Create > Consume

For most teachers starting out in the profession, the desire for control is strong. Management is a primary concern – and understandably so. As the gate-keepers of knowledge, we feel the need to disseminate content as outlined in our scope and sequences. Our students become consumers of knowledge.

But what do we lose when we make all the decisions for kids? What can we gain when we let them take ownership of their own learning?

One way to give students agency over their learning – and in turn, allow students to think more deeply and critically about content, while also increasing engagement – is to allow for students to create.

Here are a few tech tools to help you bring a little creativity back into your classroom – the way you always imagined you would as a teacher.

1. ThingLink

A ThingLink is an interactive image, where students put ‘hotspots’ (buttons) on top of a large background image. Text, video, pictures, and links can all be placed as hotspots.The variety of hotspots allows for students to include additional information about a topic, or for them to input their own thoughts and opinions.

Analyzing a photograph? Try asking students to add their “see, think, wonder” statements on top of the image.

Researching important historical figures? Include links to biographies, videos, and famous photographs on top of their mug shot.

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2. Scratch

Coding is not just about writing <things in brackets> and staring at computer screens all day. The real genius of coding is how it reinforces problem-solving through a creative outlet.

Scratch is an excellent program for students of any age. Use it with any subject to push students to construct new knowledge from their classes. In English, have students create stories with dialogue. In Math, ask students to create concentric circles. In Social Studies, ask students to recreate major historical events. In Science, ask students to demonstrate physical laws. Whatever your task, ask students to share and remix one another’s work.

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3. VoiceThread

VoiceThread is an incredible tool that can be used with as much – or as little – complexity as desired. This collaborative platform allows students to create multi-media projects with video, audio, and text, and to share it with the rest of the class. It even allows students to interact with one another through multi-media commenting.

Education-related resources, rubrics, and examples can be found across the web.

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4. Pixton

Storytelling is an innately creative activity, and Pixton allows students to create and share their stories as comics. The design studio is easy and intuitive for students to navigate, allowing students to combine text and images into a fluid story.

Arts-integration can be difficult for some subjects. If you’ve wanted to include more creativity in your social studies or science classes, Pixton can be a fantastic way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of any topic.

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What other tools are teachers using to bring creativity into the classroom?

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Why you should try using Nearpod for INM

How do you fit tons of standards into one year in a memorable, interactive way? As of last week, I’m going to have to go with Nearpod !

Backstory: Since the 2013-2014 school year, I have been introducing new material to my class via Educannon. Educannon has allowed me to introduce new science material as a video which enabled the students to pause and self pace, provided my students with read aloud, and enabled embedded CFUs. However: I felt the format was basic, and as I been doing this same routine for the duration of my life as a science teacher in the NO, I was ready for a change. I think the kids were, too.

Last week, I decided to try Nearpod instead, which was suggested by an awesome co-worker.

Pros:

  • Students do NOT have to be logged in– students can simply enter a class code- not unlike socrative :

This takes away one step, and we all know how precious time can be during class!

  • Students are easily monitored- ever since the loss of the amazing program hapara, I have been circling around my students and making sure they are the correct website. This is a time suck as I’d much rather be checking in to make sure they understand the content. With Nearpod, I am able to see if a student is active in the lesson or on a different tab with simple a red icon green icon system:Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 9.29.03 PM
  • We are all on the same page! Students start and end at the same time, as controlled from my screen. I still get data– but I can share it out with the students!

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highlight: one of my classes got 100% correct 3x in a row and burst out in a cheer!

  • Data can be collected in more than one way; students are able to answer a multiple choice question, complete a sentence by filling in the blank, or even draw:

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The students loved drawing on the above diagram of a plant cell! They were v. stoked!

  • Students still receive read aloud. Being that my students have Google Chromebooks on the basis of differentiation, it would be a disservice to them if they did not receive accommodations as needed. We are still reading the slides aloud, and my students love being able to “be the teacher” and read a portion of the INM to their class!

Cons:

  • My highest students might need more of a challenge. To compensate, I include a view-only link of the presentation I used for INM on my class website. This enables the top three or so students  to move ahead, but still ask questions and participate in the embedded CFU’s during the presentation. If they finish early, they have a week long “early finishers” project or extension assignment they can work on.

Using Nearpod engages students, is more interactive than other programs I’ve tried, and enables me to provide students with IEPs with the read-aloud they need. Love it! AKR