Tech Tools




tagxedo - google custom search

google images - search tools - usage rights - labeled for reuse

e-learning in the standards - "Determine the Content (Nouns) - Know ---  "Determine the skills and processes" (Verbs) -                        Do

Moving Beyond the Textbook: Putting Students AT The Center 
Thank You For Joining Me - Michael Gorman 21centuryedtech. Please sign up and join me at: 
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Our Workshop Today - Discover the curriculum of tomorrow. How do we build it and can it really be free? What must educators think about when planning, building, and vetting these digital lessons? The curricular book of the future is going to be connected, adaptable, flexible and allow for customization. Explore the options for moving away from traditional textbooks in favor of e-possibilities and a variety of Open Educational Resources (OER). At the same time discover why it is important to go beyond content and into a world of formative learning, process skills and student production. Walk away with a multitude of free resources! See how the newest web-based tools for curating information, aligning with high quality standards put students – not textbooks – at the center of the learning process.

Agenda and use of the website
Please note that this website is under copyright. This website is for individual use at workshop. It should not be used in other workshops. Please feel free to any article at the 21centuryedtech Blog in a workshop. Those articles are references in this webpage. This website will remain active for 45 days after workshop. Notes terms at bottom of page.

Chapter One… Anatomy of the Textbook.. Past… Present (15 minutes)
Standards... Content... Processes... Lessons and Activities... Inquiry... Scope and Sequence... Check Ups...Assessments

Chapter Two... The Future of the Textbook (15 minutes)
Active Textbooks - Resource allowing educators to build their own interactive textbook
CK12Flex_ - Wonderful open source interactive books and curriculum... ever expanding subjects... new K6 math
Wikipedia - You can make your own book... look at links in the left
Simple English Wikipedia - Many of the same Wikipedia articles with a  little easier wording
Auasma _- Get familiar with a little augmented reality.
New York Times Interactive Story Telling - Rich multimedia... more than just a read. Check out various articles.
The Big History Project - AN extensive multimedia textbook covering an interesting look at world history.

Chapter Three… Beyond The Textbook (5 minutes)
Who is at the center of learning?

Chapter Four… Standards and e-Learning... Avoiding the Tech Shine (15 minutes)

Link to Blog Article at 21centuryedtech: Beyond the Shine : Finding the Technology In The Standard

Five Steps to find the Tech and e-Learning in Standards

1. Identify the standard from district or state standards
2. Reflect on the Standard... if possible collaborate with others (What does the standards mean, why are we teaching this, what should students know, what should students be able to do, how does it apply to students at my grade level.
3. Determine the Content (NOUNS) ...Review the standard and underlining the nouns.(This will help you determine content and allow you to determine what is appropriate for your level of students)
4. Determine Skills and Process (VERBS)... Investigate the skills by reviewing the standard and circling the verbs. (This will allow you to determine the appropriate grade level skills  to be practiced by students. This can be aligned to Depth of Knowledge, Blooms, and/or 21st century 4 C's
5. Create Learning Targets... This demonstrates what students will be able to do from your reflection and listing of verbs and nouns, (These will later be used in planning learning activities along with formative and summative assessments. Keep in mind where students may have already been, and where they are going to.)

Take a look at this sample template for unpacking standards. Please use this to begin to unpack a standard in your discipline area. Sample Unpacking Standards Template

Moving toward Personalized Learning Through Unpacking
As we talk about Personalized Learning it must be understood that the end goal requires that students begin to take ownership of their learning process. This does not happen automatically... although it can be argued that we all did it as babies and infants. Please take a moment to  reflect individually or share at your table groups (if in a workshop. Topics may include:

  • Is it important to get students to own the learning?
  • How might this work at different grade levels?
  • What is it important that students might understand the unpacking of the standards they are learning?
  • How might personalizing the learning help in both summative and formative assessment? 
  • What step would you suggest as a first step in a classroom?

Chapter Five…Standards and Content (OER) (10 minutes)

Did you know that there are a wide variety of free curriculum on the internet? That’s right, and it is known as OER (Open Education Resources” You will find a full color assortment ready for you as you begin to paint lessons, activities, and even a textbook! Best of all they are free and contain quality resources plus they can be part of your PBL significant content. Take a moment to check out the wide assortment of possibilities that you can mix into brand new hues! Take a look at some of these OER finer points.
  • Provides  opportunity to make learning more authentic by giving you the ability to localize learning
  • Contains formative learning and assessment opportunities
  • Is based on standards
  • It is often amplified by technology
  • Vetted by organizations and individuals
  • Can be used in whole or in parts
  • Free… means it fits the budget and provides opportunities to spend money on needed resources and teacher creation
  • Can provide differentiations and allow educator to adapt to their students’ needs
  • Can provide a foundation for further learning opportunities
  • A nice One to One emphasis 

Link to blog article at 21centuryedtech: Part 2… Beyond the Technology Shine… Content Standard Nouns Meet 25 Free OER Education Resources

