Find Five Friday! Digital Tools

Today’s post comes from Anna’s invitation at #clmooc to participate in Find Five Friday! (or maybe find five futures).  I’ve had a week filled with digital tools…and thinking and conversation related to them.  Here’s my curation of five (in no particular order):

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iBooks Author

This tool came to light as I worked with a group to find an appropriate platform to serve the resource being developed at the NWP Resource Development Retreat.  We wanted something skimmable, flexible enough to hold a variety of digital artifacts (video, pdf files, images, links,…), shareable, editable, and something that looks good.  My colleague Beth was able to experiment with iBooks Author and create an early draft of the resource envisioned.  Previewing it on the iPad showed it to have many of the features we were looking for.  Were there glitches?  Of course…and there is a learning curve (which I have not yet mastered!).  My biggest disappointment is that you have to use a MAC computer to create with iBooks Author–it isn’t available for creation on the iPad–you can only read (be a consumer) there!  I wanted to have my students use this tool.  Anyone have other suggestions for a similar tool for use on an iPad?

Thinglink

If you’ve been on my blog before you know that I love iphoneography and love to use photos to convey information.  Thinglink is a tool where photos can be tagged with other media including text, video, links…  It includes an embed code so thinglinks can be included in other platforms…think Google Earth or your own blog!  I learned about this at a CUE Rockstar training this week and then found this great resource from Richard Byrnes at Free Technology 4 Teachers.  I’d love to know what you’ve done with this or similar tools!

iPhoneography editing tools guide by Nicole

This is another resource that I learned about at CUE Rockstar.  (The presenters developed wonderful pages of linked resources associated with their sessions.)  Nicole (who was not the presenter) has put together this amazing pinterest slideshow that highlights not only the tool she uses for editing her photos, but some of her thinking about why she wants to use the tool…and includes samples of her amazing photos.  Thanks Vicky for pointing me to this!

Tagging and custom searches for student bloggers by Kevin and Bart

My work with Connected Learning and the clmooc this summer has pushed my thinking about my students’ blogs and how to help them connect with other students for meaningful comments not just from the adults in their lives, but from students all over the world.  Bart had some ideas about tagging and embedding the classroom lessons that inspire the blog posts to help students from other places have some context for their responses and interactions.  Kevin then suggested the idea of a custom search for student bloggers to connect with other student bloggers with similar interests.  Brilliant!  (Now to put this into action!)

Bee Bot and Tynker

I’ve been thinking about coding and how I might help my students think about the work behind the digital tools they use.  I’d heard about lots of tools/games out there for students–Scratch from MIT and Gamestar Mechanic, for example.  And I’d messed around a little…  My students have iPads as their classroom device, so I really want to have something they can do with coding on the iPad.  Today I learned about a few possibilities to try out.  The first one surprised me–it is a little robot-like toy called Bee Bot (not for the iPad–just a little battery powered toy).  This little bug can be programmed with up to 40 moves (like the arrow keys on the computer) and can make 90 degree turns.  I can think of so many ways this little robot can introduce my students to the fundamentals of coding (and they can create their own games to review other concepts too!).

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 4.16.13 PM

I also learned about Tynker.  It’s not an iPad app–but since it doesn’t rely on flash it will play on the iPad.  Tynker is very similar to Scratch with the linking blocks that students arrange to make their actors move on the screen.  It’s set up for teachers–you create an account and can follow up on what students accomplish.  I’ve only begun to experiment–but I’m excited about the possibilities.  I love the way you can see sample projects–and look at the code (in interlocking blocks) behind it!  I’d love to know if you have tried any of these tools–how did they work for you and/or your students?

I think that is already 6 (or 7) and I really want to include one more–Touchcast–an iPad app for making video with embedded real time apps (check out the little video link above).  More on that to come!

What are your favorite digital tools?  What are you currently exploring?  How will you use them in the classroom?  Teach with them?

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