My top 3 online curation tools for teachers and students

Traditionally as teachers, before we start a new topic or theme with our students, we collect a variety of educational resources (activities, worksheets, games, posters, models, songs etc.) to share in lessons or provide as resources for students in the classroom. Using technology, we can also provide multimedia and other interactive materials like graphics, slideshows, videos, files, websites, social media  accounts, hashtags etc. to enhance learning in our classroom and perhaps beyond. It would seem then that collecting a variety of traditional and digital materials would be an effective strategy to differentiate learning for students and appeal to our classes full of “screenagers” but not quite teenagers.

Here are three sites to help teachers curate educational digital content for discussion, resources and sharing with students. In online courses or blended environments, variety is important to help the visuals interesting while creating vibrant, diverse and educational rich experiences remain vital. All are useful in flipped classrooms too! All these sites are perfect for sharing by a link but work best when “embedded” directly into an online course/LMS like Blackboard or Moodle.

1. Symbaloo 
One online tool allows you to create a web page of links (as symbols) to sites on specific  theme or topic. (I find that the more specific, the better; (Grade 2 Time rather than Math.) Your symbaloo can be shared to students (or parents) as a link through email, Blackboard, Twitter etc. Your symbaloo page might be filled with links to websites but could also include links to graphics (from Google images), videos (from YouTube), even files (I used a link to a file in Google Drive) or any material with a specific URL.

Below is a link to a symbaloo I created for Grade 4-6 students to practice their keyboarding skills using a variety of tools.

keyboarding symbaloo
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/keyboardingresources1

2. Edcanvas

Edcanvas is a website for collecting and assembling a variety of media (images, Word docs, Power Point, videos etc.) as a single presentation/webquest for students. Your “edcanvas” can be shared by email or posted on an LMS like Blackboard. Older students (Gr.4 and up) might create their own “edcanvas” to research and presentation their learning on a particular topic.

Here is one I made for a Social Studies/ICT project in Grade 5.

http://edcvs.co/XJuKkl

3.  Live Binders is one of three excellent websites (Symbaloo, Edcanvas being the others)  to help you collect, curate and present a variety of digital resources for students. Teachers have used Live Binders to build up a collection of images, resources and links on a specific topic. Students (perhaps Gr.5 and up) might also create an account and have their own Live Binder(s) for individual or collaborative research and presentation. Finally, the final product is easily shared with students (and parents) through our LMS (Learning Management System) AKA Blackboard, or email, Twitter etc.

Live Binders for Teachers


Featured Live Binders
(check out the ‘Binders by Grade (scroll down on right of the screen)

http://www.livebinders.com/shelf/featured

Honourable Mention: to MentorMob for the ability to create learning playlists. Next on my list to investigate. Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions.
~Anthony

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Why “Flipteaching” complements Scratch programming

ScratchCat-Large

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a free, visual and kid-friendly programming language where anyone can create fun projects and computer programs. Students snap blocks together (think Lego) to move and/or modify objects, sprites and backgrounds. Pressing the flag runs the program and the fun (or de-bugging) begins!

Why are you using Scratch in your class?

My first experience with Scratch was at the 2008 ECOO conference in Richmond Hill where I heard MIT Professor and pioneer of Lego Mindstorms, Mitch Resnick demonstrate his new Scratch software in a keynote presentation. (His TED talk is below.) I had been teaching programming in my Grade Four and Five Technology classes with other tools but instantly liked the user-friendly Scratch interface. It seemed perfect for beginners but also included more advanced programming ideas like loops and broadcasting. What made Scratch even more interesting to me was the vibrant database of projects shared by authors, ready to be “re-mixed” and “re-imagined” around the globe. I felt that students of any ability could explore Scratch projects, acknowledge their source and remix them. I strategized that their experiences in class would be an excellent “jumping off” point for future programming and tinkering. (This has proved to be true but not surprising with this generation of 21st century learners and tinkers!)

How did a “flipped” approach benefit your students?

This unit was perfect for “flipping” because all the students had different levels of experience in programming. Students were asked to prepare for class by watching videos on my YouTube playlist or our LMS (Blackboard) and then be prepared to create in lessons. Some were content to copy a program from a “recipe” handout with little modifications. Others opted to “re-mix” the program of others while some were keen to create and innovate on the own. I personally felt that ALL these approaches had merit and therefore, decided quickly that I would keep “whole class teaching moments” to minimum (I’m sure the kids didn’t mind that much!) Beyond the usual class management and directing students to all the resources available them, (see below) most classes were dedicated to students working on a personal or collaborative projects.

What resources did you provide for students?
Video Tutorials from the Scratch website – quick projects to help students get started
My YouTube playlist – a collection of instructional videos from easy to more advanced (and fun! Pac-Man anyone?) Student’s contributed with ideas and suggestions for the playlist so I could “whitelist” for use at school. (We use YouTube Edu.) Students often partnered up with one student playing, rewinding and pausing the YouTube clip while the other copied the programming technique in Scratch.
A collection of Programming “recipes” were offered as printouts
Various displays and posters
scratchdisplay1 scratch2

How did you assess their learning?

