Category: podcasting (page 2 of 3)

10 Curricula-Spanning, Learning-Boosting, Creativity-Inspiring, Must-Have Apps

Because there are just not enough app lists, I decided I needed to throw in one more. There are tons of lists that tout subject-specific apps for students at all levels. The following apps have broad applications in virtually any subject area, and they promote important higher level skills such as critical thinking, analyzing, researching, planning, and communicating in engaging and powerful ways. The biggest advantage each offers over similar tools on traditional desktops or laptops is their fantastic usability and short learning curves. They can also accomplish these things on the go–at the museum, on the bus, on the camping trip, etc., potentially turning any event into a true learning experience.

  • Catch Notes (FREE) – Fantastic tool for taking and organizing (via tags) text, audio, or visual notes, independently or collaboratively. Notes can be accessed via apps or through the Catch.com website.
  • Pearltrees (FREE) – Pearltrees is a creative social bookmarking tool that lets individuals or groups create collections of bookmarks organized into webs by subject. It is a fantastic organizational tool, and it gives students a powerful visual representation of their saved resources. The app walks you through setting up a mobile Safari plugin that lets you add “pearls” on the go.
  • VoiceThread (FREE) – Still one of my favorite digital storytelling tools, VoiceThread’s app makes the creation process even faster and easier. Still need to sign up for a free account at Ed.Voicethread, but now VTs can be created on the go, using the built-in cameras and microphones of the iPad or iPod.
  • Explain Everything ($2.99) – Simply a phenomenal screen-casting tool, Explain Everything lets students create narrated, annotated presentations that include drawings, images, websites, and videos. Resulting movies can be shared in a wide variety of ways. The applications are limitless and could certainly fit any subject area. This is perhaps the most powerful tool on this list.
  • Spreaker Radio (FREE) – Spreaker is my new favorite podcasting/broadcasting tool. The web-based platform has as good of a free podcast system as I’ve ever seen, incorporating tools reserved for paid services. The app lets you or your students broadcast live Internet shows on the go or record shows for future listening. It’s very intuitive for students and only requires that an account be set up on the Spreaker site to use.
  • ShowMe (FREE) – ShowMe’s ease of use and versatility make it a must-have. Students can create narrated videos explaining anything they can draw, write, or illustrate. Videos are saved on the ShowMe site, also free.
  • Popplet ($4.99) – Popplet is a slick tool for creating mind maps, flow charts, or other graphic organizers. Charts can include text, drawings, or images, and can be exported as .pdf or image files. Use Popplet for brainstorming, group planning, project management, process illustration, or many other applications.
  • Animation Studio ($2.99) – The best animation creation tool for the money, by far. The feature list of Animation Studio is too long to list, but features like text-to-speech, the library of animated characters, music tools, YouTube sharing, etc. make it the best. Students can use this app to create original videos describing, depicting, or explaining anything imaginable.
  • Dragon Dictation (FREE) – Dragon Dictation is an oldie (in iOS terms, anyway) but a goodie. It turns spoken words into printed text, and it does so pretty darned accurately. Great for many applications, such as allowing ESL students to transcribe their English practice or other special population accommodations. Also makes a fantastic note-taking tool (SOME people even use it while driving, I have heard…cough.).
  • Google Earth (FREE) – Still a powerful tool for research, the Google Earth app includes many of the standard maps and search tools, plus a fantastic gallery of user-currated maps and tours. Kids can research settings in literature (using built-in Wikipedia links), map historical events, study geologic or political processes, and more.

That’s my list. What apps would you add that could be used across the curriculum?

Take Control of Your Professional Learning

One of the most under-utilized aspects of the evolution of today’s Internet resources within the education field is its ability to empower teachers, administrators, and parents to create highly personalized, up to date opportunities for professional learning. Time and money restrictions have reduced the opportunities for those educators in many schools and districts to take days away from the classroom to sharpen their skills or learn of the latest research. As such, we have an increasing responsibility to take matters into our own hands. Fortunately, there are countless resources available today to educators who desire to grow in their knowledge and skills. Even more fortunately, these resources can be accessed for free and in forms that save precious instructional time, being available 24/7 to anyone with an Internet-connected device. The following are just a few tools that are available to get started.

