Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Padlet Now Offers an iPad App - 5 Ways You Can Use It With Students

Late last night I checked my email before bed and found a note from Nitesh Goel in Padlet's marketing department, announcing that Padlet has finally released a dedicated iPad app. The iPad app functions in all of the same ways as the web app with one additional feature that teachers are going to love. Now when you want students to join one of your Padlet walls you can have them scan a QR code with the Padlet iPad app to instantly join the wall on their iPads. To get the QR code you must create a Padlet wall then open the sharing settings to find the QR code to project or print. If you need help creating a Padlet wall, click here to find three Padlet tutorial videos.

Applications for Education
I've previously shared a number of ideas for using Padlet in the classroom. The five most popular of those ideas are outlined below.

Padlet as a simple blogging platform:
Padlet walls can be arranged in free-form, grid, or stream layouts. Creating a Padlet page in the stream format could be a good way to create a simple, collaborative blog for students. You could create the page, select "stream" format, and make the page accessible for students to write short posts on. Their posts could include images and videos. If you want to, you can password protect your Padlet pages and moderate messages before they appear on your Padlet page.

Padlet Mini as a bookmarking tool:
Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to bookmark websites. When you click the Padlet Mini extension in your browser you will be presented with the option to save to one of your existing walls or create a new Padlet wall. Click here for a video on using Padlet Mini.

Padlet as a KWL chart:
Padlet can be used to create a KWL chart that students can contribute to anonymously (or not anonymously if you want them to sign-in). Create a wall, make it public, and ask students to share what they know and what they want to know about a topic. If you allow anonymous posting you might get contributions from shy students who might not otherwise speak-up in class. Of course, if you allow anonymous commenting you should have a conversation with your students about what an appropriate comment looks like. (You could also turn on moderation and approve all notes before they appear). Padlet works well when projected on an interactive whiteboard.

Padlet for group research and discussion:
A few years ago I showed my special education students a short (18 minutes) video about cultural changes that took place in the US during the 1920's. After the video we discussed what they saw. Then I had students search online for other examples of cultural change in the 1920's. When they found examples they put them onto a Wallwisher (Padlet's previous name) wall that I projected onto a wall in my classroom. The wall started with just text being added to the wall and quickly progressed to YouTube videos being added to the wall. Once every student had added a video to the wall we stopped, watched the videos, and discussed them.

Padlet as a showcase of your students’ work:
If your students are creating digital portfolios, creating slideshows, or producing videos you could use Padlet to display all of your students’ best work on one page. Create the wall, call it something like “my best work this year,” and have your students post links to their works.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Formative - A Possible Replacement for Infuse Learning

There is certainly not a shortage of online tools for distributing quizzes to students and watching their responses in realtime. Formative is the latest online quiz and feedback service that I have tested.

Formative provides you with a place to create online classrooms. Your students join your classroom by entering the assigned class code after registering on the Formative website. Once your classroom is established you can begin distributing assignments to students. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. You can also enable or disable instant feedback for students. When you give an assignment to students through Formative you can watch their responses in realtime.

The best feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work" questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.

Applications for Education
When Infuse Learning shutdown earlier this year many teachers were disappointed by the loss of a great tool that allowed students to draw responses to questions. Formative's "show your work" question format seems to have filled the void created by the closure of Infuse Learning.

The "show your work" question format in Formative could be great for gathering responses to math questions or any other question that isn't easily answered by using standard keyboard functions.

Use Tags and Labels on Classroom Blog Posts

One of the underutilized functions of every popular blog platform (Blogger, Kidblog, Edublogs, WordPress) is the option to apply tags or labels to each blog post. Tags and labels don't get used because people don't understand how using them can be beneficial in the long run.

In WordPress, KidBlog, and Edublogs there is an option to apply tags to every post. In Blogger the same function is found in the form of labels that can be applied to every post. By tagging or labeling your posts you are creating a framework which will make it easier for you and others visiting your blog to find more posts to read. In practice this means that when someone reads a post and wants to find more like it in your blog, he or she simply needs to click on a tag or label to be taken to more posts on the same topic. Try it for yourself on this post on PracticalEdTech.com. After reading the post, click on the Google Drive tag to find more posts containing Google Drive tips.

Applications for Education
On a classroom blog using tags or labels makes it easy for students to find related posts. For example on a US History classroom blog you might try labeling or tagging each post with a unit title like "Revolutionary War." Then when it comes time for students to review material about the Revolutionary War they can simply click on the tag to find everything related to that unit of study.

I'll be sharing more tips like this one in my upcoming course, Classroom Blog Jumpstart, starting on August 17th.

How to Create Freehand Drawings in Google Slides

Google Slides, like most good programs, has a number of features that often go overlooked even though they're in plain view. One of those features is the drawing tool that can be used to create freehand drawings on a slide in Google Slides. If you've never given it a try, take a look at the video embedded below to see how easy it is to create a freehand drawing in Google Slides.


For more tips like the one above, take a look at my YouTube playlists Practical Ed Tech Tips and Google Tutorials.

How to Create a Classroom in Duolingo for Schools

Duolingo is a popular free service that offers activities for learning Spanish, English, French, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, German, and Portuguese. The service works in your web browser and is available as an app on Android, iPad, and Windows 8. Last winter Duolingo introduced Duolingo for Schools. Within Duolingo for Schools teachers can create online classrooms in which they monitor their students' progression through the learning activities available in Duolingo.

In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create a classroom in Duolingo for Schools. The video also shows a student's view of Duolingo for Schools.