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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Free iPad Recipes: Demonstrating Vocabulary Understanding (Part 3)

If you are interested in free iPad recipes to address all learning styles, please join me for a free webinar tomorrow  Thursday, May 1 from 4:00 - 4:30 pm EST through SimpleK12. 
Are You a One and Done? 

Are you a "one and done" App user? What I mean is do you only integrate one App per class experience? This may work for some of your students, but it will not work for all of your students. Why? Not every student learns and interacts with Apps the same way.

Today I conclude my series on introducing vocabulary terms, while using multiple Apps.


Ingredient # 1: Activate Background Knowledge
In an earlier post, I discussed how to activate background knowledge with a simple App called Fridge Poems. 

Ingredient # 2: Dice App + Edmodo = Discussion

In my previous post, I discussed how you can use the Dice and Edmodo Apps to discuss vocabulary terms. 

Ingredient # 3 - Demonstrate Understanding with Tellagami

Imagine that there are five minutes to go in class and you want a quick way to measure what students have learned today. Why not turn to Tellegami? I had my students utilize this mobile app to come up with an animated message (called a Gami) to define the topic (or vocabulary word) of the day word. 

As soon as my students used the app, you could see the engagement level increasing. It was a fun and challenging way to get students to demonstrate their understanding because they had to either record or type a 30 second response. As soon as students finished, they were able to send me their Gami through email. 

There are many other ways you can utilize this free app. In a previous post, I mentioned that you could also use Tellagami as a way for students to provide a 30 second summary of what was learned that day. 

Another Option: Pictures Speak a Thousand Words

When I have had more time in other lessons, I have had my students use the Pic Collage App to provide a collage of visual examples to define the concept or term. After students created their collages, I would have students make mini-presentations to share their images of what they learned. This is perfect for your visual learners!

Conclusion:

Why should you avoid being a "One and Done"? Brain research has shown us that everyone's brain works and interacts differently with the world around them. What does this mean? Everyone learns differently; therefore, we need to design different learning experiences that address the needs of learners. It's not just about learning styles, we must also take into consideration background experiences, cultural differences, and even what interests students.

This makes it extremely important to structure iPad experiences in ways suitable to address the needs of all learning styles. To effectively design learning experiences for all of my students, I often utilize the Universal Design for Learning framework. This allows me to address learning barriers before they occur by frontloading instruction with tools (or apps) to address the needs of my learners.

If you are not familiar with UDL, it is a framework based on the fact that learner variability (differences) are the rule and not the exception; therefore, every learner needs different ways to represent material, demonstrate their understanding, and engage in learning.

Check out more on UDL at CAST and the National Center on UDL.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Free iPad Recipes: Introducing Vocabulary with Dice and Edmodo (Part 2)


Are You a One and Done?
Are you a "one and done" App user? What I mean is do you only integrate one App per class experience? This may work for some of your students, but it will not work for all of your students. Why? Not every student learns and interacts with Apps the same way.

Over the next few posts, I want to share with you a common way to introduce your students to new vocabulary terms, while using multiple Apps.
Ingredient # 1: Activate Background Knowledge
In my previous post, I discussed how to activate background knowledge with a simple App called Fridge Poems.

Ingredient # 2: Dice App + Edmodo = Discussion

After I have my students share their FridgePoems with the class, I want to further investigate what students know about the topic in pairs or small groups. In this case, I want my students to help define the word charisma and provide examples of it in the world. If a term is difficult to define or provide examples, I may give a brief reading assignment for students to complete the next part.

I begin by having my students open a free Dice App. I usually have one student use the iPad to "roll" one die. Depending on the number, the student with tthe iPad will have to ask their partner one of the following questions:

  • If you rolled a "1", then as a "who" question about the topic
  • If you rolled a "2", then ask a "what" question about the topic
  • If you rolled a "3", then ask a "when" question about the topic
  • If you rolled a "4", then ask a "where" question about the topic
  • If you rolled a "5", then ask a "why" question about the topic
  • If you rolled a "6", then ask a "how" question about the topic
This is a great protocol for students to use to discuss text. As their partner is trying to come up with an answer, they will open up the Edmodo App and post their question and partner's response. This keeps students accountable and helps aid discussion. 

What did I do next? Look for my next post!