  1. Online journals. Journals are a valuable tool for professional learning, as they provide insights into what is happening in the educational research field. While many academic journals require often substantial subscription costs, the number and quality of free, online journals has grown substantially in recent years. For example, SAGE Education News offers free access to some of their most read journal articles. ASCD offers free online articles from their International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership. The Education Research Global Observatory has a great list of open access journals covering almost every aspect of education.
  2. YouTube. Far from being solely the domain of talking dogs or tragic skateboarding mishaps, YouTube has thousands of educational videos that deal with current issues in the field or provide quick opportunities to learn new skills. Educational professional development companies, such as Simple K-12 (educational technology) or Kagan Professional Development (cooperative learning) have channels where educators can get a quick professional development session and free access to training that might incur significant costs if attended in person. Countless video tutorials are available to learn any technology tool or classroom skill imaginable, as well. 
  3. Podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to take professional learning on the road. In either audio or video formats, podcasts allow educators to learn about current trends and hear from some of the best leaders in our field via mobile devices, such as smart phones or tablet computers. This type of professional development has become a favorite of mine, as I can sneak in an episode on a trip between campuses or to the grocery store. A few good examples to get started include TEDTalks Education, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, Teaching With Smartboard, and the November Learning Podcast Series. All are free and available on iTunes.
  4. Twitter. While certainly filled with mundane or simply entertaining content, Twitter remains a powerful resources for connecting to other practitioners in our field. A good way to get started is by creating an account and following educators who are recognized as excellent sources of educational information. Lists of good educators to follow are here, here, and here (Word doc–also includes some great tips). Once following, get in the mix and participate in the conversations being held and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Learn how to use hashtags (e.g. #edchat, #edtech, #edreform) to help you filter through topics to find just what you need.
  5. Free online newsletters. Numerous examples of these exist. You just find the sign up link and set your preferences, and updates are emailed to you daily, weekly, or monthly. Currently, I use SmartBrief to get updates on EdTech and ASCD. eSchool News is another I subscribe to that gives updates on issues and research in education. Tech & Learning has been a long-time resource, with blog posts, how-to articles, and more in the field of educational technology. Edudemic has articles covering a wide range of educational issues, technology, and more from kindergarten through university level.

Web 2.0 in BISD: An Amazing Impact

Schools are popular targets of those who wish to find a scapegoat for every societal ill from a sour economy to the pitiful season the Dallas Cowboys put us through this year. I believe we are part of the problem, because we don’t do enough to shout about our successes from every rooftop in every community. While I don’t pretend all schools are equally successful, neither are they equal failures. The budget crisis looming for Texas and for its schools, in particular, has heightened my own awareness of the need to become self-promoters. I intend to devote more time than ever before in sharing the ways that our schools are using technology to engage students like never before and to give them opportunities to learn in a real way, infused with 21st century tools and skills. Our communities and leaders need to see how amazing things are happening, not just the negative, isolated events that make our newscasts.

In the spirit of this resolution, I wanted to share some of the ways that Web 2.0 technologies have had a powerful impact on our students, teachers, and schools in Birdville. It has been just 4 short years since I had the opportunity to share my vision for Web 2.0 with our district’s leadership team. It has exceeded my expectations in many ways, and is the most gratifying thing I’ve been a part of as an instructional technology specialist. It has not only made learning more relevant and engaging. It has also thrust our district into the national spotlight, as we have been cited for our progressive stance toward use of the vast Internet resources available. We have been assembling a slide show that highlights how tools such as YouTube, Glogster, Google Docs, Xtranormal, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, podcasts, Skype, and many more are being put to powerful use in the district. The show is embedded below, or is alternately viewable here. More examples will be added in the coming weeks. I hope they might provide some inspiration for teachers looking for ways to use the technologies in the curriculum.

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #10!

