Today was an awesome Saturday. I woke excited and ready to learn from the presenters at a virtual conference sponsored by Discovery Education. A few other educators and I viewed the sessions at a Face to Face event at a Middle School in my district and shared ideas along the way. It was great to feel connected to other teachers who integrate technology into their school day!
During the DENVirtCon today, I learned about building an app, but not the kind that will be at the App Store. Instead, I will visit http://www.theappbuilder.com and bookmark a variety of websites, documents, and information for my students. This site will allow students to not have to type in long web addresses when doing research and help me to organize the research process for them. It reminds me of the type of thing that http://www.blendspace.com allows users to do, but is in the form of a free HTML5 web app. (See an example of a Blendspace that I made at this link: http://elonparktech.weebly.com/digital-storytelling.html. Kids could also make their own app by putting together resources on a topic which would give them massive Kid Empowerment! At the website, I will receive a web link so parents or students can enter the web address for non iOs devices and still be able to open the app. The app is expected to work on Android devices at some point in October, but for now, it works only on iOs devices.
I have plans to make my own school website (elonparktech.weebly.com) into an app so that kids can access the information on their own BYOT devices at school or home! Parents will love to have a quick app on their Smartphones to allow them to view my website to see updates and just to have a quick way to connect with me. Since I plan lessons using iPads and desktop computers, I am glad that the app can be placed on the iPad screen to allow students a quick way to go to my website. I could also see that I could build an app to bookmark topics for Project Based Learning, place the rubric there and any note taking graphic organizers. It is truly a high impact tip that I learned today at the DENVirtCon.
Many teachers are becoming familiar with the multiple uses of QR codes in the class. I created QR codes and tied them to my students’ digital projects at the end of the 12-13 school year. I printed these QR codes and placed them on a bulletin board outside of my class so that students and parents could hover over the codes with a QR code reader such as I-Nigma and instantly open up the digital project. There are a multitude of ways to use QR codes including having students create book advertisements that would be tied to QR codes to whet the appetite of others to read the book, provide math problem/solutions, bookmark websites, and direct students to directions for a science lab.
Another tip I learned about today is http://www.QRvoice.net. Users of this website speak into the computer’s or iPad’s microphone and a QR code will be generated of the verbal message. In the past, my students have recorded their voices using iMovie on the iPad or in the ShowMe app to explain how to do a process such as solving a math problem or reading a message that they had written about a picture that they had drawn, but today I realized that you can also record directly into a QR code making site! Recently, I had Kindergarteners and first graders draw a Superhero who would help the world in some way. I look forward to having students speak into QRvoice.net so that I can then generate a QR code to print and glue onto each child’s Super Hero picture then place on the bulletin board. I like the idea of having students use the iPads to hover over each picture and listen to their friends describe their Super Hero! With all the buzz in education being about Augmented Reality (AR) and apps like Aurasma and CoLARapp, I am thrilled that I can also use QR codes to achieve a voice-over on top of images for my bulletin board. I hope to use AR during this school year, but for now, I have learned to create QR codes using student voices!
Finally, I learned of the Socrative website and app this past summer but realized today it’s functionality as it relates to me. I created a free account at http://www.socrative.com then went to t.socrative.com to create questions to pose to students. I could choose the format such as open ended response, true/false, multiple choice, etc. I received a code to give to students so I logged into m.socrative.com and placed the code into the student version of Socrative. I saw the question that I had posed in my teacher account appear on the student screen. I answered it as an open ended question by typing my answer. Back at the t.socrative.com site, I exported the results of my quiz to an Excel doc and could have emailed results to myself. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I could use this site as an Exit Ticket after a lesson and gather data informally then print it to provide documentation of my assessment. There is currently a new beta version where teachers can add an image to a quiz that they create from Discovery Education or from any source which is nice when students need to reference an image, for example, on a math quiz or test. I am truly excited to have students present digital projects this coming week in fourth and fifth grades and have them assess themselves by typing a reflection of their project into a question that I will pose to them using t.socrative.com.