Southeast EdTech Conference

Cool Tech Tools for Your ClassroomThank you so much to everyone who came to my session at the Southeast EdTech Conference today!

The link to the presentation from today is available on the “Professional Development Training Tools” page on this site.

Thanks again!

OUTDOOR GEAR

Educational Trends in Online Courses – Guest Post

Check out this newest guest post!

Educational Trends in Online Courses

Educational Trends in Online Courses

The IT revolution and the computerization of the world have caused major changes in the educational trends, as well. Although going to elementary school is still compulsory, students can find information in dozens of ways. Also, many of them experience serious problems as a result of cumbersome and slow system of public education. But there are some positive trends going on that can give the pupils and students of today a nice boost when it comes to their education.

School as worker manufacturer

The discrepancy between the things we are taught in school and the needs of the real labor market has been huge for decades. Due to its massive size and inability to quickly adapt to new technological innovations that have completely changed the nature of work, the school system has been falling behind for a long period of time.

Today, however, different departments that deal with education (both public and private) are trying to bring together the labor market, entrepreneurs, schools and teachers, so as to transform schools into institutions that will actually create workers able to find jobs in these new conditions. Online courses will are of great importance in this process, since they accelerate the whole learning process.

Relaxed gaming for impressive results

According to this infographic, people spend more than 3 billion hours playing video games on a weekly basis. The majority of those hours represent time spent by children and students. So, one of the main educational trends in the years to come will definitely be merging those gaming habits and education to get better results in the education system. Experts have already proven interesting cognitive benefits of video games, which is already a great contribution to the mental development of children. On the other hand, the opposition claims that games have a bad effect on students’ physical health, especially due to the reduced amount of physical exercise they get. The solution is creating a balanced daily schedule for your kids, with physical activities, as well.

Changed perspective (flipped teaching)

One of the most amusing and efficient new trends in contemporary education is reversing the process of learning. In flipped teaching students watch educational videos at home, participate in online discussions and conduct research. After they do all of this, they come to school and do homework or additional special tasks in class, with the help of their teachers and friends from class.

By applying this trend, all the factors included in the process are used as much as possible. Students are taught to rely on their own skills and develop new ones, while teachers keep the roles of advisers and organizers.

New payment trends

As technology is seeping into the education niche, too, people can get the information they need for free. This possibility definitely enables them to nourish a more individual approach to learning.

Thanks to online educational tools, many sites offer knowledge for free. However, if you need a certificate and reference for your future career, enrolling courses that charge for their services is a must. Many online training organizations let you attend classes or study online and the tuition can be divided into installments. You simply study now and pay later, which is a great opportunity to cut your expenses.

Knowledge is available at one click of the mouse. New courses, innovative approaches and interactive learning help people retrain or study at a pretty rapid pace. All these options also give us a wonderful chance to improve or develop our soft skills for better job positions.

Nate Vickery is an entrepreneur and web designer from Sydney, Australia. His working on starting his own creative company that will incorporate everything he knows and loves. Aside from work, he loves watching the ocean in his home town and spending time with family. You can follow Nate on his Facebook profile.

How to Expand Your Summer Learning with Twitter

Teachers, have you joined Twitter?

If you, like my own momma, haven’t joined Twitter yet, please jump on the bandwagon! It’s free! It’s easy to use! It’s an AMAZING resource for teachers!

If you’ve read my blog before :) then you know I was originally anti-Twitter. If you would have asked me two years ago why I wasn’t on Twitter, I would have told you that I simply didn’t have time to read ridiculous posts about what people were having for breakfast or spend that time trying to decipher hashtags…what they are and how to use them.

Why I joined

If that sounds like you, heed my advice! Twitter is so much more than this! The solution to the aforementioned problems? Don’t follow people who post pictures of their breakfast or include #hashtagforthesakeofhashtagging!

Simple, right?

Still need convincing?

