When I saw this article last week, it made me laugh at first, but then got me thinking... how many more powerpoint presentations will I have to sit through? You know the ones where the presenter apologizes in advance that you can't read the text on the slide, or god forbid, starts reading each slide to you. I remember showing Death by PowerPoint to students more than a decade ago. Here's the article- so you can laugh/cry...It's 2020. Why Are You Still Using PowerPoint? Don't miss clicking on the link to give you ideas of what you can do: Do This Instead.
New ways to capture and share learning seem to pop up on a daily basis, but these two tools are not the new kids on the block. Both Screencastify and Book Creator have been around for a while now and both keep on making more and more improvements.
When I saw the tweet below and a blog post by Richard Byrne, it reminded that I need to go back and give Screencastify another look. Take a look for yourself here.
Embedded below is a Book Creator book with 50 Ways to use Book Creator in your classroom. This tool is easy to use, and if you happen to run into any problem, you know that you will get a quick, helpful response back. Just this week they announced some great accessibility changes too.Here's a great post to learn more about all the wonderful new features- 230+ accessibility improvements added to Book Creator.
This is a long one- but it show you all kinds of great ways to use Book Creator in Special Ed
You don't have to be a special educator to learn more about UDL. This is a Don Johnston webinar from last week with Hillary Goldthwaite-Fowles, who can help dispel some of the myths around UDL.
Ideas to Share
Two posts from amazing educators stood out for me this past week. One was about Daniel Pink's new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing; and the other was from Jessica Twomey and Christine Pinto's #Innovative Play- 2 great resources- Connected Play Centers and MLK Character Traits Study .
I actually saw images with Pink's "controversial" statements about the research on timing of math in school, not realizing that this was part of Pink's book, until Matt Miller tweeted about Pink's keynote at FETC. So, I haven't read the book yet. I ordered a hard copy (so I could lend it out after I read it), which should be arriving today. But I was intrigued by the research cited and have questions about it.
Here's Matt's sketchnote:
Images from Keynote attendees' posts
So, what subject comes first in the school day? Is the data only related to math or all subjects? What does later in the day mean... how subjective is this? And last but not least- breaks... How do you time all of this? How much control do teachers have/should teachers have over scheduling?
How ? The #Innovative Play Way
I have always found that early childhood and elementary teachers come up with the best ways to learn. The connection to play is so important. This week I saw two great resources, one on Connected Play Centers- embedding character traits, which connected so nicely with their presentation on MLK - Character Trait Study, using stories to make this important connection. I love the way these teachers think and their creative ideas. They also take so much of the work out of a project by including the links, the videos, but spark ideas that let you incorporate your own materials.
Check out the Connected Play Center's updated play board here:
Check out MLK Character Traits here:
Ideas to Share
I often get asked about using Google Read and Write for Chrome. It is a pretty amazing tool set, which is often underutilized. Texthelp continues to add more and more features. This, although helpful, can put folks off. I remember the first time I saw the Kurtzweil dashboard- pretty much made me walk away. Student and teacher time is precious. Things need to work with no fuss, and no one really has a lot of time for a steep learning curve. So- Check out the training Texthelp offers online. You can spend less than an hour and get a lot of the basic skills, or just watch a 3 minute video to help you figure out one tool. Remember- use the Chrome browser- log into your school account. Teachers get all the features free, students get a free trial, or if you get lucky, your district can get a great deal and include everyone. Here's the basic training link . Here's the Resources link. Scroll down and check this one out. There's a whole series of resource material for ELL students, including this handy PDF. Need a quick video to learn a tool? Check out their YouTube channel.
Edutopia has a nice article called, " Preparing Social Studies Students to Think Critically in the Modern World", which can give you ideas about using primary sources.
Check, Please! is geared for older students, but I think high school students or any teacher could pick up a few pointers. Here's their info: "In this course, we show you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework."
To Share with Parents
The UK has a great organization called National Online Safety, which puts out a weekly post/pdf around various topics that parents, and teachers, should stay informed about. A recent one was on TikTok, but check out all of their free, downloadable resources here.
