What did I learn?
Did I like learning this way?
The Cool Tools for School format perfectly suits my learning style. I love working at home, at my own pace, choosing my own topics, and having the opportunity to repeat topics from previous years. Polly curates more information than can be grasped in one sitting and technology changes frequently.
I liked the switch to Canvass as it made it easier to see what was completed, what had been graded, etc. However, for my colleagues who were newbies, it was a little confusing having information on both the WordPress web site and Canvass. Nonetheless, I totally understand the need to keep the curated content there for people who want to come back to it later!
Some suggestions . . .
Readings and Resources
Tools - I chose to explore NewsELA as our principal has offered to pay for subscriptions. I signed up for a 60 day pro trial. Here's what I learned:
As part of the Teacher Leaders Team at my school, I want to do some screencasts to cover topics like how to use the catalog (Destiny) to search for library materials, how to use the EasyBib add-on in Google Docs to create a bibliography, etc. I also wanted to know about apps that my students could use to create screencasts.
Last year I explored SnagIt and really liked it because it was easy to use and saved to Google Drive. However, SnagIt has been mothballed, so I'm revisiting the topic. I have ScreenFlow on my Mac, but the latest update requires a $34 purchase, so I want to look into free screencasting options for both my students and me.
To begin, I read some overview articles:
I decided to try out Screencastifiy - Has free Lite or ("Record up to 10 minutes per video with an embedded Screencastify logo. Make up to 50 recordings each month") or premium version ("Unlimited recording length and number of recordings, no watermark, cropping and trimming, MP4 export") for $24 per year.
My Screencastify tutorial on How to Use the EasyBib Bibliography Creator Add-On turned out OK. I could not limit the recording to just one tab as I had to open other tabs for demonstration purposes, so that made for a messier look (not to mention the watermark on the free version). Also, when I watched the tutorial in full-screen mode it was blurry. I do like how it automatically saves to your Google Drive and can easily be uploaded to YouTube.
Next I experimented with QuickTime and found it not too hard to use. I imported it into iMovie with the plan to add a title and perhaps some music. I found out the hard way that iMovie 10 does not include a library of royalty-free music. It was a snap to upload to YouTube. Here's the result (also a bit blurry in full-screen mode).
This week I joined the Black History Month Committee at my school, and I was asked to provide the teachers with a list of resources to use for read-alouds or for Sustained Silent Reading. My first thought was to create two separate resource lists in Destiny. Then I thought that I should widen my scope to make a LibGuide so that I could also curate resources from outside our collection. The RCSD School Library System pays for a subscription to LibGuides and encourages us to use it, so that seemed like the best platform.
However, I decided to first re-visit the Cool Tools Thing 6: Curation Tools to see what other options are out there. So, again relying on Joyce Valenza to curate the best resources and information, I started with the EdWeb Webinar "Curation, Revisited: Aggregating Content in 2016" lead by Joyce Valenza, Brenda Boyer and Michelle Luhtala. Here are my takeaways from that webinar:
How are they relevant to your community at large, outside of school?
How are emerging tech trends relevant to my library, clasroom and school community?
What trends do I feel are most important?
What challenges and opportunities do these technologies represent?
For starters, I watched the two videos posted by Polly - "Amazing Mind Reader Reveals His 'Gift'" and "Jigsaw: for 8-10 year olds" by The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center. These are each great for showing to my students according to their grade level to introduce the topic of digital citizenship and create a felt need.
What is Digital Citizenship?
"The ability to use digital technology and media in safe, responsible and effective ways" ("8 Digital Life Skills All Children Need - And a Plan for Teaching Them").
Why Teach Digital Citizenship?
What Should Instruction on Digital Citizenship Include?
(list from Teacher's Guide to Digital Citizenship)
Resources I Want to Use with My Students?
After exploring multiple options for teaching Digital Citizenship, I chose the following because they seemed easy to implement and included interactive features that would catch the students' attention.
Are there games to help teach Digital Citizenship?
Exploring the topic of digital citizenship allowed me to organize my thoughts and curate the resources that I want to use with my students!
Games are a great way to teach, record and review information or assess learning. I foresee using games to help students record learning or review a topic. Also I would like to use games to determine what the students have successfully learned and target areas that need reinforcement.
This had a lot of features that I liked:
Here is my sample Quizlet which I built around a unit we are currently doing with the 3rd grade on the Sun, Moon, and Earth entitled 3rd Grade Solar System. I posted a link to the Quizlet in the third grade Google Classrooms.
My goal for this "thing" is to learn tricks and tips related to Google searches, Google Docs, and Google Apps for Education.
