Looking forward to discussing the pros and cons of each! Until we dine again....
Welcome fellow educators, to the new and improved Tech Snacks blog. All content that was posted in my original blog found at this url: http://sp.rpcs.org/faculty/TorresW/techsnacks/default.aspx has been transferred to this site. I have kept my original blog site up for archiving purposes, but will no longer be posting content there.
Now onwards and upwards to our latest tech snack…
Take a moment to look at the comic above. The comic is referring to the fact that ipads and similar tablets do not play content that runs/uses Adobe flash. Adobe flash is a web-based software that makes websites interactive and also allows for viewing/listening of many videos/audio files. Often times, websites that run flash, will require ipad/tablet users to download an app to run the content on those devices. These apps may or may not be free to download. The reason this can present a problem for educators is that many educational websites use Adobe flash on their sites. If only there was a way to view websites that use flash on an ipad or similar tablet…..oh wait there is!
For today’s tech snack I would like to share a tool that allows you to view flash content on an ipad/similar tablet. Today’s tech snack may be found at the following url: https://www.puffinbrowser.com/index.php
What is it?
Puffin is a web browser specifically designed to be used on tablet devices. You have to download it on your device as it is an app, but it once you download you can use puffin to surf the web and access any site that uses flash. **Full Disclosure: depending on how a particular website has been set up, some of the flash components may not fully work on puffin. (for example, dragging items from an interactive site). So before you use this with your students, make sure you test out the site you want them to access to make sure everything works as it should. I have found most sites work just fine with puffin, but there are a few that don’t.
Now, it is important to know that Puffin has a free version and a paid version. The only difference between the free and paid version is that with the free version only allows you to view flash content from 6am to 6pm. With the paid version, you can view content anytime.
Regardless of which version of the app you download, it is a valuable tool for any educator. No longer are flash based websites inaccessible to your students when they are using tablets/ipads in the classroom. Additionally, puffin also has a companion app called Puffin Academy. This app is free and was designed specifically for K-12 students as you can only access web sites designed for K-12 e-learning. You can look up content on the home page using keywords and once you find something that interests you, you can “install” that site on your device. Puffin Academy calls this “installing” an app, but what it is really doing is just making a short cut to that site for easy access.
So, you can see this tech snack is all about accessibility. If you work in an environment that is BYOD, puffin is an essential app to have. Useful, free and simple. I like it! Until we meet again at the café!
Videos are powerful, useful tools for teachers. They provide visual, audio, and textual context for our students. While not all videos are created equally, they have one thing in common-they require an audience to watch them and therefore require a passive involvement from your audience. For today’s tech snack, I would like to share with you two tools that allow you to use online videos in a way that encourages the active participation of your students.
Today’s tech snacks can be found at the following urls: http://ed.ted.com/ and http://www.educanon.com/.
What are these tools?
Normally, I would only write about one particular tool in a post, but both these tools are similar in their function, so I thought it would be helpful to have a side by side comparison. Both of these tools allow you to take online videos and add content via different response questions. While similar in function, each tool has things that are exclusive to them and have different look and feel for their interfaces.Look at the graphic below to see some of the similarities and differences:
To learn more about how these tools operate click on the video links below:
The first thing that stands out as a critical difference is that Ted-ed is 100% free, whereas to get more features you have to pay a subscription to educannon. Also, full disclosure: educannon works better in Internet browsers like google chrome, firefox or safari. Ted-ed works on any browser. So which one should you use with your students? Well, the truth is, that's really a matter of preference and you don't have to exclusively use one or the other. You could use both tools depending on the situation, the nature of questions you want to use and the content of the videos you are sharing. Even if you prefer one tool over the other, it is always good have options. After web 2.0 tools are constantly evolving. There's no gurantee that the tool you used before is going to be around years later, so it is always good to know what is out there if you need to make a change.
Regardless of which tools you use, they both web-based tools that can be accessed and used at any time of day, it is a perfect tool for creating a flipped, or blended learning environment. Using these tools, students can go through the content at their own pace and review content as needed. Also, you can have students view content at home and then you don't have to take time in class to go over it.
Until next time at the café.....stay warm!
Greetings fellow educators! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I am a big fan of blended/personalized learning. I am also a big fan of re-creating curriculum content in a stimulating/engaging manner. For today’s tech snack, I would like to share with you a tool that can be used for both purposes.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://nearpod.com
What is it and how can I use it with my students?
