and Android devices, and has been tested by scores of teachers over the past month with overwhelmingly positive reactions! Teachers appreciate the thoughtfully designed,
teacher focused features, such as the privacy of not sharing personal contact details, the two types of messaging (Broadcast and Direct Messages), and also “read receipts” showing acknowledgements when parents have seen messages. Most importantly, teachers are now finding it easier to engage in higher quality conversations with parents about students’ progress and development.

● Learn more here:

Get ready for better communication with your parents and students. I can't speak highly enough about how great this new feature is. As much as I love my current communication app with parents...I am certainly making the move to the ClassDojo Messaging add-on!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Techie Tuesday Link Up

Welcome to Techie Tuesday Link Up!
Every Tuesday we are hosting a linky for you  to link up with your best technology post.   Please link directly to the techie blog post you are featuring. We are looking forward to seeing your great ideas! 

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Monday, March 24, 2014

What Does the Fox Say? Lessons inspired by You Tube and iTunes

I'm sure you know the silly song:
 "What Does the Fox Say?".... Right?
It is by Ylvis. 
Here is the You Tube video:

I was inspired to create lessons using this song because one of my students blurted, "What does the fox say?" during one of my math lessons. A few others joined in. I was annoyed at first.  I even remember rudely saying, "I don't care what the fox says right now.... I want you to care what I am saying about this regrouping problem!"
So I went home that night and decided that
I was a jerk and planned to use it to my advantage! So here is my "What Does the Fox Say?"Pack!
Here are a few pages: 
Pack is 60 pages

Fact and Opinion Sort 

Common and Proper Noun Sort 

We used 3 versions of this song purchased from iTunes on our Apple TV! 


We practiced the lyrics, learned about craft and structure and used the rhythm of the songs for our President Project called "What Does the President Say?"

Who knew a silly fox song could help 2nd graders learn about CRAFT AND STRUCTURE!

A silly fox song motivated students to develop their own multi-step 2-digit addition and 2 -digit subtraction problems!

I wrote new lyrics for our own song called, "What Does the President Say?" 
I hope you enjoy the 2 videos. 

Group 1 

Group 2
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