Category Archives: Tech Classroom Tools

Tech Integration Post #10 of 10: Using QR Codes in the Classroom

QR (quick response) Codes are like barcodes on steroids!  They enable anyone with a QR reader app on their smartphone/tablet to scan the code using the device’s onboard camera, which then creates a shortcut to a variety different links.  Shortcuts may include links to website address, email accounts, pictures, videos, audio files, maps etc…

This QR Code links to a very informative Common Craft video which further explains QR codes:

Before you can use QR codes you need to visit a website to build it.  Here are a list of sites used to create QR codes:

Once you’ve created your QR code you should test with by using any of the free QR reader apps below:
When I saw the picture below, on a remote stretch of northern California highway, I realized the true impact QR codes have on our society, and how useful they can be to develop a deeper understanding of a subject:
Using QR Codes in the class:
  1. Self-guided tour of the school or the classroom:- QR codes could be place at key locations throughout the school and linked to an audio file which further explains the location and what should happen there.  For example, my school follows the EBS/PBS model for discipline, and one of the major components of EBS is the school matrix.  The school matrix outlines our code of conduct (Safe, Helpful, Awesome Attitude, Responsible, and Kind) and how it should be applied in various areas of the school (classroom, transitions, playground, assemblies etc…).  At the beginning fo each school year, or when new students arrive, QR codes could be placed in the above locations and linked to an audio files which would explain the matrix in detail.
  2. Student art gallery walk:- Any visual art lesson can be converted into a multimedia gallery type exhibition using QR codes.  For example, if my students are working on examples of op-art,  they can transform their 2-dimensional drawing into multi-sensory displays by attaching a QR code to the picture.  The QR code may then link to an audio file, which further explains the artwork.  In the audio file students can reflect on their work and use metacognition to express what was easy/difficult about the process.  They can also link their work to additional text and videos on the subject of op-art to encourage others to develope a deeper understanding of the concept.  Finally, students could assess each others work by recording feedback, creating a QR code and attaching it below the artwork.  Thus creating a comment section similar to a blog.
  3. QR Codes attached to homework:- Attach a QR code to your student’s place value homework which links to a video you made using Explain Everything (A video creation tool for the iPad).  The video can reinforce the skill of understanding the value of each digit in a number.  This has huge potential for occasions when support at home is not available.
  4. Guest Teachers:- Guest teachers who substitute in your room may feel more comfortable if they can follow some of the existing classroom rules/expectations.  QR codes could be place on the mobile computer lab, for example, to explain the rules of using the equipment.
  5. Student jobs:– In my classroom we share the responsibility for keeping the classroom clean and tidy.  QR codes could be place at various points in the classroom to reinforce what steps should be taken in order to make sure the bookshelf is fully cleaned, or to explain how to take attendance and where to take it when it’s completed.
I would welcome any additional ideas you have on how to use QR codes in the classroom.

Tech Integration Post #9 of 10: Create Concept Review Videos For Students And Parents

Throughout the whole of the previous school year, I often wondered how to reach more of my student’s parents and engage them (directly) in classroom concepts. I wanted to somehow have the ability to connect parents with what was happening in the classroom, and at the same time offer parents the opportunity to practice fundamental math concepts with their children, based on materials I had created for them.

Originally I had planned to video myself explaining math concepts such as place value, number sense, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. When I first tried to video myself I had to consider things like lighting and position of props. It turned out to be time consuming and somewhat difficult.

Recently, I found a solution, and want to share it with you.  I use the iPad app, Explain Everything to create math review videos.  Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations.  It’s like an interactive whiteboard for your iPad! You can easily create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using Explain Everything.  It is possible to record your voice, add images, change pen colours and vary the thickness of your pen lines.  Not only that, but you can easily edit your video, and export to several different formats including, YouTube, Evernote, and email.

The intermediate division of my school is going to be focused on improving math skills this year, and it is my goal to email or host these videos in a place for my student’s parents to view before school starts, during the first few weeks or school, and at any time a review is needed.  So, the next time a parent of one of your students asks, “What can I do to help my child with math?” send them a link to one of your newly created math review videos.  It’s that easy!

Here’s a couple I made today.  Feel free to tell me what you think:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LIDSY9lwxo&w=420&h=345]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_cdWsxmYEk&w=420&h=345]

Tech Integration Post #8 of 10: Live Streaming

This post was inspired by @gcouros and Forest Green School in Alberta.

