Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2019

New Year's Goal - Positivity

I've been playing with grateful and gratitude apps the last month. It is one of my goals in 2020 is to focus more on being positive and I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to go about it.

This past year has been a little rough in terms of watching the news, budget cuts at work, gaining weight, getting older and I've been focused a little too much on the negative.

At first I thought I might want to just share my grateful thoughts on Facebook but I didn't want to annoy anyone with my posts (you know the ones that start in November and lead up to Thanksgiving Day and we get it...YOU. ARE. THANKFUL not to mention FB posts are super hard to sort).

Anyway I thought of a employing a "happiness jar" but I didn't want my husband to ask me "What is that?" and me having to explain. This is more of a "me" thing than a "him" thing I am not sure he has every been "unhappy" so he wouldn't understand (I am assuming that is a gu…

Sketchnoting - 12 Days Challenge

Last year (2018) I randomly ran across a 12 Days of Twitter Challenge about the same time I was getting into Sketchnoting. One of the teachers/tech coaches I follow Wanda Terral, an early sketchnote adopter, challenged folks to sketchnote their responses to the challenge. I was trying to sketchnote digitally and so I took on the challenge. Sadly I did not complete it. Sketchnoting digitally took up a lot more time then just paper and pencil.  I was using Kami as my online sketchpad...even though it isn't its intended use...it had all the tools I needed for use on my tablet. 
Fast forward to December this year (2019) and the challenge came up on my Twitter feed again. The challenges seem to be run by different folks on Twitter but more or less have the same components. 

This year I decided to use paper and pencil and sketch out simple vs. elaborate responses. I did it while watching TV at night with my husband and moved days ahead with my responses. I posted them to Twitter on the…

Radio Programs in the Classroom - Using Audacity

The other day I worked with a 5th grade class teaching them how to use Audacity (free, open source, audio software). They had to recite the shortened poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and add in eight sound effects (that I curated for them). The project was leading up to a larger one after the break where students will be making WW2 era radio broadcasts in their Social Studies class. 
Finished student poem project - Tyler's Recording
Audacity is available in our district software center for students to download. It looks intimidating to use but there are really only a few things that students needed to learn how to do (I made the cheat sheets above so they could have some reference materials to refer back to). My goals for the students were to teach them how to:
- Record an audio track - Delete an audio track - Split and move audio tracks - Trim audio tracks - Import audio tracks - Fade In and Out - Reduce the volume - Know the difference between inserting and lay…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (BONUS ACTIVITY) - Holiday Emoji Book Trailers w/ Flipgrid

Sorry for the overload of holiday ideas. We have one more week of school here in South Carolina (which involved a hurricane makeup day) and teachers are looking for creative ways to keep students engaged.
This idea of making emoji book trailers came from working with staff at Whale Branch Elementary School. Their Literacy Coach wanted to have every teacher in the school record a book trailer. The idea was to share one a week (Friday) on the morning news but she needed help planning and recording staff. 
We met up to record our sample trailers and to discus the project and potential pitfalls. Initially I think we were both thinking of recording the teachers using the green screen but for a school wide project that would have been a lot of work. I was also thinking of the teachers who would refuse because they ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY don't want to be recorded.  That is when Flipgrid popped back on my radar. It fell off my radar last year when Microsoft took it over (mainly because th…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (BONUS ACTIVITY) - Design a Snowflake

This AWESOME idea came from Abby Schiferl on Twitter. She had her students design snowflakes using Google Drawings, which in itself is fun but she brought in her Silhouette machine and used it to cut out their designs (which I though was pretty cool). She works in a computer lab but this could easily translate into the classroom.

I reached out to her on Twitter and asked how they designed the snowflakes in Drawings and she sent me a link to a YouTube video they used as the inspiration for this project.

I tried designing it this morning (see picture above). It was fairly easy, although I had to restart it several times because I messed up the final closing of the shape. I would tell students that they will mess up...but to me that is part of the process.

