Connect Your Classroom Using #MysteryHangouts

Hangouts_IconI am passionate about helping teachers connect their classrooms bring the world to their students. One way I’ve done this is through promoting Mystery Hangouts and Mystery Skype. The tool isn’t the point (although I do lean toward Mystery Hangouts and that will be the focus of this post)— the purpose is to help students with deductive reasoning, critical thinking, and questioning skills as well as to bring students from around the country and around the globe into your classroom. All you need is a web-connected device with a camera and a willingness to try something new!

How Does a Mystery Hangout Work?

Mystery Hangouts can be run in a number of ways, but the most basic form is like a big game of 20 Questions. Teachers find a partner class in a different state, and they meet up over Google Hangouts. Classes take turns asking and answering yes-or-no questions designed to help the class narrow down where the class is located, and the first class to find the other wins! Sometimes students need to find the state of the partner class, and other times the students will locate the city of the partner class. That all depends on how much time you have— it’s much more challenging and time-consuming to locate the city! However, if you are partnering with a class in your same state, you’d want to find the city.IMG_5099

Once you have a partner class, you and the teacher will probably email back and forth to determine how the connection will happen. One way to create the Hangout is through a calendar event in Google Calendar. It’s a great way to start it off because when you create a calendar event, a Hangouts link is automatically generated. Add the partner teacher to the event, save the event so an email will be generated, and the partner class can join the Hangout through that link by clicking on it in the email!Mystery_Hangout_Calendar

Another way to create the Hangout link is by creating an event in Google+ and inviting the partner teacher to the event. When the time comes to join the Hangout, you’ll find the link in your events in Google+.

Mystery_Hangouts_Event

A third way is to use Hangouts to call your partner class, but the first two ways are more convenient. It’s easy to miss a Hangouts call!

During most Mystery Hangouts, students have specific roles. One of the resources I have used for determining roles is a this blog post by Pernille Ripp. She and her students came up with the roles together. Other great resources for learning more about a Mystery Hangout or Mystery Skype are:

If you’re not sure about what types of questions to ask, check out this blog post. It has some great starter questions that you can have in mind when you have your students come up with the questions they’d like to ask. One thing I like to do, especially with the younger students, is have a desk map in a protective sleeve for them to write on. As questions are asked and answered, students can eliminate states by crossing them off with whiteboard marker. When they are finished with the game, they can reuse the map for the next time.

Once each class has found one another, some classes like to share interesting facts about their state or city. Others will ask questions back and forth about what life is like in the other state. In some cases, the Mystery Hangout will be the beginning of a longer collaboration between two classes.IMG_5073

How Do I Find a Partner Class?

The Mystery Hangout Community on Google+, is a great source for finding partner classrooms. Just post a message to the community letting them know your grade level and availability, and more often than not you will get a response. You can also reach out to tech coaches or other connected educators– they probably know someone who knows someone. You can also find partner classrooms using Twitter or other social media. Be sure to use the #mysteryhangouts or #mysteryskype hashtags.

Common Core Connection

The nature of mystery location allows students to practice several of the 4 Cs as they communicate, collaborate, and think critically. They may also have to use their creativity if they come across an issue that requires “out-of-the-box” thinking. Every student is engaged in this type of activity— they are on task, they stick to their roles, and they are determined to be the first to find the other class. Students work together to maintain the forward movement of the game, and depending on the grade level, they collaborate on adjusting their questions if necessary. The more calls the students participate in, the better they get at thinking critically in order to ask the right questions to narrow the location down quickly. When students create presentations about their city or state and write reflections at the end of the call, they are also working on their grade level writing standards. Turn the reflective writing into blog posts and students are then working toward even more of the Common Core State Standards for writing.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried Mystery Hangouts or Mystery Skype? Please share your experiences and any resources you may have!

It’s Been a #CUERockstar August

Copy of CUE_RockStar_C_FINALV Square200Last year I took a risk and applied to be a faculty member at CUE Rockstar Manhattan Beach. I had never been to a CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp before, but the concept marries so many of the things I love: camp, technology, and workshop-type professional development. So I figured, why not apply? All the feedback I had ever heard was so positive; some teachers even call it “life changing.” It sounded like fun and it was something I wanted to be part of.

