Introducing Students to Computer and Internet Safety

As educators, we are often at the forefront of teaching internet and computer safety to the students in our care. Where do you begin? As part of coursework toward my Technology Facilitation degree, I was part of a group of educators who created a song called “It’s All About Safety” using the music from Meghan Trainor’s ” All About That Base.”

It was so much fun to create! We wrote lyrics that cover everything from posting to social media to using correct posture at your computer. Take a look and leave some feedback! Without further delay…I give you Casey K, Jennifer W. and A. Dahl, It’s All About Safety.

 

Free (or Low Cost) Websites and Apps for PreK and Kindergarten

 

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Image credit: “Kids with Education Tablet Computers” by Intel Free Press https://flic.kr/p/fvT5PN

A coworker came to me with a specific request:

“Can you create a list of apps I can give parents for my preK and kindergarten students to use at home?”

While curating the list of resources below, I tried to gather resources compatible with Android devices, PCs, and Apple devices. Most are free, a few are under $2.00 to buy. It is by new means an exhaustive source, but does offer a good place to start if you would like to share educational resources with your preprimary and primary students.

Disclaimer: While most do not, some of the apps/links use in app purchases in order to be offered “FREE.” Before allowing your child/student to use a device like a computer, cell phone, or tablet, please remember to turn off in app purchases in your settings if possible, or set your settings so that a password is required to make in app purchases. I can not be held responsible for accidental purchases made by children when using any apps or websites listed below. 

Websites

iPhone/iPad apps

Sight words

Writing and/or Recognizing Letters

Phonemic awareness

General (Shapes, numbers, letters, etc.)

Android Apps for the Google Play Store

Sight Words

Writing and/or Recognizing Letters

Phonemic awareness

General (Shapes, numbers, letters, etc.)

Hopefully this list can be used as a resource for your younger students (or children)!

Reaching Multilingual Learners with BrainPop and YouTube

As a teacher in a school with a high population of diverse learners, I am always looking for ways to support student understanding of concepts. I know I am not the only educator who strives to get my students to “get it.” I am lucky enough to have had students who received special education services, students who received ELL services, students with highly able plans, students considered below grade level and students who were well above grade level. In the inclusive classroom, you have to find a way to reach everyone.

Before I begin, let me say I do not work for BrainPop or YouTube.

In the past, I have used BrainPop like many teachers have. My school provides subscriptions to our students. I head to BrainPop.com and have my students explore or watch a specified video and complete the quizzes or other activities. In that capacity, it is a great resource. However, using BrainPop in that way just scratches the surface of its capabilities.

I work in a school with a high population of students who receive ELL services, most speaking Spanish. Contrary to what many believe, most of our teachers do not speak Spanish, including me! I teach STEM, science and social studies. All subjects are rich in content vocabulary. One thing I like to do is find coordinating videos through Brainpop and Brainpop Español.

In an upcoming economics lesson, I will be teaching about supply and demand. I will introduce the concept through BrainPop videos. Through a quick Google translation, I was able to figure out how to say “supply and demand” in Spanish. I then found the cooresponding videos on Brainpop (Supply and Demand) and Brainpop Español (Oferta y Demanda). (Note: You will need to log in to your BrainPop account to watch these movies).

First, the entire class will watch the video in English. Then, the class will choose to watch it again in the language of their choice (English or Spanish) rewatching, pausing, and rewinding as needed and taking notes to understand the vocabulary words (like:  supply, demand, consumer, etc.). In the past, I have noticed that my native Spanish speakers will write the English and Spanish translations next to each other. Sometimes they will also annotate my notes or worksheets with the Spanish translations of vocabulary.

Videos that took me a few extra minutes to find, allow me to scaffold my instruction in a way that helps to reach my learners in a meaningful way.

BrainPop is a pay services and I know that every school doesn’t provide for it’s use. YouTube on the other hand is free. Another method that I use to support student understanding is to change the language on my closed captioning on YouTube videos.

I try to always choose videos on YouTube that have closed captioning. This allows me to play the closed captioning on the screen as students view the video. This is helpful for student comprehension (especially for students who need to see the words to understand or need help spelling new vocabulary words). I then give students the option of watching the video again with English or alternate subtitles (like Spanish or French if those languages are represented in your class). This may mean having alternate “watching stations” in the classroom. I have created a 2 minute video that explains how to change the closed captioning on YouTube videos. It is super easy to do and offers an easy way to support learners who are literate in another language.

The video Fabulous Food Chains: Crash Course Kids #7.1 was not created by A. Dahl. It was created by Crash Course Kids. 

Are You Keeping Up? The Evolution of Technology in Education

As an educator embarking on this journey to become a technology facilitator, I wondered about how technology use has changed and evolved over time. I feel that every teacher has the opportunity to infuse the use of technology (read: facilitate) into their curriculum in many ways. Are you the teacher still grasping on to old technologies when newer, more efficient ways of engaging students is at your fingertips? Take a look at “Then vs Now: How Technology in Schools Has Changed Over Time.”

