Friday, February 17, 2017

Five Favorite Tech Takeaways

On this Friday night after a whirl-wind two days of technology learning at OETC (Ohio Educators' Technology Conference) this week, I'm decompressing and thinking of some of my favorite takeaways from the conference. While not every session was A-MAZING, there were so many really cool tips and tricks I picked up from attending. I definitely left knowing so much more than I did on Wednesday morning when I arrived. I also feel really excited to learn more and share my learning with my students and colleagues. Thankful that my district invited me to come along and get my "tech" on.

Here are my favorite {and easy to implement} five... 

Ever want to print or have students read an article online but there is too much garbage on the page?Do you find yourself trying to copy and paste the article in Goolge Docs only to have the formatting turn into a total nightmare!? Don't distress. The Chrome extension Read with MagicScroll  takes away the distracting clutter (ads, links, etc.) and gives students a clean reading page that looks like an e-book! Bonus: the font size can also be adjusted! This was a new extension for me and as I've been playing around with it on my personal Chromebook. There may be a few formatting issues when converted but it makes reading websites and articles so much easier! There is also a cool percentage tracker for kids at the bottom of the converted webpage.

I think most teachers have seen word clouds used in various ways before. However, as a Text Complexity session the website was brought up as a way to quickly and visually check a text's vocabulary and complexity. It was really cool to see a potential article or reading piece as a word cloud. The site is super simple to use too. Just copy and paste a text into the box and with a single click... a word cloud appears! Below is a sample word cloud from Kids Discover Magazine online.

After listening to teacher Andrew Moore (@think_moore) present on the Added Value of Technology, I was feeling inspired to get my kids thinking and presenting in new and innovative ways that fit their learning styles and needs. I've included a link to his presentation because he has lots of great practical examples of how you can change up your assessment of standards and offer choice. Reading teachers especially know and love the word CHOICE as we know it empowers student readers, but we can also offer choice in how students are demonstrating knowledge of books and ELA standards. 

Yes, there are times when students need to do those writing about reading activities but if we're assessing if students can compare and contrast themes across novels could they not make a YouTube video? Sing a song? Create a comic? Create a Google Drawing? You get the point. There are NUMEROUS ways for students to demonstrate and prove their understanding. I know I'm usually good about offering choice of resources but sometimes forget about the choice in presentation. He also reminded me that although technology is amazing, we do need balance in our classrooms. We should only be using tech when it adds value to our students learning or our instruction. 

Have kids that struggle to stay focused while on a Chromebook or device? Or during a long writing assignment? A fabulous extension to Chrome called Move It is the solution! I've been using Move It the past two days on my personal Chromebook and I'm digging it! You set up how often you would like a "Move It" break under the settings (I had every 15 minutes) and the app will flash on the screen and give you a movement. 

Today, I had to march in place ten times and roll my shoulders during a thirty minute period. See below for an example of a Move It suggestion. 

The best presenter, hands down, that I heard over the two days was Google Trainer Eric Curts! He offered up so many easily ways to add great Google tools into your classroom. He presented a session titled Beyond the Slideshow (great ways to get kids thinking outside the slideshow!) and another session on Google Tools for Struggling Students. He's also on twitter and you can follow him at @EricCurts and he has a wonderful and up-to-date blog Control Alt Achieve full of lots of tech ideas! Definitely check him out and follow - ASAP!

Hope you can use one of my tech takeaways! 


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