Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Flipped Classroom: Tools for Student & Teacher Production

Flipping your classroom, what does that mean? 

It's the idea that most direct instruction moves from whole group class time to an individual space. This allows the classroom to become a place where the teacher is allowed to take on more of a facilitator of learning roll, as opposed to a lecturer. In part, you are setting up a piece of your classroom as an asynchronous learning environment. Meaning that you can and will learn outside of the classroom: at anytime, anyplace.

A misconception about the flipped classroom is that it is dependent on the teacher making all of the content in a classroom for students to read and view. If that were the case, you would simply be recreating a digital textbook. A flipped classroom involves communication from all stakeholders involved. In other words, teachers & students are involved in the creation process of a flipped classroom.

This post will be the first in a series that will focus on tools that both students and teachers can use for a Flipped Classroom.

Production Tools

Apple Clips
iPhone & iPad App

Clips is a newer app from Apple that I think of as a cross between the camera app and iMovie. It has some editing abilities, but keeps it very simple for users of all ages to quickly produce a short video.

A great bonus for Apple Clips, is that the app does real time subtitles as you are talking! Here is a clip that I made right when I learned about this feature

Ideas for flipping your classroom with Apple Clips are:

  • Sending out class announcements.
  • Showcasing Student Projects
  • Book Summeries
  • Field Trip Highlights and Learnings

Screencastify (Free & Pay Versions)
Google Chrome Extension

Screencastify is a simple yet powerful tool that anyone can use with just a few simple clicks. As the name implies, the Chrome Extension allows students and teachers to record and voice-over anything on their computer screen. The camera function also allows recording the presenter’s face in the corner of the screen to add personality to the clip. Along with its ease to use, Screencastify automatically saves all files directly to your Google Drive automatically. The extension is free for 10 minutes of recording time per clip, with 50 clips to record per month.

Ideas for flipping your classroom with Screencastify are:
  • Recording teacher lectures for students to review
  • Recording student presentations
  • Creating virtual tours with google maps or google earth
  • Making quick tutorials for multi step procedures students may need to follow to complete a task
  • Student explanations of how they solved problems
Adobe Spark (Free & Pay Versions)
Multi-device - Chrome OS & iOS Friendly

Spark has a few creative options, but let's just focus on Spark Video.

Spark video allows teachers and students to put together videos through a "PowerPoint style" format. This is a nice feature because it will allow for voice over to be recorded on each individual side, as opposed to having to do an entire recording in one take.

Spark allows users to import video clips into a project, but is not set up for recording videos straight into it. In other words if a teacher or student wanted some video slides, they would need to record them with another program or camera and import them.

Spark will save all projects into its cloud system so you can access them from multiple devices.

Explain Everything (Trial then Pay)
Multi-device - Chrome OS & iOS Friendly

Explain Everything is a recordable whiteboard that teachers can use for their classrooms. The trick on a laptop will be trying to free draw with a mouse, but if you have a touch screen device with a stylus or a Smart/Promethean Board, you may be able to use it with ease.

Explain Everything is actually much more than a whiteboard app, it allows you to import documents, videos, and more and then annotate and record on top of them. You have unlimited pages to add to your project, and each page has unlimited zooming capabilities (both in and out). You may also record page by page in your presentation and pause in the middle of your recording.

Explain Everything also has it's own cloud storage where your projects can be accessed from multiple devices.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

EdTech for Struggling Readers

A teacher's number one responsibility is to meet the needs of their students. Now this sounds like an obvious statement, but it isn't always as easy as it sounds. In fact, it is hardly easy at all. The reason we use technology in education is to support student learning by helping teachers meet the needs of their learners.

This post will focus on two support tools for struggling readers. Whether they are Native English Speakers, English Language Learners (ELL or ESL), or Dyslexic, our schools are filled with a large amount of students who struggle when they read. These tools will obviously not solve the problem for the students, or teach them how to read (only skilled teachers can do that). Yet, these tools might give some support to those students at a time when a teacher isn't available to them.

Speechify - Chrome OS & iOS app
I was introduced to Speechify in Episode 99 of The House of #EdTech Podcast by Chris Nesi. Speechify does what many apps and accessibility features on devices do by reading text that a student highlights on their screen. So you may be thinking, then why use it? My answer would be, ease of use and quality of voice. The drop-down menu in the chrome extension allows you to change the speed of speech and voice with a couple of clicks. There is even a child voice that can be used, which sounds surprisingly real.

If you decide to go the premium route with Speechify on your iOS device, the app goes the extra mile! You can connect the Google Chrome Extension to your iPhone and it will share text between the two devices in a clean and organized manner. Send multiple multi page documents to your phone and have them read to you. It's like taking anything on your computer screen and sending to your phone as an audiobook.

Speechify also does something rather phenomenal with your iOS device. Take a picture of a page of text and speechify will import it as a text file, and then read it to you.

Think of how this can support your students that struggle reading classroom content. Also, think about your students that have hectic life schedules, they can now listen to their science book on their way to work or practice.

OpenDyslexic Font Extension - Chrome OS
This extension simply changes all of the font on the webpage you are viewing to the OpenDyslexic font with one click. It's that simple!

OpenDyslexic font has been in development for at least a couple of years now. I do want to state that I'm not licensed or trained enough in dyslexia to know if it is actually proven to help students with dyslexia. I have however had a handful of students try this font extension on their chrombook screen, and some claimed that it helped them read their screen better, while others didn't like using it. So like many things EdTech, it will probably come down to a preference by the student.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tools to Support Student Inquiry

Inquiry Based Instruction has been an area of study for me for the last couple of years. In my opinion, teaching through inquiry is not only engaging for our students, but develops an essential skill that our kids need to be successful in the 21st century. In this post, I want to share a few of the resources I have been using for the last few years, as well as a few resources that I just learned about.

Before finding your digital resources to support inquiry in your classroom, I highly recommend reading Trevor MacKenzie's book, Dive Into Inquiry. In his book, MacKenzie walks teachers through the 4 types of student inquiry: Structured, Controlled, Guided, and Free. This process allows educators to understand that inquiry based instruction is not just a free for all approach, but a structured practice.

Wonderopolis - K-6
Image result for wonderopolis

Wonderopolis is a fantastic website that models inquiry for students and teachers. Every topic on Wonderopolis begins with a question, and then follows up with an article that allows students to explore that question. Your students can even submit questions to the Wonderopolis site as well as vote on other questions on the site to be explored next.

The Question Formulation Technique or QFT is a collaborative way for students to work in teams to brainstorm questions based off of a teacher given focus. It teaches students how to prioritize their questions and evaluate the differences between open ended and closed ended questions. The Right Question Institute website is full of resources to make the QFT process a success in your classroom. 

Genius Hour 4 - 12
Genius HourAs students  toward Free Inquiry, the Genius Hour website give students and teachers a structure on how to be successful during a self driven process. The Genius Hour practice is based off of what Google implements with their development team. Giving their employees time to work on self-interest projects that have potential to improve the company, has allowed Google to create many of their popular products. What Genius Hour attempts to do is bring this ideology into your classroom. Giving students the option to choose projects that will have potential to improve their understanding of a concept or pass through a competency.  

Do you have a resource you use for inquiry based instruction? Please share it below!