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First blog post

The world of education is one of the remaining professions still stuck in the ice age.  The use of technology within the classroom is very limited, even in on-line classes.  Even though I have been resistant to the use of technology in my classroom, I would fail my students and continue to be a hypocrite myself if I didn’t push myself to learn how to incorporate technology into the classroom.

I’ve set up this blog to be a place to share what I have learned about different ways kids can use technology in the classroom.   Whether you’re a parent, teacher, administrator, or just plain curious, I hope you will enjoy going on this journey with me to help kids get excited about sharing what they’re learning again and become more prepared when they reach the workplace.

Using AnswerGarden in Your Classroom

One the best and quickest ways to start bringing technology into the classroom is through https://answergarden.ch/create/.  It takes a total of maybe 1 minute to set up the question and if you want to customize your options, up to 3 more minutes.  As a teacher, you have very limited time so this is a great way to get students to respond without making them write down their answer with a pencil and paper…again.

So how does it work?  It’s simple.  You ask a question, such as “What is your favorite color?”  This is a higher order thinking question right?  To get them excited about using it, ask a fun question like what their favorite music artist is.  You give students the link they need to answer the question and presto, all of their answers start showing up on the screen without any overlapping.  You can see immediately everyone’s answer without having to look at hundred pieces of paper.  Quick, easy, informal assessment!

How do I use it?  Here are some ideas:

  1. To break the ice.
  2. If you’re introducing a new topic, use it as the K (what do you Know already about…).
  3. For warm up questions, you can ask what answer they choose and why.
  4. As an exit ticket, you can ask a simple out the door question.
  5. As a quick check for understanding during the lesson.
  6. As a brain break and ask a silly question.
  7. To find out the most popular answer (it will get bigger as a response)
  8. As a great way to find out more about your students and culture
  9. To helps students who are visual learners
  10. Give students who are shy or ELL a way to share

As you can see, there are endless ways to utilize this website.  The best part is…it saves trees.  Lots and lots of trees.  The bestest part is (yes I wrote bestest)…it saves you from reading a million different pieces of paper and possible paper cuts.  It’s a win/win.  As you can see, there are endless ways to utilize this website.

Tell me more you say?  Awesome!  That means I’ve got you hooked, which could be another way to use answergarden, as a hook question!  Let’s walk through it together.  First, you type in your question.  Let’s say for giggles, “What is an example of an animal adaptation?”  Don’t hit enter yet if  you want to customize.  Scroll down to customize.  I suggest using the classroom mode because in moderator mode, you would need to manually approve each post- yikes!  You don’t have time for that.  Then choose how long you want your answers.  Keep in mind that 20 char (is not very long as you can see).  40 characters might be better to get the picture = 40.  You can also use a password so you can edit it later.

The spam filter is good for open ended question and you don’t want to get a bunch of the same answers, but if you’re looking for the answer for 2+2, you will only see one answer since there is only one answer.  You can change the case, which is helpful especially when your in a staff meeting and they ask where everyone would like to visit one day and all of the teachers look dumb when no one seems to know to capitalize countries.  Last, but not least you can change how long the question is good for.  So if you have an on-line class and need the link to be open for longer than a day, bingo.

So try it out yourself, play around with it.  Think of how this can be extended.  You could have students come up with the questions and get to see their question realized as their classmates help to answer it!  Can this be used globally?  Why not!  Know a teacher in another part of the world?  You should!  Ask them to ask your class a question or vice versa.  Wouldn’t that be amazing!

The site also says that you can, “Post it in a tweet or you can embed it on your website or blog to use it as a poll or guestbook.”

https://answergarden.ch/create/

Please leave a comment to let me know how you used it in your classroom!  I would love to hear your ideas.

Here’s an example of using Answergarden

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I’m not an any way affiliated with the programs that I will be sharing.  If I mention a website or program that would be beneficial in the classroom, it’s because it’s working in mine!

 

12 Year Old Thomas Suarez and How Students Have Become the Teachers

What an age we live in where the student that sits in the classroom has more knowledge of the different types of media that they can share their knowledge with peers than the teacher.  It’s sad to say that as an educator, there are so many other things on our plate, that it’s easy to lose focus of the big picture.

When I taught in brick and mortar, most of my time was spent refocusing behavior.  The STAAR test was given closer into the school year each year with very little time to teach all of the objectives before the test, that when administration asked us to re-teach concepts that students didn’t understand, I wondered how considering there wasn’t enough time just to teach all of the objectives in the first place.  After working on behavior plans and dealing with more parents who wanted to complain rather than offer their help, little time was left for creating lesson plans.  What I didn’t realize was that the more I used an older version of paper and pencil in the classroom that I would continue to sink in tasks that needed to be done and lose my students along the way.

There is a huge opportunity for teachers to find ways to allow students to use social media to share their knowledge.  For this to happen, the student needs to be allowed to become the teacher and the teacher needs to allow themselves to become the student.

Time…TIME…there just is never enough of it.  It’s a shame really that teachers aren’t given time during the work week to really have time to work on their lesson plans in brick and mortar.  I’ve been very blessed to have the opportunity to teach online and the school I teach at reserves Fridays as a day for teachers to attend meetings, update grades, and work on lessons.  Without having the time to work on effective lesson planning, objectives and creativity get left out which leads to un-engaged students.  I would argue that schools that recognize the importance of lesson planning time will have less behavior problems.

My goal each month is to find a way for educators to bring a new piece of technology into their classrooms for student engagement.  I’m inspired by this twelve-year-old named Thomas Suarez who has taught himself how to create apps on his phone and then he created a club at his school to teach others.  He humbly says, “These days, students usually know a little bit more than teachers with the technology.”  A little bit more is a huge understatement.  It’s sad, but true.  I can’t imagine another time where students came to school knowing more about how to increase their chances for obtaining a job one day than their teacher did, but the tables have turned.  Teachers can either sit back, cry over their coffee, and throw up their hands or start realizing that technology isn’t going anywhere, it’s going to get even more advanced, and it is our responsibility to not only get these kids academically ready for college, but to teach them technology literacy as well.

If you would like to hear what Thomas had to say, here is the link.