Padlet: A Versatile Classroom Tool

padletOne of the most popular, free tools used by thousands of schools is a virtual bulletin board called Padlet. It starts as a blank canvas (called a ‘wall’) to which users can add text, video, images, weblinks, and more. It can be accessed via a direct link that is posted or emailed, or an embed in any digital platform that accepts these HTML codes (such as a blog, website, or wiki). It can be managed from the website, a mobile device, or with a Chrome app or extension. Walls can also be emailed, printed, social shared, or saved as an image or PDF file. Individual accounts are free; education accounts are charged per teacher.

Here’s how it works:

  • set up an account so that you can save and share your walls
  • quickly and easily create your first wall with a customized background, title, and layout. Backgrounds include lined paper, blueprint, a chalkboard, and more.
  • once the set-up is completed share the link or embed with students
  • to participate, all students do is tap the screen and add their comment

Pros

If you have a Google account, you can use your Google account to sign on. No need to create a new account.

All walls are by default semi-private — accessed only through the direct link or the embed, but privacy options range from ‘private’ to ‘public’. You choose your level of transparency.

An unusual ‘save’ option is to export as a PDF. This creates a completed document that is platform-neutral.

Amazingly, the walls are ad-free whether you’re on the website or the embed. I don’t know how they manage this, but I’m thrilled — and hope it lasts!

Cons

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews, Web Tools, Websites | 2 Comments

4 Ways to Use Podcasts in the Classroom

podcast in the classroomAs teachers get more creative about differentiating for student needs, we’re turning to tools that use other approaches than writing a report or creating a class play. One I hear more and more about is podcasts. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Emily Southey, has some thoughts on how to integrate podcasts into your lesson planning:

In the age of technology, students and teachers alike listen to podcasts in their spare time. They are funny, entertaining, and often educational. Podcasts are episodic series of audio, video, or PDF files that can be downloaded or streamed through the internet. In addition to the podcasts that already exist in the world, there are enormous benefits to having your students record podcasts of their own. I have found that podcasts can be used both as material for class and as an evaluation tool. What follows are 4 ways that podcasts can be introduced into the classroom. Enjoy!

As an alternative to an oral report

Oral presentations can get old for both the students and the teacher. Having students record their presentations as podcasts and upload them to the class website can be both a class time saver as well as a medium where students can express their creativity with the option to include music or interviews. In addition, assigning a podcast instead of an oral report may allow the shyer students in the class to flourish, as their fears about standing up in front of their peers will be mitigated. This lesson plan from Dr. Pastore highlights several topics that students could create a podcast on with links to examples of podcasts that cover courses ranging from French as a second language to math.

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10 Tech Tools for Your Math Class

math tech resourcesMath teachers: This is for you. Here are some great suggestions from efriend and math afficionado, Matt Kim:

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Before I was ever a high school math teacher, I was always a hardcore technophile. As long as I can remember, technology has been one of those things that have caught my interest no matter what my current job title was at that time. It makes sense that when Jacqui and I were talking about popular tech tools and ways to bring tech into the k-12 math class, I had a lot to share and get excited about and jumped at the opportunity to write this post. It really is an exciting time for technology in education and the tools available to us to use today in our math classes is no exception. Just a disclaimer though, I am a high school math teacher, so a few of the tech-tools I reference in this post belong mostly in a secondary math classroom, but with a little elbow grease and ingenuity, there are ways to fit them into any K-12 math curriculum as well. For the most part, these are just great ways to incorporate tech in your math classroom so feel free to give them a try!

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Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship Curriculum

digital citizenshipI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum–9 grade levels. 17 topics. 46 lessons. 46 projects. A year-long digital citizenship curriculum that covers everything you need to discuss on internet safety and efficiency, delivered in the time you have in the classroom.

Digital Citizenship–probably one of the most important topics students will learn between kindergarten and 8th and too often, teachers are thrown into it without a roadmap. This book is your guide to what children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It blends all pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

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10 Reasons to Screencast in Your Class and 7 Best-in-class Tools

screencastingA screencast is a video recording of what’s happening on your computer monitor, often with annotations and/or narration. It can be simple or sophisticated, anything from a whiteboard presentation to a slideshow to a movie-like video. With Common Core’s emphasis on understanding and explaining tasks, screencasts are a great way for both students and teachers to share the required steps in completing a math problem, collaborate on close reading, or pursue any other literacy activity.

