Greetings, fellow educators! Only one week left before I move onwards in my career journey. I start my new job at Coppin state on March 6th! I will be busy adjusting and learning in my new role so tech snacks may not get updated as frequently as before. ( I will also be working on my new site “The faculty lounge” for my new audience.) Tech snacks, however, will continue so I wanted to give you a glimpse of our upcoming tech snacks:
Greetings fellow educators! Before I dive into the latest tech snack, I have a big announcement to make regarding the maintenance of my site. For the last 11 years, I have been the Lower School Technology Integration Specialist for the Roland Park Country School. I created my website primarily for my faculty and students, but as the years progressed it has become a go to resource for many educators nationwide. Starting in March, I will be starting a new adventure as an Instructional Technologist for Coppin State University. As such my primary audience will change.
So….I will continue to maintain my current site for the many educators that find it useful (My faculty page has resources for K-8).
This continued maintenance includes my current blog Tech Snacks. The main change, however, is that I will be creating a new site and blog to address the needs of my new audience. Some entries from Tech Snacks may also appear on my new blog if the tools mentioned can be used for college students as well. Tech snacks will continue to be a blog about K-12 educational tools. My new blog, will be called the Faculty Lounge and will focus on technology integration practices and tools for the college audience. Look out for the new urls and content!
Now onwards and upwards to our latest tech snack….
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: http://www.playbuzz.com/
What is it?
Playbuzz is a website that allows people to create interactive content. **Full Disclaimer: This site is not exclusively an educational site-meaning that it is a public site that contains content that is not moderated. People use this site to create fun, engaging content that may or may not have any educational value. **
So why then would I bring up this site on my blog? Well, I bring it up because this site enables the user to create his/her own content. Content can then be shared via a url-requiring no login from the recipient(s) to access the activity. Created content can also be embedded into any website or Learning Management System(LMS)- which means students would only see the activity you created not any “extras” such as advertisements or other activities.
So how does it work?
Using the playbuzz website, anyone can make a free account. Once you have made an account, you can start creating interactive activities. Playbuzz has 12 different activities you can create. **Full Disclaimer: In order to create content, you must create an account. You can only create an account through the browser using a desktop or laptop. You cannot create content using a tablet or smartphone. There is an app for tablets and smartphone that allows you to see any activity created, you just can’t create activities with the app. However, any content you create and share via url or embed code, can be accessed on any Internet enabled device.**
Okay, now that the disclosure is out of the way, I want to talk about the different activities you can create with this tool. Since there are 12 activities, I will outline them in chart form for simplicity sake. If the embedded form does show, you can download the information using the attached document.
Playbuzz allows for a lot of creativity for classroom use. I would highly recommend embedding any playbuzz activities to avoid access to other content and advertisements.
Playbuzz has a whole section on their website dedicated to educators. The section is called playbuzz academy and has how to videos for all 12 playbuzz activities, webinars, best practices and case studies. To access these resources go to the following url:
Wow, this is a loaded snack! This is a more like a full course meal! Until next time at the café…
Teaching our students about academic integrity is a vital skill. Students need to understand what plagiarism is, how to cite sources and how to paraphrase. These critical research skills, however, are often difficult for students to grasp because they require practice and critiquing. Paraphrasing, for example, is a skill that requires a lot of repetition to master.
For today's tech snack, I would like to share an online tool that can help students practice effective paraphrasing.
Today's tech snack can be found at the following url:
What is it and how can I use it with my students?
This tech snack is a web based tool that was created by the Wenatchee Valley College to make paraphrasing a more concrete concept. This tool is browser based which means it will work on any Internet enabled device via any online browser like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc. Students do not need a username/password to access this tool, nor do they need to download and install any corresponding app.
The tool is very simple to use. Students simply copy and paste an existing passage from either a website or word document into the first box. They can also type the passage directly in that box. In the second box, students will then type in their paraphrased version of the passage. As students add words to the box, any words that are the exact same words as the first passage will appear in different colors in a third box. The more words that are color-coded, the more the paraphrased passage is too much like the original.
This is a very visual tool, that will help students grasp the idea of paraphrasing. When students have completed their paraphrased passage, they can simply cut and paste their passage into their research papers and provide the correct citation. This is a tool that can be used with students in grades 8 and up. This is an ideal tool for high school students and college students who are still learning how to write research papers.
