Thursday, January 28, 2016

IFTTT for Productivity and Creative Thinking

IF This Than That is a great resource that has been around for a while, but one that I sadly have not fully engaged in until recently. The slogan is: "Put the internet to work for you." In recent days I've started automating many of my manual tasks online using and creating recipes. If something is connected to the internet you can probably create a recipe to make you online life a bit easier.
What is IFTTT?

IFTTT empowers you with creative control over the products and apps you love.
What are Recipes?
Recipes are simple connections between products and apps. There are two types of Recipes: Do Recipes and IF Recipes.
Do Recipes
Do Recipes run with just a tap and enable you to create your own personalized Button, Camera, and Notepad. The Do apps are available for iOS and Android.
Ideas for some recipes:
  • Create a recipe for a newsletter that auto publishes.  
  • Recipe to collect favorite tweets in Google spreadsheet.
  • Recipe to connect Pocket to Google Drive.
  • Use to trigger certain email events to a group.
  • Text reminders from calendars and events to remind me of something I always miss.
  • Create a recipe to post autopost a thank you when someone follows me on Twitter.
How can you use this to support teaching and learning? Please share your ideas below.

This is the post that connected me to IFTTT again:
This is the video that got me thinking about and using IFTTT to automate much of my online life.

Special thanks to Daniel Rezac at the 2015 ICE Conference and Joe Macchia an old friend for getting me started with IFTTT again.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Formative Assessment with Poll Everywhere

Reasons to poll your students frequently and consistently?
  • Discussion Starters
  • Quick Checks for Understanding
  • Enhance Communication Skills
  • Inspire Creative Thinking
  • Critically Evaluate Resources and Ideas
  • Jump Start Collaboration
Poll Everywhere is a recently released Chrome Extension that works with Google Slides to allow presenters to quickly and easily create quick survey questions in Google slides. Create a survey ahead of time or quickly insert one during a presentation. 
  • Polls can include multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, Q & A / Brainstorm, or even clickable images. 
  • Results can be displayed live on screen or hidden from the audience.
  • Students can respond via Text, via the Web, via a Mobile Browser, or even through Twitter. 
Initial Setup Guide:
  1. Click here to open the Poll Everywhere Extension description in the Chrome Web Store. 
  2. Click on the "Add to Chrome" button to install the extension. 
  3. A dialog appears letting you know about the types of data that the extension will be able to access. Click Add to grant the extension access to the data described and install the extension.
  4. The Poll Everywhere Extension will work in your Chrome Browser behind the scenes in the address bar. You will not see a Poll Everywhere icon in your row of extensions. It will appear as a menu option in Google Slides and be viewable
  5. While you can get started with the Poll Everywhere in Google slides, we recommend that you first sign up for a free educator account.  Click here to signup for a free Poll Everywhere K-12 Educator account.
  6. Open a new or existing Google Slides Presentation and you will see Poll Everywhere in the menu. You will need to login in the first time you insert a poll. You will be able to create a new poll or insert an existing poll from you account. You can only have 1 active poll at a time in slides.
  7. You can learn more about the setup and views in Google slides in the Poll Everywhere user guide. Click here to access the User Guide and then click on Control+F to search for "Google Slides" to learn more about the features of the Extension.
  8. We recommend testing out the features with a colleague or on your own using a mobile device before going live with a full classroom.
Click here to learn more about installing and managing all your Chrome Extensions.
How will you use Poll Everywhere with your students?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Infographics & Creative Student-Centered Presentations

In the course of my teaching career, I've tried many tools and strategies to engage students with presentations. Despite this, I am often disappointed when student presentations are text heavy with images too often there as little more than distractions. For this reason, I am always looking for different ways to help students inject a bit more creativity into their presentations.

When designing an activity and choosing resources to support students sharing their learning my top priorities include:
  • Ease of Use
  • Free Features
  • Collaboration Features
  • Online Access and Sharing
  • Help Resources
There are are many great strategies and tools to support creative student-led presentations. Here is a list of some of the top web-based presentation tools that best support collaboration and creative design:

Prezi  |  WeVideo  |  Glogster  |  Canva  |  Powtoons  |  Google Slides
Padlet  |  Haiku Deck  |  Nearpod  |  Movenote  |  GoAnimate

A list of creative presentation styles might include:
Peche Kucha  |  Infographics  |  Stop Motion Videos  |  Animated Videos

There are also many incredible free tools to edit and enhance photos online, including:

Regardless of the tool, one of my greatest struggles has been to convince kids to limit the text and to not just read off the screen. This past year I have been experimenting more with having students use infographics and then share them with the class as a "presentation". Students enjoy the process and the added benefit is that students read less from the screen and are a bit more creative in their attempts to engage the audience. 
A list of our favorite infographic creation tools includes:
Additional resources to support increased engagement in presentations:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Why Do We Use Tech to Support Learning?

We live in a world where technology is all around us. It is a blessing to many and a curse for some. The incredible growth of educational technology has flipped many teachers upside down and we often struggle to use technology effectively to enhance learning.  I believe that is easy to use technology in the classroom, but difficult to use it well. The challenge of using technology in the classroom is too often overlooked. 
Too often technology initiatives focus on "If you build it they will come." and not enough on good learning practices enhanced by technology. 

Components of using technology well in the classroom:
  • Students must be engaged in the content.
  • Content alone is not enough. Content should help students build essential skills.
  • Technology should support skills connected collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. 
  • Technology should open doors to more learning.
  • Technology in the classroom should be learner-centered. 
  • Technology should always be used with a purpose connected to specific learning objectives. 
  • Technology cannot be an event. Good teachers seamlessly shift in and out of technology
  • Technology will never replace teachers. Teachers must facilitate the learning, not the technology. 
  • Technology is an enhancement to good lessons. It will not transform a bad lesson into something better. 
  • Technology should open the doors to new questions. Questions are often more important than answers.
I recently put together a presentation that I designed to explain why I am motivated to use technology. What more would you add to help inspire teachers to use technology well?

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