I have spent the last few weeks covering tools to help you connect with colleagues and build your PLN with the ultimate purpose of helping you facilitate your own professional learning. The “curation tool” for this week stands out from my previous suggestions because it is much more than a web-based resource or social networking site; this resource holds more potential for meaningful connections because it facilitates professional relationships both through digital tools and personal contacts.
Although I have been able to attend regional educational technology conferences in Omaha, St. Louis, Osage Beach, Des Moines, and Columbia over the past two years, I have found myself wishing that these types of opportunities were available in the Kansas City area. I am not the only one that has seen the need for quality professional development in educational technology within the Kansas City area; educational leaders across the Kansas City area have recently collaborated to transform and revitalize KCTechNet into ElevateEDU. ElevateEDU is maintaining KCTechNet’s ISTE affiliate status and will continue to provide teachers and school leaders with meaningful and relevant professional development centered around the effective implementation of technology in the classroom. But the vision does not stop there; these leaders realize that educational technology can change learning, but it is not the complete solution to transforming teaching and learning. This fact was the impetus behind the name change from KCTechNet to ElevateEDU; where KCTechNet focused primarily on educational technology, ElevateEDU will include professional development and networking in multiple areas including classroom technology. You can follow the organization through their website, Twitter account @ElevatingEdu, and the hashtag #ElevatingEDU.
ElevateEDU is planning a kick-off event for June 8 at William Chrisman High School and you can find complete details and registration information on their website. The June 8 Summer Institute is designed to include networking, workshops, and planning for the future of the organization and how it can help teachers transform instructional practices and ultimately student learning. Please consider taking advantage of this local opportunity to network and learn. The event is designed to provide learning during that day and build relationships that will facilitate learning well after the day is completed.
eThemes is a collection of curated lists of websites that are organized by topic and grade level. These sites are curated specifically for student use and vetted for appropriate and accurate content. You can search by keyword or browse by topic or grade level. This collection is maintained by the eMINTS department at the University of Missouri. If you are searching for a topic that is not included in their collection, they accept online requests for new topics from media specialists and eMINTS teachers.
Edtechteacher provides several resources to help teachers implement technology in their classrooms including tutorials, lesson plans, tech tool recommendations, and rubrics.
New in Google:
- Set Expiration dates for access to Google Docs
- Easily convert text to columns in Google Sheets
- Connect with more people using Google Hangouts video calls
- Navigate documents quickly and easily with the outline tool in Google Docs
- New Templates in Google Docs
EdSurge posts their mission as helping “schools find, select, and use the right technology to support all learners.” This is accomplished through reporting the latest EdTech news, hosting EdTech events, and providing product reviews within the EdSurge Product Index. If you don’t have time to visit the site regularly, the offer an email subscription that sends the latest news and product reviews to your inbox.
Ipevo Ziggi HDPlus Document Camera
We recently purchased a Ziggi HDPlus Document Camera that not only works as a document camera, but as a webcam with a microphone. The camera plugs into the USB port of a Chromebook and works with the IPEVO Presenter App to display images from the camera on the screen of the Chromebook. The camera also works on a PC. Chromebooks do have a built-in webcam above the screen, but this does not offer much flexibility in camera placement–especially as a document camera. Using the Screencastify Chrome Extension in conjunction with the IPEVO Presenter App allows users to create whiteboard screencasts, which I have demonstrated in the following video. If you’re interested in using the camera and apps in the future, let me know and I’ll lend you the camera and help get everything setup.
TeachersFirst provides a searchable database of online tools and resources reviewed by a community of teachers. These resources include lessons, units, and reviewed web resources. Membership is free and grants access to everything within the site. Resources can be located through a keyword search, or through browsing by subject and grade level. The site also organizes professional resources into topics such as differentiating, reading, and working with parents.
TeachersFirst also produces webinars on a variety of technology topics. If you are unable to attend a webinar live, they provide an archive of webinar recordings.
After spending the last few weeks talking about ways to collect and organize the information and resources you find as you learn, I will shift the discussion to websites that have already curated information for you. These websites, often containing reviews written by practicing educators, are a great starting point when looking for new tech tools and learning opportunities.
Participate Learning contains a database of free and paid educational resources (apps, videos, and websites) that are reviewed by teachers. These resources are linked to standards and can be searched by keyword and filtered by content type and grade level. By registering with the site, users have the ability to create their own bookmarks and collections of resources. Search results will also show the resource collections of other educators. There is also a Chrome Extension that allows users to save resources into their Participate Learning account directly from the browser. The School Library Journal recently reviewed Participate Learning and highlighted the collaborative features of the site including ParticipateChat, which maintains a calendar of educational Twitter Chats and hosts an interface for participating in Twitter Chats. ParticipateChat also allows users to create resource collections from the links and resources shared during a Twitter Chat.