Broadcasting live feeds to the Internet, or live streaming as it’s known, and allowing other students and professionals to watch events is guaranteed to increase engagement levels in your classroom, tenfold. There are many Internet broadcasting options available completely free of charge. Here’s a short list:

1. USTREAM
2. Livestream
3. Veetle
4. Freedocast

I like to use Livestream because it allows broadcasts to be streamed with increased quality when using the Procaster rather than the online webcast option. Livestream like many of the above has its downfalls.  Perhaps the most frustrating of these downfalls are the advertisements which pop up at the most inopportune times.  If you streams are fairly short you may gat away with it but if you stream live for any length of time you have to deal with the advertisements.  The free version of Livstream doesn’t allow you to transmit HD quality images even if you have a HD webcam which is somewhat disappointing, but I’ve learned to live with it.  I’m sure you will too.

This term, I’ve used Livestream in the following ways:

1. Present a weekly student news broadcast once a week: CETV News

    • You can follow the broadcasts live at 1pm PST on Friday’s here
    • I have a small broadcast-journalism news team of 5:
      • 1 technician, 2 newsreader’s, 1 script writing, and 1 researcher
    • On Monday morning I allow the researcher to research 5 segments including international, national, community, school, and sports news stories
    • Once the news stories have been identified, the researcher fills out a Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How table
    • On Tuesday and Wednesday the script writer uses the above table and adds his/her own unique touch to the stories.  It’s important to use a script writer who is comfortable using powerful language.  The script writer hands the final script to both newsreader’s by Thursday at recess.
    • This enables the newsreader’s to practice pronunciation and fluency in preparation for the broadcast the following day
    • During the broadcast we use hand signals which encourage the newsreader’s to slow down, speed up, smile, and speak louder. The cycle repeats itself again on Monday
    • Student engagement is high with this activity, and the fact that the broadcast may be viewed by anyone with the link means there is an increased level of professionalism from all involved.

2. Streamed live presentations of political candidates in the electoral riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon

    • To coincide with the Canadian General Election which took place on May 2nd, 2011 my teaching partner and I invited all 6 electoral candidates for our riding into school to present to our grade 5/6 classes
    • The plan was to have candidates deliver a kid-friendly synopsis of their party platform to our students, and our students would then vote at the end of the week.
    • After further consideration we decided to invite other schools in our district to join us in the voting process.
    • Livestream enabled us to stream the presentations live to eight elementary schools in our district.  The live presentations offered an additional sense of authenticity for students, and resulted in a higher voter turn out.
    • Presentations can be view here: Central Election
I experienced several challenges along the way, but I persevered and was pleased by the end results.  It is critical to hardwire to the network rather than use a wireless connection when streaming.  We found that it is best to stream in a room as small as possible to get the best audio results.  I also found it was better to use the microphone built into the webcam rather the microphone built into my computer.  Finally, it extremely helpful to conduct several tests before going live to ensure audio levels and video quality were optimum.
If you plan to try this please feel free to contact me for help if needed.

Tech Integration Post #7 0f 10: Using Voki’s in Social Studies

After covering The United Nations, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and The Convention of the Rights Of The Child in our social studies classes this term, I successfully used Voki’s with my students to demonstrate their knowledge.

Here’s an outline of what I had them do:

Assignment Steps:

  1. Visit www.voki.com
  2. Click on the create button in the top left hand corner
  3. Next, customize your character by gender, hairstyle, and clothing
  4. Once you are happy with your character click done
  5. Now it’s time to add the voice of your character.  I would like you to make your character talk about important points you have recently learned about the United Nations
  6. You can either record your own voice or use the text to speech box.
  7. Once you’ve selected an appropriate voice for your character click done
  8. You can now publish your work – click publish
  9. You will be prompted to name your work: Use firstname and UN in capitals
  10. If you have not already created an account you will need to do so now – use your @mrlister.co.cc email address and DO NOT use your last name
  11. Once registered choose medium sized voki
  12. Copy all the text in the box labelled “For Most Sites Use This Code”
  13. Once you have the code for your Voki visit the following Google Document and paste your code under your name – http://bit.ly/hsohIT

Student engagement levels were particularly high during this assignment and I received some thoughtful responses.  Here’s an example…

 

AC_Voki_Embed(200,267,”40fb56fdc05aa7ceb3bed7e9b22763a8″,3150442, 1, “”, 0);
Get a Voki now!

 

Tech Integration Post # 6 of 10: Skype an Author On The, Before-During-After, Writing Process.

Skype is a service which allows the registered user to make free phone calls and video calls over the Internet.  This is a free service but both users need to have Skype software downloaded on their computers before the technology will work.  In order to make a phone call you’ll need a microphone to speak into and a pair of speakers to listen to the responses of the person you’re talking to.  If you would like to engaging in video calls both parties will needed a webcam in order to be able to see each other.

