20 Ways to Use ThingLink in Education

When I first learned about ThingLink late last summer, I was immediately impressed. My mind started racing about all the ways that ThingLink could be used by teachers, students and even beyond the classroom. If you’re not familiar with ThingLink, it makes images interactive. How do you make an image interactive? You upload a still image to ThingLink, and then you can add little icons on top of the image. Those icons become hyperlinks to other web media- websites, articles, videos, sound clips, and much more. Not only can you link to external content, but students can type their own responses onto an icon. I’ve embedded a ThingLink featured example by Molly below, so you can see it in action.

Now tell me that isn’t AWESOME?!

So, now that you’re hooked, what are some of the ways you could use ThingLink in your classroom? I’ve just included the tip of the iceberg below; the ideas are truly endless.

  1. Have students create one for a summative assessment in place of a typical test.
  2. Use a book cover image and have students include links about the book, characters, plot, etc. for an end of book project.
  3. Use the image of a map, and include links with information about the area, like this one, or this one, or this one.
  4. Use an image of a person or character and include links about their life and their important contributions to history or the topic being covered.
  5. Include an image of a body system and include links about how it works. For example, the skeletal system.
  6. Foreign language teachers (or ESL/ELL classrooms) could use an image of a familiar scene, like a family cooking in the kitchen, and include links to recorded sound clips about what’s going on in each part of the picture in the language being studied.
  7. Create a “getting to know you” ThingLink using a group photo and include links to teacher’s websites, bios about seniors for senior night, etc.
  8. Use it as a beginning of the year/course ice breaker by having students upload a picture of themselves and including links to content that describes them and things they like. Students can comment on one another’s published ThingLinks.
  9. Search the database of ThingLinks others have created and shared to see if there’s already something out there you can use.
  10. Create an entire lesson in one ThingLink, by including links to sound clip instructions, video content and links to assignments or quizzes.  See a great example here.
  11. Use the image of a book cover and include a video link to the book trailer to preview the book before reading it.
  12. Scan and upload an image of a worksheet, and include links to videos and websites that will help them solve the problems/answer the questions if they get stuck.
  13. Have students create a portfolio by linking to their work in all other webtools you use in class: blog posts, videos they created, scanned images or pictures of non-digital work.
  14. Depending on how big your school is, you could create and upload a map of your school. Then include a link over each classroom to information about that teacher, like their Twitter handle, class website, class LMS page(s), a written bio right in ThingLink, a recorded welcome sound clip from that teacher, etc.
  15. Create an image collage, upload it to ThingLink and then include links about each image. For example, you could create a collage of different geographic land forms like this one.
  16. Upload a picture of the periodic table of elements and include a link to a video or information about each element (or the ones you’re studying at the time). Sort of like the Periodic Videos site.
  17. Include links to videos demonstrating how to preform certain skills, like this push up example.
  18. Upload an image of your school and include links to information and videos about your school: clubs and activities you offer, your mission statement, academic offerings, promotional videos, and more. Then embed it on your school’s website!
  19. Put a twist on Friday’s current events discussion by asking students to not only find an article, but find an image that relates to their chosen event/topic, upload it to ThingLink, include a link to the original article as well as other links, videos, etc. that relate to the article and what you’re studying in class. You could even ask the students to include a link to an audio recording of themselves discussing their current event.
  20. Create instructions for a new website, device, or process like this one.

One of the things I like the most about this tool, is that no matter the project or access to technology, you can incorporate ThingLink into your class. You, as the teacher, could create one that students will use to preview/review information or complete an assignment. Students could work in groups or on their own to create one, depending on their access to technology and devices inside and outside of the classroom. If you have very little access to technology in your classroom and you still want students to create their own, you could assign individual students or groups pieces of the project to research and prepare. Then have the groups take turns adding their links to the full class ThingLink image. As you can see with how all over the board these ideas are, there are so many ways you could use this tool in an educational environment.

How are you using ThingLink with your students and in your schools? If you’re using it, please share a link to an example in the comments.

Tech To You Later!


5 EdTech Tools in 5 Minutes: Episode 8

Okay… so it’s less than six minutes!  During June and July (and almost August), I put the 5 in 5 screencasts on hold.  Well, it’s that time of year again.

By no means are these five minute episodes a comprehensive overview of the tools, but it should be enough to let you know what the tool is, what it can do, and if it’s worth your time looking into and learning more about. I’m all about helping teachers save time where they can!

