The resources I have to share with you this week are great for Financial Literacy Month, which is April. Everfi has several courses available to help teach financial literacy. Google Applied Digital Skills has a couple of lessons that tie in with that topic, too: Plan and Budget and Track Your Monthly Expenses. Below, you will find even more digital resources.
Google Tip: Typing a Fraction Hack
If you use a table and make the outer border white, you can easily type fractions. This little trick is sometimes easier than inserting an equation, special character, or using Equatio.
The resource I have to share with you this week is a blog that stems from the Screenagers Movie, called Tech Talk Tuesdays. The blog highlights several different topics associated with managing screen time. These blog posts are great food for thought. Some of the topics include Cell Phones in School, Digital Citizenship, Distraction, Homework, Non-tech Activities and Tech in Schools.
Google Tip: Closed Captioning with Google Slides
Google slides has an accessibility feature of closed captioning built into it. To use this feature, open an existing slide presentation and click Present. In the bottom panel toolbar that shows up in presentation mode, click Captions and allow microphone access. Start speaking.
The resource I have to share with you this week is Common Sense Media. While I’ve shared this resource with you in the past, I’d like to point out a little niche for educators. The Ed Tech Reviews page is a great place to search for reviews on various tech tools that you might consider implementing in the classroom. They also have a lot of resources for professional development from webinars, articles, training, and a recognition program.
Google Tip: There’s a hack for that!
Need to create a new G Suite file? Shortcut! Create a new doc by typing doc.new in the omnibox. The same works for slides.new, sheets.new, and forms.new.
Google Tip: How to Mimic Thinglink Using the Polyline Tool in Google Drawings
Google Drawings are a great way to deliver multiple links and instructions related to a certain lesson. If you use the polyline tool to outline various parts of a drawing or image, you can then hyperlink that shape. By making the shape fill and outline transparent, you can make the shape “invisible”. Hyperlinking several areas of a google drawing create something similar to a Thinglink. By sharing out the “preview” link with students, they will have access to the lesson resources and directions. https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/16SCEq-ziPlWa7cKCxwQJjBSgcQXp3F5kQIBneal5wgk/preview
The tools I have to share with you this week are for Digital Learning Day, March is Reading Month, and National Day of Unplugging.
Thursday is Digital Learning Day. While most days are digital learning days here in West Bloomfield, share how your students are participating on Twitter using the hashtag #DLDay. If you are still looking for ideas, check out their resources here or reach out to me! If you complete an Everfi lesson with your class from one of their courses this week, you will be entered into the $1000 DonorsChoose giveaway. Keyboarding Without Tears also has free grade level keyboarding challenges and a digital citizenship video.
Following that is the National Day of Unplugging on March 1-2. It is important to model digital citizenship to our students. Finding a healthy balance with technology use is a part of digital citizenship. They have a teacher activity toolkit that you can sign up for to help promote that healthy balance and relationship with technology. Check out #nationaldayofunplugging on Twitter.
March is Reading Month is almost here! Check out Epic for thousands of free ebooks for K-5. You can sign up with your Google account and create bookshelves and libraries for your students to read from.
Google Tip: If-Then Adventure Stories
Get creative and practice digital literacy with Google Slides and have your students create if-then adventure stories. There is a great lesson from Google Applied Digital Skills on how to do this. Here is an example of what an if-then story could look like.
The tool I have to share with you this week is Book Creator. It provides a way for students to demonstrate understanding by creating ebooks. This tool helps engage reluctant writers and is available on iOS or Chrome. The free version allows you to have 1 library with up to 40 books. To see what a finished ebook might look like, check out 50 Ways to use Book Creator in your Classroom, authored by the Book Creator team. You can also check out #BookCreator on Twitter to see how other educators are leveraging this tool in their learning communities.
Google Tip: Assistive Technology
There are many accessibility features in the Chrome browser and on Chromebooks. There are features that help with visibility, screen readers, text to speech and more. Check out the Chrome & Chrome OS Accessibility Youtube Playlist to learn more about these features.
This past weekend, I attended a community screening of Screenagers. The documentary is about screen time and digital addiction. It was great to see a community come together to discuss and reflect on our interaction with screens. While much of the documentary was about youth, I especially liked how they highlighted that this is not just a problem for students. Adults need to know how to find balance too and practice what they preach. The nice thing about this screening being a community event was the emphasis that everyone plays a part. The education system cannot do it alone. Parents cannot do it alone. It indeed takes a village, a community. Similar to the Like movie, I left the screening feeling curious and wanting more. Wanting more because I am passionate about the topic and because I think there is a need for society to be in the know of technology wellness. Again, my wish is for this information to become more mainstream and available just like information on fitness and nutrition.