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Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Is your level of technology proficiency tied to the way teachers incorporated technology in the 1930’s (via movies and television shows)? Even if you use a big, fancy interactive whiteboard, are you using it to its full potential, or are you using it to replace a film projector, overhead projector, or TV screen? Is your interactive whiteboard  just a high tech replacement for the standard whiteboard introduced in the 1960’s or worse…the chalkboard, invented in 1801?

According to Masterofartsinteaching.net, computers for student use became prolific in classrooms in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. SMART boards came about in 1999. Kids were using games for learning on classroom computers in 1985. As educators, we shouldn’t be using technology the same way they did 15-30 YEARS AGO. You. Must. GROW!

So how is technology being used?

Learning-on-the-Go
(Find more at  How Are Students Really Using Mobile Devices on Daily Genius by Katie Dunn)

Through the use of technology we have the opportunity to engage learners in new ways. We can use the technology available in its most basic  ways OR we can make it work for us and our learners. How are you using your interactive whiteboard? Do you need ideas? Here are ways to use technology available in classrooms across the country for more than their most basic capabilities.

Here are a few places to get great ideas for taking technology use, in your classroom, to new heights:

Flubaroo: A Method to Use Google Forms for Assessment

Over the last few years, I have seen a more widespread use of Google Forms occur. It seems to be the go to method for professional development evaluations. I have also incorporated its use in my classroom for exit tickets on occasion. I have just under 60 students and have found the task of individually scoring students using Google Forms to be a daunting one when percentage scores are needed. In the past, I manually tallied student responses or used the summary of responses feature to get an overall picture of classroom understanding. To individually score 50+ assessments was time-consuming, especially if more than five assessment questions were used.

The grid below shows typical data for a four question assessment taken by 10 students.

spreadsheet of 10 student responses generated by Google Forms
Spreadsheet of ten student responses generated by Google Forms
If I were to use Google Forms to assess more students, with more questions, the task of analyzing the data could become much more tedious and overwhelming. Due to that limitation, I did not use Google Forms for assessment very often this year.

Tonight in class, I learned of a much easier method of gathering data using Google Forms and the prospect of implementing it is promising.  I was so impressed by the Google add-on, Flubaroo, that I feel it warrants sharing with all of you. Flubaroo allows you to score assessments and mine data from the responses with ease.  It allows the program to “grade” for you! Please watch the short video below (created by Lisa Stamper) for a tutorial on how you can use Flubaroo for your own data needs.

When I applied the Flubaroo add-on to the data from the spreadsheet above I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of use.

After downloading the add-on as illustrated in the video, I clicked on “Flubaroo” in the pull down menu and chose my grading options.

Selecting the point values in the Flubaroo window
Selecting my grading option
Then, I chose the answer key I created by completing the Google Form myself and putting in all the correct answers (I called it “Teacher Answer Key.”

Choosing my answer key from the menu of responses
Choosing my answer key
Finally, I clicked on the “grades” tab at the bottom of the sheet and received my students’ scores!

Spreadsheet with percentile scores generated using the Flubaroo add-on for Google Forms
Scores generated by the Flubaroo add-on for Google Forms
Goodbye tedious individual grading, hello efficiency! Within 5 minutes of finishing the assessment, I can have student scores at my fingertips. Anything that makes our jobs easier is worth taking a look at. While this method will not work for student essay responses, there is an option not to score those portions of assessments using Flubaroo (so that they can be individually evaluated). Still, the benefits of using Flubaroo, in my opinion, outweigh the drawbacks. Try it for yourself, and share your opinions. If you come up with an innovative way to use Flubaroo, be sure to share that too!

Plickers: Budget-Friendly Formative Assessment Technology for the Classroom

The use of technology to enhance instruction and engage students in learning is a wonderful thing. Being able to use technology as a means of assessing student understanding and gathering data is part of current trends in the education of today’s learners. A few years ago a wave of student response device (clicker) purchases began at schools around my county.

The devices came in kits of about 18-24 devices with a hub to plug into your computer to act as the receiver for student responses. They were neat…and expensive! Within a year they were obsolete, when new versions that had all of the missing features teachers wanted were rolled out (but far too expensive to buy new sets). Nearly five years later, those kits are rarely used, replaced by apps and bring your own device (BYOD) capabilities in classrooms which allow students to use their smartphones as makeshift clickers.

What do you do if your school does not have individual classroom response devices for students to use or you serve students who do not have smart devices of their own?

In his article, Clickers and Classroom Dynamics, Derek Bruff does a great job explaining the pros and supportive research of using clicker devices in the classroom. However, the cost of said devices is often too high for individual teachers to purchase and outside of the budget of many of today’s schools as well.

A possible solution to this problem comes in the form of an app that I have just learned about called Plickers. Plickers has the potential to be used in place of expensive clicker devices. All that is required is the use of a smart phone or iPad (just ONE) with a camera (there are versions for both Apple and Android) and a set of cards you can print out for student use.

This tweet from @HaleyKayTurner does a great job of explaining the features and highlighting ways to make it work in your classroom:

After watching, I was so impressed, I had to let her know!