5_in_5This episode features the following tools:

  1. ThingLink
  2. NearPod
  3. Remind
  4. Print Friendly
  5. One-Click Timer

For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

Tech To You Later!

Busy as Can Be? Time for Online #EdTech PD!

Cheesy, I know.  I can’t help myself if there’s a good rhyme to be made!


Photo taken by Al Camardella Jr.

If you’re reading this from my part of the world, you’ve had more snow days than you can count, too. And it’s only the beginning of February!

Mix that with retreats, conferences, calamity days, Digital Citizenship Day, make-up games, tutoring students, meetings, teaching, grading, the other 300 things on a teacher’s plate each day, and oh yea, your personal life… and where in the heck do you have time to fit any educational technology professional development?

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been holding monthly Lunch & Learnswhere teachers bring their lunch to the library to learn about (or refresh their memory on) something edtech. We’ve had a session on tools for collaboration in the classroom, DyKnow,  and every other month is dedicated to our new LMS: Schoology. Based on availability and pre-existing events on the school calendar, there would have only been a couple of weeks between the January and February Lunch & Learn sessions.  I just couldn’t add that additional stress to people, or myself, right now in the midst of the overwhelming schedules and make-up schedules. I couldn’t cancel the February session either.

What to do?

In the spirit of the students using Schoology to make up snow days, I decided to put the February “Lunch” & Learn (Schoology Analytics and Student Completion Rules) online in the teachers’ Schoology PD course. I still sent the pre-survey to teachers, asking them to complete it by a certain date, so I could have the material ready based on their needs. I took a screencast of the usual presentation and how-to’s I would have shown on a big projector screen.  At the points I would have normally had teachers stop to do something on their own tablet (tablet PC), I asked teachers to pause the video and do the task themselves in one of their Schoology courses. I included the normal links to resources and added a discussion board for them to ask questions and share experiences since they wouldn’t have the opportunity to discuss face to face.  I also included a brief online screencast “tutorial” of the course. At the end there was a five question quiz to make sure teachers had actually “attended” and understood the content. Finally, the session ends with a post-survey as always.

Lucky for us we had another snow day and I was able to get everything posted and made available to the teachers a day early. Instead of one lunch period on a certain day, they now have the entire month of February to complete the session and receive credit for “attending” the Lunch & Learn. There have been about 15-20 out of 45 teachers attend each face to face session thus far.  Nine people have already completed the online session, and they still have three weeks to go! I’ll have to wait until the end of the month for the feedback to gauge how well this format worked for them.  If an overwhelming majority really liked this format, it might be something to think about for the future.  At the very least, I hope it alleviates the stress of making another meeting during this busy time while still getting the same PD time.

Click to view the screencast how-to overview of the online session on screencast.com.

The video Lunch & Learn session:

Have you taken or prepared an online edtech course before? What did you think?

Tech To You Later!

Experts in the Trenches: Teacher Led EdTech PD

This year I decided to implement a new plan for teacher edtech PD to try to accommodate their schedules as best as possible.  I came up with the monthly Lunch & Learn idea, and so far it’s gone over pretty well!

Word cloud of teachers' pre-survey respopnses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Word cloud of teachers’ pre-survey responses about what features they currently use in DyKnow

Today was our January session. We focused on revisiting DyKnow, which is very versatile software that we have on all student and teacher tablet PCs. Most notably, DyKnow allows teachers to view and “monitor” students’ tablet PCs in real time and control (or “block”) which student applications they choose for that particular lesson. It does a lot more than monitor and block, though. Our teachers were all trained on this software a while ago, but haven’t received “formal” training as a refresher in a while.  It’s always good to refresh!

This Lunch & Learn session was called DyKnow: More than Monitoring and Blocking.

I asked one of our experts in the trenches, math teacher Jack Kaniecki, to take the lead during this session because he uses a lot of the interactive features with his students on a regular basis.  He did an incredible job, and I wish I had thought far enough in advance to video record this session for those teachers who were unable to make it.  Duly noted for next time.

Prior to this session, Jack and I met a couple times to discuss what he would show the teachers.  He taught me a couple new things about DyKnow during these demo sessions- thanks, Jack!