  • The Index of Open Educational Resources - Open Educational Resources come in many shapes and sizes. This partial list of sources introduces the scope of OER and the organizations cultivating its increasingly vital role in opening higher education up to the greatest number of people worldwide.
  • OER Commons
  • ISKME created OER Commons to build a knowledge base around the use and reuse of open educational resources (OER). As a network for teaching and learning materials, the web site allows social bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reviewing of more than 24,000 items from 120 content providers.
  • SAS Curriculum Pathways - Year after year, SAS Curriculum Pathways earns awards for educational technologies and, more importantly,  earn the support of teachers, students, and parents. The approach is innovative, but the goals are traditional. Teachers, developers, designers, and other specialists clarify content in the core disciplines. SACS targets content difficult to convey with conventional methods—topics where doing and seeing provide information and encourage insights in ways that textbooks cannot. The products make learning more profound and efficient, not simply more entertaining. Audio, visual, and interactive components all reinforce the educational objectives identified by teachers
  • Curriki - (k-12) What happens when classroom teachers from every country in the world take part in a global community of sharing curriculum and best practices? Teachers are empowered to create extraordinary learning experiences for their students. Barriers to equal access to education begin to lift—geography and politics become immaterial. And the economy benefits from a highly educated population. That’s the basis of Curriki, a nonprofit K-12 global community for teachers, students, and parents to create, share, and find free learning resources that enable true personalized learning.They believe free and equal access to the best curriculum materials is possible and Curriki is leading the way
  • Connexions -  (K-12) This a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:
  • authors create and collaborate
  • instructors rapidly build and share custom collections
  • learners find and explore content
  • - (6-12) Services like CK-12 make it easy for teachers to assemble their own textbooks. Content is mapped to a variety of levels and standards including common core. You can start from scratch or build from anything the the FlexBooks library CK12 has recently opened up a K-5 Math Program. .Read more >Watch video >
  • Hippocampus - (7-12) This is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.
  • FreeReading (pk-3) is a free, high-quality, open-source reading program addressing literacy development for grades K-3. Leveraging the collective wisdom of researchers, teachers, reading coaches, and other education and industry professionals, FreeReading provides a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to static materials. By establishing a foundation of hundreds of research-based lessons and materials that users can download and use for free, FreeReading has created the framework for intervention programs supporting K-6 literacy. The collective wisdom within FreeReading is invaluable and can be more beneficial than any one reading program.
  • SmartHistory -(K-12)  Smarthistory at Khan Academy is the leading open educational resource for art history. They make high-quality introductory art history content freely available to anyone, anywhere. Smarthistory is a platform for the discipline where art historians contribute in their areas of expertise and learners come from across the globe. We offer nearly 500 videos and these are being translated into dozens of languages.
  • Khan Academy - (K-12)  Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
  • Wikipedia -  Not only does Wikipedia have awesome vetted content, it also has a way educators can make their own books with Wikipedia Content. These books can be distributed in numerous digital content, or printed as hard copy. It is a great way to put significant content on any LMS.

Chapter Six…Process/Skills ... The Verbs (10 minutes)

Students must be introduced and provided unique and effective opportunities for learning about and using the internet, a skill that will be applicable past their K12 education.  As part of their learning experience they should be introduced to Web 2.0 (Internet Interactive Tools/Apps) , internet resources, and various learning portals.  As you are aware, new internet tools arise every day. .

While integrating the web with today’s 21st century learning experience is essential, each child’s safety and security must be a number one priority.  Any websites and tools used in the classroom should be thoroughly examined and vetted by educators. While many sites, along with COPA rules, designate the age of 13 as the end of necessitating parental permission, it is encouraged that district goa step further and ask both parent awareness and permission for all of our students.  Parents should be aware and have the opportunity to read a site’s Terms of Use, and to be a partner with their child(ren) in exploring the web and its many opportunities. Schools should promote proper digital citizenship and internet safety in  classrooms and encourage this to be reinforced at home. Internet sites that require a student account or log should be made available to parents  by the teacher and district, and also posted on the internet. Schools may wish to have parents  grant permission when registering their child at the school. Approved sites should be listed and updated on the district website.  In some instances districts may ask to have an additional permission form when their vetting process mandates this.  Students, parents, and all educators should read their Board Approved District Acceptable Use Policy for Technology which may be posted on the district website. In fact, parents and teachers should be encourage to review this policy with children.

The web is filled with countless Web 2.0 Applications that you can bring into your integrated technology classroom environment. Remember that is must be somewhat transparent allowing students to focus on significant content and 21st century education skills. I could attempt to list them here... but instead we will provide some outstanding sites that have large data bases created for this very purpose..Below you will find a list that we encourage you to become familiar with:

Link to Blog at 21centuryedtech - Part 3… Beyond the Technology Shine… Content Standard Verbs and Blended Learning Possiblities

Bloom Explained:
Sites That Incorporate Blooms and Technology 

The Big Five Before Using Any Website with Students

Expanded Blog can be found at 21centuryedtech:
10 Ideas to Consider Before Using an Internet Resource: The Web in the Classroom…Part 1

1. Check your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)
2. Read and Understand the Website Terms and Privacy
3. Check with school administration
4. Get parent permission if needed
5. Teach Digital Citizenship
Have a system for vetting websites
Check to see if your LMS (Learning Management System) can do the same thing

Targets… Lessons are a great way to plan for providing proper Learning Targets in PBL. These lessons become part of your map and scaffold. Check out some of these Lesson Plan Target possibilities. Time - 5 minutes

