Thursday, September 26, 2013

Challenge #9: Give Your KWL a Digital Makeover

Edtech Challenge #9 is to give your classic KWL chart a digital-age makeover. Why go digital you wonder? Well, it wouldn't be an Edtech Challenge if it wasn't. But more importantly, when content is created digitally, it can be communicated with students and parents outside of the school walls. Parents can have access to important information that they can use to help support their child's learning and students can revisit their learning activities anytime and from anywhere. Aside from the communication benefits, the chart itself can become much more dynamic by including elements of multimedia.

The KWL is one method that many teachers use to activate prior knowledge and to have students personalize their learning goals. Yes, the KWL has been around for some time, but it is evolving. If you do an internet search on "KWL", you will notice that many educators are using a KWHL, the H standing for "How will I find out?".  Seems like the perfect addition for including some digital literacy skills. Some are even diving in deeper and using a KWHLAQ chart. Do you want to know what the AQ stand for? Then check out this post from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's blog, Upgrading your KWL to the 21st Century.

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge.
  • Try using Google Docs, Padlet, Popplet, Inspiration, or even Smart Notebook software to create your digital KWL, KWHL, or KWHLAQ. This way, you can embed the document on your website or blog or publish it as a webpage. 
  • Add some multimedia to your chart. You can add links to websites and online sources, add video and audio clips and attach files. 
  • Have your students add content to the chart during school or as part of a homework assignment. Make it a collaborative, working document. 
  • Have students personalize their learning goals by creating their own digital KWL to use as they progress in the unit of study. 
  • For younger students, you can create a KWL using Voicethread or another web tool that has an audio recording feature. 
  • Get creative with QR Codes.Check out Mrs. Weeden's blog to see how her first graders used Padlet and QR codes to go digital with their KWL. 

Here is a simple example that I created using Popplet to show how you can embed video, images, and links.
Have fun and please share your thoughts, experiences and insights by posting a comment!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Challenge #8 (Finally): Join Twitter!

Yes. It has been way too long since I have posted an edtech challenge for you. So to get back into the swing of things, I will make this an easy one to complete.

Edtech Challenge #8 is to join Twitter! I have been active in the Twitter community for a few years now. At first, I was not convinced that Twitter would have any profound effect on my teaching practice. But I made a pact with my edtech team that we would learn this Twitter thing and see if it was worth sharing with our colleagues  As you may have guessed, it turns out that we think Twitter is a powerful tool for educators.

Here are my top 3 reasons why educators should join Twitter:

1. Twitter is on-demand professional development. By utilizing educational hash tags and following other educators around the world, you can learn something new and meaningful every time you log in.

2. Twitter gets you out of your classroom (virtually). Teaching can be a very isolated profession. It is easy to shut your door and forget that collaboration is key to improving your teaching practice. I have connections with hundreds of other educators through Twitter. Although I have not met many of my Twitter friends face-to-face, I truly feel that we are a community of learners.

3. Twitter is a time saver. Creating lists and search columns in twitter allows you to customize your twitter feed and make it easier to filter through to the posts that are most meaningful to you. You can use a program such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Flipboard (my personal favorite) to mangage your twitter account and display your feed in visually appealing formats.

Are you already on Twitter? If so, what are your top reasons for using Twitter?

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Choose a short Twitter handle. Mine is @akennedytwitt. When other users respond to my tweets, my long twitter name takes up valuable character space. (Posts are limmited to 140 characters.)
  • Keep your account open to the public. The purpose of joining twitter is to connect with others. You want people to be able to follow you, read your profile, and view your tweets.
Have fun with this challenge. Please post your thoughts, comments and experiences by leaving a comment!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Edtech Challenge #7: Working Together with Wallwisher

An online notice board maker is a great web tool that can be easily integrated into your curriculum and promote communication and collaboration. Online notice boards can be used for brainstorming, mapping, and flowcharting. Students can build vocabulary skills and make connections to content. Teachers and students can post questions, comments, and communicate ideas.

Edtech Challenge #7 is to use a tool like with your students for your next brainstorming session (or in any other way that fits into your curriculum). You can even embed this online board on your website or blog.

