Category Archives: Technology

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

This is a guest post from Amy Williams. Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

What items come to mind when you think about classroom supplies? Do you envision notebooks and number two pencils? Your list probably included staples like erasers, crayons, and glue sticks, but did you consider how social media can be a powerful learning tool in the classroom?

Social media has the power to take what students enjoy and extend lessons that offer students real world applications. Instilling a love of learning is no easy task, especially in a world that is constantly changing with fancier and brighter screens. Our students’ fascination with technology makes it important for educators to integrate lessons and increase classroom participation by embracing our children’s favorite means of expression: social media.

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The Benefits Of Social Media In The Classroom

Even though social media has gotten a bad rap in the news, it has the possibility to extend learning opportunities beyond the building’s walls. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful gadgets, but they can be a real distraction during instruction time. One way to avoid constant technology monitoring is to harness this love for social media and use it productively in the classroom.

Listed below are 6 benefits to using social media in education:

  • Lower-income students will have access to technology and chances to build these skills. Social media has the power to help overcome the digital divide when it comes to different economic groups.
  • It allows quiet or reserved students the opportunity to be heard.
  • It offers relevant ways to check for understanding.
  • Simultaneously fosters learning and technology skills.
  • Activities are shared with authentic audiences.
  • Content is meaningful to our younger generations of visual learners.

7 Tips For Integrating Lessons With Social Media

Integrating social media with our curriculums opens a world of possibilities for a teacher and the classroom. However, teaching with technology often poses it’s own set of problems from equipment failure, down networks, and dead batteries. Social media is no exception and often there will be a few kinks to work out before using it in a lesson.

Here are some suggestions to help bring social media into the classroom:

  • Keep your professional/classroom pages separate from your personal profile.
  • Know the school’s policy on social media and privacy.
  • Get a parent or guardian to sign a permission slip allowing you to post student work or images on class websites.
  • Make sure that students are well versed in social media etiquette.
  • Create classroom accounts for students to limit personal distractions during class.
  • Check the resources and beware of inappropriate pop-ups or advertising.
  • Be familiar with the platform and understand the privacy settings, potential problem areas, and ways to troubleshoot.

Ideas To Bring Social Media To Life

After managing to successfully introduce social media into lessons: the real fun can begin. Here is a compilation of ways teachers have upgraded lesson plans to include social media:

  • Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Courtesy of Pixabay http://pixabay.com/

    Create a group or page for each class on a social media outlet. You can post assignments to keep students and parents informed about approaching deadlines or projects.

  • Use Twitter to follow threads or current events by using hashtags to sort topics. Connect with experts, authors, classes around the world, and more by interacting with tweets.
  • Set up a blog to take journaling to a new level! Help students hone their writing skills to create and display their works for a bigger audience. Blogging has the potential for feedback from peers, professionals, and people other than a teacher.
  • Utilize sites like Class Dojo to keep parents informed on class behavior or for positive classroom management.
  • Create concept videos using Vine or YouTube. This can be a group or whole class project that allows students take the reigns while getting creative, having fun, displaying their best work, and gaining a deep understanding of the topic.
  • Use Pinterest boards to organize concept maps for any topic. This works great for biomes, animal classification, heritage studies, and more.
  • Use quiz sites like Kahoot or trivia games to make reviewing topics fun. Students use computers or Smartphones to answer quizzes on various subjects while you are able to measure comprehension.
  • Use Instagram or other photo services to host a scavenger hunt that requires students to post items that fit a certain theme. This can be adjusted to any grade level easily. For instance you can have them look for objects that start with a certain letter or post items that are related to a historical figure.

Educators are always on the lookout for new ways to use social media in the classroom. Do you have any tips for using social media with lessons?

Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research.

Use Google Scholar to Support Student Research

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher– an advertiser on this site.If you have asked your students to engage in research, then undoubtedly they have returned with a fresh list of results from a Google search. It can be a challenge in this era of search engine algorithms to teach students to engage with more traditional research methods and tools. Google Scholar is a great way to introduce them to this work while simultaneously working in a mode that is more familiar to them.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a Google search engine that allows you to look specifically for academic articles… freetech4teachers

Office 365 on the Web & On Your Chromebook!

