Friday, December 19, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Padlet

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today is our last day and we're sharing about Padlet.  





What is it?

Padlet is a website that is an online bulletin board. It is also a Chrome web app and Padlet Mini is an extension in Chrome. Padlet makes it easy for you to collaborate and share your thoughts and ideas without having to create accounts! Your audience just needs to click on the board to add an idea. You can even drag files to the board to go with the comments.  

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

Padlet is a great tool for teachers and students. You can use it as a back channel for classroom discussions, feedback and Q&As, group responses, feedback, etc. All your students or colleagues need to do is click on the Padlet screen to add their note. Check out the Privacy Policy for using Padlet with students under the age of 13.

Where can I learn more?

Check out the review of Padlet on Graphite to see what teachers think of it and how they're using it in their classrooms. Padlet has a Gallery where you can see samples that others are using for inspiration, as well as the Frequently Asked Questions page where you can get your questions answered. You can also find Padlet samples in their Gallery page.

http://padlet.com/gallery
Check out this education sample from the Padlet Gallery:


Created with Padlet

We hope you've enjoyed out Twelve Tools of December posts!  Check back with us in January for our Tuesday Tech Tips!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twelve Tools of December: Desmos




During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Desmos




What is it?
Desmos a fabulous FREE graphing calculator that can instantly plot any equation entered. It's considered the next generation graphing calculator. You can find it in the Chrome App Store and in the iTunes store for use on iPhones and iPads.  Once you get there, you can explore and then create an account or link it to your google account.  

Why would I use it?  What does it do?
Do you or your students graph functions, plot tables of data, evaluate equations, or explore transformations?  If you answered yes, then this is the tool to use.  The website has a wealth of math examples as well as creative arts applications.  Need some inspiration and lesson ideas?  Click here for an entire site dedicated to hand crafted classroom activities made by teachers.  

Here are some sweet examples from the site.  Click on the name of the graph to see Desmos in action.  










Sun to Moon



And if this was not enough, this tool has been reviewed on Graphite too.  


Where can I learn more?
Desmos has YouTube channel where you can learn from their experts and view how-to videos. Additionally, there is a handy blog where you can keep up on the latest.  Do you tweet?  Consider following them @Desmos

Whether you consider yourself a math wiz or a novice you likely will be enthralled with what Desmos can do!  

Twelve Tools of December: Bridges Math Tools from Math Learning Center




During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Bridges Math Apps from the Math Learning Center



What is it? 
These are actually 8 different apps which are available for IOS devices and web apps for use in a browser such as Chrome. 
These apps are connected to Bridges in Mathematics K-5 and are based on the visual models used to support student learning.  
The 8 apps are:  Pattern Shapes, Number Frames, Math Vocabulary Cards, Geoboard, Number Line, Number Pieces, Number Pieces Basic, and Number Rack.



Why would I use it?  
They are FREE--yep, no money needed!  With the adoption of Bridges Math coming to elementary schools soon, we thought that you would like to explore these tools now.  They are available through this link.  Additionally, students can find the apps when they click on the app launcher in the Chrome browser.  Why not get out some Chromebooks and have students explore?  Ask them their opinion about the tool(s)?  After students have the opportunity to out the apps, consider creating an assignment in Schoology where they need to use a specific tool to to represent their learning.  Teach students how to take a screen shot of their work and send it to you.  

You might also consider going to the Illustrative Mathematics site to find a task for your students to complete using the Bridges Math Apps!  




Are there similar tools?
Another site to find online math tools is the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.  While more extensive than the Bridges Apps, they are a little dated and now have a free as well as a paid version.  

Where can I learn more?
Check out this YouTube video to see how to integrate these apps into Google Classroom!  


Go ahead�.check them out�you will be glad that you did!  















Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twelve Tech Tools of December: Google Keep

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Google Keep.


What is it?


Google Keep is a website (https://keep.google.com/) that helps you quickly capture notes, lists, and voice memos (with speech-to-text capabilities) to help you organize your thoughts. You can add photos to your notes as well. These notes can then be color-coded and shared with others. A new feature allows users to add color-coded categories. Notes and lists can then be filtered by those categories, like research, to-do lists, blog post ideas, etc. Android users can also download the Google Keep app in the Google Play Store. There is not an iOS app for Google Keep at this time. 

