Friday, January 30, 2015

Thinglink - Tag Your Images

The last couple of weeks I have worked with a couple of our foreign language teachers on projects that use a tool called Thinglink, and so I thought it would make a good topic for a blog post here.  Thinglink is a fun tool, because it lets you take an image and add different tags to it, which then link to text, videos, websites, Google docs, other images, etc.  It can be a great tool for class projects and a different way for students to demonstrate how much information they know or understand about a topic or concept.
In this case, these teachers were having students research different places in a foreign country.  So the students uploaded pictures of maps of the country, and then added tags for the different cities telling about them.  What makes Thinglink so useful is how versatile it is when it comes to adding tags.  You really can link just about anything you can think of.
Additionally, these teachers set up class groups and had the students all add their projects to the class group, which allows them to easily view and share their work with the class and the teacher.  The whole process took about 20-25 minutes to get the student set up, added to the class, creating their projects and adding them to the class group, and starting their tags.  It's an easy tool to use, which makes it nice for a variety of classrooms.  It can be used to demonstrate knowledge of places or language, such as the case with the foreign language classrooms, to tell a story, to explain how to do something, or to inform about any number of topics.  Check out the links below for examples and directions to get started!
Using Thinglink - General Directions
Learn to Use Thinglink in Under 5 Minutes - Youtube Video


Friday, January 23, 2015

Microsoft OneNote - The Most Awesome Notetaking Tool Ever

So we are a Google Apps for Education school, and as a result, many of my blog posts are all about Google tools, and ways they can make your life easier.  However, I have found that there are still some things I do that I cannot find a replacement for in Google.  And OneNote is one of those.  There are so many things I can do with OneNote and so many ways it can be used by students, that I have trouble letting go.  So this blog post is dedicated to OneNote and some of my favorite features.

First, I love that I can have many notebooks, and each notebook can have many sections and pages.  It's like the ultimate trapper keeper, but it's on my computer so the papers never fall out.  I have notebooks for personal lists and notes, work meetings, lesson plans I teach for teachers and students, and my own school work as I'm finishing up grad school.  I have everything I need to stay organized all in one place.  And best of all, with my Microsoft account, I can back it all up online, never have to worry about losing it, and even have it synced to my phone so I can access my info there, too.  And that's just the benefits I get from having it.  Some of the features it has make doing different tasks so much easier.

Favorite Feature #1 - Tags
I am a list-maker.  There is nothing more satisfying that having a big list of things to do and getting to check something off of it.  I love that in OneNote, I can tag different items on my pages to keep them organized.  My favorite is the "To Do" tag.  I use it to make lists with little checkboxes next to the items, and as I complete them, I can check the box and get the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished something.  Now, I know I could just delete the item off the list and get the same result, but if I can check it off, I don't have to worry about remembering if I even put it on the list to start with.  And even better, I can access my outlook tasks from OneNote, which makes keeping track of things even easier.
For students, they can use tags when taking notes to mark important items they need to remember, questions they have, ideas they have while listening to a lecture or reading, etc.  And you can search your tags later, which helps keep things easy to find.

Favorite Feature #2 - Inserting Files
This is another feature I use for personal use, but that students could use while notetaking, too.  OneNote lets you attach or insert files directly into your pages.  So for example, I use this personally while doing my own grad school homework.  It generally involves reading a lot of different articles from different sources.  I insert those articles into different OneNote pages, and then I can highlight and type notes right on the articles.  It also helps organize everything into one place.  Students can do this same thing with articles or things they need to read for class, or to take notes from a teacher on a powerpoint or some other form of lecture.  It's easy, fast, and keeps things organized.

I also love that I can easily insert screen clippings, and with my touchscreen computer I can easily write and take notes that way, without always having to type.  OneNote is definitely a great all-around note taking tool that makes staying organized easier.  See the links below for more help and info!

