Pew Research recently reported that about half of Americans regularly get their news from social media. Really? Isn’t SM where you share personal information, stay in touch with friends and families, post pictures of weddings and birthdays, and gossip? So why do students turn to it for news?
This stat may explain it: 60% of people don’t trust traditional news sources. That’s newspapers, evening news, and anything considered ‘mainstream media’. They prefer blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
So when it comes to research, are you still directing kids toward your grandmother’s resources — encyclopedias, reference books, and museums? No doubt, these are excellent sources, but if students aren’t motivated by them, they won’t get a lot out of them. I have a list of six research sites designed by their developers with an eye toward enticing students in and keeping their interest. It’s notable that most are free, but include advertising. The exception is BrainPOP — there are no ads, but it requires a hefty annual fee:
Many Fridays, I report on a wonderful website or project my classes and parents love. This one is teaching architecture to youngers:
Three projects over six weeks and your students will learn about blueprints, room layout, dimensions, and more. Plus, they’ll understand how to think about a three-dimensional object and then spatially lay it out on paper. This is challenging, but fun for first graders.
Spend two weeks on each projects. Incorporate a discussion of spaces, neighborhoods, communities one week. Practice the drawing, then do the final project which students can save and print. Kids will love this unit.
- First, draw a picture in your drawing program of the child’s home. If you don’t already have a class favorite, check this list. Many have architecture tools so show students how to find them. Have kids think about their house, walk through it. They’ll have to think in three dimensions and will soon realize they can’t draw a two-story house. In that case, allow them to pick which rooms they wish to include and concentrate on what’s in the room.
You may know Jotform as one of the most popular tools in the form builder category, recognized for its simplicity and sophistication in what could otherwise be the complicated process of collecting and analyzing data. It works on all platforms, can be shared via a link or embed (as well as other options), and supports multiple languages. Over the past several years, Jotform has released many features designed to simplify and automate teaching’s more mundane tasks, such as Smart PDF Forms, a PDF Editor, Jotform Cards, Tables, and Jotform Reports, Approvals, Mobile Forms, and more. (Click the links for my reviews).
Today, we’ll talk about Jotform Sign, a great way to save time collecting and managing signatures:
What is Jotform Sign?
How does it work?
Why educators love it
Jotform Sign is an alternative to clunky and pricey e-signature software. It streamlines your workflow, making it easy for users to sign documents and you to collect responses. Built into the platform are many features like advanced field detection, limitless customization options, and popular integrations. Jotform Sign is perfect for any public or private school looking for a way to easily and automatically create legally binding documents with signatures.
Best of all, Sign is free with any Jotform account.
If you’re not familiar with Kiddom, you should be, especially in the changing environment of today’s classroom. Kiddom is an all-in-one education platform for remote or in-person learning or a hybrid of the two that provides a high-quality digital curriculum capable of integrating curriculum management, instruction, assessment, and communication tools into one location. It is easily personalized to the needs of a classroom meaning it saves teachers valuable time, resources and money, and simplifies technology for students who may be new to it or not quite comfortable. Because it is internet-based, it works well on any platform, any device, and seamlessly syncs between work started at school and finished at home.
In the past, I’ve written about many of Kiddom’s features–the Content Library, SEL Rubrics, its partnership with OUR Curricula Resources to name a few, One quality that has always stood out to me as I explore each of their new features is this company listens to customers and responds to their needs.
Kiddom’s newest feature, Lesson Launch, does it again.
What is Lesson Launch
Until now, teachers must manage multiple technology platforms to incorporate disparate lesson elements and then separately manage student interaction. This complexity takes time and attention away from what matters–a positive and engaging in-class learning experience. Kiddom’s Lesson Launch consolidates these key elements and gives teachers myriad tools to plan, build, schedule, deliver and engage in real-time anywhere.
