The EdTech Coach Podcast

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

11 Apps That Foster Student Collaboration

1. Explain Everything: The well-known whiteboard where groups of students can work on a project together.  Anyone with a link/code can edit.

2. iMovie: A great way to get students to work together!  Making a movie forces groups of students to collaborate, by virtue of the app.  Someone can direct while others act.  And, they should be working from a script, which they all collaborate on as well.

3. Voicethread: Have students put together interviews, conversations, or theatres of the mind.  Ask them to collaborate on a script and the actual voice recording, with students playing different parts in the audio recording.

4. Google Docs & Slides, Apple’s Pages & Keynote: All of these productivity apps can be used collaboratively.  Use them to take collaborative notes, write dialogue as a group, create slides etc.

5. Book Creator for Chrome: Have students create a book on whatever topic you choose.  And the cool thing is, they can do it collaboratively.  Students invite their partners to their library and they can work on a book together.

6. Padlet: Each group can create a thinking map.  Students can use Padlet to address a question or explain the steps in a process, perhaps how to solve a math problem.

7. Popplet—Great on the Chromebook!  Students use the share button with their partners to collaborate on timelines or graphic organizers.
8. Recap: Pose a complex question to groups of students and ask each student to contribute to a discussion.  Ask students to present their answers to the rest of the class.

9. Google Drawing: Life Google Docs and Slides, students can collaborate on a poster or drawing, working on the project at the same time in real time.

10. Canva: Students can work together creating posters, photo collages, or infographics.  Students simply share their creation with a partner and their off and creating together.

11. Evernote: Have students share a notebook.  Then, they can work on a piece of writing together or add different entries in a journal style writing assignment.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

5 Ways To Measure Engagement Without Breaking Your Lesson Flow

The book "Bold School" (Keischnick, 2017, p. 95),  states that "Trying to measure engagement and comprehension without breaking the flow or falling behind schedule is a great challenge for direct instruction."

This is where technology can come to the aid of a teacher trying to infuse checking for understanding throughout the lesson without pauses or time-consuming transitions.  Chromebooks and iPads have created numerous opportunities for teachers to measure engagement during instruction.  The trick is how to measure engagement without breaking the flow you've created in your instruction.  How can technology help in keeping the lesson flowing, without interruption or dead spots?

The other consideration is to make sure every student has a voice.  If you simply ask students if they get it, some may genuinely understand, while others, not wanting to risk embarrassment or hold up the class, shake their head in the affirmative.

These apps can help you reach each student while incorporating checking for understanding in the lesson without breaking the flow of your lesson.

1. Nearpod: Use Nearpod for all phases of your lesson, from the introduction all the way to your formative assessment.  All the while checking for understanding in between.

2. Pear Deck: Pear Deck will not only help you present your lesson and incorporate checking for understanding with an anonymous thumbs up or thumbs down option, but you can also ask a question on the fly for students to answer in the lesson, without having to exit your Pear Deck lesson.

3. Google Slides Q & A: If you're presenting a Google Slides presentation, make it a Google Slides Q & A presentation.  Students can have their phones at the ready to ask a question without interrupting the class.  Q & A is great for those students who oftentimes are too shy to ask a question.

4. Kahoot: At the beginning of class, prior to the lesson, ask students to prepare for a Kahoot by having them go to  Then, you can insert Kahoots at various points of your lesson.  Prepare a few checking for understanding questions throughout your lesson.  Then, when the time is right, throw in a Kahoot.

5. Socrative: Use the Quick Question feature in Socrative to ask a multiple choice, T/F, or short answer question.  Like Kahoot, ask your students to prepare to use Socrative.  You can either have questions prepared (in which case, you can make a rocketship race out of it) or ask them on the fly.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tech Tools Teachers Can Use To Keep Parents Involved

  • 1. Seesaw:  A fantastic portfolio app!  Ask parents to install the Seesaw parent app. From there, whenever their child posts something (like a journal entry, a photo of their work, a video, or a drawing), their parents are notified.
  • 2. Google Classroom: Use the Google Classroom email guardians feature to email parents about student missing work, upcoming work, and any other relevant class activity.
  • 3. Weebly/Google Sites/Adobe Spark Page: Create a web page.  Use web site creation tools such as Weebly, Google Sites, or Adobe Spark Page to create a page that shares classroom information such as a classroom calendar, upcoming events, and student work.
  • 4. Twitter: Create a class Twitter account!  Add photos of student work.  Keep parents abreast of upcoming class tests and assignments.
  • 5. Instagram: A class Instagram account would serve the parents well.  Include photo’s of student work and daily class goings on.
  • 6. Pinterest: Create a Pinterest board!  Include pictures of the class at work as well as student work.
  • 7. Blogger:  Keep a blog!  Use Blogger or Google Sites to blog.  If you find it difficult to keep a daily blog, try a weekly blog.  Write about what you’re doing in the classroom. Include photos of student work.  Include a calendar of upcoming class assignments and events.
  • 8. Remind: Use Remind to let parents know about upcoming tests and assignments due dates.
  • 9. Class Dojo: Let parents know how their child is doing in class by sending messages, photos, or any updates from class.
  • 10. Bloomz App: A great way to communicate with parents!  Bloomz allows you to instant message parents—pretty cool.  Once parents have signed up, they can receive posts you’ve written, announcements, alerts, and upcoming events.  Use Bloomz to schedule parent/teacher conferences too!
  • 11. Edmodo for Parents: If you use Edmodo in your class, this sister app is a must for parents!  The app allows parents to be notified when their child turns in an assignment, when tests are upcoming, and when homework is due.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