Chapter Seven…Lessons and Targets (20 minutes)

Thinkfinity Data Base of Lessons - This data base is no longer maintained by Verizon... but you can still search for lessons from this site I maintain at 21centuryedtech. Note.. Search in the Search Box under the words "Lesson Search".
PBS Learning Media - Wonderful Data Base of lessons and multimedia kept up by PBS Learning Media. Great resources from the whole PBS collection. You will even find intereactives.
New York Time Learning Network - Amazing collection of lesson plans that go beyond and outside of the box. It contains ideas for almost any discipline.
Blendspace - This site allows educators to make their own lesson in very simple steps. Best of all there is a collection of lessons that teachers have already made.
Share My Lesson - get ready to discover some wonderful lessons that teachers have shared. Perhaps you will be willing to share one of your. By the way... it is free!

Chapter Eight... Inquiry (20 minutes)

Do you want to learn about some powerful pre-search strategies before exploring the tools.  You can read about these strategies in the prior post Click Here for my Blog In this workshop, I wish to build on  the steps outlined in the linked blog post. I would like to introduce some tools that can be used to help facilitate the pre-search period of time with students. By understanding the need for pre-search one can see how these tools, some of which you may already know, can be used in a different way to help students as they get ready to research.  Please enjoy the tools and let me know of other that I can include.

Read Blog entry at 21centuryedtech: 
10 Steps For Pre-Search Strategies… Digital Literacy Series Part 1

The Right Question Institute - With the era of standardized tests many feel that the skill of question asking is far too rarely deliberately taught in school. The Right Question Institute has worked with and learned from educators to develop a teaching strategy that provides a simple, yet powerful way to get students asking their own questions and building off their peers’ questions. Steps include:

1. Individually brainstorm questions
2. Consolidate questions in a collaborative group and label as open or closed questions.
3. Discuss the importance of open and closed questions
4. Change one closed question to open and one open question to closed
5. Prioritize questions and begin research

1. Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary —An amazing web tool allowing students to  look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Students will learn how words associate and will come up with new possible search terms. It is easy to enter words into the search box. Students can than look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. When the mouse hovers over a node, one can see the definition. You can even click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections.  Note from developer: “Visuwords™ uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an opensource database built by University students and language researchers. Combined with a visualization tool and user interface built from a combination of modern web technologies, Visuwords™ is available as a free resource to all patrons of the web.”

  • It’s a dictionary! It’s a thesaurus!
  • Great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
  • The online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
  • No membership required

2. Wikipedia – As you may know, this is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia. Of course, Wikipedia is not the only source of research, and as in all sources should be confirmed with other resources. Wikipedia can be a great place to start because:
  • Wikipedia’s articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. These links can be powerful at providing insight into the search and possible information.
  • There are words in a Wikipedia article can be recorded as possible keywords for a future search. As students record these  words they may also wish to figure out meanings with a simple Google (define:) search.
  • Wikipedia can give some beginning information that can help define and set the pathway for research
  • The Wikipedia end of article sources can be invaluable in the research and search process.

 3. Wordle – This website   allows for the generation of “word clouds” from text that is provided to it. These clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text that was input. Students can tweak these word clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. One pre-search strategy would involve placing an article on a topic into Wordle… perhaps from Wikipedia. Once the common words are eliminated the word cloud is made. This is now a great time to discuss and investigate words that are more prominent. Could these words be valuable in the research that will take place?

4. AnswerGarden - This site is best described as a minimalist feedback tool that is easy to use in the classroom. A teacher can create an Answer Garden by entering a topic on the Create New Answer Garden-Page. From there you will be redirected to your newly created Answer Garden Website. Since no-one has posted an answer yet, your Answer Garden will still be empty. The next step is to share your Answer Garden URL. Use it live in the classroom, to pose a question, or place (embed) your Answer Garden on your classroom website. A Driving Question could be posted with a request that students post their Need to Knows. There are countless possibilities. All student feedback  is than represented in your Answer Garden. One neat feature is to be able to export the feedback into a Word Cloud using Wordle or Tagxedo! Imagine the possible reflection and discussion that can spark great research.

5. Text 2 Mindmap -This website allows for a wonderful way to organize thoughts before performing a search. In order to encourage the use of mind mapping, Text 2 Mind Map has provided a free and simple mind mapping tool online.  The easiest way to learn Text2MindMap is to play with it and you will see that your students understand it fast.  Some tips:

Write some text in the text area, use the TAB key to indent text lines, and click the “Draw Mind Map”-button to see what happens. Each text line in the text area will become a separate node in the mind map. Indenting the text (using the TAB key) starts a new branch of nodes in the mind map. Also, have a look at the Options to style your mind map.

How might your students mind map their pre-search strategies? This is a wonderful way to get students to see the pre-search and research process and all of the possible connections. It could be a part of their blue print for that eventual encounter with the search engine.

6. Diffen - A very interesting tooll that lets the user compare anything. What is the difference between DVD+R and DVD-R? What is the difference between an apple and an orange, or  an alligator and a crocodile?  How does the work environment at IBM compare with working at Microsoft? How does living in Seattle compare with living in Amsterdam? What is the difference between a Plasma TV and an LCD TV? How about Cal Tech and UCLA or the Yankees and the Red Sox? These comparisons might clarify some Need To Know question and also provide words that will be valuable in the research process.