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

This tool is great for teachers and students. Teachers can keep to-do lists and share them with teammates. Students can use them for note taking for research projects, keeping track of homework, and to organize collaborative projects with other students. The ideas are endless! 

Are there similar tools? 
There are other note taking apps/websites out there, like Evernote and OneNote, but Google Keep is completely free, faster for taking notes, and the voice memos are better than those in Evernote and OneNote. In addition, Google Keep will save your notes into Google Drive, and you can log into Keep with your active directory username and password, making it seamless with other tools we use in Cherry Creek. 

Where can I learn more?

Here's is Google's promotional video for Keep: 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Twelve Tech Tools of December: ThingLink

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing ThingLink!

What is it?

ThingLink is a fantastic website that allows you to make images interactive.  Teachers and students can creatively share content or stories by making images come alive.  You can add links, videos, images, captions, music and more to a single image. Teachers across all content areas and grade levels could benefit from this flexible tool for teaching and learning. 

ThingLink is free.  You can sign up as a teacher and create classes.  There is a premium educator account as well that might be worth checking out for $35 a year. Thinglink integrates with Google Drive, works on iPhones, iPads and Android.



Why would I use it?  What does it do?
One of the best features within ThingLink is that is can be shared and embedded.  You can create a phenomenal ThingLink image and embed it into Schoology to facilitate an online discussion or you can even use it to make interactive assessments. 

ThingLink images can help students develop critical thinking skills and provide opportunities for students to explore as part of the learning process.  This creates enthusiasm for learning.  Below are two examples of how ThingLink has been used in the classroom by Adrian Neibauer, 5th grade teacher in CCSD.
Hover over the targeted areas above and read the information.  Identify the region and infer how the region adapts to the environment.





Please study the above image.  Be sure to click on each HOT SPOT. Based on the information provided, how accurate is this picture of the Boston Tea Party?



Where can I learn more?
You can Check out ThingLink's Help Center.

There is also a great YouTube video from TechGeeks83 on how ThingLink can be used in the classroom:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: AdBlock Plus

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Adblock Plus.  



What is it?
Adblock Plus is a free extension you can add to any web browser to block out annoying pop-ups, advertisements and banners. With over 300 million downloads, Adblock Plus is one of the most popular browser extensions out there. You can download it for free here: https://adblockplus.org/


Why would I use it?  What does it do?
You know those really annoying (and sometimes inappropriate) ads you see when you launch YouTube videos?  And those annoying pop-ups, banners and ads that slow you down when you�re trying to use the Internet? Adblock Plus blocks out all ads on websites and YouTube videos, unless it feels that the ad is non-intrusive advertising. If you want to lock out even those ads, you can adjust your settings to do so. This is great for student machines and also for teacher machines when projecting videos and websites to students. Also, Adblock Plus does not collect any of your personal data, so you can feel safe when using it.

Are there similar tools? 
There are some very similar tools out there. like Adblock and uBlock. After reading some articles and trying both Adblock and Adblock Plus, I personally chose Adblock Plus as my ad blocker of choice. Here are a few articles about the differences between these extensions that might be worth reading so you can decide which one will be best for you: http://readwrite.com/2014/08/01/adblock-plus-switch-adblockhttp://lifehacker.com/ublock-is-a-fast-and-lightweight-alternative-to-adblock-1625246461http://jackworld.xyz/adblock-vs-adblock-plus/

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: One Tab

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing information about One Tab



What is it?
Does your browser ever get cluttered with all the tabs you have open?  If so, One Tab was made for you!  One Tab is an extension that allows you to save all of your tabs you have open in Chrome or Firefox by saving a list of URLs.  You can restore an entire list or open a specific tab.  Click here to get the Chrome extension.



Why would I use it?  What does it do?
One Tab is a great tool for teachers and students. You are able to quickly save all of your webpages in an organized list.  This is a great tool for researching or multitasking. You can also share your tabs so others can have access on any device. If students are collaborating together, they can easily share their resources with their group.  

















Monday, December 8, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Notable PDF Extension

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Notable PDF.

What is it?