Using Skype in the classroom is not limited to author workshops, when using Skype you can bring a variety of professionals/experts into your classroom at their convenience.  The following link takes you to a list of professionals/experts from around the world willing to Skype in your classroom.

Also, please take the time to check out this excellent video resource from Silvia Tolisano

Example: Use an author to help teach your learner’s about the before, during, and after writing process.  I’ve found that whenever you connect your learner’s to experts outside the classroom it enhances the validity of the task/assignment ten fold, and you’re students become more engaged.

Learning Outcomes: B.C. Grade 6 Language Arts
A3 – listen purposefully to understand and analyse ideas and information
A5 – select and use strategies when expressing and presenting ideas, information, and feelings
B5 – select and use strategies before reading and viewing to develop understanding of text
C5 – select and use strategies before writing and representing
C6 – select and use strategies during writing and representing to express and refine thoughts
C7 – select and use strategies after writing and representing to improve their work

Here’s a link to all my Skype related bookmarks on Diigo

Let me know what you think.  If you’re reading this and have used these techniques please feel free to comment or question.

Top 10 Teacher Tools List

Here’s my top ten tools list and how I use them.  They’re in no particular order.

  1. Google Documents – The ultimate collaboration tool for your PLN and your learners
  2. Twitter – Widen and enhance your PLN circle with this micro-blogging tool.  Superb tool for connecting with fellow educators.
  3. Diigo – Social bookmarking, highlighting, annotating, and research tool.  Use with learners or use with your PLN
  4. Bit.ly – Powerful URL shortener
  5. VoiceThread – Use it to enhanced/develop oral language skills, practice foreign languages, and useful for students with limited written output or LA students
  6. Skype – Connect your learners with professionals from around the globe, collaborate with classrooms across the nation, and interact with authors
  7. Wallwisher – Virtual sticky-note tool.  Use it as a formative assessment tool during a break
  8. Podomatic – Powerful and free podcast hosting tool
  9. WordPress – Powerful blogging tool which can be used as a reflection tool. Excellent for math journals
  10. Google Reader – Fantastic RSS feed-reader.  Let Google Reader do the work for you.  No longer need to spend time visiting all your favourite websites and blogs.  Google Reader brings them to you to read

Think a tool should have made the top 10?  Let me know your thoughts.

Tech Integration Post # 5 of 10: Health and Career Education 2.0

Grade 5 Health and Career Education Learning Outcome: Safety and Injury Prevention

C7 – describe safety guidelines to protect themselves and others from abuse and exploitation (e.g., knowing their right not to be abused, being assertive, avoiding potentially unsafe situations, practicing safe Internet use, recognizing tricks and lures used by predators)

Use a Flip camera, a video camera, a digital camera, or a mobile phone to video small groups of students acting out how to be safe online.  Try these topics or generate your own:

  1. Never hide Internet usage from your parents.  Always let them know when your online
  2. Never reveal personal information such as telephone number, address, last name etc…
  3. Never arrange to meet someone you’ve met online and don’t know, without your parents permission
  4. Cyberbullying
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Protecting reputations online
  7. Digital privacy
  8. Safe talking in Cyberspace
  9. Handling E-mail and IM
  10. Safe Social Networking

Your learners may choose a topic and research, in depth, based on the information you’ve share with them or from information they have found independently.  They form a small group of three or four and complete the following tasks:

  • Sketch out a storyboard of the Internet/Online safety skit
  • Create a script of dialogue for the skit
  • Collect any props needed for the skit and practice until comfortable
  • Record the skit and edit using JayCut

Note: This is a cross-curricular activity and can be used for oral language practice as well as a writing exercise.
My Diigo links on Internet/Online Safety

Once your videos are complete your learners can use JayCut to upload and edit them.  JayCut is a free online video editing tool.  There is no longer a need to download expensive video editing software.  You can use JayCut from any computer with an Internet connection and the basic package is free.

When the videos have been edited by your learners they may be showcased at assemblies or shown to learners in younger grades and used as a teaching tool.  Older grades tend to put more effort into their work when the audience is larger and they know it’s being used for a higher purpose.

Feel free to let me know how it goes…

Tech Integration Post # 4 of 10: Teaching with TED

TED is a small non-profit devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading.’  It began in 1984 as a conference, bringing together leaders in the fields of Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  The TED website makes a selection of the best talks and performances available to view and download for free.  All of the talks feature closed captions in English, and many feature subtitles in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.  If you subscribe to a news reader such as Google Reader you can also subscribe to new talks here.

