Can you believe that we are already in November? Last weekend, I was honored and excited to be a featured speaker at TCCA 2023 in Houston, TX. In the next two to three weeks, my schedule is a little calmer as I prepare for my upcoming sessions. 

First, I am presenting at PASCD in Hershey, PA on November 20th. The following week, I am presenting at VASCD 'in Williamsburg, VA on November 29th. Then, I will be heading to the Innovative Schools Summit in San Antonio on December 1st. Finally, I will be presenting closer to home at Learning Forward in Washington DC on December 5th,

New Blog Post Alert on TCEA's Tech Notes

Have you checked out my latest blog post for TCEA's Tech Notes? If so, definitely check it out:  Check out this article: Boost Mathematical Understanding with Versatile Tech Tools  - It shares how you can enhance and amplify your students' mathematical understanding based on the National Council of Teaching Mathematics' Guiding Principles by using visualization, multimodal thinking and interaction and features three of my favorite tech tools: Desmos Classroom, Microsoft Flip, and Pear Deck's Flashcard Factory. 

Podcast Episode on the Edtech Bites 

While at TCCA last weekend, I got to record an episode of the Edtech Bites Podcast live with Gabriel Castillo. We had such a great conversation all about instructional coaching and its impact. Definitely check out our conversation using this link: Episode 180

TransformED: Amplifying Learning Using Tech Tools

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called TransformED Reflection and how we can not only learn new things to improve our craft but also share this new learning with our network.  In today's schools, it can seem easier to stick with what you already know, but it is essential that all of us not only set goals, but pursue learning to meet these goals.  

This week, I will focus on how we can craft a vision either for using technology tools to amplify student learning. This vision can vary in scope, being more individualized for a classroom or a grade or being broader for a district, school or nationwide. In this post, we will focus on two very important questions to help us get started. First, why are we using technology tools and second, how do these tech tools enhance or amplify learning?

How can technology tools help us  transform our  vision?

In today's world, technology is all around us. From the moment we wake up every day until we fall asleep, technology tools are an integral part of our every day life. As one of the people I follow and admire on social media, Greg Bagby,  NCCE Prof. Learning Specialist and 2023 EdTech Influencer, shares, "Our students might be digital natives, but we need to help them become digital learners." So how can we, as educators, help them to better become digital learners, you might be wondering. We need to be intentional as we use technology tools in their learning process and consider the impact of these tools both short-term and long term.

Why are you using the technology tools? 

This question is an essential one to get started with when crafting a vision for technology integration. Many times, we understand the importance of using technology tools but do so under the guise of compliance rather than truly understand the impact that certain technology tools can truly have. Have you had that moment, "that a-ha", where you truly saw the potential that technology tools offer your students? If not, your why may be rooted in compliance.

In my book, TRANSFORM-Techy Notes to Make Learning Sticky, I share all about my moment! It was in the my first year teaching in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland back in 1998.  My students were exploring a project that I had found on where they were researching a famous African American to nominate them on the Trailblazer's Hall of Fame in our school's computer lab. This was a global project where any student could post on the forum. I saw an engagement in them that I had never seen prior. They were motivated, excited and truly saw a purpose in their learning.  It was a magical moment that led me to wonder: how else could I use technology to engage and empower my students.

How do the technology tools amplify learning?

During my "aha" moment, I saw that using the resources on connected my student's learning to an authentic purpose, gave them an audience to write for, and motivated them in a way that I had never seen previously. This led me to try more technology tools and get my masters' degree in Technology for Educators back in 2002. (Yes, I know that I don't look that old.) Since then, the technology tools might have changed, but my vision for using them is the same: I use technology tools with my students to amplify learning. Doing this gives them the skills needed to become digital learners.

Let's look at a few of my favorite technology tools as a way of seeing how they help me meet that vision.

Wixie:  Wixie is a kid-friendly creation tool that I often use with my students in grades PK-5 that is made by a company called Tech4Learning.

How does Wixie amplify learning? Wixie truly provides my students with Universal Design for Learning or UDL. It allows my students increased accessibility through both speech to text and text to speech capabilities. In addition, educators can add in videos and audio to support our learners. Wixie also promotes increased expression of learning. Students can respond with text, speech to text, audio, video, paint tools, and even images. 

An example in practice: Last week. my kindergarten students used Wixie to demonstrate their understanding of the pumpkin life cycle. They were able to use images and text provided to label their diagram. Students could use the text to speech capability to help them as needed identify these words and pictures. When they finished this, students created a video where they explained the pumpkin life cycle they shared. 

Want to try out Wixie for free for a year, click here to get the link.

Desmos Classroom:  Desmos Classroom is an free interactive math tool that promotes student visualization, multimodal thinking and interaction. In fact, last week, they released a brand new collection perfect for elementary educators- check it out here!

How does Desmos amplify learning? Desmos Classroom is one of my favorite resources when it comes to math. It truly helps our students to better understand math concepts using a variety of tools and scaffolds. One of those tools are the sliders and models they use. Students are able to better understand math concepts as they explore using these models and sliders. In addition, Desmos Classroom offers students the opportunity to share their learning in more than one way. They can dictate responses, use drawing tools and even include math type. Last, Desmos Classroom's polygraphs are an amazing way to build in math discourse in your classrooms.

An example in practice:  A few weeks ago, I worked with one of my second grade teachers as part of her coaching cycle to create a polygraph (think Guess Who for math) on place value concepts. Then, on October 20th, we cotaught this lesson together during math. During a polygraph, students are paired together where one student selects one of the 16 pictures and the other student asks yes or no math questions to determine which picture it is.

Edpuzzle:  Edpuzzle is an interactive video platform that allows our students to interact and engage more with video content.

How does Edpuzzle amplify learning? Edpuzzle takes any video- YouTube or self created and allows you to make it interactive using its amazing tools. Educators can add notes (using both text and audio) to center student learning by providing additional resource links, images, or even emojis to set the stage for student learning. Students can also respond using both audio and text if educators open the audio options when designing. Educators can include open ended prompts to encourage reflection and active viewing.

An example in practice:  When my fifth grade learned about the impact of plastics on the complex systems of the ocean, I used Edpuzzle to help them learn more about this issue. They were able to more fully engage in the content with the addition of emojis in their learning targets and by adding images to questions and offering audio options.

Next Steps

Consider how you use technology tools to support your transformED vision. What technology tools do you use? Why do you use them and how do they amplify learning? Are there any that I should add to my toolbox or maybe I shared one that sparked your interest?  I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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