Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tackk - Create and Share Ideas and Content

As I was browsing through my old posts this week, trying to decide what to write about and what I haven't covered that would be useful to share, I realized that I have written about infographics, poster creation tools, and a number of web tools that fall into those categories, without ever talking about Tackk.  Tackk is one of those tools that has so many possibilities, it's hard to put it into a single category to explain.  I generally group it in with my infographic or poster creation tools, but essentially it is a tool that allows for the easy creation of a web page that can then be filled with just about any kind of media or links you can imagine, so it can be used as a poster creation tool, web page creation tool, or blog tool.

The Tackk site provides templates that can be used to create a variety of educational products, either by teachers or students, such as presentations, lesson plans, book reports, newsletters, goal setting posters, and student portfolios, just to name a few. I love that the site is easy to use but offers a variety of options, meaning you can move beyond just a cookie-cutter project where students all end up with the same product.

I also love that Tackk has an area of their website focused solely on how their tool works in education and offers a variety of ideas and templates to help you get started.  Like many web tools, it offers one click login with Google, making it easy to access and start creating. There are numerous options available for designing a project or poster on the site, adding text and media, or uploading files.  Just about any type of media can be added to the site, and the site itself links to over 300 other programs and applications, making it easy to combine creations and information from other sites.  For instance, you could have students create a Thinglink and then include that in their Tackk. This feature is the one that makes me excited about the potential for Tackk as an online portfolio for students or a place to feature their work.

Overall, this is one of those tools that has a ton of potential because of its versatility, but is also very easy to use.  It has potential for a number of content areas and a wide variety of options for both student and teacher use.  Check out the videos and links below for ideas and to get started!

Demo Video on Tackk for Education

20 Ways to Use Tackk in the Classroom

Full Tackk Tutorial:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Starting Places - Resources for Using Technology in the Classroom

I went to a fabulous conference this week on best apps and using mobile devices to strengthen student learning.  And while the conference was geared towards K-6, there were a number of resources that could be applicable at the secondary level as well.  By the end of the day I was on information overload and feeling overwhelmed (in a good way!) about all of the possibilities out there.  However, one of my favorite things I took away was simply the list of quality resources available for using technology in the classroom.  So I am sharing a couple of those resources with you today.  Some of the resources are geared towards specific devices or platforms such as iPads or Google, and others are more general resources, but they are all great starting places for ideas and tips on using technology in the classroom.  Thank you to the conference speaker Joann Troutner for the great learning and resources!

Learning in Hand - This was one of my favorites because of the great section on Project Based Learning (PBL). There is also info on this site that you can explore based on the type of device you have in the classroom.

Bloomin' Apps - I have loved Kathy Schrock and her website for years, especially when I was teaching in the classroom, and she has now expanded to include apps and tech tools organized based on Blooms Taxonomy.

Google Resources - Shake Up Learning - This site is focued on Chromebooks and resources for using Chromebooks.  It also provides a variety of Help Sheets for Google tools and information on a variety of Chrome extensions.

Ed Tech Teacher's Apps - The best option for this site is that instead of just looking up random tools or resources based on device, the resources are sorted based on classroom activity as well.  So this site is an easy resource for searching in a more meaningful way.

Apps for Children with Special Needs - This is a great site for finding reviews of apps that can work well for students with a variety of special needs.

iPad Academy - This is a great blog with tutorials, ideas for how to use apps and resources, and current information on new apps.  If you find you don't have time to sift through the variety of apps and thousands of options, use this site to help narrow down the list.

Educational Technology Guy - This is another great blog with lot of materials focused more on Google tools and Android devices.  Like Learning in Hand, there is a great section with PBL ideas and resources.