7. Thesaurus – Every month more than 50 million users across the globe visit this online English dictionary and thesaurus. That makes it the world’s largest and most authoritative free online dictionary and mobile reference resource.  A thesauruses is invaluable at finding words that might just lend themselves to the research process. It can open up a whole new line up of search word terms.

8. Wordsift – This is a wonderful tool for classroom use. Students can  enter a word into the WordSift “box” and a semantic map appears with different synonyms for the word. It is great for those looking to find research keyword possibilities. When a user hovers over the word, or its synonyms, a  definition is produced. Clicking on a synonym brings up a semantic map for that specific word. Each word is accompanied by Google images that illustrate different aspects of the word. Another great way to get students brainstorming and thinking about research possibilities.  A user can link from a word on the list to the same WordSift features.  With  just one click on a word in the list, students will get the same features, as if they had entered it into WordSift.

9. InstaGrok – This tool allows students to research a topic with an interactive map. They can customize it with facts, links, and videos. It is also possible for them to share it to show what they have learned. A wonderful way to journal the research process.

10. Interactive Webbing Tool - Students can use this  interactive from Read-Write-Think to create free-form graphic organizers,. They can drag  ideas around in the organizer to arrange any layout and relationship that they want. They can use circle or box (rectangle) shapes to appear on the chart and each layer on the chart will have a different color border for the shapes chosen. Imagine how this can be used to show the path and process in research.

11. Fishbone Diagram - This incredible digital tool from Classtools allows students to breakdown their  per-search ideas and thoughts while providing details and definitions. A Fishbone Diagram has always been a wonderful graphic organizer on paper, and now it can be part of your digital toolkit.

12. Google Image Search – It has often been said that a picture paints a thousand words. Your students can locate images and brainstorm possible search terms that these image provide. Not only will this be powerful as students begin to get ready to search, it is also a wonderful meta-cognitive activity

13. Dictionary - Not much explanation is needed as to why the dictionary can be an important tool in the pre-search time period. Perhaps students need to look up a word in order to understand a question, or an answer. This is just one example of many dictionaries online.

14. Google Drive (Docs) – The ability to collaborate together in the brainstorming portion of the pre-search strategy can be amplified by the ability to share digital documents. Your students can share documents, and also use Google’s drawing tools to collaborate, record, and journal their research journey.

15. K-W-L Creator –  Discover another great digital tool from Read-Write-Think. K-W-L charts have been widely used to help students prepare for research by organizing what students know (K) and want to learn (W) before they research, and then reflecting on what they learned (L). This helpful interactive tool is equipped with the work-saver functionality so that students can save their work at different stages in the K-W-L process. Users also have the ability to embed text links, giving an extra level of interaction and explanation

Chapter Nine... Scope and Sequence (Student Centered Learning) (20 minutes)

3 Part Series with 20 Student Centered Tools can be found at 21centuryedtech (link below)
Technology Integration, 1 to 1, and Student Centered Learning: Five Ideas to Consider

