A Google Docs Template for Multimedia Research


The Google Docs Presentation is well-suited for use as a starting point  for short student driven research projects because of the availability of efficient integrated research tools right on the page. To introduce students and teachers to the built in features, I created a  simple template to guide the learning and help everyone discover the usefulness of the tool. 




Template Features

  • The planner can be used with any content. Just associate a learning goal with the template and it’s ready for use.
  • Built in tutorials allow students to explore the tools at their own pace.
  • The activity provides opportunities for teachers to help students fine tune their search skills as they engage in the research.
  • Of course, this is a template so it can be modified.

Tips:

  • Start with a simple learning goal  the first time you use the template to ensure student success.
  • To encourage collaboration, divide students into groups, have one group member pick up the template and ask that student to Share the copy of the document with others in the group.
  • Teach students to use the Comments feature to collaborate and provide feedback to other group members.

Take a Look at the Template



Pickup a Copy of This Template

  1. You must be signed in to Gmail before you can pickup your own copy of this template. 
  2. Click on this link: Research Planner
  3. Choose Use This Template and a copy will be added to your own list of Google Docs. Feel free to edit and modify.

Create Your Own Template

  1. Sign in to your Google account
  2. Create a new document or modify an existing one.
  3. Add your content and save.
  4. Go to your list of Google Docs.
  5. Choose Create New > From Template .
  6. On the new screen that appears, choose Submit a Template.
  7. Click on the link to Choose from yourGoogleDocs
  8. Complete the form with information about your template and submit.
  9. The template will become available in the gallery in a few minutes.
  10. Choose Preview to grab the link to publish so students can pick up your template.

An Updated Digital Differentiation Model

This is part of a Digital Differentiation model, my way i of weaving a web of flexible tools together for teaching and learning. To keep the model relevant, frequent updates are required, as new tools and trends emerge. 

To access the most current resources, please click on the tab at the top of this blog:

Digital Differentiation – Current 




Updating 


Ten months ago I published a Digital Differentiation model on this blog. I’ve been using the model to guide the work I do each day and I’ve been sharing it via webinars and hands-on training sessions.

Of course, ten months is a long time in the world of edtech, and I’ve added some new tools and resources to my personal teaching toolkit, so I decided it was time to update the model and tweak it just a bit. The original article and interactive graphic can still be found on this blog. Here is the new post:

Technology is a tool that can be used to help teachers facilitate learning experiences that address the diverse learning needs of all students and help them develop 21st Century Skills, an idea supported by the Common Core. 


At it’s most basic level, digital tools can be used to help students find, understand and use information. When combined with student-driven learning experiences fueled by Essential Questions offering flexible learning paths, it can be the ticket to success. Here is a closer look at three components of effectively using technology as a tool for digital differentiation.


The goal is to design student-driven learning experiences that are fueled by standards-based Essential Questions and facilitated by digital tools to provide students with flexible learning paths.


3 Components:


Essential Questions

Student-driven learning experiences should be driven by standards-based  Essential Questions.  These questions should be open-ended to allow for flexible learning paths. Devise question by looking at the standards that determine what we teach.  
Click on the tiny circles in the graphic for more information.

//cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js

Flexible Learning Paths

Use digital tools to provide students with flexible learning paths to meet their unique learning styles.


Teacher as Facilitator

The role of the teacher shifts to facilitate student-driven learning experiences. This new role allows teachers to maximize instructional time because the classroom structure provides opportunities for frequent interaction with individual students for assessment, modification, reteaching and enrichment.

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A Guide to Facilitating an Interactive Learning Project

I have been creating a lot of student projects that use ThingLink as a tool for learning. I have also received a handful of questions from teachers who are highly interested in facilitating a similiar project of their own, but need help with the management involved.

“With so much active student engagement, how do you manage a project like this?”

To answer that very good question, I used MentorMob to create a playlist to guide the project you see below. The playlist takes you and your students through the step by step process of managing the work flow and collaborative group roles, integrating some free and user friendly web 2.0 tools to facilitate the learning process, building the project and turning it in.

A Guided Playlist to Facilitate the Project

http://www.mentormob.com//learn/widget/61812/580/99cc33/3-0

The Final Project

//cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js….

Adapt the Playlist to Launch Your Own Project:

If you think a playlist like this will help you facilitate this type of active and engaging student  project, you can make a copy of it for your own use, then edit it to fit your project. You will find the option to copy at the top of the page when you are viewing the playlist.

Check out more project 
examples on the ThingLink Toolkit

Edmodo & ThingLink: Extend the Walls of Your Classroom

Edmodo is a free and secure social learning platform for teachers and students to collaborate and connect in the  24/7 classroom. The design and functionality of Edmodo is similar to Facebook, but the focus is on teaching and learning within a protected environment. Students don’t even need an email account to sign up.

Teachers and students can extend the learning by posting messages, holding online discussions, picking up work and turning it in.  Edmodo supports a variety of multimedia to provide students with flexible learning paths  including links, images, video and interactive graphics created with ThingLink.





Perhaps an engaging assignment for students would be to publish an interactive graphic to be explored prior to class. This type of assignment can provide students with background knowledge, front load the learning and  level the playing field to prepare students for success in class


The folks at ThingLink have made it very easy to use ThingLink with Edmodo and they’ve even created some video tutorials to help you learn how.

For more tutorials, Common Core Aligned Lesson Samples and tons of resources for using ThingLink in the classroom, please visit the ThingLink Teacher Toolkit.