As always, I started out by sharing with teachers the results of their pre-survey, so they know why I chose to highlight certain features.  To see those results and the Prezi that was used during the presentation, click here.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

I made a Lunch & Learn class in DyKnow and added Jack as the instructor.  I made six new student accounts and added each “student” to the new course in DyKnow.  Teachers teamed up with at least one other teacher to use the tablet PCs that were already set out and logged into DyKnow as one of the six new “students” and took on the role of students in Jack’s classroom. Jack was able to show his teacher view on one projector screen and interact with the “students,” just like he would on a normal day.  While interacting with one another, Jack walked them through how to do/set up each task. I had set up a resource folder in our Schoology PD Course ahead of time with links to instructions and videos for each of the tasks preformed during the Lunch & Learn (and then some), so teachers can refer back to them at a later date. While Jack had his tablet PC projected on one screen, I had the Prezi with the corresponding how-to instructions up on another screen.

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.  Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Mr. Kaniecki leading teacher edtech PD.
Photo credit: Ellyn Whiteash, school photographer

Between the two of us (mostly Jack) and some input from other teachers, we went over how to use the following features: filter URLs; submit, collect, grade, send back and retrieve students’ panels; send polls; use the “private ink” to avoid writing over students’ work; embed a web page on a panel; place students in groups and work on group panels; and the chat feature- whew!  I haven’t checked out the results to the post-survey yet, but judging from the interaction, engagement, and “ohh’s!” from the teachers, I’d say it was a pretty successful Lunch & Learn.

I definitely plan to utilize more teachers in future edtech PD sessions, especially after todays session seemed to have gone over so well. After all, they are the experts of their content area in the trenches with the students day in and day out!

If you’re interested on other Lunch & Learns I’ve put together, click here.

How do you utilize and encourage teachers to lead edtech PD sessions at your school? If you use DyKnow at your school, please share your favorite feature by commenting on this post.

Tech To You Later!

5 Edtech Tools in 5 Minutes

You don’t know what you don’t know, right? And there are SO many educational technology tools out there, with new ones arriving and leaving us everyday, that it’s hard to keep up.

5_in_5That’s why I started these monthly 5 in 5 episodes that highlight five edtech tools in five minutes (okay, you caught me-under six minutes).  You may not have the time to go searching for a specific tool for hours and then spend a few more hours learning how to use the tool.  But surely you have five minutes to learn about five different tools each month!

Obviously, you won’t find out everything you need to know about a tool in one minute.  At least this is a starting point.  You’ll be able to judge if the tool is worth your time and get an idea if it has a place in your classroom based on your needs.

So, if you’ve got 15 minutes now, get caught up on the first three episodes.  For the videos, the Prezis, Diigo links to all the sites featured in the episodes and more, visit my website. If you don’t want to miss another episode, subscribe to the iTunes podcast channel here.

What sites do you think I should feature?

Tech To You Later!

Lunch & Learn: Teacher EdTech PD

Since October, I’ve been putting on monthly Lunch & Learn PD sessions for teachers.  December was dedicated to tests and quizzes in Schoology (our new school-wide LMS).

As usual, I shared the results of the pre-survey I send out to teachers a week before each session.  I use these surveys to see what teachers are already doing with the tool(s) we’ll be discussing at the Lunch & Learn and what they want to learn. I share the results for three reasons.  First, I want teachers to see why I’ve chosen to cover certain areas of the tools (based on their responses).  Secondly, I want teachers to see I am taking their input into consideration, so they will know I value their time and opinion.  Lastly, I want them to know where they stack up compared to their colleagues, and see that they are not alone if they aren’t a technology wiz.

lunch and learn teacher pdBefore we began learning anything, I had the teachers take a “pop-quiz.”  This six question quiz included one of each of the six question types you can add to a Schoology test/quiz (multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill in the blank, ordering and essay). It was truly more informative to highlight the question and answer options.  I also wanted them to experience the students’ perspective when taking a test/quiz.

Once they had become familiar with all the test/quiz options, we discussed the possibility of using the “test/quiz” feature for interactive and in-class assignments.

We quickly looked over question banks and how to grade the quizzes (questions that don’t grade themselves), and then they had the rest of the time to start building a quiz (or an assignment). As always, I wish we had a little more time so they could have gotten a full quiz (or assignment) built and saved into a question bank.

To check out my Prezi presentation for the Lunch and Learn, click here.  To read about October’s Schoology assignments and discussion boards L&L session click here; and to read about November’s collaboration in the classroom L&L session, click here.

How do you use your LMS’ test/quiz feature as interactive assignments?  What do you think of online quizzes?

Tech To You Later!