With Kiddom Lesson Launch, lessons can be pushed out to students individually, in small groups, or an entire class and then monitored in real time through a teacher dashboard. Students are alerted as soon as the lesson is available and the teacher tracks their progress through the lesson. Teachers see which students have begun the lesson, their progress (by percent completed), and who has submitted the assignment. Teachers can check student work by hovering their mouse over a student’s avatar.
What could be more organic during Hour of Code than creating your own app? There are a lot of ways to do that, often expensive, time-consuming, and coding-intensive. There’s a new online option available that’s none of those. In fact, it’s intuitive, uses tools you already know, and–dare I say?–fun. Check out Jotform Apps:
You may know Jotform as one of the most popular tools in the form builder category, recognized for its versatility, ease-of-use, and sophistication in what could otherwise be the complicated process of collecting and analyzing data. Jotform works on all platforms (including tablets, desktop computers, and smartphones) and can be shared via a link, QR Code, and embed (as well as other options).
Over the past several years, JotForm has released many apps designed to simplify and automate teaching’s more mundane tasks (Smart PDF Forms, a PDF Editor, Cards, Tables, Approvals, and Reports–click for my reviews). I’m excited to partner with them for their latest release, Jotform Apps.
Jotform Apps is a web-based tool that enables you to create a professional-looking cross-platform app quickly and with no knowledge of coding. It can include forms, links, widgets, text, images, videos, a photo gallery, PDFs, calendars, maps, interactive pieces, and more. Thanks to drag-and-drop modality, it can be customized to your needs and branded to fit your class or school. Once you’ve completed the app, it can be downloaded onto any smartphone, tablet, or computer, shared to your social media, or pushed out via a link or QR code.
Best of all, Jotform Apps is free with any JotForm account.
You may know JotForm as one of the most popular tools in the form builder category, recognized for its simplicity and sophistication in what could otherwise be the complicated process of collecting and analyzing data. It works on all platforms, can be shared via a link or embed (as well as other options), and supports multiple languages. Over the past several years, JotForm has released many features designed to simplify and automate teaching’s more mundane tasks (Smart PDF Forms, a PDF Editor, JotForm Cards, Tables, and JotForm Reports–click for my reviews). Their latest is called JotForm Approvals.
JotForm Approvals is a quick, customizable way to automate the rote responses in a form. It enables you to specify what actions follow once a form is received like alerting involved parties, forwarding the form when required, and notifying respondees of results. With JotForm’s trademark drag-and-drop interface, teacher and administrative teams can easily add approvers, multiple emails, conditional responses, and other elements so that certain steps in the approval process happen instantaneously. Responses never get lost in an email box or become delayed by a weekend or holiday vacation. Approvals is always on and always working.
Best of all, Approvals is free with any JotForm account.
How does it work
Every JotForm Approvals process starts with a form you already have in your JotForm account. Here’s an example of a form I use to approve additional training teachers request to deal with the complexities of remote learning:
- To get started: Go to your JotForm dashboard and access the Approvals feature:
- There, you’ll find a list of Approvals you are working on or involved in. Select one of those or start a new one based on a form you’ve created. Do this with ‘Create Approval’.
- Choose whether you want to use a template, create a simple one-step approval, or customize from scratch. Whichever you choose: Start by selecting the form you want to attach Approvals to and build from there. It can be simple:
or as sophisticated as you’d like:
- Include emails of people to be notified, time frames, forwarding, and more.
- When an Approval is completed, it can be shared, embedded, assigned, emailed, or a variety of other tools through third party options:
- Once the Approval is published, responses to its form automatically trigger the Approval flow you created. You don’t have to do anything. Approvals handles all next steps, notifying you in your dashboard where you then approve or reject the pending approvals.
- If you’re going to be out of touch, the Approvals can be re-routed to another person.