This article from TeachThought caught my eye recently. For those who know me, I often choose to do a "sandbox" day when introducing a new tool. I know that I learn best by hearing about something, watching someone/a video, and then messing with it myself. I need the verbal, the visual and kinesthetic modes to really get a handle on most of the digital tools and all of the physical tools. Although the article spoke to gaming and video games, like Minecraft, where the object is to build something, it also spoke to the need to "do stuff", "make stuff", to create. The digital tools I use every day stick in my head, the ones I use sporadically, I have to look up every time. The physical tools I use every day present no challenges,but new tools often take me a while and some "sandbox" time to get used to. Fellow teachers and I were watching students cut paper circles last week as part of a project and could not believe how hard it was for them. They apparently never have to use scissors. Last year I watched a student attempt to use a hammer to screw in a screw. If you have ever seen me try to use a sewing machine, you know, some of us just need more direction and practice. Thus, Sandbox Learning=hands-on, engaged, minds-on learning. It works. It brings out our strengths, allows us to learn and work through our weaknesses. Is this the way to learn everything? Probably not. I know how much I have hated being tossed into a project with no help. Sandbox learning can be structured, with scaffolded support as needed, but wide open enough to challenge to encourage. Lock-step, teach-to-the-test may give students high test scores, but are they learning?
I'm quite sure that as we head into election season here in the US, the "disinformation" in the media will only get worse. Commonsense Media is an excellent resource for educators. Their News and Media Literacy Resource Center has a wealth of material to use. I love the Sift, the News Literacy Project's newsletter for educators. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Did you know about the upcoming first National News Literacy Week, Jan. 27-31 ? The goal is to raise awareness of news literacy as a fundamental life skill. Read more about it here. I also didn't realize, and have not checked out their new app Informable. "The app, which is free, is designed to improve users’ ability to identify different types of news and other information." This is also an interesting site that I was introduced to recently- allsides.com .
What are you using for media literacy resources ?
Ideas to Share
Richard Byrne- FreeTech4Teachers is always an amazing resource. Looking through my bookmarks, it was clear that his contributions stood out, once again, as valuable to pass along. I will give you a really brief view of a couple of them- and the links to learn more from the source.
One of the tools he posted about this past week was ClassTools' new sorting game- Vortex. I tried out a couple of the pre-made games and thought they would be great for a review game. Gotta say- hate the font choice, but the game was fun and you can create your own. Can't find the original tweet or source, but check out this list of favorite tools of 2019
One other tool that Richard highlighted was Canva. I had looked at Canva back when it first came out, but have not used it extensively. Now that there is a free education edition, this tool is on my list to explore. Check out what Richard wrote and his video below.
Another tech guru that I get ideas from on a regular basis is Wanda Terral- Tech Director down at Lakeland School System down in Tennessee. Wanda is a Google educator and always shares great practical information. This past week she re-posted the links to the TCEA (Elementary) conference handouts from 2019. This is a fantastic resource with tons of wonderful presentations. Well worth spending time to check out for all elementary educators with presentations on all sorts of topics/tools. If you can't make it to TCEA conferences, the handouts are the next best thing.
Wanda also posted this image and the link to the site Retrieval Practices and a great article about Bloom's Taxonomy. Kind of turns the whole idea on it's head. And... she also pointed me to some excellent Google resources - Templates for Google Forms and Designing Infographics with Google Forms ( part of Applied Digital Skills )
Just before the winter break Tinkercad announced their new iOS app. We use Tinkercad for our 3D projects- on chromebooks. I downloaded the app and can't wait to have the students try it out. Looks like a lot of great new features too, along with the new interface. We haven't really ventured into much AR and this may provide a way to make this happen.
Cool Graph Paper
I started going through an online EdTech course -Primarily Google, over the break. The ideas for using Google in early elementary grades never cease to amaze me. One wonderful place to start is Susan Stewart's Primarily Google. Most of the time when I take one of these online courses, I come away with a couple of ideas, most of it- meh- knew that, etc. Not the case here. Yes, I know how to use these tools, but the creative ideas Susan comes up with... well check out her site and I think you'll agree- primarilygooglerocks!