Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Become an Edtech Rock Star in 2014!

January9

become an edutech rock starI don’t know about you, but I typically avoid the whole New Year’s resolution gig. Instead I prefer to use the beginning of a new year to set personal and professional goals that I can strive to achieve throughout the next 12 months. For example, I want to improve my Spanish speaking skills and become more involved with the Mending Hearts Animal Rescue organization, but tech-nically speaking, my list goes something like this:

» Continue blogging about tech tools, integration ideas and digital responsibility.

» Reach as many educators as possible with the information I post.

» Improve my blog’s Teach100 ranking by writing more posts and sharing them across social media sites.

» Expand my Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter, Facebook and Scoop.it.

» Write a K-12 computers curriculum for my school district.

» Implement Google Apps for Education in the middle and high schools.

» Facilitate additional “Tech it Up” professional development sessions for K-12 teachers.

» Promote Digital Learning Day to include teachers and students at all levels.

» Enter (and win) at least one video contest with my Tech Club students.

» Transform the current print high school newspaper from print to a digital format.

» Provide more opportunities for students to create web sites and blogs similar to Simply Aubree, the very cool blog of one of my Tech Club superstars.

So there you have it—a few of my aspirations for 2014… Hopefully, you have set a few goals of your own focusing on technology integration for the upcoming year. If not, here are a few suggestions that can help to level up your skills:

» Record your thoughts in the form of a blog or online journal (See my 27 Ways to Reflect on Your Teaching post for tools to make this this objective a reality.)

» Learn one new tool or app a month (i.e. GoAnimate so you can create cool comic avatars and scenes for use on print and digital projects).

» Create your first or a new digital project—story, interactive image, video, book report, etc.

» Participate in a Mystery Skype activity with your students.

» Ditch the flashdrive and learn to use a cloud-based storage system such as Dropbox.

» Build a PLN on various social media sites in order to stay in tune with the latest tech trends.

» Become a member of the #edugood 365 Photo Project.

» Join and/or share a lesson in an online teacher lesson plan exchange program such as TeachersPayTeachers or UClass.org.

» Read a tech integration book. I highly recommend checking out Untangling the Web by Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow.

» Subscribe to the Edutech for Teachers blog by clicking the “Follow” button located to the right!

» Follow Edutech for Teachers on TwitterFacebook and Scoop.it!

So, there you have it—some recommendations for transforming yourself into an edtech rock star! No excuses—just get busy! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did—and so will your students!

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The Geeky Girl’s Greatest Hits: Volume IV

May1

Inspiring infographics, amazing apps and way cool web tools… What do these items have in common? Well, for starters, they are featured in the latest edition of the Geeky Girl’s Greatest Hits List!

Yep, simply hover over the image to uncover a variety of April’s favorite edutech tools and media—all of which are guaranteed to transform your classroom into a learning environment that students will love more than ever!

Check out the full screen version of this image here.

Think this interactive image is cool? Then check out the additional Thinglink ideas that can be located within the following resources: Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom created by Donna Baumbach (Aunty Tech) and the Thinglink Toolkit developed by Susan Oxnevad. My Educate with Thinglink post also contains a variety of integration strategies.

Enjoy!

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The Geeky Girl’s Greatest Hits: Volume II

March2

The Geeky Girl is back! This time with a Greatest Hits List for February 2013. Go ahead and get busy with this interactive image created with Thinglink to locate a number of web tools, resources and apps that are guaranteed to engage your students in the learning process. Heck, they might even admit that writing, science and math can actually be alot of fun!

Just hover over the image to reveal an assortment of “cool tools” you won’t be able to resist adding to your tech toolbox!

Check out the full screen version of this interactive image here.

Like this interactive image? Then be sure to visit the following must-see sites for tons of ideas for incorporating Thinglink into classroom activities: Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom created by Donna Baumbach (Aunty Tech) and the Thinglink Toolkit developed by Susan Oxnevad. My Educate with Thinglink post also contains a variety of integration strategies.

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The Geeky Girl’s PETE&C Picks: Volume I

February26

An online voice recorder with sharing capabilities? Check! Augmented reality? You bet! A visual ranking tool to promote higher order thinking skills? Got that too! In fact, those are just three of nearly twenty “cool tools” I discovered (or rediscovered for a new and improved purpose) while attending the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) earlier this month in Hershey, PA.

That’s right! Check out these must-have resources and add them to your edtech toolbox sooner than later! Of course, the Geeky Girl couldn’t resist presenting this info in a visual way with one of her most favorite edtech tools of all-time—Thinglink!

