Sunday, March 15, 2015

Multi-class Digital Citizenship Lesson with Google Hangouts on Air

Integrating digital citizenship curriculum into classrooms can be tricky for a variety of reasons. Two of the main issues for our teachers are time and comfort level with the material. Teachers have never been asked to formally teach digital citizenship and many need to learn the information themselves. Earlier this year I put out the expectation for lessons to be taught and grade levels decided upon specific lessons and put them on a shared calendar.  Still, these lessons went largely untaught this year. I reflected on this in my Share The Mess post in January.

I took this issue to our Educational Technology Committee and they came up with an idea to use technology to teach and model lessons. A few 3rd and 4th grade teachers committed to being a part of the first collaborative lesson and we decided to use Google Hangouts on Air so we could archive it. We chose to do the lesson, "You've Won a Prize!" from Common Sense Media

A week before the lesson, we did a practice Google Hangout so the students could meet each other and learn video call etiquette. We discussed how to mute when others were talking and how to take turns asking questions and sharing ideas.  The practice hangout was pure magic as the students discussed things like what they were learning in math and how many students were in each class. They were beyond excited to see and talk with each other in real time. One of our more rural, small schools was surprised to see how big the other classes were.

For the Hangout on Air we had the awesome +Tracy Campbell deliver the lesson and she asked the other classes to respond to discussion questions, always letting them know that they would be on deck to respond after having time to brainstorm in their table groups. Here is a copy of the lesson outline in case you are interested. You can also watch the full lesson below.

The lesson went amazingly well. Student collaboration and communication were elevated in this real world situation. Students from +Stephanie Disrude's class said they enjoyed 'sharing the workload', but that it was hard to sit still and be quiet during the lesson. They definitely wanted to do it again because 'It was fun!' and 'We learned something!'  Teaching this way directly addresses the ISTE Standards for Students: Communication and Collaboration, 'Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.' (ISTE, 2007)

In the future we would like to conduct more lessons this way so that other classes can view them and we can also use them to show teachers how lessons work with students in the classroom. We are also thinking about doing math or science lesson via Google Hangout on Air. What an amazing tool to bring our classrooms closer together and show us the we are all #bettertogether.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ThingLink: Always Improving for EDU

This week I was notified by Susan Oxnevad that I was chosen to be a ThingLink Expert Educator. Exciting news as I have been a fan of ThingLink for over a year. Creating media rich and interactive images is a powerful tool for both students and teachers. To the right is an image I created about Bacteria for an introduction to a unit You can see my more of my creations here.
ThingLink is a free webtool for educators. You can use the web or mobile version to create interactive images packed with resources. Students can do this on mobile devices with or without wifi, which makes it great for field trips! ThingLink images can be used by teachers and students to enhance learning. From introducing new content to providing feedback on student work it is a powerful tool. To learn about these ideas and more  you can view my presentation about iPad authoring tools.

New Features Announced Today

I am super excited about some of the changes happening with ThingLink that will help schools use this awesome tool in the classrooms. Until now, I have mostly been using it to share information and create images for teachers in my work as an Educational Technology Coordinator, but now I am hoping to see more teachers use it with students. Today, ThingLink announced verified accounts for school districts along with the release of an updated iOS app that is well suited for educational use, making ThingLink EDU better than ever for teaching and learning!

Here is a summary of the new features (from Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners Blog)

Benefits of Verified District Accounts

A verified organization on ThingLink EDU serves three goals. First, verification is used to establish authenticity of an organization. Once this is done, the organization gets an invitation code that can be used to easily invite staff and students to ThingLink EDU. A verified organization account will be equipped with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups. Third, a verified organization account gives schools and districts easy access to all of the ThingLink resources created by teachers and students across the district. These features make it easier than ever for teachers and students to create, share and curate multimedia rich content with ThingLink.

ThingLink iOS app Updated for Educational Use

More great news! The ThingLink iOS app has been updated with education in mind. When browsing for existing ThingLink content, students can only see images created by other teachers and students. Safe-search has been enabled to provide students with age appropriate content when searching for media to annotate images. The updated version of the app now includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes, making it easy to manage students and engage them on mobile devices like never before.

Explore this slideshow channel of interactive image to learn how ThingLink can be used on a field trip on a mobile device without wireless. Be sure to click the arrow to advance to the next image to see how students can extend the learning at school and at home, using whatever device is handy at the moment.

How To Request a Verified Status for Your Organization

ThingLink has the ability to transform teaching and learning, so grab your verified district account, add the updated iOS app and embrace this amazing EDU tool!
Send an email to