Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Supporting Teachers With Four Blog Posts

On Tuesday afternoon I met with the instructional technology facilitators in Mooresville, North Carolina. They are a great group of people doing excellent work with teachers and students. One of the things that we talked about during our meeting was how to share our ideas for using educational technology with the people that we serve. And, of course, we talked about how to support those people once we’ve shared our ideas with them.

One of the suggestions that I made to the group was to develop a four part messaging system to support the ideas we share with teachers. The system starts with a post on your blog in which you introduce a tool or strategy. That post should also be sent as an email. Then for the next couple of weeks write follow-up posts that support the implementation of the idea in the first post. These follow-up posts could be along the lines of “five ways to use X,” “five teachers who have used X,” “five things you might not have thought about regarding X.” These follow-up posts can also be sent as emails. The overall purpose of this strategy is to remind and provide reinforcement for your ideas about educational technology.

Here’s how I have implemented this strategy in the past when introducing people to Thinglink.
  1. Introductory post that includes an explanation of what Thinglink does and how it works.
  2. A post about five ways to use Thinglink. A reference back to the introductory post is included for the folks who missed it the first time.
  3. A post with examples of Thinglink projects completed by students. Again, a link to the introductory post is included for the folks who missed it the first time.
  4. A post introducing some less-obvious uses of Thinglink including some examples of app-smashing with Thinglink. For example, I often combine the use of PicMonkey and Thinglink. As with the two previous posts I include a link back to the introductory post that offers instruction on how to use Thinglink.

Using Hootsuite to Spread Your School's Message

Last month I shared an outline for distributing your school and classroom messages to as many people as possible. Hootsuite is one of the tools that I mentioned, briefly, in that outline. Hootsuite allows you to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts to appear on a schedule of your choosing.

Reasons for scheduling Tweets and Facebook posts: 
1. You're busy and might not have time to log-in and post on a daily basis.
2. You want to repeat your Tweets and Facebook posts.
3. You want to populate your Twitter feed with messages related to a school event. Use the hashtag you've chosen for the event in your Tweets. This could encourage parents and students to use the same hashtag in their Tweets.

Why you want to repeat Tweets and Facebook posts:
Twitter and Facebook updates stream past most of us at a pace that is faster than we can follow. If you post your message only once, you have only one opportunity to grab the attention of students and parents who are following your classroom or school Tweets and Facebook posts. Use Hootsuite to schedule your messages to appear in the morning and the evening.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Create Short Stories and More on Make Beliefs Comix

Make Beliefs Comix is a multilingual comic strip creation service that I've featured a few times in the past. Through Make Beliefs Comix students can create comic strips online without needing to register on the site. Make Beliefs Comix also provides teachers with a wealth of printable templates to use in classrooms that do not have enough computers or tablets for every student to use. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to create comic strips on Make Beliefs Comix.

Applications for Education
Make Beliefs Comix and other services like it provide students with a fun and familiar format for creative writing. Sometimes a little visual prompt provided by a gallery of cartoon characters can inspire students to start writing a story.

Now Take Notes on Drive Videos with

This is a guest post from Beth Holland (@brholland) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site. allows students to take notes while watching videos. This tool is fantastic in a flipped, blended, or online classroom as students can have their typed notes automatically time-stamped to the video. Because can be tied to a Google Drive account, all notes can also be saved and shared with others.

As described in previous posts on this site, works with YouTube, Vimeo, Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and EdX videos. However, for many schools, these are not sufficient options because of content filtering, and teachers have always asked if it could be possible for students to take notes on videos shared through Drive. Until last week, my answer had been “no.” But now, thanks to one of my EdTechTeacher Summer Workshop participants - Bill Melville (@bmelvillehwrhs) from Hamilton Wenham Regional High School - there is a solution. By manually changing the URL, students can now take notes on Google Drive videos! The screencast below walks through this process.

Thanks again to Bill for this discovery!

To learn more about working with Google Apps and Web Tools, EdTechTeacher provides FREE resources on their website

Great Google Drive Add-ons for Teachers - A PDF Handout

Last week I presented three webinars on behalf of Simple K12 (the recordings will be available later this week). The third of those webinars was all about Google Drive Add-ons and Chrome extensions for teachers. If you couldn't attend the live webinar, you can still grab the handout here or view it as embedded below.

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