There are other tools that automate form responses but nothing as simple as Approvals. Look at these features:
- Drag-and-drop steps in the Approval Builder
- Create custom outcomes
- Assign submission to a specific approver based on respondee input
- Customize approval settings
- Employ advanced conditional logic, conditional branching, and more (or not–it’s up to you)
- Select the emails to match your approval flow
- Track and manage processes easily with organic tools
Educational Uses for Approvals
The educational applications for Approvals is endless. Teachers, parents, and students will benefit from timely responses to forms they complete. Here are a few ways you’ll use Approvals in your class:
- Equipment request for a virtual classroom
Virtual classrooms require different equipment than a traditional classroom that is often variable and unique to circumstances. Let teachers request specific equipment such as a web cam, microphone, or headphones. Approvals will route the request to the correct person–IT or HR for example–and send a response that it has been received.
- Teacher training for specific topics or general requirements
School administration can expedite the process of accepting and processing teacher requests for training by sending them to the correct trainer speeding up the response.
- Teacher Office Hours
Student or parent completes a form requesting one-on-one time with the teacher. Approvals verifies the request is received and sends it to the teacher or another individual for scheduling. This is also a great way to schedule presentations so students know immediately that their requested presentation time has been received and logged or changed.
- Homework, classwork, or project submittal
Students can submit their work in a variety of ways using JotForms’ varied options. Approvals can respond, telling the student that the work has been received, who is handling it, or that it has been denied/rejected so the student can follow through.
- Afterschool Program or Summer Camp Registration
Route completed forms to all involved individuals such as teacher, finance, and consent requests. Because each form can be automatically sent to multiple people, they can all work on their end of the request without waiting on others.
Want to see what this looks like? Watch this quick video:
If you use forms to curate data or expedite work, JotForm Approvals is the logical next step to automate responses. Do yourself a favor and look into this free feature, now available from JotForm.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
The teachers taking my online classes this summer tell me they’re having difficulty with remote teaching. Problems include administering and grading assessments, taking attendance, finding backchannel tools that enable them to stay in touch with students, and keeping viewers engaged during video presentations. Sure, they have tools that can do each of these but they either aren’t robust enough or only do part of the job or don’t excite students enough to participate. There’s a new solution out there from a trusted name you’re probably familiar with that can solve many of these. It’s JotForm’s new Report Builder.
You either already use JotForm (as do over 2 million others) or you’ve heard of it as the gold standard for forms creation whether on PCs, Macs, or mobile devices. It offers what seems to be an endless supply of professional-looking easy-to-implement templates that sign up volunteers, get feedback on events, enroll students in classes, ask for donations, collect payments, and much much more. Its drag-and-drop interface makes building forms intuitive, quick, and easy. Completed forms are shared via a link, social media, or integrated into DropBox, Google Docs, and other popular platforms. It’s free or fee (the latter for a pro version), based online, and available on all platforms and digital devices. For more, here’s my review.
Since it began nearly a decade ago, JotForm has committed itself to adapting to customer needs. Besides their core forms builder, they offer a PDF Editor (here’s my review of that) to enable students to work remotely offline without WiFi or internet access, JotForm Cards to make collecting data easier than the typical digital form (here’s my review), and easy summer camp (or after-school camp–or any type of camp) registration (here’s my review).
Now, they’ve introduced Report Builder.
JotForm Report Builder is a sophisticated but simple way to turn data into information. Responses gathered via form are quickly turned into a visually appealing report or presentation that students or colleagues will want to read. Here’s how it works:
This school year, you have probably heard about dozens of new apps–all educational, rigorous, and highly-recommended–and you can’t wait to try them in your classes. The problem is there are too many so how do you pick? Here are three general guidelines:
- The app must improve outcomes. Award-winning educator, presenter, and teacher-author Alice Keeler says, “Paperless is not a pedagogy”. What she means is: Go paperless not to save trees but to improve the education experience. How does this apply to the selection of apps? Apps used in your lessons should improve learning rather than just being a cool app kids might like.