The full screen version of this interactive image can be accessed here.

Need additional information about Thinglink? No problem! Check out my Educate with Thinglink post and/or review the following resources that are jam-packed with cool classroom integration ideas: Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom created by Donna Baumbach (Aunty Tech) and the Thinglink Toolkit developed by Susan Oxnevad.

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PETE&C 2013: Innovate… Collaborate… Educate!

February11

It’s that time again—my most favorite professional development opportunity of the year: The Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) in Hershey, PA—the chocolate lover’s capital of the world.

And just as anticipated, this year’s sessions have been fabulous—web tools, apps, tech-based projects, integration strategies and lots of great stuff about some of the most popular trends, including Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education and Augmented Reality. This geeky girl is loving every minute, absorbing as much info as possible, but as you may have guessed, she’s on total information overload—in a good way, of course. In fact, besides trying to figure out which session to attend, the only problem she has is there are so many awesome tools, ideas and concepts, that she doesn’t even know where to begin!

Stay tuned for some “cool tools” posts as well as a new interactive Thinglink image containing links to new resources that can be added to your tech-box!

In the meantime, join us virtually on one or more of these social networks: Facebook, Twitter, the #petec13 hashtag and/or the Pete&C Ning.

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The Geeky Girl’s Greatest Hits: Volume I

February2

Looking for some ways to engage the digital natives who reside in your classroom? Well, then you definitely came to the right place! No matter the curricular area or grade level, there’s sure to be something for you on the Geeky Girl’s (Yeah, that’s me!) Greatest Hits List for January 2013.

Not only can you find a variety of “Cool Tools” that are sure to transform your classroom into a 21st Century hotspot, but checking out the image below allows you to see Thinglink—one of my all-time favorite edutech picks—in action! And it’s all good!

The full screen version of this interactive image can be accessed here.

For additonal information about Thinglink, check out a variety of suggestions listed on my Educate with Thinglink post and/or review Interesting Ways to Use Thinglink in the Classroom—an amazing resource packed full of ideas.

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Become an Edu-tech Guru this Summer!

June5

It’s hard to believe that another school year has come to an end—my 23rd!  Wow!  Where does the time go?

Even though summer vacation has officially begun, I will continue to update Edutech for Teachers over the next few months—in between traveling and conducting professional development sessions, that is.  One journey will take me to Guanajuato, Mexico where I will not only act as an information technology specialist, but I will be teaching English to high school students as well.  Besides improving my Spanish-speaking skills, I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to share “cool tools” with educators from another country. Learning about the educational system in a different culture will also be an neat experience.  Stay tuned for details related to this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

In the meantime, summer is a great time for teachers to recharge the battery, cross some items off the “bucket list” and prepare for the upcoming school year.  For those of you who are interested in acquiring or honing your technology integration skills, here are a few suggestions to help you become an edu-tech guru:

» Design a classroom web site or blog

» Select a “cool tool” that interests you—then create a classroom project to complete with your students

» Produce an instructional video and post it online

» Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest—then follow edu-tech authors for integration ideas

» Subscribe to an educational technology blog—like this one!

» Develop a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activity for your curricular area

» Read a technology integration book or ebook (i.e. Blogs Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson)

» Become familiar with a new computer platform (i.e. If you normally use a Windows machine, explore the Mac OS.)

» Experiment with mobile technologies (i.e. apps, QR codes, etc.)

» Enroll in an technology-related course

» Attend a technology integration workshop, conference and/or professional development session (i.e. Techapalooza)

Whatever you decide to do this summer, make a POA (plan of action) and stick with it!  You’ll be glad you did—and so will your students!

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Techapalooza 2012: Innovate… Collaborate… Educate!

June2

What do geocaching, educational robotics, Discovery Education and wikis have in common?  Besides being “cool tools”, these topics—and many more!—will be featured at Techapalooza 2012, a technology integration event being held on August 6-8, 2012, at the California University of Pennsylvania.  Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity to collaborate with other educators, win great prizes and more importantly, learn how to transform your classroom into a 21st Century learning environment!

For more information about this very worthwhile professional development program, check out the Techapalooza 2012 wikispace.

Hope to see you there!

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PETE&C Recap: Day 3

February16

PETE&C 2012 concluded with two excellent sessions – both focusing on taking learning to the next level by creating authentic projects, student engagement and 21st Century skills.  Even though it was the shortest day of the conference, it was definitely packed with many useful ideas and resources nevertheless.

