Saturday, January 24, 2015

Online Read Alouds
Live Streaming Using Google Hangouts and YouTube
by Jay Billy (@jaybilly2) and Beth Houf (@BethHouf)

In order to begin this process, you must have a Google+ account and your own YouTube channel. It is also useful to have a moveable camera, such as IPEVO.

If you do not have a Google+ account here is a quick YouTube video that explains how. It is very easy:

Getting Set up through Google +

  1. Go to HOME
  2. Select PAGES
  3. Select GET YOUR PAGE
  4. Select BRAND
  5. Create Your Page by completing the sign in form
  6. Click on CREATE PAGE
  7. You now have a Read Aloud Page! You automatically have a YouTube channel linked to this page.

Doing the Read Aloud

Once you have established your YouTube channel, you can now do live streaming of anything you want to show. This is how:

  • Go to YouTube
  • Click on My Channel (Left Side)
  • Click on Video Manager  (Top Center)
  • Click on Live Events (Left side)
  • Click on New Live Event (Top right side)

Once you get to this page, there is a quite a lot to look at:
  • Give it a Title
  • Description
  • Public or Private (For Read Alouds you will want it to be public and open)
  • Time - You can do it for right now or pick a time in the future
If you pick now, you are ready and click on Go Live Now (upper right hand corner)

You probably won’t do this unless you have an open page that people are all subscribed to.  
If you pick a time in the future, then you can click on Create Event in the upper right hand corner.

Once you click on Create Event , the event is created and you are ready. If you click on the event that you created for the future you will get the YouTube URL and it will show a countdown until the event. You can now send out the URL to those that are joining you. If anyone clicks on it early they will get the countdown until you activate the site.

A couple of minutes before starting the Read Aloud, go to your Events and click on Start Hangout On Air.

You should then see yourself on the Hangout.  At the bottom of the page you will see Start Broadcast.  Click on that when you are ready to begin. It will take about 10 seconds and then you are in.

You should see a Live button in the top right hand corner which means everything you do is being streamed live and saved for ever in YouTube format. You end the broadcast by clicking on the button at the bottom of the screen that says End Broadcast.

There you have it. You can now schedule and live stream any type of Read Aloud or announcement that you would like.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resource "Treasure"

Let's face it.  There are soo many resources out there, all providing some value to our daily instruction.  Remembering which resource is needed for certain lessons, objectives, content areas, etc can be the real challenge.  Look no further.  I will showcase one that will become your new best friend.

I know there are times we moan and groan because it's common plan time again.  Yes, we all truly believe in our PLC process, but when lessons need to be created, copies made, websites searched, engaging activities created, we need that time to accomplish those truly important tasks.  But we have to remember that these common plan times are just as equally important in our many tasks of the day/week.   Our common plan really holds us accountable for looking at student data to help us drive further instruction.  And that is truly the basis of our function as a teacher.  Find out what the students need to know, how will we know they have learned it, what do we do if they did not, and what to do with those students who have it.  Teaching at its  finest.  It is through this weekly common plan time, a colleague shared a resource that has me excited.

Our grade level has always allowed for a resource share that can, and does, help us answer those four corollary questions.  Today I introduced an awesome mind-mapping tool through Google Apps, Mindomo.  This is, by far, the easiest online mind-mapping tool I have found.  It is collaborative, user friendly, and allows the students to truly personalize and show their levels of understanding.

However, my cohort, Allyn Gibbs, brought a true treasure find to our meeting today.  Learnzillion.  Now, I have to admit I have heard others talk about this resource.  I have even visited this site before, (I already had an account), but I never truly gave this site the proper attention it deserved.  This site has it all.  I will attempt to highlight some of the many components this site has to offer.

Learnzillion offers support and resources, and by this I mean lessons, interactive videos, activities, all aligned to the Common Core, in the areas of Math and ELA.  Don't worry, Science and Social Studies are available, too.  Only they are represented as a component of ELA.  Reading across the content areas.  LOVE IT!

To get started, I visited the main page and was immediately directed to locating free lesson plans or videos.  Allyn suggested we choose the Common Core Navigator tab located at the top of the screen.  This led us to a breakdown of ELA, Math K-8 and Math High School skills.  We chose ELA because we have recently created a new SMARTgoal for persuasive writing.  This choice led me to a plethora of resources.  But, organized soo nicely! ( This is important for me.  Too much information and I can feel stressed at where to begin) We scrolled down and chose 4th grade, for obvious reasons.  This is where the magic begins!

Knowing we were looking for persuasive lessons, we found a whole unit focused on persuasive writing, aligned to the Common Core.  Within this unit are short, precise, interactive, and to the point videos and activities walking the students through the persuasive writing process.

We were so excited, we jumped over to the poetry unit.  Surely there aren't 2 units that can provide everything we need to provide quality, engaging activities to our students?  WRONG!  The poetry unit was even better than I expected.  The icing on the cake?  An end of unit assessment, using a new poem, promoting application of skills acquired through the short, precise, engaging mini-lessons.