Want more iPad recipes?
Check out my free SimpleK12 webinar on Thursday, May 1 at 4 pm EST. I will be giving other free iPad recipes that use free iPad apps.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Free iPad Recipes: Introducing Vocabulary (Part 1)



Are You a One and Done? 

Are you a "one and done" App user? What I mean is do you only integrate one App per class experience? This may work for some of your students, but it will not work for all of your students. Why? Not every student learns and interacts with Apps the same way.

If we only focus on using one App per classroom experience, we often leave out many of our students who don't learn this way. My advice is to try to incorporate 2 or more Apps into your experience that will allow different types of learners to connect with material. In other words, don't be a "one and done"!

Over the next few posts, I want to share with you a common way to introduce your students to new vocabulary terms, while using multiple Apps.

Ingredient # 1: Activate Background Knowledge

I was recently trying to meet the curriculum goal to introduce my students to the word charisma and how it impacts our daily lives. I decided that pre-assessing my students on how they would define the term was the best way to see what my students already knew.

In the past, I would have had my students write their thoughts down on a piece of paper, share with a partner, and then share with the class. Although this is an effective way of getting students to write, I have found that my students are beginning to lose interest in this strategy.

I wanted to engaged my students in a new way, while effectively demonstrating their knowledge of the word. Where did I turn? I turned to FridgePoems, a free App, that provides students with random word magnets that they can place on a virtual refrigerator door to construct sentences or poems.

I wanted a creative way to have my students demonstrate their understanding, so I had them create a 10 - 15 word poem to define our topic.

What did I do next? Look for my next post!


Want more iPad recipes? 

Check out my free SimpleK12 webinar on Thursday, May 1 at 4 pm EST. I will be giving other free iPad recipes that use free iPad apps.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wikis are More Than Wikipedia: Using Wikis to Teach Vocabulary

Several years ago, I did a webinar titled Wikis are more than Wikipedia. The purpose the webinar was to give teachers creative ways to use Wikis in their classroom. With the emergence of new technologies, Apps, and devices, we sometimes forget the power of a wiki and how it can help all students learn.

Have you ever thought that a wiki could be used to teach vocabulary?  Not every student grasps vocabulary because every student's brain interprets and learns vocabulary differently; therefore, it is necessary to provide students with different ways of learning new terms.

I recently heard of a sixth grade teacher, who uses a wiki to create a classroom dictionary for her students to refer to during the course of the year. Students are encouraged to provide multiple ways of understanding terms by adding text, pictures, video clips, and external links.

This is a perfect tool for students with different abilities and learning styles because they can understand the vocabulary term in a way that works best for them. They can provide examples that make sense to their peers. It is also a great way for students to "teach" their classmates. When students can "teach" their classmates, they are more likely to retain the meaning of that particular term.

Want to create your own classroom wiki? I have used Wikispaces in the past and have found it easy to use; however, there are several other free wikis out there.

Do you have creative ways to teach vocabulary? I'd love to hear more.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Get Rid of One-Size-Fits-All Approaches to Research and Try SearchyPants



Let's face it, our students are the masters of finding and accessing inappropriate content - either purposefully or accidentally. As educators, we have the professional responsibility to protect our students from accessing inappropriate content, while providing them with valuable tools to find the information they need. Even with the most advanced filtering systems, slips do happen.

Perhaps you take a one-size-fits-all approach to research. How does this help all of your learners in your classroom? Google and Yahoo are great search engines, but there are a variety of safe search engines available for educators to use to help provide scaffolding for basic or struggling learners.

SearchyPants is a tool that educators can use to create their own customized search engine to meet the needs of their students without eliminating the functionality of a search engine. For example, let's say that you plan to have your students use SearchyPants to do a search; however, you want to restrict their access to certain terms, games, pictures, and videos. With the click of a button, you can eliminate distractions and provide students with valuable tools.

Using SearchyPants in the UDL Classroom

Finding the most appropriate information and managing resources is an executive function that many of our students struggle with. To help our students develop this valuable skill, we cannot design one-size-fits-all approaches to research. We need to provide students with multiple ways of finding the most appropriate resources. Our high functioning and highly skilled students may be fine to use EBSCO and Google Searches, while our struggling students may need to use SearchyPants as a scaffold to aid in the process.

What Scaffolds Can You Provide?

