Holly K's Ed Tech Playground

December 2014 Edition

What a year it has been!

If only our keyboards had keys for holiday cheer! We might miss the "J" key, though... (image from http://conversation.which.co.uk/tech)

It's hard to believe another year is nearly done.  I don't know about you, but my year has been a whirlwind of new -- new house, new job, new degree, new campus connections, new mistakes, new learning.  Novelty is, of course, stressful sometimes, but I look back at my year with excitement.  I am so thankful to have worked with so many friendly, dedicated people, and have so enjoyed getting to support you in your efforts to share technology with your students and colleagues.  I can't wait to see what we can accomplish in 2015 (I also really like years that are divisible by 5... I know, that's weird).

So to celebrate all the newness of 2014, I want to highlight your efforts as educators this year and share some awesome technology integration ideas I've witnessed on your campuses!  I'm not going to mention any specific names, because I didn't ask anyone's permission to share, but I'm excited to show you what's happening in our district!

The Hour of Code

If you participated in the Hour of Code event in December, I hope it was a positive experience for you and your students.  I know that teachers who scheduled time early in the week ran into trouble because the Hour of Code website couldn't handle the traffic they received on Monday and Tuesday.  This was inconvenient, but it was nice to know there was such widespread interest in participating!  Next year, we hope to participate over a longer period of time (maybe the week before or the week after the "official" Hour of Code week) to help alleviate some of these issues.

I know I've mentioned this to some of you, but I was so excited to see the students' reactions to this activity.  They were enthusiastic, focused, and persistent as they solved the coding puzzles we shared with them.  I loved, too, seeing them help each other solve problems and think through the challenging levels collaboratively!

When you help your students engage in tech-based learning, don't hesitate to share your celebrations via social media!  I love sharing the amazing work you do with the world-- tag me on Twitter so I can sing your praises! (@HollyK_EdTech).

Blogging... for Science!

Blogging is an awesome activity for third, fourth, and fifth grade students.  In a single lesson, they can be learning/practicing/refining technology skills, writing skills, and academic content from any area you choose.  This semester, I got to help several classes create blogs for science.

If you'd like to start blogging with your students, let me know! I can do an introductory lesson, and the students will use a very safe and secure platform that the district supports (Gaggle). This might be a fun way to kickstart your spring semester!

Blogging could be a way for students to maintain a digital journal, record vocabulary words, process sections of text, document experiments, ask each other academic questions, or practice writing complete paragraphs.  Once students have a basic knowledge of blogging, blogs can become more elaborate and include other types of media (images, audio, video).

In a World Where... Books Have Trailers?

Several classes this semester have used a variety of programs to create what's called a book trailer.  If you teach language arts, you probably already know about book trailers, but the idea is to have students create a preview of a book using digital tools, much like a movie trailer.  It requires them to identify key components of a story and think critically about their intended audience.

This example was created by a student in another district, but it's a great example of what students could be creating to practice retelling stories.

Great tools for book trailers include:  iMovie, Chatterpix Kids, Shadow Puppet, and even PowerPoint!  If you want to try book trailers with your students next semester, let me know!  Creating video is a great way to encourage student creativity and presentation skills, too, so the concept of a "book trailer" could be modified for non-fiction topics, too!

The Thing(Link) About Character Traits

Identifying character traits and elements of characterization plays an important part in student processing of narrative texts.  One of our librarians this semester used the ThingLink app to help students identify memorable characters and their defining characteristics.

ThingLink is one of my favorite apps-- it has so much potential in so many subject areas.  This project involved:
  1. creating student ThingLink accounts for classroom use (no student information required)
  2. iPads for all students participating (we have iPads I can bring to your classroom!)
  3. a quick tutorial on how to use ThingLink (I can do this for you, if you'd like)
  4. instructions from the teacher
  5. a picture to use as a background (students can take pictures of a book, or we can find an image online)

Before you go...

If you are itchin' for some educational reading, this is a short article (really, I promise, it's short!) on some benefits of QR codes in the classroom.  If you're not familiar with QR codes, but want to see what they can do for you, let me know!

Time For Some Feedback!

I look forward to hearing from you!  If you have questions, needs, concerns, celebrations, or curiosities, send me a note!

Happy Holidays!  Have a wonderful break!