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Explore different online notice board creators and pick one that you think would work best for you and your students. Here are some to check out:,, Lino, and Corkboard Me. My personal favorite is Wallwisher, because I find it easy to use and it does not require a login.
  • Decide how the students will interact with this tool. Will they have their own computers to post their ideas? Will the board be displayed on the smartboard so that students can come up at different times during the lesson to post an idea? Will students have access to the board from home so that they can continue their learning outside of school?
  • Introduce the tool to the students and show them some of the basics, but it is likely that they will figure out how to use it quickly once they have the opportunity to interact with it.  
What are your ideas for how to integrate an online notice board into the classroom? Post your thoughts on this wallwisher!

Have a great time with this challenge and be sure to share your experience by leaving a comment!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Challenge #6: Fun with Fotobabble is a free web tool that allows users to upload an image and add an audio recording to create a talking photo. From there, you can share your Fotobabble project through email, twitter, or embed it on your website or blog. It is an easy to use tool that can have a strong impact in the classroom. In addition to the website, there is a free Fotobabble app for the iphone (that also works on the ipad) so that you can create a Fotobabble project right from your Apple mobile device.

There are many fun ways that Fotobabble can be used in the classroom. Because it is so easy to use,  this tool is appropriate for any grade level. Here are some ideas for how you can integrate this tool into your curriculum.
  • Reading fluency checks
  • Descriptive writing
  • Explain how to solve a math problem
  • Demonstrate understanding of a science diagram 
  • Create a biography of a historical figure
So Edtech Challenge #6 is to have your students create a talking photo with

Check out this example I created to share a book recommendation.

For more great ideas, please check out this wiki from EDST 615 University of Oregon Educational Studies program. There are tons of fantastic activities to choose from and I am sure as you are browsing, the ideas on this wiki will help prompt you to think of your own ideas for using this tool. 

You may also want to check out this post from Kelly Tenkley's iLearn Technology blog for some more helpful information about using Fotobabble in the classroom. I especially am intrigued by her idea to create a "talking, visual word wall". 

Be sure to check out this Fotobabble Tutorial courtesy of that explains everything you need to know about getting started with Fotobabble. 

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Children under 13 cannot create their own account. So you will have to create a class account that you will manage for your students.
  • After creating an account on the website, try downloading the app to your ipad. It is very easy to snap a picture and record your audio right from your ipad. Students can do this easily and then email you the link to their project. 
  • If you want to record audio from the website, you will need a microphone. Most netbooks and laptops have internal microphones. When using a desktop computer, you will need to plug in a microphone to record. 
Have fun with this challenge and please share you thoughts, ideas, and experiences by adding a comment to this post. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Challenge #5: A is for Animations

Go!Animate is free web tool (there is a paid version with some extra features) that allows you to create short animated videos that can be used to enhance any lesson. Students can use this tool to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. They can express their ideas in a creative way that promotes higher-order thinking skills.

This Edtech Challenge is to use the Go!Animate web tool to create a short animation to use as an introduction to a lesson of your choice. If you are feeling ambitious, you can also have your students use Go!Animate to demonstrate what they learned (formative assessment). For example, you may be planning on teaching your students how to add fractions. You can create an animation to introduce the concept and hook your students. Then, at the end of the lesson, the students can create an animation that demonstrates their learning of that concept or skill.

Including multimedia such as this into your classroom instruction is a powerful way to increase student engagement and make the curriculum accessible to students with different learning styles. Integrating short video clips and animations into your lessons is a very effective practice and can enhance any lesson in any subject area. It is very easy to add these animations (or any online video clip)  to your interactive whiteboard slides so that the flow of your lesson is maintained. You can use links and embed code from the online source to embed the videos to your website or blog in just a few steps. You can find video clips and animations to add to your lessons and you can also create your own with tools like Go!Animate, Xtranormal, Blabberize, Voki, and Kerpoof.