I like the fact that SearchyPants limits unnecessary distractions like certain key terms, video clips, images and games; however, the search engine does provide other very useful tools to help support students.

  • You can provide students with useful or commonly used links called Pants Links on the actual search page. This would be helpful for students who need to access your class website, formatting resources, etc.
  • Students can see trending searches from other users. This can be extremely helpful if students are trying to find certain pieces of information.
  • As a teacher, you can see all of the searches that are being performed on your customized SearchyPants search engine. This can be helpful to see what students are grasping and what they are having difficulty with.
Want an example? Check out my customized search engine and give it a try! Try SearchyPants in your classroom and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reviewing for Tests the #UDL Way with MoveNote and LiveBinders



On Monday of this past week, I had made a post referencing the MoveNote App as a way to jigsaw assignments. After much thought, I wanted to share with you another creative way to use MoveNote and LiveBinders as a study tool.

We all have various ways of reviewing for tests. Some of us use stations, others review sheets, and some have students create cheat sheets. Why not use MoveNote as a tool for review?

Imagine having students use MoveNote to review materials for an upcoming test. You may begin with assigning students a particular concept or review question. In turn, they would have to verbally explain their response to their peers (perfect for auditory learners) while gathering pictures to illustrate the concept for visual learners.

As students finish their presentations,you begin collecting the URL's of their responses to embed into a LiveBinder. This binder will contain the student presentations and resources to help all students grasp materials.

This is an easy way to scaffold learning opportunities for the different ability levels and learning styles in your classroom. If we can frontload students with supports that provide students with different ways of representing, expressing, and engaging with material, we can create more successful learning outcomes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Using MoveNote to Jigsaw Assignments

My students and I started a new unit today, which required motivating them a different way. I wanted to provide students with a unique way to jigsaw the information that we were discussing in class. If you are not familiar with a jigsaw, it is when you divide up a task (usually a reading assignment) and assign different parts to different groups of students. 

My students broke into groups and were responsible for presenting a certain portion of the assignment to the class. Rather than create a poster or a boring PowerPoint, I asked students to use MoveNote to use 3 to 5 different pictures to illustrate a concept. Students used these pictures to construct the framework for their 1 - 2 minute synopsis of the topic. 

As students record their presentation, they are also being recorded by their webcam. Not only is there an informational element to the presentation, but we are able to see their faces and hear their voices making the presentation. When students were finished, they shared it by having MoveNote email me their presentation. 

We used the presentations to discuss the topic. It was quite entertaining, engaging, and very easy! We used the MoveNote iPad App; however, you can visit www.movenote.com to use the web version. I really love this tool and look forward to using it again! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Random Name Picker by ClassTools

Have you ever had a student accuse you of picking on them? That you had it out for them? That you never call on any other student in the class? Now you have a high-tech tool to help you randomly call the names of your students.

ClassTools has a free online Random Name Picker to help you with classroom management. How does it work?

1. Click on the Edit/Save button

2. Enter in the names of your students and click "save this list as currently shown." You will be prompted to type in a password, so that you can make edits later.

3. ClassTools will generate a unique URL, so that you can access your Random Name Picker online. If you ever need to make edits, you will just need to enter in the password that you created earlier.

There are numerous ways to share:

  • Embed the code on your website
  • Share the URL
  • Generate a QR Code, so that you can access it on  your mobile device
  • Download the web shortcut
Let technology help you solve the problem of selecting students to answer questions! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Use the FridgePoems App to Engage Students

I am always looking for creative and different ways for students demonstrate their understanding of a particular concept. In my experience, the more creative the medium, the more engaging it is to students. One free creative iPad App that I found is called FridgePoems.  It reminds me of the letter magnets that my children use to spell out random words on our fridge at home.

In a similar way, FridgePoems lets students take randomly generated words to compose a poem. There are  several different fridge layouts and ways to customize your fridge, so you can be really creative. By default, words are selected from a Standard Word-pack; however, you did have the option of purchasing other Word-packs. The Standard Word-pack is a great way to introduce a topic, define a particular vocabulary term, or wrap up a lesson.

Poems can be easily saved to your Camera Roll or shared through a text message, Facebook post, or email. Have other creative ways to engage students? I would love to hear about them. Feel free to email me your ideas.