Hanging with my Fullerton Friends at TOSA Edition Photo Credit: Pablo Diaz

Hanging with my Fullerton Friends at TOSA Edition Photo Credit: Pablo Diaz

Later, I heard about CUE Rockstar Black Label edition, created exclusively for TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) being held at the StubHub Center in L.A., and I worked it out so I could attend. I can hardly put into words how powerful it was to be part of an event that allowed over 100 coaches and leaders to learn and grow together. We networked, we laughed (oh, did we laugh!), we ate, we played, and we learned. We made connections and collaborated to determine ways to invigorate our work. We brainstormed solutions to our own #tosaproblems and we created ways to make our lives a little more automated. Many of us met some of the educators we’ve admired on Twitter, and my classmates from the Leading Edge Certification for Professional Learning Leaders were able to meet one another live and in person!

Almost All of The Fantastic Faculty from Manhattan Beach Photo Credit: A Rockstar Teacher

Both of the CUE Rockstar events I attended– one as faculty and one as an attendee– were exhilarating, exhausting in a good way, engaging, fulfilling, and just plain awesome. I wish I could have attended every session that was available, because as much as I have to share, I have equally as much to learn. I continue to grow as an educator and as a presenter by providing professional development for others, but also by allowing myself to learn from colleagues and friends. So, the next time a Rockstar event rolls around, you should go. You won’t be sorry.

If you are interested in attending a CUE Rockstar event, be sure to check out the website! http://www.cuerockstar.org/

Create Interactive Videos with @TouchCast

TouchCast iconI have to admit— I had a hard time getting to know TouchCast. I knew its power and had a general idea of how to use it, but I was really struggling to make sense of how to create my final product. When I registered to attend ISTE 2015, I knew I had to find a session on using TouchCast, and I’m so glad I did! TouchCast Ambassador Crystal Kirch did a fantastic job with the lay of the TouchCast land, and now I can create my own (and so can you!).

What is TouchCast?

TouchCast is a free interactive video creation app that allows teachers and students to record themselves sharing a lesson or idea. Once the video is created, you add vApps, or video apps, to make the videos interactive. When a viewer taps or clicks on a vApp, the video will pause so the viewer can explore the vApp. Returning to the video is as simple as tapping back on the video! Some of the more popular vApps to add are websites, polls, images, videos, Google Maps, or files from Google Drive. Teachers and students all over the world are creating TouchCast videos and sharing them on public channels. Get the official TouchCast guide here. You can see what teachers and students have created here, which are links to TouchCasts found on Crystal’s original directions from the ISTE session. Also be sure to check out TouchCast for Education, or EduCast.

How Does TouchCast Work?

Start by going to the Cast Side to create your first TouchCast video. TouchCast opening screenYou’ll create a new project and have an option of themes you can choose from. Swipe to the left to see the different themes.TouchCast project screenOnce you’ve selected your theme, you will name your video. To start creating the interactive video, tap on camera. You’ll have the chance to create a transcript for the teleprompter, which plays on the side where the camera is (so you are looking at the camera!). You can also type out your transcript in a different app and copy/paste it into the teleprompter.TouchCast camera screenAfter adding your script to the teleprompter, record your video. You can record all of your video at once or you can choose to record separate clips of video. You also have the option of using a green screen background. Of course, you’ll have to record yourself in front of a green screen in order for this to work. Tap on the Effects tab to select green screen.

TouchCast effects screenAfter you’ve recorded your video, you will start adding vApps.

Tap on a video clip t0 add a vApp. Then tap on “Add vApps.” Tap again on “Add vApps” when the pop-up appears. Then tap “Add a vApp” from the menu at the bottom of the screen.adding vApps instructionsAs you add vApps, you can re-size them and move them around the screen until they are where you want them to appear. Then tap the little icon in the task bar and it will be removed from the video and will be stored down in the task bar.

Adding the vApps you want to use keeps them at the bottom of the screen in the task bar area. Once you’ve added all the vApps you want into each clip, you need to record them into the video at the times you want them to appear. An easy way to do that is to tap the record button at the bottom of the screen. This doesn’t re-record the original video clips. It just records the vApps into the video. If you press pause, though, you will be creating separate clips. When you get to the correct part of the video clip, tap the vApp you want to use. You should have already placed it in the correct place on your screen, so it will pop up where you wanted it to go. Because these are interactive video apps, you can interact with them while you speak and you can allow the viewer to interact with them on their own. For instance, if you add a website, you can scroll through the website as you are recording and the movement will be recorded into the video.