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Go!Animate and other similar tools often allow you to login with your google apps account, so you won't have to create a new account.
  • Many of these animation tools have a text to speech option, so you do not need a microphone to create your animation.
  • Model how to use this kind of web tool with students and use think alouds to model problem solving and troubleshooting. 
Check out this sample I made to show how GoAnimate can be integrated into the classroom.
Go Animate in the classroom by rsd6techteacher on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Challenge #4: Writing with Word Clouds

This week, the Edtech Challenge is to integrate a word cloud generator tool into a writing lesson or unit of study. Word clouds can be used in all subject areas, so if you don't teach writing, then try it with something else. Most teachers are familiar with word clouds, but even if you have never tried it before, I am sure you will find it very easy and fun (and free). Keep in mind that the fun doesn't have to end with this one lesson. The purpose of this challenge is not just doing a "wordle" with your students, it's about integrating a tool that enhances learning. If you find this tool to be effective, continue to use it throughout the school year.

Here are some ways that you can use word clouds during Writer's Workshop:
  • Create a word cloud with the lesson's learning objectives.
  • Turn your anchor charts into word clouds (or have your students do this).
  • Students can create a word cloud of their writing ideas and keep it in their writer's notebook.
  • Students can discuss the essential question(s) of the unit and generate a word cloud based off their discussion.
  • Create a word cloud from a writing rubric.
  • Students can create word clouds from their writing pieces.
  • Spice up your word walls with synonym word clouds or word family word clouds. 
  • Students can use word clouds to create a visual of their word choice.
  •  Enter a passage from a book or a poem to discuss word choice, ideas or other writing traits.
  • Have students copy and paste a chapter from one of their favorite books (using Google books) and then write a story using the top 10 key words.
Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Explore different word cloud generators. is a popular one, but there are others out there with some interesting features such as choosing a shape for the cloud. Here are a few to try: Word it OutABCya Word CloudsTagxedo, and Tagul.
  • How will use display the word clouds? Save the images as jpegs to insert into your websites, blogs, wikis, and smartboard files. Save as pdfs for printing.
Have a great time with this Edtech Challenge. Please share your experience by posting comments. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Challenge #3 Show Me the Learning!

For most of us, we are already in week three of the new school year. The first two challenges were designed to go along with common beginning of school activities. So now it is time to focus on integrating technology to enhance student learning. I am really excited about Edtech Challenge #3, Show Me the Learning! For this challenge, your task is to have your students work in collaborative groups to demonstrate understanding of a learned concept using a whiteboard app or web tool. There are many free apps and screen-casting tools available. Show Me, the app that inspired the title of this blog post, is just one of many ipad apps/web tools that allows students (and teachers) to articulate their thinking using voice, drawings, and images. Teachers use these tools to make tutorials and flipped lessons for students, and students can use these tools, too! Screencasting and whiteboard apps are also a great way for teachers to formatively assess student learning.

How does this fit in to your curriculum? Allowing students to express their ideas through media and work in collaborative groups to build understanding and solve problems are key points in the Common Core Standards. Here are some examples for how students can utilize this technology in different subject areas:

  • Math: Demonstrate how to solve a specific type of problem and compare methods with other students. 
  • Reading: Import a document or image as the background and annotate to explain a piece of non-fiction text. 
  • Science: Draw diagrams and use pictures to explain a specific concept. 
  • Social Studies: Illustrate understanding of New World Explorers by using maps as the background images as students explain the routes taken, reason for exploration and outcome. 
  • Early Learning: Display pictures, letters, colors, shapes as the background, younger students can circle each object while stating its name.  
  • World Language:  Demonstrate learned Spanish words by annotating and circling objects.   

Here are some things to consider as you attempt this Edtech Challenge:
  • Explore different whiteboard apps and programs and decide on one that will work for you and your class. Here are a few to explore - Show Me, Educreations, Explain Everything, Screen Chomp
  • Have students work with partners or in groups to promote collaboration and communication.
  • Allow students time to work together to explore the app or web tool and practice using all of the features.
  • How will students share their creations? Will they post them to a class website/blog or a wiki?
As always, have fun with this challenge. I look forward to learning about your experience with this Edtech Challenge by reading your comments. Please share links!