I’ve used TED in the classroom to inspire my learners, to bring attention to important world events, to listen to debates and form opinions, to create and stimulate inquiry, to activate prior knowledge, to offer career and life-skills knowledge, and as a writing prompt.

The following TED talk is a debate and asks the question, “Does the world need nuclear energy?” It compares the future of burning fossil fuels energy against the possibility of increasing nuclear power production.  Obviously, the vocabulary used in these talks are not necessarily intermediate grade friendly but I feel it serves as a great introduction to a debate writing unit for grade 6, or an introduction to non-renewable resources in covered in B.C. science 6.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK8ccWSZkic]

It’s simple to use TED as an engaging way to meet many learning outcomes in British Columbia and beyond.  Here are a few examples which link specific TED talks directly to B.C. learning outcomes:

B.C. PLO Science grade 5: Earth and Space Science: Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources

  • analyze how BC’s living and non-living resources are used
  • identify methods of extracting or harvesting and processing BC’s resources
  • describe potential environmental impacts of using BC’s living and non-living resources

B.C. PLO English Language Arts grade 6:

  • Oral Language: A1 use speaking and listening to interact with others
  • Reading and viewing: B9 read and view to improve and extend thinking
  • Writing and representing: C2 write a variety of effective informational writing for a range of purposes and audiences that communicates ideas to inform or persuade


Why use TED?

  1. It’s real
  2. It’s relevant
  3. It’s current
  4. It connects classroom’s with people making positive change in the world.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tech Integration Post # 3 of 10: Using VoiceThread To Enhance Oral Language While Meeting Science Learning Outcomes

VoiceThread is a web2.0 tool that allows users to create and upload video, text, images, and audio (known as content) to a secure server from where anyone with access can interact with the content.  Think of it as an audio blog.

Example:
Grade 6 Science learning outcome: Earth and Space science – explain obstacles unique to exploration of a specific extreme environment.

Instructions On How To Create An Account:





How to create a VoiceThread:




How to create multiple identities:




In the PLO example at the top of the post, your students will find examples of extreme environments using images, video, or text.  They will use the audio feature to comment on the content by explaining why the chosen environment is extreme. Students will discuss why the environment is extreme, and what makes it difficult to life there.  Each student uploads a different example of an extreme environment and comments on their own thread as well as other class member’s threads.  This is great way to practice and assess oral language as well as introduce and practice science specific vocabulary.


Suggested Achievement Indicators (audio comments/responses) for this PLO are:

  • Identify the salient characteristics of an extreme environment (e.g., space, polar ice, oceans, volcanoes, and the atmosphere — a place that humans do not naturally inhabit but choose to explore)
  • Give several examples of resources and knowledge that can be obtained from distant explorations
  • Give several examples of how technology can be used by humans to travel to and explore an unknown environment

Interactive Whiteboards (IWB): Post 1 of 2

I’m attending my first IWB workshop on Friday June 18 so I thought I’d compose before and after posts.  Presently I haven’t actually used an IWB in a classroom so all the information is from research I’ve compiled.  Early next week I’ll be able to offer additional information once I’ve completed the workshop.

I’m convinced that every classroom in Canada will have an interactive whiteboard (Smartboard) installed within the next 5 years.  It is the next evolution of the chalkboard, so you might as well embrace it now.  Is resistance is futile?

What exactly is an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB)?

  • A large display that connects to a computer and projector
  • The projector projects the computer’s desktop image onto the display
  • Your learners control the display with electronic pens, fingers, or other devices
  • The display is typically wall mounted and is movable

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjdNPMZJbLs]

As early as 2004, 26% of primary classrooms in the UK had IWB’s.  The BECTA, government agency promoting the use of technology integration in the classroom, completed a two-year study recent and as a result of that research, is working on an expansion plan for IWB in the classroom.

Pros:

  • Increases student engagement
  • Engaging with material in a different way 1
  • Objects are able to be manipulated in a hands-on way with an IWB i.e. measuring angles in geometry 1
  • Encourage a different, more collaborative kind of teaching 1

Cons:

  • Not enough training for teachers
  • First year of introduction leads to little/no significant impact on a learner’s academic performance
  • Teacher’s focus more on the technology than on learning outcomes
  • The interactive nature of the IWB can make some relative mundane task take longer than necessary particularly with low functioning students

It’s time to open up the dialogue surrounding the use of IWB in our classrooms.  What are your thoughts?