» Project-Based Websites:  Any word that is synonymous with impressive would appropriately describe Ross Cooper’s demonstration of how he utilizes a classroom web site as a one stop shop to engage his students in an interactive, paperless manner.  Any teacher that is interested in the inquiry based learning process, addressing higher order thinking skills, collaboration and cross-curricular activities must take a look at Ross’s extremely cool virtual classroom located at http://eastpennsd.org/teacherpages/cooperos.  Click on the “Projects” link folder to view a variety of assignments based on themes students already enjoy and/or are familiar with – “Pinball Wizard” and “Science for Dummies” to name a few.  Besides the “Angry Animals” activity – which is based on the popular Angry Birds game – my personal favorite was “Artist Research”.

Although Ross utilizes Flash, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create the dynamic web pages featured on his site, a less experienced designer can create similar content using Wix, a free flash-based web page generator.

While participating in this session, I almost wished I was a fourth grader again!

» The Walls Come Tumbling Down – Learning Portals:  “Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.  Today’s students need to develop information skills that will enable them to use technology as an important tool for learning, both now and in the future.”

Using this quote from the American Library Association as the premise for their presentation, instructional coaches Laura Cipriano and Andrew Halter explained the importance and benefits of utilizing learning portals to promote “every” Century skill sets.  So, what is a learning portal?  In the educational arena, it’s a web site or wikispace that offers students consolidated anytime, anywhere access to information, resources, materials and/or assignments pertaining to a particular course.  Instead of teaching content in isolation, learning portals can be integrated to create powerful instruction and authentic learning opportunities for students.  In addition to addressing the four lens of learning, this blended approach provides a hub to foster skills in the following areas:  innovation, communication, collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking while simultaneously teaching the use of technology in an effective and productive manner.

The cool thing about this presentation was Laura and Andrew actually modeled how to integrate a learning portal into classroom activities by having participants in the session complete tasks they embedded into a wiki.  Two particular tools they used that are worth mentioning included Edistorm, a brainstorming and organizing tool (similar to Wallwisher or CorkboardMe) and Crocodoc, a collaborative literacy tool that allows users to view, highlight and/or comment on any document.  What a great digital text rendering resource this is!

To learn more about learning portals and the advantages of using them in the classroom, be sure so check out Laura and Andrews’s wikispace located at http://learningportals.wikispaces.com.  It contains tons of  information, instructional features, samples and research about learning portals as well as a links to Andrew’s Digital Tools for Digital Learners and The Digital Shift wikis that are packed with technology integration tools and ideas.  Laura also maintains a very resourceful library wiki for Riverside High School in Western PA.

As you can see, it was another fabulous PETE&C Conference.  I still cannot wrap my mind around how quickly technology changes and how much of an impact Web 2.0 can have in the educational setting.  Now if I could just figure out how to utilize all of the new ideas, strategies and tools I learned about over the last four days, but I guess that’s a good problem to have! 🙂

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PETE&C Recap: Day 2

February14

Valentine’s Day at PETE&C brought with it five “sweet” sessions regarding a variety of technology integration topics.  Check them out below…

» Educational Games – Meaningful, Mobile, Multiplayer:  Because I’m not much of a “gamer” myself (unless you count Words with Friends :)), I decided to begin my day with this session.  What I found is that because I am not that involved in the whole gaming craze, I was somewhat lost in the discussion used to explain the effective integration of this concept into the classroom.  Sure, we have all utilized games into our content areas at one time or another to review skills, practice vocabulary and test knowledge; however, the whole idea of educational “gamification” – which refers to applying game mechanics to any non-gaming process like education – is so much more than that.  Rather than merely recalling facts, this type of gaming involves being immersed in virtual worlds to problem solve, interact, and think critically about classroom content.  Even though all of this seems like a foreign language to me, I do see the benefit of utilizing popular games such as Minecraft or Plants vs. Zombies as primary sources in the classroom to engage students in content.  However, as with any teaching technique, one must fully understand the strategy before putting it into practice.  In other words, I have much to learn about gamification before embarking on this journey with my students.

If you would like to learn more about games and how they can be effectively integrated into classroom activities, be sure to visit the following resources page provided by presenter Jeff Mummert from Hershey High School:  bit.ly/w5GRpT  (Copy and paste this address into your web browser.)

In the meantime, Angry Birds anyone?