Backwards EdTech Flow Chart

I’m a very visual person, so naturally I’m drawn to charts, diagrams and anything that I can look at and understand.  I’ve made a couple other charts to help people pick technology tools based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and web tools by category.  I’m particularly proud of this new chart that I’ve been working on for quite some time!

Backwards EdTech Flow Chart

Click this image for the full version!

I truly believe technology enhances the classroom, but I never think it should be used just for the sake of using it.  This is another visual I created to help teachers select the right technology tool for the job. I hope it helps you think backwards (or rather the “right” way) to think about selecting a technology tool to use in your class.

It starts by asking what you want students to do, and then you pick a goal, such as explain a concept.  Follow the diagram until you either reach a list of tech tools to help you or your students complete this task or you reach a prompting question, such as “do you need them to do this verbally?” Based on your yes or no answer, you’ll finally come to a list of edtech tools.  All the tools found on the web are hyperlinked.

If you’re not a visual person like myself, scroll to the second page that is just a list of the goals  and all the corresponding links (no prompting questions).

For this, the Bloom’s and the web 2.0 by category chart, visit my website!

What tools or goals would you add to the chart?

Tech To You Later!

Collaboration in the Classroom: Teacher PD

The second session of my Lunch & Learn series took place today.  It was the session I was most looking forward to in the whole series- Collaboration in the Classroom: Tools for Student Collaboration!  This session focused on Google Docs, Linoit, Skype and Wikispaces.

As always, I began with a pre-survey of teachers’ current use.  I asked for three pieces of information to plan the 50 minute sessions.

  1. Describe what collaboration looks like in your classroom.student collaboration
  2. What tools do you currently use for student collaboration?
  3. What do you hope to get out of this session?

I made word clouds in Tagxedo out of the first two questions, which I included in the Prezi for the session to share their responses.

collaboration in the classroom teacher pdBased on feedback from the first session, I wanted this session to allow more time for teachers to get their hands dirty and use the tools.  So I started out with a brief introduction, and then had them dive right in!  I had Tablet PCs set up all around tables, each labeled with the tool set up and signed in on that machine.  Beforehand, I had created multiple accounts to be used during this session (three accounts for Google Docs to simulate three students, etc.), so we didn’t have to waste time creating accounts, logging in, and getting set up.

Teachers had about 20-25 minutes to explore the tool in front of them with a few other people in their group (“tasks” for each tool are listed at the bottom of this post under each tool). I walked around to help groups when needed, but for the most part teachers were really able to just dive right in and start exploring. There was even a person across the library, so the Skype group could actually practice Skyping.

We came together for the last 15 minutes of the session, and I asked each group to share what they had found out about their tool.  I filled in the blanks to make sure the big points were touched on.  If I had more time I definitely would have rotated each group, so they could have all tested each tool before coming back together to share.  So far, the post-survey responses seem to be in agreement that teachers would have liked more time on this topic and they all learned something they will apply to their classes- YAY! I heard a lot of “let’s meet to set this up for my class…,” which is music to my ears!

I provided resources for each tool in our PD Course in Schoology for reference at a later time.  I’ve included some of that info below (with the exception of links to our practice examples).  I also gave teachers all the test account log in information, so they could play around with it on their own if they wanted to do so before diving in and setting up their own accounts.

Google Docs
What to do:

  • Edit the email document
    • Use the chat feature
  • Add info to spreadsheet
    • Find sum and average years of teaching experience
  • Add a slide to a presentation
    • Make a comment on a slide
  • Create new Google Doc
    • Share it

Google Drive home
Google Docs in Plain English
Google Docs Tour
Tips Every Teacher Should Know About
Google Drive/Docs Help
Sync Google Docs with Schoology

What to do:

  • Post idea for using Linoit with students or coworkers
  • Send post by email
  • Post a picture or video

Linoit Home
Sign Up for Linoit
Linoit How To
Tips, Tricks & Ideas for the Classroom
50 Ways to Use Linoit in the Classroom

What to do:

  • Video call other Skype Team
  • Do a Mystery Skype
    • Use the location in the Mystery Skype folder to answer questions
  • Find a lesson or guest speaker from the Skype in Edu website you could use/bring to your class

Skype in Education
How Do I Join Skype?
Download Skype
See Skype in Action
50 Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom

What to do:

  • Participate in the discussion on the home page
  • Access team page and add to the table
  • Make a new team page
    • Add “Widget” to new page
  • Edit About McN page
    • Add a fact
    • Make a comment

Wikispaces Home
Wikis in Plain English
50 Ways to Use Wikis
Wikispaces Help
Getting Started with a New Wiki

To check out the Prezi that describes and highlights each tool, click here.

