Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Free Webinar This Thursday - Two EdTech Guys Take Questions

This Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I are hosting the fifth episode of the second season of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff! We'd love to have you join us! You can register for the session right here

In every episode we answer questions from readers and viewers like you. We also share some cool and interesting things that we've found around the Web. Rushton tends to share cool videos and pictures while I tend to share cool tech tools. And we both try our best to give helpful answers to your questions about all things educational technology. 

Please join us! And feel free to email me in advance with your questions or send them in live during the webinar. 

Recordings and resources from our previous episodes are available on this Next Vista for Learning page.  

Lumio - Connect With Your Class

Disclosure: Lumio is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Lumio is a new online learning platform that you can use to create and deliver engaging lessons wherever you are and wherever students are. I’ve spent the last two weeks testing it out and I can confidently say that I haven’t been this excited about a service like this one in a long time. As soon as I saw it in action my mind filled with possibilities for using Lumio in all kinds of classrooms.

What is Lumio?
At its core Lumio is a tool for creating online lessons and activities and for your students. You can create lessons and activities from scratch using the tools provided by Lumio or you can use templates provided by Lumio to create activities. Additionally, Lumio lets you import Google Slides, PDFs, PowerPoint slides, and other files to build your own online lessons and easily add interactive activities. There’s also an option to include ad-free YouTube videos in your lessons. Finally, math teachers should take note of Lumio’s integration of Desmos for adding interactive graphing calculators to their lessons.

Lumio activities can be completed by students in and out of the classroom.. You can lead the activity with teacher-paced mode, or switch to student-paced at any time to let students explore and learn on their own. Either way, students access assigned activities through a class code, from any device with a browser. That class code never changes so it will, hopefully, eventually be memorized by students. And if they don’t memorize it, their devices will store it for them.

In Lumio you can create lessons, games, quizzes (team and individual), virtual manipulatives, graphic organizers, and video-based activities.

For a broad overview of Lumio, watch this short video.

How Does Lumio Work?
To get started, head to www.lum.io and click “Get Started for Free.” You can then sign-in using your Google account or your Microsoft account. Once you’ve signed in you can jump right into making your first activity or lesson. Alternatively, you can take a look at the “getting started” guide provided by Lumio. That guide includes a helpful student view of activities. (Side note, I wish that more companies would provide a student view of their products).

How to Create Your First Assessment Activity
To quickly get a sense of how Lumio will work for you and your students, I’d start by creating a simple formative assessment activity. To do that just click on “Add Activities” in your teacher dashboard. You’ll notice that there are dozens of activity templates. Pick “Response” and that will bring up a template that you can use to create a short set of questions for your students to respond to. These can be multiple choice, true/false, poll, or open-response questions. Once you’ve written your questions you can preview your activity and then save it in your account. All activities that you create are accessed from your teacher library.

To give an activity to your students, simply find it in your teacher dashboard then click “Start.” The next screen will show you the activity in progress along with your students’ responses in real time. Students will see your activity as soon as they enter your class code on the Lumio student log-in page on their computers, tablets, or phones.

Answers to all Response activities that students complete in Lumio are saved in your Lumio account. You can export a record of the responses and scores (if applicable) as a spreadsheet or CSV file.

Watch my short demo here to see how quickly you can create and deliver an assessment with Lumio. The demo also includes the students’ view of a Lumio activity.

Dozens of Lessons and Activity Types
In the section above I outlined making and giving a formative assessment in Lumio. Creating and delivering formative assessments is certainly not all that can be done with Lumio. In fact, a quick look through the “explore” section in your Lumio teacher dashboard will show you dozens of ideas for using Lumio to teach all kinds of lessons. You’ll find that the lesson resources are organized into collections that you can browse through manually or refine according to grade level and subject area. All of the pre-made lessons can be copied directly into your Lumio account where you can use them as written or modify them to fit your needs.

Lessons and practice activities like virtual manipulatives can be student-paced or teacher-paced. And just like the assessment activities, students access lessons and practice activities by simply entering the class code.

A great example of a Lumio lesson with embedded student activities is found in Increasing Motivation. This short lesson contains a dozen slides in which students read some quotes about motivation, match quotes to authors, brainstorm some ideas about motivation, and engage in short discussions. The Increasing Motivation lesson is designed as a teacher-paced lesson for use with a live class (in-person or virtual).

The Increasing Motivation lesson includes a mix of activities for students to complete. You can start the lesson with the title slide, introduce the lesson, then give students time to complete the first activity which is a virtual manipulative activity called “match ‘em up.” In that activity students match pictures of famous people to statements about them. After they’ve completed the “match ‘em up” activity you can then advance the slides to the next talking point, talk with your students, and then move to the next student activity in the lesson.

