Tag Archives: homework and practice

7 Productivity

Standard

We live in a world today where teachers are expected to do more with less.  The amount of things we are expected to accomplish is increasing, but the amount of time we have with our students is not.  It is essential that we as educators find ways to be as productive as possible.  Thankfully, today’s advancements in technology give us many ways to maximize our time and be more efficient.

Conversion Tools

Conversion tools are used to convert files from one type to another.  I had no idea these existed and am grateful this class has introduced them to me.  I find I often need to convert files from word docs to .pdfs.  Zamzar is such a quick and handy tool to do just that!  It emails you the converted document in seconds!  Another thing that excites me about Zamzar is it’s ability to convert word documents into .mp3s!! HOW COOL!!! For my auditory learners or my kiddos who need reading support, I can create audio files for them to listen to.  So excited to try this out in the fall!  I practiced using Zamzar by taking a .pdf that was a long informative text about sharks and converted it into an .mp3.  It was so simple!  I wish I could post it here to share with you, but .mp3s can not be uploaded to wordpress.

A screenshot after I downloaded the .mp3 version of my .pdf from Zamzar

A screenshot after I downloaded the .mp3 version of my .pdf from Zamzar

Google Calendar

Google calendar makes it easy to keep yourself organized and on top of deadlines.  However, I utilized Google Calendar this past school year by embedded it into my classroom webpage to keep families apprised of what was going on at our school and in our classroom.  I love how I can make easy updates to the calendar through my gmail account and it would automatically sync with my webpage.  In the past, I have used Microsoft Outlook to keep myself organized with my obligations and deadlines at work.  Next year, my entire district will have gmail and chrome books, so switching over to using Google Calendar for everything might be the best option.  I can have a work, personal and classroom calendar all in one place.  Click here to see my Google Calendar embedded in my classroom webpage.

URL Shorteners

URL Shorteners are a handy tool to obviously shorten a URL. 🙂  I can’t even think of how many times this would have been useful in my classroom!  I have struggled on countless occasions to get my kiddos to enter in a lengthy url to go to particular webpage.  Between URL Shortners and Smybaloo (from Cloud Initiation) I will NEVER have that problem again!  We learned about three different URL shorteners: tinyurl.com, goo.gl and bitly.com .  I practiced taking a long url and shortening it using tinyurl.

Here is the original URL to one of my documents on Google Drive:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MKTRHcqCDJwD42noaXaOWORjZTuofzkyuiDSxIUOIl0/edit?usp=sharing   WOW!!! It is long!!!

Here is the new link now that I have used tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/oeop5yl  What a difference!!!

Evernote

evernoteEvernote is a great tool for keeping track of EVERYTHING you need to remember from lessons you want to try, pictures of special events in the classroom, to behavior management ideas and notes about individual kiddo needs.  You can take a quick picture, write a small note or even record audio.  The best thing about Evernote is how it organizes your files.  You can easily search through your notes to find what you are looking for.  It can even recognize text in pictures!  I am one of those people who has held out on getting a smart phone…however, this tool makes me want one.  What a simple and quick way to note something when you are out and about or in the middle of something with your kiddos.  Once you have made a note, you can access it from anywhere. Say goodbye to endless sticky notes!   Click here to check out my first attempt at creating a note on Evernote.

LiveBinders

LiveBinders is a marvelous tool for organizing all your online resources.  It basically makes a virtual binder.  Say goodbye to all those 3-ring binders in your cupboards!  I see myself using this to organize electronic resources for units of study.  It will help me find what I need so much faster.  I also like that you can search through other’s binders.  I found an awesome binder with 3rd grade math resources for parents.  Instead of posting the link to my webpage, I actually added it to my symbaloo which is already embedded on my classroom webpage.  Click here to check out my Symbaloo with my LiveBinder link.

CITW and ISTE Standards

I feel that thing 7, Productivity, really hits on the ISTE Standard: Model Digital Age Work and Learning.  By using these tools to keep myself organized and as productive as possible I am modeling digital age work and learning for my students and their parents.  As far as CITW best practices go, I feel like Evernote can easily be implemented with students to support Summarizing and Note taking.  Google Calendar can serve as a reminder to students and parents about  homework and other assignments.  LiveBinders can also be used to provide resources to support students and their families with homework and practice.

