Present Slides with Captions for Screen Readers with Google Docs

Present slides with captions

While facilitating a webinar series for MyInfinitec, an agency whose goal is to provide access to the core curriculum for all learners, I’ve taken another deep dive into the current accessibility features in Google Docs for Education. One of the best takeaways has been discovering the ability to present slides with captions for screen readers with Google Docs.

Continue reading “Present Slides with Captions for Screen Readers with Google Docs”

Explore Women’s Rights 360 Virtual Field Trip

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Women’s Rights 360 is an interactive virtual field trip created by the ThingLink Education team last year to help teachers and students discuss the complex topic of global gender equality and women’s rights in the classroom. We invite you to explore, modify and create a ThingLink 360 Virtual Field Trip.

Continue reading “Explore Women’s Rights 360 Virtual Field Trip”

Free Webinar: Transform Teaching & Learning with ThingLink

Are you looking for a user friendly and flexible tool to help you easily create engaging multimedia rich content to redefine teaching and learning? Are you interested in using technology to meet the personal learning needs of the students in your classroom? We invite you to attend our free webinar and explore the powerful possibilities that exist with ThingLink EDU. 

ThingLink EDU is a digital tool that provides users with the ability to turn any image or video into a multimedia rich interactive learning tool. Start with an image or start with a video. Annotate it with audio, video, images and links to any content on the Internet with the click of a button. 

Please join us for a free webinar as we explore inspiring examples and easy-to-follow instructions to help you transform teaching and redefine learning with ThingLink. 



August 18th at 4:00 PM CST





Open School ePortfolio for Authentic Assessment

An ePortfolio is a collection of student work that is used to document effort, progress, and achievement over time. Students become actively involved in their own learning as they engage in goal setting, decision making and self-reflection. ePortfolios are powerful tools for authentic assessment because they require teachers and students to dig deeper than a multiple choice test. As we scramble to fully implement the Common Core Standards, ePortfolios can be an extremely useful tool to help students develop skills necessary for success in school and beyond.


I have been an advocate for using ePortfolios for authentic assessment for quite some time. While I have made several attempts to help teachers learn to design and mange ePortfolios using a variety of digital tools to accomplish the task, I’ve discovered that teachers don’t always have the time or patience to see it through. I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are going to use ePortfolios as a standard assessment tool, the teacher buy-in needs to begin with a tool that is easy to use. Fortunately, I have recently discovered Open School ePortfolio and I am excited about the possibilities it offers.

Open School ePortfolio is a free and user friendly CoolTool designed to help teachers and students easily manage the portfolio process. Teachers can sign up for a free account and use the built in tools to add students to classes without requiring a student email address. Teachers can create projects that can be assigned to specific groups of students for differentiation. There is also an option to improve the home school connection by inviting parents to login in participate in the process.

When creating projects, there is an option to create a grading rubric. The rubric creation process is streamlined and easy to use. It includes drop down menus with CCSS Standards for ELA and math, and it also includes standards for other content areas that have been assembled by Open School ePortfolio. Rubrics are easily visible to students with each assignment for use as a guideline for meeting goals. The built in rubric creator is certainly one of the best features of Open School ePortfolio.




As a student tool, ePortfolio is easy to use and designed for success. When students log in they receive notifications about new projects with a link for viewing. There is a goal setting area to immediately prompt students to reflect on their learning goals and motivate them tool to invest in their own learning. Students can complete the assignment or projects by contributing text, images and video, which makes Open School ePortfolio a flexible tool to meet the unique learning styles of all learners. 



Submitted projects can be easily graded by teachers through the use of sliders connected to the rubric. Graded project rubrics are automatically visible to students and notifications are sent when the process is complete. Teachers can also initiate digital discussions with students about their work through the use of a comments feature.


Open School ePortfolio works on any computer with an Internet connection and there is also an iPad app that makes the tool easy to use, even for younger students. The iPad app provides students with the ability to capture video with the click of a button, useful for capturing and reflecting on the wonderful learning going on in the classroom every day. The Open School ePortfolio App is free and available in the apps store.



Digital Differentiation Webinar Series in July

Technology is a tool that can be used to help teachers facilitate learning experiences to address the diverse needs of all students. At the most basic level, digital tools can be used to help students find, understand, and use information. When combined with student-driven learning experiences that are fueled by essential questions and offer flexible learning paths, use of digital tools can break the learning barriers that exist in our classrooms. 


Please join me and Simple K12 for an afternoon of webinars that will highlight digital tools and resources to help teachers design learning experiences that effectively incorporate Digital Differentiation.


Learn more about each session on my Professional Development Blog or Sign up at Simple K12.


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.

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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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Tag Galaxy

Tag Galaxy is a Cool Tool to visually explore word relationships. Just type in a term and watch a 3D orbiting galaxy of words and their associations evolve  Click on any word to move it to the center of the galaxy, then click on it again and watch the globe populate with tagged images from Flickr.

 Watch Demo

Uses in the Classroom:

  • Project Tag Galaxy on a wall to help students visualize vocabulary words, ideas and concepts.
  • Display Tag Galaxy on an interactive white board and let students touch the globe and explore. 
  •  Use the photos to prompt creative writing.
  •  Engage students in a guided visual search.
  • Start a discussion about word relationships


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