Classroom App Toolbox – One More Way To Connect Classrooms

I used Amy’s template to create My Classroom App Toolbox a few years ago at the end of the school year with my second graders.  When I first created it, I made it blank.   I said to them, “Let’s clear out our iPads and only keep what we think are the best apps the next class will want to use.”  So it began……

The list was created by students for students!  I moved to teach first grade the next year, obviously learned many more app choices, and did the same thing at the end of that year.  This time I shared it with my friends.  Some of them talked to their class and added some apps.  Power of global connecting, right?!

The most powerful thing about this was not only connecting with other classrooms for ideas, but allowing the kids to make the choices.  I also sent this toolbox home with the kids for the parents.  This allowed them to see what was being used in class and in what ways.  Also, it gave them something to use over the summer for learning.

It is a FABULOUS tool to have for many reasons, especially if you are like me and like organized compartments for your learning. 🙂

Here is my toolbox, view only, so you can get an idea of what we did.

My Classroom App Toolbox

Screencastify – Students Can Be the Experts & Teach

I woke up this morning and it hit me that I go back to work in 5 days! As I opened up my beautiful spiral full of things I wanted to accomplish this summer, I also realized I did way more relaxing and things for ME than I planned….and that is quite alright!!

So this morning I want to hit a few Virtual Voyage posts that I intended on sharing. The first one is about Screencastify.  I learned about this fabulous tool back in February when I went to Austin for the TCEA Conference.  I played around with it earlier in the year and shared a few with my campus.

Screencastify is a Chrome extension that allows you to record yourself walking someone through something while recording your screen the entire time.  I can see many ways students could use this to teach other students – to be the experts in an area and show others.  Isn’t that the purest form of securing our learning?  Here is my example of how to add the Distraction Free extension for YouTube.

It really is that simple!  I would imagine that the students getting the Chromebooks this year would be able to do a lot of amazing things to show their learning!  I might have to try it out on a few students. 🙂

Learning To Love Podcasts

I had to share my newly acquired interest and love for Podcasts! I will admit, I had tried to delete the purple Podcast app from my phone many times, but it just doesn’t go away.  I never used it, wanted to use it, or thought I could ever listen to something without seeing it at the same time. I am clearly not a big audiobook listener.  THEN….I attended Kerissa Bearce’s Humanities Institute session on podcasts, and my interest changed.

I thought, hmm…this seems fun.  I loved the one that my daughter took part of for Student Led Conferences. I will check this out.  What I didn’t expect was to walk away with TONS of resources for myself as a teacher to use in the classroom that ties to the curriculum and a list of so many podcasts!

Since this was right before George Couros was coming to our district I decided to listen to one that he was on called Educators Lead, and have my daughter listen as well.  We pulled up to gymnastics class and I turned it off. Sofie reached over to my phone to start it back up because she wanted to listen some more!  It really surprised me that she would be so into a podcast.  Kerissa shared in her class how there are podcasts for children and I cannot wait to sit down and start finding cool things we both can listen to and learn together!  I will have to write a follow up as to how this goes. 🙂

I can see how using this with your students can give them a huge sense of ownership in their learning and connectedness by sharing their learning globally.  It hits so many components of our Portrait of a Graduate.

 If you are considering ways to use podcasts, I highly recommend reaching out to @msbearce (Kerissa Bearce)!  She does amazing things with our district to showcase awesome students!

Symbaloo – How to Organize It ALL

I often write about matters of the heart in education.  Well, today…here is my informative post of the week about a fabulous technology tool that will really save you T-I-M-E!

Lately, I have often been asked how I keep all of the websites I use, blogs I read, and district information organized.  I recently shared this amazing trick with the rest of the teachers in my building.  Are you ready?  It is..SYMBALOO! 🙂  I think many have seen this site, but not really utilized it to the fullest, including myself.  Kasey Bell is a great resource for walking you through how to set things up in a user-friendly way and finding tips and tricks.  Check her site out!

So, today I am sharing what I use Symbaloo for and I hope you list 10 others ways and share them with me!

  • To keep all of my district’s Most Frequently Used Sites in one easy place. (I’m only showing a partial screenshot, so you see the part I am referring to.)

I will not lie – I love that you can customize your background.  You can never have too much glitter!
  • To keep all of the blogs/sites that I frequently read in one spot.  (However, now thanks to a great post from the amazing George Couros, my new reader is Inoreader. Everything I read is housed there!  Check out his post and you will make this switch too!)
  • To keep Hook clips and songs for lessons.  I also house content related info pages here.
This is the Reading page.  It also has tiles that link to my Pinterest Boards on each topic.

