Student Products

Join Me at #TCEA23 for Digital Differentiation!

My colleague, Amy Chandler, and I will be presenting for TAGT, Digital Differentiation:10 Tools That Will Help Your Gifted Learners at TCEA in San Antonio next week. You can see us on Monday, January 30th, at 1 PM in Room 225C, in the Convention Center.

Here is the summary of our session: “Learn about a myriad of digital tools, most of them free, that will allow you to create lessons in your classroom that will empower gifted learners to leverage their own interests and abilities. Work smarter, not harder, to include every student in every lesson.”

As many of you know, I like to make sure that my presentations include tons of free resources teachers can access immediately, and this one is no exception to that rule. Additionally, Amy and I will share examples of these tools being used in the classroom and offer ideas that will hopefully be new to you. In fact, we just added a couple of last-minute “surprise” tools that should be fun! Of course, I also like to keep my presentations interactive so you will have the no-pressure opportunity to offer some of your own suggestions as well.

Are any of you planning to present and/or attend TCEA? Email me (engagetheirminds@gmail.com) or DM me on Twitter (@TerriEichholz) so we can try to meet up!

a white paper in a vintage typewriter
Apps, Critical Thinking, Teaching Tools, Videos

Update on TikTok Thoughts

I want to thank those of you who filled out the form and/or commented on my post asking for your thoughts on TikTok. Though it definitely was not a very scientific survey, it did give me some idea on how some of you feel about this app, and I can tell that there is at least some mild interest — as well as some concern.

I want to address the concerns first. We know that TikTok has been used with ill-intentions by some. Whether it’s to share inappropriate things or to urge students to perpetrate harmful pranks, I think that all of you reading this right now would agree that those are unacceptable. But I also think we know that every social media platform out there as been abused for nefarious purposes. At this point, my current curiosity is not about impressionable young minds using TikTok, just about those of us who are adults using it as another way to share teaching ideas.

Another valid concern is that TikTok is “spying” on its users. Quite frankly, just about anything on the internet and our smart phones is mining information about us, and we only have some measure of control over how much privacy we have. Here is a good, recent article from Business Insider that seems like a well-balanced approach to understanding TikTok’s relative risk. It also gives tips for minimizing the risk using the app’s privacy settings. There are definitely no guarantees, but I think our first line of defense is to never overshare, regardless of the platform we are using.

unrecognizable hacker with smartphone typing on laptop at desk
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

We often discussed the ethics of technology in my GT class, and the conclusion we always came to is that technology is just like knowledge in general because the sum benefits depend greatly on the users. I am personally choosing to use TikTok to be inspired by other educators, so I will take precautions but not boycott it because of some people who have maliciously exploited it.

There were a few of you who expressed an interest in TikTok, but you weren’t sure how to get started. I did a hunt for the best guide to getting started, and I like this one because, unlike many other articles, it does not assume you are just trying to find out how to post content on TikTok. It’s great for people like me who just want to “lurk” and get a feel for the app by watching other videos. I’d advise this article to get your account set up and start watching videos, and then the Business Insider article I linked above to adjust your privacy settings.

I asked for some recommendations of accounts on TikTok to follow for education-related videos, and here were some of the suggestions: mschanggifted, tiktokteachertips, and josiebensko. In addition to those I’m also following: strategicclassroom, randazzled, readitwriteitlearnit, and mr.kylecohen. And I’m finding more every day, so you can follow me at engagetheirminds on TikTok if you’d like to start seeing videos that I share. (I’m still debating if I will create my own content, so the ones I share from now will be from other people.)

Ok, I think I’ve figured out how to embed TikTok videos on this site, so I’m going to try this one from mr.kylecohen about the game, “Pancake or Waffle.” I’d love to hear from you if you try this with your students!

@mr.kylecohen Pancake or waffle? #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell
3-12, Education, Games, Teaching Tools, Websites

#TCEA2019 – Flippity

Looking back on my blog posts, I see that I’ve never devoted one to Flippity even though I’ve used it for various reasons the last couple of years.  If you haven’t tried Flippity and you like user-friendly tech tools, you should definitely visit the site.  When I first started using it, it was basically an easy way to turn a Google Spreadsheet into flashcards.  Since then, it has added many more features – all for free.

