Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Teaching Technologies

Today I attended a book club with a group of elementary teachers. I hadn't read the book; I originally showed up as "tech support" for one of the teachers (and returning a computer I was "fixing" for another in attendance). I stayed and had lunch and talked about the book anyway.

Here are a few things that came up today (and that I helped set up for them in the past):

1. Google Drive for "documenting" discussions
  • One teacher in the book club had asked me to create a template for discussions (prior to their meeting last week). She wanted to print it and pass it out. After some thought, I instead set up a Google Document with the categories she wanted. She shared the document with their principal and with the attending teachers. In the document they record the book, discussion questions, and standards they can teach with it and there's no retyping, nor is everyone required to take notes.
  • Today we used the document - but I got to really help them see how a book can teach so much more than just literacy skills (which is part of their goal for meeting). Many of their social studies standards worked very well with the book, but they were focusing on civics concepts. I showed them how to get creative, how one character's decision really showed the economics concept of "opportunity cost" which is written into the 4th grade standards.
2. Class Dojo for tracking student skills/behavior
  • I haven't used this one, but one teacher mentioned using Class Dojo to monitor student behavior. It is a good tracking tool and you can print reports to share with parents or make it competetive by posting points on a screen or interactive board (SmartBoard or Promethean) so students can see where they stand.
3. Symbaloo
  • Keep track of bookmarks across computers (I have a personal computer and 2 classrooms with their own computers). I like symbaloo better than a traditional bookmarking system because it is more visual (Google Chrome keeps track of links - but not like this). One librarian suggested creating grade level pages and putting this on computer stations in her library with the links readily available for kids to click on and go to different resources. All I know is, if I find a cool interactive at home, I add it to my Symbaloo stuff and when I get to school I can access it with the click of the button (this is my home page on all my computers). I also have a link to my school e-mail and gradebook on here for easy access at school and home.
4.  ActivInspire
  • There is a free personal edition that we can all download and use, but if your district uses this software, chances are Promethean has provided your school with an access code that teachers can use to download the full edition for their home computers. Check with a tech savvy colleague or someone from your technology department to get this code. If not, certainly try the personal edition. Powerpoints be gone. One thing this software allows you to do is draw on websites, your desktop, essentially any file you could have open. Highlight, circle, strikethrough - whatever you might want to do. You just use the desktop dashboard tool.
  • I installed this on one teachers home computer today.
5.  Clickers
  • One teacher and I had a discussion about test taking skills and we realized that it would be beneficial to create an ActivInspire quiz for clickers where students read the prompt and solve it on paper. Then have multiple choice answers appear to "match" to their solved answers. I recommended this to a 3rd grade teacher who said students think that they just get to "select an answer" when it is multiple choice and that they love them because "they don't have to solve it," or so they think. She was totally frustrated.
  • She loved the suggestion because it also means one more thing that is instantly graded.
6. My Classroom Economy
  • Teach personal financial literacy and manage your classroom at the same time! 
  • Okay, this isn't actually technology - but it's great:
  • One teacher and I already do this --> but a colleague sent me this link and now I have materials to infinitely improve on my design.
  • Create an online planbook. Great for keeping track of what you did from year to year and for a teacher like me with multiple classrooms - a nice way to keep your plans with you wherever you are
 I'm sure there was more. We had quite the conversation. Just a few ideas to take into next year.

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