Tech Tips

April 2016: Volume 3- Number 24

Spring Sunshine Is Here!

You'll find a wide variety of apps, articles, and websites in this issue.

Life is your talents discovered | Sir Ken Robinson | TEDxLiverpool

How to Make Resources More Accessible for Struggling Readers

How to Make Resources More Accessible for Struggling Readers

"If we want to embrace all that technology can offer our students, we have to make sure our resources are accessible to all of them.

Here are some ways teachers can do that (from the discussion in the blog post linked above):

1. Avoid “locked PDFs” — If students only have access to a text via PDF files that won’t allow for zooming and other features, that resource might not be worth anything to them.

2. Adjustable font size — Students with visual impairments might struggle to read small text. Any resource with adjustable font size is more accessible.

3. Dictionary integration — When students have access to definitions for difficult words, they’re less likely to dismiss the reading all together. Many digital tools (including the Kindle reading app) offer this.

4. Text to speech — Some tools natively offer this feature for students, but not all. Text-to-speech tools (like the 10 listed in this blog post) can help students connect with a text despite reading difficulties.

5. Image descriptions — If you’re using an image, giving a description of what’s in it can help some readers.

6. Video captions — As flipped learning has taken off, so has the use of instructional videos for students to watch on their own. Videos are more accessible to some students if they have captions. YouTube will automatically provide a transcript of videos (see image at right), although the exact translation of verbal to visual can be hit and miss.

7. Color contrast — When background colors and text colors are too much alike, they can be hard for some students to read. Being aware of colors you choose in any instructional material can help.

Fixing our digital resources to help students may not be the perfect solution (although it is a definite step in the right direction). Helping them become independent learners and advocates for accessible resources may be the best end game."

NASA Johnson Style (Gangnam Style Parody)

Use Google Drawings for Brain-Friendly Visual Notetaking

Use Google Drawings for Brain-Friendly Visual Notetaking

"Our brains like words. But they really love images.

The brain works in images. When we talk, our brains change the information we’re receiving into images to encode it and make it available for recall later.

A powerful way to take advantage of that is visual notetaking — recording ideas using both images and text. Some call it doodling, and many have gotten “in trouble” for doodling in class even though there were cognitive benefits of it over standard notetaking.

Brain benefits of visual notetaking

A Few Strategies for Helping Slow Workers

A Few Strategies for Helping Slow Workers


"A parent recently asked me for advice about her son. Although his academic skills are strong, he feels the need to complete every task to absolute perfection; this means he finishes his work long, long after the rest of his peers. Not only are his teachers frustrated by the time it takes him to complete assignments, he doesn’t especially enjoy spending hours every night making all of his work just right.

It’s easy enough to say we want all our students to work at their own pace, and in most classrooms, some flexibility is built in to allow for this. Still, when a student completes work at a significantly slower pace than his peers, sometimes taking three or four times longer than everyone else, it can create problems for the student and his teachers: Group work gets more complicated, whole-class instruction is limited, and the student is too often put in an uncomfortable position as the one everyone else is waiting for. Furthermore, working at this slow pace means the student is simply putting too many hours in on school work, time that could be spent playing, reading, socializing, relaxing, or exploring other interests."

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Hex Color Code
Sorting Text and Tables in Google Docs
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Quizizz --This is a great formative assessment tool!

"Find amazing quizzes made by other teachers, or create your own quizzes and share them with the world!

Start a "Live" game in class, or assign Quizizz as a fun "Homework" task. You control the competition by toggling the leaderboard, timer and other settings.

Students play together, but each at their own pace. Gamfication elements like avatars, leaderboard and funny memes add to the fun! Review your work in the end.

Use our detailed class and student-level reports to understand where your students need help.

How to Turn a PowerPoint into an E-Book

Student-Made E-Books: A Beautiful Way to Demonstrate Learning

Student-Made E-Books

"You’ve reached the end of a unit or year, and you want students to demonstrate their learning in a way that requires them to synthesize information, apply it in new ways, and reflect on how they have grown. To achieve any of these goals, an end-of-unit exam doesn’t quite cut it. You could have students do presentations…that’s always an option. But here’s one more: Have students create their own PDF e-books, packaging up some aspect of their learning into a finished digital product they can enjoy and share for years....

Because this kind of e-book is ridiculously easy to create, having students make them is an excellent option for all kinds of final projects. And because lots of businesses now use e-books like these in their own work, assigning them to students gives them an extra skill they can take into their adult lives."

Google Computer Science EDU

Google Computer Science EDU

"Solving tomorrow's challenges requires a technically skilled, innovative and diverse workforce.

Computer science (CS) education is a pathway to innovation, to creativity and to exciting career opportunities. We believe that all students deserve these opportunities. That is why Google is committed to developing programs, resources, tools and community partnerships which make CS engaging and accessible for all students."

A Day with LightUp
Tilt Brush - The Lab at Google Cultural Institute

SCS Instructional Technology Information

Contact me if you have any questions or would like help using these tools.

The Turner Time Daily

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