What Can OneNote Do? - Video about some of the features of OneNote
OneNote Tutorial - Video about using OneNote - kind of long but detailed
Microsoft's OneNote Training and Help Page

Friday, January 16, 2015

Diigo - Online and Social Bookmarking

As we start the new semester, many teachers may be looking for new resources to use in classroom planning and ways to organize all of the resources out there. Enter Diigo.  Diigo is a social bookmarking, web annotation, and research tool that works well for teachers to use to keep track of all those great resources found, or for students to use to keep track of information and research for classroom assignments.

One great feature about Diigo is the Google single sign-on.  There is no hassle with setting up accounts or finding a username and password or any of that.  Additionally, Google has a Diigo extension that makes saving an annotating websites super easy.

I use Diigo in a few different ways.  First, I use it to organize great websites I find and want to keep, both personally and professionally.  With the extension, when I find a site I want to keep, I simply click the extension and click Save.  It then saves that website into my Diigo library, where I can access it later.  I can also tag websites with different terms to help me group them. For instance, my personal Diigo account has different tag groups like recipes, house ideas, kid stuff, etc.  My professional ones has tags like Google, tech articles, web tools, etc.  It works great for organizing and I can create customized lists to help me further organize the sites I find.  Along with saving the site, I can also highlight or annotate the site and save specific information to Diigo.  This works great if there is something about a site I want to remember.

Another way I use Diigo is as part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN).  I belong to a number of Diigo groups, which are just groups of users who share similar interests.  I follow some educational and technology groups, and can then browse and see what these people are saving and posting to share with others. I find numerous great resources through my Diigo groups.

Finally, Diigo is not just for teachers.  It can be a great tool for students to organize information for research projects or to keep track of their own online items they use for school.  Students can annotate and save website information, and then group that information by project or class, and they can even share that with teachers so you can track how they are doing. There are so many uses for this neat online tool!  See the links below for more help and directions.

Under a Minute Tech Tip Diigo Youtube Video
How to Install and Use Diigo
How to Use Diigo (this is a great Youtube video walking you through how to use it)
Link to Chrome Webstore to Install App and Extension 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Online Review Creation Tools

With semester one coming to a close and finals looming next week, teachers are looking for different ways to create online reviews for students.  There are a number of online tools that let teachers create games or different review formats that students can use to study class content.  Many of the tools have existing quizzes or games created by other teachers that you can tap into and use.  In this blog, I'm only going to look at three of the ones my teachers like and use the most.  Hopefully utilizing one or more of these tools will help you in finding different and engaging ways for students to review your classroom content.

Quizlet is an online tool that allows you to create a review set with matching terms and answers, in a variety of languages.  You can also add images and choose privacy settings to make your reviews public, or only to your classes or specific people.  When students go to complete the review, they have a variety of options for how the content is presented, including flashcards, spelling, taking it as a test, a learning mode, as well as scatter or space race games.  It works well for allowing students to review material on their own, and there are many publicly created sets already made that teachers can access and use.  See the links below for more information and help.

Teacher Overview/Ideas for Using Quizlet
Introduction to Quizlet

I just did a recent post devoted solely to Kahoot, but I focused on using it as a formative assessment tool real-time in the classroom. However, Kahoot can also be used as a review tool because students can sign up for accounts and create their own Kahoots, and them make them public and use them to review together.  Having students create their own Kahoots is a great way to assess whether they understand the classroom material.  See the links below for more information and help.

Get Kahoot - Link for Student to Sign up to Create Kahoots
Kahoot FAQ Page

Purpose Games
Purpose Games is a web site for learning and having fun at the same time.  Like the other tools, you can create your own games or use ones created by others.  You can create games or quizzes, and make playlists of your favorite games.  The games involve using images and having students identify different parts or areas on an image, or teachers can create standard multiple choice quizzes.  Teachers can also create groups, which makes managing and providing reviews for students easier.  Click on the links below to get started!

Purpose Games FAQs