Thursday, January 11, 2018

Semester Check-In: Three Tools That Are Trending at My School


One of the most important values I hold as a professional coach for educators is that I must model risk-taking with new strategies and tools constantly in my work. If I take a risk and use the tool in a professional learning workshop or as I facilitate a meeting, then my colleagues will see the potential of the tool in their own classrooms.

Now that we are halfway through the school year, there are a few tools that have caught fire after my digital learning colleagues and I demonstrated their use whenever we could.

Adobe Spark Post

To facilitate professional learning or even co-teach classes of students, often I create slides with prompts or instructions. Spark Post allows me to create more beautiful designs that inspire my learners to think bigger or make more connections. When words are cleverly paired with an image, mood and tone are more evident and the audience will not just process the information. They will feel or experience the information. One of my favorite examples comes from a keynote I've presented to educators and parents about the impact of screen technology on the human brain and on teaching and learning. Notice how the colors, words, and images combined can send different messages about the same idea.

 

We've taken Spark Post into professional learning by asking teachers to set goals and then create a Spark Post to share their goals with their colleagues. The resulting quote graphics capture their willingness to take risks and also inspired many of them to use similar strategies with their students in their classes. Some of our students even created PSA style quote graphics, after learning about digital distraction and the skills of concentration and focus, in Spark Post that are displayed on our middle school plasma screens in the hallways and lobby.

 

Worth noting: Educators should be sure to review this guide for information about privacy and security when using Adobe Spark.

Flipgrid

I'd heard about Flipgrid in the spring, but really didn't get a feel for it until I talked to some of my edu-friends at ISTE in June about how they were using at their schools. My colleagues and I decided to give it a try at the annual in-house conference, we call it #JumpStartSJP, for our teachers in August. To help kick off the week of professional learning, I reached out to some of the top education experts to ask for their tips for our teachers. Then our teachers used Flipgrid to reflect on some of the most used and most misunderstood education buzzwords. At the end of the week they used Flipgrid to give us feedback on their top takeaway from the week and how they were planning to use it in their teaching during the school year.

Since then, many of our teachers have been using Flipgrid with their students. It has been especially popular in our world language classes. Students tend to work harder at speaking the language fluently when they know they will be recorded on video and those videos will be shared with their classmates.

Grade 8 German students record interview in Flipgrid.

Of course, we are planning to continue to use Flipgrid in lots of upcoming meetings and workshops so that more teachers can experience how fun and easy it is to use and how valuable it can be to share ideas in the form of a selfie video to make the sharing feel more personal.


OneNote

Oh. My. Goodness. Creative, collaborative, multimedia notes are at their best in OneNote. I have tried pretty much every other note taking and note keeping tool out there and this beats them all. I can draw, type, embed documents, record audio, hyperlink, and collaborate all in one place. Once my school integrated Microsoft 365, it wasn't long before I started tinkering with and was won over by OneNote.

Recently, my colleague and introduced it to the teacher leaders in our innovation cohort. We asked them to each create a note in a shared notebook and use that note to share out photos and artifacts from a recent lesson or project implementation they were proud of.

Note that each page was created by a different teacher in the cohort.


It is only a week later and one of those teachers has already rolled it out in her high school Latin classes. Others are using it to take their own professional notes in faculty and team meetings.

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There are at least 3 more tools that are on the brink of catching fire now that we've started 2018. I can't wait to see how they're used by teachers and students and share those stories here soon.

Which thoughtful uses of edtech tools are trending at your school this year? How have you modeled those strategies and tools for your colleagues?