Purposely I used my mouse track pad instead of an actual mouse to rate the difficulty level for students (who don't have external mouses) and it wasn't too bad. Definitely doable.

I loved the Silhouette aspect of being able to…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#12) - Personalized Pop Up Cards with Flipgrid

I saw this post on Twitter on how to use Flipgrid to personalize gifts and it got me thinking about how I can use the idea this holiday season.

Flipgrid is a FREE video response system for students (which has a lot of cool features). If you aren't using it definitely check it out (it works with tablets as well as iPads). I would also highly recommend following them on Twitter for ideas and short tutorials.

Have students record a personalized message to a family member on Flipgrid. To add a twist have them use the emoji features to cover their face until the end (my video 👇). This requires that students pre-plan their message on paper (which I liked better than doing a straight recording...but if you are short on time a straight recording would work).



Students can use the "notes" feature to type their message so it doesn't look like they are reading from a piece of paper.



In the teacher admin area of Flipgrid you can print out QR codes to the video and have students …

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#11) - Where in the World is Santa?

Try this “Where in the World is Santa Going Next” geography activity where students have to enter in specific longitude and latitude coordinates in Google Earth to find Santa's next stop (answer key). If you have students who don't celebrate the holiday I created a separate sheet (same activity) just leaving out references to Santa (answer key). Google Earth has come a long way from being a program you have to download to being able to launch in Google Chrome. Once students get into Google Earth they will need to click on “Launch Earth in Chrome” and it may take a few seconds to load (mine took about 30 seconds). Once they have it loaded they can use the search bar to type, or cut and paste, the coordinates. I found it useful to have students search the school or their address in order to play with the tools before starting the activity.


12 Days Before Christmas Break (#10) - Reading Filters

Most digital reading options. Newsela, Readworks, Epic, and DOGOnews all have ways to filter content for the holiday season (these are all either free or have free components that would work in the classroom). Ask students to filter by "Christmas" or "Holiday" to find funny, inspirational, thoughtful, and informational reading pieces specifically geared for this time of year. Students can give you summaries and note any common themes between reading passages, as well as make personal connections. Pair a holiday article with a summarizing lesson that I modified from the Read, Write, Think website years ago called: Get the Gist: A Summarizing Activity for Any Content Area. I created a Google Document that you can assign students in Google Classroom (or you can export it as a Word document). You will need to make a copy of it before you assign. Simply click on "file" and "make a copy" or click on "file" "download" and "Wor…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (BONUS ACTIVITY) - Best Christmas Pageant Ever

I use to love reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to my students.I forgot about it until a Media Specialist friend told me she is teaching students to sketchnote using the novel and sent me her notes for the first chapter (see below).



It is a timeless classic and one that has a lot of online resources for teachers. There is free 24 page novel guide on TpT (http://bit.ly/34HPMuf)with discussion questions for every chapter (TIP: Download and save it while it is free. I have found that often TpT free items get moved to paid ones). YouTube has the full length 1983 movie based on the book that students would enjoy as well (http://bit.ly/2LafyQf).

If you have never read the book give it a try this holiday season!


12 Days before Christmas Break (#9) - Holiday Rebus Writing

Have students try and create a holiday Rebus letter this season. A rebus uses pictures and symbols to replace words in a story, or in this case a letter, and the reader has to figure out the meaning (see sample picture above). We have provided a template of this assignment which includes a slide where you can list the students name and link to their accompanying slide (see the notes section within that slide for directions). This is a great way to keep students on their slide when working on a collaborative document like this. Since it is collaborate that means everyone gets access to the exact same document. When you are assigning it in Google Classroom make sure you do not select “make a copy” for each student--instead, you need to pick “students can edit” when you make your classroom assignment. If you try this with students I would love to see their finished letters! Please feel free to share a link in the comments or on my Twitter page @atechcoachlife. UPDATE: I just tried th…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#8) - Holiday Bitmojis

There are a ton of holiday themed Bitmojis which can be used to create holiday cards for your students. To learn how to make a Bitmoji check out my co-worker, Estee Williams, fun instructional video.
If you would like to make a "Have a Joyful Holiday" card, as seen here, I have put together a template with instructions you are free to make a copy of and use.