Allow me to tell you about a recent conversation I had in the Twitterverse.

As you know, I tried my hand at gamification in the classroom at the end of last school year. My students’ motivation to be at school, must less be productive, was at an all time low. I simply had to do something to increase their desire to learn. Since many of my students were “gamers” in some sense, gamification seemed like the perfect option.

My gamification experiment was wonderfully received by my students, with many of them begging to do the activity again. So, I immediately added it to my never ending list of things to accomplish over the summer.

Currently, however, I am juggling off-season coaching responsibilities and teaching summer school with my most important roles of being a mommy and a wife. This means that my time for researching and planning for my classroom is largely confined to when I’m cooking supper or right before bed.

Needless to say, my time (like yours) is precious.

Last week while I was cooking supper, I decided to do some research for my year long “game” while cooking supper. After all, my students might have been gamers, but I most certainly am NOT. I got into Trivia Crack for about a week and jumped on the Ruzzle bandwagon for a few days, but that was the extent of it.

–Unless we’re talking about Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo, then I’m a hardcore gamer. Or, at least I was in the 90’s :)

Instead of turning to Google, I turned to Twitter.

Why, you ask?

Simple. I was able to start a conversation about a trending topic in education, ask questions and learn from a gamification guru, and expand that conversation, sharing our ideas with so many people.

I can’t do that well with a search engine, folks..

Through my Twitter conversation, I was able to view gamification in a totally different way…I had an “aha!” moment, so to speak.

What I learned on Twitter definitely allowed me to have a better understanding of how gamification works, especially in the year long setting, and how to manage this motivating tool in my classroom.

I learned all of this in about 15 minutes. Sifting through page after page of Google search results to find valuable information would have taken MUCH longer!

I hope my example has at least made you think about joining Twitter. Seriously, we should all earn professional development/continuing education credits for Twittering!! (And Pinteresting, of course!!)

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Bethany_Petty!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

 

 

 

How to Use Chalkup in Your Classroom

Hello, friends! I am so excited to bring you a guest post by Marcus Gollahon about the wonderful tool that is Chalkup. Have you had experience with Chalkup in your classroom? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Without further adieu, check out…

Great Website to Host Your Flipped Classroom – Chalkup.co

chalkup

As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting websites that allow me to interact with my students on a new level. What I have found recently was Chalkup.co, an interactive website for teachers to host whole classrooms discussions, assignments, and more.

“CHALKUP GIVES TEACHERS THE POWER TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE STUDENTS ARE NOT PASSIVELY TAKING IN A LECTURE. THEY ARE ENGAGED, ON TASK, AND GROWING AS LEARNERS.”

– Monica Burns (classtechtips.com)

Teaching with Technology Guest Post-

Here are some perks:

Online rubric creator, that makes grading as easy as clicking a button.

Assign assignments and discussions. Every assignment comes with a discussion page so students can discuss questions and collaborate.

Assignment Annotations. An awesome way to leave feedback on students online assignments.

Integrates smoothly with Google Drive. Assignments can be turned in from their drives.

Easy to add materials to be shared with the class. Post your flipped videos, outlines, notes, etc.

Mobile friendly. They have an app so that teachers and students can stay up-to-date on classroom events.

Oh yea, it’s  FREE. The single best word for any teacher.

My Final Thoughts:

Chalkup to me is a beefed up Google Classroom. It has everything that Google Classroom should but then expands on that by offering more than just a place to turn in online assignments. The discussion sections are in place to offer students multiple avenues to ask questions and interact with classmates. I was posting my videos and using Google Classroom for the longest time, but I am switching over for the 2015-16 school year using Chalkup. Very happy with the switch as it is Google Apps friendly and was very easy to move over my content to its new home. Will post an update once I get started with students to see how much they like the new change.

Please check out Marcus Gollahon’s website here.

Thanks for reading!

