New issue of #ProjectPLN: Back to School Tips

Holy smokes, you all completely blow me away!  We received an incredible number of submissions for our “Back to School” issue of Project PLN.  You all are pretty amazing, thank you for sharing with the rest of us! Project PLN literally wouldn’t exist without our PLN…we count on you to share and make this happen.  Thank you!

I loved going through all of these posts.  I finally took out a notepad to keep track of my favorite new ideas 🙂  Don’t keep these great ideas to yourself, share them with a friend.  Sharing is caring you know!

Nick and I are now accepting submissions for the November Issue. We have decided to label it the “Sharing Issue”. There are many great lesson plans, resources and tools out there and it is tough for teachers to find the time to look for them. We want Project PLN to be a place where people can share their awesome lesson plans or resources with everyone out there.

If you think you have something awesome to share, please send an email to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com and we will add it to the November Issue. Please follow the guidelines for submissions below so we can quickly and easily load your posts to the site.

Please email the article or link to the article to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com

Please include a small bio that includes your blog, Twitter handle and other information you would like to share. A picture is encouraged, but not required.

It may be a piece you have published on your blog already. A good idea is still a good idea even if you had it a few months ago.

Please submit posts by Monday November 5. We expect for the issue to go live on Tuesday November 13.

Thanks again for all of the support you have given Project PLN over the years.

Have an awesome school year,

Nick and Kelly

Co-Editors – Project PLN

PowToon: AMAZING free animation tool

What it is:  I have discovered my new favorite creation site.  Holy wow this is a cool tool.  Basically, it makes you (and your students) look like rockstars when they present.  You know all of those super cool animated videos that tell a story through drawings on a whiteboard?  Now you can make those all on your own with a super simple drag-drop tool.  Meet PowToon.  It is awesome.  I’m a little addicted to playing with video creation…no joke.

PowToon has a great mission: “to address all the frustrations that people have with power point and keynote and add animation and killer design.”  You don’t have to be super tech savvy or design skills to create spectacular animated presentations.   The goal here is to help people communicate in a way that conveys ideas.  Best of all…it is FREE!  Woot!  Also, PowToon loves education, they want to help teachers and students create great content that is visually engaging, captivating and fun to make.

Right now PowToon has 5 design styles (with more coming).  Added with your student’s creativity, these animations are going to be fabulous.  Finished videos can be shared all over: YouTube, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, exported or embedded.

PowToon is currently in Beta version. Sign up for an early look at this super cool creation tool.  I got my invitation within a few hours.  #bam

How to integrate PowToon into your curriculum: PowToon is a fantastic way to share ideas and story.  Communication is a vital skill.  The ability to express ideas and story in a succinct, clear manner is crucial.  Today, students have another facet of communication to learn…visual communication.

PowToon would be a great addition to the design thinking routine.  Students can use PowToon to share their ideas or to “prototype” an idea.  Students can create videos to show math processes, explanations of complex concepts, review new learning, teach others, explain processes, tell stories, or present research.  The possibilities are really endless and students will come up with hundreds of other creative uses.

Teachers can use PowToon to create animations for students.  This is a great way to present new information or ideas for discussion.

Tips: The PowToon Interactive Tour and How to Create series are very helpful to watch prior to creating your first animations.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using PowToon in your classroom!

Evernote as an ePortfolio in a 1-to-1 iPad setting

Above is the information sheet I created for using Evernote as an ePortfolio.

At Anastasis, we use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0, and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  Evernote notes can also be posted on blogs through the email-to-blog feature.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  This year we are keeping learning logs (we call them Tracks) as a table of contents for what is in Evernote. Everything is tracked by a number as part of the Evernote title so it is easy to find and search.

The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts with others.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  Some of our students also have Edublog accounts where they can share their work from Evernote more publicly.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.  Parents can also easily access and view student ePortfolios using Evernote.