Storify is a web curation tool that allows you to collect content from Twitter and other social media sites into a timeline that can be shared through a URL. After logging in with your Twitter account (you don’t have to create a separate account for Storify) begin your timeline by clicking the New Story button. Use the search window on the right to select the social media site, enter your search term or user information, and then drag any posts from the search results on the right to the edit window on the left side of the screen. You can also add text boxes to separate the timeline into sections. When you are finished, click publish and then the view and publicize link. The preview screen offers options for customizing and sharing your timeline.
A few possible uses of Storify:
- Curate Tweets related to particular topic to save for future reference and share with your colleagues
- Curate Tweets from a conference or professional development event
- Curate Tweets containing a hashtag your regularly follow
- Curate your own Tweets to include in your professional portfolio
- Curate Tweets focused on a current event to share with students. This allows you to share the best Tweets and ignore any inappropriate content. The content from Tweets in Storify is still blocked for students through the filter, but can be shown using your SmartBoard Computer.
- Curate Tweets focused on the political process to share with students
- Curate Tweets posted by an author, reporter, leader, or public figure to share with students
To demonstrate a finished timeline, I created a Storify using a few tweets containing #OTFalcons and #FOProud from the month of February.
Last week I covered Evernote as a tool for collecting notes and information from the web. As I said then, Bookmarks are a possible solution for curating web content, but Bookmarks can quickly become overwhelming and they only work as long as the bookmarked web page is maintained. The Evernote Web Clipper is a Chrome extension that saves web content directly into Evernote. Once in Evernote, you have permanent (and searchable) access to this information through a browser, iOS and Android mobile devices, or the Windows or Mac application. As you collect more information, your notes can be organized in notebooks and these notebooks can be organized into stacks. You can also tag notes with searchable keywords.
With the Web Clipper, you can save web information in the following formats:
- Web Pages
- The Web Clipper takes a picture of the page as it appears at that time. If the web page is updated in the future, your Evernote note will not reflect those changes. If the web page is removed in the future, you will still have your copy of the web page in Evernote.
- The Web Clipper saves only the article or text of the blog post on the web page. Advertisements and other information along the margins of the page are omitted.
- PDF Files
- The Web Clipper creates a note and attaches the PDF file to that note. You can later open the PDF in Evernote and annotate the PDF with text, shapes, and highlighting.
- The Web Clipper creates a bookmark for the web page. This works like a traditional bookmark.
- After selecting a portion of the screen, the Web Clipper takes a picture of your selection and places it in a note. You can also annotate the screenshot with text, shapes, or highlights before saving the screenshot.
Each time you clip something into Evernote, you are able to select the notebook where the information will be placed, along with adding tags and remarks. Once the content is in Evernote as a note, the note can be organized into Notebooks and searched.
Google Expeditions Pioneer Program
The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program visit was a huge success and provided teachers and students an opportunity to experience a new Google technology. It is not currently available to schools, but the feedback we provided during and after the visit will be used to make the program better. While the science department was exploring products for their upcoming textbook adoption on February 2, one of the textbook sales representatives brought a Google Cardboard with them and talked about how their company is working with Google to develop Expeditions to enhance the content of their print and digital resources. Although this product is still in development, it appears to be gaining momentum and attracting the attention of educators and educational content providers.
As you locate great news articles and blog posts through Feedly or Twitter, it becomes increasingly difficult to organize and archive them for future reference. Bookmarks are a possible solution, but your bookmark folders can quickly become packed with entries, and if articles are removed from the web or moved to a different location, the Bookmark will no longer work. Plus, it is difficult to scan through a stack of Bookmarks finding the perfect article you remember reading two months ago. The best tool I have found for curating web content in an organized and searchable format is Evernote.
Evernote is a versatile and paperless note-taking tool that can help you accomplish the following tasks:
- Taking Notes (you can also attach files or pictures to notes)
- To Do Lists
- Clipping Content from the Web (I will focus on the Evernote Webclipper next week)
- web pages
- PDF Files
- Adding Tags to notes, lists, and Web Clippings
- Combining notes, lists, and Web Clippings into Notebooks to organize similar notes
- Combining Notebooks into Stacks to organize and combine similar Notebooks
- Sharing Notes and Notebooks through a URL
- Notes and Web Clippings are searchable, making it easy to search the whole text of the note or clipping and not just the title.
Your notes and webclippings in Evernote can be accessed through a browser, iOS and Android mobile devices, or through a Windows or Mac application and Evernote has compiled several tutorials and guides on their help page. Take some time to create an account and explore Evernote; next week I will introduce the Evernote Webclipper (a Chrome extension) as a quick way to save websites and articles in Evernote for future reference.
Google Expeditions Pioneer Program Visit
The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will be visiting the OTMS library next Wednesday, February 3. Google Expeditions are virtual reality field trips using Google Cardboard. Google has created several virtual Expeditions to locations around the world, and OTMS students will have the opportunity on Wednesday to visit a few of these places in a virtual environment. Students will be participating in Expeditions from 7:30-10:25 and 11:30-2:10; feel free to stop by anytime during the day and join a class on their Expedition. You are also welcome to attend the teacher training session at 7:00 in the library if you want to see how the system works.