MOREnet 2015 Take Aways and Reflections

Attending an educational technology conference usually results in an overload of new tools and innovative ways to use familiar tools.  I will share a few of the best finds now–with more to come next week. allows students to create their own music from sound samples and loops (there are 700 available).  The free version does not support recording audio, but Soundnation might be useful for students wanting to create their own background tracks for videos.

Chrome Bookmark Manager is an extension that adds some functionality to your bookmarks.  After installing the extension, you still click on the star to bookmark a site.

Google Trends displays current internet trends, but also allows users to search by topic to discover interesting data on interest in the trend over time, regional interest in the trend, and related searches.

Google recently added an Explore Button in the bottom right corner of Google Sheets.  When you click the button, Sheets opens a side panel displaying graphs based on the data contained in the Google Sheet.

Tips for using existing tools more efficiently or effectively

#comments4kids is a hashtag used on Twitter by teachers seeking people outside the school to comment on their students’ writing.  This might be a way to build an authentic audience for your students.  Check out some of the Tweets using this hashtag to get a feel for how it is used.

I attended a session hosted by two teachers (@bmcd25 and @jackiepickett07) who adapted the Six Trait Writing system to video production.  They shared their presentation slides and rubrics on the MOREnet conference site (the resources are linked at the bottom of the page).

Google does not currently offer a desktop publisher (Microsoft Publisher) as part of their apps, but Google Slides can be used as a desktop publisher by setting the page size to 8.5×11. It is much easier to insert and configure text boxes and images in Slides than in Docs.  LucidPress is a great online Desktop Publisher, but this work-around in Slides may be useful in some projects.

One of my favorite parts of conferences is listening to other presenters share their insights into technology integration.  The following reflection question was raised by Bob Dillon (@ideaguy42) and is worth repeating.

When you think about educational technology, do you think about nouns or verbs?

Which is more important . . .

  • Google Hangout or collaborate?
  • Document or create?
  • Kahoot or assess?
  • Chromebook or research?
  • Twitter or connect?
  • LucidPress or design?

If we focus on the nouns (web tools and devices) we center instruction on the tools, and we have to change the nouns often as websites are shut down or replaced and devices become outdated.  When we focus on the verbs (skills and outcomes), our instructional focus is student centered and the nouns become secondary–they are the strategies we use to support students as they practice and master the verbs.