Another nice feature of TouchCast is that you can add a whiteboard to your videos. This can be an actual white board, a chalkboard, grid paper, or a glass screen, which allows you to annotate on images or on videos as you record them.

TouchCast whiteboard screenIt’s easy to get lost in the creating and get frustrated with TouchCast. To alleviate some of the frustration, I highly recommend that you write a script and/or a storyboard for your video so that you know what video clips you will use and which vApps you want (and when you want them to appear!). Remember that you need to tap on clips to add vApps, and you won’t be able to add vApps to a clip you’ve already recorded vApps into. So, have a plan!

Common Core Connection

Creating in TouchCast requires students to be creative and to think critically. Students are practicing their communication skills, and having students work in teams to create TouchCast videos ensures that they will also be developing their collaboration skills. Scripting and storyboarding incorporates the anchor standards categorized under Text Types and Purposes and Production and Distribution of Writing. TouchCast can be used across any discipline and for all purposes, making it a great choice for students to show their understanding.

What Do You Think?

Have you used TouchCast in your classroom? Please share how you’ve incorporated TouchCast into your teaching and learning in the comments!

 

More Talking Objects? Yes– With Yakit Kids!

Yakit_iconYakit Kids is an app by Freak’n Genius that lets students take photos of inanimate objects, give them faces, and make them talk. It is similar to Chatterpix Kids, which I have also featured on this blog, but it has some added functions that make it another good choice for animated videos, the most important one being that students can create multiple scenes in one Yakit Kids Video.

How Does YakIt Kids Work?

The app opens with a very obvious “Start New” button that prompts students to begin.

IMG_1630Students can then take a photo using the camera on the iPad, choose a photo from their camera roll, or search the Web for an image. Image search, however, is considered an “Adult” feature. A warning is provided and the added step of “press-and-hold” is required in order to do a Web photo search. Each time I attempted to do a Web search, however, I got a “Search Failed” notice even though my wifi was fully connected. Student can also start with a pre-created scene.Yakit_add_photosOnce the photo is taken or selected, students are then taken to a screen where they will add a mouth. They can create a mouth on something that already has amouth, or they can choose from three pre-created mouths. If students swipe up while on this screen, they will also see different eyes and noses they can add. They will also be able to add a talking character, animated special effects, and props to their scene.
Yakit_MouthIMG_1638If students choose to create their own mouth, they will zoom the photo to line up with the mouth. The photo will get very large and it will seem awkward, but it’s supposed to be large. Tap the “next” button in the upper right-hand corner to adjust the movement of the mouth. Each of the dots moves separately along the mouth, and the chin line can be adjusted up or down. This all controls how the mouth moves in the next phase of recording voice. Students can also test what the mouth will look like when it talks by holding the “test” button at the right. The small inset photo provides a demo.Yakit_test_buttonStudents can continue to add characters, facial features, props and special effects until they are satisfied with the scene, and then they press the green record button. They get a 3-second countdown, and they can record a scene for 30 seconds.Yakit_recordOnce students are finished recording, they will hear a preview of the recording. They can play the scene again by pressing the play button in the middle of the screen. They are also able to delete the scene if they wish, edit the scene by adding additional elements (which requires them to record the scene again after they edit), re-record the voice, change the pitch of the voice, or add a new scene. If they add a new scene, they will go through the entire process again. This puts together multiple segments of Yakits within the same video– an added bonus!IMG_1644When students are finished entirely, they tap the green “next” button and they are then able to save the video to the camera roll. Students can tap “more” and they will get the “adults only” warning. “More” allows students to upload finished products to multiple other apps such as Google Classroom, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, or other apps that use video such as iMovie or Explain Everything.

Yakit_adultsIMG_1643

 Common Core Connection

Along with being fun for students to use, Yakit Kids can help students to improve their communication skills while they exercise their creativity. Students are able to use the app to show what they know about a topic or a concept they are learning about. Specific Common Core Anchor Standards include:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5
Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Writing standards can also be addressed using Yakit if the teacher requires students to write a script before recording. This is always a good idea because it allows students to rehearse before recording, and it also provides students an opportunity to organize their thoughts before trying to record off-the-cuff.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried Yakit Kids? How are you and your students using it in the classroom?