OUTDOOR GEAR

Use Google Forms to Organize your Summer PD

Every teacher knows what the rest of the world seems to misunderstand: TEACHERS DO NOT TAKE THE SUMMER “OFF.” While not every teacher teaches summer school, or even gets paid during the summer months, teachers can rarely ever turn off their brains when it comes to preparing for classroom and curriculum …

If you’re like me, summer presents a wonderful opportunity for …drumroll, please…professional development! This year, I am so excited to be able to attend ISTE and FlipCon15 virtually, from the comfort of my couch.

After a great PD session, I always feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the wonderful information I learn. I normally create a folder in my Drive and open a new Doc for each session I attend. This works well, anusingeducationaltechnology.comd is easy to share with my colleagues. However, this year I’m trying something different.

I’ve created a Google Form for my summer professional development that includes basic information about sessions I attend, such as the conference name, name of the presenter, URL of the presentation (if applicable), and then a paragraph text space for notes on the session.

One of my favorite features of Google Forms is that all of the responses are neatly recorded on a Google Sheet. This means that presenter and conference information, as well as my not so organized notes from sessions are all displayed in one place! I can easily share this Google Sheet with my colleagues, or use the information to develop PD presentations, etc. Awesome, right?!

If you’re interested in viewing the form I created, please click here. If you’d like to use this personally, or with your colleagues, feel free to use the form as a guide to create your own.  If you’re interested in COLLABORATING and sharing your PD experiences this summer, then complete the form and I’ll share the results with you!!!

Happy learning!

Thanks for reading :)

 

Reflections from my Flipped Classroom

My first year as a flipped teacher, or a “flipper,” has come to a close.

And, I’m reminded more and more every day …as I am teaching summer school in a traditional lecture environment… why I decided to embrace the flipped classroom strategy, and why I won’t go back to the sage on the stage method.

Reflections

I don’t want to fool you, though. My first year as a flipper was not laced with gold or sprinkled with glitter made from unicorn sweat. There’s a nice image :)

My first year as a flipper did include challenges. For example, at the beginning of 2nd semester, I made the switch from a “traditional flip” (if that even exists) to an “in-class flip.” Why? Simply because I am a HUGE fan of EDpuzzle, and when I assign videos using this amazing tool, I’m also requiring students to have access to a reliable Internet connection. My students have reliable WiFi while at school, but that may not be the case at home. I’m anxiously waiting for the free WiFi everywhere society of the future…but I fear I may be waiting for a while.

Another hurdle included video watching/interacting/grading. I originally create Google Docs with a variety of activities students were to complete (notes, reflective questions, etc) as they actively viewed the instructional video. On these Docs, I would include a link to the video on YouTube or via Google Drive. My original thought was that this activity would be awesome because it not only requires students to take notes on the video, but it also requires them to reflect upon their understanding of the content. Awesome, right?

After the first unit came to a close, however, I realized that this system worked poorly for my students. Since I assigned the students separate documents (which I thought would be helpful) they were unable to keep track of their notes. Also, while Google Classroom is awesome, these activities became a bit of a grading catastrophe, requiring me to spend more time tracking down their video documents, determining whether or not they actually completed the video or just copied notes from someone else, and then determine their understanding of the content. It was a great idea in theory, and an idea I may revisit next year. It just wasn’t effective for my students.

At some point during the numerous complaints I received from students about this system, I decided to use the wonderful EDpuzzle to assign videos and activities to my students. I also fully embraced Google Classroom’s ability to create a copy of a document for each student, assign that copy to each student, and then keep all of the documents in a nice, neat folder in my Drive. Now, I assign a note-taking template for each unit to my students and fully utilize EDpuzzle’s interactive video capabilities. My students view instructional videos on EDpuzzle and split their Chromebook screens to allow them to take notes on their Google Doc while they interact with the instructional video.

I can quickly and easily view student responses to EDpuzzle questions, grade said questions, and view video completion. EDpuzzle even allows me to view how many times each student viewed a specific section of the video…this is an AMAZING feature!