 

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6 Communication

Standard

Technology has given us the power to communicate with people on the other side of the globe, to connect with experts and learn about different cultures.  These incredible communication tools MUST be used in today’s classrooms.  If used correctly, these tools can allow students to explore worlds and meet people they would otherwise never encounter.  As I explored these communication tools, my brains was popping in a million different directions with the endless possibilities to enhance my instruction and the student engagement.

Asynchronous vs Synchronous

I currently use a great deal of asynchronous communication in my classroom.  I used email and my classroom website to communicate with parents on a regular basis.  Students also had the opportunity to try kidblog this year.  They greatly enjoyed posting questions and commenting on each others’ responses.  I also tried out Remind 101 last school year which served as a great tool to remind families about upcoming events in the classroom.  After learning about Thing 6, Communication, I realized that these forms of communication are a great start, but are really just the tip of the iceberg.

Synchronous communication gives us the ability to communicate with others in real time.  I can barely even wrap my head around the possible ways this form of communication can be used in the classroom. I have yet to truly use Synchronous communication tools in my classroom.  I am most eager to use Skype (or Google Hangout) and TodaysMeet (or Chatzy).

BackChannel Chat

Using a BackChannel Chat gives students the ability to communicate and clarify during a lesson.  It is sort of like a chat room where students can pose questions, post images, take notes and receive support from their fellow classmates when needed. Today’s Meet and Chatzy are two platforms that can be used for BackChannel Chatting.  I could see myself using Today’s Meet to pose a question for students to discuss.  I think this would encourage my more timid students to participate and have their thoughts heard.

Video Chat

Video chatting allows students to have face to face communication with anyone, anywhere!  Students can communicate with same-age peers on the other side of the country or even the world.  They can interview authors or experts in a field.  What a powerful way to tie what we are learning in the classroom to real world application.  Skype and Google Hangout are 2 platforms that can be used for video chatting.  I am very comfortable using Skype for personal use.  When I lived in Arizona, it was a great way to stay in touch with my family and friends back here in Michigan.  Now that I have moved back to Michigan, I am able to stay in touch with all of my AZ friends.  I am yet to try using it in the classroom.  As I was learning about Thing 6, I immediately thought about setting up pen pals with one of the third grade classrooms at my old school in Arizona.  I think Skyping with their pen pals would make it a very meaningful experience.  I would also love the opportunity for my students to interview an author or expert.  Not really sure where to start as far as finding someone for them to interview.  Maybe it will come about naturally as the school year goes along and I discover authors or topics that are of particular interest to my students.  I did find this AWESOME resource for how to organize a Skype interview by giving all the students jobs. Definitely something I will revisit when I am ready to try a Skype interview with my students.

Video Chatting also offers another way to communicate with parents.  I could see myself using it to hold a conference with parents that can’t make it into school during conference week.  It could also be a very powerful tool for students to share what they are doing at school with their families.  If we had a special event during the school day, students could connect with their families that were unable to attend and have them watch the presentation that way.

Some of my 21T4T classmates and I arranged to try Google Hangout together.  In all likelihood, this will be my method of video chatting with my students since we are getting Chrome Books next year.  I have never used Google Hangout so I was anxious to try it out and glad I could find some fantastic people to give it a try with me.  I even got to use Doodle (from Thing 5, Collaboration) to set up a day and time for our Hangout.  What a great opportunity to put some of these new skills to use. Click here to view our Hangout.

Screenshot of our Google Hangout

Screenshot of our Google Hangout

Communication and Collaboration

Thing 5 and 6 are closely related.  All the communication tools we learned about in Thing 6 allow students and teachers to easily collaborate.  Students can use BackChannel Chat or Video Chatting to communicate outside of school so they can collaborate on homework or projects.  Another way students can collaborate through a communication tool is by using ePals.  I had never heard of ePals until this lesson and I was blown away by this program!  I immediately signed up and am starting to think of ways I could use this with my students.  EPals enables you to connect with another class anywhere in the world and collaborate on a project together.  I am hoping to develop a project idea to post on ePals.  Teachers can also use these tools to collaborate on assessments or planning if they can not be at the same place.

CITW

Thing 6, Communication, supports peer collaboration with cooperative learning (see above).  It also allows for the teacher to communicate homework and practice to absent students.  Students can also use BackChannel chatting for Summarizing and Note Taking during a lesson.