I am always blown away by the innovation of our educators. New tools, apps and activities are constantly being designed and there are so many teachers who are willing to share aspects of their practice. Last weekend, Clarelle and I attended Sparkshop Auckland, an 'unconference' for google educators in order to connect with some of these educators.
I learnt so much throughout the day, from both the workshops that I attended, the teachers I connected with and the Slam! session that ended the day. Here are some of my favourite pieces of learning from the day:
Bitmoji: Although this is something I would perhaps use in my social life more than my teaching life, it is rather exciting being able to create your own avatar, which can be used in email as well as through social media. The image of your avatar (there are a range of positions that your character can take) could be used on a class site, as a blogger profile and so on. I thought that they could be used quite well in the place of stickers - my learners would certainly laugh at the site of a 'well done' stamp featuring my avatar!
Crafty: I got pretty excited when I found about about Crafty because I could immediately see the use of the extensions. The most useful for me, CraftyLevel allows you to highlight a piece of text and find out its Flesch-Kincaid reading age. This is of great use when I am searching through supplementary texts for my reading groups. I have also downloaded and started to use the other Crafty extensions. CraftyText displays large text across the screen (great for when my laptop is connected to the projector for displaying quotes or short pieces of text). CraftyCursor turns your cursor into a spotlight (again when my laptop is connected to the projector I can point to areas of my screen using this as it is more visible). CraftyRights ensures that your image searches return images that are free to use or share.
Draftback: This is extremely simple to use yet I have found it really helpful when reviewing my students writing. It is an extension that allows you to play back the process that the students went through when creating a Google Doc. Like revision history, but Draftback creates a video that illustrates what the children have typed on the doc. I have used this to view the students writing process, the amount of collaboration that has occurred and to ensure that they have not been cutting or pasting!
Google Cardboard: Although this is no where near as sophisticated as the likes of the Oculus Rift, google cardboard gives your students a 360 degree view of their virtual surroundings. You simply place a smartphone inside the cardboard headset and set it to display a compatible program such as Street View in Google Maps and you will be able to set foot in new surroundings. As the first version of Google Cardboard is pretty cheap, I am intending to get a couple of pairs for my learners to use when we learn about new places. They could also be used to aid writing, particularly when describing a setting.
Breakout EDU: I had a lot of fun using this tool and "breaking out"! This is essentially a game in which you must solve a series of puzzles to open a series of locks attached to the break out box. The puzzles can be presented in a number of ways, from QR codes to diagrams and can be related to any subject area. It is very much like one of the Escape games that are very trendy at the moment (like this one here) yet with an educational twist. I thought that this would be a great way of introducing new mathematical concepts such as Algebra, with the children having to find different values and solve maths problems. It is possible to build your own Breakout kit or to buy one from the US (hopefully a kiwi kit will be created soon) and there are hundreds of puzzles available on the website.