Surf Report

I’m not a computer science teacher or a technology integrationist, but I’ve been trying to use computers in my classes ever since I started teaching in 1990something. My awesome new Superintendent let me attend a great conference this week that our IT Director recommended. I’m really glad I did. I need to make a plan for how I’ll use at least some of what I learned in order to get teaching license renewal credit, but meanwhile (if only to process so much information in my own brain) I put together this list of apps & ideas that I shared with the rest of the faculty at our school. Like most things I write, I’m making a blog post out of it. I hope some other teachers find it useful. If you’re a teacher or a tech specialist, please share one or some of your favorite apps in the comments.


Hello All, I know I’m not Ben or Jeremy, but Shelly & I (Ted)  got a chance to attend the ITEC Fall ‘22 Conference in Des Moines this past Mon & Tues and I thought that I’d share a few thoughts and a few apps with you. If you already use them cool, if you don’t need them, cool, if they’re just what you may have been looking for- great!

Lots of us have been disappointed by conferences or annoyed by sessions that don’t seem to prove applicable for our area. I’ve been there, I feel your cynicism, but I really enjoyed this one and felt like there was a lot to glean. They call it a Tech & Ed ”Connection,” because they really wanted to offer something for K-12 and all disciplines, not just for HS Computer Sci teachers, IT Directors like Shelly or Administrators. I recommend it to everyone. I came away with at least a little professional boost, anyway. Sometimes it’s good to get to be a student again instead of having to be a teacher, at least for a day or two. Not to mention it’s an easy license renewal credit!