» Inept to Adept – Student Produced Videos:  This session, facilitated by Brooke Langan and Joseph Martin from the East Stroudsburg Area School District, focused on using American Film Institute lesson plans and resources (courtesy of Discovery Education) to teach students how to produce red carpet worthy videos for classroom projects.  By introducing moviemaking to students via AFI’s “The Door Scene” technique, students learn simple yet essential components (planning, storyboarding, recording, editing and reflecting) involved in creating a quality video.  Once students gain filmmaking skills through this five step process, they can transfer this knowledge to creating authentic projects (movie trailers, visual book reports, music videos, etc.) to express their understanding of any classroom content.

What I like best about the materials from the AFI is the fact that they are basic enough for even the least tech savvy teachers to utilize.  In addition, the AFI not only stresses the importance of engaging all students, but they  focus on mastering visual literacy skills throughout the video production process – essential elements of 21st Century learning!

In addition to the AFI resources available on Discovery Education, Brooke and Joseph have created a Moodle page with tons of resources, handouts and examples to help teachers enter into the world of moviemaking with their students.

» Common Core and Technology:  Guess what?  There is no escaping technology when the new Common Core standards are officially implemented!  Yep, it’s true!  While these new standards focus on math and English language arts, they also emphasize technology as a means to learn knowledge and skills in these areas.  With that said, K-12 educators are going to be responsible for integrating technology into core content areas instead of teaching this topic in isolation.  Although the standards include basic skills students need to know in order to succeed (i.e. keyboarding), they also call for students to learn academic content through the use of technology and multimedia.

To illustrate what I mean, take a look at the following Grade 2 ELA Standard:  Use information gained from illustrations and words in a print of digital text to demonstrate understanding with a variety of tools.

So, where do you start?  Well, begin by checking out the presentation materials created by Instructional Technology Specialist Tanya Dynda and Curriculum Specialist Cindy Murphy from Seneca Highlands IU9 located at
http://www.slideshare.net/tdynda/common-core-and-technology-where-do-you-start.  Here you will find a toolbox of free resources that can be used to  address the technology standards that are embedded within the Common Core Standards.

This one definitely one of my most favorite – and super practical – sessions I have attended thus far!  Awesome stuff!

» BYOT – How to Boost Your Overwhelmed Teachers:  I attended this session because my original choice was “sold out”, but I am actually glad I was able to listen to Chris Stengel and Duane Lewis explain how they have successfully implemented a “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) initiative for teachers and students at the Mount Lebanon School District.  Although there are obviously many aspects to consider when adopting a program of this nature, the advantages of incorporating devices that students already own into classroom lessons and projects are many.  For one, BYOT is a new way to approach the integration of technology into the classroom, and secondly, providing access to students affords them the opportunity to learn in a more authentic, real-world environment.  With that said, I plan to have a conversation with the leaders at my school to discuss the possibility of embracing a similar idea.  I’m envisioning a cyber café in the library!

» Engage Me! Web Tools for the Elementary Classroom:  It’s true!  Creating digital projects with elementary students – even first graders – can be a reality.  Be sure to check out the following site to view some really cool tools and corresponding project examples that were produced by students in the East Penn School District:  https://sites.google.com/site/epsdelementarytech.

Glogster, Wordle, Animoto and Voki are still teacher favorites, but I also learned about a few new tools that would be perfect additions to the elementary setting.  They are as follows:

  • Zooburst:  A digital storytelling tool that is designed to allow the user to create his/her own customized 3D pop-up book. Using ZooBurst, storytellers of any age can create their own rich worlds in which their stories can come to life.
  • Study Stack:  A flashcard creation tool. Users can utilize pre-made flashcards or create their own. In addition to studying the flashcards, users can complete other activities such as matching, crossword puzzles, hangman, scramble word or bug chase with their flashcards.
  • Creately:  An online diagramming and brainstorming tool that allows user to easily generate visual aids of all kinds – flowcharts, mindmaps, wireframes and more!

Thank you Beth Fair for all of the great info and resources!

So, there you have it…  More great ideas and tools to turn your students on – both literally and figuratively!  Enjoy! 🙂

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Hey, edu-tech gurus!

Looking for some technology integration ideas to enhance your classroom lessons? Then be sure to check out my "Tech Tips" for the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools, applications and web sites that can be incorporated into activities and/or projects. Although some posts may not be applicable to your content area or grade level, be sure to check back often as I will be varying ideas in order to provide resources across the K-12 curriculum.

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