Nearpod is a free response system that allows you to gather feedback from students using your multimedia presentations and it works on any Internet-enabled device including tablets, laptops and smart phones. You may recall an earlier blog post where I discussed other response systems called Socrative, and Everyslide. (With both, participants can provide feedback via instant polls or question responses. With Socrative, you get text questions, whereas with Everyslide, you upload your powerpoint presentations and receive instant feedback as you present.) Well, with nearpod, participants can provide feedback via drawings, polls, and quiz questions as well as watch embedded content like websites and videos.
Why should I use this with my students?
To begin using this site, you have to create a free account. Once you create your account, you will be taken to a premade presentation that shows you how to use all the features of nearpod. Once you have gone through this presentation, you are able to start creating your own nearpod lessons. Lessons are comprised of teacher-created slides that can include text, video, images, websites, questions, quizzes, polls, and assignments. You can use the premade templates on the site or you can upload your own existing powerpoints and then add to them. Students are able to follow the lesson on their own devices at their own pace or teachers can lead a synchronized session where students can follow the lesson in real-time.
If you are doing a real-time presentation, you control the pace of the lesson, and students are not able to move to the next screen until you advance the slide on your device. Students access the presentation by going to the site or the device app and putting in the pin number assigned to the particular presentation you want them to see. **Students do not need a username or password/account to access the presentation in real-time. They just need the pin number**.
**Another note: you can run a nearpod presentation without downloading the app on an ipad, though I found occassionally it can be a little tempermental if you use that method. Also, if you are including an interactive website in your nearpod that uses flash and you are using an android tablet or ipad, you have to run your nearpod presentation using the puffin brower. Puffin will run any website using flash. Click here to download it.
Every student uses their own student app to follow the screens and answer the questions. This provides immediate feedback about every student. If you create a presentation that you want students to access on their home so they can move at their own pace, the feedback can be emailed to you for later review.Additionally, Nearpod has data analytics embedded into the presentations, which allows teachers to address individual problems on assignments and assess students in real time. Reports can be accessed for both an individual student and the class as a whole.
**Note: This tool and app are free but additional features require payment. See below for more specifics about what is included within each plan:
Classroom implications and benefits of use
Regardless of which plan you use, this is an excellent tool to use with your students. It makes your presentations more engaging and requires active participation from your students. Gone are the days of you simply showing a powerpoint presentation and hoping that students are actually getting the information you want them to learn. There's no passive listening when you are using this tool. To learn about how use this tool, click on the video link below:
Ah, lesson plans-often necessary but sometimes the bane of teacher existence. Welcome back to the Tech Snack Café! As you may have gathered by the above comic, today’s tech snack is about a lesson planning tool.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://www.commoncurriculum.com/
What is it and how can this help me in the classroom?
Common curriculum is a free lesson planning tool that allows you to create lesson plans online. The thing that makes this tool different from other lesson planning tools is that it allows you to input information quickly via templates, and a click and drag interface. With this tool, you don’t have to worry about locating lesson standards as all you have to do is click on the state/national standards you want and then they are automatically put into your lesson template. The drag and drop interface allows teachers to adapt lessons on the fly, and the various weekly, monthly and yearly templates let teachers save what works so they don’t have to start from scratch every unit. You can also collaborate with other teachers, as well as add files to your templates. Your files can be uploaded from google, dropbox or your personal device. This tool will work on any Internet enabled device including smart phones and tablets.To see how this tool works click on the videos below:
****Note: The creators of common curriculum seem to have a sister site (or a new beta site) that can be found at the following url: http://commonteaching.com/ . This site works the same way as common curriculum but the interface looks slightly different. Also, with this site there are additional features, like adding parts of your lesson templates and files to a personal teacher website that common curriculum auto generates for you! For example, if I wanted my students to access their homework for the entire week or month, I could add the files from my lesson to the website and they can access it by simply having the url. Other features from this site include step by step video tutorials and the ability to export lesson plans to Microsoft Word.
Benefits of using either tool:
Since both sites offer the same product, it really is a matter of preference which site you prefer to use. Both sites allow you the ability to plan and organize your lesson plans and have them in one location. This is very useful because it gives you the ability to change, reuse and adjust lesson plans as needed. No more copying and pasting content into Microsoft word. These tools also allow you to have a running record of what was done in class through the year making portfolio/curriculum mapping a piece of cake.
Hmm….cake….now I am hungry! Until we meet again at the café!
The 21st century has certainly provided teachers with a pleather of visual and video resources. While these resources are wonderful (and needed), having the ability to be an active listener is also a critical skill that students need to develop. Unfortunately, it seems this skill is starting to become a lost art form. For today’s tech snack, I want to share a tool that encourages active listening and participation.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://listencurrent.com
What is it?