When you introduce this tool to students, it may be helpful to have them practice their paraphrasing skills by giving them some sample passages to paraphrase. Some quality sample passages may be found at the following url:
The more students practice paraphrasing, the better they will become at it. Be sure to give them multiple opportunities to use this tool by putting it on your faculty website or as a resource on your school’s learning management system.
Ah, a simple, free and practical tool! This one will definitely be staying on the Tech Snacks menu!
Welcome back educators! It is a glorious, but very cold and frigid day here at the Tech Snack Café. So, for today’s tech snack, I wanted to introduce you to a tool that will have you feel all warm and toasty in no time! This tool is multi-facet in that I that allows for personalized learning, a flexible learning environment and individual mastery. Before I divulge the deliciousness of this snack, I wanted to clarify what the terms above mean:
· Personalized learning: Learning experiences are diverse and matched to the individual needs of students.
· Flexible learning environment- Multiple instructional delivery approaches that continuously optimize available resources in support of student learning.
· Individual mastery- Students advance based on demonstrated mastery.
Now, onwards to the tech snack!
Today’s tech snack may be found at the following url: http://en.educaplay.com/
What is it and how can I use it my classroom?
Educaplay is an online tool that lets you create many online educational multimedia activities. The site is free to use and eliminates the need for using different software programs to do different things. On educaply, you can create interactive maps, riddles, slide shows, fill in the blanks/crossword/word search puzzles, jumbled word/sentence activities, dictation, or you can create a collection of several of these based on a theme. You can also create matching games, online and video quizzes.
How does it work?
Once you have created your account, you click on the New Activity tab. Then pick what type of activity you want to create. After you pick the type of activity you want, simply fill in the required boxes and follow the instructions on the screen. When you are done, you will be given a link to your activity. Students do not need to log in to get to your activities. They only need the url. You only need to create a username and password if you are creating content.
Classroom implications and benefits
There are many benefits to using this site with your students. Check out the graphics below for ideas and benefits.
What a yummy snack! This one is loaded. I might be full for a week.
One of the challenges that Language arts teachers face is the teaching of grammar. Correct grammar use is an essential writing skill that our students need, but if we are being honest with ourselves, it is not a particularly exciting subject to teach. Furthermore, students are using social media applications that encourage the use of bad or nonexistent grammar ( i.e. #something, chat abbreviations). If only there was an easy to way to use what students are interested in to help reinforce grammar rules. For today’s tech snack, I want to introduce you to a tool that was designed to engage students, while helping them develop their knowledge and use of grammar rules.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: https://www.noredink.com/
What is it and how does it work?
Noredink is a web-based service that that provides personalized, interactive grammar lessons for school students. What makes this service different than other services is that the grammar lessons/activities are created based on the individual student’s personal interests. How is that possible you ask? Well, first the teacher creates a free teacher account. After the teacher creates an account, he/she is able to create a class, add assignments, pretests, and/or quizzes. Teachers are then given a class code, which is what students will use to access the lessons. With the class code teachers will be able to track students’ progress, assign quizzes and assignments, and see class trends. The program has color-coded "heat maps" to track progress easily. When teachers create a lesson/pretest/quiz, they can select the subject matter, when it is due, which students get the lessons and how many questions are in each lesson. You can also see how the lesson will appear to students by clicking on the student view.
Once the teacher creates a lesson, she/he can then assign that lesson to a class. Students can be added manually by the teacher, or they can registrar and create their own account. If the teacher manually adds the student(s), the system creates a username and password. If the students create their own account, they create their own username and password.
Students will need the class code to access the lessons their teacher has assigned. Before students are allowed to access the lessons, however, they must first state what grade they are in and then they get to select topics that they are interested in like sports, TV shows, musicians, and more. When students are practicing their lessons or are taking quizzes, the program will use their interests to generate the questions. The program provides differentiated instruction based on the questions students answer right or wrong. Students are given tutorials to help them correct their mistakes. Noredink will work on any Internet-enabled device including tablets, phones and ipads.
Delicious, simply delicious! The snacks keep getting better and better here at the café!
Happy New Year, fellow educators! I hope you had a wonderful winter break and here's to a successful 2017!
Tech snacks had been on hiatus for the winter break, though I have been keeping myself busy with my upcoming book project and various ed tech initiatives. Recently, I had come across a piece of work called the Periodic Table of STEAM apps by Mark Anderson @ictevangelist. With Mr. Anderson’s permission, I hyperlinked all the apps on the table using the tool thinglink. If you want to see what the finished product looks like, click on the link below: https://ictevangelist.com/periodic-table-of-steam-ipad-apps-updated/.