A Challenge: Let’s Stop Pretending and #makeschooldifferent

makeschooldifferentI was challenged by Jessica Vannasdall (@mrsvannasdall) to write a post on what educators need to stop pretending in order to #makeschooldifferent. Here are my five:

Let’s stop pretending that homework in its current typical form is important or necessary. When done right, homework can be a good thing. But it usually isn’t done right and it’s either busy work or too frustrating to help kids improve. Rethink homework.

Let’s stop pretending that we don’t have time to change our practice. There will never be a good time to make a change, but it has to happen. We can not continue to teach today the same way we did a few years ago. It’s a different world. Change it up.

Let’s stop pretending that our students are “Digital Natives” and we are anything but. I wish this term could be stricken from the record. It creates an excuse that doesn’t need to exist and it needs to go away. We are all capable of learning to use technology in order to redefine what happens in our classrooms. Take the risk.

Let’s stop pretending that our students will take risks if we don’t. We have to be the role models for our students and for our colleagues. Risk taking is growth, and if we want our students to grow, we have to show them that we are growing, too. It’s ok to be scared. But jump in anyway.

Let’s stop pretending that we can do this alone. We can’t teach on isolated islands anymore. There are hundreds of thousands of teachers “out there” who are looking to collaborate, share ideas, and who want to make the world a smaller place. Our students want to collaborate, too. Make time to get connected. Reach out. You won’t be sorry.

I’m a little late to the challenge, so if you have already been challenged I apologize in advance. I challenge my friends Pablo Diaz @teachusingtech, Holly Steele @hollybsteele, Ann Kozma @annkozma723, Catherine Cabiness @ms_cabiness, and Sabba Quidwai @askMsQ. How would you like to #makeschooldifferent?

Visual Storytelling with Adobe Slate (Now Spark Page)

Spark Page icon

Adobe Slate (now Spark Page), a new app from the design powerhouse that is Adobe, allows students to create simple visual stories that can include text, photos, photo grids, and links to other websites. The images students use can be images they have taken themselves and have in their camera roll, or they can do a Creative Commons image search directly in the app. This is a great way to search; Not only does the app search the Creative Commons, it also includes a citation for the images used at the bottom of the product the student creates. In order to use the app, students must have an Adobe ID, or the teacher must create a classroom Adobe ID account for all students to use.

How does Spark Page Work?

The home screen of Spark Page looks very much like Spark Video (was Adobe Voice). There are two tabs at the top of the screen— an area for students to explore projects made by others and one for students to find their own projects. There is also a very large “Create” button at the top.Slate_create

The first step is to add a title and/or subtitle and a cover image for the story. Slate_opening_page

Tapping the tiny + signs allow students to add different types of media— images, photo grids, text, or links. Plus signs remain in between each type of media added so that other media can be added before or after the previous media (rather rearranging the media).Slate_+signs

When students add text, they have the options of adding bullet points, a numbered list, quote text, header text, or regular paragraph text. slate_formattingIf students wish to add a link, they will type in a title that will appear on the link button as well as the link URL.Slate_links

Students have many options when they add images to their story. Students can use images that are already on their iPads, they can use the camera to take a photo, or they can do an image search. Adobe Slate only searches images that have a Creative Commons license. When a photo has been chosen, a small i will appear at the bottom of the image to show the attribution information.slate_attributionOther options for images include how they will be displayed. One is to have the image be a “window.” Most of the time, when swiping up through the story, the entire story will scroll. When adding an image as a window, the image gets attached to the background and the rest of the story moves around it. You will need to experiment with it to get a better idea of what this means. Students can also change the focal point of the image by dragging the button in the center and watching the tiny window in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When they are happy with the image, they will tap Done.Slate_windowThere are other options when displaying images.

Slate_image_optionsThe last step is to share the Page. Tap the share button in the right corner for the sharing options. Sharing can be over social media (not necessarily recommended), or students can email a link if email is enabled on the device. Other options are to copy the link to the clipboard and paste it somewhere else (like on a website or blog) and the last option is to copy the embed code. This is a great option if your kids are blogging, especially using Kidblog, because they can copy the embed code directly into Kidblog and share the Page that way.