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius. A special thanks to Jonathan Wylie and his Office 365 and Office Online expertise! I strongly encourage you to check out his blog here for helpful hints, tricks, and ideas on how to integrate technology in your classroom or school.

Chromebooks have quickly become an incredibly popular tool in schools. However, this has previously limited users to only Google’s productivity tools. One of the most common complaints that I hear about Google Apps for Education tools (Gmail, Docs, Slides, etc), is that they are not as robust as those you find in the Microsoft Office Suite. Now, with the recent upgrades of Office Online and Office 365, it is possible navigate to the full Office suite using a Chromebook – or any other device! Office Online and Office 365 offer ais the new, web-based version of Microsoft toolsOffice and allows users to create and edit documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and more using only your browser. Another great feature of these toolsOffice 365 is that theyit allow you to collaborate with others (even if they don’t have a subscription). All of your Office 365 creations will be saved in your OneDrive account in the cloud, so no need to worry about saving it on your machine!

In order to use these new office tools, you will need to have either an Office 365 subscription ($99/year for a home and family edition) or sign up for a free Microsoft account at Office.com (note that if you have a hotmail account, those credentials will also work). An Office 365 subscription allows you to download the latest version of the software to your device as well as to use Mobile Apps for free. Recently, Microsoft extended its traditional educational license to include a subscription to Office 365 for Education. So if you have Office on your school computer, then you have the ability to create an Office 365 account and have access to more robust features in the Office 365 suite; speak to your IT manager to see what options may be available.

To access the Office Suite online, go to: login.microsoftonline.com and login with your person or school credentials (again, check with your IT manager). Once you are logged in, you will see the option to access all of your available Office tools and then select the tool that you want to use. If you are using an Office 365 Education account, much like with Google Apps, your administrator can determine which tools will be made available and which may not be turned on. As an example, in my domain, I cannot access Mail or Calendar because we use a different system and Sites and Tasks have been turned off completely. However, here are a few highlights of what is possible with Office 365 on any Chromebook or Computer.

Office 365 Start

MAIL

Not only can you now easily access your email via the web, there’s even aChrome app. Like Gmail, Outlook now threads conversations, keeping all messages and replies together. From the web, it is possible to read and reply to messages as well as to organize emails into folders. A particularly handy feature is the green “replied to” indicator to show when exactly you responded to a specific message.

CALENDARS

Much like with Google Calendars, through Office Online and Office 365 you can now also access any personal or shared calendars. Students can subscribe to class calendars and even create shared calendars for specific courses or groups. A really nice feature is the ability to view different calendars as tabs. This way, you can view everything or only the events on specific calendars. If your school uses a lot of shared calendars, then this could be extremely helpful for scheduling purposes.

Collaborating with Office Online and Office 365

A great, new feature of the Office Online tools in Office 365 is the ability to add collaborators to any Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file! Simply click the Share icon in the top right corner. A new window will pop up giving you the option to share with view or editing privileges. You can share by email or via a link (no need for a subscription)!

Once the document is shared, you can collaborate in real time, from any device (including your Chromebook)! All of the Office tools have robust online features and sharing capabilities. You can even collaborate on a PowerPoint Presentation, include the fancy transitions, and even present directly from the cloud!

Expanding Office beyond a hard drive and into the cloud gives Chromebook users greater options, more collaborative abilities, and access to a more robust suite of tools to expand their learning environment. Look for more information about these tools in coming posts.

COME COLLABORATE THIS SUMMER!

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  • Google & Web Tools in the Student-Centered Classroom
  • The Chromebook Classroom
  • The iPad Classroom
  • And More!

View the Full Course Catalog at ettsummer.org

Game-Based Digital Literacy with Digital Compass

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

Common Sense Media has released Digital Compass, a new tool to teach students about navigating the digital world. The game is targeted at middle school students, an age when most children are getting cell phones and social media accounts (like Facebook and Instagram).