With so many schools looking at providing technology enhancement and 1 to 1 possibilities, it is important to note that students… not technology… should be the center of learning. I challenge you to reflect on what a technology rich classroom might look like, sound like, and feel like.  Every time I do this I am excited not by the techno-glitter, but by students interacting and taking ownership of the learning experience. This is a skill today’s students will be called on to do through the rest of their life. As you reflect on this wonderful classroom vision, please read through some of the ideas I believe that educators must consider as they consider the use of technology and  the 1 to 1 model. Enjoy the ideas and reflections I provide in this post and then be ready to explore the 16 sweet tools/resources provided in the next posts. I believe these ideas and the following tools and resources will prove to be a powerful catalyst for the technology infused classroom geared at putting students in the center of learning! Last, you will want to become familiar with 5 important steps that should be considered when integrating web technology.  It will be a part of the last post of this series. Let’s get started!
  1. Technology Integration is a Step by Step Process – Keep in mind that a technology infused program such as a 1 to 1 model is really a step by step process. It is important to recognize this as educators going in to this initiative. Also, be sure to celebrate these steps at whatever place you are. Realize that the top levels of SAMR may not happen in a year, and proper substitution has its place. While it all may appear slow moving, it is amazing to look back at after a year in the process. Your district may even have a strategic plan, but remember to allow it to be malleable along the way. Keep the focus on students and educators… not the technology. By being nimble you will be open to constant changes of the techno-world. You will note accomplishments that were never planned, along with plans that never needed to be accomplished!
Take Small Steps
Allow for Flexibility
Look Forward
Look Backward
  1. Technology Integration must go Beyond the Device – As stated earlier school has never been about the building, infrastructure, or technology! It is about kids and learning, do not lose focus! How can the technology provide kids voice and choice while allowing students to focus on relevancy and authenticity? I often wonder what John Dewey would think if he could see the tools we have available to us today. How can technology allow students to control and regulate their learning? After all, it is happening as students use the internet outside of school! How might we align the ideas of Blooms, Project Based Learning, STEM, and ideas of Deeper Learning?
Beyond the Device
Voice and Choice
Alignment with Pedagogy
  1. Technology Integration must be open to Consider New Possibilities – One reason to keep any technology plan nimble is so you can be open to all of the endless and wonderful possibilities that show themselves along an amazing student centered journey! In my own experience I found that creating a program to make up snow days using 1 to 1 technology actually opened up the bigger world of blended learning. It went from snow days to everyday. Our goal must incorporate technology facilitation that promotes student centered learning that will occur on every day, and at any hour! We must realize that while the hard copy textbook could be on its way out,  there might not be a virtual digital textbook ready to take its place. The new text book might instead be the LMS (Learning Management System). While this may seem to be yet another initiative, it must be aligned with other initiatives in place. Making the move toward a student centered classroom may actually be the main initiative. Students can also not only own their learning, but they can be the curators of content.  Technology just might be the vehicle to allow this to happen. Keeping an open mind and flexible plan will allow for amazing opportunities free of constraints.
Doors that Open
Delivery of Learning
Textbooks and OER
Alignment with other Initiatives
Student Creation of Curriculum
  1. Technology Integration must go beyond the Tech Shine – We are all naturally attracted to the shiny! After all, we all like and are engaged by a little… or a lot of glitter. It is important that we take a moment to admire the shine and then move on to real learning possibilities. How might the newest tools or resource allow for student learning of the necessary content standards? At the same time, how can technology allow student to gain the necessary skills to become career and college ready. I do hope you noticed the flip on college and career… it is intentional! Technology also allows educators to provide real time formative assessment, but also effective formative learning opportunities. It is also important to note that educators must be aware and employ such models as SAMR, Blooms, and PBL. As I will write about in a future article, SAMR has a direct relationship with student centered learning.  Students can operate at higher levels, even if a teacher may not have all of the technology skills employed by the students. It is important that we move from tech shine to student shine!
Content Standards
Career and College Ready Skills
Formative Learning Opportunities
Understanding of Models (SAMR)
Blooms and Process
  1. Technology Integration must Amplify the Learning Experience – Learning has always been learning and teaching has always been teaching. While teaching has been a powerful force in education, learning has sometimes been put in second place. I think it is important that as educators, we reflect on both teaching and learning.  I do feel that teaching has a place in learning. Today, technology provides the tools and resource that allow schools to focus on learning and amplify that experience. In fact it can even amplify teaching, as experienced in the flipped classroom. Please note that the effective flipped classroom also amplifies learning! The infusion of technology promotes an atmosphere of student centered learning that is focused on investigation and visualization, while allowing students to experiment and play. Inquiry is a powerful piece of the technology support. Students must be encouraged to not just learn to use the web to answer, but also to employ the internet to question… as they develop important life long skills.
Investigate and Visualize
Experiment and Play
Examine and Question
Journey and Explore
Access Experts and Develop Skills

Chapter 10... Assessments and Check Points (Formative Assessment) (20 minutes)

Check out the Formative series at 21centuryedtech using the link below.
Part 1: Over 35 Formative Assessment Tools To Enhance Formative Learning Opportunities

Part 1.... Informal or Formative Assessment is all about checking for student understanding in the mandated  content standards and appropriate skills….
Part 2.... in order to guide and provide needed facilitation and appropriate learning opportunities that meet the group and individual needs.

Reflective Ideas on the Iterative Cycle
Where does formative assessment fit into the iterative process?
How do you manage success, failure, and frustration in your classroom?
Are you providing the time for iterative process and is this time worth it… Why or Why Not?
What is your definition of learning… and what is your students’ definition. Does the iterative process have a place in learning?

Formative Tools

What really is formative assessment?  It might be expressed that it is the continuous checking for student understanding of the mandated content standards and skills before the summative assessment.  This is definitely a great beginning that maybe somewhat limited. After all, a quiz, or numerous quizzes with some bell checkers could satisfy this definition. I am not sure if this really addresses the way student learning is facilitated in the classroom. Perhaps this is because many of us don’t dig deeper into the idea of formative assessment… or perhaps we have the main idea stated with words that don’t quite fit. I like to call it “Formative Learning”. In this way both assessment and learning are addressed. It also provides an insight into what the idea of formative assessment really is. Yes… let’s look at the whole definition… one that cannot be read just half way through.  Formative Assessment or Learning is the continuous checking for student understanding of the mandated content standards and skills before the summative assessment… … in order to guide and provide needed facilitation and appropriate learning opportunities that meet the group and individual needs. Wow… suddenly it seems to go beyond a few quizzes, bell ringers, and exit tickets. It really begins to encompass what good teaching has always been. Best of all, it allows us to integrate technology so that we can add to the already powerful human element.

Before providing some wonderful example of how technology can assist in formative assessment I would like to take some of the technology shine away for a moment. As stated before the human element has always been present. Informal dialogue and meetings with individual and groups of students has always been powerful. Looking at the smiles and eyes of student can tell a lot, along with recognizing a pause of frustration. Looking over a shoulder at a student working or reading can provide wonderful insight and clue into learning. Listening to students collaborate, present, and share provides so much opportunity in preparing for instruction. Watching the hands go up, or slowly come down during a class discussion has always informed good teachers. Perhaps in this day of standardized accountability we only see the quizzes, bell ringers, and exit tickets and actually forget that formative assessment is something teachers have always done. Actually these are items that can be quantified and provided as data. It is important that teachers take a step back and ask the questions what does formative assessment look like, sound like, and feel like. The interactive white board is really not enough. It really is only a tool that allows teachers to turn on that human element which I often call the true art of teaching. It is at this point that Formative Learning can become the culture of a classroom.

