Suggestions for using Tech in the Classroom Each Day

SOME TIPS FOR USING YOUR MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICES IN THE CLASSROOM

The mobile computing devices we have placed in the classrooms, regardless of whether you are using tablets, chromebooks, netbooks, or laptops are not designed to sit in the charging stations all day long or all week long waiting for a formal computer skills class. These devices were purchased with the sole purpose of having them used on a daily basis as an integral part of your teaching activities as well as the student’s learning activities. Many of you are already doing this as part of your regular daily class activities and I want to commend you for helping to engage our students more actively in their learning experience here at St. Theresa School.

If you aren’t doing this, then please note that not only is this a Diocesan requirement as part of the Technology Curriculum requirements, but it is also an essential measure of both the International Standards for Technology Education use in schools, and it is also a critical feature of the Middle States accreditation process that our school will be participating in during the 2018-2019 school year.

For all of us using the technology resources of the school, below are some suggestions on how you can use your classroom technology resources on a daily basis with your students. If you have questions about the tools I am sharing with your here, please feel free to speak with me.

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT:

  1. The easiest way to begin is to use this as a formative assessment tool during or at the close of your lesson presentation. Using the devices to provide anonymous or monitored feedback to check for content understanding is a very simple and yet powerful use of these devices. Several options exist for you in this area:

    1. For grades PreK and Kindergarten through Second Grade, the Plickers feedback tool is one of the easiest to use and works very well on all tablet devices. This tool requires you to print out some Plickers cards that can be found for free on the Internet at the Plickers WEBsite. Printing them to card stock and then laminating them is the best way to make sure the cards can be used on a daily basis. Teaching the students how to hold the cards up so that they represent an A, B, C, or D response or a 1, 2, 3, 4 or True or False, Yes or No response is very easy. The teacher then scans the cards with a tablet or their smart phone camera and the results are instantly available to the teacher. In addition these results can be displayed via the classroom projector if you want the whole class to see how they did. Questions can be simple and can be used just to check one fact or content area or multiple content areas. Plickers is free to teachers and students.

    2. Another possibility for young learners in the grades above is called SeeSaw. Originally this was only available for iOS devices, but is now available for all platforms. It allows for young students to draw an answer, voice record an answer or take a photo of their answer. It uses a simple QR code scan to access the teacher site to post their responses. The drawing feature is great for younger children who as still learning their basic alphabet and number skills. It is free to teachers but teachers must create an account for students to upload their responses.

  2. For our students in Grades 3, 4, and 5 there are a number of choices for formative assessment tools.

    1. Polleverywhere has been around for a while and is easy to use and includes not only multiple choice and true/false questions, but also allows for open ended question responses. It is easy for the teacher to setup and easy for the students to respond to using simply the poll code provided by the teacher. Results are instantaneous and can be displayed for the whole class if desired. This is free for K-12 teachers for their basic package that works very well. If you want some additional tracking features it costs $50 for the year for a classroom.

    2. Mentimeter is a newer tool for teachers and it allows you to create powerpoint presentations with embedded questions during the presentation or following the presentation that the students answer by logging into the Menti.com. Students use the code provided by their teacher to answer the questions and they are displayed instantly on the teachers device and can be projected for a review of the whole class response if desired. The basic service is available free to teachers and you can purchase a monthly subscription cheaply for more advanced features. It lets you do polls and quizzes for free.

    3. Padlet is a sticky note type bulletin board app that lets a teacher create a question or prompt and then the students simply respond by posting their own sticky notes using the teacher’s padlet code. It is great for open ended questions as well as for helping students create topic sentences for writing assignments. It can also be used as a feed back device for when students are viewing video content in your classroom. It is free to teachers but there are premium features you can purchase if desired.

  3. For Grades 6, 7, and 8 there are three tools that I would recommend you consider.

    1. First since most of your students already know how to use Edmodo use the Quiz feature in Edmodo or simply the blog post feature for open ended questions for feedback and formative assessment. Since Edmodo is free and most of the students already know how to use it, there should be little transitioning needed to use this as a formative assessment tool.

    2. Socrative is another good free WEB based formative assessment tool allowing you to create a variety of question types for the students. Again, feedback is instantaneous for the teacher so you get to see how well your students understood the content concept.

