Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Voice Typing – Assisting the Writing Process

June11

I was reminded of a powerful feature in Google Docs… Voice Typing.

Many students struggle with getting thoughts down on paper or typed on a screen. The numerous steps involved in the physical act of the writing process can be a challenging endeavor for lots of people. How often are ideas lost because a student can’t find a character key or doesn’t know how to even start spelling a word?

Under the tools menu in Docs, you can enable Voice Typing. While it is not perfect, this tool is an easy to use accommodation. I’m even thinking that it could help with the very beginning of writing – brainstorming, allowing a student to get creative ideas out on the Doc without all of the possible hindrances. The student then could copy and paste the notes into the rest of the Doc or on a separate one as their writing unfolds and becomes more formalized.

Check out the video below to see how quick this tool can be be used:

Also, here are some resources to type with your voice: directions and commands.

I wonder how many students take advantage of this feature? I’d love to hear from you.

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AutoDraw – A Little Artistic Assistance

June11

Some of us never fully developed drawing skills (with no fault to our art teachers). I think I’m good at sketching cows and cats (sitting backwards), but boy, do I struggle sometimes to make a doodle look like what I intend. Therefore, I empathize with many of our students. I totally encourage them to do their best with their own artwork. However, there are times when a little assist may be the appropriate accommodation for a frustrated student (or even adult). Or perhaps, you just don’t have time to devote to many blocks of making illustrations, but don’t want students to use clip art or photos from online.

Take 2 minutes to learn about AutoDraw

Please let me know if you’ve given AutoDraw a try… or want to do so!

(A thank you to Mrs. Butterline for showing me this site.)

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Seesaw PD

May14

This week, I’m passing along another professional development opportunity with no traveling required.

Seesaw, the student learning journal with the family connection, has new offerings for webinars and constantly is adding more. The webinars also are archived if you can’t participate live. There also seems to be something for all levels and interest… I’m intrigued by “LIVE PD for Tech IntegrationistsCreating a Hands-On PD Lab“.

Go here to check out the latest options.

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BrainPOP – Have You Checked it Out Lately?

March19

Allow me to take a poll…

How many people have used the movies at BrainPOP?

(I’m sure there are a generous show of hands…)

How many people have used the quiz that follows the movie?

(Again, I’m sure there are quite a few hands out there…)

How many of you are using BrainPOP for science and social studies?

(Yup, those hands are still up…)

For ELA and math?

(Oh, down go some hands…)

And how many of you have differentiated instruction using BrainPOP?

(OK… I will bet that there are far fewer hands now…)

I just wrapped up facilitating a BrainPOP study group. Our focus was on meeting the needs of diverse learners. If you haven’t taken a good look at BrainPOP lately, run right now and do so!

The school district I am in has a subscription that gives us access to BrainPOP, BrainPOP, Jr. and BrainPOP ELL. After being in this study group, we fully are aware of all the good stuff that we have been missing in BrainPOP and BrainPOP, Jr. (we did not explore ELL)… and definitely are taking advantage from this point.

First, get a My BrainPOP account. If your school has a subscription, there’s a code for you to use. We have connected our G-Suite with BrainPOP, so teachers easily can create classes in My BrainPOP. What does that mean?

When a student goes to BrainPOP or BrainPOP, Jr., s/he can log in, receive assignments and submit them directly to the teacher. These assignments can be: watching movies, taking quizzes, creating concept maps (Make-a-Map), composing their own movies (Make-a-Movie)… and this is only the beginning… NewsELA, Primary Source, Activity, Graphic Organizer, Vocabulary, or Related Reading also are BrainPOP features… and if you are using BrainPOP, Jr., students can be assigned Word Play, Draw About It, Activity, Write About It, or Talk About It.

Quizzes can be redesigned and modified by teachers. Templates for concept maps can be shared with supports as needed. Actually, different versions of assignments can be made and shared with specific members of the class.

I haven’t even mentioned SnapThought yet or the game features like Sortify that really get students thinking and digging deep as well as reflect on their learning.

Below are my initial thoughts about SnapThought that I wrote during the study group:

SnapThought is a real game changer. I always am promoting student reflection, and I was totally unaware that BrainPOP had that feature available! The fact that students are playing a learning game is motivating for many, but I always question whether students are even understanding why they are playing. Sometimes they seem to be ignoring informational pop-ups and just clicking away with no real purpose or thought. I can see how having students stop and take a photo with SnapThought of where they are and explaining their thinking or rationale at that point of the game will keep them focused. I can see having students identify what they have learned at that point of the game being very valuable and reinforcing to skills and concepts they are acquiring.

The bottom line: there is great depth to BrainPOP and BrainPOP, Jr. with so many possibilities beyond simply watching movies whole class. With so many avenues to take and customizations to make in this service, there truly is a way to engage all learners. I also see the service as a wonderful formative assessment, giving teachers real time data to inform their instruction in small groups.

If you have access to this tool, I definitely recommend you start exploring! I’d love hear any of your favorite things about BrainPOP.

Disclaimer: I am not a BrainPOP Certified Educator (although I work with two!) nor am I receiving anything from BrainPOP. I just like spreading good stuff.

Google for Education YouTube Channel

February26

I came across the Google for Education YouTube Channel today.

A couple of things that stood out:

  • A short video series called EDU90 covers educational resources three times per month

  • Tutorials from Google’s “First Day of…” initiative in the Teacher Center. Right now, they have videos for Forms and Classroom. I’m hoping they will continue to add more as they are super easy to follow.

Personally, I like watching how-to’s, especially current ones that reflect changes in the services. I also prefer to go right to the source to learn about these updates.

Therefore, I subscribed.

How do you stay in the know?

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