Tag Archives: Miami Device

Web Tools for Ninjas

On my second day at Miami Device, I’m thrilled to attend the session “Web Tools for Ninjas.” I’ve been following Tech Ninja Todd (Todd Nesloney) for years, so I’m feeling a bit like a fangirl! This presentation focuses on tools featured on their website: The 3 Tech Ninjas. Todd’s big suggestion is to focus on 1 or 2 tools, otherwise you get overwhelmed.

The first tool he highlights is Vocaroo. This is a tool that lets you record voice and then share via email, embed, QR code, etc. Todd’s school likes to use this for students who require audio tests. This is a free tool. My friend Moss Pike at Harvard Westlake uses this tool for students to submit audio recordings of language assessments.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 9.49.40 AMAnother great tool they are highlighting SafeShare. Safeshare allows you to take a YouTube video and it filters out the video ads that can be a distraction to students before or after a video is shown in class.

A tool I’m excited to use is Canva. Canva lets you produce some amazing designs (documents, letters, flyers, presentations, etc). They make you look like a high end designer! Shhh… don’t tell my boss, I want them to think I’m a Ninja! I’m especially excited that you can use Canva to build a high quality infographic! I love those and want to use them more in my classroom. As its cloud based, you don’t lose content.

Animoto is a web-based video building and editing tool. It produces beautiful videos. If you are a teacher and register with your school email, then animoto is entirely free! This is unlimited videos and links. Keep in mind that students cannot get a free account.

Poll Everywhere is one of my favorite tools. In fact, during my presentation I’ll be using it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 10.01.38 AMWe are flying through the tools! The next one they highlight is WordSift. Wordsift takes text, highlights the type of words used and highlights them in teresting ways, such as world clouds. I put in the I have a dream speech, and have this cool word map! If you click on it, then you can trace the origin of various words.

Remind is another popular tool. You can use it to text students and teachers reminders. By creating different groups, you can send out texts to appropriate groups, e.g. parents, particular class period, faculty, department, etc. This way, you don’t have to share your personal phone number. Additionally, no one can respond to the text, which is also handy. You’re getting the information out there. It’s very easy. Also, remind curates all of your content, you cannot delete it. This helps to protect you. No one can claim that you sent something that you did not. You can also pre-schedule messages! This is a great reminder for events, tests, etc.

Skype in the Classroom is an education side to Skype. They provide content and tools just for educators. You don’t have to worry about “random people.” Todd describes it as a Craig’s List for Skype People! Skype in the Classroom is free for schools and ad free. The nice thing about interacting with other educators is they understand that sometimes they are tech issues, sometimes kids are Lord of the Flies… we all know what each other’s concerns are!

Classroom Champions is a way for top performing Olympic and Paralympic athletes connect to schools and build effective, mentoring programs for character building programs. During Olympic Years, it’s al athletes participating in that year’s athletes. In the Spring, you apply to be a Classroom Champions Teacher, this means an athlete is assigned to your classroom. In the Spring, an athlete is assigned to compete for your athlete to visit your school.

Kahoot! is a popular tool at my school. It turns “Exit Tickets” into a game. Students rack up points and  have a fun review session.

Blogging is important for students. As an avid blogger, I can attest to its utility. However, many schools are hesitant about blogging. Kidblog is a great way to give young students autonomy over their own writing within a safe environment. Teachers have control and their security is protected. However, students get to play with the visual elements and content. Other tools for blogging are Blogger (a Google Project) and WordPress. Keep in mind that blogging can be a security concern for many people, so be sure to investigate the tools that you are going to use.

If you’re a tech administrator, check out Ninite! It creates an install bott for updating content on your machines. This is great for allowing you to update and/or install content

Cloud storage is very important. I use about a dozen services. The tool CloudMagic allows you to search all of your cloud platforms to find content and files! This is pretty cool.

Drawastickman.com is a fun site that allows students to draw a story as you progress. It’s very cool.

Incredibox allows you to create your own music! While it’s cool, it can be a bit annoying… Beware! You can put different figures together to build a song and visualize it at the same time.