If you haven't guessed by now, 4th grade was sold!  Thanks to our wonderful colleague, we found a true gem.  I hope this has given you a reason to try it out.  Give it a try. This site offers resources K-12.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Using Tweetdeck for Chats

The Teach Like a Pirate book study chat is about to set sail! To help everyone get ready to chat, here are some helpful organizational tips.

If you have never participated in a chat, start at my intro to chats blog post here

Organizing Twitter using an Application
I personally use Tweetdeck to organize my Twitter account. What is Tweetdeck? It is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts. Tweetdeck interfaces with your Twitter account to allow you to send and receive tweets and view profiles. My favorite thing about Tweetdeck is that it organizes my Twitter account to help make it easy to see Tweets from specific people and follow specific hashtags.

Getting Started with Tweetdeck
This introductory video by @ashleyhurley does a fabulous job of giving an overview of how to use Tweetdeck for those visual learners reading this post. It is about 10 minutes long, and very detailed and easy to follow.
(the hashtag to follow for the book study is #bfctlap)

For the hands on learners that would rather read step-by-step directions, here is a short overview of getting started.
1. Go to
2. Go to + Add Column on the left hand side of the screen
3. Go to the SEARCH icon
4. Type #bfctlap, click add column (this is the hashtag we will use for the book study)
5. Go to + Add Column on the left hand side of the screen
6. Click on notification, click add column (this will help you keep up with your personal notifications)
7. Go to + Add Column on the left side of the screen
8. Add any other hashtag (#) you would like to follow. I would suggest #tlap and #bfc530
9. You can also follow the handle of a specific person if you want to follow their tweets. (example @BethHouf if you want to see all of the things I specifically tweet)

Moving Columns
You can manage each column by clicking on the two horizontal lines on the right side of the column. This allows you to customize the column and move it as needed (with the < > icons). You can also delete the column.

Composing a Tweet
To compose a tweet, simply click on the "New Tweet" icon on the left side of the screen. Type your tweet and you are ready to go! Don't forget to add the hashtag if you are chatting.

Chat Time!
To actually participate in the chat, just login to Tweetdeck and follow the column you created. I always put my notification column next to the chat I'm following in case someone responds to something I say. This is just one more time-saving tool for busy educators.

Happy Chatting!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blogging: Connecting in the 21st Century

"I do not want to get ideas and resources from others," said no teacher ever.  Pinterest has become the 'go to' for many for resources and ideas to use in the classroom.  But if one really pays attention, these ideas, most often than not, come from teacher or educational blogs.

Blogs are online conversations, posts, based on a particular topic.  Usually, the blogs showcased through Pinterest, are created by classroom teachers sharing ideas and resources in an informal, coversational style,  much like this blog post now.  Other blog posts, are presented as more of a topic centered, information and strategy-sharing opportunity by organizations, developed to provide pedagogical strategies for teachers.  Edutopia is one such example.  Regardless of the reasons, following blogs offers a teacher the opportunity to stay up to date on latest and newest strategies and resources being used by others, globally.  @Cybraryman, Jerry Blumengarten, offers a comprehensive lists of blogs dedicated to promoting education and educational practices.

Blogs can also be used to showcase events happening in schools.  Newsletters, information from administrators and principals, as well as best practices and student portfolios are all common uses for blogs. (Principal's Page and TEAMingUp4Tech).  e-Portfolios are becoming the best option for students to track their learning.  Districts, promoting 21st century practices, are having students begin to create their online portfolios in kindergarten.  These portfolios are updated throughout their educational experience.  What an opportunity to have a digital record of student learning and growth through the years.

Now let's switch gears, and talk about authentic writing opportunities for our students.  Whether in kindergarten or high school, teachers are looking for ways to make writing authentic for their students.  What better way to have students write to a real audience?  Blogging offers students an opportunity to write, for specific purposes, to teachers, classmates, and others globally.  Quadblogging allows students and classrooms to connect with other classrooms to share ideas and learning through blogging.  Isn't connecting one of the 4Cs of 21st Century skills and learning?

Still not sure?  Here is a list of resources to help you get started:
What are some ways you could use blogs?  Your students?

Ready to get started?  Here are a few resources to help you create your first blog!  Happy Blogging!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Assessment Engagement Style!

I don't know about you, but I have realized that my students are being assessed at every corner! Benchmarking assessments, progress monitoring assessments, pre-assessments, assessments during instruction, end of unit assessments, ugghh!!  That's not even including our end of course and end of year assessments!  It seems to me that the more we assess, the less importance our students associate with assessment.  But, we HAVE to assess!  How else are we going to know where to guide our instruction, what intervention is needed, who needs extra support, or who is ready for enrichment?

I have a few web tools I am sharing with you.  These can be used for formative or summative assessments.