What do you think of this format?  How have you used these tools in your class?

Tech To You Later!

10 Reasons I Prefer Schoology Over Edmodo

Recently, our school purchased Schoology’s Enterprise pack to replace our previous (outdated) LMS.  Obviously I am a fan of Schoology since I was a champion for the switch.

schoology logo

Through grad school classes and my own explorations, I have had a fair amount of experience with Edmodo too.  I see so many articles and tweets surrounding Edmodo, that I can’t help but feel like maybe people just don’t know about Schoology. Let me first say, that while I clearly prefer Schoology over Edmodo, I still think Edmodo is an awesome free resource for teachers!

Below are 10 reasons why I think Schoology is a better option than Edmodo.edmodo logo

1. It’s FREE!  Ok, so they both are free, but I think it’s important to point out that Schoology has an awesome free version too. You do have the option to pay for the enterprise package for the entire school and get even more awesome features (school wide analytics, single sign on, etc.).  The free version still offers plenty of incredible features for the independent teacher.

2. Ability to easily create folders inside of folders.  I am someone who puts a folder inside a folder inside a folder, so this is a huge deal breaker for me.

3. In Schoology, you can reorganize any folder and any item within a folder at any point.  In Edmodo, you have to be very careful to plan ahead and pick the exact order you want everything to appear because you cannot reorder.  If you can reorder items and folders in Edmodo, it is not very easy to figure it out … I still haven’t.

Student completion rules in Schoology4. Student completion rules.  This is one of my favorite features.  You can set any item within a folder to meet a certain requirement before the student is allowed to move on to the next thing.  You can set it to force the students to view an item, post a comment/reply,  make a submission or obtain a minimum score before they can view the next item in the list.

5. Discussion boards.  This is another one of my favorite features- they are awesome! You can easily grade comments and replys by student.  Both teachers and students are also able to embed media (files, links, audio/video recordings) in the discussion board comments.  Teachers can also require students to post their own comment before they will be able to see other students’ responses. I could go on about even more features with the discussion boards, but I’ll let you check it out!

6. Gradebook allows you to drop lowest score(s). You can also get to the gradebook for any of your classes within the gradebook view.

7. Student and course analytics are more detailed and easier to get to in Schoology.

8. Grade assignments/documents without leaving Schoology.  A student can attach any document to turn in an assignment and the teacher is able to grade it without leaving Schoology, using the Schoology dropbox.  Along these lines, you can grade by student or by question when grading assignments and quizzes.

9. Intuitive interface.  This is personal preference, but I think Schoology’s interface is much easier to navigate than Edmodo without any training.

10. Rubrics.  Schoology has enabled rubrics for grading. You can use a generic rubric or create a new rubric for each assignment and it will automatically populate when grading the assignment.

I think it is important to point out a few of the features that Schoology and Edmodo have in common.

  • Sync your Google account with Schoology to import your Google Docs.
  • Send updates, post assignments and create a poll from both the home page and within each course.
  • Reward students with badges.  You can choose from pre-created badges and/or create your own.
  • Parent accounts are also available for both.
  • iOS and Android apps are available.

Check out this video for a full overview of Schoology features.

Which free LMS do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tech To You Later!

Tablet PC and Web 2.0 Tools for High School Students by Category

In the fall of last year, I created a Blooms Revised Taxonomy Technology Chart that I used with my faculty for PD.  Since then I have used that chart multiple times when I meet with teachers to help them incorporate technology into their lessons.  Looking at the chart I realized it’s probably overwhelming for someone who doesn’t know what each logo and tool is or what it does.

Tablet and Web 2.0 by CategoryI decided to make another chart that groups different technology tools together by category.  This way, teachers could look at the chart and easily convert a traditional classroom activity or report into using a technology tool.  For example, instead of taking class time to brainstorm as a group, teachers could tell students to brainstorm on the class lino board at home, and then they could discuss the ideas and get right to work as soon as class starts.  A teacher may never have heard of Lino before (hey, I hadn’t before ISTE 2013!), but by looking at this chart they would know it was a collaboration tool and could go from there.

Tablet and Web 2.0 by Category with clickable links to each site.

It’s only a start at organizing so many tech tools out there for the classroom.  If you know of some tools that would be worth adding or think an entirely different category of tools should be added, please comment on this post!  I’d love to take your suggestions and add them to the chart.

Tech To You Later!