So now without further delay, let's get right to the tech snack. Today's tech snack can be found at the following url: http://letsrecap.com.
What is it and how can I use it in my classroom?
Recap is a free online tool that allows teachers to receive video responses and feedback from their students. Recap will work on any Internet enabled device with webcam technology including tablets and smartphones. If you are using a desktop/laptop, recap will work directly from any Internet browser. If you have a smartphone/tablet, you will need to download the free recap app to provide responses (more on this in a moment...).
To begin using recap, you must go to their website using a laptop/desktop and sign up for a free account. **Note, the app only works to receive student feedback. Currently, the app does not support teacher accounts on mobile devices. Also, if students are using computers to record their responses, they must use Google Chrome or Firefox as the recording feature does not work for Safari or Internet Explorer.** Once you have created an account, you may set up your class by typing the name of the class. You can then add students manually or students can sign up using their own e-mail addresses. I recommend that you manually input your students if you teach elementary school students. Older students are certainly able to sign up using their e-mail accounts.
When you have created a class, that class will receive a unique pin. Every member of that specific class will have the same pin. Students will need that pin regardless if they are inputted manually or if you have students sign up with their e-mail addresses.
After you have created a class, you may create a recap activity. You have to click on the add recap button to do this. You will then be able to give your activity a name and enter the question(s) you want the students to answer. You may type your question or make a recording of your question by clicking on the record video button.You may add as many questions as you like to your recap activity.
After you are done inputting your questions, you click on the next button. You will see a screen that allows you to assign the activity to your students. You can assign an activity to the whole class or individual students. From that screen you can also set a due date, decide whether you want students to take a self-assessment poll about their own understanding, and set the maximum time for students to respond for each question (between 15 seconds to 2 minutes). When you have completed this step, you click on send and your activity is assigned. Students access the activity by going to the website or via the app and inputting the pin number for their class.
Once a recap activity has been assigned, students can provide their feedback via video recording. They will need to allow the app to have access to their device’s microphone and camera in order to do this. After students have given their video response, they are able to see their recording. They can then decide if they are happy with the recording or if they want to do the recording over. They simply click on button prompts to submit their work.
Once a student has submitted a response, the teacher will receive an e-mail alert. The teacher will then be able to log into their teacher account using a desktop/laptop. The teacher will be able to see all the completed activities and can also provide feedback to students via a comment text box. Teachers can then share video responses via a web link to parents or others in the school community.
Recap can be used for any subject matter as you can tailor your questions in any way you want. This tool allows you to challenge your students to reflect on their learning and can be used at any stage of a unit or project. You can use this tool in class to record student responses but you can also use this tool to create a flipped/blended learning environment. Students can be assigned a recap activity at home and provide their feedback. The teacher can then look at the responses and then can structure the in-class lesson based on the responses.
Oh the new year is off to a great start! Until next time.....
The use of authentic, valid sources as well as the use of primary source documents, has always been an important component of teaching. The challenge that teachers and students face now, is that there is an abundance of information readily available. Sifting, organizing, and deciphering the validity and value of such information, therefore, can seem like a daunting task. For today’s tech snack, I want to share a tool with you that makes the sifting process a little easier.
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: https://www.learninglab.si.edu/
What is it and how can I use it with my students?
The learning lab is run by the Smithsonian Institute and is an online platform that allows you to put content on one page. If have been a regular reader of this blog, you may have heard of similar tools like blendspace, lino, tizmos and symbaloo. The thing that makes the learning lab different from those tools, is that this platform gives users access to thousands of the Smithsonian’s artifacts, artworks, documents, and specimens. Using the learning lab, users can create collections. A collection consists of multiple resources that all show up on one page with one url!
How does it work?
Anyone can access any of the Smithsonian’s resources by typing some keywords in the search box on the learning lab page. Users will then see any artifacts that the Smithsonian has on that subject as well as any collections people have made about the subject. A username and password is NOT required to see the resources or the collections.
To see an example of a collection I found using the keywords “Alexander Hamilton” click here.
If you want to create a collection, you have to create a free account which requires that you input an email account with a password. Once you have created an account, you can then create your own collections. A collection can consist of any of the Smithsonian resources, as well as any files you may have on your personal device and any outside websites you may have found. You can also add quizzes, text, and sorting activities. Resources can be arranged in any way you want by clicking and dragging the items on your screen. You can also copy any existing collection into your account and then adapt the collection to fit your instructional needs.
