Instructional Technology

Another Newsletter

How I'm Like a Vampire

I considered titling this "I'm a Creature of the Night," but then I remembered that I aim to be in bed by 9 p.m. There are a couple of ways in which I'm like a vampire, though, and you've probably figured at least one of them out.

  1. I'm eerily white. (Yep, that's the one.) Tanning doesn't help. I've tried self-tanners, too, but apparently every time I've purchased one, I've inadvertently picked up the Oompa Loompa color.
  2. You have to "invite me in." This one applies to my (morning) job. I'd love to come into your classrooms and show you and your students how to use technologies to enhance instruction and learning. We can work on computers, use their phones, or I can bring tablets. But you have to invite me in. Even if you don't know what you want, but you know you want to integrate more technology into your lessons, please invite me in. I have literally hundreds of ideas (that I ripped off of other people).

In This Edition: Stuff I Like


Kids Love Tablets

The TLC has some iPads and Nexus tablets you can use with your students. Several apps are already loaded, and both tablets have the same or comparable apps. Students love these, and this is an easy way to get some collaborative learning time in.

If you want to invite me in, I'd love to teach a lesson using tablets. We can research, make and edit videos, use Socrative (see below), and so, so much more.

Easy Flyer lets you make and share flyers easily. It's what I used to make and share this flyer.

  • In terms of classroom applications, you could ask students to make a flyer to summarize a story, "advertise" an historical event, or communicate with your students' parents via electronic newsletter.
  • Among the ways to share your flyer: email, Facebook, or print it out.
  • Templates are numerous, and background and font options are many. I considered the "green bean" background, but instead went with this look. Initially I thought it was a ranch with sand pits. Eventually I realized it is probably a golf course. I've never played golf at a place without tiny wooden windmills and glow-in-the dark golf balls.

Vocabulary: Backchannel

Last week I was asked to present at the Tech Cadre meeting at Arch Ford about "the backchannel" I love TodaysMeet, use it often, and was excited to share my love. (I'm fairly sure that's the definition of a nerd.) But the first thing I did was google "backchannel." I had no idea what that meant. (Which means I'm only a nerd and not a geek, maybe?) Anyway, a backchannel is a place where you can hold a real-time, online conversations. Think Twitter.

This is seriously the simplest, most useful technology I've encountered in years. You go to, create a "room," and students post using phones, tablets, computers -- anything with Internet access. Your room can live for anywhere between two hours and a year, and you can print a transcript of the activity. (Which means you can easily take a grade on post quantity or quality.)

Kids can answer your questions, anticipate, brainstorm, "talk" about a video as it plays ... the applications are numerous. Put your room on your SMARTBoard, and everyone can follow the conversation. Its free, and no log-ins or emails are required. Trust me: try this one. (Or invite me in, and we'll try it with your kids together.)

Clicker System

Socrative is a free app -- well, two apps: one teacher and one student. You can check out iPads and Nexus tablets from the TLC to use with this system, or if your students are of the age that they bring phones to school, they can use their personal phones with a free app download. Also, if you'd rather students answer on computers, there's a website where they can do that, too.

Socrative is a clicker system where the teacher is assigned a room number, students join the room, and then teachers can quiz students or run virtual knowledge races with them. You can make quizzes ahead of class and save them, or you can call out questions orally and students can answer. Quizzes can be teacher- or student-paced, and you can have the results emailed to you at the end of the session. Benefits to this are live results and student engagement. What a fantastic way to study for a test!

Jenni Phomsithi

  • Services: instructional technology, grant writer
  • Available: 7:40 - 11:50 a.m., before and after school
  • I don't like pictures of myself. Instead, enjoy this holiday photo of two exceptionally attractive children.