Our morning session started with a brief discussion about student research, and the importance of scaffolding for our students how to appropriately research and assess sources for their credibility. We have been using the CRCD framework (via EdTechTeacher website) to discuss with each other the various ways we can scaffold this research behavior for our students. We have looked at various search engines we can show our students, as well as different ways we can show our students how to assess their sources for their credibility. Research is a powerful tool in the classroom, and it is a necessity for our students to be globally minded citizens. Authentic research is the key to innovation, collaboration, and engagement. Our students must build the foundations for authentic research while in school so they will be globally competent and prepared as adults.
When discussing and learning about this framework, Shawn showed us some other search engines to use in the classroom when students are collecting research. Google is great and wonderful, but sometimes students need more academic specialized searches without the distractions that Google can sometimes provide. We practiced using a handful of different search engines, but the two I like the most were Refseek and WolframAlpa. Refseek pulls only from academic domains when you research a topic, and WolframAlpha provides you with more of a comprehensive history (using multiple sites) of your topic. The interesting thing about WolframAlpha is that it then features the results on one page. It’s a bit hard to explain, so try it for yourself, and you will see what I’m talking about! Take a topic and use it with both of these search engines! Try it out and let me know what you think.
The afternoon session of the conference was used to learn about new resources and also to experiment with what we have learned. I chose to experiment with two things: Thinglink and Infuselearning. Thinglink is a really cool resource that allow you to upload a photo (can be a personal photo, map, cartoon etc) and put interactive thumbnails over the various parts of the picture. You can type in information you may want your students to learn about this picture as they hover over the various thumbnails, or you can use it as an assessment tool by putting a Google form in as one of the thumbnails. For example, you could upload a political cartoon and ask students about the various symbols displayed in the cartoon. Some thumbnails could be information about the cartoon that you want them to learn, and other thumbnails can be the Google forms to assess their inquiry and analysis of the cartoon. This resource can be a little time consuming when you are creating your product, and it can take a little while to get used to, but it is a great way for students to interact with pictures, maps, and cartoons. Experiment with it this summer! Finally, Infuselearning is a resource very similar to Socrative (I blogged about this on Day 1). It is an assessment tool, but the difference with this resource is that it allows you to have a drawing feature in addition to multiple choice, essay, matching, t/f, and chronological questions. This is great for math and science teachers that want to assess a graph or formula. I have not played around as much with this resource, but I plan to use it and Socrative in my classes this year.
Overall, this was a great conference, and it allowed me to experiment with familiar and unfamiliar technology resources. It can be a little overwhelming, but my advice to you is to take one resource a day and experiment with it. It is easier to process, and you won’t be as overwhelmed this summer if you just take one resource a day and get to know all of the moving parts of that resource. This is what I’m doing, and it really allows me to concentrate on just that resource as I decide which will be most beneficial in my classroom and for my students. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know! Have fun! 🙂