This is the Social Studies page.  You can see, it is a work in progress!  🙂
  • To keep Brain Breaks (that I created or found) in one place so that we are not wasting time searching for our next favorite one.  🙂  
This is a Webmix already made by someone else that I added to my Symbaloo page.  

Here is my Brain Breaks Webmix that I started with our classroom’s favorite ones.  I added Go Noodle and the background music we use throughout the day.

Finding what you want on Symbaloo:

1. Use the magnifying glass at the top of the page to search.
2.  You will see this:
Tiles will search for specific sites people have created. Ex: Sight Words, GCISD Teacher Resources, etc.
Webmixes are the “pages” I refer to that people have created.
Profiles are people who created them.  My profile is public and you can search for it by entering my name, Bridget Visser, into the gray search box and you will see all of the webmixes I created. If you choose to not make your webmix public, it still works the same. People will just be unable to find what you made or use it, and that’s okay if you want that.
Symbaloo can be used for so many different things to meet your needs and the needs of your students.  One year, I had it set up as the homepage on the laptops for the kids to navigate themselves through frequently used sites that they needed for research and other things independently.
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg on ways to use Symbaloo.  Try it out.  Use some of mine! Share your ideas with me!  I can’t wait to learn new ways to use this awesome tool.

Twitter PLN Infographic using Canva

I want to share one of the best apps I have started using since attending iPadpalooza. It is called Canva!  It can create just about anything you want to and make it look AWESOME!

For our virtual voyage we were given the mission of creating an Infographic.  I have seen these a million times and pinned a ton of them on Pinterest.  Why?  That’s easy.  This is my kind of thinking.  Visual.  Simple. Easy to read.  Do not require much time to sit down and get the message.  🙂  What more can you ask for?
When I thought about what topic to create this on, I drew a blank.  1.  I am on vacation and my mind is starting to drift…. 2.  What do I really have to share using this that people will want to read?  So last night (I will admit, late) when I was scrolling through Twitter reading all of the great articles from blogs and people I follow I felt this nerdy sense of amazement!  
I feel INSPIRED by Twitter and here is why:
1.  There are so many amazing educators out there!
2.  So many of these educators blog incredible ideas!
3.  We are so lucky to live in a world like this where we are allowed to learn!
4.  How lucky are we to learn SO much from simply reaching out to a “stranger” on Twitter!
5.  I am so lucky to have connected with so many FAB people at iPadpalooza and Twitter!
6.  Wow….I am loving my connections on Twitter and how much I am learning!  How in the world did this even start?
THEN….my idea came!  If I hadn’t gone to iPadpalooza, would I have known which person to follow on Twitter?  Would I have even attempted to follow someone I didn’t know on my own? How did I know whom to follow?  
Here is how I start :  I look at a Twitter friend that I follow, respect, and love what they represent.  I look and see who they are following and/or take recommendations!  I figure if my Twitter friend is following them, they must be awesome!  So I check them out.  You can find people to follow so many other ways, but this is what works for me.  
This brings me to my IDEA – I decided to create my Infographic using the coolest app, Canva, and list my top Twitter recommendations!  Now, it’s not a perfect graphic, but I’m learning.  🙂  Hope you find someone new to follow and love as much as I do!

Virtual Voyage – Kaizena

When I first looked at this word I wasn’t sure what it was, how to say it, or if I wanted to spend time finding out.  SO GLAD I DID!

The link that was on our Virtual Voyage led me to an amazing tutorial and very easily walked me through using this.

I began using it on a Google doc that my PLN (shout out to my Digital Divas) and I are working on to submit for a TCEA Techstock presentation.

Even though I used Kaizena on this document for our memory purposes, I can see where it will have the greatest benefit using in the classroom on peer editing or feedback from the teacher in the writing process.

I wish I would have known about this when we were doing our writing process using Google Docs this past year.  Since I had first graders, this would have made the process a little less labor intensive at times.  It also would have given any ESL students a chance to get their thoughts out without the intimidation of spelling correctly or having to “correct” a partner’s paper.  Just another great tool to do another thing to support our students!  Try it out.  It’s kind of fun!  🙂

Virtual Voyage – A Day in Tech History Podcast

If you are looking for something to make your long commute fly by or if you want to learn something new while working out, podcasts might be the way to go!  I will admit, I have heard the word podcast thrown around. I have heard of examples of students using them and teachers using them, but I had never made time to sit down and look into them for myself until this virtual voyage.  Kudos to the virtual voyage creators….exact reason you probably created this. 🙂

