Sunday, November 9, 2014

Talkboard: Create. Together.

Have you heard of Talkboard yet? From what I have seen, I’m really excited about what’s possible!

Here’s how the company describes their app:
Talkboard: Ideas without boundaries
Talkboard is a collaborative whiteboarding app for iPad that lets you sketch out ideas and work on them with others.

Talkboard is a live, collaborative whiteboard that students can use on their iPad. They don’t even need to be in the same classroom, they can be on different wi-fi networks and still be able to work together.  The app even allows participants to chat live which could make any work done outside of class easier. The final product can be exported as a PDF or as an image. Bonus: the app links to their Google Apps account so if you're in a GAFE school they don't have another login/password combo to remember.

My colleague & I spent some time working with it, and I created some ‘how to’ Skitch pics to introduce you to the app.  I also tried it in class, having my students collaborate in lab groups, using the app to write their procedure out together.  (The purpose of the lab activity was to practice writing a clear, concise procedure.)  It worked well!  The drawback was that there are a lot of colors and pen choices to choose from so some students had trouble focussing on writing their directions & instead wanted to draw. I anticipated this possibility because it’s a risk that comes with trying something new in class; like me, some of them needed time to play around with the app before getting serious.  

Our engineering teacher is probably the most excited to use this app.  He has been looking for a program that would allow students to collaborate virtually on the engineering design process [ask→ imagine→ plan→ create→ improve] but needed more than what Google Docs can currently offer.

So what do you think?  Is there a better collaborative app that allows students to work together at the same time?  Have you looked at BaiBoard?  I wonder if it’s similar?  I’ll check it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flipboard (for ed) 102: Utilizing Flipboard For Your PLN and Creating & Sharing Your Own Magazines

Flipboard is one of those apps that I hear people say consistently that it’s a favorite.  If you’ve got a school-issued iPad, because you’re supposed to be integrating the iPad into your curriculum, chances are Flipboard is one that you’ve used for yourself.  p.s. If you haven’t used Flipboard before...well then have I got an amazing new app for you!  (If you’ve never used it. here’s a link to getting started & setting up your account -- more like a short “101” tutorial.)

Official definition: Flipboard is Your Personal Magazine. It's a single place to discover, collect and share the news you care about. Add your favorite social networks, publications and blogs to stay connected to the topics and people closest to you. source

Short version: Flipboard is a cool way to read your own designer mag on your iPad.  YOU get to decide what goes in it!

Even though Flipboard may not be one that your kids use--(Or maybe they do?  Maybe you utilize this app in class?)--but one that you use, doesn’t mean it still can’t be meaningful for school.  There is tremendous professional development available on Flipboard, it’s not just for looking at the latest pictures on Cute Overload :D or getting updates on Sochi or reading the NYT.

If you use Twitter as your PLN, add it!
Consider adding the Twitter account, that you use as your Personal Learning Network, so that the multitude of tips & links, through tweets, can be read quickly and in magazine format.  The great thing about Twitter is that it is limited to 140 characters; so you’re already getting mini-headlines & links to further explore new ideas and techniques for your practice.  

How To:
If your Twitter account has more personal interests consider creating a professional one and adding that instead of your personal one.  Unfortunately, as of the timing of this blog post, you cannot add an additional Twitter account.  

Add Education Blogs
How fabulous would it be to be able to flip through the daily/weekly posts of your favorite ed blogs in a magazine-type format?  I love(d) ed tech blogs so much -- that I started one myself -- and for awhile found it difficult to check in with them on a regular basis due to lack of time.  In the beginning, I would simply bookmark a site I loved; later I started saving them into my Evernote account.  Neither of these ensured that I was learning these new ideas/tips/tricks on a regular basis.  Not until I added them to my Flipboard account was I exposed to them with more regularity.  As a result, I’m learning more and enriching my own PD.

How to:
  1. You’ll need to copy the RSS feed from the blog & paste it into the “search” field of your Flipboard account.
    1. Most blogs have the RSS icon available on the homepage; sometimes it’s under a tab called “About”.  Do you see this picture on the right of my page?
Some blogs will have the icon look like a button at the top of the page:

              b.  Click on that icon & copy the URL in the address bar.  They will often have the word “feed” in them.

Here are some sample RSS feeds for some of my favorite ed tech blogs. Copy & paste the following short URLs into the ‘Search’ field of your account:
  • Free Technology for Teachers RSS Feed:
  • iPad Addition RSS feed:
  • AM Technology Edu RSS feed:
  • iPad Insight:
  • Techno-Logical-Teaching RSS feed:
A great transition for the next section is to share with you the magazine that iPad Addiction’s blogger created.  Click on the hyperlinked text, open it in Flipboard, and subscribe:

Create Your Own (Collection of Articles) Magazines
OK, I saved the most fun Flipboard feature --IMHO-- for last: You can create your own magazine & share it with others!  This is a great feature for teacher leaders in schools with, or transitioning to, a 1:1 environment.  Create your own tech PD magazine, specific to your school and ask your teachers to subscribe.  Let them read through, and learn from, your suggested tech PD specific stories and ideas.  

1.  Create & name your magazine.

2.  Save any story to your magazine by tapping the “+” button:

3.  If you decide you want to delete a story that you’ve saved, tap the “share” button.

4.  If you’d like to have co-contributors, tap “Invite Contributors”.

5.  To share your magazine with others, tap the ‘Share’ button & copy the link.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Kahoot!

  • What if you could check for understanding as a way to guide your instruction?  
  • What if we could get a snapshot of where our students are at so that we could re-teach or review material that the students didn't get?
  • What if there was an activity that did these things AND your students were begging you use it in class?

My answer is to Get. Kahoot. Now.

If you’re unfamiliar with it you soon will be.  (It spread like wildfire through our district over the last two months.)  Kahoot is a formative assessment activity that students play like a fun trivia game, using their mobile devices. 

It's not just something you make for them; increase their critical thinking & ask your students to create a Kahoot for an upcoming test.  If they sign into on their iPad, through the Safari app, they can create their own.

If you’d like to see the game I created when I introduced it to staff, and use it for your own PD, you can search the “Public” Kahoots for some of the title: “Team Meeting Practice Quiz 2014”.  Then “Duplicate” it and edit it how you’d like.

Here’s your first tip - there are two different sites to know:  

Scroll through the presentation to see the benefits & get some helpful hints for creating your first Kahoot.