Monday, October 26, 2015

Seesaw - Student Driven Digital Portfolios

There are many great resources for students to create digital portfolios to document their work and share it with classmates, teachers, and parents. Recently I stumbled across Seesaw. Seesaw looks like a great tool for students and teachers to share their work.

Seesaw makes it incredibly easy for students to take their work and make it digital. While it started as an iPad app, it now works across multiple devices.

From the Website: 

Seesaw empowers students of any age to independently document what they are learning at school.
Students capture learning with photos and videos of physical work, or by adding digital creations. Everything is uploaded and kept organized for teachers.
Teachers can invite families to Seesaw so parents get an immediate, personalized window into their child's learning.

Learn more on the Seesaw YouTube Channel.

What other tools would you recommend for digital portfolios? 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Twitter Curator Add-On

With the wealth of information, Twitter can serve as "walls and halls of the 21st century classroom." Part of building capacity and understanding among students is helping them develop an understanding of effective tweets.  The Google Doc add-on Twitter Curator is the perfect tool in facilitating this process.  Twitter Curator, once installed, lets you find and curate tweets right inside a Google Spreadsheet or GoogleDoc.  It allows you to search hashtags, tweets and then save them right into a GoogleDoc or Spreadsheet.  The tool is extremely easy to use, and it is an easy way to display tweets from students or other professionals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Connected Educator Resources to Support Personal Learning Networks

Collaborative networks can be used to communicate and collaborate. These networks are great resources to build critical thinking skills and inspire creative thinking. Collaborative digital tools can be powerful resources to amplify student voices, teacher voices, and a school voice.

Connected educators use Social Networks to:
1. Get the word out about school events and resources.
2. Share resources and classroom conversations.
3. Engage in Personal Learning Networks to improve teaching and learning.

Learn more about how to get started, manage, and engage in Social Networks to support teaching and learning with this interactive set of tutorials:

Please share your ideas, resource, and tips in the comment section below. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Figment - A Writing and Reading Community

I heard about today . . . since I don't know much about it, here's their Fact Page about Figment Groups especially designed for classroom teachers. Users have to be at least 13 years old!

So what is Figment?

Figment is an online community where young adults and teens come together to create, discover, and share new reading and writing.
Figment is also an innovative, exciting teaching tool, already being used in classroomslibraries, and other educational settings around the country to inspire and engage young readers and writers.

And what are Figment Groups?

Figment offers two types of groups—public open groups for our general users to connect over anything from poetry writing to Bieber-mania; and private closed groups for our educator community.
Private groups look very similar to the public groups, but with added benefits. You can limit membership to your class, library, or organizational community, and other Figment users can’t see inside your group.
Through these user-friendly, intuitive virtual writers’ workshops:
  • Students can create and revise writings in the safe space of a private group, sharing their works-in-progress, as well as commenting and reviewing, only with other members and their teacher.
  • Teachers can post and update assignments, share links to relevant materials around the web, and monitor student writing.
  • Using the group discussion tool, students and teachers can have class discussions, ask questions, and share outside resources.
  • Once complete, students can publish their writings to the entire Figment community, therein taking advantage of one of the largest authentic audiences for student writing on the web.

Focus on the Content to Teach Essential Skills - #EdTech PD

Many educators get excited about the latest and greatest shiny new EdTech tool, but over the years we've discovered that this does not always move teachers forward in their teaching. Many teachers also struggle when a tool they fell in love with either disappeared or was no longer free. Too often the phrase, "Why should we use this if it is gone in a year?" was heard. 

We've begun to steer our Profesional Development away from the tools first. For district required Tech Tools (Gradebooks, LMS, etc.) we do create online tutorials and offer periodic face to face help sessions. 

We plan professional development with the idea that we want to model a student-centered learning environment. Instructional Technology PD focuses on specific teacher and student skills rather than the tools, with these two foundations:
  • We model our PD around learner-centered activities, with this infographic as our foundation: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology. We ask teachers to approach PD and planning with 1 or more of these in mind. We design any pd offerings with 1 or more of these in mind.
  • Our second primary goal is to support a shift to learner-centered classrooms where teachers use the 4Cs. We believe that EdTech tools can help a teacher use their course content to help students develop skills connected to Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Here is one of our resources sites connected to this idea: Recharge Learning
In the big picture, the two resources that have given us the most leverage to shift our teaching and learning with EdTech are GAFE and Digital Assessment Tools:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens

CNN recently aired a special on the digital lives of 8th Grades.  The report is fascinating exploration of the perils and pitfalls of the online world for many teenagers.

There was one statistic that stood out to me:

94% of parents underestimate how much social media conflicts their kids were involved in.   


@KellyRipa stated on Twitter "Imagine 8th grade with a real time popularity scoreboard.  That is what #being13 is like today."

You can watch the report in its entirety here.

And join the conversation on twitter.  Follow the hashtag #Being13.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Connected Educator Month - Build Your PLN

The purpose of a Personal Learning Network is not to learn from everyone, instead the goal should be to learn something from someone. I will be the first to admit that I struggled to get started with Social Networks. In particular, I struggled with the sometimes overwhelming pace of information that can be found on networks like Twitter. When I realized that it was ok to miss something on Twitter, it became my go-to resource to grow as a teacher and learner. 

October is Connected Educator Month. I believe that every day should be a Connected Educator Day and for many of us it is. Despite this belief, I love the concept of Connected Educator Month. A month of concentrated learning and sharing helps strengthen existing Personal Learning Network connections and build new ones. Connected Educator Month is a great gateway to get more educators involved. 

Resources to  Build Your Digital PLN and Connect with Other Teachers:

Ideas to Build your Face to Face PLN

  • Go to lunch and sit with teachers from other teachers. 
  • Visit the office of another team or department to hangout or talk shop. 
  • Visit another teacher's classroom. 
  • Present at a local conference. 
  • Join and attend a professional group connected to your teaching.
  • Attend an EdCamp (This is by far my favorite!)