5 Apps That Should Be On A Teachers Phone

A smart phone is an indispensable tool in the classroom.  As a teacher, you have to be prepared to do things in the classroom at a moments notice.  Some of those things might include classroom management tasks or jotting down a note.  And, it helps to have a small, mobile device to help you do those tasks.
To help in the classroom, there are five apps that should be on every teachers smart phone.

Post It Plus

Sticky notes for your iPhone.  Available for iOS, Post It Plus allows you to take a note on a virtual sticky note.  Simply tap the “+” button take a quick note, jot down a reminder, or create a to-do.  Post It Plus allows you to group sticky notes into “boards.”  Perhaps you want to group your sticky notes according to class subject or tasks.  Post It Plus also allows you add a photo to your sticky notes.  A great way to take a quick note.


Ok, so there are two apps here (So there’s really 6 apps, not 5).  They are both made by the same people and go hand in hand in your productivity workflow.
The ever-popular Evernote.  Evernote is all-purpose note taking app available on all platforms.  Set up various notebooks in Evernote based on class period or topic.  You can add pictures to your notes as well as sync them across devices.
Scannable is made by the good people at Evernote and is the perfect companion to Evernote.  Take a quick scan of student work, and share it to various apps.  Along with being a great scanner app, it saves your scans directly to Evernote.  If you have Evernote, you should have Scannable.

Google Keep

Google Keep works across all devices.  If you yourself are using a Chromebook, Google Keep should be your must app for note-taking.  You can add pictures, to-do lists, and even sketch out notes.  You can ad a drawing and image to your notes.  Create a to-do list and ad collaborators to your notes.  In a Google Classroom, Keep is a must.

Google Classroom

A must for the Google Classroom!  If you’re using Google Classroom to manage your class, this app has to be on your phone.  The functionality is virtually the same as it would be using a computer.  The app allows for the addition of classes, the posting of assignments and announcements.  You can use your phone to review and mark-up class assignments.

Class Dojo

Class Dojo is a really good classroom management app where students are rewarded for positive behavior.  And, on that same note, you can take points away for negative behavior.  This app is especially useful on a mobile device because while you’re monitoring students, you can simply take out your phone and reward behavior.  Students get a kick out of accruing points and can become competitive, therefore promoting positive behavior in your class.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Technology Alone Won’t Help Your Students

A teacher recently told me that he has both a class set of iPads and a class set of Chromebooks in his classroom.  He went on to say that he has trouble deciding which to use on a daily basis.  This got me thinking.  It should never come down to trying to decide what technology to use, but it should come down to the learning objective or target.  

So I told them that although it’s great to be surrounded by technology, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have a learning objective. If you don't have a learning objective, technology won't help you.  You don't determine the technology, the learning objective does the choosing for you.

The iPad or Chromebook is not the end all be all of education.  Technology is just a tool after all. If you don't use your tech with a purpose, those iPads might as well just be sitting in the corner of your room.  Your objective determines the tool that you will use. 

Those Chromebooks and iPads the teacher referenced are just tools. They are a means to an end. You don’t use technology for the sake of using technology, you have to know where you’re going first. Your objective must be clear and concise, then determine which tool you will use. 

If you know me or read any of my other pieces, you’ll know I love technology!  Walking into a classroom that’s equipped with iPads, Chromebooks, or even Windows laptops makes me think about the possibilities of the extent of learning that can happen in the classroom. But at the same time, I know those iPads are just a means to an end. Making the technology effective begins with the days' target. 

If you want the students to write a short essay, perhaps using a Chromebook with its keyboard might be a better choice.  If you want to shoot and edit video, the iPad might be the tech of choice.  Now I know that not all teachers are lucky enough to have both iPads and Chromebooks, but the point is, you shouldn't use whatever tech you have just for the sake of using it.

A coherent and clear objective begins with SWBAT.  Objectives should begin with the words “Students will be able to...”.   At the end of your lesson, what will your students be able to do?  Then, once you've determined that, ask yourself which tech tool is a better choice.  Or, in most cases, it's not which hardware will work best, but which app suits the assignment.

Again, if you don't have a clear objective, technology won't help your students.