Classroom Tech Blog

We welcome teachers to participate in the ongoing discussion and sharing of strategies to enhance learning in every social studies classroom. The following blog posts are from teacher practitioners from each region across the state. 

  • 05/29/2013 5:00 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    While most people think of text when they think of literacy, visual literacy is just as important. This clearly comes across when one looks into CCSS. At a recent Discovery DENin in Irvine, teachers from across the country spent time examining the CCSS and tech integration. One of the sessions was APP Hour. I had never participated in one before. Teachers went up and shared an app that they used in the classroom. There were teachers, tech coordinators, and librarians from both public and private schools servicing Special Education, general, and GATE students. I was blown away by the photo apps being utilized by the lower grade teachers and how they were using them to demonstrate visual literacy, by themselves as well as by the students.

    Photos give students a creative way to demonstrate their knowledge of a concept. In fact, it can be more challenging at times to select the correct images to tell the story. Teachers would sometimes use the images as collages for intro of a unit, do now to connect to the night prior's reading or previous day's material, or have the students create one for a given topic. Photos are a powerful way to tell a story, especially given the visual nature of today's students. Below are a few of the photo apps shared.




    Pic Collage
    PicCollage lets you instantly arrange your photos into frames - or get creative with freeform collages, cutouts, filters, borders, stickers, and text. Your friends will be amazed with what you can create. It's like photoshop with your fingers!



    Instapicframe
    Instapic frame helps you combine multiple photos into amazing looking shells/frames/collage and share them with world via Instagram, Facebook, Email, Twitter. With 55 fully adjustable frames, rounded corners, photo effects, shadows, plenty of patterns and an easy color picker you will always have a unique and distinctive look.





    Strip Designer
    Add photos from your photo album or draw your own sketches. Apply simple image filters to increase the impact of photos, and add speech balloons Add advanced textual elements and stickers to get that genuine comic book feel. When you are done, save the resulting image to the iPhone's photo album, email it to friends and family or share it with Flickr, Facebook, or twitter.






    Type Drawing
    TypeDrawing is a really easy app to use, but it's perfect for creating TYPOGRAPHY ART and UNIQUE WATERMARK over your photos. If you love typography, this poetic visual art app is absolutely yours. Start by typing a sentence you want to say, and then just draw with your finger. This simple action leads you to make stunning typography arts and wallpapers





    Word Salad
    Make great wordsalads out of documents that matter (or not) to you! With WordSalad you can make beautiful word clouds, super customized with different fonts, colors and words layouts.
  • 05/10/2013 4:30 PM | Elizabeth Ramos

    Do you like using sticky notes to jot ideas down and rearrange? Use sticky notes to note resources and post them in the appropriate lesson plan? Sticky notes have electronic! I mentioned Padlet, formerly Wallwisher, in a previous post. Recently, I came across another electronic sticky note...Lino. Lino appears to be Padlet 2.0. One feature I enjoy about Lino is the ability to color code the posts. As I played with the site, I enjoy the idea of noting resources or having students create boards with entries color coded by SPEC (social, political, economic, and cultural). Sicky notes may contain text, video, images, or files from your computer.

    Lino has a variety of helpful features for students and teachers. Accessibility is certainly at the top- it is mobile app downloadfor the iPhone, iPad, and android devices, in addition to being accessible on the good old fashion internet. Settings is another feature, as canvases may be set to public or private. You are also able to set a due date in Lino. Other helpful features include the ability to duplicate stickies, email stickies, move stickies to another canvas, favorite stickies, and embed a canvas onto a website or blog. Lino has created a variety of how-to stickies for new users.
    available as a 

    The possibilities are far on how to utilize this in the classroom for both teachers/educators and students. Lino can be used to brainstorm knowledge on a topic with students in a computer lab or via their smart devices. This can be taken further by going back and color coding the stickies according to SPEC and possibly arranging again chronologically and/or into paragraph development as a pre-writing activity. Teachers can collate resources foe a unit and share them with the class, or have students collate unit resources. Lino is also supportive of the CCSS task for students to collaborate in a group research project or think History Day. 
    Just as it makes for the sharing of resources in class easy, the same can be facilitated with your peers as teachers collaborate in curating and designing lessons with multiple sources and rigor to meet the CCSS transition. Warm ups or primary source examination can also be completed with students or table groups posting their answers on a sticky. The possibilities are endless.
  • 04/21/2013 2:36 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    Twitter is a powerful tool. Do not underestimate its potential for teachers and students! Those in the know are harvesting the many benefits. Twitter is a source of constant information regarding education pedagogy, Common Core, flipped classroom, educational technology, content specific connections, and more. In a recent Twitter chat I commented that I wish I had joined in sooner- no joke! 

    Twitter is also a way to connect with our students. One of my students forgot what time we were meeting yesterday for out practice AP exam and Tweeted me to find out the info. They will tweet me articles or info they find. Sadly, I just started using it with them...watch out next year. Just the other day I saw another teacher, Tara Becker-Utess (@t_becker10) conducting a review session via Twitter- yes on Twitter.   