Watch my short demo here to learn more about finding lessons in Lumio, modifying them, and using them with your students.

Virtual Manipulatives, Graphic Organizers, and More!
As I mentioned above, there are dozens of lesson and activity types that you can create and share with your students through Lumio. Here’s a list of my favorites:
  • Shout It Out - A group brainstorming activity.

  • Monster Quiz - Students compete in teams to hatch monsters via correctly answering questions and encouraging their classmates.

  • Label Reveal - Students learn names of parts of an image or diagram.

  • Super Sort - As the name implies, students sort lists into categories.

  • Six Word Summary - Students distill a topic into six connected words.

  • Frayer Model - This is a digital version of the classic Frayer Model graphic organizer for learning vocabulary words.

  • Musical Notes - Digital sheet music paper for students to compose on and or for you to use to create lessons.

  • Currency - For elementary school teachers teaching lessons about money, there is lots of virtual currency for you to use as virtual manipulatives in lessons like this one about money.

Compatibility and Accessibility
Students can complete Lumio activities on just about any device. They can use Windows, Mac, or Chrome OS computers to complete activities. They can also use Android and iOS mobile devices to complete activities that you share with them. Basically, if it has a modern web browser, it can be used to complete a Lumio activity.

When you create a lesson or activity in Lumio you have the option to record audio instructions for your students. Your audio recording can be up to five minutes long. Students can play it back as many times as they need while working on an activity in Lumio.

Get Started!
It’s quick, easy, and free to start using Lumio. Just head to the site and sign-in with your Google or Microsoft account and start making your first assessment or lesson.

Monday, November 8, 2021

ClassPoint - Turn PowerPoint Into an Interactive Teaching Tool

Disclosure: ClassPoint is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

ClassPoint is a new-to-me PowerPoint tool that I’m excited to see used in online and in-person classroom and conference settings. At first glance you might think it’s just a poll and quiz tool. However, when you look a little deeper you’ll see that ClassPoint is more than just a polling and quizzing tool. ClassPoint includes tools for annotating slides and creating online whiteboards on the fly. You can even use it to randomly select names.

ClassPoint has free and paid plans. Everything that is featured in this blog post can be done for free. If you're interested in trying the paid features, you can head here and use method #3 with the trial code EWW1IHIPSM to get one month of free access to the premium features. 

ClassPoint for Polling, Quizzing, and Q&A
ClassPoint lets you create question slides that your students can interact with. To interact with the slides students simply go to classpoint.app and enter a class code. Alternatively, they can scan a QR code that you display. It’s worth noting that you can reset the class code at any time. When students access the slides they have the option to save copies of the slides as well as interact with the slides.

ClassPoint offers a variety of question types to insert into your PowerPoint presentation. You can create all of the usual multiple choice, true/false, and open-response questions that you would expect to see in a tool like ClassPoint. You can also create prompts like “create a diagram of a plant cell” and then have students respond with a drawing. Here’s a great example of how that’s done.

You can display students’ responses to your questions and prompts in real-time. There’s an option to turn your questions and prompts into a game. That’s done by using the “competition mode” option in ClassPoint. The leader board will display student names and scores in real-time. To keep activities moving along, you can set a time limit for response time to each prompt or question that you create with ClassPoint or simply advance the slides when you’re ready to have the class move on to the next question. For those who prefer to have an anonymous display of responses, there is an option to hide students’ names when you display responses.

Finally, you can review responses to ClassPoint activities after a lesson has concluded. That is possible because all of your students’ responses to your questions and prompts are saved in your original PowerPoint file.

ClassPoint for Instruction
ClassPoint is more than just a polling and quizzing tool. In fact, you could use ClassPoint as an instructional tool without ever using the quiz or polling function.

There are many ways that ClassPoint could be used as an instructional tool during live online and in-person classes. A few that stand out include using ClassPoint as an online whiteboard, using it as a tool for annotating and highlighting texts and images, and using it as a random name selector.

With ClassPoint installed, every time you enter presentation mode in PowerPoint you will have a menu of tools available to you on the bottom of the screen. Those tools include a whiteboard. Clicking the whiteboard option will bring up a small menu of whiteboard backgrounds (whiteboard, blackboard, and lined paper) that you can instantly insert into your slideshow without having to exit the full screen presentation. Then you can use the drawing tools to draw on your whiteboard. The whiteboard is automatically saved as a new slide in your presentation.

