3 Ways to Embrace Change This Year


Teachers embracing technology to support the Common Core and new ways of teaching may want to get organized and prepared for some positive changes. Here are 3 ways to get  ready for change in the New Year.




Adopt an Online Learning Platform

Make the most of a blended learning environment by extending the walls of your classroom tp  help students come to class excited and prepared to learn. Use discussions to give quiet students a voice and encourage collaboration. There are plenty of teacher friendly learning platforms available.  Here are two choices I like.

Edmodo

Edmodo is a popular, 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.


Wikispaces

Wikispaces is a simple yet efficient online tool for the 24/7 classroom. This completely flexible tool  provides teachers with a platform to support project based learning and  develop super skills for the 21st century. The most appealing feature of using Wikispaces for me is the fact that you can easily embed anything into it. And, I love the discussions. Students don’t need an email to sign up.



    ReDesign Homework

    Once you have an online learning platform you can take a break from worksheets and consider designing engaging learning experiences that require students to think deeper. Try one of these digital tools for a change of pace. 

    ThingLink

    Start with an image. Add multimedia to bring a concept to life. Provide students with a task of challenge. Embed the interactive graphic into Edmodo with the click or a button or easily copy and paste the code into a wiki widget. There are many possibilities, including this simple activity which uses Google Docs to guide the learning and provide accountability.


    TeachEm

    TeachEm is a free and user friendly digital tool that allows users to capture YouTube content, organize it, and add time stamped flashcards to guide the learning. It’s simple, smart and efficient which makes it a good tool for busy teachers interested in implementing a Flipped Classroom instructional model. View this example. 

    MentorMob

    MentorMob is an efficient and effective tool for curating content and organizing it into learning playlists. MentorMob allows users to interact with live web content right on the page, keeping students on track without getting lost in a stream of open tabs and new pages. As students progress through a playlist at their own pace, MentorMob keeps track of completed steps. Flexibility to move within a playlist is provided by a preview that’s always accessible on the side of the screen, allowing users to jump to different steps as needed for  reteaching and challenge. You can copy and paste the embed code into Edmodo or a Wikispaces widget for easy student access, 24/7. Here is a simple example.



    http://www.mentormob.com//learn/widget/83432/580/99cc33/3-0

    Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

    Curate Your Content

    With loads of free and user friendly online tools available  it’s time to start taking advantage of push button content collection and abandon the idea of using browser bookmarks.

    Scoop.It  Collect information about a topic of interest and display it in the form of a visual magazine. The tool integrates instantly with Twitter and Facebook, allowing you to collect and share content with the click of a button.

    BagTheWeb Easily create a collection of web links which are conveniently stored and shared online. Use the bookmarklet to collect links with one click, then pop  them into organized bags of content that can be embedded.

    Pinterest Create and share boards on any topic, including education. Connected to everything else, collect and share tons of resources quickly. 

    Diigo Create bookmarks, highlight text, add sticky notes, share with groups. Install toolbar for full functionality or digolet for quick bookmarking. Slogan: Collect and highlight, then remember.

    Take a spin through this MentorMob playlist to try some efficient tools to curate your content.


    Wikispaces Features: An Interactive Graphic

    A wiki is a website that allows members to easily edit and contribute content. Wikispaces is a teacher and student friendly tool that supports multimedia for collaborative learning.
    • A wiki provides teachers with a platform to design learning experiences that provide students with flexible learning paths to meet unique learning styles
    • Wiki’s can support student-driven project based learning experiences to help students develop super skills for the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
    • Wikis are a simple yet efficient online tool for the 24/7 classroom

    I used Thinglink to create this interactive graphic which illustrates my favorite features available in Wikispaces. Please scroll your mouse over the graphic to access the resources.

    //www.thinglink.com/jse/embed.js#262975013802475520

    Update: Wikispaces to Support the Common Core on GettingSmart.com

    Wikispaces Projects Feature – Manage Projects Efficiently

    Last fall Wikispaces added a new feature to the free education version of their collaborative website platform called ProjectsDesigned specifically for classroom use, this new feature has streamlined the process of organizing and implementing collaborative projects by allowing wiki organizers to set aside designated space for project based team work. With the push a button, wiki organizers now have the ability to setup a project,  assign students to teams, control editing and viewing privileges for each team space, and utilize templates created specifically for that project.  Basically, the Projects feature allows organizers to create a wiki within a wiki!


    How can educators use this new feature to streamline the process of managing and implementing collaborative projects?

    • Wiki organizers can create new projects right within an existing class wiki, rather than creating a separate project wiki to keep things organized.
    • A  project template can be used as a starting point or home page. Each team space will have their own copy of the page which means they can interact with it, instead of just viewing it. Templates can include text, graphics, multimedia, links and any number of  embeddable resources. Imagine an interactive, multi-media project rubric students can use to document work and self-evaluate as they go.
    • Teams of students can easily create new pages within their team space that are automatically linked to their home page for easy navigation. These pages can be unique and designed by students, or they can be modified templates created by wiki organizers to guide the learning and provide consistency.
    • Team members can hold discussions with each other that are independent of the other parts of the wiki and found in one location for easy access. Organizers have the ability to participate in each team’s discussion to provide students with immediate feedback and guide a project in this 24/7 classroom.
    • Wiki organizers can save time by creating templates and resources that can be used the next time the project is implemented, or modifying those templates for similiar projects.
    • Basically the Projects feature gives organizers the ability to turn a wiki into a tool that drives the classroom, providing one-stop shopping for communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity!
    Things to Note:
    If you are already a Wikispaces user and you are interested in trying this new feature, please note that you must have an educator account to view and access the Projects link in the sidebar. It’s also important to do some prep work and planning before attempting to setup a project, so taking the time to fill out a lesson plan will prove helpful in the long run. You’ll need to come up with team names and decide how many students will be included in each team. The most important thing to note is this: If you want to provide students with a project kickoff page, create that page first, then turn it into a template before setting up the project. 
    Webinars: 2/14 or 2/15


    If you haven’t yet tried Wikispaces, you can setup a free 
    educator account  at wikispaces.com. If you need more information about why you should try a wiki, or if you would like to view some sample wikis, please read my earlier post: Wild About Wikispaces.