Support Close Reading with ThingLink!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thinglink is an amazing digital tool that can be used to support learning in many different ways.  It is used to capture visual information and add "links" or "hotspots" to deepen the meaning.    These links might take you to a website, a video, or text.  I have been experimenting with different digital tools to support close reading and tried out using Thinglink to see how it might work out.

Here is a simplistic example of an excerpt from the text, Plastic Ocean, by Captain Charles Moore.  Keep in mind, this is me just messing around- not an exemplar, you get the idea!

There are many ways you could leverage this tool:
  • Reading- ask students to create links to answer text dependent questions.
  • Vocabulary- support vocabulary by linking to images that help make meaning.
  • Discussion- use as an ongoing discussion platform (can use the comment feature below the "Thinglink") 
Get creative and make an interactive collage!  Below is a video posted by Julian Buss that explains how to use pic monkey and Thinglink to create an interactive collage!  Here is my simple example, and another. These are by no means an exemplar, but you get the point!


Another extension idea- why not link voice recordings to visualize thinking!  Using a quick tool, such as RecordMP3 would work great. 

As a teacher, you can sign up for an edu account.  When you sign up as a teacher, you can register students (no e-mail needed).  This will allow each student to actually create their own individual thinglinks.  I would recommend setting up "channels" for different classes, or even projects.  When students create their individual product, they can pin it to that channel.  This makes it easy for you as the teacher to see the final projects and assess.  Check out the tutorials for teachers, it helps!






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Make videos INTERACTIVE!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ready for a video tool that will make video and media viewing interactive?  Try Edpuzzle.  This tool is amazing.  You can easily upload videos you have created (perfect for teacher created flipped learning videos), or use videos that are already created from other sites- like YouTube.  See all the options for source videos-


Once you have chosen your video, you can add different interactive elements- comment fields and questions, add voice over, and clip/ edit your video.   As a teacher, you can choose whether or not your students are allowed to skip ahead.  After your students have completed your tasks, you can check on the progress.


Below is a look at what a teacher dashboard look like- (this one doesn't have any student data, but you get the point!)

This is truly a game-changer.  It allows students to gain practice viewing and analyzing media (which is a crucial skill for a 21st century learner).

 Check out this video to learn more:




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Curriculet- Digital Reading to a Whole New Level!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Curriculet takes digital reading to the next level.  This interface allows teachers to customize the reading experience and share it seamlessly with students.

Check out this video for an overview:



You can add elements to make the reading experience more dynamic.  Selecting text allows you to interact by defining words, adding questions, quizzes, or annotations.


Here is an example of an image that was added as an annotation to help students visualize the French Quarter.


In this curriculet, the annotation contains a video for students to explore:



You can embed questions to check for understanding:


As you can see in these examples, curriculet adds value to digital reading in so many ways.  Check it out and see for yourself!








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Collaborative Reading Experience with Subtext

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I finally decided to dig in and try out Subtext.  It certainly lives up to the "buzz".  With a teacher Subtext account, you can share any digital text with your students while adding conversation prompts, questions, and more.  Below is a sneak peak at some features that I tested:

At this point in time, you will see more functionality on the app than you will on the web version.  They plan to release a full web version in the Fall of 2014- at this point it is in beta format.

As you can see in the screenshot below, it has a very simple menu interface.



You can find content or, load a "save to subtext" browser clipper to add content from the web.  This is a very cool feature- you are not limited to curated content from Subtext.... any digital content you find on the web can be used within Subtext.    

To create a class, you simply look for the groups block and click on "create group".  It will generate a code which your students can use to sign up for your class.  When students join, they will see what content you have shared with them to read.  

When you click on the book or article that has been added to your library, you can then open it up and look for the discuss bubble.  (This is a free feature)


After clicking the discuss icon, this is a sample view of what you will see.  (This particular example shows another Subtext reader who has posted some comments)  If I choose, I can simply reply and add to the conversation.  (I blacked out this user to protect privacy).



When you find an article, it is very easy to share with your groups.  


Once you have chosen a text and shared it with your group, you as the teacher can start by adding some discussions.  Check out the types of interactions you can add- comments, questions, polls & quizzes.  


To get the most functionality- data tracking and assignment features you have to buy licenses.  However, even the basic free functions are impressive.  

One more thing- you can use Subtext within Edmodo!  I haven't tried this out yet, but I can imagine it is a very slick way to use it!!






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Spice Up Independent Reading with Sock Puppets!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sock puppets is an app that is available in the app store. It is free for limited recording time and additional time is available with an upgrade.  Other upgrades include purchasing more characters.

My 5 year old daughter found this app on my phone and taught herself how to use it with zero instruction- so that should be some indication of it's intuitive nature.

Kids can choose their cast of puppets, click record, and read away.  After students have recorded what they have read, they can play back the recording.  It does play back in a cutesy little voice, but students are still able to work on fluency skills and identify where they need improvement.

Coupling this app with independent reading and fluency exercises can motivate your students to want to read more.



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Attention Math & Science Teachers- Have You Checked Out CK12?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

To begin, check out this quick overview video that does a nice job of sharing what CK12 can offer:


CK12 is a great platform that allows you to access tons of digital resources and share them with your students.   Here is a screenshot that shows you the variety of resources you can find:


As you can see, you have text resources, videos, activities, assessment and more.  To learn all about it, visit their tutorial center for short instructional videos and how-to's.   CK12 is also fully integrated into Edmodo, so you can utilize this for assigning (workflow).  Yay!!


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Using QR Codes to Access Images During Blogging!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Each week I have the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Doetch's first grade class to assist with blogging.  These students have come a long way in their blogging skills.  For the first couple of times, we had the student's focus solely on adding text to their blogs.  Recently, we have decided that the students are ready to add digital media, such as images to enhance their writing.  One struggle that we face is that we only have 1 hour.  We don't have time for them to search for their own images, as this block of time needs to be heavily devoted to writing.  So, how do you assist several 1st grade students in getting images that can enhance the communication of their writing in a short amount of time?  The answer is use QR codes!

 So, here is an overview of the steps that we did to prepare the images: 

Step 1) Download the digital images that students are used to seeing (from anchor charts, etc.) into a Google doc.

 Step 2) Make the Google doc shared for "anyone with the link"







 Step 3) Use the a URL shortener/ QR creator to make a QR code.  This is the goo.gl shortener available in the Chrome store.


Step 4) Print out the QR codes and give them to the students during blog time.






 Step 5) Train students how to use a QR scan/ reader to access the images.

 Once the students access the Google doc with all the images, you may have to choose > open in Safari in order to save them to the camera roll. You need to demonstrate and model this skill for the students. This is also a great opportunity to talk about digital citizenship with your students. Make sure that you cite your image sources and teach the students to do the same when they use the images on their blog. Using this process will streamline the blogging process, especially for younger audiences who are learning to blog.


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