Tech Tools 2 Try 4 2019- 7/21/19

This summer, I joined the PD4uandme Bloggers. We are a group of educators who support each other as we blog about being educators and its impact on each of us. So when July started, the group introduced Blogging Bingo. My first entry was about Innovative Pedagogy and shared my reflections on #WanderlustEdu by Micah Shippee. My second entry was about my 2019-2020 goals. Last week, my third entry shared my reflections on Lead Like a Pirate.

0n Wednesday, July 17th, I started my new position for the 2019-2020 school year at Sangster Elementary School family as their new School Based Technology Specialist (SBTS). This week as I get firmly back in Tech Coach mode- let's discuss three terrific tech tools 2 try 4 2019 for my fourth post. Each of these tech tools did not win me over at first- I was skeptical about all three at best. But each of these tools proved their merit and are now found at the top of tech toolbox. Try them and you will be a fan of all three as well.

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1. Try @Flipgrid and Discover #FlipgridFever

As I detail in my 4/23/19 blog post, I was definitely not a Flipgrid Fan at first. In fact, I was not impressed at all. But over the course of the last year, I have definitely become a fan.Flipgrid is truly a company that values education. They are continually improving and enhancing their interface and amplifying student voice as they do so. There are so many ways that you can use Flipgrid- for reflections, to share new learning, make podcasts and so much more.

While at #ISTE19, I got to participate and share ways that I use Flipgrid along with 9 other amazing educators. Click the link to the right and learn some fantastic ways to add Flipgrid to your classroom.

There are so many educators doing such great things with this app. This podcast episode is full of all sorts of goodies to amplify student voice.

Why you should try Flipgrid AR

One of the new updates announced at #FlipgridLIVE was #FlipgridAR. As you can see in my video to the left, this new feature allows you to share a QR code on your students' work. When scanned in Flipgrid, the student's video literally pops out at you. There are so many amazing ways to use this. Students could explain their work, create museum displays, make book talks, and so much more. Click the video to the left to learn more.

How you can amp up your videos with the Shorts Camera?

The new Shorts camera takes Flipgrid to a whole new level with so many new tools. Now, you can link together several video segments into one video, use whiteboard or chalkboard features to share your thinking. You can even add your own pictures as stickers, plus you can use the drawing tools to annotate your video as you work. Not to mention, you can now use filters on your videos too. This feature isn't live yet- it will be on August 1, 2019, but think about all the possibilities!

2. Try Wixie with their new updates

Wixie was another program that at first I didn't get. As I shared in my 3/19/19 post, I initially thought why use Wixie when my students could use Google Suite for Education. But as I learned more about Wixie's features, I slowly came around. I learned what an empowering tool Wixie was, especially for my littles.

Wixie's easy to use interface and combination of paint, text, image and cloning options made it an easy entry point for my students. On the right is an example of a shadows activity my kindergarteners did using Wixie.

What are some of the new updates?

The new update of Wixie is now Flash free and now users have a choice of two interfaces- primary (for younger students) and Standard. Students now benefit from an enhanced image library that is much easier to use, the ability to add hyperlinks, and text to speech tools inside the program. Teachers will benefit from an easier to use teacher dashboard that includes adding work to a showcase option, plus easy ways to share student work in a variety of formats. To see these updates in action, watch the video to the left.

3. Try Twitter and become a connected educator

Yes, Twitter is not a new tool- nor has it had any major updates, but if you haven't discovered Twitter yet as an educator, there is no time like 2019 to get started. It should come to no surprise that just like the other two tools, I initially saw Twitter as something unneccessary and only for celebrities. As I shared in my 2/9/19 blog, I really just joined since my principal at the time, @tchrwithatitle, was encouraging us to join. But like all these other tools, the power of being a connected educator quickly won me over for so many reasons.

Don't be a silo- join a network

So many of us teach with our classroom doors closed, it can be such an isolating experience. Being an educator is one of the hardest jobs there is. We all bring our own individual strengths to the table, but together, our strengths are amplified and become superpowers. When you connect with other like educators on Twitter, you build up those superpowers and become part of a PLN or Professional Learning Network.

I love this quote because it really encompasses the power of how connecting and learning together can be so powerful and lead to success.

Follow some amazing educators to get started

Once you join Twitter, following some like minded educators is key. If you are like me and love educational technology. start off by following some of these "edurockstars":

  • @ShakeUpLearning

  • @CreativeEdTech

  • @JakeMillerTech

  • @ericcurts

  • @AliceKeeler

  • @JoeMarquez70

  • @burgessdave

  • @jmattmiller

  • @ClaudioZavalaJr

  • @TonyVincent

  • @gcouros

  • @HollyClarkEdu

Take it to the next level and try a Twitter chat- but use TweetDeck to help you manage it.

Once I became a Twitter fan, I was a little leary about Twitter chats. A Twitter chat is an online conversation that happens at a given time each week. Participants keep track of the conversation using the assigned hashtag. One helpful tip is to use Tweetdeck, a program that lets you customize your feed by hashtag when participating in a Twitter chat. These sessions are great and quick PD sessions, usually lasting from 30 min to an hour. They usually follow a Q (Question) and A (answer) format. Here is a link to a great resource with a database of possible chats.

The Power of a PLN

So this week, I was looking for a digital literacy skills checklist by grade level and posted it on Twitter. One of the people in my PLN saw my post and retweeted it tagging others who she thought could help me. One of those people tagged responded and shared an awesome digital literacy skills map that his district uses in New York. This gave me a great starting point for this project- talk about a mid-atlantic collaboration. This would have never been possible before Twitter. The person who retweeted my post was someone I met during a Saturday morning chat called #PD4uandme. Wow, what a great way to power up connections!

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