EdTech Summer – Periscope

The latest phenomenon in social media is Periscope – a live video streaming service provided by Twitter.  I was instantly intrigued by the possibilities of use in the classroom, so I went straight to iTunes and downloaded the app.  Signing on via Twitter was quick and simple.  None of the people I follow on Twitter had live videos at the time I downloaded, so I checked out the map view to see where people were periscoping throughout the world.  Wow… they’re everywhere!

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I figured I’d check out India, and lo and behold, there was a live streaming of someone taking a tour through the Taj Mahal!  I couldn’t understand a word they were saying since they were broadcasting in a different language, but to actually go on a tour from my couch was amazing!  How cool would that be for my students!!!  Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) has created an awesome infographic giving The Scoop on Periscope.  It is a comprehensive look at Periscope and how to use it in the classroom.  There is a community of educators on #periscopeEDU who are gathering ideas for classroom use.  I’ve read ideas about using it after Mystery Skype, broadcasting live from edcamps and conferences, and chatting internationally as 21st century pen pals.   I also love Mike Paul’s How to Use Periscope for Education for tips to keep students safe.  Follow Mike at @mikepaul.  One important point to note: videos are only available for 24 hours, but you can save your own broadcasts under the settings feature to your camera roll.

So, what are your ideas?  How do you plan to use Periscope in your classroom?

EdTech Summer – ThingLink

ThingLink is fantastic.  It is user-friendly for all grades and allows for quick formative assessment in individualized, differentiated ways.  Basically, ThingLink is a quick way to add notes, links, and relevant images/videos to an image or video that is uploaded by the teacher or student.  It layers information using tags.  Check out this video to see how easy it is to create a basic ThingLink.

With a free teacher account, I can add up to 100 students under one class.  For only $35 per year, I can upgrade to the teacher premium account and have 30 groups and up to 1,000 students!  Purchasing the premium account also enables video uploading and editing.  As an added bonus, ThingLink is offering free Professional Development for Teachers, as announced at ISTE 2015.  To enroll in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge, simply click the link and scroll to Join Us (or click here).  Complete the Google Form and they will send an invitation code and more information.

I plan to use this tool next school year as my students complete Genius Hour projects.  They can choose the topic and showcase their learning using ThingLink by layering tags of text, links, and other photos.  My fifth graders will be using ThingLink in math.  I will give them a word problem and have them solve it.  Then they will take a picture of their problem and solution and upload it into ThingLink.  They will record themselves explaining the thought-process in solving the problem and tag it on their ThingLink image.  They will, then, share the ThingLink with peers for peer review.

For my younger students, I want to work on text features, so I will upload an image of a magazine/newspaper article and have them label the text features with tags of text.  My first graders learn how to read a map in class.  I plan to use ThingLink to upload an image of a map and have students identify the various components of the map through text and image tags.  There are so many ways ThingLink can be used in the classroom.  What are some ways you have used, or will use, ThingLink?  Share a link to your project in the comments if you’ve used it before!

EdTech Summer – 1010!

A dear friend of mine and my personal mentor in my new life as a “techbrarian”, Tonya (You should follow her on Twitter: @tonya_nc – she’s pretty amazing!), sent me a message a few days ago telling me about an addictive, simple game app.  It’s called 1010! and has the feel of Tetris.  The premise is simply to stack the blocks of various shapes into horizontal and vertical lines to eliminate them.  Of course I tried it out and BAM! It was 30 minutes later and I realized that I was slightly addicted.  Consider yourself warned.


However, after playing a few times I put my educator hat on and saw it as an opportunity for game-based learning in the classroom.  Then I was able to chalk up all the time spent playing this little addictive devil to research… this is research of the best kind.  You see, the playing board is a 10 x 10 square which immediately triggers images of a hundreds board in all grade levels.  I can see allowing students to play for a bit, get the feel of the game, then a teacher can have the student identify the numbers that would be covered by their first three blocks given in the lower grades.  I can see setting up a tens frame and having the students fill up the tens frame within the 10 x 10 square, keeping track of the groups of ten they can create.  The goal of course would be to show that there are 10 ones in a tens frame and 10 tens in a hundreds board.  Maybe have a contest to see which student can clear ten rows, either horizontally or vertically, while counting by tens to 100.  Students can practice making groups of 10 by deciding how many more they need to add in order to clear that row or column, quickly connecting those obscure addition and subtraction fact families to ten. IMG_2757In the upper grades, students can answer questions related to the perimeter and area of the figures they received, as well as the figures they create while playing.  See which student can create the largest area/perimeter and compare the area to the perimeter of each figure given.  The importance of learning that one “block” is one square unit is a vitally important stepping stone to higher level math skills in elementary school with the goal being to move from counting blocks to discover square units to actually calculating the area by multiplying length by width.


Want a real brainteaser?  Try to figure out how they keep score in this thing!


What do you think?  Go check it out, and comment below with other ideas for use in the classroom.  As always, using technology for the sake of using technology is useless, but being able to seamlessly integrate technology to garner student engagement and enthusiasm is priceless.