The Physics Classroom

What it is:  Today I learned about this impressive resource from @ccscoachadams on Twitter.  The Physics Classroom is a really great place where you can access physics tutorials, Mind on Physics Internet Modules (more than 1300 questions designed to improve understanding of common physics topics), problem sets for practice, multimedia (illustrated physics concepts), animations and activity sheets, curriculum corner (pdf downloads to complement the website), laboratories, photos, and more.  The site is like a better version of the text books that I had when I was in physics.  What I like about The Physics Classroom is the variety of resources that teachers can use to help their students discover and explore physics concepts.  The student extras that take you to Flickr collections of “physics” photos is fantastic!

How to integrate The Physics Classroom into your curriculum: I’m not sure I would have my students spend a lot of time on this site on their own (it is very text heavy and they may feel overwhelmed at the scope).  I would send my students to very specific places on The Physics Classroom to help them dig deeper into their learning and make connections.  As I said above, the Flickr sets are fabulous.  These are worth some time exploring!

The animations and information can be used to help students understand specific concepts that they are struggling to grasp.  These could be shared on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

The Physics Classroom could be used to help students extend their learning and understanding outside of the classroom.  Students can use the site as a study aid or to dig deeper for additional understandings.

At the end of the day, this site is a treasure trove of resources for physics classrooms.

Tips: Spend some time exploring this site before recommending it to students so that you can help them navigate it.  It is SO information heavy that it could be a turn-off for students who are just dropping in looking for something specific.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using The Physics Classroom in your classroom!

Scholastic’s Listen and Read: Free non-fiction ebooks for primary students

What it is:  Scholastic is constantly sneaking new great resources for the classroom onto their site.  The other day I learned about one that I haven’t seen before from @rmbyrne on his great blog Free Tech for Teachers.  Listen and Read has fantastic online reading activities for early learners.  There are 54 nonfiction read-along books that include words, images and sound.  You can sort books by subject including: Community, American History, Animals, Civics and Government, Environmental Studies, Plants and Flowers, Science and Social Studies.  You can also sort books by level (A or B).

How to integrate Listen and Read into your curriculum: Non-fiction can be hard to read in the early years.  It often includes unfamiliar words and vocabulary and concepts that students don’t have a lot of prior knowledge of.  Scholastic’s Listen and Read is fantastic because it helps students navigate their way through non-fiction with the support of a read-aloud, sounds and images.  These interactive books help students better comprehend content because they aren’t focused on the words they are stumbling through.  At the end of the book students can click on the unfamiliar new vocabulary to hear the word said again.  This follow-up exposure reinforces word recognition, vocabulary and ideas.

Scholastic Listen and Read can be set up on classroom computers as a reading center.  Students can read and listen independently with headphones.  After reading through the story, students can discuss with a partner (or as a whole class) what they remember about each of the “sound it out” words from the story.

If you don’t have the ability for students to read these non-fiction books independently, use a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard to read as a whole class.

Tips: Some of the titles are offered in both A and B level.  This is great for a little differentiation within the classroom (while gaining the same concepts).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Scholastic’s Listen and Read in your classroom!

Education is like traffic- guest post

Thank you to @missmac100 for this awesome post!  My goal is to get you into my Google Reader regularly- until you start your own, you are welcome to post for me 🙂

Education is like traffic.

It all started with a tweet:

Mr. Anderson ‏@matthewquigley

Is traffic a metaphor for education? Everyone in line, but no one really going anywhere. Cc @ktenkely

After reading this tweet, I kept thinking about this metaphor.  Here are four I thought of- I would love for you to share your thoughts.

 

4 ways education is like traffic.

 

  • Everyone in line, but no one really going anywhere.

This is SO like education.  The hurry up and wait scenario.  Everyone is supposedly headed toward the same destination but moving at a turtle’s pace. Maybe that is because we are traveling the same road as everyone else to get there.  And, truth be told, most are traveling the crowded road because they have ALWAYS traveled on that road to get there.  I doubt some even notice the scenery (the students they are teaching) anymore.  It becomes monotonous. Driving with no thought is dangerous. So is teaching.

 

  • What do you do when you are stuck or lost?

