As the Learning Support Teacher for Grade 8 at ISM, I am completing a technology training course called 11 Things on a Jeepney. For this training, I am writing a short blog post about myself.
I enjoy learning about technology and also using it in my classes. I am very excited about all students having a laptop next year for their studies. I came from a one-to-one laptop school before teaching at ISM, and I loved using OneNote to deliver content and the elimination of using paper. The laptops were also tablets and students used a stylus to write on OneNote for their homework and other tasks. I found this great, but there were times were using paper would have been much more time efficient. The network demands from every student using their laptops could cause lots of slow downs, and OneNote has to continually sync to keep up with changes being made by the teacher to the notebooks. My main issues with technology are of the down times when things are not working as they should. This happens often, and can ruin lesson plans that depend on the technology. There are so many advantages in using technology that the inconveniences still don’t outweigh the gains, especially for students with learning difficulties.
My favorite place to visit in the Philippines so far has been the island of Coron. Specifically the resort of Club Paradise. Everyone who lives here should stay there at least once!
Thing 1: VoiceThread
I really liked using VoiceThread. It was easy to find images to put in the thread and it gave good options to demonstrate understanding. It could be typed, voice, and video. The workflow was straight forward and allowed me to reorder things by just dragging and dropping them. This would be easy to use with my LS students for a few reasons. One, it is on the computer and this adds motivation for them to complete tasks. They just like working with technology over pencil and paper tasks. Two, it allows for differentiation on how they demonstrate learning. Three, it allows for them to be more creative in how they express themselves and is easy access to images. My concerns would be the couple of troubles I had in working with the Flash interface. I had to allow Flash access to my computer, and save that permission, otherwise it would not record. Then I also had to allow the browser to allow Flash. It took a while to figure out why it would just hang at “hold on…” when I recorded audio. I think that if we use technology in lessons, we should always do the lesson ourselves to find these types of pitfalls.
Thing 2: Chrome Apps & Extensions
- Which 3 apps and 3 extensions did you install? What do you think of them?
Apps: I installed Lucid Charts, Piktochart, and Typingweb Typing Tutor for my apps. I really like the Lucid Charts for making Brain Frames. There are a lot of graphic organizers out there, but this one is the only one that is super easy to use and has a workflow that matches what my students need for an effective BF. All of the other organizers lock you into set format, and this one is wide-open. Picktochart is an infographic creator and I like it just fine, but the bandwidth issues at school can make it a bit tedious to use because of the wait times. Typingweb Typing Tutor is great for keyboarding skills. My students have such poor keyboarding skills, so I use this as a extra station in my strategies class.
Extensions: I installed Youtube Options, LastPass, and Easybib Tools. Youtube Options is cool because you can turn off a lot of the annoying things on the site that can be distractions and sometimes inappropriate for school. It gets rid of the annoying in video ads, stops the video suggestions on the side and after the video, and basically strips it down to just a video player. LastPass is my new best friend. I never have to enter my one zillion passwords for school sites. I just enter it once and DONE. It remembers them from then on, and encrypts them too for safe keeping. I will never go without it again. Last is Easybib Tools, I use Easybib all of the time and now I have a tool to check a site credibility and see how others have cite the same cite. This will be very helpful in the next unit that requires students to check the credibility of their online sources.
- Which do you recommend for teachers? For students? Will you remove any?
I recommend all of these for teachers, but LastPass is a must for teacher who spend too much time logging into sites and searching for passwords. Students will use all of the apps that I found in lessons and on their own for research. I will keep all of the apps and extensions forever!
- If you have already been using Chrome apps and extensions, do you have any favorites that you wouldn’t want to live without?
Stayfocusd- This is one that I suggest every year that parents use with their kids at home. My most common complaint from them is that they say that time spent online is wasted by jumping from site to site while they are trying to work and end up just getting a little done in a lot of time. Stayfocusd blocks sites for a set time period and can be set up to allow some sites and block the frequent offenders like Facebook. This extension is not full proof, but with a little effort and by sitting down and setting the times for homework and which sites should be block, it really does help students focus on work.
Thing 3: Mind Maps, Diagrams, and Flow Charts
I preferred LucidCharts far more that MindMup. MindMup was much too linear for my liking and I found the interface clunky. LucidCharts worked much better for me and hand a more open workflow. In Grade 8 we will have students making Brain Frames to display their research for the AFC unit in a few weeks. With Brain Frames the bounding shape is really important and LucidCharts allows easy formatting of the bounding shapes. It is also now an add-on in Google docs, so we can have easy access to the student’s BF. I feel that the online apps are just as powerful as dedicated software, but have the advantage of worldwide access, unlike most of the dedicated software that ties you to one machine or file type to edit.
Thing 4: Online Quizzing & Student Response Systems
It was easy to set up both apps with questions and pictures. Both were very straight forward in their use and deployment. I couldn’t say which I prefer because both offer different strengths. Socrative is good for online quizzes that you want students to do and give feedback as the class completes it. Kahoot! is much more of an app for the game show feel to get students involved in the questions or discussion. I would like to try to use this for a discussion format next year in English. It would be cool to see how others respond and the reactions from those responses. I could see using both of these. I would use Socrative to check understandings and Kahoot! to review for a test and make it fun.
Here is my quiz: https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/5a738bd3-5979-40b7-863a-bacdacaddccd