Notable PDF is both a Chrome web app and an extension for Chrome that allows you to view, mark up, and save PDFs.  With Notable, you can add text, highlights, comments, etc.  If you have PDFs stored in GoogleDrive, you can open them in Notable to annotate them.  If you have PDFs stored on your local computer, you can drag the file into the Notable window to begin marking it up (and you can then export it to GoogleDrive, if you wish).  You can also collaborate with others by uploading your file to Notable (it will give you a link and embed code).   The web app takes you to the web service for uploading and viewing files, and the extension detects PDFs you view in your browser and lets you annotate without having to download the PDF.

Why would I use it?  What does it do?

If you have files in PDF that you'd like to annotate digitally yourself or have an article you'd like your students to annotate, this is a great solution.  Having students (or peers) interact with text helps support a deeper dive into material, and there is some recent research that indicates that students can be good online readers if they are taught good digital annotation skills that encourage analysis and reflection.  

Are there similar tools? 

Many students and teachers in our district are using Scrible to annotate web-based text, but Scrible won't work with PDFs (at least not yet).  Apps exist for iOS and Android, but if you're looking for a browser-based solution, Notable PDF is probably your best bet.  Other Chrome apps or extensions like PDFZen or Diigo exist, but they don't perform nearly as well or as reliably as Notable PDF (or require a separate account).  

Where can I learn more?

Notable has a help area with tutorials and helpful articles on using the tool. While fairly intuitive to use, the articles are helpful when using some of the more advanced features like collaboration and exporting.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Realtime Board

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Realtime Board.  

What is it?
Realtime Board is an interactive, collaborative, online whiteboard. Similar to a regular whiteboard, it allows you to write, erase, and add more writing. The benefit of having it online means that anyone can not only write on the infinite space whiteboard, they can also add links, images, comments, documents or notes and save it all for later. You'll never run out of space, and you won't have to erase (hey, that rhymes!) and lose everything! 

Using Realtime Board
Realtime Board (free or paid versions) would be great for use with students to help collaborate on notes, brainstorm ideas, work on thinking maps, and share resources. Realtime allows you to add content from your computer, your Google Drive, or search the built in library of icons and images in real time (ha ha, get it?) for collaborators to see immediately and review, or to view later. Realtime Boards can also be embedded into Schoology, or anywhere else that accepts embed codes, for students to refer back to later if need be or view from home if they missed your really awesome discussion in class. 

Similar Tools for mobile devices
Although the promise of "coming soon" mobile device apps from Realtime Board is exciting, for those teachers using tablets in the classroom who need-this-in-their-classroom-right-now-OMG, there are some alternatives. Syncspace is available for download (paid and free versions) on iTunes and in the Google Play Store. It is also a collaborative work space, but doesn't have the same features and functions as Realtime Board. Other alternatives to explore: WhiteboardMeEducreations, Whiteboard. Also, check out the list Graphite.org put together, "Top Interactive Whiteboard Apps".

Where can I learn more?
Realtime Board has several examples and tutorials about creating and collaborating on a board. Check it out here!




If you know of other similar tools, leave a comment about it below!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Twelve Tools of December: Socrative

During the weekdays of December, we're sharing one tool per day as part of our Twelve Tools of December series.  Some of these tools are designed to be used instructionally, some can help you be more productive, and some are just fun.

Today, we're sharing about Socrative.  
What is it?

Educational web 2.0 tools tend to come and go over time.  The tools that stick around are useful and get better as time goes by.  Socrative is one of the good tools.  It has been around since 2011 and keeps getting better over time.

Socrative is a free website/app that works on all devices and all platforms.  Chrome, Android, and iOS apps are also available for Socrative.  Real time formative assessment via Socrative allows teachers to more effectively gauge student understanding and differentiate/individualize instruction whenever possible.   


Why would I use it?  What does it do?

In their own words, Socrative "saves teachers time so the class can further collaborate, discuss, extend, and grow as a community of learners."  It's a powerful, real time learning response tool.  Through various question structures (multiple choice, true/false, and short answer) Socrative becomes an engaging tool for both teachers and students.  Results from responses can easily be exported and shared in Excel as well.  

Concerning terms of service, students either need to be at least 13 years old or have their parent/guardian's and/or teacher's consent to use the tool.  

Are there similar tools?

There are similar tools, but none come close to the functionality and ease of use of Socrative, which explains why the company was acquired by MasteryConnect in 2014.

Where can I learn more?

Socrative creates their own video tutorials and posts them on YouTube here.  Many users create their own tutorials and post them on YouTube as well.