The film brought to light many things but I’d like to quickly share my biggest takeaways. The idea of technology contracts came up. One family wrote a contract of expectations for their child to sign, but it was later suggested that families create a contract together. All family members should participate in creating and signing it. This is very similar to Capturing Kids Hearts social contracts that educators create in their classrooms. Everyone is involved and everyone plays by the same rules.
It is mentioned that the digital divide conversation isn’t necessarily about access anymore, it’s about how the device is being used. This reminds me of how people have different philosophies and views on technology and phones in schools. On one end of the spectrum, some schools completely ban cell phones. The other end of the spectrum is that schools allow cell phones but it is the wild wild west. I’m an advocate for that “somewhere in between” spot. It is important that students are taught responsibility, respect, and mindfulness when interacting with their digital devices.
I jotted down the names of many people featured in the documentary; Larry Rosen, Sherry Turkle, Simon Sinek, and David Levy to name a few. David Levy’s book Mindful Tech is now on my “To Read” list. While exploring his website, I came across his cellphone observation exercise, which I’m curious to do. As I begin to research more and more, I discovered that there is a whole category for books on Amazon called Human- Computer interaction. This made me happy to see this category on something as mainstream as Amazon!
Screenagers was another gateway to many other blog posts soon to be written. My hope is for society to find balance and self control as technology users. I recommend checking out some of my favorite resources from the Screenagers website; Tech Talk Tuesdays, Screen Time Contracts, Internet Addction, Sleep & Screens.
The tool I have to share with you this week is Peardeck. It is built to work with G Suite and is a great addition to Google Slides. Peardeck helps make your slides presentations more interactive. Students can join your presentation session/lesson by joining with a code. The slides are then pushed out to display on participant screens. It allows students to submit responses to tasks on any given slide. This is a great tool to do checks for understanding. The best part is that this is free!
Google Tip: Q & A Session with Google Slides
If you click the dropdown carrot next to the Present button on Google Slides and choose Presenter View, you can use the Audience Q & A tool to involve participants. Click on Audience Tools to start a new session. This will generate a banner across the top of your slides with a short link for your audience to visit. As you present, your audience can ask questions. My favorite thing about this feature is that it was designed by a student!
The resources I have to share with you this week are Wordless News and Read Write Think. Both of these websites help spark discussions and writing with students. Educators can leverage these websites to enhance literacy learning. Wordless news is also a neat way to learn about current events.
Technology Wellness Tip: Reduce Screen Addiction
When we are really addicted to our screens we forget that they are just a tool. When screens are in black and white, your brain doesn’t feel the exciting rewards. This is a great reminder that our technology is just a tool. View this video from Common Sense Media to learn how to change these settings on an iPhone.
Last night, I had the privilege of attending a community screening of the Like movie. Thank you to University Liggett School for hosting this event. The documentary is about the impact of social media on our lives (Ironically, how I found out about the event was through Facebook). It was great to watch and reflect on what that impact is. The message of this documentary is a necessary reminder to be mindful of the way we choose to interact and engage with our technology. I’m happy to see that this message is being shared, especially in a community setting.
The evening had a powerful start. One of the students opened the night by performing Touchscreen by Marshall Jones.
While technology can be positive in so many ways, it is still important to consider negative consequences. Too much of anything can be bad. A connection I make to this is nutrition and how humans need to find a healthy balance of nutrients. There seems to be copious amounts of information regarding nutrition available for society to learn from. It’d be nice to see that same amount of information on how to find a healthy balance when it comes to technology use. I feel that the information is out there but many people do not have that awareness. I often present on technology wellness and feel that I’m more aware of it simply because of my background in educational technology. My wish is for this information to become more mainstream for the general public. I strongly believe that this will be the case in the near future.
The documentary was very though provoking and I could go on and on about all of the connections I made (Those are topics for several blog posts to come). Watching this film really resonated with me. At the screening, the community had the opportunity debrief the film through a Q & A session with Max Stossel. His message that stuck with me the most was that it is our responsibility as educators, to help children learn focus, patience, and how to be without their devices.
After this experience, I’m looking forward to attending a community screening of Screenagers next week.