Video length was also a learning curve during my first year as a flipper. During my extensive research of flipped strategies, I read many different “musts” for video length. Some experts claimed that anything longer than 5 minutes was too long, while others said 8-12 minutes is an appropriate length. Since I jumped on the “in-class flip” bandwagon, I have decided that 5-8 minutes is a great length for my videos. Will some videos exceed that timeframe? Absolutely. Will some videos be less than 5 minutes? You bet.

And that is perfectly fine!

Tools like EDpuzzle and Google Classroom have been essential to my success as a flipped teacher, but I still have many goals to achieve in the flipped arena.

Next school year, I plan to jump head first into the “flipped learning” teaching environment, emphasizing mastery learning. I’m still working out the details of this strategy, so stay tuned for my updates.

I’ll also continue down the path of gamification, which was a HUGE hit last year. I plan to learn more about Classcraft and it’s potential this summer.

Since I’m teaching summer school, I don’t feel like my summer has truly started…I haven’t been able to spend many mornings in my PJ’s drinking coffee and watching the TODAY show yet, but that will come :) However, I hope your summer is going well!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

 

How to Add Backgrounds in Google Docs: A Workaround

I’ve been using Google Docs for quite a while. I love Google Docs. It’s easy to use. I can collaborate with any other “Googler” without being in the same room. I can create and share grocery lists with my husband. (Ok, this may not be vital, but it is great for me!)

One complaint I have about Google Docs is that it is somewhat dull.

How to Add Backgrounds to

Let me explain.

If you want to create a colorful and vibrant flyer or poster using Microsoft Word, then you simply insert a background image and adjust the object transparency. It’s also easy to manipulate the size and position of the image on the page.

This is not the case if you’re using Google Docs.

Here’s my workaround for adding backgrounds in Google Docs…complete with screenshots!

Here’s the trick…USE GOOGLE SLIDES!

Open a Google Slides presentation.

Access “File” then “Page Setup.”

slide image 1

Next, select the “Custom” option, and set the size to 8.5 x 11.

slide image 2

Your presentation screen should now look a little different…

slide image 3

Right click on the slide in the slide pane, choose “Apply Layout,” and select “Blank.”

slide image 5

 

Next, select “Background” and choose “Image.”

slide image 6

Drag your image to fill the page, or to fit the desired area.

slide image 7

Next, I added an rectangle shape and changed the shape color to white. This allows space for text while still preserving the “pretty” background.

slide image 8

Finally, choose to add a text box or paste text from a different source!

screen image 9

By using this method, I can still collaborate with others just as I would do by using a Google Doc. I can also download the presentation as a PDF for printing purposes.

Teachers can use this method to assign presentations to their students via Google Classroom!

If you’re looking for more cool things you can do with Google Slides, check out this video from Google Guru!

AND…if you’d like to learn how to create a watermark on your Google Slide presentation, then check out this post from the awesome Alice Keeler!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

How to Teach Vocabulary with Flashcard Monkey

Are your students excited to learn new vocabulary?

Do they relish in the fact that many words with which they are unfamiliar will most likely make their way onto important tests, like the ACT and SAT?

Many students, at least in my teaching experience, are less than excited to learn new words. If students encounter a word in their text they don’t understand, their first response is to ask the teacher, “what does this word mean?”

Would you like to engage your students more in vocabulary acquisition? Of course you would!

Check out Flashcard Monkey!

Flashcard Monkey provides customers with 500 flashcards that allow students to learn vocabulary commonly used  on the SAT in such a way that they can easily remember.

Jane Cui has created 500 flashcards that include…
-a specific term
-an example of the term in a sentence
-the definition of the term
-an AWESOME drawn picture of the word “in action”

The drawing is probably my absolute favorite feature of the flashcards on Flashcard Monkey, most likely because it reminds me of the “Government Pictionary” games I play with my students. Nonlinguistic representations are so helpful in learning new vocabulary words and course concepts!