The first tool I am sharing is Glogster.  I LOVE this tool.  The free version offers plenty of variety in templates for creating interactive posters known as glogs (graphic blogs).  Imagine using these as anchor charts.  Gone are the days of charts hanging in the room that are only available to students while they are in the classroom.  Using Glogster to create anchor charts put these resources in the hands of students outside of the classroom wherever there is internet access.  These could also be used as assessments for students.  What if we made the unit essential question the title of their glog?  As we move through the unit, the students add to their glogs materials that support the essential question learning?  The uses are many!  I am including a tutorial I created on how to create a glog using Glogster.  I am also including a glog I created on Subjects & Predicates.  I am using this as my grammar unit.  The students can move at their own pace and through quick formative assessment checks using EdPuzzle (post coming later) with my YouTube videos, I can check who needs some extra support.

Glogster Tutorial
Subject Predicate Glog

Please let me know of any ideas you have for using this tool!  The kids LOVE it! (I do, too!)

The second tool I would like to share is Thinglink.  Another great tool to showcase the level of understandings students have on particular content.  Using this tool as an assessment will engage students and offer them an opportunity to "show what they know".  Thinglink allows for any image to become interactive.  Google Docs, Forms, Presentations, YouTube videos, and other links can be "tagged" to images to show deep understanding of content being discussed.

I first stumbled upon this resource during my many "stalking" sessions on Twitter and Google+ Communities.  Susan Oxnevad, to me, is the guru of Thinglink.  I have gained so many ideas from her blog, Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners, and have really gained an understanding of how this tool promotes critical thinking and engagement in the classroom.

Imagine having the learning standard as your image, using Google app, Text to Image, and having the students "tag" the image with work supporting their understanding?  Or using Thinglink with visual synectics as literal or metaphorical connections to content?  Susan Oxnevad shares many examples and continues to post new and exciting uses for this versatile tool.

Thinglink Tutorial
Twitter Thinglink example I created for a Web Wednesday workshop

Any other ideas for this tool?  I would love to hear how you are using this tool within your instruction!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning and Connecting through #twitterchats

When I first heard about Twitter chats, I have to say I was not intrigued. My mind immediately thought of chat rooms and random people just ranting and rambling. After going to a conference over the summer and connecting with other administrators and digital leaders, I was shown the powerful learning, connections and reflection that can truly happen through a Twitter chat. 

So what are the basics of a chat? 
A Twitter chat is centered around a specific interest and occurs each week at the same time with the same hashtag. Each chat has a moderator that poses questions and those participating respond and include the same hashtag. Some of my favorite chats are:

Sunday nights at 7:00 CST: #nbtchat  (No Box Thinking)
Monday nights at 8:00 CST: #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate)
Thursday nights at 8:00 CST: #atplc
Thursday nights at 9:00 CST: #moedchat (Missouri Ed)
Saturday mornings at 6:30 CST: #satchat (Saturday Chat)
Saturday mornings at 9:30 CST: #satchatwc (Saturday Chat-West Coast)
Saturday mornings at 8:00 CST: #nt2t (New Teachers to Twitter)
Monday-Friday at 4:30 am CST or 6:30 am CST: #bfc530 (Breakfast Club 5:30)

Questions are labeled Q1, Q2, etc. and you mark your answers to correspond with the questions, A1, A2, etc. Don't forget that hashtag! That't the way that all of the others in the chat can see your thoughts and resources that you are sharing.

Abbreviations to know:
Ts= teachers
BTW=by the way
DM=direct message
TY or Thx=thanks
TIL=today I learned

Organizing your chat:

It's possible to participate in a chat using Twitter, however it is very hard to keep up with all of the tweets. I recommend using a third-party organizer, such at Tweetchat or Tweetdeck. This allows you to just see what is happening in your specific chat. Very easy to set up and use!

Using Tweetdeck:
Using Tweetchat:

How do I get started with a chat?
Your particular comfort level and learning style will most likely guide how you go about participating in your first chat. I recommend finding a friend. I had a chat buddy. He helped me to learn the basics and actually walked me through my very first chat as it was happening. Having that support eased the unknown for me. You can also "lurk" or just watch chats as they happen until you feel comfortable jumping in and participating.

For the researchers out there, here are sites that have been especially helpful to me:

Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 has a page for most any topic in education. He is my go to when I want to dive a little deeper.

Learning and Leading with Technology

Chat Schedules:

Twitter chats have been some of the most powerful professional learning that I have taken part in so far as an educator. The knowledge and resources shared and global education connections that have been made have been invaluable. So jump right in and #happychatting!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Backchanneling: Engagement & Assessment

Are you looking for ways to get your students engaged?  Looking for quick formative assessment checks? What about "out of the box" summative assessment opportunities?  Here is a presentation created to showcase some backchanneling, chat, and assessment opportunities to quickly check your student's understanding of content.

Look over the presentation and add any ideas for the resources.  It is our hope to create a list of possible uses and share.  Have fun experimenting and please comment your uses for each resource!

Backchanneling: Engagement & Assessment