Common Core Connection

When using creation apps, whether or not the app helps students meet Common Core State Standards depends up on how the app is being used. An app that allows for students to author visual stories and share a message using images and text best addresses Writing Anchor Standard 6: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6– Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. However, another way this app can be used is for students to show their understanding of characters in literature, which addresses Reading Anchor Standard 3: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3– Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. Refer to your grade level standards for specifics.

What Do You Think?

Spark Page has some limitations. One of the major limitations is that students need to be logged into an account to use it. Another is that Pages can only be shared through email, links (hooked to a QR Code, perhaps), or by embedding into another site. This can cause problems for the novice user, but with some technical support, I see students being able to use this app to produce some really nice visual stories.

Do you agree? Have you used Spark Page with students? What do you think of it?

Here’s my finished product:
Sharing Your Work

**Post updated on 9/13/16

Curate the Web with Flipboard

FlipboardThe more students use mobile devices in the classroom to find information, the more important it becomes for students to curate resources they find on the Internet. There are many apps and tools that allow students to curate, including Pinterest and Evernote. Flipboard is another tool for students to use, where they create magazines around specific content that they determine.

How Does Flipboard Work?

Flipboard is a Web tool as well an iPad app that allows the user to create a digital magazine. Teachers and students create accounts in Flipboard, which allows them to follow users, follow magazines, and most importantly, create magazines of their own. Each time a student flips an article into a Flipboard magazine, he or she can make comments on the article. This provides other viewers with some context—why the article is being flipped or what the article means to the student. This can help teachers follow the students’ thought processes as they browse student magazines.

Getting Started

Download the app or visit Flipboard on the Web. The process is a little different on the Web, however, and the following images and directions will be for the iPad app. Choose “Get Started” to create your account. Flipboard_Get_StartedYou’ll be required to choose at least 5 topics to follow, and then choose Next to create the account.Flipboard_Choose_TopicsYou’ll be able to use Facebook, Twitter, or an email account to log in. Students should definitely use their school-administered email account to sign up if they have one, or you can have create students’ accounts by using the gmail +user trick.

Once you have created your account, tap the red ribbon in the upper right-hand corner for the menu.Flipboard_menu You can create new magazines to curate, or you can find other magazines to follow by using the “discover more” option on the left. You can also find the magazines, people, and topics you are following as well as see notifications for activity on your magazines.  Flipboard_Menu_ItemsAfter you’ve followed some magazines, you’ll be able to flip through them and read them as if they were actually magazines. Just start swiping left or right and your magazine will respond.To read an article, tap on the title of the article. The plus sign allows you to add the article to one of your own magazines.Flipboard_remixAs students are on the Web doing research, they can flip articles directly into their magazines. When they are on the website they want to save, they choose the share button (in Safari). Tap the Flipboard icon.Flipboard_Web_FlipperStudents can then type in a comment or discussion point, and choose the magazine where they wish for the article to go. Tap the word magazine to change the magazine if necessary.Flipboard_Web_Flipper_2Flipboard also allows magazine owners to add collaborators, meaning multiple students can curate resources into the same magazine. This is a great idea for gathering resources for a group project. Three of my colleagues and I worked with some fifth grade students to do just this. If you want to invite others to contribute to a magazine you own, tap on the magazine and choose “Invite People to Contribute.” Flipboard will send an email to those you want to contribute, and they will be added once the accept the invitation. Flipboard_email_invitationIf you want others to see your magazine but not follow it, tap the share button at the bottom of the magazine and choose Share via Email.” This is also how you can delete a magazine.Flipboard_Share_via_email

Common Core Connection and Classroom Ideas

Have students search for articles on a specific topic for a project. As they flip the articles into a magazine they’ve created on a topic, make sure they write a comment that cites evidence in the article. The comment can be a conclusion or an opinion or argument, as long as they cite the source in their comment. This addresses Reading Anchor Standard 1.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

To address Reading Anchor Standard 2, students can do the same type of assignment and comment by discussing a theme or by providing a summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

As students become more versed in using Flipboard and curating their resources into the appropriate places, almost every Reading Anchor Standard can be addressed. Students need to add their comments as they flip resources into their magazines, and those are the pieces that the teacher can use when analyzing student work.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Flipboard with your students? Share some magazines in the comments. Looking for a great magazine to follow? Check out this one on Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Dr. Abbie Brown and Dr. Tim Green.