    Also, by connecting with other teachers and following Twitter chats you can collaborate outside of you site and subject. I am constantly amazed by my Twitter peers and wanting to challenge myself and students more. So come on and join the Twitter community. The steps are below along with a tutorial video. Please forgive the video, it is my first attempt- they will get better.


    Step 1: Go to Twitter. Enter your name, email, and create a password. I would suggest not using your district email, but rather a alternate email account. Also, I would suggest creating a Twitter account to use with students and another to network with educators (PLN).


    Step 2: Create a username. Twitter will automatically generate a username- don't be afraid to change it. Try to create a username with your last name and school/subject/mascot to make it easy for the students to remember. When creating a user name to use with educators keep it classy. Scroll down to create and hit the button to go on to the next step.


    Step 3: Add people and groups/organizations to follow. You can add people by name, Twitter handle (@username), or type in a topic. Select organizations by category or select Skip (it's in very light font under the selection menu) to continue.


    Step 4: Create your profile biography and insert an image. Select an image from your pictures folder to use. It does not need to be an image of yourself- use a school image, animated image, etc...anything is better than the generic Twitter egg. Type in a little background info about yourself and include a link to your website or blog if you have one.


    Step 5: Congrats your on Twitter. Send out a Tweet and explore!
  • 04/21/2013 10:31 AM | Elizabeth Ramos
    It is that time of year again...race against the calendar and testing. At the same time, it is getting warmer and the students are getting more excited about the prospect of summer vacation. With this excitement comes the restlessness and lack of focus sometimes, along with fatigue. This can create anxiety and stress for both teacher and students. State testing is here and AP testing is around the corner. For me, I'm setting up review resources for my AP US History class that can hit the different learning styles, be engaging, and provide access on the go for our mobile and sometimes over scheduled students. I came across some great resources for my students and to share with my fellow teachers.Some are general review videos and some include practice quizzes. You could also use them with middle school and for CST prep.

    Education Portal (review movie and short quiz)


    bubbabrain (online practice quizzes- multiple grade levels & subjects)


    US Key Dates & Eras (You Tube video)


    Hippo Campus (video review with transcript & more)


    Crash Course US History (You Tube videos)
  • 04/13/2013 10:37 AM | Elizabeth Ramos
    With the emphasis on primary sources and using multiple texts, along with the call for student collaboration and use of technology teachers can feel overwhelmed by the Common Core. However, technology has some powerful uses and integration with literacy and writing in the history classroom. 

    Presidential Timeline has just announced their summer teacher institutes which take place in conjunction with presidential libraries and the National Archive resources. Southern California via the Nixon Presidential Library will be hosting their Energy and Environmental Policies: Historical Thinking, digital Archives, and Web-based Tools for the Social Studies Classroom July 11th through the 14th. Having attended one a couple of years back, I can attest to the depth and quality of primary sources, technology, and speakers. Presidential timeline uncovers great readings and walks you through the process of breaking them down with your students. They will provide you with access to a wide variety of primary resources beyond the topic, and show you how to integrate primary sources with a 21st century touch.

    Presidential Timeline has a vast arsenal of resources for the history classroom such as an interactive presidential timeline, primary resources, and lesson activities.
  • 04/13/2013 10:08 AM | Elizabeth Ramos
    The other day I was going through my Twitter feed and I came upon Tara Becker-Utess (@t_becker10) conducting a review session. My jaw dropped...SUCH AN AMAZING IDEA! I have used Twitter to communicate with my students for a variety of reasons and events, but I had not thought of conducting a review session. This is such a great idea, especially when you have students involved in after school activities.  I am most definitely going to be doing this in the future. What was even better was that her students were also answering questions...EDUAWESOME! 

    To help my self remember and to give you an idea, I created a Storify of the review chat.  By using Storify you will create a "story" archive of a discussion based on the hashtag used. The archive flows from the most recent post. Scroll to the bottom and move upward to view the great review session.


    Here are the steps you will want to take:


    • Set up a Twitter account to use with your students. Try to make the username related to your name, school, and or class- this will make it easier for the students. 
    • Show your students you Twitter account in class and encourage them to follow you. You may also want to create a student account randomly or have a student volunteer to do this in class.



    • Create a hashtag (#word) to use for the class. Be sure to practice searching for it in the search bar. If you are getting hits, select something else. You will want a unique hashtag for your students to follow during a chat. Again, best to create a hashtag related to your name, school, and or class- this will make it easier for the students.
    • Practice Tweeting a few to model for the students with your hashtag at the end. Then follow it in the search bar.
    • Create an account with Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or another Twitter management system.
    • Model creating a column/following a hashtag for your students.


    For Tweetdeck:


    • Type your class hashtag into the search bar and search.
    • Once your results come up, select add column to follow tweets with that hashtag.



  • 04/11/2013 9:58 PM | Elizabeth Ramos

    I started blogging at the urging of Debbie Granger as a way to share resources and ways to integrate technology with history in the classroom and was asked to do so for CCSS. This week I participated in the #flipclass Twitter chat. The topic was blogging. It was in this chat that I realized I was just scratching the surface. I reflect on my teaching, but wasn't using the blog to its full potential. There is so much to gain by writing our reflections from class down as educators for ourselves, other teachers, and our students. Blogging gives an opportunity to reflect, grow, learn, inspire, and much more.