A really cool feature of this tool is that with any Smithsonian resource you pick, you can customize the item. Customizing an item means you can add text, quizzes and hotspots to that item. A hotspot is when you click anywhere on the item and you can add information for that item. ( So if you are looking at a painting you can point out important features or details that you want the students to notice.)
The learning lab is free to use and can be used on any Internet enabled device. The interface is easy to use, though it does require a little bit of a learning curve. As a teacher, you could use this tool to create your own collections and then share the collections via url with your students. For older students, you could have students create their own collections and share them with their classmates. I would not recommend that young early elementary school students in grades K- 2nd grade create their own collections. Students in grades 3-5 could create their own collections with guidance and instruction from their teachers. Older students (grade 6th-12th) will be able to learn this tool quickly without too much help from the teachers.
If you have an lcd projector, you can share collections with your students. Students can also access collections from home enabling you to create a flipped environment in your classroom. This is also a great tool for project based assessments!
Oh the possibilities....I like it! Until next time at the café!
Organizing and collaborating with others can be a laborious process. Emails and online storage applications such as dropbox and google docs, seem to be the norm for distributing information to others. While those methods work, they aren’t always the most effective way of distributing and receiving information. What if people had a way of collecting and gathering information without having to go to multiple resources, or sites? Ah, but there is!
Today’s tech snack can be found at the following url: https://airtable.com/
What is it? Airtable is a web-based tool that is part spreadsheet, part database. With airtable, you can add files, notes , links all in one place. There is even a chat feature. This is the ultimate collaboration/organization tool. It will work on any Internet enabled device, though for tablets/smartphones you should download the app for the best functionality. There is an app available for airtable for most tablet/smartphone platform that exists ( Google play, Apple app store, Windows store and Mac Os). Airtable will also work on any internet browser without the app, but the app assures that airtable will fit and be viewed correctly on your device.
How does it work?
To begin using airtable, you must first create a free account. Once you create an account, you will immediately be taken through a how to guide-the contents of which can be found at the following url: https://guide.airtable.com/ .
With airtable, you can incorporate many different online services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote. Collaborators can view real time changes, link data, and engage in chat discussions. You can create tables using templates or make them from scratch. Like most web 2.0 tools, there is a free and paid component with this tool. Free accounts offer unlimited databases with storage up to 1200 records each and a 2GB attachment limit.
Airtable uses a click and drag interface, and is easy to use, though it does require a small learning curve. It is a bit complex for lower elementary school students ( K-2) and I wouldn’t recommend its use for that age group. This tool could be used with upper elementary school students (3-5) with guidance and planning. This tool is best suited for students in grades 6th-12th as well as adult users.
When you create a base(that’s what they call the tables), you can share it with others. You have complete control over how the content is shared and with whom you are sharing it with. You can share bases via an email link that requires a login or you can share bases as a direct link(that doesn’t require a login). You can decide if people who access the link can edit and add content or if you want them simply to be able to view the content.
Since it is available on any Internet enabled device, this is an excellent tool to use to create a blended learning or flipped learning environment in your classroom. This is an ideal tool for group projects which can be a hassle when it comes to dividing up the work load and checking up on each other’s progress. If you set up a base for the students, they can list all the requirements of the project and then everyone who accesses the base can have input as to what they are assigned. Once the assignments are divided up, the group members will work on their assigned parts and then upload
their part to the base so that everyone can see the content, and provide feedback.This assures that everyone has the same information and that the final project is something that the whole group has agreed to.
Bases in airtable can also be used to streamline the brainstorming process. Initially students would post their ideas and information to back them up. As students begin to flesh out the ideas that they are interested in, they could break up into small groups might form to work on individual projects. They would still be able to contribute ideas to other projects. The teacher can act as a facilitator by offering suggestions. The base could also be used to record and organize data, and plan papers/presentations.
Yummy! A tech snack more suitable for older students, but still a very delicious treat!
Greetings fellow educators! While working on my latest blog entry, I got inspired by the blog of another teacher. Chris Pearce is an educator in Chicago and he does an educational blog completely in comics! That's pretty awesome and amazing as he is an English teacher who happens to be a very talented artist, as well. If you want to check out Chris Pearce's blog, click on here.
So in honor of Mr. Pearce and all the amazing teachers like him who do their best to inspire our students, today's tech snack will be done entirely as a comic. I unfortunately cannot draw at all so I made my comic using toondoo.com. Enjoy!
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.