Tech Talk

March 2016

(the latest Bonner scoop in media & technology)

Table of Contents

* Plickers

* Skype

* TCEA "Cool Tools"

* Scholastic eNews

* Nearpod

* Ditch that Textbook

It's Plickers! (not Pluckers OR American Pickers ;o)

Remember the classroom set of clickers and receiver pack that some of us used with the eInstruction software YEARS ago? The new "version" (without all those clickers) is Plickers-- a free and easy tool that teachers can use to quickly assess student understanding of lessons. Brittany Willis, 3rd grade math teacher, has been using Plickers successfully in her classroom this school year. "The kids enjoy it, I can get instant feedback on their understanding, and the website keeps a history of the assessment so I can look back on it to check for understanding." Here are the basics: Download the free app onto your phone or mobile device; register your account; enter your students names in a virtual classroom; and print the scannable cards. Your students don't need devices for this application.

Every card has a unique symbol and when a question is asked, the student holds up the card with their answer choice at the top (either A, B, C, or D). Since the symbols look different, they cannot change their answer to match another student just by looking at a classmate's card... it's a genuine response. The teacher quickly scans every card and gets instant feedback on understanding of the concepts just taught. It can be used with the teacher's own self-made tests, Brain Pop quizzes, Quia Rags to Riches, or any similar multiple choice quiz program. Mrs. Willis said if you have any questions about the program, don't hesitate to ask her.


What's all the Hype about Skype?!

While not new to the scene, Skype never ceases to amaze students, continues to add excitement to the classroom, and many of our Bonner teachers have been using it--- quite creatively. Recently, 4th grade teacher, Robyn Cullen, had a Skype session with her niece, who is based in England this semester through her university. After confirming a compatible time (remember... it's six hours ahead of us across the "pond"), the two connected via their Skype accounts and the fun and learning began! A day or two ahead of the date, Mrs. Cullen had her students brainstorm and write questions for her niece and they would take turns at the microphone for a Q & A session. The sound and connection were remarkably clear with little to no lag time. It was like she was just next door.

"The kids had a ball visiting with my niece and asking questions," said Cullen. Her students were listening, participating, and learning all at once and they got to see everyday items like foreign currency as well as hearing first-hand about the changing of the guard and visiting castles. Have a look at their experience below!


The Grand Canyon Comes to Bonner

Mr. Haas' science classes did a recent Skype with one of our National Parks located in the Grand Canyon. "I've had the best luck with our National Parks, which is a good fit with the science program," he said. Over the last three years he's brought Alaska, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Agate Fossil Beds in North Dakota, and Hawaii into his classroom. "We actually watched lava flow in real time.. the kids loved it!" If you are interested in using Skype with your classroom, check out this link for some ideas. And don't forget, we have five cameras with 25' extension cords in the Library Media Center if you want to check one out for your next Skype or Google Hangouts session!

Cool Tools from TCEA

Several from our campus attended the Texas Computer Education Conference (TCEA) last month and shared numerous links via email that are the latest in technology education for your classroom. Here is a consolidated list (courtesy of Jessica Collins, Kelli Davis, & Matt Haas).

EPIC Unlimited downloadable ebooks for students 12 and under. Register as an educator for free access!

Google Classroom Ten things to get started if you are new to Google Classroom.

Google Classroom Info Links for zeroing in on specific topics.

Unroll.Me Tired of too much email? Unclutter with this app.

Symbaloo Math Great online math tools and resources.

WouldYouRather A math version for teaching higher level thinking.

SAMR The new Blooms for incorporating tech in the classroom.

TechTips Awesome tips and tricks for incorporating tech on every level.

Print Meets Tech. It's the Perfect Match!

Taking reading to a whole new level, Alexa Evans' 3rd grade classroom has pulled in the sights and sounds of animals, volcanoes, and WWII Army pilots just to name a few with their Scholastic eNews magazine. After submitting and receiving a request for a subscription through, Mrs. Evans uses this unique teaching tool to get her students excited about learning new information through the printed word coupled with the dynamics of technology. Each week or so, the four page magazine arrives with new stories to discover and passages to read. Mrs. Evans logs into her account, introduces the lesson by way of a thematic video clip to capture the students' interest, and partners them up to practice writing through the use of higher order thinking skills and collaboration. Kids are excited, the teacher is excited, and who says learning can't be fun?!

Scholastic eNews

Nearpod You Say? What is that?!

Nearpod--It's the ultimate interactive learning experience that is perfect for ANY subject matter. Kelli Davis, 5th grade science teacher, has been using Nearpod in her classroom for over a year now and says her students come and ASK her if she will be teaching a Nearpod lesson for the day. "When students are asking me to teach a core lesson, you know it's a great tool," she said. "I enjoy seeing them get excited when I take them on a virtual field trip and once a lesson is created it can be accessed at any time in the future--- easy!"

Nearpod offers a free account for up to 50 MB, however you can only do the teacher-driven lessons (the teacher controls the movement through the slides). With a paid account, you have unlimited lesson storage as well as student-driven lessons (sometimes referred to as the "homework" feature). Once you sign in with your Google email, you can create your own or access previous designed lessons from other teachers. Students can play memory games, take quizzes, do collaborative activities, visit teacher-approved websites and go on virtual field trips (just to name a few). Kelli Davis is our campus administrator for Nearpod and will be glad to answer questions you may have about it.

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Guest speaker and author, Matt Miller, visited our district for the Technology Showcase in January. His book, entitled Ditch that Textbook, has been the basis for his ongoing classroom teaching style. If you are looking for ideas on incorporating tech in your lessons or just easing into it, check out the book in the library. Topics covered are: Why and how to go digital; how to create an effective, relevant class website; which online tools work best for teachers; how to be more productive in fewer hours; and how to plan ahead for an amazing school year just to name a few.