Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How Not To...

This is a guest post from Ruston Hurley, the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special.

It can be work getting students (and ourselves, truth be told) to remember what we should do. Getting our charges to make a video explaining what to do can be helpful, but there's arguably an even better way: have them make a video about what not to do.

How to Fail a Speech

As this video shows, explaining the wrong thing to do can be a lot of fun. Additionally, a student who does something that everyone worked to explain shouldn't be done runs the risk of some good-natured ridicule.

If your students create some great how-not-to videos, we'd like to see them for possible inclusion in the NextVista.org library, so please share!

WriteReader Presents the Most Popular Topics Amongst Student Authors

WriteReader is a great multimedia writing tool for elementary school students and their teachers. On WriteReader students can create multimedia ebooks independently or with the assistance of their teachers. Teachers can log-in and see what their students have written. Teachers can make suggestions and corrections to what their students have written in WriteReader. Teachers' suggestions and corrections appear in a space just below what their students originally wrote.

Recently, WriteReader published a list of the most popular topics amongst the student authors using the WriteReader platform. Three of the ten most popular topics were animals, Minecraft, and food. See the whole list here.

Applications for Education
WriteReader makes it easy to get started creating multimedia books with your students. You can create a classroom account for free on the site. Your students don't need to have email addresses in order to use the service. And if you are in a school that uses Google Classroom, you can use those rosters to create classrooms within WriteReader.

If you're struggling to come up with topics for your students to write about, consult WriteReader's list of the most popular topics amongst student writers. WriteReader also offers a set of free writing lesson plans that will provide you with activities for six weeks.

Disclosure: WriteReader is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Monday, January 30, 2017

Three Themes to Brainstorm About for Your Classroom Blog

Maintaining any kind of regular posting schedule on a blog requires some planning. To that end, one of the things that I do on a regular basis is have a brainstorming session in which I develop themes to write about and then topics within those themes. You can do this for your classroom blog by inviting your students to participate in a group brainstorming session. Here are three themes to get you started.

1. Unique aspects of your town/city/state/region. 
This is a great theme for classroom blogs that are going to be read by students in other parts of the world. Connect your classroom with a classroom in another part of the world to learn about the customs and physical geography of each other's parts of the world.

2. Tech tips.
Let your classroom blog be a place that other students, teachers, and parents come to for help with common tech questions. Ask your students to think about the questions that their parents often have about technology.

3. Time management/ study strategies.
Between homework, extracurricular activities at school, and responsibilities elsewhere it seems that our students are busier than ever before. Have them share ideas with each other on how to manage their time and priorities. Or take the theme in a slightly different yet related direction by asking students to share their favorite studying tips.

I'll be sharing more about brainstorming and mind mapping activities in a webinar this Wednesday at 4pm Eastern Time

Quick Key + Google Classroom = Great Way to Conduct Formative Assessments

Quick Key is an excellent platform for creating and conducting formative assessments. I often include Quick Key in my presentations about formative assessment because it is a tool that works equally well in classrooms that are 1:1 and in classrooms that are not 1:1. This is possible because Quick Key allows you to create formative assessments that you can distribute electronically as well as on paper.

If you use Quick Key to distribute your assessments electronically, Quick Key will score your students' responses automatically. One of the latest features of Quick Key is an integration with Google Classroom. This integration lets you use your Google Classroom rosters to distribute and collect assessments.

If you distribute your assessments on paper, you can use the Quick Key mobile app to quickly scan your students' answer sheets and receive the scores. Watch the following teacher-produced video to learn how easy it is to use Quick Key to score formative assessments.

Applications for Education
Conducting formative assessments on a regular basis is one of many ways to understand what your students know and don't know. That information can help you design your next lessons to meet the needs of your students. Or as Tyler Welch from Sumner Schools in Tennessee wrote, "Quick Key allows me to give ten standards-aligned questions at the start of each block of instruction. It takes 5 minutes for the students to complete and less than two minutes for me to grade. I am able to tool my instruction towards the specific needs of my students much more quickly.”

Disclosure: Quick Key is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Make Your Own Virtual Reality Headset

On Saturday afternoon I saw Hall Davidson give the closing keynote for the Fort Worth ISD Technology Conference. In his presentation he spoke extensively about the possibilities for use of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence in the classroom. One of the things that he mentioned was that you don't need to spend a lot of money in order to use virtual reality in your classroom. In fact, most schools already have the materials necessary to create virtual reality viewers. With some cardboard, glue, and plastic bottles you could build enough virtual reality viewers for a classroom.

The Google Cardboard website has templates that you can print and follow to build your own virtual reality viewers (scroll past the items listed for sale). Instructables also offers a template and directions for making your own VR viewers. And for those who would like to see the process before embarking on the project, the following video covers the process from start to finish.

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