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#7) - Tony Vincent Course

Are you interested in making captivating instructional materials? If so, join Tony Vincent for an online learning experience with his new Classy Creations course!
He will be teaching advanced graphic design techniques and how to apply them to social media posts, logos, badges, printable templates, comics, and animated GIFs.
The course, Classy Creations, runs January 21st through February 24th, 2020. Register by January 6th to save $15.
I have taken both his Classy Graphics and Classy Videos course and loved them both so much so that I am signing up for this new one.
This will make an excellent holiday gift for yourself.

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#6) - Google Drawings Design

Google Drawings is one of the most flexible tools in the G Suite arsenal, but it's also one of the most underutilized! You can use Google Drawings to make your own FREE worksheets & handouts, and students can also use Google Drawings to create posters and infographics (giving you a good alternative to the typical student project tools like Google Slides or PowerPoint).
This Christmas Tree video teaches students how to group objects, rotate, flip, format, use shapes, text box, and color options, as well as search fonts, and hyperlink objects. You can make a copy of the video, or download and then re-upload it into your drive, to assign it to students.
If you like this project check out Tony Vincent's Shapegrams website. He offers over 35 different Google Drawing projects similar to the Christmas tree one for $35/year (with the first three free). I've seen several classrooms use it and the students LOVE it.

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#5) - Virtual Fireplace

When reading holiday books to students make it fun and cozy by pulling up a crackling fireplace on your interactive whiteboard or panel to display while you read.
You can also use it in conjunction with background music as students work quietly on assigned tasks.
It may seem "cheesy" but its a nice way to get in the holiday mood and to teach children the joy of curling up with a good book on a cold winter's day.

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#4) - Windows Photo App

Our school has Windows based devices. In the past we have used Microsoft's free software Photostory and Movie Maker Live with students to create videos. Unfortunately Microsoft has discontinued both and replaced them with their new Windows 10 Photos App.

It took me some time to make the switch but I am happy to report that I don't hate it. There are some things I would change but overall it is fairly easy for students to grasp. I like the effects and 3D options and for short videos it is an adequate (and free) app. The video summary above of "Harry the Dirty Dog" will highlight what students can do.

I always liked the time before a holiday break to introduce students to a new tool. It helps to set them up to use the tool independently with future projects.

If you want to try this with students I would recommend making a project yourself so you are familiar with how the tools work.

My suggestion is to introduce a short holiday read aloud and have students work in gro…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#3) - Novel Effect App

Back in February I wrote a post about an interactive read aloud app. It has quickly become my favorite things to pull up and use with students (I use it with a Bluetooth speaker I have for the classroom).
This holiday season I am suggesting that you try the FREE app Novel Effect to add some fun into your holiday read alouds.
The app plays sound effects as you read certain books, which they have listed in their app. The app operates on voice recognition so as you hit keyword markers certain sound effects and music plays to enhance the story.
Holiday books on their list includes: Twas' the Night Before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many more. You can use the app with either a paper or digital copy of the book. Check out their list of holiday read alouds and stock up from the library and see how your students respond.

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#2) - Secret Santa (on a budget)

We have a lot of schools participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange and our department highlighted eight tech related items that would make good (and inexpensive) tech gifts for our classrooms:

1. Earbuds - We request students bring in their own headphones and earbuds but inevitably we have a few students who "forget" or never had them in the first place. A set of 10 loaner earbud would make an outstanding tech gift for any teacher. You can pair them with numbered sandwich baggies and a box of alcohol swabs to make the gift complete.

2. Batteries - Nothing is worse then having a class set of calculators that go dead when students need them the most. An emergency container of AA batteries in a small plastic container would be appreciated by most teachers.