Listen current is a website that has gathered thousands of public radio broadcasts and organized them by different subject matters like current events, English, language arts, social studies, and science. With each broadcast, you also get listening comprehension questions, printable graphic organizers, as well as online codes for premade socrative quizzes. **Note: In order to use the quizzes on socrative, you have to make an account and import the quiz to your account by typing in the test quiz code that is provided.
In order to start using listen current, you have to create a free account. With a free account you have access to thousands of broadcasts, each with the perks listed in the above paragraph. With a paid account you get more features like the ability to assign broadcasts to students, as well as, access to lesson plans that are tied to state/Common Core standards. To see a comparison of what each plan offers see the chart below:
Regardless, of which plan you choose, listen current has some great classroom implications. You could share the broadcasts with your class using your laptop and classroom speakers and then as students listen have them fill out the graphic organizers. You can also pause the broadcasts at certain points to gauge understanding and get feedback. In addition, this tool can be used to help students understand different points of views and perspectives. Since this tool uses no visuals, it will encourage active listening and may cause students to step out of their comfort zone—which isn’t a bad thing. Active listening skills enable students to use their time more wisely. They don’t have to spend as much time asking questions, clarifying information or fixing mistakes made as a result of passive listening. We as teachers are always looking for ways to help our students stretch beyond what is comfortable, so why not use a tasty tech snack to help them along the way?
Full disclosure: this tech snack is primarily for elementary school teachers.
As teachers, we know that our students come to us, from a variety of situations that may or may not be conducive for learning. Yet, despite this challenge, we come up with ways to get our students focused and attentive to the task at hand. No small feat to be sure! For today’s tech snack, I want to share an easy to use tool that can increase your students focus and energy so that they may be ready to tackle the many demands that are put on them throughout the day.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://gonoodle.com
What is it and how can I use it in my class?
GoNoodle provides short videos that encourage bursts of deskside physical activity or “brain breaks” for kids. These brain breaks are designed to be used by the entire class simultaneously, using a projector or an interactive whiteboard. These activities promote health and fitness and are based on cutting edge brain research. These engaging games and activities provide short bursts of movement leading to improved focus and energy within the classroom.
To start using gonoodle, you need to create a free teacher account. Then pick a class mascot( cartoon characters on the screen). The class mascot will “grow” as you do different brain breaks. Once the mascot has maxed out his growth, you can pick a different mascot to “grow” with. After you pick your mascot, you can select from a number of different videos to share with your students. If you click on tags, you can see the different kinds of videos available. They are calming, energizing, dance, yoga/stretching, sport/exercise, Common Core aligned, and game activities.
You can even add your own videos from youtube! None of the games takes longer than five minutes. While most of these are physical tasks, a few are mental/logic activities. Time required for the activity is shown with each option.
What are the benefits of using this tool?
All brain break activities are based on science and brain research that indicates that movement helps increase focus and mental capacitiy. See below for a graphic provided by gonoodle to see the benefits:
Share these short activities on your projector or interactive whiteboard for your entire class to view together. Use brain breaks as a before class (or before the bell) activity ( Great for super cold days when kids can't go outside!) . These would be great activities as you head into high stakes tests. When your class needs to refocus, use GoNoodle as a short brain break. Use GoNoodle to motivate and reward class accomplishments. Share with learning support teachers (or emotional or autistic support) for use in motivating and reinforcing behaviors with their students.
Ah delicious! Time for a brain break to help with the cabin fever my son is feeling during this crazy winter...........until next time at the café.
***As of October 2016 this web 2.0 tool is being put out to pasture. Such is the fate for some Web 2.0 tools. If they don't get enough of audience they soon cease to exist.***
The use of visuals or graphics in the classroom are an important element for teachers. In fact, “Our brain is more likely to see visuals rather than text. The brain processes images all at once, while it processes text in a linear manner.” Using graphics with our students makes content easier to understand and remember. (Quote taken from a larger infographic located at the following url:http://www.visualistan.com/2013/08/why-our-brain-love-visual-data.html ).
So, I guess by now you have figured out that today's tech snack has something to do with visuals. You guessed correctly! Today's tech snack can be found at the following url: http://www.thematic.co/
What is it?
In a nutshell, this is a free site that lets you upload up to twenty pictures at a time to make a digital picture book. ( You can have multiple books of 20 or less pictures) The site is completely free and very easy to use. You create a free account then you cancreate a story using your own pictures. Choose photos from your computer (simply drag and drop) or a Dropbox file. You can also add text to each picture. Enter the text and description to each photo and change the font color, if desired. Click the lock below the last picture to change your story from public to private (or back again). Click done to finish the story.