 

Create Videos with Shadow Puppet EDU

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.59.09 AMShadow Puppet Edu is a fantastic app for helping students make videos to show their learning about a topic. The app allows students to use images found on their camera roll, on the Web, or through specific educational databases. Students then record their voice to narrate the video about their topic. All they need to do next is share their work!

How Does Shadow Puppet Edu Work?

The landing page of the app contains a couple of sample videos as well as the large Create New button. Additionally, at the bottom of the screen is an Ideas page. This section provides numerous activity ideas that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which are provided for you if you tap on one of the suggested ideas.Shadow_landing_page

Shadow_activity_ideasAfter tapping the Create New button, students begin choosing images for their project. They can choose from their own camera roll if there are images and/or videos (up to 30 seconds) they’d like to use. On the left side of the screen are all the different types of searches students can do. The app provides access to images from the Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA and NOAA. Students can also search images on the Web, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and Open Clipart. This gives them a plethora of options.

Shadow_image_pageStudents can do a map search to find a specific location, and they can view it in three different ways— standard view, satellite view, and hybrid view, which provides a satellite view with street names and areas of interest. To capture the map and use it in the project, students tap on the camera button at the bottom of the screen.

Shadow_mapWhen students find images they want to use, they tap on the image and it will jump into the timeline. When students are ready to record, they tap Next. Students can record their voice and add text, music from iTunes, or background music from the app. As they record, students can write on each slide to highlight different areas of the page.

After students finish recording, they can watch their completed video. As long as the “Save to Camera Roll” setting is turned on (it is on by default), the video will automatically save to the camera roll when the students tap Done.shadow_finished_2Students can also tap the No Thanks, I’ll Share Later button at the bottom. In this case, they can return to the video and share by tapping the icon in the upper right hand corner of the selected video.

Shadow_shareShadow Puppet EDU also provides images credits at the end of each video, as long as that option is turned on in the settings. This helps students recognize that even though they are using certain images for free, they are still responsible for practicing good digital citizenship by including citations. Tap the settings gear on the landing page to make changes to the settings.

Shadow_settingsHere’s a video I created using Shadow Puppet EDU about how to use Shadow Puppet EDU.


Common Core Connection

One of the great things about Shadow Puppet EDU is that there are many Common Core Connections. As is the case with most creation apps, students can use Shadow Puppet EDU to show their learning of anything and everything in order to address specific standards at each grade level. Teachers will also appreciate that the app provides options for projects and lets the user know which Common Core Standards that particular project addresses. Most of the projects students will create using Shadow Puppet EDU will address these standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience, and
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

There are additional examples of lesson ideas, including the standards they address, on the Shadow Puppet EDU website.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Shadow Puppet EDU in your classroom?

Translation Made Easier with Google Translate

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.43.59 AMThe Google Translate app has gotten some great updates for the travelers of the world, but their updates can greatly impact classroom conversations, as well. I have to admit that I’ve had the app on my iPad for quite some time and I haven’t done much with it, but I’m pretty excited about the updates and I think I’ll be using it more now! The updates allow for better translations to occur (think of your newcomers!!) and it also has visual recognition using the camera (again, think of your newcomers!).

How Does Google Translate Work?

The app launches with the languages set to English and Spanish. The language on the left is the input language, and the language on the right is the output. Tap on either language to change it. One option on the left (input) is also “Detect Language” if you aren’t sure about the language you are hearing or seeing. Google_Translate_1Enter text into the app by typing, speaking, writing (with a stylus or finger) or use the camera to snap a photo of some text.

Google_Translate_3

In the settings tab, tap on Handwriting if you’d like to turn off automatic typing when you are writing on the screen.
Google_Translate_5If you do choose to use the camera to snap a photo of some words you’d like translated, there will be some directions when you first launch that option.

Google_translate_2There are a pretty good number of languages available for translation. Tap on either the input language or the output language for all the options. Tapping on the arrows in the center will also swap the two languages for a quick input/output switch if you are having a conversation with someone who speaks a different language.

Google_Translate_6The settings gear at the bottom of the home screen has a lot of options for input, including dialect specifications. You can also hide offensive language using the settings.