3. Selfie Stick - I used to have a selfie stick in the classroom in order to get a better group shot of projects, students working, or field trip photos. This ensured my school social media posts looked good (and didn'…

12 Days Before Christmas Break (#1) - Eflster

The 12 Days before Christmas Break officially starts for us December 5th here in South Carolina and I thought I would highlight twelve tech tips for the classroom and school leading up to our holiday break (these tips are also mentioned in episode four of our podcast). 
The first tip is to go digital for your school's Secret Santa exchange. Going digital allows you to ditch paper and pencil and organize your participants using the FREE site Elfster. You can send out an email from the site asking interested folks to sign up (remember to give everyone a deadline). Once you have everyone signed up on the site you can have people randomly and non-randomly assigned their secret Santa. Elfster then assigns the participants their match and emails the information individually. Once participants log into their account they can create a wish list so their match can check out what things they like. NOTE - My Elfster emails go to my "clutter" folder so make sure folks know to check…

Podcasting Experience (so far)

So my co-worker, Estee Williams (Twitter - @esteeeducates), and I are now into episode four of our podcasting experience this school year.

We have been enjoying it but are in awe of regular podcasters who manage to put out an episode a week. We struggle just to get one a month put out! This is mainly due to our work schedules. We recognize that folks like Matt Miller, Kasey Bell, and Monica Burns all are self-employed in the EdTech world so their time is a little more flexible and podcasting is one of the ways they communicate to keep their brand current (but we now have a much better idea of how much time they put into it each week).

When we started this project we decided we needed to make sure that we set aside a non-negotiable Friday a month to record the show. As it is, we are still pulled in many different directions and we wind up doing a lot of the editing and updating of show notes on our own time.  We set the theme for the following month after recording and put together an…

Fiverr Experience (and Review)

Many years ago I hear of a site called Fiverr which offers services from around the world such as creating logos to website design and voice over talent. I thought it was a very cool concept but had no use for it...until recently.

A co-worker and I decided to create an EdTech podcast this school year as another form of communication with teachers at our schools. Currently we have a monthly newsletter and a closed EdTech Facebook group. I jumped on the idea. I have been wanting to podcast and record with students and I was hoping this would give me some hands-on trial and error experience with it.

I took a stab a designing a few logos for our show, which we are calling PodCATS (Portable on Demand Curriculum and Technology Show).

Here were my first attempts:



I sent it to a friend of mine, who also took a stab at it and she came up with this:


We really liked her version but we wanted to add headphones on the cat and I drew the concept:


She had used clipart to design the logo but we neede…

Password Protect iPhone Notes

I use my iPhone's Notes app to save everything from book and music recommendations to a password list. Obviously I have my phone password protected but if you need an extra layer of protection with your notes consider adding an additional lock to specific notes.

This is great particularly, if you are like me, and hand your phone to your children...who don't need to see that information.

It is super easy to do. See the step-by-step flyer I made above.

A few items to note:

1. Whatever you set as your password for one note applies to all notes you attach a lock to.
2. Once you unlock one note, you unlock all of them.
3. You have to close out the app or put the phone to sleep before the lock resets.

Paperless Extension - Kami

A couple of years ago our district purchased Kami as part of our push to go paperless. It has quickly grown to one of my most recommended extensions.

We are a one-to-one district and we use Google Apps for Education. We hadn't found anything that students could use with PDF's outside of DocHub add on through Google (free limited version). We started playing with the Kami add-on through Google and loved it (also free limited version). We used the 30 day free trial and got the company to extend it so we could do a more in-depth analysis for potential purchase.

I was part of the analysis team and it was just what teachers were looking for. Teachers could push Word or PDF documents to students and have them complete and return them on the computer without having to print ANYTHING.



The tool bar has:
- A dictionary so students can look up unfamiliar words
- Text to speech so students can highlight passages and have them read out loud
- Speech to text so students can dictate their a…