Find out what educators think of Socrative via Graphite.org here.

Socrative is also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.  Be sure to stay connected to their social media outlets for the latest features and functionality.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Posts of Tech Tips Past: These Are a Few (or 12) of Our Favorite Things

Starting this week, we'll be posting daily tips and tools related to technology & learning. But, before we get to our Twelve Tools of December, we wanted to make sure we revisited some "posts of tech tips past."

In case you missed them, here are some excerpts about tools that we've previously shared (click "READ MORE" to view the entire post).


1. Reading (and Annotating) Library Books in Your Browser (OverDrive). If you have a library card, you have access to books that you can read in your browser. In our district, most of our 60 schools have access to our district's OverDrive catalog, and any staff member in CCSD has access through our District Library & Media Services department. READ MORE . . .


2. Reading (and Annotating) Web Pages in Your Browser (Scrible). Our last Tuesday tech tip was about reading & annotating library books in your browser, and this week's tip is about reading & annotating web pages in your browser. Since we're using Chromebooks, we'll be focusing on the Chrome extension for Scrible (a free tool currently in beta). READ MORE . . .

3. Using the Readability Extension for Cleaner Web Reading. As we engage our students (and ourselves) with more and more online text, having an interface without ads, pop-ups, comments, and other distractions is becoming increasingly important. There's a ton of great stuff out there, but focusing on the text itself can be a challenge. One option for getting an uncluttered version of a website is the Readability Chrome extension. READ MORE . . .

4. Being Smarter with YouTube: Turn Off the Lights. Many teachers & educators like to use YouTube and other video clips to support learning and instructional goals, but one of the downsides to showing a clip for an audience (via projector) is that sometimes you get content that you didn't necessarily want to display (especially if you're working with a class full of kids). READ MORE . . .
5. Flashcards with the Quizlet Chrome App. Flashcards are often used to help solidify concepts for deeper learning. While not appropriate for all types of learning needs, many teachers & students use flashcards as part of distributed practice. Today's tech tip is about a free digital flashcard tool: +Quizlet. READ MORE . . .

6. Using Symbaloo to Collect & Share Resources. +SymbalooEDU is a free personal startpage that allows you to easily navigate the web and compile your favorite sites all in to one visual interface. It allows you to save and share your bookmarks in the cloud and access them from anywhere with any device. READ MORE . . .


7. Using Voice Search in Chrome. Most computers and all current mobile devices today have built-in microphones, and one of the things you can leverage in Chome
is voice search and actions. Giving students the option to speak into the computer for searching or other activities (and hear a verbal response) could add a new dimension for learning, especially for students with accommodations . . . READ MORE . . .

8. Using Chrome to Read Out Loud. We posted previously on

how to speak into Chrome for searching, but many of our students also benefit from hearing text read out loud while reading. So, this week's tech tip is about using Chrome extensions to read web pages and other text aloud within the browser. READ MORE . . .


9. Using NearPod in the Classroom. Many teachers use a digital presentation in their classroom to help them keep students engaged, to keep themselves on track, and to incorporate technology into their instruction. +Nearpod is a presentation tool that allows teachers to create a presentation and bring it to life by pushing it out to students and guiding their activity in real time. READ MORE . . .

10. MoveNote in the Classroom. Check out this versatile and effective tool for video presentations. Teachers and students can create their own Movenote videos as a way to share, present and reflect. Watch the video below to see what Movenote does and brainstorm possible ways +Movenote can support teaching and learning. The possibilities seem endless! READ MORE . . .


11. Video Editing with WeVideo. Some of my first experiences with using technology in my classroom were based around video production. It was a great way to have my students record and share
media in exciting and innovative ways. At that time, your options were to use the video editing software that was available for the platform you were using. (ie-iMovie for Macs and MovieMaker for PCs) Now that we have Chromebooks, having an all purpose video editing tool that kids can use anywhere, anytime is essential, and that�s where +WeVideo comes in!

12+. Schoology. In addition to the tools mentioned above, we've posted quite a bit about +Schoology, our Learning Management System or LMS. From everything like discussion boards to online assessments to media albums, Schoology has a ton of features for the digital learning space. Obviously, the posts won't all fit here, but if you'd like a quick perusal of posts just about Schoology, you can view them here.

Be on the lookout this week (and for the rest of December) as we share more things you can use in the classroom!

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...