Continuing with the theme of creativity, today’s challenge is to try out a very cool alternative to PowerPoint, Animoto.


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #10 on 12seconds.tv
(Click here if you can’t see the video.)

Animoto lets users create videos that incorporate images, music, and text into a very slick, professional-looking product. This would be a great tool to allow students to present information on just about any topic, and the product would be very engaging. Videos can be embedded in blogs or wikis or downloaded to view on your computer or portable media player, such as an iPod. You could even upload the presentations to a podcast hosting site. The video below (click if video is not displaying) is an example that I made in just a short time, using family pictures and music from the Animoto music library (no copyright issues–yea!). Imagine how much more engaging and relevant a presentation on a topic such as fossils or presidents might be when done using Animoto. Heck, even a vocabulary list could become exciting!

As always, be sure to share a link to your finished products, and be sure to share any thoughts you have for using this with your students!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #3!

So far, 18 teachers and administrators have participated–a great start! Today’s challenge focused on podcasts. Specifically, it focuses on the iTunes tool and its vast library of free, educational podcasts. When you complete the Challenge, be sure to leave a comment here or on the video site and tell everyone what podcast(s) you subscribed to. If you can’t view the video below, click on this link. Thanks, and have fun!


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #3 on 12seconds.tv

Oh, one more thing. If you missed out on either of the first two 12 Second Challenges, please don’t hesitate to go back and catch up. There is no due date, other than for the prize drawings, which will occur late in the spring, so feel free to join in!

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Web 2.0, Meaningful Learning, and Student Achievement

I had the privilege of presenting at the Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s annual convention in Galveston, Texas on Monday. I took the opportunity to broadcast my presentation live for the first time, too. I shared ways our district’s teachers are using blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other free tools to engage students and to apply skills that can be used across the curriculum. If you’re interested, you can view it below:

The slideshow is below with the links to the resources I shared.

District Best Practices

I have had to do several projects involving putting together examples of Web 2.0 use in our district in the past couple of weeks. I thought I would share a small sampling of them here. They might inspire others to give some of the tools a try.

Blogs

Talented Texans–elementary students sharing writing. Student interaction is constructive and congenial.

History Rocks–high school students discuss social studies topics. Some really good debates in here!

Miss Ross–elementary teacher’s blog used as class portal. Lots of useful resources, such as curriculum information, calendars, instructional videos, etc.

Team Simmons–another elementary teacher’s homesite. Uses home page to facilitate literature discussions.

Marvelous Math–elementary blog used as extension of in-class math lessons and assignments. Students solve weekly problems.

Raider Nation–principal’s blog, used to share campus news and facilitate discussions for book studies and other topics.

Wikis

Reading Is Fun–wiki created and maintained by middle school, pre-AP reading class. Includes book talks, image gallery, discussion board, and more.

ACFT Science Labhuge wiki filled with teacher and student-created resources, including photo essay on silk worm moths, student video productions, more. Also includes useful page of student use guidelines.

Tech ALT–wiki set up to record and share work of district English/Language Arts teachers trying new technologies in their instruction.

Ram Science–class wiki for 6th grade science class. Includes variety of resources, including calendar, motivational quotes, Sketchcast shows, more.

Podcasts

Tiger Reviews–elementary librarian reviews new books.

1930s Radio–middle school students writing stories/scripts and recording as podcasts, 1930s radio-style.

Binion Bobcats–elementary school’s daily news and announcements.

Readers Theater–elementary students’ stories share in readers theater style.

Mr. Winans–student-created daily news/announcements podcast.

Homework Hotline–elementary class podcast details the day’s homework assignment.

Other

Student video projects:

I have to admit, I was actually very taken aback by the degree to which the read/write web has been implemented into the curriculum of our district (This has only been a part of the conversation for a year-and-a-half!). I had only viewed it through the narrow perspective of the three campuses I have been primarily serving, and this was the first time I had truly gotten a glimpse of the big picture. Teachers and students alike have created some amazing content. The fire is definitely burning, and it should erupt into a full-fledged blaze next school year!

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