15 Reasons Teachers Loathe Technology

30 June 2014

I did it.  I've carefully crafted and refined a definitive list on why teachers don't use technology.  Don't worry, all of these are completely research based--so you know this is trustworthy.  It was a painstaking process but it is complete.  Just remember-knowing is half the battle.



15.  The social skills of kids are maddening.


14.  You never beat Oregon Trail.


13.  Who's going to blame these guys now?


12.  Cords. They suck sometimes.




11.  This guy.


10.  We never figured out how to program a VCR, 
so why start now?
                           
                         


9.  The machines will become smarter than us. 

8.  Contracting one of those viruses.



7.  People blogging about top ten lists.


6.  The computer has never really given you any cookies.


5. You dislike cats.


4.  You hate what other people are eating.


3.  That prince in Africa never emailed you back.


2. Tech Support
Don't worry--they don't like you either.


1.  The friend/coworker conundrum.



If you've got more I can have my assistants add them.



        

QR Code Breaking & A Freebie

24 June 2014
Today’s post is brought to you by the letters Q and R.

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite tools, QR Codes (again).  I can't help it, I just like them, they're so cute with their square edging and Tetris-like qualities.  

“I’m pretty familiar with them,” you think rolling your eyes at me and noticing a quick response code on your McDonald's cup while perusing through the latest issue of Highlights and Ranger Rick.  

And I totally get that—but I figured I’d show you how I use them in my class and around school.  There’s a lot of different ways QR codes can be integrated into daily learning and I thought I’d share some of those.  Plus, I’ve got a brand new freebie for you to grab hold of and try with students, yourself, your kids, or your dog (if it has the brain capacity to do so).
                                                   

Did you know: Creating QR Codes is free and simple.
These are three sites that I always use.
Did you know:  QR Codes can be linked to multiple outlets 
  • Text (which you can write yourself), 
  • URLs (which can be videos, images, websites, and more).
  • Email address
  • Locations
  • Calendars
  • WiFi networks
  • Messaging
One of the cooler elements of QR Coding is teaching my students how to become a QR Code Breaker.  Basically, I'm teaching the kids how they work and how they'll use them in the classroom.  It's easy and fast and they pick it up faster than teachers.  In my class we use QR Codes to read books.  

You gotta remember, a lot of my students are struggling readers and independent reading time isn't always fun because they can't read.  Well, I've changed that because I'll find books that are read aloud on the web and turn it into a QR code for them.  Suddenly these kids are reading and enjoying all the books that were originally too difficult (and now we're fostering a greater interest in reading and making kids excited).  Engagement is always the key.

So I've got a little freebie for you today.  I'm sharing QR Code Breaker: Scan, Read, and Answer.  These are worksheets with built in QR Codes on each sheet that will take students directly to a book.  Students can then listen/read and answer the questions that correlate on each page.  I like to call this active reading.  There's multiple routes students can take to finish the worksheets, and even a couple of levels based on the rigor your looking for.

***These are for every kid.  Not just struggling readers***
This will work for all students and all reading levels.

Here's a glimpse of how each worksheet will be set up.

TL;DR Edition:  QR Codes are cool.  Here is a freebie for you to try out.



     

Bright Ideas: LEGO Figures That Keep You Organized

21 June 2014

Welcome back for another round of Bright Ideas!  Today I'm going to share a quick and easy way to use LEGO minifigs (miniature figurines) in your class as little helpers around the room.  Many of you have probably seen the recent Lifehacker post using this same idea (they totally stole my thunder /sad face).  BUT no worries--I've been using these little guys along with a plethora of other toys to make my classroom go round and round (plus I've got a cool little trick to make them work better).  Luckily for all these little guys I didn't have to use the KRAGLE!


LEGOS are more than just plastic blocks.  LEGOS are on the Mt. Rushmore of toys.  They aren't ever going away and are loved by millions of kids and adults.  This is why I've begun incorporating them into my classroom as organizational objects because kids are enthralled with them and it stirs engagement and motivation.  Below you'll see how I use them as cord holders (for chargers, A/V wires, and more) along with computer organization (websites, logins, passwords, etc.).  This is an easy and fun way to incorporate something of high interest into the classroom.

