21st Century Tool of the Month for August: Thinglink

teacher stuff

Thinglink is one of my new favorite 21st Century tools! I’ve been finding new ideas for how to use it in the classroom, and the more I use it, the more versatile I find it to be!

What is Thinglink?

Click here to see a Thinglink which explains what Thinglink is!

Here are some of my favorite ways to use it:

Task Library:

Collect resources for a project or unit of study using thinglink. This shows a task library for a teacher, and a student task library is embedded (a backward plan is also embedded in this thinglink). Students and Teachers can collaboratively add to it.

  Click here to see a post I made about the essential question, “How are people transformed by their relationships with others?” using thinglink to create a task library.

Gameboards: I have used a few “game boards” for classes that I have taught for teachers this summer…

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Neato Technology

Glogster:

  • Create interactive, virtual posters
  • Must pay for Premium to have more than 10 students using the program (and I can’t find the price anywhere)

Animoto:

  • Create slide shows with pictures, music, and videos
  • FREE for 30-second videos

Dipity:

  • Make online, interactive timelines
  • Especially good for history or plotting a series of events in fiction or nonfiction books
  • FREE

Easel.ly

  • Like Glogster but more focused on infographics
  • Templates provided, or start from scratch
  • FREE

 

Edmodo

I just discovered Facebook for teachers: Edmodo.

I’m still discovering all the features, but some of them include:

  • ability to add whole class as a group or individuals
  • class discussions
  • post assignments, quizzes, updates, etc.
  • post resources for yourself or students
  • communicate with other teachers from your school and beyond
  • post questions that other teachers can respond to

The benefits are that it’s an accepted and safe social network for teachers and students, and teachers can be organized by keeping grades, resources, assignments, and other things all in one online place (although I’m not sure how safe it is to have students’ grades on this site if it were to be hacked. I see a possible FERPA violation, so maybe grades and any other sensitive student information should be kept on whatever program the school has teachers use). The Library function would especially come in handy for online lessons/articles as well as video clips that are easier stored as a virtual rather than hard copy.

The only downside I see is that some students may not have computer/internet access outside of school if teachers need students to have access to Edmodo after school hours. But that’s what the first day survey is for.

Technology Philosophy

(I wrote this for an education class)

In my English-Social Studies block, I will use technology to assist students in solving real-world problems and conducting relevant research that will create a collaborative learning environment. My philosophy is based on research that shows “students learn more deeply if they have engaged in activities that require applying classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems” (www.edutopia.org). Technology is a tool that will allow me to base my teaching on inquiry, which isn’t about being right or wrong in one’s answer but about exciting students about learning and making their own discoveries (www.edutopia.org).

By using the Internet search engines, digital encyclopedias, and other Web 2.0 programs, students will learn that history isn’t about good defeating evil or that writing a novel isn’t something that happens over night. Students will be encouraged to research what interests them so that they may further their own education as well as their peers’. They will present their findings as individuals or in small groups with such technology as PowerPoint, Prezi, Zoho Show, or Wordle. In English literature, students will also research the authors and time periods in which their stories were written by using the Internet. They will use technology such as Toon Doo and the PowerPoint kiosk to create their own stories. With Skype, students can interview real authors. By using these technologies, students will be in charge of their own learning (given parameters, of course).

Studies show that there is great benefit in cooperative learning  “in which small teams of students use a variety of activities to more deeply understand a subject” (www.edutopia.org). Not only will individuals research on their own as previously discussed, but each team member will be required to collaborate with one another so as to teach the whole class about their given subject. Allowing students to use new and exciting technology will interest their peers as will the concept for students teaching each other and being in charge of their own learning.

While students will grow as teachers and learners by using technology, I will be able to use the products that students create to assess their learning. With all of the technologies listed previously, students will create a piece of work which can be assessed just as easily as a standard written essay. As with any assignment, there will be clear guidelines based on rubrics to ensure that students are aware of their expectations and how to reach them. Furthermore, using technology to assess learning may very well be more accurate than assessing student work done without technology. Many brilliant students fail to be challenged or engaged in their schoolwork due to intellectual or physical impairments. Using technology, from simple Google search engines to creating comics with Toon Doo, will likely engage the uninterested, challenge the bored, and quell the restless, allowing all students to take charge of their own learning that they feel is beneficial to their own life.

The advantages to using many forms of technology are numerous. Students who struggle to grasp a lecture can benefit from listening to a podcast or seeing the spoken words in writing through Inspiration graphic organizers and outlines or through presentation software such as PowerPoint or Prezi. Students who learn best by using hands-on techniques may benefit from using applications for the iPad. Rather than having students read facts from history textbooks, students can create their own timelines with such software as Timeliner. The disadvantages, of course, include students not being on task while using the technology. The solutions are twofold: to make sure students know for what they are responsible and by creating the collaborative learning environment so that students feel accountable themselves and keep others accountable as well. As their teacher, I will provide strict oversight to ensure all students are on task and learning to the best of their abilities.