Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tech Tips You Can Try Tomorrow

Curious about technology in the classroom, but don't know where to start?  

Here are few tech tools that are easy to use and have a high impact on student learning.

Make wonder and inquiry a part of your weekly routine! Visit and follow along as they ask questions, post a blog and share photo and video resources about a variety of topics.  Wonderopolis is a great site for finding short, nonfiction text for readers of all ages.  Wonderopolis is also a great site to use as a mentor text for blogging.  We use it before we introduce blogs to identify what a blog looks like and sounds like, as well as what comments look like and sound like.  If you’re excited to teach students about the power of connection, post a comment or submit a wonder; Wonderopolis almost always responds to students and teachers.  You can follow them on Twitter @Wonderopolis.

TodaysMeet is a free, web-based tool that allows users to backchannel a discussion online.  A teacher can create a chat room that is available only to users who have the link (ie, your class).  Once students access the website via the link they log on with their name and engage in a collaborative discussion online. Students can view all the responses as they are posted live to the discussion site. Anyone with the link can contribute, so you can invite students to collaborate across classrooms and with others who are not present, provided they have the link. (Think—cross-school, cross-district, cross-continent collaboration!). It's great for staff meetings too! is a free website that allows the user to record 30 second audio clips.  The audio recording is then uploaded to a personalized website and available to anyone who has the link.  The developers created the site for users to  “Push. Speak. Share.” and the simplicity is amazing.  Even more unbelievable, also has a FREE app available for iPhone and Android!  Use to create student reflections, share book talks and differentiate with audio instructions.  This is a versatile little tool with hundreds of uses.!

QR Codes
A QR code, or quick response code, is a matrix barcode that holds information about a tool or product.  Using a QR code with a QR scan app provides students quick access to a website without having to type the URL. We use QR codes to distribute websites quickly and easily to students during lessons and create our own QR codes using the website
At our school we use QR codes to link to audio book recommendations that we attach to the front of books.  As kids “shop” for books in our library, they can scan the QR code to hear a book review created by another student.  Inviting students to create book reviews by students, for students empowers them as valuable contributors to our reading community, expands their audience and builds a buzz for books they love. 

Songify is a fun app that converts the words or phrases you speak into a remixed song. Songify scrubs the vocal track and adds preprogrammed beats and background music. The basic touch-to-start and touch-to-stop technology provides ease of use for all ages.  This app embraces multi-modal learning and easily differentiates instruction.  Students love to create songs to synthesize their learning during an inquiry circle. Oftentimes the songs created in class—including Terra Cotta Warriors and the Nile River—become classroom hits. As we know, kids remember information that is set to music so I use it to create songs for math facts, spelling patterns and comprehension strategies.

Google Form
Google form is a free online tool for gathering information in a streamlined fashion. A Google form can be created easily in Google Drive and shared via a link for others to complete.  Each Google form you create collects responses in a spreadsheet stored in Google Drive.  The spreadsheet can be sorted and grouped in a variety of ways making the data easy to access and interpret.  Google form is handy tool for creating quizzes, surveying parents or gathering feedback regarding inquiry circles and book clubs.

Create a classroom Twitter account to connect with other students and teachers.  Post this tweet:

“Looking for other (insert grade or subject) classrooms to connect with. Anyone tweeting with their class? #(grade/subject)chat”

People will contact you and then you can follow them.  Share your Twitter handle (your Twitter name) with your families and invite them to follow your class.  Start by tweeting student reflections one day a week.  Ask kids to share something they’ve learned or are wonder. These reflection tweets provide your families a “window” into your classroom and the curriculum.  Also use Twitter as a place to crowdsource information. Post mini-inquiry questions and see who answers.  Have fun and model connected learning!
You can follow our class @Burley106.

Kidblog is an amazing, safe blogging site created for teachers and students.  Teachers can create a class for free and develop accounts for students that are not dependent on an email address.  This is specifically helpful for younger learners who don't have an email.  Once a class is created, students can log on from any device that connects to the internet and post a blog.  You can use your blog for a variety of purposes—writing about reading, writer’s workshop, or as a general repository for student thinking. You can view our Kidblog here.

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