iPads, QR Codes and Evernote, Oh My!

photo 4

 

One of the ways I like to organise my reading groups is by using our class iPads, QR Codes and Evernote. These three tools combined allow me to be organised and prepared in advanced for reading lessons.

My school uses the CAFE reading model- a snap shot of a reading session in my classroom looks a little something like the table below. I have also included a column which describes some of the technology I use, or my students use during the reading hour.

Students in the specified reading group can access their reading text and group resources using an iPad and QR Code which I generate that links them to a shared Evernote note. Here is an example-

 

Sharing an Evernote note and creating a link is easy.

I use qrstuff.com  to create my QR codes. Simply paste the link into the URL content section and your code will automatically generate. Either display on IWB or screen or print out a couple of copies for students to scan.

If my students were using Evernote, I would then get them to save the note to their own account…but we haven’t quite got there yet.

This process works well for me and can be really effective in helping to stay organised and increase productivity in the classroom.

An interesting comment from one of my students. Today, I grabbed my phone to take some pictures of them working and simply told them that I wanted some pictures so I could write a blog post about what they were doing, to which he replied “Why? What’s so special about this?”…interesting indeed. I had a chuckle and explained to him that for him and I and the other students in my class, that not much was ‘special’ about it because we do it all the time, we use this kind of technology and so much more. It is constantly integrated into our teaching and learning experiences. I then went on to say that even though it is basic for us, there are many teachers and students out there that would not even know what a QR code is or how to make one, how to use Evernote or  maybe how to use an iPad for educational purposes. He was very shocked and surprised by this revelation. It made me smile!

Edtech theory….why bother?

 

I am currently studying my Masters in Education, specialising in Information Technologies and over the weekend completed an assignment. One part of the assignment was to look at some of the theories, models and frameworks behind using technology in the classroom, that enable teachers to do this effectively. I thought I would share some of that information here as a little reminder as sometimes I feel many teachers get so caught up in the tools and forget about the pedagogy.

The theory behind effective technology integration:

If you want to embrace technology effectively and in a meaningful manner in the classroom, you first need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. You need to identify what kind of knowledge you are bringing. Think about your knowledge in the following areas-

  • Technology
  • Pedagogy
  • Content

Imagine you are teaching a fractions lesson in mathematics, do you know the content? Do you know how to teach it? Can you effectively use technology to support the students in your classroom to learn about fractions?

The TPACK framework is a great place to start to identify your professional development needs.

 

The TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, Content and Knowledge) Model in Three Minutes on YouTube-

Once you have identified your strengths, weaknesses and areas for professional development from TPACK, how will you now integrate technology in the classroom?

The Technology Integration Planning (TIP) Model allows teachers to address the challenges involved in integrating technology in teaching and learning. Each of the six phases gives teachers the steps for implementation that will ensure technology use in the classroom will be meaningful, efficient and successful (Roblyer, 2010). For more information on the phases of the TIP model follow this link- http://bookbuilder.cast.org/view_print.php?book=32768

One more theoretical framework to consider after TPACK and TIP is SAMR- Substitue, Augment, Modify, Redefine originally designed by Ruben Puentedura (2009).

My explanation of the SAMR model, from substitution to redefinition! Let’s aim to be transformative teachers who embrace technology to redefine learning opportunities in the classroom.

SAMR Model from Rebecca Spink on Vimeo.

 

Technology integration is not just an idea….

But a professional responsibility, that as an accredited teacher you are required to adhere to. If you still are not convinced about the importance of and the theories behind using technologies in the classroom, have a look at the National Professional Teaching Standards. It is a requirement that accredited teachers use information and communication technologies within teaching and learning in a relevant and meaningful way. Teachers are expected to plan and implement effective teaching and learning through creating and using a range of technologies to engage students in learning. It is also expected that teachers will create and maintain a supportive learning environment through incorporating strategies to promote the safe, responsible and ethical use of technology in education (AITSL, 2011).

 

Do you use any of these theories when planning to integrate technology? 