                          

Charging cords don't have to sit on the floor anymore.  Just place a figure by the edge of the table and desk and place the cords in their hands.  No opposable thumbs, no problem.  It's not as good as a kung-foo grip, but it will work.  Some people will super-glue the pieces together, but not me--sticky tack placed securely on the bottom of the LEGO piece is plenty.


I've also placed one in front of my class computers (along with other toys).  I use a laminated piece of paper as a sign (taped on the front) then I can write logins, passwords, and URLs of sites we're going to use.  Simple. Fun. Everything is Awesome.


The kids love these and when the cords are in use the LEGO figures can be played with (not by the teachers, we don't do that).  Using figures like this is also a good way to make sure that kids put cords back in their place because they're sure to remember LEGOS.  It might seem a little simple but engaging the kids is important.

To make this idea really stick (in their hand) you will want to carefully crimp the hands on the LEGO minifig.  And I mean carefully.  Once it's crimped it will hold iDevice charging cords tightly and they won't fall out. Power cords are fine as is, but skinny cords need a little more support otherwise they'll fall out every time.  Just be careful not to squeeze too quickly or you'll break their hand (I've done it).



Action figures are another great choice if you're looking for sign holders and attention-getters.  All you need is a little sticky-tack under the feet to make them stand or sit on the edges of computers, bookcases, and more.


I will add this final tidbit:  When my 5 year-old daughter saw the LEGOS holding 
the cords she wanted to make sure that he wasn't getting electrocuted. 

If you've enjoyed this post (even a little bit) feel free 
to follow me on FacebookTPT, or even here.

As summer rolls along take a little time to jump through all these other Bright Ideas by following the links below.  There's over 100 bloggers sharing more ideas than you could shake a stick at.
           


Toontastic, Making Cartoons Never Felt This Good

19 June 2014

Toontastic is one of those apps that continues to get better with age.  With each update comes improvements and more functionality for students (and my own kids) to use their creativity and imagination to tell stories through the power of animation.  

If your unfamiliar with the app, Toontastic, I'd suggest you take a couple of moments and download the free version.  The program is extremely easy to use, fun to play, and it packs a lot of extras that users will enjoy.  There are a ton of characters, locations, and scenes to shoot with while creating a fun story (in whatever way you feel).

Tontastic can be used in conjunction with the classroom by allowing students to create stories the generating ideas, creating a story outline (with the help of the app and/or even before that), filming/animating, and sharing with audiences.  The depth of each creation lies within each student's own persistence.

Now I could diligently sit here and type up instructions for how to use it, but that takes out some of the fun of exploring.  Instead I'm sharing a video that my girls and I made on    Father's Day.  

We used the talk show scene which has a title called "way past my bedtime".  This seemed perfect since my girls have been known to sneak iDevices into bed and stay up way their bedtime watching Netflix or playing Minecraft.

This is my first Technology Thursday link-up with the Teaching Trio.  I have a feeling I'll be doing this a little more often too.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed seeing this app in action.  I've got a parting gift for you too...





    

Summer Reading Fun, A Symbaloo Board

11 June 2014
                                     

As my blogging dominance continues to take over the world (try and say that without laughing) I'll be teaming up with A Class*y Collaboration to share and learn tips, tricks, and teaching' ideas.  For my first post I gave them some super cool facts that most people don't know about me.  I only gave them three, but I added more for you guys.
  1. Once (when I was younger) during a Christmas break my parents accidentally forgot about me and flew to France without me.  I was home and all alone for almost an entire week.
  2. I worked with a doctor that created the flux capacitor.
  3. I created the pattern simply known as plaid.
  4. I wrote "Stairway to Heaven"
  5. I would have been the sixth Backstreet Boy but Nick Carter and I got in a fight and they kicked me out.
  6. Matthew McConaughey has asked to play the role of me in a movie.
Okay, so maybe none of those are really true but it would be kind of nice if the plaid thing was.  I digress though, so instead I'm leaving you with a great Summer Reading Symbaloo Board with links to a ton of great books and the interactive features on the web.  






       
           
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