Present.Me

Present.Me is a free tool that allows you to use the webcam and microphone on your computer to record yourself giving a PowerPoint presentation. Just create and upload your presentation, then use your computer’s webcam to talk about it as you progress through the slides. The end result is a side-by-side view of the presentation along with the presenter. The entire creation is stored online and easily accessed through a link.

Uses in Education:

  1. My first thought is this would be a great way for teachers to try The Flipped Classroom approach to teaching by publishing a Present.Me and asking students to view and interact with the content for homework in preparation for the next class. After all, many teachers are already familiar with PowerPoint and recording yourself with this tool is quite easy.
  2. Another good use of this tool might be to have students use it as a substitute for the traditional whole-class project presentation.  Instead of asking the student audience to sit through hours of student-led presentations, assign them a task related to viewing the presentations and let them interact with them at their own pace.
  3. Teachers can use this tool to create and publish presentations online for parents unable to attend Open House/Curriculum Night that generally happens at the start of the year.
  4. Schools and districts might consider using this tool to make good use of limited staff development time by creating and publishing an ongoing list of resources. Provide teachers with time to view and interact with presentations during staff meeting time, and also give them the opportunity to continue the learning at home.
  5. And of course, this tool could be really useful for virtual conferences of all kinds.

Try Present.Me for yourself

Simplify and Summarize Digital Text

In nearly every classroom there are a number of students who do not have the reading level needed to comprehend written content-based material. One of the biggest challenges teachers face is providing text for struggling readers. Technology is a tool that can help. Here are some tools for providing students with the support they need to succeed. Many thanks to Sheri Lenzo, assistive technology expert, for teaching me all of this and much more.

 Natural Reader
This free software needs to be installed on your PC. After that, just  highlight the text you want read aloud and click on Control + F9. Voila!

demo
readability

Readability Bookmarklet
Install a handy bookmarklet and watch this tool scrub web pages of distractions by removing the ads and
creating a more readable body of text.

demo
text compactor

Text Compactor
A free online tool that is extremely user-friendly. Just copy and paste some digital text into the box, use the slider to determine the percentage of text you want to end up with, and view the summary

demo
text to speech

Text to Speech for Mac
Macintosh computers have the text to speech feature built in, but it needs to be activated in System Preferences. Watch the tutorial on this wiki.

demo
twurdy

Twurdy
A search engine that yields color-coded results by readability in order to provide users with text written at appropriate levels. View more simple search engine tools on my wiki.

demo
wikipedia simple english

Wikipedia Simple English
One of the languages
supported by Wikipedia is “Simple English”. Choose it to find information written using simpler words and simple sentences, which lowers the readability level.

demo
jogtheweb

Hands-On Overview on JogTheWeb
Try my Jog: Tools for Summarizing and Simplifying Text

demo

Cool Tools for Teaching Vocabulary


I spent the first part of my summer working with teachers to help them learn to use technology as a tool for differentiating reading instruction to help all learners succeed. During that time we experimented with many different tools for teaching vocabulary. Here is a glance at the list of tools the course participants found to be user-friendly and useful for students and teachers.

Lexipedia
A very nice multi-lingual visual dictionary that creates a word web and defines words based on parts of speech. Use the toolbar bookmarklet for convenience.

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Lingro
An amazing tool that turns all the words in any website or digital text into a clickable dictionary and translates text into 12 different languages.

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Shahi
A visual dictionary that combines Wiktionary content with Flickr images, and more.

info_onweb.jpg

Snappy Words
An online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus that helps you find the meanings of words and draw connections to associated words. 

info_onweb.jpg

Visuwords
Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts.

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The Visual Dictionary
This tool uses photographs of words in the real world to visually explore them.

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Vocabulary.co
A very popular site for vocabulary games.

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VocabGrabber
Copy and paste text into the box and this tool generates a word cloud to identify the key vocabulary. Sort words by content area.

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Wordsift
Place text into a box and then press sift to create a word cloud in which most frequently used words appear larger in size.

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Wordia
A tool that uses video to make personal connections for users. The school account keeps it safe for students and allows students to create their own video definitions and schools to build their own  dictionaries.

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Wordle
Use this word cloud generator to identify key vocabulary in digital text. Try copying and pasting more than one related article into Wordle to get the big picture.

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WordStash
Teachers can sign up for a free account and create word lists to support written text. With a click of a button, students can access dictionary information and create flash cards for review.

info_onweb.jpg

info_onweb.jpgTag Galaxy
This tool creates a 3D orbiting galaxy of words and their associations  Click on any word to move it to the center of the galaxy, then click again and watch the globe populate with images from Flicker. This is a must see.




Lingro – Turn digital text into a clickable dictionary

Lingro is an amazing online tool that turns any website or digital text file into an interactive dictionary where users can click on a word to view it’s definition and hear it’s pronunciation. Support by 12 languages, Lingro is also a very useful tool for translating text.

Lingro is easy to use. Just copy and paste any web address into Lingro’s web browser and click on a word, or use the file viewer to upload a document and translate it in the same way. One of the most impressive features of Lingro is that it stores and remembers all the words you click on and allows you to easily create and store words lists. Then, with the click of a button, Lingro turns your word lists into an online flash card game.

This tool does not require a login to use the most basic features so it can be a handy tool for students without an email address, but teachers should create a free account to take advantage of additional features, such as storage, history and word lists.

.Try Lingro for yourself