Google_Translate_4

Common Core Connection

Using Google Translate can benefit all students learning to speak another language. Common Core does not have a World Languages component as of this publishing, but using this app can make the Common Core State Standards much more accessible for your English Learners, especially those in the early stages of language acquisition. It can also assist your English Only students in learning a language of their choice, which will only enhance their communication and cultural awareness.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Google Translate in the Classroom?

Get Students Using Evernote in the Classroom

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.09.21 PMI am a list-maker. I’m also a note taker; I need to write things down to remember them. As much as I love to write things down, though, I often forget to bring my list with me or I don’t have my notebook handy, and then I’m really lost. But I always have my smart phone with me (or some other device), so I use Evernote to keep my lists and to take my notes. Evernote is great as a personal production tool, but it also has many great uses for the classroom.

Evernote in the Classroom?

There are so many great ways to use Evernote on a personal level. I use it to curate the web, collaborate with my husband on home projects, keep lists (of course!) and more. After I got hooked on it personally, I wanted to figure out if there was a way it could be used in the classroom to promote the Common Core Standards. Here’s a short list of the benefits of Evernote:

  • Teachers and students collaborate and share resources easily
  • Create notebooks for each class, and create a new note for the class each day with the agenda, images of notes, and/or audio comments
  • Each note has a shareable URL, so teachers can post their notes for the day to social media and allow parents to access
  • Email notes to parents if they don’t use social media
  • Record audio comments as feedback directly in a student note
  • Tag notes with labels for easy searching
  • Prevents backaches: Instead of having to lug giant notebooks around for grading, the shared notebooks are in the Cloud!
  • Having the premium version means that you can view “note history” if you create the note
  • Having the premium version also means you can share entire notebooks instead of just single notes
  • Students can collaborate together (but not in real time)
  • Present notes to the class in presentation mode
  • The Web Clipper and iPad work-around (bookmark feature) means that students using iPads can save websites into Evernote
  • Chat with group members who are online in the app
  • Change the email associated with the account so that when students leave the district, they maintain ownership of all of their notes.
There are plenty more that I could add to the list, of course. These are just a few ways that students and teachers can use Evernote in the classroom.

How Does Evernote Work?

Evernote uses notebooks and notes. Notebooks are like spirals– you might have one for each class you are taking. Notes are more like the pages in each spiral. Each day, you might start on a new page in a spiral and take your notes there. That could work with Evernote, but students could also have one note for each week, or they could have one note for each unit of study just to cut down on how many notes are in each notebook if they wanted to.
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To quickly start a new note in the app, tap on one of the buttons shown below. Starting this a specific type of note doesn’t mean that you can only have those things in the note. Notes are dynamic, so if you start a text note, you can always add images later, or vice-versa. Once you have a note open, you will also be able to add voice recording clips to a note.
Evernote_4The latest update of Evernote introduced Work Chat, where you can chat with your collaborators. This is a good feature if you have multiple partners working on a project and you want to talk about changes you are making to a note, but you don’t want everyone to be making changes at the same time.
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If you are working on the desktop or on the Web version of Evernote, you will have the option to stack your notebooks. This is like putting all of your spiral notebooks into a binder.
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 Collaboration Project

Some of my colleagues and I put together an Evernote Collaboration Project that we presented at the Annual CUE Conference in 2013. We grouped the students into quartets: two students from a fifth grade classroom in one district partnered with two students from an eighth grade classroom in a different district. The teachers decided that their collaboration project would focus on Science and Language Arts standards, and students collected information and resources about disastrous weather. In an effort to circumvent asking for funding from the principals, I created a shared account and all the teachers and students had access to the same account. I created notebooks for each group and each group took written notes and audio notes in their respective notebooks. There were incidences of students putting notes in the incorrect places, but we didn’t experience any issues with students doing anything unsavory to anyone else’s notes. They were extremely respectful and they “kept their digital hands to their digital selves.”

Common Core Connection

The collaboration project proved that Evernote can be a valuable resource not just for personal use but also for classroom use. Students were able to communicate and collaborate using the app because all of the students had access regardless of the device they were using. Common Core standards call for students to collaborate and to use the appropriate tool for the appropriate job. While this is a predominantly a personal productivity tool, using Evernote in the classroom can be beneficial for teachers and students as they work to build their technology skills.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Evernote in your classroom? Please share in the comments!