Thursday, April 2, 2015

Keeping Things Fresh in the Fourth Quarter

This time of the year is notorious for bad attitudes, slumping grades, and teachers at their wits end.  It takes a conscious and collective effort to work through this semi-sucky time of year.  Part of my job as an Instructional Coach/Tech Integrationist is to help make sure that teachers stay motivated to finish the year strong.  Just as students need encouragement and contagious energy, so do teachers.  I do this through the carefully planned introduction of some new tech tools to keep things hopping. Here are a few of my favorites:


1.  Elements 4D by DAQRI.  This augmented reality app is a gem for science teachers who want to expose their kids to the interactive world of elements and molecules.  There is a little setup required in that there are printable cubes that must be constructed ahead of time to fully utilize the AR portion of the app.  Several sets of these paper blocks were made and the kids were put into groups. This was done, in part, so they could work together to complete the assigned tasks created by the teacher and also to prevent the insanity of creating that many sets of blocks.  To begin, students point their device at the block using the connected camera.  Students can see "inside" the cube to witness what the element looks like in its natural state (ie; carbon looks like a pile of charcoal bits).  The exciting part comes when you introduce a second element.  By putting the blocks together, you will see these two elements join and the material "inside" the cube change to the new molecule (ie; hydrogen and oxygen, both gases on their own, become water).  Our superb chemistry teacher, Mrs. Hurst, used this in class with much success. Teenagers, the eternal skeptics, had to eat some crow as they oohed and aahed their way through the task.
 






2. ChatterPix by Duck Duck Moose.  Yet another app that not only helps kids learn but makes me shamelessly giggle as I watch the results.  The concept is simple.  You take a photo within the app and mark out the location of the mouth.  Then, you record up to 30 seconds of audio. Like a piece of twisted magic, the "mouth" will open and move to somewhat match the content of the audio recording.  A bit like the website, Blabberize, you can make anything say what you need it to. Now imagine, if you will, a room full of kindergartners practicing their sight word sentences into said app. Pure hysterics!  It served as the perfect medium for oral language practice that kids actually ASKED to do again and again. Too much adorable packed into that room, I tell you. Learning+Fun=Brilliant.



3. Tozzl.com.  This site claims to be a digital pinboard site, but I've got to tell you, it's so much more. I discovered this gem this week, and will be sharing the heck out of it!  Think of it like a one-stop-shop for classroom interaction.  With the grace and 70's swagger of Donny and Marie, it's a lil bit backchannel and a lil bit resource list.  Imagine having all of the links, videos, and discussion questions for a class all on one page.  I've found tools that do many of these functions independently, but this is the only one I have found worth a hoot that does it all in a neat, free interface that doesn't require an account.  Create lists, upload documents, link sites, connect to social media and watch a Twitter stream live within the Tozzl.  The options are pretty limitless. Simply share the URL and give to your students to join your Tozzl.  If you could see me now, you would see my childlike grin as I dream up all the ways this app could be used throughout our district!


Starting a Tozzl is as simple as filling out this quick form.

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