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Just When You Thought Slideshow Templates Couldn’t Get More Fun!

slides carnivalGrowing tired of the same old built-in Google Slides and Keynote templates? Visit the Slides Carnival website. It offers oodles of template options that match your presentation needs and mood. Feeling Inspirational, Playful or Creative? Slides Carnival has free downloadable templates that match your mood and visual interests to spiff up your presentation. Each template offers a Google Slides or a PowerPoint version. If you’re a Keynote user, then just download the PowerPoint template. Launch Keynote, then click Open and choose the PowerPoint file you downloaded (.ppt).

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Stop Motion Animation for the Classroom

With Stop Motion Studio for the iPad, creating stop-motion animation has never been easier. This app is appropriate for all K-5 students. You can animate any inanimate object. Perhaps it’s an illustrated paper cutout or maybe a pencil or lego piece. Stop Motion Studio gives students a captivating outlet for their creative ideas and voice. And during the production process, it introduces them to sophisticated concepts such time, storyboarding, audience, and citizenship, even at the youngest elementary age.

Take a look at the tutorial below, then let me know if you’re interested in bringing this production tool to your classroom!

 

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Do Your Students Care About Your Writing Assignments?

Now that’s an offensive question. It presumes that students might not. And that the teacher dictates what a child will write in the classroom. And when does that happen? Because in school students have plenty of opportunities to write freely… during designated classroom writing times… in the genre chosen for them… based on the seasonal requirements of the district writing program. Ugh… Hopefully, not all schools have their students write like this.

But Ralph Fletcher expresses concern for such scripted classroom writing (with “conscripted” writers, my quotes) in his book Joy Write. He called on teachers to loosen the reins on our classroom writing and promote opportunities for “low stakes” writing. Encourage writing that is purposeful and fun for the writers, whether it’s through notes, signs, silly songs and rhymes, or a reflection of their continuously gleaming imagination. Perhaps a play that captures the realities of life as a kid. Or  observations that hint at a future Katherine Paterson or George Lucas. It’s the low stakes writing that builds the foundation and upper reaching supports for high stakes writing. It makes writing meaningful to a young writer.

When classroom writing opportunities are allowed to expand beyond the requirements of a commercial program or state standards, and open doors for our students to the possibilities of writing, who knows what their jottings will lead to? Perhaps we can use these famous people and the notebooks they kept, as reference.

This summer I gave a workshop to K-12 and Higher Ed educators and librarians at the Summer Institute of Digital Literacy at the University of Rhode Island. The topic was about making writing relevant to students through everyday “writing rehearsals.” I had teachers fashion characters or objects out of pipe cleaners and write about their creations and then I spoke about developing creative writing techniques through Adobe Spark (Video, Page, Post apps). Because digital tools don’t always have to be about making final presentations. They can be used to discover and outlet imagination that can jump start the more complex and creative narrative. In other words, writing for the fun of it!

Students don’t have to start and finish a piece in one classroom sitting. They don’t have to devote the entirety of their daily writing to a particular piece. They just need a chance to write freely with purpose and preferably… through an open door.

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Don’t Mix Up Your Google Accounts Again

Chrome PersonHow many times has this happened to you? Someone sends you a link to access a shared Google file. You click on it, but you get a message saying your account does not have permission to access the file. This happens a lot when a user is logged into more than one Google account in a single browser window. For instance, there’s the work Google account, the personal, the family member’s account, etc. Only one of those accounts provides access to the file shared by a work colleague. And there’s no way your browser will know which Google account you want to use at any given moment.

The solution is to create a separate Google Chrome Profile, so that you can switch between Google accounts as needed. Perhaps you can create a Work profile and assign your work email to it. Do your professional work in this browser. And then create a Home profile and assign your personal email to it. Do your personal stuff in this browser. And so forth.

By keeping your Google accounts logged in on separate Chrome browser windows, you’ll be able to easily switch back and forth between accounts and avoid any confusion regarding file access. Check out this tutorial to help you set up your multiple Chrome Profiles.