Remember that technology does not provide the facilitation, people do. Technology serves as an amplifier. Remember that the amplification can go both ways. It really is about how we as educators employ the tools for our and our students’ use. Always ask these two questions. How can this tool allow me to make student learning and growth better and, how can this tool make new learning and growth possible? Please enjoy and use the list that has been provided. Always keep in mind that real learning is a human experience, enjoy the journey!

Formative Tool Exploration ... Formative Assessment Tools… Here are over 32 great tech tools to help with formative learning. Explore what ones might work for you! Time - 10 minutes

Video Tools for Formative Learning

•       Flipped Classroom Capabilities
•       Student Control
•       Lecture +
•       Forums
•       In class
•       Formative Tools Built In
•       LMS Enabled

Employing video tools in the classroom can be powerful for student learning. It is important to provide video that not only answers questions, but also provokes new thinking and inquiry posing new questions. The video a student watches can be the needed frontloading for the next activity. Keep in mind that a video of a student’s teacher providing the activity can allow for some great blended connections. A video can also allow the student to control, rewind, and watch again… promoting self-regulated learning. Some of the tools provided below also allow for formative activities to be embedded in the video. The tools I am providing allow for integrating formative assessment into the learning. In a future post I may provide places to find amazing and engaging videos… but for now I will leave that for you!

Educannon – Creating a classroom movie is always fun. This tool allows the placement of videos in a formative loop allowing the teacher to check for student understanding as videos are watched. 

Zaption – Link videos to this wonderful tool designed to place formative learning with in a video activity. Collect information on student progress as they access from home or school.

 Edpuzzle – Explore this formative video tool that allows the teacher to track and view student understanding. Use a video from just about any source on just about any device. Allow for important student metacognition during the course of the activity. – Now teachers and students can create their own video based trivia games. Allowing the trivia to be based on content standards can bring a whole new form to learning.

Quiz Based Tools for Formative Learning

•       Bell Ringer/Exit Ticket
•       Game Like
•       Track Individual Students
•       Get Feedback
•       Individual/Group
•       Students Can Create
•       Analyze Data

Why does a quiz… have to be a quiz? Does it need to have a grade? What is the purpose of a quiz? Can a quiz be fun? Can a quiz be something students look forward to? These are all questions I really think are worth some reflection. Making a quiz fun and game like is not a new idea, we all remember spelling bees and even some analog form of Jeopardy. Technology has allowed educators to take some of that necessary content foundation information and provide some fun learning experiences. Keep in mind that you must take these tools beyond the technology shine.  In fact, a challenge might be to find ways to employ these tools in even higher level learning activities. Perhaps students could even use them as the produce and create.  Be sure to use the data collection and analytic tools that can provide you an insight into needed learning activities. It is important to go beyond the fun and be deliberate in using the technology to amplify learning. While you enjoy the tools below , also remember that variety is also an important learning component. In other words, be sure to mix up the activities!

Kahoot - Make learning and assessment into a class wide game complete with points and leaderboards. Collect data from the group and individuals. This wonderful tool allows teachers to get a quick read on student knowledge and understanding.

 Socrative – This amazing formative tool allows the teacher to post questions, polls, and quizzes on the fly with minimal preparation. Collect data on student understanding and even create a video game that allows kid to race to learn.

Quizlet – Create or choose from thousands of ready-made quizzes covering multiple subjects.  You can embed quizzes in a website or send students to a link. Collect formative data as students test their knowledge using any device. 

Quiziz – One of the newest in game based quiz programs. Bring the whole class into a competitive learning situation. Allow students to reflect on how they answered question while collecting important data that will help decide future instruction.

Feedback Tools for Formative Assessment

•       Bell Ringer/Exit Ticket
•       Temperature Read
•       Polls
•       Student Voice/Choice
•       Student Can Create
•       Analyze Data
•       Determine Next Step
•       Parents/Community

Formative learning and assessment is all about obtaining feedback throughout the learning process. As an educator it is important to not only acquire the feedback, but to also use it to inform instruction. Teachers have always been on the lookout for feedback whether it is the raise of a hand or the nod of a head. The introduction of interactive whiteboards gave teachers the opportunity to use technology to get temperature reads on student learning on the fly. When used properly interactive whiteboards provide some wonderful insight. While the interactive whiteboard still have some great capabilities, the constraints of cost, positioning, and space can be a limiting factor. In the last couple years there has been a multitude of online tools and apps that provide an interesting avenue to obtain feedback. These tools are wonderful for the 1 to 1 classroom and most work in a BYOD environment filled with a variety of devices.  One advantage is that the collected data will be useful in in facilitation of learning. As with any technology tool it is important to be careful of the shine. Obtaining feedback is only useful if there is then a plan to navigate the proper lanes for instruction. Take a look at these tools and begin to imagine how you can use these to bring voice and choice to your students which could provide important ideas to inform instruction. 