You can share your stories using your lcd projector or you can give your students the url to the story and they can access it ( even if it is private.) Students do not need accounts to access your stories. (They do need accounts if you want them to create their own stories).
This could be a fun, easy way to share pictures and do some create story telling. Want to see an example of a thematic story? Click on the link below:
Ideas for classroom use
Now, that's my kind of tech snack: easy to use, free and can be used in different creative ways.
Being an educator in the 21st century is an amazing challenge. No other time in our history have we had access to such an abundance of information/resources. With so much content available, it would be nice if there was an easy way to organize and share it. Well, you are in luck! For today’s tech snack, I want to share a tool that does just that!
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://www.pearltrees.com/
What is pearltrees?
Pearltrees is a site that lets you store and collect all your content in one place. If have been a regular reader of this blog, you may have heard of similar tools like blendspace, lino, tizmos and symbaloo. Unlike tizmos and symbaloo-that let you put multiple websites on one page- pearltrees allows you put websites, files and text on one page (like lino and blendspace).
To begin using pearltrees, you have to create a free account. After you create your account, you can start adding content to your canvas. A canvas is called a collection. A collection can contain files, websites, text, photos as well as link to other collections. You can create as many collections as you want, though with a free version you have only a gb of storage. (That actually is a whole lot!!!) With a premium edition, you get more storage space( and other features).
Once you create a collection, you can share it via a url link . Students DO NOT need a username or password to access your collection. They only need the url link. If you want them to add to your collection, then a username and password would be needed. The interface is very easy to use and understand. This tool is also available on the web but also available for free as both an Android and as iOS app. Note: with a free account, all collections are public. Private collections are a premium feature. To see more of how to use this tool check out the video link below:
Want to see an example of a pearltree? You know you do! Check out one of my pearltrees collection: http://www.pearltrees.com/hoodmarine
Pearltrees could be used to store links for classes that you are teaching or taking. It can also be used for brainstorming or collaboration projects. You could use this tool to help create a blended learning environment because students could access your collections at home and then discuss the content in class. Collections can be used as electronic portfolios to showcase your students' work. You can can also make collections to share classroom news, announcements or make a digital bulletin board of what your class is doing.
Now this is my kind of Tech Snack....free, easy and useful! Forget the seconds, I want thirds!
Being an educator in the 21 century is filled with many challenges. One of the challenges teachers face is the fact that their students are “digital natives”. The term digital natives refers to people who were born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies. These people have had exposure to digital technology from an early age, and tend to have a greater comfort level using digital tools. In other words, digital natives are people who have basically “grown up” with technology. So as teachers, we have to find ways to make content relevant to these digital natives.
For today’s tech snack, I wanted to share tool that helps makes math content relevant by appealing to the comfort level of K-6 digital natives. Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url:
What is it?
Matific is an online site that uses hands-on, interactive mini-games, called episodes, to teach K-6 math skills. It can work on any web browser, as well as android and ipads( the apps are free.) Based on my initial testing, you don’t have to have the app on your device to use the site if your device has an Internet browser. The app has a nicer appearance, but the functionality is the same.
Most of the activities include a teacher’s guide that provides background information, other activities, and discussion questions as well interactive worksheets. You can assign episodes or worksheets by grade level, by curriculum and by book. The two curriculums available on Matific are aligned to the Common Core and TEKS( from Texas) standards. In terms of books, Matific has activities that correlate with the Evision Math and Everyday Math textbooks.
How does it work?
As a teacher you sign up for a free account. Then you can create student accounts and assign content for your students. Creating accounts for your students does not require that your students have email accounts and you can choose the username/password or just have Matific create them. If you have younger students and don’t want them to have individual username and passwords, you can create one class account and then the students would log in using the same username and password. From my testing, you can be logged into multiple devices using the same login information. Creating individual student accounts allows you as the teacher to get progress reports for each student.
After you create your student accounts, you can assign content. The way it works is you can “lock” all content and “unlock” only the content you want your students to have access to. By default, they will be able to see all the content but only unlocked content can be played. However, you can set it that they only see the unlocked content when they go to a specific grade level.
If you have an lcd projector, you can show the episodes as part as a whole class instruction. You can create a link to activities on classroom computers for students. Students can do the activities in small groups or individually. This is an excellent site that allows for differentiation for all levels present in your classroom.
Ah a yummy tech snack suitable for K-6 Math teachers! Delicious!
About the Author
Wendy Torres has been teaching for over 15 years and has a BA in Special Education and a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology. She is currently an Instructional Technologist for Coppin State University.