Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners has Moved!

Welcome to the Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners blog in its new location! Here you will find an ongoing collection of ideas for helping educators leverage the power of technology for transforming teaching and learning.

 

Cool Tools Blog has moved

Pardon the Dust

After 10 years, the old CoolTools blog has moved to WordPress. With a few clicks, years of content made its way to the new site. The words are in tact, the posts are in order, but much of the media has been replaced by messy links. All in all, the process has given me the freedom to revisit ideas and build on them to reflect progress and shifts in the Digital Classroom of today.

The Updated Digital Classroom

The new model has been created with some hover text to provide a preview of the topics that will be explored here. Stay tuned to watch the layers unfold!

 

The Digital Classroom 2019 — Watch it grow!

 

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Exploring Apps Today


Today I get to collaborate with my peers to explore and share iPad apps for teachers. With so many apps, so little time, and so many contributors, the decision about which apps to share could get complicated so I tried not to over-think it. Here are some apps I’ve chosen to share. 

Watch this list grow as I add the ideas of others to my playlist!





http://www.mentormob.com//learn/widget/205233/580/99cc33/3-0

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

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.

The Blooming Orange

I’ve always been interested in new ways to view and think about Bloom’s Taxonomy and the folks at Learning Today have created a poster worth sharing. To help teachers get thinking about ways to apply Bloom’s higher-order thinking skills in the classroom, they’ve put a spin on the traditional hierarchy and  limited the number of verbs in each section to create The Blooming Orange.

They’ve popped Bloom’s verbage into the segments of an orange and intentionally depicted it as a circle to illustrate the fact that often these skills do not occur in isolation, they often occur simultaneously. This Blooming Orange presents itself as a teacher-friendly tool for planning and possibly an easier way for everyone to think about Bloom’s. Be sure to click on the link below to visit the Learning Today blog and print a copy of this poster to hang  in your classroom.

WordStash: Build Vocabulary Cards

WordStash is a dictionary based website for helping students learn vocabulary and more. Teachers can sign up for a free account to create and store word lists to support written text. With the click of a button, users can access definitions, example sentences from context  and pictures to support the word. Once created, teachers will have a set of digital flash cards to use to help students practice the words and concepts through a couple of no-nonsense games and quizzes. Students can access the vocabulary activities through a link, without logging in.

At first glance, this seems like a handy tool for reviewing vocabulary, but after experimenting with the tool myself, I realized that the tool can also be used to help students build their own knowledge about vocabulary terms and concepts, which makes it a much more appealing tool.

At  it’s most basic level, users can create a word card in a few quick and simple steps.

  1. Add term
  2. Choose the appropriate part of speech from a list.
  3. Click on the appropriate definition to add it to the card.

  4. Add an image from the Flicker or Wikipedia database. 

Following those steps will yield word cards like the example below.

 

    My goal with this activity was to create word cards to support understanding of The Louisiana Purchase, so I decided to dig a little deeper to create a more fine-tuned word card. Here are the modified steps followed:

    1. Add term
    2. Choose from a list to determine the part of speech
    3. Read the given definitions, then search for an article on the Internet that uses the word in context. Word stash has a button to find context clues, but I found it easier to do my own search.
    4. From the context, develop your own definition of the word. Type that definition on the word card..
    5. Add a more accurate image from the database by typing in a more manually adjusting the search term. In this case, the term “territory” yielded a generic image, but type in “Louisiana Purchase” did the trick.

      Truly, by building my own specific vocabulary card I also developed my own understanding of the word as it was related to the content and I think this could be a very meaningful activity for students.

      Sign up for a free teacher account and try WordStash for yourself.

      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