And…they’re fun :)

Flashcard Monkey provides 500 flashcards, geared to help students learn tricky vocabulary for $35. As Jane Cui shows on her site, that boils down to about 7 cents per flashcard…a steal for the great information provided.

flashcard monkey

Jane even offers a 100% money back guarantee for her product.

These flashcards would be great for any class, but especially an ACT/SAT prep class, or even an English classroom. Imagine displaying these on a bulletin board, a chalkboard, or even as a border around your classroom.

Definitely include Flashcard Monkey on  your list of tools to check out this summer!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR

Remind Chat!

Wow! It has been too long since my last post!

The reason I’ve been MIA, you ask?

I’ve discovered Netflix. And Once Upon a Time.

I may be obsessed.

Anyway,…

I was recently chosen to join the Remind Connected Educators program, and I am so glad I did! In joining this program, I learned more about a Remind feature that I will admit I was skeptical about…Remind Chat.

If you use Remind, you already know the basics about this amazing tool. Teachers send text/email messages to their students without having to share cell phone numbers. It really is brilliant.

However, have you ever needed to contact a specific student, or a small group of students? Do you need to remind a certain student that a deadline is approaching, or that the need to turn in their permission slip, field trip money, etc?

Remind Chat allows teachers to contact students individually, without having to share an announcement with the entire class.

This program would have definitely been a huge benefit for Contact your students with ...my students over our extended “snowcations,” as I call them. When students were home over our breaks, most likely watching Netflix and drinking hot chocolate, I would have been able to contact them individually, reminding them of assignments or instructional videos they needed to complete.

Instead of contacting individual students who needed to catch up on their work, I sent multiple messages to the entire class…pestering many students for no reason at all!

I am so excited that I am now able to use Remind Chat!

Here’s a question I’ve received …”why don’t you just email the individual students?”

Well, if all of my students consistently checked their email, I would most definitely do that.

I’ve found that students, as well as the rest of us, are more likely to check and read text messages at least quicker than we do emails.

Remind Chat conversations and announcements made or initiated by teachers, students, and parents are saved to the user’s account. These conversations can be easily printed or emailed at any time.

Awesome, right?

If you haven’t yet, definitely put Remind and Remind Chat on your list of things to learn this summer!

Thanks for reading :)

Using Google Hangouts in the Classroom

I’ve written before about the amazing potential of Google Hangouts in classrooms. Last week, however, I was actually able to experience that “awesomeness” first hand.

My students were able to take part in a Google Hangout with our Congressman, who was in Washington DC at the time. Students were able to ask our Congressman basically any question they could think of. We discussed everything from the Congressman’s views on the use of drones and same-sex marriage to his favorite movie and baseball team.

My students and I truly enjoyed this activity. In class, we identified the elected individuals that represent us in Congress. This Google Hangout was a gUsingreat way to not only connect students to their elected representatives, but also to bring life to the names we discussed in class.

Our Congressman was very clear to point out to my students that they should never feel intimidated, or that they are too young to contact their elected representatives, and that they should take advantage of new avenues, such as social media, to get involved.

My students were also thrilled that we were able to take a selfie with our Congressman :)

This event, especially at the end of the school year, was a great way to engage students in content related activity that was…fun! I hope to make this a tradition in my classroom.

As we ended our Hangout, I asked my students if they could think of anyone else they’d like to “Hangout” with. The top response was, “President Obama!!”

Of course, I told my students that a Hangout with the President of the United States is most likely not going to happen.

However, I do plan to contact the President. After all, the worst he can say is no!

We would also love to connect with similar classrooms throughout the United States, as well as in England.

If you know of a classroom that would like to participate in a Google Hangout with my classes, please let me know in the comments or email me at bjfink1s@gmail.com!

Let’s use technology to shrink the world!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for reading :)

OUTDOOR GEAR