Through playing this digital, “choose your own adventure” game, students explore topics like: cyberbullying & “digital drama,” self-image & identity, internet safety & privacy, creative credit & copyright, as well as relationships & communication. The game is currently available online with iOS, Android, and edmodo apps coming soon.

Common Sense Media also provides…

read the remainder of the article here.

4 Ways to Implement Blogging in the Classroom

This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

Blogging is a popular activity in classrooms today because it allows students to share their writing with a broader audience and teachers to communicate with parents. There are a myriad of platforms to choose from: edublogs,Kidblog (especially good for elementary age children), Blogger, wordpress, and most LMS systems have a blogging platform built in.

How to set up blogging in the classroom will depend on your platform, and is pretty easy to figure out with all of the “how-to” videos and help center collections. What teachers most often ask me is why they would set up a blog for their class. What value is there in a class blog?

Here are some great ideas and applications for class and/or individual student blogs that you can explore in your classroom.

BLOGS AS EPORTFOLIOS

Blogs can be set to private, public, and shared with specific individuals or groups. This makes them a great platform for students to build their own ePortfolio. They can curate their content first for teachers and parents before publishing it to a broader audience. As a blog allows for not only written content, but multimedia material (images, videos, interactives, etc), it makes it possible for students to create a robust online presence. Kristen Wideen uses Kiblog for her elementary students to create digital portfolios; you can read more about her experience here.

BLOGS AS A SHOWCASE FOR STUDENT WORK

If your students are making videos, creating science fair projects, writing poetry, or other creative content, then a blog is a great way for them to showcase their work. By allowing (moderated) comments, students have an authentic, broader audience that they are addressing. Imagine students who are participating in Poetry Month posting their participatory works online and getting feedback from poets around the country! TheBurlington High School Help Desk (staffed entirely by students) hosts a community blog where they post information about themselves, helpful hints, reviews for new apps and tools, individual projects, and much more. By engaging a broader audience, students learn about digital citizenship and safety while online.

BLOGS FOR CLASS DISCUSSION

Because blogs allow for threaded discussion, they are an excellent platform for discussion. One of my favorite exercises in Social Studies is to post a news article along with some guided questions (the New York Times Learning Network has great tools for this). Students then engage in an online discussion about the topic. Not only does this promote critical thinking and writing skills, but it is an excellent diving board for discussions on Digital Citizenship.

BLOGS FOR GROUP PROJECTS AND LABS

If you have students working on groups projects or in class labs, especially ones that take several weeks and exercises, then blogs are an excellent way for them to record and report on their progress. Imagine students working on a Biology Lab that encompases a quarter or semester-long project. As a group, they report their findings, measurements, and progress each step of the way. If the blog is shared with the class, then they have an audience that is also monitoring their progress, not only learning from their peers but also providing oversight for errors.

These are just a few examples of activities that you can use blogs for in your class. Explore how blogging can work in your class and try some of these examples from EdTechTeacher.

LOOKING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BLOGGING IN THE CLASSROOM? COME JOIN US THIS SUMMER!

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  • Creating Digital Portfolios
  • Reading, Writing, & Research
  • Teaching English, History, or Foreign Language with Technology
  • And More!

View the Full Course Catalog at ettsummer.org

Ideas for using Peardeck & Google Drive in Your Classroom

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

As more schools go 1:1, teachers often feel challenged to make their traditional lessons and activities more interactive. One of my favorite tools is Pear Deck because it allows a teacher to take a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF and incorporate various student activities to check for understanding and engagement. Pear Deck is free for students and teachers (with a higher end, paid premium model) and it fully integrates with Google Apps for Education.

When you sign in to your Pear Deck account, create a new interactive lesson by selecting “New Deck.” You can then create a slideshow from scratch or import a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF…

You can the complete article here.

Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter

I was recently honored to learn I was included in the Huffington Post Tech article: “Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter.” I am especially honored when I see who they include on this list. Impresive group of people. If you are looking to expand your Twitter PLN, these are all great adds!