What is your philosophy of technology integration? 

Twitter In My Classroom

 

In November 2011 I blogged about how I used Twitter in a mathematics lesson on chance and probability with a group of year two students. Since then, just over a year ago, Twitter has become an integral part of my classroom program. So much so that last week I was contacted by Jewel Topsfield, the education editor at The Age Newspaper who wrote an article about how Twitter is being used in the education field – T is for Teaching. After receiving so much attention from the article, I realised that using Twitter with my year five and six students had become such a normal part of the daily activities in my classroom that I had forgotten that what my students and I are doing is still something that many educational professionals perceive as ‘taboo’, that there are still so many people out there that believe social media plays no part in the education of these ‘digital native’ students we teach everyday.

Photo: Jason South
http://www.theage.com.au/national/t-is-for-teaching-20121130-2amd9.html

 

The fact is that many students in my class already use social media, they have Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter accounts and although I can not condone their use of those tools as they are under 13 years of age, I can expose them to positive ways of using such tools in the classroom. Through using my class Twitter account @ACPS456 and sites such as Edmodo I am exposing my students to a POSITIVE way of behaving and communicating in an online world- something that they are already beginning to do. I am teaching my students how to identify and block spam accounts, the importance of only friending people they know on Facebook, the notion of leaving a ‘digital footprint’ and how to be safe online!

It is no longer ok for teachers to ignore the fact that their students are using these tools and that social media is becoming a fundamental source for them to research, gather information, learn, play and communicate. Shouldn’t we as educators be embracing this use of technology in the classroom rather than ignoring it? Teachers, principals and parents desperately need to get over their beliefs that Twitter is a place for sharing unimportant information and updates or following celebrities. No, I do not care what you ate for lunch today or what grocery store you shop at, but I DO care and WILL take notice if I see an 11 year old tweet the Prime Minister or read about young people sharing their learning and knowledge with the world. It is time for educators and parents to understand that Twitter and other social media in the classroom can be a valuable place and a world stage for student learning. Teachers need to stop being afraid and simply have a go at using the tools, if not for their class then for themselves. Twitter is the best FREE source of professional learning I have ever come across. I hear so many excuses and complaints about being so swamped that “I don’t have the time”, excuses like these are simply just that, don’t tell me you don’t have time and then expect me to sit down with you for half an hour to explain something when you could have got the answer off other teachers on Twitter almost instantly. There are SO many educators out there, many experts in their fields, willing to share their knowledge in 140 characters or less- it’s time to get involved!

Ways to use Twitter with students:

  • Sharing class updates
  • Sharing blog posts
  • Tweeting reflections on learning activities
  • Sharing what they have learnt
  • Asking questions
  • Gathering information and data
  • Create global connections with other classes and teachers

Some classes already Tweeting:

Some worthwhile teachers to follow (Just a few, too many to include all). Join the conversation! Check out Edudemics 60 best teachers on Twitter.

Don’t forget the hash tags:

  • Victorian Professional Learning Network- #VicPLN
  • #comments4kids
  • #edchat
  • #edtech
  • #education
  • #CBLearn

So many more here- The Unofficial Index to Educational Twitter Hashtags

10 of My Favourite Apps

I know everybody has their favourites but I thought it was my time to share the iPad apps that I can’t live without! I have had my iPad since September 2011 and found that as each day at school went by I was using it more and more. Regular readers of my blog would already be aware of my affection for Evernote and Good Reader and how I use these apps to eliminate paper in my reading assessments with students. These are just two of my favourites so I thought it was time to share a few more!

1. Evernote-

I have said it before and I will say it again and again until every teacher I know at least tries Evernote! Evernote is a note taking app that allows users to take notes by typing, audio, video and pictures. It can be used on a variety of devices and syncs, so if I edit on my laptop it appears on my iPad!

I use Evernote to-

Save all of my assessment notes and data-
I have notebooks set up for different subjects and add notes about students as I notice them! I always have either my iPhone or iPad with me in the classroom so I can update quickly and easily, it keeps me mobile, away from the laptop and I never forget anything!