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Recording Notes and Ideas in Google Keep

Google Keep is an online note-saving tool from the G Suite (formerly Google Apps) that come with every Google account. Type your notes directly into Google Keep or voice record them! Add the extension to your Chrome browser and easily stash away notes, web links, and images, and then pull them into other G Suite apps, such as Docs and Slides.  A useful tool for managing research information and creative ideas swimming inside your mind! Below is a slideshow from my ST@C presentation.

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“It’s Only Technology If It Happened After You Were Born.”

In 2012, the lead wave of students who never knew a world without the Internet, began their freshmen year in college. “Teaching will never be the same,” laments every teacher that doesn’t understand what these kids are doing on their devices or why they’re doing it. Some teachers are quick to label today’s students “digital natives,” naturally wired for a tech saturated world and adept at negotiating the requirements of the environment. Then they explain away short attention span in the classroom, as a result of digital addiction.

But it’s that kind of teacher bias that will short-circuit the effectiveness of their own teaching. As one college student puts it, “It’s only technology if it happened after you were born.” So with every new technology, there’s a curve and period of disgruntled learning. See? Even these natives can get restless.

The reality is that the so-called natives can be just as confused by today’s digital landscape as those of us born in an analog world. Technology is constantly in flux. It can adapt to user needs as well as define them with each gadget that makes our hectic lives a little easier to manage (Alexa, Waze, Smart home devices, etc). And some day each of these devices will wind up in a scrap pile, replaced by something better, prompting a new learning curve.

What does this mean for teachers? It means we have an Ace up our sleeves. It means the core values that inspired us to get into teaching in the first place are just as important today as they were in the days of corded phones and 8 track tapes and earlier. Effective teachers engage and inspire learning. They challenge students to energize their efforts and elevate expectations. They push them to expand the capacity of their internal radars to find new ways to solve problems. They connect students with the World outside the classroom through current events and video chats with expert practitioners and pre-eminent voices. Most important, teachers emphasize dispositions that will help them succeed within and beyond the school day such as patience, empathy, diligence, flexible thinking.

Some day the world will be racked with problems we didn’t see coming. Some day there will be holes that all of humanity had dug for ourselves. When the day comes, we’ll be saved by inspired thinkers and doers– our students– who will strive for greatness, not out of a craving for Likes and Retweets, but for the sense of Purpose their teachers helped instill in them.

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Vocaroo, an Online Voice Recorder

vocarooDocumenting and reflecting on learning is essential to the learning process. The act of self-reflection allows the learner to walk backwards and contemplate the meaning of each step and how they put her on this path to discovery. One tool we can use to reflect is a voice recorder. These digital tools are available as hardware or can be found as an iPad or phone app or as an online resource. My favorite online voice recorder is Vocaroo. This browser-based tool is easy to use and will give you an mp3 file to download and share. Give it a try. Here’s a quick overview of how to use Vocaroo.

 

 

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How Do I Use the Xerox Copier as a Scanner?

xerox7835What’s better than a paper hard copy of an important document? A digital copy that you can easily store, access, and reproduce at any time. Scanning hard copies into digital files is super easy with a Xerox machine. Just load the document onto the scanning board, just as you would when making photocopies, select the Email service, enter a recipient’s email address, choose the file format (then default is PDF, but image formats such as png or jpg are available), then click the big START button. The recipient receives a quality reproduction in their email box, within moments. Click here to view a handout.

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Booking Calendar Appointment Slots

Appt SlotsA handy feature of Google Calendar is the “appointment slot.” We can create a calendar, create time or “appointment” windows, and then make it available to others, so that they can claim these time slots. The Room 25 Digital Arts Lab (formerly the Computer Lab) used these appointment slots, so that classes could freely schedule their time. If you have not booked time using appointment slots, please take a quick look at the pdf overview below.

View Booking Appointment Slots Overview