The annotation tools available through ClassPoint are also displayed at the bottom of your presentation every time you enter presentation mode. These tools let you circle, highlight, and write on top of your existing slides. You’re prompted to save or discard your annotations when you exit the presentation.

Both the whiteboard tools and the annotation tools are great for those times when you need to quickly create a visual to further explain a topic or answer a question from a student. Rather than exiting the presentation and opening a new tool or exiting the presentation and writing on a physical markerboard in your classroom, you can just click the whiteboard or annotation tools and start adding visuals to your explanation.

Whether it’s because every student wants to talk at once or because none of our students want to answer a question, we all have times when we need to randomly select a student’s name from a list. ClassPoint has a built-in random name selector, Pick-a-Name, that you can access when you’re teaching a lesson with your PowerPoint slides open. Simply click on the Pick-a-Name icon on the toolbar and ClassPoint will pick a name from all of the students who are currently logged in with your ClassPoint class code.

Three Things I’ll Do With ClassPoint

1. Warm-up with word clouds.
Whenever I’m introducing students to a new topic I like to establish a baseline of what my students already know or have heard about that topic. For example, when I taught U.S. History and I was introducing my World War II unit to high school students I would always say something like, “give me one word about what you remember about WWII from your middle school U.S. History class.” With ClassPoint I can have students respond to that prompt and have their responses generate a word cloud that appears as part of my slideshow. I then have a bit of a baseline to start at for refreshing their memories or introducing a new idea. A demo of the word cloud option is available here.

2. Slide drawing.
The ClassPoint blog lists some great examples of using the drawing and annotation tools. One that I’d add to have students quickly create their own network diagrams. I did this last fall in my computer technology class so that I could quickly see my students’ understanding of how modems, routers, and access points work together as part of a wireless network. A quick demo of the slide drawing option can be seen here.

3. Random name selection. 
I’m guilty of sometimes letting the same kids answer questions too frequently. Using a random name selector lets me mix it up a bit and get more students involved in the classroom conversation. This demo shows the random name picker in action.

Get Started!
To get started using ClassPoint simply head to classpoint.io and click the “download now” button to install ClassPoint in your desktop version of PowerPoint. The download will walk you through installing ClassPoint (it only takes a few minutes). ClassPoint has lots of video tutorials available on their website. Those tutorials are also accessible directly from PowerPoint once you have ClassPoint installed. Watch this short demo of ClassPoint to see it in action.

More Neat Things!
If you’ve read this far and you want to see some more creative uses of ClassPoint, take a look at ClassPoint’s Twitter account which regularly shares some fun and creative ideas like this one about using the drawing tools in a lesson about the solar system.

ClassPoint has free and paid plans. Everything that is featured in this blog post can be done for free. If you're interested in trying the paid features, you can head here and use method #3 with the trial code EWW1IHIPSM to get one month of free access to the premium features. 

How to Hyperlink PowerPoint Slides for Choose-Your-Own Adventure Stories

In this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I shared five uses for PowerPoint and Google Slides besides making presentations. One of those uses is to create choose-your-own adventure stories. To do that students have to know how to link slides together. In this short tutorial I demonstrate how to do that in the Windows 10 version of PowerPoint. 

The same thing can be accomplished with Keynote and Google Slides. Here's how it's done with Keynote. And here's how it's done in Google Slides.

Resources for Teaching and Learning About Veterans Day

Veterans Day is this Thursday. If you find yourself looking for some quick lessons to review with your students, here's a small collection for you. 

ReadWorks is one of my favorite places to go when I need information texts about a holiday to share with students. ReadWorks has a good collection of Veterans Day articles that are arranged by grade level and are accompanied by question sets. 

C-SPAN Classroom Resources
C-SPAN Classroom has sixteen "bell ringer" activities about topics related to World War I. One of those is titled The History and Evolution of Veterans Day. The activity features a five minute video and seven corresponding questions along with a short list of vocabulary terms. You can find all of the C-SPAN Classroom Bell Ringers and lesson plans about World War I on this resources page

Bet You Didn't Know
Bet You Didn't Know: Veterans Day is a video that explains the origins of the holiday and why its date of celebration has twice shifted in the United States. The end of the video includes an explanation of the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. 

Veterans Day by the Numbers is also from History. As the name implies, the video provides a statistical overview of Veterans Day including what percentage of the American population has served in the military among other interesting facts. 

Elementary school teachers may find this video from PBS Learning Media useful in providing an overview of Veterans Day. I prefer this one from Kid History

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