Answer Garden – This web based tool allows the teacher to ask a question and get feedback from the group. The feedback appears on the web page allowing for a picture of understanding and thoughts. The collected words and phrases can be sent to a world cloud generator such as Wordle or Tagxedo.

Google Forms – Create surveys and question forms that allow for student feedback, voice, and, choice.  Analyze the feedback using a spreadsheet to determine trends and needs. This is also a wonderful tool for students as they collect data for different projects.

Padlet – Think of a website that allows users to place virtual post it notes on the screen. These notes can even contain pictures and links. This tool allows a wonderful way to see thoughts, perceptions, and learning.  

Go Soap Box – Get feedback from the class as they provide temperatures reads that reflect their understanding. See how this insight can help shape instruction and future student learning possibilities.

Lesson Creators for Formative Learning

•       Digital
•       OER Possibilities
•       Blended
•       Control… Or No
•       Student Regulated
•       Lecture… Student Owned
•       LMS Integration
•       Student Presentations
•       Feedback Capabilities

•       Crowd Sourced Resources

Lesson plan tools have been around as long as the one room school house.  The first lesson plans were displayed to students on the blackboard as students practiced on the individual slates… possibly the first 1 to 1 environment.  Many of today’s teachers started their careers with lesson plan books, hand written, and a guide to instruction. The digital capabilities of the web allow teachers today to build lessons online in minutes. This capability provides teachers the ability to use a multitude of OER (Open Education Resources) and web applications that are bountiful on the internet.  Students also have the ability to visit these digital lessons at their own time and pace. Lessons can be built to give feedback as the learning takes place. Best of all, teachers may wish to have students demonstrate learning by building their own lessons or presentations. Some can even be used to jigsaw learning providing student ownership in a needed demonstration or lecture. While an LMS (Learning Management System) can provide some of these capabilities, many of the below tools can be integrated with an LMS.  Take a moment and try to learn about at least one of these amazing tools. You might even find some free already built lessons that might fit your classroom style. You will find new ways to get formative.

Blendspace – If you have five minutes and an internet connection this tool might be the resource for you and your students. Create a lesson using multiple of resources or tools on the internets. Provide links to your students or embed the lesson into the district LMS (Learning Management System).

Gooru – Build wonderful digital lessons in no time. Find a vast collection of already built lessons along with OER (Open Education Resources). Send students to the link or embed in the school LMS. Take advantage of multiple prebuilt lessons that allow for formative learning. 

Go Class – Edit and manage digital lessons from anywhere for use on any device. Special Show-Explain-Ask interface allows for easy ability to add pictures, multimedia, teacher notes, and formative assessments into the plan.

Nearpod - Think of Nearpod as a presentation on multiple devices controlled by the educators. Not only do all students see the same presentation slide at the same time… but can also visit a teacher directed website. It can be an important teaching tool when teachers are trying to ensure each student is immersed in the formative learning process. Imagine students creating and being the presenters! 

Screen Capture and Creation for Formative Assessment

•       Flip Possibilities
•       Student Controlled
•       Student Centered Classroom
•       Lecture Productivity
•       Student Regulated
•       Student Demonstration of Learning
•       Lecture… Student Owned
•       LMS Integration
•       Student Presentations

Providing videos to students can be a powerful learning opportunity. Not only do videos provide some engagement because of the multimedia appeal, but students can stop, rewind, and watch again. Screen capture software has gained popularity with the advent of the Flipped Classroom. This type of software allows an educator to record their computer screen while doing a voice over. Now a power point lecture can become a video to be watched anytime and anywhere by students. Other software goes beyond just screen capture and will allow the ability to create animated or drawing over video productions. Not only can educators use these amazing resources, but they can encourage students to do the same. This opens up a whole new array of opportunities. Student could demonstrate learning, or even produce videos helping other students in their understanding of a concept. This concept allows the curriculum to be owned by students and teachers. This provides a different view allowing students to see learning in a formative manner. This approach results in learning improvements for those students viewing the content. The students producing the content also gain a new understanding of not only the content they are delivering, but also by learning the formative steps that occur in learning. Take a look at the below resources and discover how you can provide students formative learning opportunities through both consumption and production of multimedia.

Jing – A quick and easy screen capture tool allowing for voice over. Could be used by a teacher to prepare a lesson or by students to demonstrate learning or build content tutorials to help others. 

Screencast-O-Matic – Another great screen capture system with some advanced editing controls. This allows for wonderful possibilities and final video can be shared on You Tube and then integrated with some of the video tools for formative assessment.

Powtoons – This tool allows for the creation of some wonderful animations that could explain concept ideas. They are engaging and provide lots of possibilities. Students can even create their own Powtoons opening up even more possibilities for formative learning.

Moovly – Do you like the idea of overlaying drawing and animation on real video? This might be the perfect tool to help explain content. Better yet… students can do the explaining and creating as they enjoy using this engaging resource.

