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Posted by on in Education Technology

In 2009, I attended the wedding of a good friend who wanted to wear a bow tie to the ceremony. He was opposed to wearing a clip-on but could not tie a bow tie. He told me he learned to tie it by watching YouTube. That resourceful friend is the first example in my memory of someone using YouTube to learn something new.

Today, it is well understood that YouTube is a great platform for learning. The iconic Crash Course channel has more than five million subscribers and teaches multiple subjects. TED-Ed makes high-quality short animated videos about many topicsThe Great War posts weekly videos about what happened in World War I exactly a hundred years ago in addition to many single-subject special episodes. By the time the channel is complete, it will be a massive open online course (MOOC) that gives learners an exhaustively deep understanding of World War I. Much like my friend learned how to tie a bow tie on YouTube, my wife and I learn how to make delicious meals from the Edgy Veg. One last example to drive this home - a family taught themselves how to build their own home by watching YouTube!

So Who Goes To This Website That Teaches People So Much?

The middle school, high school, and college students we teach don't just like YouTube - they are addicted to it. One study found 85% of Americans aged 13 to 24 regularly watch it and two-thirds of them say they "can't live without it." You can read the full report which puts average YouTube viewership for 13 to 24 year-olds at 6.2 hours a week, for yourself.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

You’ve finally got that requested tech…now what?

So you’re school just got 1:1 tech, or you just got your request for iPads granted on an online funding site you signed up for (congrats! that’s awesome!) For a lot of teachers that I talk with, it seems like they think as soon as you get that tech in your room the world will change and all of your problems will disappear. To be honest, when I got some additional tech for my room, I thought the same things was going to happen.

The Reality

When I first received some additional tech that ended up being 1:1 after a hodgepodge of some laptops here, iPods here, and tablets over there, I thought everything was going to just magically improve in my classroom. The reality of it was that I just had another tool to help my students, NOT a “cure all” for all of the issues that exist in my classroom.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

At this point, it’s time for all educators to admit to themselves: students don’t like our old-fashioned ways of teaching. These generations need a different approach. More specifically, we need to inspire them to learn through technology. Blogging, as part of the aspiration of contemporary educators to infuse technology into their methods, is getting incredibly popular lately.             

In February 2013, PBS LearningMedia published the results from a survey that showed how the majority of teachers (74%) were confident that technology motivated students to learn.

The Edublogger surveys educators and students each year, with a specific purpose to find out how they are using blogging in the classroom. The 2015 survey came out with interesting results: Over 40 of the respondents were mainly using their blogs for class blogs, and less than 15% were specifically using them for student blogs. “Most class blogs were used for: assignments and class news (48.4%); share information with families (40.3%); share links and resources (34.2%).” It’s okay to use a blog only for sharing assignments and news, but this practice offers many more opportunities.

Reasons for Launching a Class Blog

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Posted by on in Education Technology

As more schools go 1:1 with devices, classrooms increasingly feature a blended learning model. This requires a lot of student screen time because as Matt Miller argues, technology is a vital part of students' educational experience

Students need visually appealing platforms to engage them as they work on devices. Google Classroom has a visually appealing simple interface. It is perfect for facilitating student creation and collaboration with teacher feedback. However, teachers, especially secondary teachers, need to present students with content. Additionally, beyond parent e-mails, Google Classroom is not public. The new Google Sites is an ideal platform to present content in a visually appealing, creative way. Teachers can easily showcase their hard work and ingenuity to the public. New Google Sites is simple for teachers to use and approachable for students. 

Previously, Google Sites was not intuitive. It rendered ugly sites that did not display well on phones and tablets. The new Google Sites is no more complicated than pointing and clicking - no HTML knowledge needed (see tips below). It integrates perfectly with GSuite. This makes it easy to showcase GSuite files. 

Examples of Using New Google Sites in Blended Learning

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Posted by on in Education Technology

mind reading

Imagine if you could hear every single student's thinking, thoughts, and ideas on a topic, and respond to each and every one of them without finding time to schedule individual student conferences. Imagine if your students could let you know how well they understood the topics covered during the week. Imagine how much insight you could get, and how you could adjust your teaching to meet the needs of individual students.  

Well, a few weeks ago I came across Recap, a free student video response and reflection app, on my Twitter feed. It allows me to hear every single student's thinking, thoughts, and ideas, allows me to respond to each and every one of them. I checked out the site and immediately put it into action in my class calling the Recap assignments, #flashbackfridays. For 6th graders, not much is cooler than the hashtag. 

My 6th grade students instantly took to it. Every one of my students are able to share their insights through a reflective process in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. They can respond to the Recap assignments on any device that has a camera and microphone, and after they are done recording, they assess their learning about the topic(s) by selecting a "thumbs up," "thumbs sideways," or "thumbs down." Videos can range from 15 seconds to 2 minutes or longer if need be, as determined by the teacher.  

My Recap assignments are simply questions for my students to share their thinking with me. Teachers have the option of asking one or more questions for their students to respond to. So a teacher could ask a general question such as, "What are three things you learned this week," request more specific feedback from students like, "Tell me the steps for dividing fractions," or even use the 3-2-1 prompt idea. Also, while I view each student's response, I can type a response to them while their video is playing. If I need to pause or rewind a their video, I can. Recap then will breakdown the students's responses into how they self-assessed their learning for quick reference for the teacher. Finally, once the due date has come, Recap will automatically create a daily review reel. 

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