Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What I'm Doing Differently With EdTech This Year

Every year brings new students and new challenges. For educators who reflect on their practices, the challenges often come from adjusting teaching and learning to better support their students. 

Since technology facilitates a lot of what I do, I find it important to summarize how I'm using tools in new ways, as well as tools that are new to me. It keeps my approaches organized and focused as to not become too distracted by the glitter of gadgets.

1. Classroom

I'm staying organized more so than ever before with the introduction of three features – post links, topics, and move to top. Topics is new this school year, I'm not sure when links was released, and move to top was definitely available last year.

Even in the first two weeks of school, I've established a set of topics (Weekly Agenda, Technology, [assignments by unit], Review, etc.). Email a student the post link, and there's little room for them to waste time looking for the information they need to be successful.


2. Google Forms

The new features on Forms are really cool, especially the ability to make quizzes with answer keys. The GIFF below shows the basic steps to get you started. 


3. Hyper Docs 

I've been making hyperdocs for years. This year, I'm teaching my students the efficiency of hyperdocs to expand their presentation and organization concepts.

My latest hyperdocs have including experimentation with slide links in Google Slides. Instead of making a slide presentation that moving linear, from slide to slide, why not embed links in a graphic organizer or map, to name a couple examples?


4. More Choices

One thing that new technology affords is choice. I love it when student ask if they can use a tool that they used in another class instead of the one I suggest. 

My approach is simple, now. I Teach through Google Apps for the first time through an activity and allow students choice on the second assignment. For example, if we are making maps, we use Google Drawing or Slides. If students want to use Mapmaker on the National Geographic site for the second one, that's fine with me. This way, it becomes about the content and skills, not the use of a specific tool.

5. New Tools

Smore is great for newsletters. I'm using it to communicate with parents about what we're doing at school. The selling point for me was the data collection. I could have done this with a free app, but I liked the design and amount of data.


Although word clouds and survey tools are not new to the bag of wizardry, Mentimeter is one of the easiest tools to use for crowdsourcing. It does not require audiences to make an account, which is great for quick activities. There are, of course, other ways to get the job done, but I appreciate the tools that are quick and reliable.


DocentEdu has changed my classroom routines more than anything since Google Classroom and 1:1 Chromebooks. I have so much to say about this one, so stay tuned for a post dedicated to this wonderful tool.

The image below shows a student view, allowing them to highlight a chunk of text and add a a note for close reading. The post that features DocentEdu will be more from the teacher's perspective.