Sunday, September 25, 2016

Transform Learning Inside and Outside of the Classroom with SeeSaw

Do you give your students options for showcasing their understanding? We know from brain research that the way we learn is as different as our DNA; therefore, providing options for demonstrating understanding is critical in the learning process. SeeSaw is a free digital portfolio too to give students the ability to express their knowledge in different ways through written text, drawings, images, video and web links.

What I Like

There are several things that I like about SeeSaw:

  • It is easy to use and makes it the perfect tool for elementary classrooms.
  • Students can annotate, record, and capture images directly in the App.
  • SeeSaw is available on multiple platforms, which makes it perfect for any school environment. 
  • Teachers have control over what is posted, including student and parent comments.
  • Teachers can give access to parents to see their child's work. Recently, my son's teacher gave me access to his SeeSaw account. I am able to hear him read stories and share what he is learning when he is learning!

How Can I Use It?

SeeSaw is easy to incorporate into any classroom, which gives you many different options. Here are a few ideas:

  • Blog - Have students share what they learned in class through a blog entry, video recording, or a picture. Once students have posted content, have classmates learn how to use comments to comment on their classmate's work. Encourage parents to participate too!
  • Solve Problems - Have students take a picture of math problems or grammar practice and solve using the annotation and video recording features. This provides you with the perfect way to understand their thinking. 
  •  Practice Reading - Have students use the video and audio recording features to practice reading their favorite book, poem, or something that they have written. This provides you with an excellent progress monitoring resource as well. 
  • Share Announcements - My son's teacher often shares what's going on in class through a 30 - 60 second video on SeeSaw. I love hearing about what is happening!  

There are so many other ways to use SeeSaw, but I highly recommend that you check it out! It can be the perfect tool in the elementary classroom for teachers, students, and even parents.




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Give Your Students a Voice, One Dot at a Time

Each one of us makes daily decisions that impact the lives of others. How often do you take the time to have students and colleagues vote or share a voice in how decisions are made? Although this can be time consuming, Dotstorming is a tool, much like Padlet, where participants can add ideas, share opinions, and vote through dots. 

Step 1: Create Your First Dotstorming Board

First, you will need to create your first Dotstorming topic by providing the title of the topic, a description, how many votes (or dots used to cast votes) you would like each person to have, and how do you want to share your board (via a link or email). 

Step 2: Share Your Topic

Next, you will want to share your Dotstorming topic with others through a link or via email. As with other collaborative sties, participants do not have to have an account to participate. 

Step 3: Add Your Ideas

Then, you will want to add your ideas in the form of text, images, and videos. There are tons of was that you can use this tool, such as:

  • Determining topics to cover in class or professional development
  • Which resources to share at your next faculty meeting
  • Plan your next unit with colleagues
  • Have your students or colleagues give feedback on what worked and what didn't
  • Have your students use this as a project-based learning workspace

Step 4: Vote

Last but certainly not least, you will want to have participants vote on your topic. Simply click on the idea you like to place a "dot" or cast a vote.

Conclusion

Humans are naturally wired to want to have choice; however, we often struggle with how to give options and receive quality feedback. Allowing others to have a voice is the perfect way to create engaging and collaborative environments, where everyone has an opportunity to share and be heard. Dotstorming is the perfect tool to get the feedback that you desire. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

3 Reasons Why You Should Use PBS Learning Media

What if you had access to thousands of free and engaging digital resources that are aligned to academic standards? What if you had access to tools to make your job easier? What if you had access to tools that provide students with engaging and customized learning experiences? You and your students can with resources from PBS LearningMedia.

Here are three reasons why you should be using PBS LearningMedia:

Access to over 100,000 videos, images, interactives, and lesson plans for every grade level and subject area. Resources are aligned to national and Common Core academic standards.


Tools to make your job easier! PBS LearningMedia provides tools to increase your productivity, such as Lesson Builder, Storyboard and Quiz Maker. Teachers can create customized and self-paced lessons for students to effectively learn content. Students can use the Storyboard to demonstrate their understanding of a concept in their own way. Each resource can help you create customized and effective lessons for all students to learn.


Access to a larger community of educators, who are committed to helping ALL children succeed. It is the perfect place to connect, whether you are looking for a webinar to use digital tools more effectively or want to connect with other educators in your subject area.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Three Ways to Engage Parents with Google Photos

Can you believe that it is September already? It's the time of year for fresh starts, new school supplies, and exciting opportunities to try something new. Why not start the year off with a new tool to engage parents?

Google Photos: Much More Than a Backup Tool

If you are a Google Apps for Education School, then you know that Google Photos is the perfect place to store your classroom photos, but did you know that it also offers you several powerful creation tools? Here are three easy ways to engage parents (and students) with this powerful tool:

1. Create a Shared Photo Album

Parents love to see pictures of their children in action because it gives them a glimpse of what they are learning, how they interact with their peers, and how they engage with learning.

Many of us have mobile devices and tablets in our hands, so why not use them to capture everyday moments and store them in a shared album? Parents can view albums without needing a Google account because it can be shared via URL, Facebook, or Twitter.



2. Create a Collage

Want to spruce up your weekly news letter, create a unique gift, or showcase a particular activity? Google Photo's provides you with a Collage generator. To create your collage, simply select the pictures you would like to appear in your collage and Google will do the rest!

Elementary school parents love seeing their children grow through pictures. Why not take a beginning of the school, mid-year, and end of the year picture? Share the picture at the end of the year as an end of the year or Mother's Day gift?


3. Transform Back-to-School Night with a Movie

If you have an iOS and Android device, then you may want to use the Google Photos Movie Maker tool to make your movies come to life through animation and sound. Simply select the pictures that you would like to feature in your movie, select Movie, and Google will automatically animate and put your photos to music.

This is a great way to make Back-to-School night more interesting, send out a weekly email blast, or engage parents through social media!

Conclusion:

Marking one's self is not a natural trait of many teachers; however, in this day an age, it is an essential quality to connect the classroom and home. If we look for opportunities to connect with parents and engage parents in the learning process through technology, I believe we are more likely to build stronger connections between the classroom and home!