Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clover Chains

I'll be the first to admit that I am a connections person.    There was a magical summer where I worked to engage an entire army of neighborhood kids to pick clover flowers (you know, those white ball-topped flowers that grow in clover patches in the lawn?)  and tie them together in a flower chain.  My goal for the neighborhood was to reach Susan Ritter's house -- which was the last house on the block, and probably 30 yards away.  We didn't succeed because that darned Mr. Davis backed his car out of his driveway too slowly and shredded our work.  (He and his wife also paid babysitters in pumpernickel bread, but that's a story for another day.)
I'm three years into my second half of a century, but I still look for ways to connect with learners, colleagues, and friends.  Technology intimidates me, but it doesn't paralyze me.  Just yesterday, I actually got some respect from the Genius at the Apple Store.  (It was one of those days that I was glad I had my husband as a witness!  Apparently I CAN eliminate malware completely from my computer by myself!)

Today's Te@chthought prompt is all about technology.  I expect that many of my "favorites" will be old hat to many people.   I've resisted the urge to list Postit notes as my #1, as I'm fairly certain that no one considers them to be 21st century tools, even if they are now available in many more sizes, colors, shapes, and sport wonderfully snarky comments.  I'm very blessed to be working in a district with wonderful technology in every classroom.  Smartboards, projectors, integrated speakers, and a network that (blessedly or cursedly) allows access to my gradebook, planbook, IEP writing platform, and drive files at home.  No longer do I sit in my car in the parking lot on the weekends trying to pick up a signal to grab a file I need to finish my plans. 


September 13

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

TED   and TEDEd - If you're wasting time on social media, try challenging yourself to watch one TED Talk a day.  You'll find that you are much more motivated, sound so much more intelligent, and post far fewer memes of babies and cats.  (I'm pretty sure you'll  start to share the love you find on TED.)  As an added benefit, there are now lesson plans available to integrate TED Talks as student products.  (I'm toying with the idea of student-produced "Tribe Talks" this year -- our mascot is the Indian -- where they can present mini-TEDs on the stage.  I'm hoping to have administrative and student buy in to start this second semester.  We'll see!)

Googledocs - So many possibilities!  I create surveys to gather interest responses in seminars for my gifted kids.  Students share rough drafts with me, allowing me to comment without the use of paper.  Student conferences on independent projects are visible to both the student and me, but only I can edit the conference notes.    We teach the kids collaboration using this tool -- especially for the "Powerpoint-like" presentation mode.  It truly allows students to work on projects together, without having to depend on mom and dad to drive to another house.  The list goes on and on!  (I'm told by the amazing Nancy Coleman that I need to spend some time exploring Googleclassroom as well.  I promise I will!)  You have to have a gmail account, so start there.  Our district has internal google accounts for all of our students, controlled by the filter, and without the gmail feature activated.

Bitly - Take any long link and make it shorter and memorable.  I create surveys for my students using googledocs and used to place the link on my webpage.  Kids forgot.  It's amazing how much the memories improved when I named the survey something similar to "unicornrules"  on bitly.  (With some additional capital letters added, but I'm not telling you where, because I don't need my survey hacked!)

ooVoo- The next generation of Skype, in my opinion.  (I've also just been introduced to googleHangouts, but have yet to use it with multiple participants.)  The video quality and sound both appear to be better than Skype, and I haven't had dropped calls or squeals.  I have used this to connect with alumni who have participated in socratic discussions, offering the college perspective.

I've also dabbled with Wordle, Prezi, Animoto, Dojo and LiveBinders.   (I really need to go back and explore Dojo and Live Binders to feel more confident and use them regularly.)   My students groan at the thought of Glogster -- apparently that was overdone in elementary and junior high.  This weekend I'll be exploring Schoolology, as my NHD grad class is being hosted there.

This article appeared in my feed this morning, and has many other ideas:  

I'll be the first to admit that I don't really understand why I need instagram, tumblr, twitter AND facebook.  My own offspring are probably grateful for that lack of understanding.


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