    3. Formative is a new tool that lets teachers not only create a variety of question types but also allows the teacher to upload PDF documents with additional content such as photos, hyperlinks, and short video clips for the students to respond to as part of the assessment. You can find this tool at Students only need the code for the assessment that the teacher has prepared in order to respond to the questions.

ACADEMIC SKILLS SUPPORT:

While Formative Assessment is the quickest way to be sure that you are using the devices on a daily basis the tools below are other ways for you to consider using these devices in the classroom.

  1. For Grades PreK through Second I would encourage you to use at least one of the apps on your devices each day with the students. I have tried to place good educationally based apps on your tablet devices, so using them each day is a good way to supplement what you are doing in the classroom. If you desire additional apps let me know and I would be happy to include them. You can also use ABC Mouse and www.ABCYA.com and www.StarFall.com. NOTE: ABC Mouse if free for first grade. Many of our students use ABCMouse at home so it may be a good idea to consider using this in the classroom as well.

    1. For grades 1 and 2 be sure to use the Spelling City app and any Math support app that I have on your devices to work on content areas for your students. I will help you teach them how to log into these if there are any problems or questions.

    2. For writing I am looking at how we might purchase the Writeabout app this app for the younger students as well as encouraging your to use the Story Jumper Web tool, For second grade you might also want to try the MonsterExchange.org website for writing activities. In the past we have also used the LittleBirdTales Website for children’s writing activities. This had been a free site for teachers and students but now costs $25 a year for a classroom; so this would be optional if you wanted to use it. The advantage of the LittleBirdTales WEBsite is that students can add photos and voice narrate their stories. There are many other great paid apps out there but given budget restraints I am encouraging you to consider the ones I have listed above.

    3. For math skills you might want to consider the following:

      1. Gracie and Friends Birthday Cafe. This is a free app for iPads for PreK and Kindergarten. You could also try Pocoyo’s Playset Number Party which is available for both iPad and Android devices.

      2. https://www.matific.com/us/en/home Is a new tool that features short video lessons and activities. There is a free trial period for teachers but there is a fee for this. Works on both iPads and Android Devices. While it has content up to grade six, it has content from Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade that is very engaging for students.

      3. Motion Math Zoom is a free app for iPads for Grades 1 to 5 so for now this app would work best for grade 2 unless we obtain additional iPads for grade 1 as well.

      4. Number Pieces is another great free iPad app for the lower grades focusing on virtual base ten block activities.

      5. Great WEBsite for PreK and Kindergarten is http://pbskids.org/lab/

      6. For your exceptional math students try the cross platform DragonBox+ math tools for Andriod, iOS, and Windows platforms.

    4. Try using the Discovery Kids, and BrainPop free movie of the week for Social Studies and Science activities for the lower grades. If teachers are sharing the BrainPop Jr. Licensing you can use the full Brain Pop site for even more activities.

    5. For Collaborative activities for your students consider trying the Global Read Aloud Project – https://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/sign-up-here/ or try using KidBlog https://kidblog.org/home/ which is a monitored student writing platform for elementary grade students.

    6. For religion support you might want to consider additng the iCatholic Music App to your tablet devices. https://catholicapps.com/icatholicmusic/

      1. Another good set of religion support tools can be found at http://www.bibleactivitieszone.com/

  2. For Grades 3 to 5 here are some tips for using Academic Support apps in your classrooms.

    1. For short quizzes and educational game activities you can use:

      1. FlipGrid, Quizlet, Recap, Kahoot, or the Quizz WEBsites and tools. All are free to teachers and teachers can set up a class for easy access to the quizzes and games they create. Some even have prepared quizzes and games that can save you time in having to create something. You can also search for prepared items for these tools on the Internet.

      2. Be sure that in Grades 3 through 5 all students are using the Spelling City app or WEBsite to practice for their weekly spelling tests. Teachers can preload their spelling lists for the year and provide access to your teacher page for the students to work on these lists. You can also set up lists for your Social Studies and Science Vocabulary as well, or you can have your students set up an account and add their own social studies and science vocabulary lists to practice with each week or for the units you are studying.

      3. In Grade 3, if the Diocese continues to provide the First In Math software please make sure your students are enrolled after we receive the licensing information and please have them practice at least once a week in class while encouraging them to use this at home as a homework assignment at least once a week.