People have different reactions to being lost or on a road that is at a stand still.  Some stay on the route planned no matter how delayed because going a different way is frightening.  I have met so many teachers with this view.  I don’t understand the fear because if does not go well, they can always fall back on what they know. So why not try something new?  Others reference maps or use a GPS (which is one of my very favorite inventions EVER) to solve being stuck or lost.  Both work well as long as the map or the GPS is updated.  It is limited to the last update.  If you are not reading, collaborating with a PLN or discussing new ideas in education, then you still may not end up where you want to ultimately want to be.

 

  • Are you following or leading?

Just a simple thought. You can do both but just know who you are following and where you are leading others.

 

  • Why not take the scenic route a.k.a the road less traveled?

Others have shared the best alternative routes.  Trying to avoid heavy traffic, I called friends that lived near the area. The trip may have taken longer but the benefit was seeing new things. Detours and alternate routes are like new educational tools and ideas. Twitter was one detour for me.  Our tech coach shared it and for the next 3 days I immersed myself in it. YES, it took a while to get where I wanted to be but now it is my favorite route to go for new ideas, comments, suggestions and encouragement.

So what is your destination as an educator? How about for your students? There are many ways to get there.  The choice is yours!

 

By: Carol McLaughlin @missmac100  

Gooru: Fantastic new education search engine

What it is:  Gooru is a education search engine for learning that helps teachers find standards aligned content and study guides.  5th-12th grade math and science topics are covered and include resources like digital textbooks, animations and instructor videos.  Gooru provides a place to connect with your worldwide personal learning network to share and ask questions.  Gooru is not just for teachers, students can use the study guides and self assessments to guide learning.  Based on the topics studied and the performance on self-assessments, Gooru begins to suggest resources and study guides to help gain mastery.

Gooru takes advantage of OER (Open Educational Resources) so that all content delivered can be accessed free of charge.

You can explore Gooru through resources, collections, quizzes, a standards library or a search engine.

How to integrate Gooru into the classroom: Gooru is a great step toward helping you personalize the learning experience for your students.  Use Gooru to find resources for your classroom and for individual students.  Invite students to create their own logins so that they can setup Gooru to be tailored to their specific needs.  As they study and take quizzes, Gooru gets “smarter” and begins to recommend content for them.

Gooru is ideal in a 1 to 1 classroom set up.  If you don’t have 1 to 1 access, much of the content can be shared using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Because of the nature of Gooru, it could be a great addition to the flipped classroom model.

Tips:  Gooru is currently in beta, sign up to help them test it out and make it better today!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Gooru  in  your classroom!

Project PLN Call for Articles! #projectPLN #edchat

It’s that time again! Project PLN is ramping up for another year of sharing.  We took a little time off for the summer to re-charge our batteries (and let you recharge yours).

What is Project PLN?  A collection of articles written by members of our PLN (Personal Learning Network-that’s you), on a common theme, all in one place.  Project PLN is an opportunity to get to know more passionate educators, and hear new voices.  It is a chance for us to connect and think and dream together.  We are excited to begin another year of Project PLN in August.

The focus of our August issue is Back to School Tips.  Over the years we have all discovered tips and tricks that help us make the start of the year a little easier.  I am often learning new tips from others and always have the same reaction: duh, why didn’t I think of that?!  This is our chance to share and get some new ideas.  We are looking for articles (this could be a blog post you’ve already written) from anyone involved in education.  You can be a teacher, classroom assistant, principal, hall monitor, superintendent, coach, or Sir Ken Robinson.  We want you to share your best ideas with the rest of us!

We publish everything we receive that follow these guidelines:

  • Email the article, or link to the article to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com
  • Please include a small bio that includes any links to your blog, Twitter handle, and other information you would like to share.  A picture is encouraged (we like seeing you!) but not required.
  • You can send us a new piece or a blog post you wrote ages ago.  A good idea is a good idea!
  • All posts need to be submitted by Friday, August 17, 2012.  We are hoping to make the issue live on August 21, 2012.
  • If you work for an online degree program…no need to submit anything. This isn’t an opportunity to advertise. We won’t post your stuff, so don’t bother!

