Productivity

 

We all know that there is often more to do than time to do it. AND we all know those people who seem to get it all done so flawlessly. So easily. How is it possible? Here are a few of my favorite tools for productivity to get you on your way faster and easier and with more time for the fun!

Last pass: this is a way to encrypt your passwords. All of them. Think: I never have to remember a password again. I can create a unique, crazy, well-made password for every site and app and NOT remember it. OR I can have lastpass do it for me! That’s right folks! Use the app, website, Chrome extension to get into any of your sites that require passwords. It’s free or for the premium site, $12 a year. One of the few apps I’ll pay money for. If one site is hacked, I know that all my passwords are unique so I don’t have to worry about changing them all.

Calendly: if you rely on others booking appointments with you (administrators or coaches), this is for you. I keep mine in my signature line of my email and when people need to meet with me (on a daily basis), they have access to my calendar. It syncs with your Google or 365 calendar so as long as you keep that current, you’re all set. No more going back and forth in email to create appointments!

Forms: Either Google or Microsoft will do! Anything that I need information about, goes into a form. Data from staff, summer addresses, who is bringing what for an event. It doesn’t matter. It goes into a neatly organized form that I can access from anywhere.

Symbaloo: this is a visually appealing bookmarking site that you can share with others. You create webmixes by subject. For example, I have them about online assessments, PBL, technology, and coding. These can be embedded onto a website or shared with students.

These are just a few. More to come later. What are your favorite ways to be productive and efficient and get things done?

 

 

 

 

PBL-Technology Junction

pbl

project-based-learning-tech-junction

Student Driven

As an educator one characteristic that I want to instill in students is the ability to problem solve and fail forward as they connect with the world. So often we find ourselves giving students answers, or if we don’t give them the answers, we lead them right there because we have a correct answer in mind. So what are some ways we can break this cycle? How can teach to get our students to be the thinkers and the ones who problem solve?

Here are a few ideas and tools:

Use the Question Formulation Technique. This allows students to work in groups and create and answer their own questions throughout a project. It’s powerful! I have them do it in a Google Doc or Microsoft Word (with sharing on) so that they can collaborate together as each group creates questions. This way groups can see one another’s thinking.

TES Teach Blendspace is a playlist that is easily created because it connects to your computer, YouTube, Google Drive, or the web. You can easily drag and drop resources into it. By strategically placing some assessments for students to determine what they do and don’t know, learning can be put into their hands to decide which assignments to do. You put a variety of choices for learning so that if they prefer learning through watching videos, those are there; if they prefer learning through games, they have that option. If they prefer reading articles, you’ve pulled those in too! A great way to personalized learning and allow student-driven learning.

Blogging! Whether it’s WordPress, Weebly, Blogger, or Kidblog, giving our students a voice to share their learning, connect in an authentic way with the world, and learn digital citizenship in context is important.

If you’re looking for something a little different and new, take a look at Adobe Spark. You have three options: create a web page, a video, or a social media post. In Adobe Spark are sharing options which allow students to go public.

Just a few ways to begin to go beyond the classroom and have students consider the world as they consider what they want to learn and how they create to make it happen.

 

Student Ownership. For Real.

Student ownership. I’ve watched my student tech team develop into this amazing group over the past year. Last year, I had a vision that I wanted to come to fruition; but even with that I couldn’t have imagined what it would become, what we would become in one short year.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I put out applications for students who were interested. I work in a middle schools, so there are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I simply wanted students who had some interest in technology, being a team, advocating for their school, and promoting through social media. Students joined for one or all of these reasons.

Soon after joining last year, ten of my eighth graders joined four other middle schools to be inspired by iSchool Initiative and create a three-year plan for our school. They set their sights high. They came together as a team and became leaders. Some of the initiatives they wanted our team to do included the following:

  1.  teach teachers and students more about technology; we are a 1:1 iPad school and they felt this was a need
  2. open media center in the mornings for students

Empowerment has become our middle name. Maybe our first. Students led app speed dating where they taught apps to teachers. Our student “my iPad has an issue” Google doc went to their iPads, so that they could be first on the scene before it went to our local IT. They did team building through activities like building virtual computers. Currently a few of them are trying to get a budget to build the computer for real!

The project that has generated the most excitement is their modern-day technology lab created in a room from a broken down computer lab. They created the floor plan. They  worked with me to determine what we needed to purchase for it. As a result, they own this lab.

These are middle schoolers who feel pride in what they do every day. They have a purpose in coming to school and are quick to tell me what they need and advocate for it.

Now that is real life. That is what school should be.

 

Augmented Reality

My new FAVORITE techy thing is augmented reality! The implications for these apps in a classroom are amazing, so test them out then use them with your students –of all ages.

With Aurasma (see a video at the link) you can use pre-made Auras or create your own. Auras are three-dimensional animations or videos that are captured within a frame on the app. This app is available on IOS or Android. Imagine students for whom English is a second language creating videos of words they are learning so that when they frame the word, the video plays.

The ColAR app is free and some of the coloring pages are free; others you have to pay for. Students color the page and hold the frame in the app over the colored page to make it come to life.

PopAr has a series of children’s books that “come to life” through this augmented reality experience. This is a new way to interact with books and it is so cool!

Spacecraft 3D is put out by NASA. Students learn about the solar system and earth as they interact with them in as an authentic way as possible….without heading into space on a shuttle.

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