Project Explorer is a non-profit organization that provides virtual fieldtrips. They have recently updated it to include lesson plans. They have some great projects! They’re short, quick, and to the point. Check out what they have going on:

Sydney Harbour Bridge from ProjectExplorer.org in Australia from ProjectExplorer.org on Vimeo.

Google Art Project is another way to take students on amazing digital field trips.

DIY is a site where students share their process of learning something new through other kids. Students teach one another how they’re learning to shoot a bow and arrow or rebuild a motor.

If you want to learn more about these tools and from your peers, check out the podcast Edu All-Stars. Check out their interview with Secretary of State, Arne Duncan:

I have only captured a few of the tools they highlighted. Check out these tools and more on their website The 3 Tech Ninjas.

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Opening Keynote at Miami Device

Today is the kickoff for the first ever Miami Device, an educational technology conference in Coconut Grove, hosted by St. Stephens and organized by the esteemed Felix Jacomino.

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The first speaker at the conference is Daniel Kim whose YouTube channel covers music, psychology, and education. He’s family for his annual pop danthologies.

Every year, his “Danthologies” go viral. In these mashups, he uses the best parts of the songs and discards everything else. Daniel talks about his own emotional experiences, where children are so used to getting immediate gratification that it pains them to be “bored” even for short periods of time. They are used to immediate rewards and resources. Technology in the classroom doesn’t mean that you will connect with your students. Modern schools with students hungry to learn restrict their access to resources. Students often have access to great materials at home or outside of the school that the tools available to them in educational environments. Daniel says it shouldn’t be this way. Instead, schools need to keep up! Some great thoughts about restrictive practices in education.

The main keynote speaker is Kevin Honeycutt. I’m so excited to finally see him speak in person! Looking at the stage, there’s half a dozen devices, a 3D printer, and even a guitar! Kevin talks about “kids today.” We don’t want to kill them with boredom!

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Kevin says that teachers need to constantly shift. We aren’t multi-taskers, instead we’re fast switchers. He leads us through an exercise that demonstrates just how we are *not* multi-taskers! So as teachers, we have to be master switchers.

“What can we do to help manufacture confident creative minds?” We need to use our words. We need to blog, tweet, and share. As Kevin says, we need to tell our story “Stop being secret geniuses!!” We need to role model for kids. We can’t blame kids if they mess up. Kids are raising themselves on digital playgrounds and no one is on recess duty! But it’s not about technology, it’s about relationships. If you don’t do something meaningful with it, it’s just “stuff.” “Why will we do this?” Because hands on learners want to hold what they create in their own hands. Kids want to design iPhone cases not buy iPhone cases. It’s not about worksheets, it’s about what you create. Kids need to publish what they’re proud of because they are “publishing puberty!” Think about all of the mistakes they made in puberty… but they’re analogue! We need to role model for kids what good humans do with technology.

Everything that we do doesn’t need to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of done! If you wait to be perfect, then you will never get started. Just start doing it and doing the work. You improve as you grow. If you apply in class, you can build relationships with your tools. “At any given moment a person can have a renaissance and they’re new again!”

Kevin tells us that school isn’t rehearsal, it’s real life. It’s the show. We need to use technology to connect to people. Build your own network on Twitter and other PLN tools. You need to model for your kids! Tap into your own passions, art, music, literature, science… what do you love? Create and share!

5 Tips for Classroom Management with Mobile Devices

This is reblogged from the original post at Edudemic and is the premise of presentation I will be leading in November at Miami Device.

When adopting technology in the classroom, one of the key concerns for teachers and administrators is classroom management. I am often asked if there is a way to “lock down an iPad screen” or “ensure students cannot go to inappropriate websites” (e.g. Social Media). In other words, how do we keep students on task and ensure that they are not distracted by the novelty of gadgets or communicating with friends via texting or social media? Often, teachers will take up devices (such as mobile phones) to avoid the issue of students texting or checking Facebook on their phones (eliminating access to a powerful, pocket computer in the process).

