Soliciting audience feedback while giving a lecture can help teachers better understand their audience and help them tweak their presentations to fit..
These free, technology based tools can help you easily poll your audience for their thoughts:
Poll Everywhere: Poll Everywhere is one of the oldest audience participation tools and it remains a favorite of presenters and teachers. Using the app, you simply ask your audience a question. Audience members then answer using the app or by navigating to a specific URL on their own devices. Poll Everywhere will then assemble their responses and display them visually in a custom bar chart.
Poll Everywhere is available via a browser or iOS app, and you can embed polls in Keynote, PowerPoint or Google Slide presentations. Sign up for free for a K-12 account. You can display up to 40 responses per poll. If you’d like to be able to display more responses, you can do so with a paid account.
Google Slides offers your audience members the ability to submit questions, and then vote on which questions they are most interested in learning the answers to. To launch it, enter presenter view from your slideshow, and click “new” under Audience Tools. A URL will appear where your audience members can submit their questions. For a more detailed explanation of this feature, visit EdSurge here.
In Your Classroom
I just taught a workshop on sketchnoting at the ICE conference. Here’s the link to a folder containing my presentation and supporting materials, if you’re interested. Let me know, also, if you’d be interested in coming to “sketchnote camp” this summer – I’m thinking one morning a week for a couple of hours.
Tumble Science podcast for kids tells the stories of science discoveries. You can listen in your browser, or subscribe via iTunes.
The Jewish Education Project has a new website – and it’s packed! While some of their programs are specifically for the New York area, there’s much here that is of interest to other communities.
The Technology: Screencasting
Screencasting software allows you to create videos that your students can watch anywhere. It also makes student-created videos a possibility without having to use any equipment other than a computer. Screencasting software is available for all operating systems and much of it is free.
Here are some of the most popular options:
-Screencast-o-matic: One of the oldest screencasting websites, Screencast-o-matic is free for a basic account. If you would like to make longer videos or have access to some of the more advanced editing tools, the premium account costs $15/year. Note: You may need to download and install a screencast launcher in order to use the website.
–Quicktime: If you have a Macintosh computer, you probably already have Quicktime, it often is included upon purchase. To create a new screen recording, just locate the application on your computer and go to File > New Screen Recording. The application will ask if you want to record just part or all of your screen. Choose, and then hit the record button and go!
-Screencastify or SnagIt extensions: If you use the Google Chrome browser on a laptop or Chromebook, you can install Screencastify or SnagIt extensions. You will need to give the extensions permission to access your computer’s camera and microphone, and you may have to designate where you will want screen recordings saved.
In Your Classroom
The Technology: Hyperdocs
If you’ve made a commitment to use more technology in your classroom this year, Hyperdocs is a good way to begin. While encouraging and supporting technology use, it still puts educational goals front and center.
What is a Hyperdoc?
A Hyperdoc is a Google Doc that allows teachers to use the structure provided by a Google Doc to create lessons with engaging media, visual appeal, inquiry learning and opportunities for collaboration. Basically, it’s like an old-time worksheet, but with superior, 21st century tools. With one simple link, students can access a Hyperdoc that contains instructions, links, tasks, multi-media and many more innovative features that can help get kids engaged and thinking.
How can I learn more about Hyperdocs?
The Hyperdocs website has great information and resources, including sample Hyperdocs, templates, a how-to tutorial, and links to Pinterest board collections of Hyperdocs. You can also check out the Hyperdocs YouTube playlist for some great explanatory videos.
How do I make my own Hyperdoc?
The easiest way to make your first Hyperdoc is to use one of the sample lesson plans on their website, and customize it for your own content. This basic lesson-plan template, for instance, details each part of a lesson (exploration, application, and sharing, for example), and gives suggestions for each step.
Need a coloring book? Here are some awesome links to online resources you can download for free.
I’m a fan of the Talmud – how about you? This is HUGE news: Sefaria has announced the release of The William Davidson Talmud, a free digital edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations, interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts. There’s a Sefaria app, too, which you can download here.
The Global Digital Citizen Foundation has another really nice guide on Nurturing Student Creativity Fluency. You can download the guide and watch the accompanying video here.
You can now insert videos from your Google Drive into Google Slides (you used to only be able to insert from YouTube). This is a great improvement! Here’s more info.
TodaysMeet is a private, digital chatroom that teachers can use to encourage student participation. It allows students to share their ideas to the entire class by typing in their comments that are then projected onto a board where everyone can see them. This allows for a back and forth discussion in which even the quietest of students are able to easily contribute their thoughts.
To set up a chatroom, simply go to TodaysMeet and pick a name for your room. You don’t need to create an account, but it’s free to do so, and creating one will give you the ability to moderate content.
Once your room is set up, you can give your students the TodaysMeet URL and they’ll be able to type their comments or questions right into the message box. Comments are limited to 140 characters, so brevity is a must! You can keep a room open for up to a year, and close your room at any time.
In Your Classroom
December is Human Rights month. Teaching Tolerance’s Perspectives for a Diverse America has some nice resources, which you’ll have to register for a free account in order to access. You’ll find the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1929 poem, On Liberty and Slavery, resources for lesson planning and more.
Simple Machines is a charming website developed by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Students can help Twitch build simple machines by using inclined planes, levers and more.
Intrigued by 3D printing? Check out Tinkercad. You can create a free account and view their tutorials to learn more about the tool. We’ve found this to be the easiest 3D modeling application for beginners.
You probably know that Google and Facebook are under fire because of fake news sites and the influence they may have had on the recent election. From a tech educator’s standpoint, this is really frightening, and I think we need to carefully consider if we’re doing enough to teach our students how to discern what’s legitimate on the web. Here are some resources regarding this troubling issue:
A great article from the New York Times about the issue.
Information about a free Chrome extension that you can install to let you know if you’ve arrived at a fake news site (including a link to download it).
Leave it to the kids! Three Princeton students tackled the problem during a recent “hackathon” and produced their own Chrome extension – read more about it here.