Leslie Fisher reminded me to take another look at Flippity when she mentioned a few of the newer additions to the site.  There is a now a Timeline and a Typing Test.  You can also make a Scavenger Hunt (which is similar to a Digital Breakout, but much easier to create!).  I am eager to try the Badge Tracker for our Maker Space.  I also noticed that there is a Flippity Add-On for Chrome if you are interested.

Each activity offers you a template that you can copy to your Drive.  Follow the instructions on the template and/or the website by typing information into the correct cells.  Publish your spreadsheet, get the link, and the magic happens.

Don’t forget that your students can also create with Flippity.  Though most of the templates are not going to promote deep learning, they are great opportunities for students to practice skills in novel ways.

flippity
screenshot from Flippity.net

 

Apps, Creative Thinking, Student Products

#TCEA2019 – 50 Shades of Green

One of my presentations this year at TCEA was called, “50 Shades of Green,” (thanks to Angelique for that title).  I’ve been curating information about using green screens with classes from my own blog posts, tweets, and other shared blogs from educators.  The presentation included ideas for activities/lessons, apps and software for editing, and practical tips.  There are lots of links for resources, so if you are looking for a comprehensive collection of green screen ideas, feel free to take a look at the presentation here.

hairbrush

6-12, Computer Science, Teaching Tools, Websites

#TCEA2019 – Machine Learning for Kids

I learned quite a bit about Artificial Intelligence at a TCEA session this year presented by Anita Johnson of Austin ISD.  She explained the difference between Expert Systems (where explicit rules are programmed – think “If…Then” statements) and Machine Learning (where the computer identifies and learns from patterns).    Johnson teaches middle school, and introduced us to a site called, “Machine Learning for Kids,”  which she uses with her students. In the “Worksheets” section, you can find many lessons, categorized by difficulty level, that can be done using Scratch, such as creating a character that smiles if you say nice things and cries if you are mean.

I haven’t had a chance to try this with my students, yet.  It looks like you have an option to create a managed class account or “Try it Now”, but check out this page for details on the pros and cons of each choice.

You can also read this blog post to get more information on how to introduce Machine Learning to kids, and why we should even want to educate them about this technology.artificial-neural-network-3501528_1920.png

6-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

#TCEA2019 – Gimkit

It’s always fun to return to the classroom after attending TCEA with something new to use with the students right out of the gate.  Of course, as with all things technological, it’s a bit of a risk to try something for the first time without testing how it’s affected by random things like network firewalls.  Fortunately, my gamble worked with Gimkit.

Gimkit is an online student response system similar to Kahoot.  It was developed by a high school student, who added in an interesting twist – monetization.  Students win virtual money as they answer questions correctly.  The money can be used to shop for different upgrades such as making each answer worth more money or “icing” your opponents.

Teachers can make Gimkits from scratch, a spreadsheet, or a Quizlet.  The questions are multiple choice.  Unlike Kahoot, the questions appear on the student devices while the teacher device streams a live leaderboard.  The board shows each student’s earnings, who is ahead, and the collective amount earned by the class.  I ended up setting my two different engineering classes up as opponents in a “season” so they could compete to see which class earned the most.  (Hint: this keeps students from “icing” each other during the game because they will lose out on collective earnings.)

Teachers can also set a time limit, which means that questions will repeat.  To be honest, I thought the students would get bored once questions started coming back around, but they begged for more time after ten minutes.

The game was such a success with my 8th-11th graders on Thursday that I decided to use it for another class I was teaching in rotation to 8th graders on Friday.  Again, full engagement.

Until…

The students in my 4th rotation started getting messages that the site had just upgraded and they were suddenly bounced out of the game.  I almost had a complete mutiny on my hands as they realized they would be out of the running for the class competition.

Fortunately a similar situation happened while Leslie Fisher was presenting Gimkit at TCEA.  She tweeted Gimkit, and they immediately rolled the site back to the working version.  I decided to try the same thing.

My students were dubious.

“What do you mean you’re going to tweet him, Miss?  How is that gonna help?”

“This ain’t fair.  We’re never gonna win now, Miss!”

Withing a couple of minutes, Gimkit tweeted back their apologies and fixed the issue.  My students were astounded.

That class won the competition, by the way.  (Free outdoor time next period.)

So, if you have secondary students, I would definitely recommend you check out Gimkit the next time you want to do something a little different for a formative assessment.  It will be interesting to watch as this site expands its offerings, but hopefully it will always keep the current features for free.

gimkit.png
image from Gimkit.com