Website or AppApplications, Summary or Commentary
https://coffeeforthebrain.comAaron Maurer, STEM Lead for 21 school districts in Iowa helping to expand STEM, Computer Science, Authentic Learning, and Purposeful Play into classrooms K-12 for the Mississippi Bend AEA 9Reminded us that kids need to be taught creativity & mental elasticity (neural plasticity?) In other words, don’t just teach them your subject matter, teach them to become learners. He called it making them “robot proof,” neither becoming a mere robot nor being replaceable by automation because you are so adaptable as a self-learner.
Canva for TeachersCanva for Teachers Inspire learning through the power of visual communication and collaboration with Canva for Education. It’s 100% free for K12 teachers and their students.Not only can you use Canva to create graphics to use on your worksheets & lessons, but you can use it to CREATE worksheets & lessons and so much more. PLUS- you can create “classes” on Canva so that your students can create things for you as part of a lesson. I bet some of you Millennials or GenZ teachers knew about this already.I’m so old, I used Adobe InDesign back when it was called Aldus PageMaker! Now it’s not “desk-top publishing” its “social marketing” on your phone- I gotta catch up.Maybe we should use this in Yearbook class.
https://www.commonsensemedia.orgCommon Sense Media Innovative, Digital Citizenship Curriculum & resources covering key areas like media choices, digital equity, digital literacy, & tech accountability
https://eduvolve.webflow.ioEduVolve is an EdTech company that design games and adaptive tools for learning. We build unique, flexible and adaptable educational aids that allows every single child access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities (in AFRICA!).
Flip (f/k/a Flipgrid)Flip (formerly Flipgrid) is a video discussion and video sharing app, free from Microsoft, built for classrooms and beyond. Learn more. It’s great for having kids respond to prompts as a formative assessment- especially if they’re afraid to speak in front of their classmates; like a spoken book report vs. typed. It works from Chromebook or phone. They’ve made some updates so that it’s more versatile. Teachers can now use it to leave feedback for students on assignments.
History with DoodlesHistory with Doodles by Brett Comegy & Angie Love; Of course I’d love this, being a double major in Art & Hist/Soc.Stu. I’ve been trying to train 6-8th graders in a thing called “SketchNoting” for years. Research says that it increases engagement, relevancy, comprehension & retention. These two don’t show students how to do it & hope they will. They do it with their MS History students step-by-step and have seen marked improvement on both unit and state standardized testing. Makes me wish I still taught Civics. Guess I’m gonna have to use it for color theory, elements & principles of design or some Art History. PLEASE- you don’t have to have ANY drawing skills. Watch one or two of their videos and see if you’d like to try it once or twice for English, Science, whatever your discipline. It’s basically a graphic organizer that you create with kids instead of having them fill out a worksheet. Engage more of their brain. Brett & Angie started it to help reach kids with language & comprehension struggles (ELL, low comprehension scores, trauma/poverty backgrounds etc.) Goes without saying I’m sold on it.
JamBoardJamBoard is one of the Google apps, like Docs, Slides and Sheets. It’s a collaborative tool like a virtual white board where kids can leave comments, pictures etc. Great for think-pair-shares & discussion or writing prompts. 
gg.gg/makeitprettyJanahlee Chamberlain is a former Art teacher who’s now a tech consultant & tech librarian for Iowa City Schools She offered a ton of simple design tips for non designers & non art teachers. She also introduced us to many of the new features and uses for the new free teacher program on Canva.
Lindsay Zilly, IDEA; Director of Professional Learning Tinley Park, IL
(She’s Sketchnoter! I thought I was the only person that knew about that) She spoke about ENGAGEMENT which is a huge component of learning. Turns out some AEAs have more dynamic speakers than Green Hills.
#usetech4goodMarisa Dahl, Heartland AEA; Digital Learning Consultant highlighted need of Digital Citizenship, Remembering to be human, Considering practical, appropriate applications, teaching “appropriate use” practices as procedures for classroom teachers & healthy uses for all ages. One of the thing she discussed was helping kids use features of their phones or chromebooks to help them become more organized or with time managements and tasks (great for those with ADHA). 
MoteMote is the audio toolkit for educators and learners across the world – integrated into products we already use like Google Docs. It’s highly recommended for ELL & Foreign Language, but can also be used for feedback, special notes of instruction or explanation, not to mention differentiation & struggling readers. I kinda wondered if some of you Elem folks had already tried this one. It sounded pretty popular at the conference.
https://screentime.meScreentime Research Group; seeking to learn more about the topic of screentime in our lives and society.
ShapeGramsShapeGrams This former 5th grade teacher had either too much caffeine or too much enthusiasm for me, be that as it may, I am thinking of trying these out with 6th & 7th graders. Basically he teaches kids how to make their own clipart out of the shape tools in either Google Draw or Google Slides. He’s got tons of tutorial videos and instruction pages already set up to help. Needless to say, as an Art teacher I’d prefer to teach them to draw but this does introduce kids to SO many manual skills that they’ll use in TONS of other apps & programs- plus it builds persistence. Great for 2-7 at least, maybe older. Not just as an Art thing, but maybe a “down-time” thing like a reward for finishing early or an indoor recess thing. 
Google SlidesSlides Go to File and find Page Setup, go ahead, I’ll wait- DID YOU REALIZE that you can change the size and format? If you make it 8×10, suddenly this doesn’t have to be a slideshow. It can be a wicked-easy tool for creating posters, worksheets, vocab lists, etc. What’s more, if you make a map or a PDF of a worksheet your background- and then attach/share in Schoology under Google attachments- students can fill in the…. Slides continued… blanks on Slides with the text tool or move manipulatives like text boxes you pre-create for them. #MindBlown. My Dudes, if you’re afraid of Canva or Photoshop but you’re used to using Slides- the sky’s the limit. Make newsletters, cards, almost anything you can dream up! (or that your students can dream up)
ScreenCastifyYou may have heard about ScreenCastify back back during the shutdowns when we were using Zoom. Now they have a free Chrome extension. I thought it was for demonstration videos or to record lectures or lessons, but presenters encouraged us to us it as a convenient form of informal feedback, or even having students use it like Flipgrid. 

Finally, if you want more ideas or a way to connect with other teachers trying to incorporate, integrate or implement technology into your classroom, consider joining the Iowa Computer Science Teachers Association– it’s free, gives you access to all kinds of articles, ideas & resources. Most importantly, it’s not just for CS or IT teachers, or even for STEM or Business teachers- it’s for ALL teachers. Of course, if you happen to teach a tech class or two, like PTLW, Programming, HTML, Yearbook, Digital Photography, Commercial Art… it makes sense.

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