    Writing about our adventures in the classroom gives support to other teachers, ideas, allows a platform for assistance and development, models good teaching practice of evaluation to our peers and those entering our profession. More and more teachers and administrators are joining the charge of blogging.

    Additionally, and more importantly, it serves as a model to our students. What better way to encourage and model lifelong learning than for our students to see us as "students" in life as well? Students sometimes dismiss what a teacher says as be irrelevant or "do as I say." Blogging serves as an authentic piece of evidence that we are not just "talk" and are in the journey of learning along with them. I know I am constantly learning and being inspired by my students. This helps to build rapport and builds a safe learning environment.

    However, blogging is just not for teachers, why not have your students blog? Blogging is a great way for students to reflect on their learning and share their voice. There are a variety of ways to set this up- exit pass, a weekly recap, answer an essential question, reflect on a or set of primary sources, relate a topic of study to a current event...and on and on. Also, blogging supports the Common Core. Why not take it a step further and comment/connect with another class on your site or off site. If you are looking to go off site, go on Twitter. With a mention of wanting to connect with another class, I found three teachers in ten minutes. The possibilities are endless!

    This blog was established to provide a venue to communicate ways to integrate technology into the classroom. It will continue to do so, along with highlight resources- Common Core and history related as well. I encourage you to set up a blog. I will also be posting on my classroom experiences/reflections on a personal blog if you would like to join.
  • 04/05/2013 12:22 AM | Elizabeth Ramos


    Why should basket ball have all the March fun? I decided to flip March Madness for my AP US history class for a review.While surfing the internet, I came across a political March Madness at In the Capital and came up with the idea. Why not turn this into a review activity? I enjoyed the fact that they grouped key US political figures by eras.



    First, I got busy on Google Docs and Prezi. To introduce Political Madness to the students I created a Political Madness Prezi. Students were given time to work in their table groups of three to select a winner. While discussing their selections, the groups had a peer serve as a recorder to record the historical evidence/justification for their selection. This compelled them to review and give a purpose to their "madness." Students were given time the next day to share out their responses.

    Then, I created a Google form to survey the students for each pair in the brackets. When I went over this and introduced it, students were given some time to enter their selections on their smart phones in class.

    Later, we returned to view the results-they enjoyed the immediate results. The remainder were able to complete the survey for homework or in the computer lab the next day.


    The next step was to create a Google drawing to enter in the winners as we progressed. Also, a new survey was needed for the next bracket. This repeats until we come to the winner. So far, the students have been

    engaged and this has been a "fun" way to review- perfect timing for the California STAR test and pre-AP/End of Course review.

  • 03/11/2013 11:45 AM | Dr. Margaret Hill
    British educational blogger David Andrews provides some creative suggestions for teachers to use iPads in their classrooms and makes the recommendation to use one per group in order to build collaboration (and I would add language development) opportunities. The only confusing issue in the blog is how the grade level relates to the American system. In Great Britain, the primary school year six would be either fifth or sixth grade in America. Hope you find the  blog of value for your clasroom: iPads in the classroom: embedding technology in the primary curriculum http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/mar/06/ipad-ipod-technology-primary-curriculum
     
  • 03/10/2013 6:30 AM | Elizabeth Ramos
                                     
    Studying the Supreme Court can be challenging for students. They may read about the landmark cases and Chief Justices and say so what? C-SPAN has an excellent resource to bring the Supreme Court alive in your classroom...an Interactive Timeline. The timeline has profiles on the Chief Justices, changes in the Court, and profiles on major cases that have come before the US Supreme Court. Another benefit to utilizing the Interactive Timeline in the classroom is to practice Common Core skills of identifying evidence in responses and practicing sample tasks of utilizing video in performance tasks.

    The Interactive Timeline provides many options for teachers and students. In many cases, the timeline has also included video and a few questions for the timeline entries. The video may consist of interviews with scholars, experts, or more recently- audio of arguments before the Court. The questions lend themselves to many uses. Highlighted video and questions may be used as a warm-up to set the stage for day's lesson.  Another possible use would be to have students view the video and questions as an anticipatory set to a unit review where students connect the case to events in a unit or theme in American history or government. Additionally, the timeline has a variety of formats that it may be viewed in. One may view it in the traditional timeline configuration, as well as in a flip book, list or map.

    Beyond the timeline uses in the classroom, it may also serve as an idea for student extensions. Perhaps, you may show the timeline as an example and jigsaw your class to create timelines on landmark cases related to themes such as civil rights, federalism, or SPEC (social, political, economic, cultural). A detailed posting on how to create an interactive timeline on Capzles coming soon. Another possible extension would be for students to use the timeline to create their top 10 list with biographical info. Yet another would be to connect your desired case or number of cases to relevance in the United States today based on current events. The possibilities are endless. 
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