Assessment FOR learning – Some excellent screencasts and short tasks were used after a few classes to inform future lessons and planning. (sample) Designed by Colin Meltzer
Assessment AS learning – Handout for students provided near the end of the unit to reflect and share their best project.
Assessment OF learning – Ten question quiz using Senteo clickers to test for basic fluency.

Next steps and questions for further study

How will an update to the web-based Scratch 2.0 affect lessons and projects?
Should students present and share their programs to audience beyond peers? younger students?
Are there any new resources, recipes and approaches I can use with this unit?
How can I expand Scratch and other programming opportunities in Grade 5 and 6?

Video resources for further research

What is Scratch?

Mitch Resnik’s TED talk – Let’s teach kids to code

Other resources and helpful articles
Scratch website
ScratchEd – sign up is worth it for learning resources, how-to guides and connecting with other educators and professionals
Wes Fryer’s Blog post – Introducing 4th and 5th Graders to Scratch Software Possibilities
Erin Klein’s Blog post – Computer Coding for Kids!
Michael’s Badger Blog post – Scratch Beginner’s Guide – used a few of the questions for assessment ideas

Overall, this programming unit is a popular one with the Grade 4 students in my ICT classes as it is fun, challenging, collaborative, creative, student-centered and perfect for a flip-teach approach as students have unique interests and levels of programming experiences. I look forward to learning new ideas and programs from others but most especially the students.

2 min. tech tip # 4 – Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr.

YouTube is pretty hit and miss (but mostly miss) for specific educational clips for your students. For an alternative, try BrainPop and BrainPop Jr. for short, specific, age-appropriate, fun and educational videos to kick off a new topic or reinforce lessons and learning. 

This site is a big hit with students for an excellent balance of humour and learning and a sure hit for teachers with its excellent content. I love how you can search the videos by standand, subject and grade too! The IPad app is also used by my two primary kids too! The Game Up section is my next area to explore!

2 min. tech tip # 3 – What is Flip teaching?

 A new teaching strategy for our environment and students. See 2 min. tech. tip #2 for how to create your own screencasts/instructional videos. Online tools like Blackboard are excellent places to upload videos.

Three links to explore the topic further

http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/08/8-great-reasons-to-flip-your-classroom-and-4-of-the-wrong-reasons-from-bergmann-and-sams/

http://www.fractuslearning.com/2012/09/13/the-flipped-classroom/

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/09/great-video-tutorials-on-flipped.html

Also try #flipteach on twitter and http://www.delicious.com/anthchuter/flipteach on delicious.

 

2 min. Tech. Tip # 2 – Creating screencasts for your students

Purpose:  to record short clips of your computer screen for students to watch as a videos

Ideas for Use

The ‘Net generation responds really well to short, specific and relevant videos for  instructions, lessons or ideas.  Students love being able to pause, play and rewind so they can watch at their own pace and repeat if needed.  I find that video is really helpful for students when demonstrating a specific set of technology instructions (i.e. first press here then press here etc.)

The famous Salman Khan from the Khan Academy based his Math lessons, business and vision around this strategy…

 

Educational Video and Multimedia

When used sparingly and strategically, video is a helpful medium to teach concepts and ideas to our 21st century students. I have used video clips to introduce a topic, review a set of instructions, explain a concept using multimedia or narrative or even demonstrate exemplary work or progress from students in prior years.

Personally, I try to limit clips to 5 -10 minutes at the most so that I can check-in with students to test their comprehension, address any issues and answer any questions. Planning BEFORE the video begins is crucial to prepare and engage all students. I find that giving students a list of things to look for or asking a higher order question (How effective is the consequence for the cyberbully in this clip?) “Clickers” or on-line polls can also provide an excellent way to test individual comprehension and facilitate  student engagement before, during and after a short clip. Here is a good example using SMART response clickers!

While YouTube is still my go-to resources for video content , is not easily searchable for appropriate and educationally rich videos for students. Thankfully, there are other sites where you can search by grade, subject, media kind etc. Here are my top 5 websites for K-12 educational clips. All are free except the fifth choice which requires a paid subscription. However, it was added to the Google Apps marketplace and the free ipad app is my son’s favourite for learning new ideas in a fun and kid-friendly way.

1. PBS Learning Media Site – new, 14,000+ videos searchable by grade, subject, media etc.

2. WatchKnowLearn – excellent search capabilities, over 50000 educational videos, 3000 topics

3. Harcourt media – Science videos for Grade 1 to 6

4. Khan Academy – Math and Science videos (best for junior and intermediate students)*

5. BrainPop – kid-friendly educational videos and activities on a variety of subjects

For more video resources you can visit the “Cybraryman” pages for a very comprehensive list.
http://cybraryman.com/videos.html

Last Final tip…to avoid bandwidth or connection issues, teaching is a live show I always say…the best planning is to download and save the video BEFOREHAND. I find a offline copy in case of bandwidth or connection issues. Sites like keepvid.com or saveyoutube.com are perfect for saving videos from the internet

Top Internet safety videos for classes


Visit my Internet Safety page for details about my course for my Grade 5 students as well as useful links for educators and parents.

Here is a sample playlist of some internet safety videos for class discussions and activities.
http://www.youtube.com/p/1D0ED658FC5B0A56?hl=en_US&fs=1