      4. For Grades 4 and 5 Sumdog Math is a better fit for most students. Teachers can sign up for Sumdog for free. You can create a class for free and students can use the free Math games that are available along with other free content that Sumdog provides. They can also participate in the free IU20 sponsored Sumdog Math competitions which are held four times a year. A classroom license can be purchased if you desire to use this with your class but check with the principal first before requesting a price quote on the classroom license.

      5. Http://www.Internet4classrooms.com is also a great site for free academic support activities in all curriculum areas and you can also use http://www.coolmath-games.com/ for some math practice activities as well.

      6. For Science and Social Studies I would again recommend the PBSLearning Network, DiscoveryKids, and BrainPop or http://www.whyville.net/smmk/nice

      7. For religion activities try http://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/family/catholic-kids or https://www.pinterest.com/pin/188799409351022546/ or http://www.adventurebible.com

    2. Note: I forgot to mention the excellent materials from NearPod. While I think these are great and it is a great tool for creating lesson content, it is now a paid service only, so if you wish to use it you can try it out for free, but we would have to purchase a license for you to continue to use it following the trial period. The same is true for the ShowMe app which is another great tool to use for creating lesson content for students. You can use the trial period to try that app as well, but if you want to continue to use it you will need to request the purchase of a classroom license.

    3. For collaboration activities you might want to consider using the new WikiSpaces Classroom https://www.wikispaces.com/ or http://www.epals.com/#/connections – another Microsoft Education Project for collaboration activities with classrooms around the country and around the world. While ePals has been a great product for us in the past, it has changed a good bit and you also might find using KidBlog https://kidblog.org/home/ a lot easier to connect to other schools in our region and around the USA.

    4. For religion support you might try the resources at the Our Sunday Visitor Site

      1. https://www.osv.com/default.aspx

      2. https://catholicblogger1.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Toolbox

  3. For our Middle School Grades who are all using Chromebooks please consider the following Academic Support ideas:

    1. Try using ClassFlow as a way to create engaging Whiteboard Lessons, quizzes and games for free. It is a tool created by Promethean but can be used on Chromebooks as well as all other platforms.

    2. You may also want to try Quizlet, Quizalize and Triventy for quizzes and games. Actually these are good tools for the students to create content practice activities for each other that can be shared with the whole class. Getting to students to create content review materials is a great way to get them more engaged in the class content.

    3. To get your students more engaged in writing consider using https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ Students get a chance to write their own novel here. Great full year writing project to spark student created content. Helping your students use Edmodo as a blogging tool can also be a great way to encourage writing activities.

    4. For Math and Science skills development and review try using the New Teacher lesson builder on Kahn Academy.

    5. For Science and Social Studies you might also consider using the excellent content at PBSLearning Media. Newslea.com is also a great tool for not only engaging your students in Information Text reading, but is also a great tool for current event topics.

    6. While all of you use Google Docs, I don’t see much use of the collaborative features. While sharing with the teachers is something we definitely want the teachers to do, we should also be encouraging small group sharing within the classes to help them better understand how we use collaborative software in the work world. This can be used in all content areas.

    7. For Religion support I would encourage students to become familiar with the following WEB tools:

      1. Biblegateway.com

      2. https://www.thereligionteacher.com/old-testament-resources/

      3. https://www.pray-as-you-go.org/home/ an excellent daily devotional website and Android app developed by the Jesuits.

      4. https://catholicapptitude.org/ Great site for Catholic Based Religion Applications.

  4. Middle School Collaborations:

    1. One of the keys to 21st Century Learning experiences for our students is learning how to use their devices to engage with the larger world around them. There are several tools I would like to recommend for you and your students to consider in this area.

      1. https://go.penpalschools.com/projects Teachers enroll and then they can enroll their students. A wide variety of project activities is available for your students to engage in with students from schools around the world.

      2. https://education.microsoft.com/skype-in-the-classroom/overview Skype In the Classroom is a Microsoft based education initiative allowing schools around the country and around the world to work on projects together. Teachers create accounts and set up projects with other classrooms based on advertised project activity on the WEBsite.

      3. You could also consider using the Now Comment It site https://nowcomment.com/

NOTE: I know that all of you have favorite tools you like to use so the ones I am suggesting above are not carved in stone, they are only recommendations. If you have another application or WEBsite that you prefer to use with your students, please feel free to do so. Remember that all of our current textbook publishers offer electronic versions of the texts and also offer supplemental materials online that can be used by your students as well. This also includes summative assessment test materials that you can download and use with your students. You should consider this instead of creating your own summative assessments, since the ones from the publisher correlate directly to the text materials you are teaching from.