Overall, this conference was well worth the time and I came away with a lot of great resources to start with.  I have shared just a few of the ones I liked the most, so check them out and see what kind of new ideas you can find!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Online Activities and More Formative Assessment with Wizer

Last week I had a colleague tell me about a web tool called Wizer that has a lot of potential for providing ways for students to practice skills and complete assignments outside of class, and also providing great data for formative assessment.  While there are a number of formative assessment tools out there, this one goes beyond just classroom formative assessment and can be used to assign homework, reviews, and practice to students outside of class, while providing immediate feedback to students and data for teachers.  The tool is incredibly easy to sign up for and use, and there are a number of options for creating worksheets with more on the way.

While the tool has many standard question types such as open ended questions, multiple choice, and fill in the blanks, it also has some interesting options like filling in answers on an image and matching, as well as options for including text, images, tables, video, links, and embedding from outside sources.  This makes it much easier to create a multiple part question like providing students with a video and then asking questions about it, or giving information in a table and then asking questions about the table.  Additional features that are in the works include collaboration, drawing, and sorting/ordering.

Creating an assessment or worksheet and adding questions is incredible easy, and there are a number of options for changing the theme and look of the worksheet.  Assigning to students is even easier, because the tool has Google Classroom integration, so with just a few clicks you can add it to your Google Classroom page as an announcement or assignment. Students then just click the link, log into their own Google accounts, and complete the worksheet.  You can choose to have the automated questions automatically provide feedback and then grade the other questions later.  Student responses can be immediately viewed when they complete the worksheet and feedback provided.  If you don't use Google Classroom, you can share the assignment with students by sending them a link or using a PIN code that they would enter into the website.

Overall, this tool is incredibly easy to use and can take formative assessment beyond the classroom walls and a class activity.  It can be used in a variety of ways and instead of sending students home with paper worksheets and assignments to complete, they can complete questions online for easier feedback and tracking of student data.  Check out the video below for an overview on how to use the tool and get started!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Easy Online Grading with JoeZoo

Well, I missed my post last week because of a busy Friday, but it actually worked out in my favor, because I had learned from my colleague at North about a useful little grading tool called JoeZoo.  However, after looking at it and reading about it, it looked like they were releasing some new features this past weekend, so in the end I decided to wait until this week to talk about it.

I have found this tool to be incredibly effective for making grading using Google Docs much easier.  I have posted in the past about some other tools that can work for using rubrics and grading in Google Docs, but JoeZoo has some great features and a new integration with Google Classroom that really makes it efficient.

There are three primary functions of this tool: writing feedback, building and using rubrics, and grading assignments.  The writing feedback option allows teachers to provide quick feedback on writing assignments by using existing comments and corrections based on the most frequent writing errors that teachers have to correct. So instead of writing or typing "run-on sentence" fifty times or even copying and pasting it, with just a couple of clicks you can easily provide that feedback.  The feedback is also categorized into different areas like formatting, grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and structure, which allows students to see where they received the most comments and what areas they need to focus on.  It can save a lot of time when grading writing assignments.  In addition to the writing feedback, there is a feature still in beta format called Monkey Checker, which will actually auto check the assignment for errors and provide that common error feedback for you.

Another are this tool excels in is rubric use. There is no need for tables or charts to make a rubric or worrying about structure.  The feature allows for creating a rubric (or copying and pasting existing rubric items) into an easy to use format and then will insert the rubric directly into the document, making feedback quick and easy.  In addition, the grading tool allows for easy grading using the rubric and providing feedback, along with converting that rubric score into an actual grade.

One issue I originally had with the tool was that to grade an assignment you had to add students to your list and choose the student name, etc.  It was kind of a pain and the thought of adding an entire class of students was not pleasant.  However, that is where the Google Classroom integration comes in.  With that new feature, you can connect JoeZoo to your Google Classroom and it will automatically list all of the students in your course, making choosing and grading much easier.

Overall, this is a great tool with a lot of potential.  The developers love feedback and suggestions and frequently implement them, so there is a lot of potential for growth and improvement as well.  If you are a teacher who has students complete assignments using Google Docs, I would recommend checking out JoeZoo to make grading and providing feedback faster and easier.

Check out this link for a variety of videos from the developers on using the tool.