Screencast tools may be web-based, software, or a browser add-on and include some or all of the following:

  • a spotlight for the mouse
  • the presenter picture, usually in the right corner
  • ability to edit the video once completed
  • ability to upload to YouTube, the Cloud, or another common file sharing location

There are a lot of reasons to use screencasts:

  • Record procedures and answer common questions.
  • Give students audio-visual feedback (the next best thing to a 1:1 conversation).
  • Record lessons that students can access anytime, anywhere.
  • Make a video to help the substitute teacher.
  • Communicate using a media students love — videos.
  • Provide video evidence of class activities in a flipped classroom.
  • Create a live recording during a class activity or a student presentation.
  • Share student-created content as part of homework or a class activity.
  • Provide training videos for both faculty and students.
  • Offer a fun, unique approach to digital storytelling.

Once you’ve selected your preferred tool for screencasting, here are tips to make it easier and more effective:

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Tech Ed Resources for your Class–K-8 Tech Curriculum

technology curriculumI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found, are well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

The first review: the K-8 Technology Curriculum

Overview

The K-8 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech in the pursuit of grade level state standards and school curriculum.

Each book is between 212 and 252 pages and includes lesson plans, assessments, domain-specific vocabulary, problem solving tips, Big Idea, Essential Question,  options if primary tech tools not available, posters, reproducibles, samples, tips, enrichments, entry and exit tickets, and teacher preparation. Lessons build on each other kindergarten through 5th grade. For Middle School, they are designed for the grading period time frame typical of those grade levels, with topics like programming, robotics, and community service with tech.

Most (all) grade levels include base topics of keyboarding, digital citizenship, problem solving, digital tools for the classroom, and coding.

Included are optional student workbooks (sold separately) that allow students to be self-paced, responsible for their own learning. They include required weblinks, rubrics, exemplars, weekly lessons, full-color images, and more.

Grades K-5 has a FREE companion wiki with FREE webinars on how to teach each lesson throughout the year and takes questions from anyone who has the curriculum. It’s used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, AATT Materials, Kindergarten, Lesson plans, Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Differentiate with Tech–Starts July 18th!

How to Make Differentiation Fast and Easy with Tech

Starts Monday! Last chance to sign up. This Ask a Tech Teacher online class is only offered for college credit.

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What You Might Have Missed in June

top monthly postsHere are the most-read posts for the month of June:

  1. 12 Websites to Teach Mouse Skills
  2. Website Review: ProdigyGame.com
  3. 3 Online Keyboarding Programs Students Will Choose
  4. 9 Best-in-Class Digital Storytelling Tools
  5. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  6. How to Create a Curriculum Map
  7. 3 Creative Tech Tools to Teach Writing
  8. 84 Math Websites for K-8
  9. Chromebooks in the Classrooms–Friend or Foe?
  10. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids

A few new resources available:

New lesson plans

169 Real-World Ways to Add Tech to Your Classroom–Now

Updated K-8 Technology Curriculum (6th edition)

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Why is the Supreme Court So Important — and How to Explain That to Students

supreme court simulationWhen you think of the Supreme Court, you think of old people in black robes that dispassionately determine the fate of the country’s laws. That’s all true, but there’s more to maintaining law and order than a podium and a gavel. The Supreme Court is the apex of one of three branches in the American government:

  • The Legislative (the House and the Senate) passes laws
  • The Executive (the President) executes the laws
  • The Judicial (all the courts in the United States from the local courts to the Supreme Court) judges whether the laws and their execution abide by the nation’s Constitution

The Supreme Court consists of nine individuals who are nominated by the President and voted in by the Senate. Once approved, they serve for life, the hope being that this allows them to judge apolitically, based on the merits of the case rather than political leaning. These guidelines are not without controversy but are critical to a healthy, democratic environment.

But this year, an election year, is different. The death of Antonin Scalia leaves the court split evenly between those who lean Democrat and those who lean Republican. Rarely in our history has an outgoing president — in his last year — been tasked with selecting such a critical Supreme Court justice.

Really, it’s much more complicated than what I’ve described, but this isn’t the place to unravel what could become a Gordian knot of intrigue over the next few months. Suffice to say, this process will overwhelm the media and your students will want to know more about what is normally a dull and boring process and why it has become foundational to our future. This provides a rare opportunity to educate them on the court system in America.

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Five Great Summer Jobs For Teachers That Involve Education

summer teacherSometimes, for teachers, summer is so busy we can’t breathe. Between enrichment to summer seminars to watching kids who are out of school, there isn’t a free moment. But other times, summer offers an endless vista of time, perfect for a part-time job that provides a nest egg for a special project. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Joyce Wilson, has five great ideas that will help you stay busy this summer:

Last year, there were more than 3 million teachers in school systems across the country, and a good many of them find the need to look for at least part-time work during summer breaks. That’s a lot of jobs, and a lot of competition between educators who are all vying for flexible, temporary work. And while there are often jobs to be found in malls and offices during school breaks, there are also opportunities that will allow you to put your experience in education to work.

From tutoring to instructing test preparation classes, there are many places to look for summer work that will give you freedom to enjoy the season as well as some income. Here are five of the best jobs to look for in summer.

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