That’s everything, we look forward to seeing your best tips and tricks for starting a school year.

Thanks!

Kelly and Nick (@ktenkely and @thenerdyteacher)

ProjectPLN Editors

Do Lectures: Ideas + Energy = Change

What it is:  Summer is a great time to be inspired, laugh and gather ideas.  TED has been my go-to place for video inspiration, but recently I found a new source: Do Lectures.  Do Lectures are like TED Talk videos, they are inspiring talks from people who are changing the world.  The talks are broken down into talks about Big Ideas, Challenging talks, Funny talks, Informative talks, Inspiring talks, and Soulful talks.  You can also search by topic (business, creativity, environment, food, sport, technology, or well being) or by speaker.

Do Lectures started out of West Wales and is moving to the good old USA in 2012.  They call themselves a mash-up, a village of ideas.  They take great talks, yummy local food, great un-signed bands, workshops and bring them together in one place. They switch the Internet off so that people talk (in real life) because ideas need conversation.  The idea is to create an eco-system for ideas to be born, shared and acted on.  The next event is happening in California September 20-13.

How to integrate Do Lectures into the classroom: Do Lectures don’t focus on education specifically.  I kind of love that they don’t.  I find that my BEST ideas for the classroom and education come from outside of education.  Often, we become an echo chamber within education.  Hearing ideas from any field sparks ideas and creative approaches to teaching/learning for me.  Do Lectures are a great place to find inspiration and new ideas for your classroom.

Do Lectures can also be the perfect supplement or launching point for units of study in your classroom.  You may find a video that supports the learning happening in your classroom.

Tips:  Be sure to share those great videos you stumble on with the rest of us!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Do Lectures  in  your classroom!

Qwiki Creator: Create the textbook of the future with a few clicks

Play the Qwiki: Anastasis Academy

What it is:  I first wrote about Qwiki in 2010 when they launched their search service.  I just got word that you (and your students) can now create your very own Qwiki.  When students search using Qwiki, instead of coming up with a list of links to websites, images, and videos, a slide show of images and videos begins complete with computer voice narration.  It is truly an incredible experience.

With Qwiki Creator, it is easy to create your own Qwiki to share.  Creating a Qwiki is really easy and intuitive.  First, you find the content and media you want to add to your Qwiki.  This could be web content, video, images, maps, content from your computer, text or even a tweet.  Next you add narration and set your timing.  Finally you can preview your Qwiki and publish it.  I created the Qwiki above in about 5 min.

If you are looking for the original Qwiki, you can get to it at http://qwiki.com/reference.

How to integrate Qwiki Creator into the classroom:  Qwiki Creator is a fantastic way for students to create impressive presentations about their learning.  Students can quickly create mashups of web content and record or type narration to demonstrate understanding of material.  Qwiki Creator is also a great tool for teachers, create customized content for your students.  This is textbook 2.0 for sure! It can be tailored to the exact needs of your curriculum and can become an additional way for your to “flip” your classroom.

I love the idea of students creating their own digital textbooks as they learn about a subject. Throughout their learning and research, students can keep a table of contents of items they want to be sure to include in their Qwiki.  Students can create a Qwiki about the information they have learned, add text/voice/video narration to help describe the learning and publish it for classmates to learn from.  The Qwiki can be shared easily or embeded on a student blog or website.

Create your own series of Qwiki’s for your classroom blog or website where students can further their learning.  They can access any of the websites or resources you include in your Qwiki for a majorly upgraded version of a webquest.

Qwiki Creator could be used for digital storytelling.  Students can find images, videos and maps that help them tell their story and narrate the creative story for others to enjoy.

In a foreign language class, students can give a web tour where they narrate in the language they are learning.  This would also be neat to do in a geography or history class.

If you teach students who are younger than 13, consider creating Qwiki’s as a class using an interactive whiteboard and teacher account.  Students can help put the Qwiki together and the finalized Qwiki can be put on a class blog or website for students to learn from any time.

Tips:  Students must be 13 years old or older to use Qwiki Creator according to the Terms of Service.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Qwiki Creator  in  your classroom!