- The tech must be there. You and your students must have the techiness to use the app. This is critical for app selection. You may love what the app can do (like gamify math or quizzify science) but the technology required is more than you can handle or might require hours of time just to learn. That’s not a good app for your circumstances. Choose one within your skillset and if students are using it, within theirs.
- It must fill the M and R of SAMR. The SAMR Model (click link for more information) organizes technology as Substitution and Augmentation at a beginning level and Modification and Redefinition at the critical thinking and creativity level. For over a decade, teachers have considered it “good enough” to meet those first levels — like rote drills to replace worksheets. Now, apps you use should require critical thinking — the M and R levels–as well as leverage learning more rigorously for both you and students.
This is my long way of explaining why I’m so excited about Quillionz. It improves close reading, assesses understanding, is intuitive to roll out and use, and does much more than replace something you already have.
What is Quillionz
Quillionz is an online application that automatically and quickly generates reading comprehension questions from any passage of text that you provide. It does this by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms–the first to do this–to simplify and target the process of question creation. Questions include multiple choice, short answer, fill-in-the-blank, and True-False, all sortable, selectable, and editable so they fit exactly your class needs. This tool will transform the way you teach by giving you more time with students and saving time required for rote processes like quiz creation
While the free Quillionz Basic gives you all of this, the fee-based Quillionz Pro adds these features:
Augmented Reality takes students into bold new worlds where they become part of the learning, not passive viewers. They follow their passion by exploring with their senses. Ask a Tech Teacher sponsor, PleIQ is launching its Kickstarter campaign, offering a revolutionary tool that blends the physical and digital world into one that is irresistible for kids. Curious? Here’s an overview:
PleIQ (Play-Q) is the best new educational toy that beautifully merges the physical and digital worlds to provide our children with an immersive learning experience. PleIQ is the perfect complement to high-quality classroom instruction—a hands-on, 21st Century, augmented reality toy that appeals to all learning styles.
PleIQ is designed with every early learner in mind. Eight beautifully tangible cubes displaying each letter, number, and a handful of special symbols come to life before your eyes through the accompanying mobile app for smartphones and tablets. Together, the cubes and app provide 48 discovery-based AR learning experiences that naturally evolve and adapt to support each child’s unique intelligences. All activities are carefully designed to foster a child’s curiosity and creativity.
Actively Learn is a freemium online education platform that allows students to read a book (or some other document), make comments, answer questions posed by the teacher, and even collaborate with others. Quickly, it is becoming the close reading tool of choice for teachers because of its ease of use, differentiation of needs, depth of tools, and variety of resources.
What is Actively Learn
Actively Learn is a high-functioning ereader for ELA, social studies, and science students in grades 2-12. It provides reading resources either uploaded by the teacher or selected from the platform’s library of thousands of fiction and nonfiction books (some free; some through Prime plans), Common Core-aligned lesson plans, videos, or simulations. These are filtered by topic, grade, length, reading level, keyword, or standards (i.e., CCSS) and can include embedded questions, scaffolded notes, and topical media. These can be targeted to select groups, individuals, or the entire class, providing scaffolding for some and enrichment for others.
While reading the ebooks, students can take notes, highlight, jot down questions, share ideas with each other, and respond to the comments of classmates. They can look up words they don’t understand and translate the text into a long list of languages that may be their native or a secondary language they are learning.
Actively Learn is becoming recognized as an effective inclusive tool that involves all students–from gregarious to shy–in student-centered, student-led discussions.
How do you get started
Once teachers create an account, they set up their classrooms either by importing student lists from Google Classroom, Microsoft, Clever, or Edmodo, or by providing the class join code to students. Assignments are created and made available to individuals, groups, or the entire class and teachers can monitor progress, check the gradebook, respond to student questions, review student input, and view class data through their teacher dashboard.
Students, too, have their own dashboard where they access teacher-assigned materials and more. If this is the first time they’ve logged in, they can start with a quick how-to on using Actively Learn.