For student research activities I am recommending the following tools: Please note, these are only recommendations and you may feel free to have students use other search tools. Please note that all Apple devices and the Safari Browser as well as the Chrome and Firefox Browsers no longer use Adobe Flash Player, so WEBsites containing Adobe Flash Materials can’t be opened in these browsers. A Flash Player Extension can be added to Chrome and Firefox, but you need to be aware that Flash Player has many security flaws that make it a target for malware.

Some Web search tools to consider:

For young students: Grades PreK through 2nd

http://www.safesearchkids.com/

http://www.kidzsearch.com/

http://www.kidtopia.info/

For students in Grades 3 through 5

http://www.sweetsearch.com/

https://www.loc.gov/

http://www.ivyjoy.com/rayne/kidssearch.html

For Middle School Students

http://gamequarium.com/searchquarium/index.htm

http://www.dogpile.com/

https://www.archives.gov/research/catalog

https://siris.si.edu/

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

WHY WEBINARS?

As you are aware, the Diocese first began promoting the use of WEBinars about four years ago. Our school was using these extensively for the past six years. The Diocese provides a certain amount of funding each year to support the use of WEBinars as online learning and blended learning experiences for students particularly in the Science area of the curriculum. I have broadened the type of Webinar experiences we use at this school to include all areas of the curriculum including Specials content as well. My purpose in doing so was to help all of us become better acquainted with the concept of “Blended Learning”. Some of you do this by using YouTube Education Channels or TedEd education presentations as well and I would encourage you to continue using those valuable resources particularly for the Middle School students.

The primary reason for using these online resources is not just that the Diocese provides funding an promotes the use of these tools, but because they offer an opportunity to expose our students to people, places, and content that would not be available to them otherwise, and can actually provide excellent virtual field trip experiences to places around our nation and around the world.

While I have been the primary initiator of WEBinars in our school there is absolutely no reason why you as classroom teachers can’t seek our these content providers on your own as well. My primary resources in this area come from my membership in the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) and Field Trip Zoom. These content providers offer together thousands of distance learning experiences to and from resources around our country and around the world. There are other organizations out there that offer similar services that you can explore as well. I have also used the services of the National Parks Service and Scholastic for some of the WEBinars we have done.

There are three primary types of WEBinar Experiences:

  1. Hands-on Science, Art, Music, Literature, and special event WEBinars such as National Engineering, National Robotics, and National Coding Weeks. These experiences may include preparatory activities especially in the science area and feature actual hands on activities during the Webinar so they are very interactive. Some will include live audience participation such as some of the poetry and music, and art WEBinars we have done, along with the hands-on science WEBinars where students get to do experiments or even dissections. Some include scenario simulations with specific time frames for completion that really challenge the students and keep them engaged. These are typically the most fun for our students and the most engaging.

  2. Virtual Field Trips – These WEBinars take you to specific places in our nation or around the world. They frequently have historical or scientific content, and sometimes biographical and/or other literature content. Some provide pre-reading materials to help prepare for the Virtual Field Trip and some provide back-channel activities during the virtual field trip. (For those of you who don’t know what a back-channel activity is – it is a way of communicating with the presenter via a Q and A window, a Chat Window, or a Twitter feed or similar Social Media Connection during the presentation allowing students and teachers to communicate with the presenter while the presentation is taking place).

  3. Informational WEBinars – These are non-interactive sessions where the primary purpose is simply to present some new content information to the participants. These often include requests for pre-webinar questions that the WEBinar presenter will answer during their presentations, but there is usually no live interaction with the presenter. These can be anything from an author’s talk, to a Holocaust Survivors testimony, to Video clips from participants in specific historic events.

While I try to focus on providing WEBinars that are either Free or Low Cost, we do get certain designated funds from the Diocese to use on the more expensive WEBinars that can cost up to $300 for a single session. There are many of these would compliment your curriculum and will certainly add to the interest and engagement level of your students. WEBinars are a primary way in which I try to engage our Specials teachers in the use of Technology in the School and will continue to look for opportunities to include them in this process.

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