I feel like I saw so much, and yet I know each session time and exhibitor viewing came with several sacrifices, so I’m excited to read about other people’s experiences, so I can hear what I missed! I’m grateful to the presenters who uploaded their handouts, so that I may view them even if I couldn’t attend their sessions (especially for the ones that were simultaneous with my session, but oh-so-complementary).
In the morning, I learned about Google Chrome tools, extensions, and apps from Susan Hardin (@shardin22). Many I had heard of, which felt positive since it demonstrated that we were all in the same field, in the same “camp,” as it were. Some, I had not heard of, so I wanted to share some of those:
- Tween Tribune Jr. (by the @smithsonian)– similar to Newsela (@newsela, which I think/hope I’ve blogged about before since I use it all the time). Aside from the usefulness of the tool, my favorite recommendation about these types of tools was to have students start at an independent (“low”) level, then bump themselves higher and higher (to “instructional”) with the same article. This ensures that students will read the text multiple times, but that they have a foundational knowledge from reading the “easy’ one. It also builds awareness about text complexity. What made one harder than the other?
- the Accessible Books Collection – haven’t explored it yet, but I know it’s $49.95 per year and has a range of books for students with different interests/abilities
- Wordle: We’ve all heard of wordle, but I had never seen it used this productively for educational purposes before. Susan showed a Wordle of the Sparknotes summary of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the words that were most prominent were character names (in order of importance) and the words “good” and “evil.” How interesting! Could be used as a conversation starter about theme, importance of characters (is main character always the one that gets the most things to happen?), etc. She also shared a link to a @cleversheep article about 20 uses for Wordle. Awesome!
Coincidentally, both Twitter and one of my sessions heralded Alan November’s “Transformational 6” Essential Questions, which can be viewed here. What a wonderful general-yet-specific tool to ensuring our teaching is intentional and meaningful. Those who’ve used it say it enhances their teaching, and folks have been very positive about discussions around the Transformational 6 at their schools. Thank you for your insights, Alan (@globalearner)!
Then came my session.
What a rush! You can view the Google Site I created for the presentation, which can be found on my events page. Some reflections on that:
- Ah! There were a lot of people! What an exciting time to be working with special education populations and with technology. One attendee talked about being able to graduate students out of her Tier 1 because of technology-based tools. Yay!
- WiFi: grrr! It may not be your friend, but the talk is about the whys of technology as much as the hows, and even when going into practical tools, it’s not always the technology, itself, that’s most important
- Some participants will be too shy to try the tools when forced to in a session and that’s okay. Sometimes I’m one of those participants! Similarly, sometimes participants won’t ask questions (even when you beg them to) and that’s okay. Sometimes I’m one of those participants!
- I had intended on doing a screen recording on my session, but that messed with the mirroring, so I am now excited to take screen recordings of the various tools I demo’d so my participants (and anyone else) can see me demoing the tools via my projects (from start to finish). Stay tuned!
Then I attended a fantastic session about SAMR in the primary grades by Melissa Filotes (@melissafilo) and Nicole Baselice (@nicolebas) . These presenters embodied the “above the line” SAMR goals: Modification and Redefinition, and they demonstrated tools to do so in our classrooms. All of their interactive, revolutionary tools can be found on their website, Ten Little Fingers. Special shout-out for the Virtual Museum – a wonderful idea, and one that I loved getting hands-on experience with. More resources on Virutal Museums can be found on Christy Keeler’s blog (@christykeeler). They had us make a Virtual Museum of ISTE, but through discussions, attendees suggested making a math strategies museum and as a “genre walk” and book recommendation or reflection tool. I can also see valuable uses for foreign language or EFL instruction, as a way of introducing faculty to various types of learning disabilities, and as a literacy tool for students (e.g. different rooms have different prefixes/roots/suffixes with visuals to enhance understanding; for even younger grades, each room is a different vowel sound or diphthong, etc.)
After that, I was hungry for lunch, but I didn’t want to miss the @Imagine Easy Scholar demo. Wow. Wow. Wow. It’s no surprise @techedupteacher showed up to cheerlead for the Google-integrated app. Scholar has all of the features I loved about Easybib…and more! It is a full start-to-finish app that will likely reduce student plagiarism, help organization, critical thinking, and active reading. Its features include:
- being able to easily upload
- highlighting, saving, citing from websites (including saving cached versions of websites)
- all of your favorite Easybib tools:
- color coding and tagging capabilities for all notes, but with easier movement between note cards
- easy citations
- ability to create quick outlines from your note cards, and add notecards even in the planning phase
- Did I mention seamless Google integration? Digital Annotation Tool is a Chrome Extension, and the Google Dcos add-on makes exporting to Google docs almost too easy
All aspects are dynamic and easy to change, and it’s both student- and teacher-friendly. Those teaching middle and high school should really investigate (and I may be bold and try it with some eager 4th or 5th graders!). Read further on the Imagine Easy Solutions website, and to trial Scholar, email email@example.com.
I went to one more session about Visual Storytelling with Kenneth Shelton (@k_shelton), who pointed out that visuals are such a huge part of our students’ lives: from Instagram to Snapchat to communication via emojis, students use visuals creatively and frequently. It is our job to help them harness that to make stories, reflect on text, reflect on themselves, and build a visual literacy. His website has further resources.
Just when I was almost completely tuckered out, I decided to head to a Birds-of-a-Feather talk about apps for Special Education. The presenter never showed, but the audience members (many part of or leaders within the @InclusiveLN) spent almost the entirety of the presentation sharing their favorite tools and resources. It was wonderful to see everyone come together and make the best of it
Plus, I learned a lot! Some tools mentioned that I’m going to look into further include:
- SAS Curriculum Planner (@saseducator), which seems to have a variety of resources, but I love the idea of the writing process being so clearly delineated and the attendee who recommended this said the Reviser tool is exquisite
- Draftback is a Chrome Extension that lets you view the revision history. It can give you a sense of how long a student worked on a task, how much they were able to change, etc. It can also be a useful tool for students to visibly see their progress
- Someone from FastFig (@fastfig) was there to discuss how the app integrates with various keyboards to help students with motor and physical disabilities (e.g. dysgraphia, CP, etc). I’m excited to look into it further!
What another spectacular, information-filled day!
Goal for Tuesday: Expand my PLN by forgetting about my shyness and chatting with more people!