From Polly's curated list of many wonderful options, I chose to explore the following:
Gale Databases Integrate Google Apps for Education
Gale has made it possible to save articles from some of their databases directly to Google Docs and Google Classroom. This is a great feature that allows students to gather database resources (complete with citations!) in Google Docs and then do a close reading of the document, adding comments, paraphrasing/summarizing in the document, work on it as a group with a shared document, etc. Teachers can easily insert documents in Google Classroom assignments or announcement. I tried it and it worked for me!
Teacher Zen with Google: 50+ Tips, Tools, & Apps
From this web article I learned two helpful things: 1) how to manage my web extensions by going to "window" on my chrome browser and then choosing "extensions;" 2) Students have to be 13+ to use Google+ including Google HangOuts.
6 Steps to Teaching Students to Search
Loved the simplicy of this suggested list of 6 things to teach students to do when searching. I think it does have to be about this simple or students get overwhelmed. This has inspired me to come up with my own top things to teach. However, I think the whole topic of web site credibility is big and should be covered separately.
Google for Teachers: 100+ Tricks
Didn't find much new here.
15 Must-Have Google Lesson Plans to Teach Students Effective Search Skills
Google offers 5 lesson plans on 3 levels (15 total) to teach effective search skills. The beginning lesson requires two 50-minute lessons, complete with learning standards and embedded lesson slide presentations and videos. The standards for the Beginner Lesson 1 were for 5th, 6th and 8th grade, and the lessons seemed a little advanced/long for my elementary population. However, I could borrow materials from it and simplify it.
Do Your Students Know How to Search?
Loved this quote: "Teachers – especially in the elementary grades -need to develop a shared vocabulary around the skill of searching. They need to make sure their students learn some basic search strategies and keep applying them until they become almost automatic." Appreciated the information provided here addressing searching on a deeper level - primary sources, search bubbles, country searches to get global perspectives, etc. Best find: a video explaining how to use Google News to find primary sources. I learned that newspaper articles can be considered primary sources if the articles are written at the time the event occurred.
Digital storytelling is a passion of mine, so I'm exploring digital storytelling again this year. This time I'm trying out StoryJumper to compare it to Storybird.
First off, I like StoryJumper's StoryStarter workbook--a lesson plan for teachers to use in teaching the story writing process. It includes great ideas and a worksheet for students to use to pre-plan 7 story elements: character, challenge, motivation, setting, obstacles, climax, and outcome.
Another StoryJumper feature I like is the ability to translate any of the stories into multiple languages. Given that we are the largest bilingual elementary school in the Rochester City School District, that is a great plus!
StoryJumper allows you to upload photos which is something my students wished they could do when using StoryBird. They did not like being limited to just the StoryBird art. StoryJumper includes background scenes as an option which is nice. Also, StoryJumper works for both fiction and nonfiction writing, whereas the art in StoryBird only works for fiction writing.
Storybird allows a maximum of 2 people to collaborate (on picture books, not chapter books), with the collaborators taking turns at editing the story. By contrast, StoryJumper allows the teacher to set up a "Group Book" with multiple collaborators.
Storybird has the option for students to log in via their Google account which is helpful since our students use Google classroom and that log-in frequently. I did not see that option with StoryJumper.
StoryJumper has the added feature of a class timer which means that the students are automatically logged off when the class time ends. The purpose for this feature is to preclude students who share computers from accessing other students' StoryJumper accounts and changing or deleting a story.
All StoryJumper books are private by default and can only be shared with the parents and classmates from what I can tell. By contrast, student Storybird stories are private but can be embedded into a blog. I do understand the issue of student privacy; however, I think that students are more motivated by projects when there is a wider audience than just their classmates and parents.
Below are two examples. The first is a book created in Storybird by one of my students. The second is a quick nonfiction book I started in StoryJumper.
In conclusion, there are a lot of good features to StoryJumper, so I think I'll try using it instead of Storybird next time I do digital storytelling with my students.
The students in grades 3-6 in our school all have Chromebooks, and the teachers are encouraged to use Google Classroom with their students. In library class, we like to use Google Slides a lot as a repository and showcase of student learning.
For that reason, I was drawn to the link in this lesson for "Adding Audio Files to Google Drive." That link took me to YouTube and more related videos on the topic. I found "Narration Over Google Slides" which shows how to use Snagit to narrate a Google Slides presentation.
I had to use some work-arounds, but here's the end product and the steps I took:
The downside to this method is that I couldn't get Snagit to just capture the presentation. The video image shows my browser windows and the slides navigation bar.