Friday, September 29, 2017

You are now...all the "Wizer"!

The ability to create, assign, and review digital worksheets is a function that can save time, energy...and paper. But, in plenty of cases it seems to be much more practical to go the traditional route of using a paper-based option. Whether it involved too much time to create the worksheet, involved too many steps for the students to access and answer questions, or the functionality just didn’t meet the needs of the teacher or students, many times it was just easier to stick with paper.

I have come across a tool that looks to eliminate a good deal of those obstacles and drawbacks. The product is called wizer.me. Teachers can create amazing online interactive worksheets with variety of question types and multimedia resources. Some of the types of questions that can be created include: open questions, matching, drawing, multiple choice and fill in the blanks, just to name a few. Some of the most valuable features in my opinion are the ability to create those interactive question types like matching, drawing, and the labeling of images. But, what I like best is with the open question, students can also orally record their answer. Giving students that ability to explain themselves simply by talking can sometimes make all the difference in the world. In addition to the ease with which these questions can be created, the visual presentation of the worksheets is fantastic and just as easy to create.

Once you have created your engaging worksheet, assigning it to students is a simple process as well because it is integrated with Google Classroom. Click the assign link tab and a small button appears allowing you to choose Classroom, and in a couple presses of a button you can choose and assign it to any of your Google Classrooms. Students receive the link to the assignment in their Stream, can proceed directly to the wizer.me worksheet, sign in with Google and they are off and running. Once students have completed the worksheet, the teacher has the ability to go to their wizer.me dashboard and view all student responses for any particular assignment.

A feature that is always good to see is an active community of educators that utilize the tool. Any user can go to their wizer.me dashboard and click on “Community” to be able to search, view, and use any worksheet already created by teachers around the world. Worksheets can be searched by grade level and topic. Once you find a worksheet that you like, a quick click will copy that worksheet to your own dashboard where you can assign it just the way it is or edit it to suit your needs.

Here is a video that you can view to see all that wizer.me has to offer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Beauty of Chrome Bookmarks

One benefit of using the Chrome browser is the ability to have your bookmarks synced across any device. Wherever and whenever you use chrome you can have direct and quick access to those sites and documents that you bookmarked and use most.

To begin with, you always want to make sure that you are signed into chrome. If you are using a chromebook this is automatic. When using a PC or Mac, after opening Chrome, go to the chrome menu button (3 vertical dots at top right) and choose to sign into chrome.
Once signed in, make sure that within the same menu, Show Bookmarks bar is checked off from within the Bookmarks menu.

Once the settings above are taken care of you will be able to easily create, organize and see all of your bookmarks. In order to create a bookmark of any page or document, simply click the star icon at the far right of the omnibox. You will be presented with options to name this particular bookmark, add it to the bookmarks bar or an existing bookmark folder, or create a new bookmark folder to place it into. Remember, even Google docs, sheets, slides, etc. are able to be bookmarked in this fashion. Try this tool out now. Here is a great document to bookmark.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Watching Videos Does Not Have to be a Passive Activity (TurboNote)

For this post I wanted to switch things up a little bit and focus on a specific tool. In an effort to get posts to come out a little more frequently I hope to sprinkle in more tool and resource specific posts/tips with my more traditional posts that relate a passion of mine, fishing, with my other passion, educational technology. I hope that you enjoy and can use these tools in your practice.

The use of videos in class is nothing new to teachers or students. But, watching a video shouldn’t be a passive activity. There are different tools and resources out there that take the viewing of videos to the next level. I have talked with my teachers about using EdPuzzle or playposit (fka eduCanon) to insert questions, comments and other interactives to any given video. This practice allowed the teachers to gain some insight into what they students were getting out of the videos and through the data collection process had easy checks for understanding. Another tool that students can use in conjunction with their viewing of videos is something called TurboNote. If you were a user of Videonot.es, (currently the site is down), you will recognize the function and features of this resource.

TurboNote enables the user to save notes in a virtual note pad or sticky’s that are timestamped according to the moment in the video you are currently watching. There are many video sites that are supported including, YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, Khan Academy and many others. In addition to the recording of notes into the notepad the ability exists to be able to share your notes with anyone else. Those that receive shared notes can see the timestamped entries along with the video. This is a great tool for students to use to help them study and even for teachers to use to gauge students comprehension of content within any video. This quick demo of TurboNote highlights its use.

Monday, March 6, 2017

To Plan or Not to Plan...It’s Not Even a Question

Tournament fisherman have many things to do before they actually make their first cast after the sound of the gun. A week of pre-fishing the lake and developing a game plan, various boat preparations, and checking and re-checking your tackle. There is a lot of hard work that goes into being a successful tournament fisherman. All of this planning before a tournament is not necessarily the fun stuff, but it is a requirement in order to have success.
Probably the most important piece to winning a fishing tournament is to have an effective pre fishing routine. During this time of pre fishing, an angler must learn everything they can about the lake or river system. This includes where different structure is, water color and depths of various areas and especially how the river or lake reacts to sudden changes in weather or water conditions.
Now, I’m no tournament fisherman (know of any openings?),  I am an educator that focuses on the integration of technology into curricula. In order to help teachers integrate various technology I have to be comfortable and knowledgeable about the latest trends and practices in educational technology. In addition, there is a need to effectively plan for the future in an area that is always evolving. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at things like the new Digital Learning and Computer Science Standards, research on 1:1 programs, as well as other bigger picture items. I always have to tell myself and be reminded that while this may not be the exciting and fun part of the job it is actually the necessary piece that allows me to have those invigorating and exciting experiences with teachers and students in the classroom.

The proper research and planning that goes into a 1:1 program or development of a makerspace for example, can be the difference between success and seamless integration and complete breakdown and failure. To properly embark on a new journey, especially in the area of educational technology, one must gather and utilize all available resources. This includes various documentation, research, and personnel.  Use all of the information that can be acquired to develop a detailed plan and finally execute and assess that plan. Without taking the time to properly research and plan what happens is you end up taking one step forward and two steps back.
So, make sure you know what your plan is for that sudden hail storm in August, the bass get finicky and the wireless network may get a little testy.