Here’s what I got from my podcast exploring:
1.  EASY TO ORGANIZE – The first thing I saw in the app store was the Overcast app.  After downloading this app on my phone, I set up my playlist and subscribed to different podcasts.  The ones that really caught my eye were the Technology ones. Of course, anything techie interests me and has me inquiring for more!
2.  MULTI-TASKING ABILITIES – I watched one from Ted Radio Hour about how our upbringing shapes us and how parents mold children into who they are.  I loved being able to listen to my favorite “nerdy brain topics” while unpacking from a trip.  This goes to show you can learn a little something while doing anything in your normal day. (If multi-tasking is your cup of tea.)
3.  MY FAVORITE – I highly recommend Day in Tech History podcast .  I am a history fanatic (I know, hard to believe if you know how social I was during my history class in high school!) and this combines important dates and technology happenings!  It reminds me of the app I used with my first graders this year called A Day in History.  We LOVED seeing what cool thing happened each day.  If you do not have that app, it is a must get!
4.  MOST USEFUL THING – What I found most useful about the Day in Tech history podcast is that you can use it with your classroom!   Out of all the podcasts I saw and listened to, this one was the only one I found where each session was no longer than 8 minutes!  For any human being, this is the perfect amount of time to learn something without losing your attention.  
Next thing on my podcast learning journey…..sharing my favorites on Twitter and getting favorites from my friends on Twitter.  Try it out!

Virtual Voyage – Gamification or Game-Based Learning

Do you learn while playing games?  Do you think your kids might?  Give it a try.  It might not be as “loosey goosey” as you think it sounds.  How can you not afford to try something new that will:

– engage your kids and create ownership in their learning
– deepen their learning experiences AND knowledge
– allow them to SMILE, and be happy (and we all know learning sticks when this happens)
– provide healthy competition for those who thrive on it
– allow YOU to enjoy stepping back and watching the kids be creative and take their learning further than you ever imagined.

There are many benefits to this.  I love Janie Stach’s infographic on her Pinterest page  In short, it can be gaming systems using badges and competitions, as well as your formative assessment using Kahoot! (which we all love dearly) on any given day.  Read further to discover how easy it is to incorporate!

I recently had the privilege to sit and talk with Kasey Bell, an amazing digital consultant and Google Certified Innovator and Trainer, about gamification.  My question to her, “I thought the two were the same thing.  What’s the difference?”  She very nicely explained the difference and I was surprised that I had actually been doing one for at least 2 years and it isn’t difficult! 
CHECK OUT her blog, Shake Up Learning, and see for yourself the many amazing resources she has for you!!
Follow her on Twitter @ShakeUpLearning to get even more amazing resources at your fingertips!  
I am grateful for her sharing this information with me, and that I was able to meet her, learn from her at iPadpalooza, and add her to my PLN list! 

Virtual Voyage – Google Hangout (Shhh…

One of the tasks to complete on the Virtual Voyage #gcisdvv is to Skype or Google Hangout with a fellow teacher.  Here’s the thing, I had a Google Hangout months ago when our technology department rolled out how to use our Gmail Calendar.  It was great.  So, I wanted to try something different this time that I learned from a sweet girl in one of my sessions at iPadpalooza last week!

Here is a picture of us on the way home from Austin chatting in a session!  Laura Follett and I were supposed to meet Erin Gerdes, Amy Henderson, and others at her teammate’s house for dinner to brainstorm and collaborate!  We loved iPadpalooza so much we couldn’t leave!  Just kidding (kinda), really….it went until after 4:00 and we couldn’t make it back in time. So what did we think to do?  HANGOUT!

We used to chat and it acts similar to Google Hangout, but from what I have been told and seen it is clearer with fewer static noises.  Who knows, but we used it.  I am not trying to discourage Google Hangout.  I want to make you aware of another option to use if you need one.  🙂
Seriously, what would we do without the amazing 21st century tools we have at our fingertips?  Professional Learning and Connecting on the road, who would’ve thought?!

Virtual Voyage – YouTube

I use YouTube for many educational videos, songs for learning, brain breaks, and most recently for uploading videos of my students that I wish to remain private except for our class to view.

Here is an example of my channel that is used to post the weather reports that my students did.  Using YouTube Capture app allowed for easy uploading!

I found that this was the easiest way to have access to some videos without sharing them with everyone, yet allowing some to see.  It is nice to be able to look back and always have these videos even when the kids move on and so do their iPads.

I can see how in the older grades they might have their own channels to keep specific learning videos, as well as creations they have made.  This would be a great portfolio of iMovies and other learning videos to show at Open House.