Digital Passport is Back!
Digital Passport, the award winning suite of 6 interactive games from Commonsense Media, has been a staple in our school's digital citizenship work, so I was dismayed when it wasn't ready to go at the end of the summer. But, it's back! What's new? The biggest change is that students no longer log in the same way; no student information is collected. This is both positive and negative. The students create their own username. Their work is saved, when a unit is completed- on that computer, on that browser. If they switch computers or use a new browser- out of luck. They can download or print certificates, take screenshots, etc. But, you just know that someone will forget to do this.
One other new feature- you can now choose to play the games in English or in Spanish.
I also kind of wish there was an easier tie in with Google Classroom, but that would of course attach student data. After taking a quick glance at the new Educator Guide- clean, simple and easy to use. I'm looking forward to trying this out soon with our 3rd graders!
Looking for UDL ideas?
When Wikispaces made the difficult decision to close, so many of my favorite websites also went by the wayside or had to find a new home. So happy that my good friend, teacher, and mentor, Karen Janowski spent the time to move her incredible UDL ToolKit to a new space. If you are looking for ideas on how to accomodate students on IEPS, 504 plans, or just about any student you teach- look no further than THE UDL TOOLKIT.
To quote Karen: " My passion is to remove the obstacles to learning for all students and these free tools offer opportunities for struggling learners that promote academic success. When material is digital or electronic, it is flexible and accessible. It is our responsibility as educators to provide materials that promote success. Please encourage all educators to consider using these free tools."
Bookshare Special Collections
I just learned about an amazing tool on Bookshare from @karenjan last week. I never knew they had Special Collections. If you have students on Bookshare- check it out! You can take some of these amazing collated collections and add them as reading lists for your students. For example-
I just wanted to share this info from Shelly Terrell with excellent directions on creating and sending parent newsletters. I embedded her tweet below. Her original post can be found here. Check it out as Shelly shares her templates too!
Join the UMass #30 Day Access Challenge
I have written in the past about SDGs- Sustainable Development Goals, but before the school year ends, wanted to remind everyone that it is not too early to figure out what you'll be doing to help your students understand the concept and come up with real plans to achieve these goals. The video below is an invitation to do just that. Visit the project web site and learn more about it. Everyone can participate- preK on up...
UDL: Great collection of Assistive Tech and OT sites
A friend posted a link to an excellent collection of sites for assistive tech and OT related strategies today. H/T to Leslie DiChiara for sharing these links! The one that I really enjoyed checking out was this one on speech recognition, but you are sure to find something of interest here.
One thing that really stood out to me on Saturday when I attended EdCampAccessBoston was the continuing gap between "Our Kids" and "Their Kids" - between special educators and general educators. I know that everyone cares about all of their students. I know that everyone is busy. Sometimes we don't cover all the bases. Working together, truly working as a team- to provide what is best for all students is our goal, but it's hard sometimes!
These links- all kids can benefit from many of these strategies- not just a student on an IEP or a 504 plan. Karen Janowski, one of my friends, one of my teachers, and an amazing educator shared a few websites during these sessions that, again, almost all students can benefit from. She showed teachers how to use Lit Charts, Insert Learning- (great blog post by Caitlin Tucker), and Common Lit. I hadn't seen Lit Charts- very cool site. Think Shmoop- but way better. The guys who created Spark Notes created this tool. Read more about it here: About LitCharts, or Why LitCharts are the Best Literature Guides on Earth
What is #MADPD?? It is "a virtual “unconference” with one goal: to make a difference for the greater education community. On May 6, 100 educators from across the globe shared one idea that makes a difference in their classrooms!
It was actually pretty amazing, and the great thing- you can still access all of the presentations- free, on your own time schedule. How? By using the Awesome Table, of course.
Here's the link: https://awesome-table.com/-LBnE8hn7NBBTPOjM2Qo/view
There are 94 short presentations- bet there is something that interests you.
Alice Keeler- Google Forms- Branching
What. is. a. hyperdoc?
I've been hearing about, reading about teachers using hyperdocs for a couple of years, and to be honest, my first reaction was- really? Do we need more jargon? Can't they just be called documents with hyperlinks? Yet another buzz word... BUT, last week I participated in a GAFEchat on twitter and came away as, if not an evangelist- at least a convert and am excited to explore and see if this can be useful for you and your students. So, first things first.
Isn't this just a document with hyperlinks?
Lisa Highfill, one of the creators of Hyperdocs (along with Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis) at a 2015 TEDX conference defined hyperdocs as-
Karly Moura, an instructional coach in Concord, Ca created an excellent comparison chart.
What you will notice in the comparison is that the creation of hyperdocs helps teachers create UDL lessons- considering how the materials are presented to students, engaging the students in creative ways and allowing for multiple means of representation. Sarah Landis has created an excellent Template you can follow. Click to see in Google Docs. Karly Moura has also created a mashup of this original template and some new ideas. She has even created a "close reading template".
Who are these for? Elementary? Middle School? High School?
All of the above. The resources I collected on the GAFEchat are saved on the One tab qr code to the left, but there are many, many more collections- and more teachers are creating and sharing these every day. Check out @TsGiveTs! on Twitter- it is an amazing resource. Here is a link toKarly's shared hyperdoc folder to check out some of her resources for elementary age kids. Below you will find some amazing resources shared by fellow educators and collected on Padlets as well as inspiring and informational presentations Lisa Highfill gave recently at the CUE conference.
Want to learn more?
You can check out the Hyperdocs FaceBook group here.
Want to learn even more? Lisa, Kelly and Sarah have a book coming out soon.
UDL- What is it?
Most of you have heard me go on ad nauseam about UDL- Universal Design for Learning- but if you haven't been exposed to UDL principles- here it is in a nutshell- or an infographic from the UDL Center and CAST.
Essentially, UDL is a way to front load your lessons- be proactive - and provide multiple means of engagement, representation and action & expression.
Why should I care?
The use of multiple means of engagement,representation and expression was demonstrated in a recent pilot test of uPAR here at HES. Students had various selections to read- silently, by a machine voice or by a human voice. It will not surprise you to see that almost 83% of our kids benefitted by these varied methods. What did surprise me was the average grade level increases- +4 to +8 grade levels! So, should all students be allowed to hear the text as they read ? Only if you want their comprehension levels to go up.
Free Resources from CAST
"Story Shares is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills."
This is a resource which started off on Kickstarter as a writing contest with support from Benetech, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Orca Book Publishers, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Jabico Enterprises. Now it is a growing platform to support older struggling readers with more appropriate reading material- and as a writer's platform.
I remember trying to use some of the book builder apps from CAST quite a few years ago, and giving up because they were super clunky to use. Things have changed. They have a whole page of free educational pages- http://www.cast.org/our-work/learning-tools.html- that yo can visit when you have time.
I just want to highlight 3 additional tools today.
This tool provides an easy to use authoring tool. The part I like- you can automatically add audio and word by word translation. Is it beautiful? No, but useful.
" iSolveIt puzzles provide an engaging way for students to develop the logical thinking and reasoning skills that are essential in mathematics." These are fun to do- and strike a good balance between challenging and daunting.
"CAST Science Writer, the tool that supports students in writing lab and class reports. This tool is geared toward middle school and high school students. Check out the supports and help available in Science Writer."
"Science Writer is an interactive, web-based instructional learning tool designed to help students in writing a complete science report; it supports students throughout the process of writing a science report. Research has revealed several effective instructional practices in improving the written language performance of students, and Science Writer has been designed to provide these: