Day 1: EdTechTeacher’s "Teaching History and English With Technology" Conference.

I had the pleasure today of attending day one of a fabulous conference hosted by @EdTechTeacher21 and @ShawnMcCusker that centers on teaching English and History with technology.  I tried to tweet periodically and share things I was learning, but after a while it became too much information to tweet!  This is a two day conference, and I would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE those of you interested in these topics, or similar technology professional development workshops, to visit the EdTechTeacher website and see the other upcoming conferences they are hosting.  I consider myself to be somewhat up to date on the various resources available for teachers using technology, but I know that there are SO MANY resources out there, and I know that I have a lot of room to learn and grow- hence why I am attending this conference!

Day 1 consisted of meet and greets, and getting know everyone’s background in using technology in the classroom, as well as their fears/insecurities associated with using technology.  It was really wonderful to hear from different educators from all different schools and states about what their schools and systems are doing, and how they are successfully implementing different strategies and technology tools into their curriculum.  Following our introductions, we began our morning session by learning how to successfully implement Socrative (Socrative Website) into your classroom.  Socrative is a resource that allows you to measure student learning.  I have heard about this before. I have never tried it, mainly because I did not have the time to experiment with it and see if it was something I would like in the classroom or something I would deem useful.  After playing around with it today, I think it’s an awesome resource, and I plan to use it in my classes.  You can create quizzes and questions for students to answer on their electronic devices (assuming you are 1:1) and it will show you the results in an excel spreadsheet automatically when they are finished so that you can measure their learning and see what concepts and standards need more reinforcement.  I particularly like that this tool allows you to ask short answer questions.  I love short answer questions because they allow you to explore complex concepts and dive deeper into the material by asking students to answer critical analysis questions that measure a deeper level of learning.  You can also display the answers on your SmartBoard or similar device for all of the class to see. I would not recommend you do this unless you are using this resource as some sort of game or competition such as having students vote on the best response to a question, etc.

The next resource I would like to share with you is TodaysMeet (TodaysMeet website).  I had not heard of this resource, and found it very cool.  This allows students to sign up with their name, and you create a room ID for them to enter to join your room.  At this point, you can then have students collaborate live.  They will see each other’s names at the bottom, and they can post opinions, answers to questions you post, use it as a debate format, and use it to share information or other resources.  You can watch everything being posted, and can hold them accountable for keeping it relevant too.  One downside has to do with students being able to post as each other, etc.  Since it just asks you to type your name, you could technically type another person’s name and impersonate them in the chat.  There are some ways around this, and TodaysMeet tweeted that there is a new feature with the website that will allow you to deal with this.  I have not explored this yet, but I plan to look more into it this summer.  Also, this type of resource would give you a wonderful opportunity to review with students the importance of their digital footprint and always being accountable for their actions when using technology.  This could be a great reminder for them to use the resource honestly and appropriately.

The last resource I would like to share with you is Evernote. (Evernote website)  This is a FREE software you can download that will basically serve like a virtual binder.  You can add different notebooks (title them based on various subjects) and then add documents, photos, links to resources, links to bookmarked websites, and more to your notebooks within Evernote.  You can also use it to take notes, as if it were loose leaf paper in a notebook!  I have used other websites and resources that are similar to this, but after viewing this in its entirety today, I took the time to create my own Evernote and found it superior to the others I have tried.  Also, if you are using Google Chrome, it will allow you to create a clip at the top (once you download the software, it will prompt you and ask if you want to add this), and every time you find a website or something using Google Chrome that you would like to add to Evernote, you can click the clip button and clip it directly to the folder or notebook it relates to in your Evernote.  It’s super quick, easy, and a great way to stay organized. Students can also use this resource during the school year to help them stay organized in their courses, and keep up with their research and other materials they are using for class. Also, when students ask you for help with a topic, or if you have information to share on a topic, you can search your Evernote by entering certain tags or keywords, and it will find the resource for you quickly so you can access it and share it with your students. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you play around with the software and create different notebooks (my notebooks right now are titled “Teaching History Resources” and “Technology Resources” ) you will see how easy it is to add your material to the notebooks, whether it’s your own personal material, or bookmarked resources you found online.  If you have questions on how to use it, I’m happy to help!

I have more resources to share from today, but they are all related to teaching your students how to adequately conduct credible research, and it deserves its own blog post!  I will be updating and posting about this in the coming days.  Tomorrow is the last day of the conference.  I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow and sharing with you all!