Classroom management is a challenging skill which I consistently strive to improve on a regular basis. Often, people believe that managing a classroom that has employed technology requires a whole new approach and skill set. However, I have found that many traditional methods of classroom management readily translate to the technological rich schoolroom – with some slight modification.

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Establish Ground Expectations

Just as I start out the school year with “Class Rules” that we make and agree to as a group, we also establish expectations for when we use technology. The general topics are: civility, staying on task, and adhering to the honor code. In reality, this is no different than I would expect in a non-technology classroom. The one additional rule that I add, as it pertains to smart phones, is that when not in use they are to sit, face-down on the desk in front of them. I have found that having students “put them away” can create temptation and they are more likely to “sneak a peek” at them from a pocket or a sleeve. However, if the phone is always face-down on the desk in front of them, they are less prone to “sneak a peek” at a text from a friend or check their Facebook status and are more likely to stay on task when employing it during my lessons.

In addition to establishing expectations, you may also want to ensure that you lay out consequences for violating your established policies – this can be loss of technology privilege, a note home, confiscation of the device, meeting with the Dean, or whatever else you decide is necessary in order to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and the natural consequences of violating them.

Let them “Get the Giggles Out”

If I’m introducing a new tool, app, piece of software, or device, I often give students some time to “get the giggles out.” For example, if we are using Today’s Meet to do a Backchannel, they have 2 minutes to say hello to all of their friends. If we are using iMovie on iPad, I will encourage them to make one silly video before they delve into the assignment. Some of the problems of using new technology arise from the novelty of the device. Let students get past the initial excitement so that they can be more focused when they delve into their work.

Engagement is Key

I will be the first to argue that as educators we are not entertainers. Lessons should be engaging and require students to stay on task at a solid pace in order to complete them. Ensure that the assignment requires students to stay engaged; this can include playing to their passions, setting firm due dates for assessment, and scaling the assignment for students who finish faster. Students become bored when they are not challenged or find their assignments meaningful and engaging.

One of my favorite uses of cell phones during the class, for example, is to engage in bell-ringer exercises (activities students must complete at the start of class) or exit-tickets (something they must complete before leaving). Using an app like Socrative, students can use their mobile phone to complete a brief activity that is then assessed. Not only does it keep them focused on a task, but it provides meaningful assessment for the teachers to gauge student progress.

Get the two Eyes, two Feet App

Carl Hooker, an educational technology innovator on the cutting edge, coined the phrase “the two eyes, two feet app” in response to faculty and administration concerned about inappropriate use on cell phones, tablets, and/or laptops. The biggest shift for educators when technology enters the classroom is that you cannot be static or stable. The best way to ensure that students stay on task is to walk around the room, look at the work they are doing, discuss and engage with them about their progress. The more active and mobile you are in the classroom, the easier it is to ensure that your students are on working on what they should be. If you notice that children are quickly closing browsers windows when you come near or “double tapping” the home button on their iPad (a sign that they’re switching apps) then take the time to investigate what the student is doing and have a discussion with them if necessary.

Know When to put the Technology Away

Even though I am the Director of Educational Technology, my classes are never “all tech all the time.” Sometimes, it is not appropriate to use technology for an assignment or activity in class. In those cases, the technology goes away – in fact, I’ve been known to collect cell phones during certain activities (like mid-term exams or quizzes). Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate context – and sometimes that is a pencil and paper. Beth Holland and Shawn McCusker wrote a great article on this topic entitled “When to Put the Tech Away in a 1:1 Classroom.” As Shawn argues, when technologies interfere with class culture, it’s time to put the tech away!

Overall, classroom management is an organic and individual process. You must find what works for you and with what students. I will admit that I have classes that are easier to keep on task than others, students that are more readily distracted than their peers, and activities that just do not succeed as I hoped. At the end of your activity, pause, assess, and adjust as needed!

Jennifer Carey will be presenting a workshop on “Mobile Devices and Classroom Management” this November at Miami Device. Space is limited and filling up fast!