Keep checklists-
I have checklists set up for keeping records for homework and home reading, as well as keeping track of spelling results. I also know of teachers that have set up checklists for use in guided reading.

Minutes-
I keep track of all staff meeting notes so that I can refer to them later, again I find this easier than writing my notes on paper or in a book as I tend to put it down somewhere and never find it again! I also take notes on team meetings and can easily share or email the notes between team members.

ifttt-
If This Then That- “Put the Internet to work for you!” ifttt is a web app that allows you to create tasks of a simple structure. For example I could get ifttt to send me en email with the weather forecast every morning or send my mum a Facebook message on her birthday.

I use ifttt with Evernote to-

  • Save my starred items from Google Reader. It keeps them all together and easy to find at a later date.
  • Save new blog posts- every time I write a new post it sends a copy to Evernote for safe keeping.
  • Save my Twitter favourites- every time I favourite a tweet on Twitter it saves in Evernote.
  • Make a copy of my YouTube videos.

Professional Learning-
I keep track of all of my professional learning using Evernote- I can create quick and easy notes, take pictures, video and audio so that I don’t forget what I have learnt!

2. Good Reader

Good Reader is an app that allows you to annotate PDF and Word Documents.

I use Good Reader to-

  • Complete running records (I then save them in the corresponding student note in Evernote)
  • Complete paperless Observation Surveys.
  • Complete assessment checklists.
  • Have important documents on hand ready to go- eg when I am completing a reading conference I have the CAFE menu open and have easy access to the CAFE Ready Reference Guides.

Basically anything that you can do on paper you can scan or email and do it on the iPad!

3- Twitter

The most influential and inspiring Professional Learning Network around! For any teacher reading this who is not on Twitter I would highly suggest that you get on and have a look. I use Twitter to
LEARN and to SHARE. Kathleen Morris shares her ideas for teachers new to Twitter- Using Twitter to Build Your PLN, Are You On Twitter Yet? and Top 10 Twitter Tips

4- WordPress

The WordPress app allows me to edit and update blog posts and make comments easily and efficiently.

5- OneNote

I do all my planning and work program using OneNote and since Office 2010 and the integration of SkyDrive it is even better! It is great having OneNote on my iPad and iPhone. The app allows me to have easy access to my planning documents at all times and I can add and edit on the go. The only thing I don’t like is that you can’t edit a table that has already been created- can be frustrating!

6- TED

Need some inspiration- take 10 minutes to listen to the latest TED talk.

7- Flipboard

Turns your social networks into an interactive, online magazine! Add your Facebook or Twitter account to view in a dynamic and different way on the iPad or iPhone. You can also set up different Twitter hashtags that you follow.

8- Prezi Viewer

Allows you to view Prezi’s on your Ipad!

 

9- Splashtop Whiteboard

Download the Splashtop streamer on your computer and iPad to create an easy and free remote desktop! Sit anywhere in the classroom and control your IWB or have students demonstrate on iPad rather than standing up in front of the class.

With Splashtop Whiteboard-

Teachers can:

Be in Control – Have complete control over the applications on the classroom PC as if you were sitting right there. No need to stay at the front of class. Be free to roam around. Hand the iPad to a student and let their imagination do the rest!

Experience lifelike play back – All video and audio are played in high definition on your iPad. Play Adobe Flash content, iTunes music, DVDs, CDs, etc.

10- iMovie

I love iMovie! It is so easy to use, very user friendly- I demonstrated once to some Prep, 1 and 2 students and that was it! They were publishing their writing using iMovie to be uploaded to our class website and were so excited about it. I find that it is a lot more instant than Photo Story or Movie Maker. I have used iMovie to create weekly school vodcasts, record and make movies of students working, had students make movies and photo stories to publish their work.

Ok so there are just 10 apps that I love and use lots! I hope that you get some ideas and maybe try some yourself!

How have you used these apps?

What are your favourite apps?