Back Channel for Formative Assessment

•       Collaboration
•       Student Interaction
•       Notes
•       Feedback
•       Temperature Read
•       Understanding Check
•       Archived for Students
•       Contribution for all
•       Allows for Future Instruction

So many times I hear the idea of back channel and how it is a relatively new phenomenon. Back channel refers to the idea of a secondary discussion happening in the same environment as a primary presentation or demonstration. In reality the idea of back channel is really as old as formal education itself. Before the era of digital communication there have always been back channel discussions in the classroom whether it be spoken word, nonverbal gestures, or old fashion paper notes. In today’s classroom there is the possibility to use digital technology to allow, promote, and sanction secondary communication. A digital back channel allows students to have a conversation in the background during a presentation, lecture, video, or in the middle of a PBL activity. This back channel is actually a chat or forum provided by the teachers. The footprint left by a back channel allows for some wonderful insight as to how to meet needs of the group and individuals planning future instruction. The live interactions also allow for feedback and learning through the back channel process.  Many times the LMS (Learning Management System) may have this built in, or you may wish to check one of the options below. It is important to teach and promote proper digital citizenship and also understand your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy).  Be sure to also read and understand the terms and privacy agreements for the tool you are using. A back channel can allow the formative learning and assessment essential for 21st century learners.

Today’s Meet – Create a virtual chat room for students to collaborate and learn from each other. Explore ways to even make it private and save the conversations as transcripts that can be a valuable resource to teachers and students later.

Chatzy  - Encourage the chat in your room. Note how it actually can support the academic areas that are being addressed while providing student voice and choice. There are private and virtual rooms that also can be learned about.

Backchannel Chat – Another wonderful tool that allows classroom back channels with so important teacher controls. Check out all the features as you encourage formative learning in the back channel.

Google Docs – It is easy to use Google Docs as aback channel. Not only that, you may already have it deployed in your school. Not only does it have a chat feature to serve any of its apps on Drive, but the documents app can be used as a backchannel by itself allowing for an archive of discussion.

Games for Formative Assessment

•       Engaged Learning
•       Individualized
•       Iterative Process
•       Naturally Formative
•       Motivation
•       Metacognition
•       Failing Forward Allowed

A game is a wonderful formative learning tool. Kids enjoy a great game and accept the formative process of iterations that are a part of an engaging game. Working hard and even experiencing an occasional failure along the way provides the learning to eventual win… or level up. Those bumps along the road can be interpreted as falling forward. Success is celebrated and the formative learning opportunities along the way make success possible. Some educators are embracing a classroom gaming culture to encourage learning. Students learn, earn badges, experience and overcome hurdles, and eventually obtain mastery as they soon enter a new level. Those educators not ready to turn the classroom into a gaming experience can still bring game ideas into the classroom. There is so much to be learned on a quest or conducting a simulation. There are resources that include already built games and simulations along with tool for teachers to build a game for their students. In fact, it might be amazing to turn students loose on some game building using content standards in the foundation. The processes of designing, playing, and testing are formative experiences that have so much to teach.  Below you will find some ideas that just might allow for some real neat formative learning… courtesy of a game or two.  

 Utah Education Network – Are you looking for some interesting games and simulations that can fit into almost any subject area? Then check out these wonderful possibilities which are listed by subject category by the Utah Education Network.

Jeopardy Labs – This game has always been fun whether it is analog on the television or cardboard as a game. Many teachers have even taken it digital using power point. If you are a fan you may wish to check out this Jeopardy digital site.

Brain Rush - It doesn’t take long to see how this wonderful resource and its adaptive learning games will fit into your formative portfolio. Best of all, anyone can share, build, and try. Here is a chance for student s to become not just game consumers… but game producers. 

3D Game Labs – It is time for educators to explore this 3D collection of over 20,000 quests. It is possible to venture into a multitude of subjects. Games can also be shared and even remixed. Think of the formative possibilities!

Interactives for Formative Assessment

•       Formative Learning
•       Digital Possibilities
•       Iterative Process
•       Feedback
•       Motivation
•       Metacognition
•       Creation
•       Production

The act of interacting allows for the natural processes that make up formative learning.  While classrooms have been filled with analog and pre-analog interactives  for years, the digital era opens up a whole new arena of possibilities. There are websites on the internet now allow students to make and construct amazing artifact of knowledge. Some of these resources include digital versions of what has always been possible, while other provide a whole new idea or concept that was not possible until the advent of digital technology.  Many times these tools and resources provide motivation and the process of creating allows students to engage in an iterative cycle. Of course, allowing students to create and produce facilitates important metacognition which is an important concept found in formative assessment. Take a moment to look through these tools. There is bound to be something that will work in the classroom. Providing students these tools may allow them to have voice and choice as to how they may wish to demonstrate learning. Preparing for a presentation provides a multitude of formative checkpoints and feedback demonstrate once again that formative assessment and learning is key factor in the support of students as learners.

ReadWriteThink – Known for a wonderful collection of lesson plans don’t forget to check out their amazing selection of web interactives. You will discover Bio-Cube and Trading Cards to name a few. All provide a formative experience and are connected to lessons and standards. Best of all they can be used in any classroom beyond just Reading and Language Arts. – Think of past analog tolls built in a digital way. One example might be a Venn Diagram ready for digital creation and output. What might have George Washington’s Twitter or Facebook account looked like… imagine the followers! Perhaps you just want students to create a museum display. Let your students get formative with these amazing tools.

Graphite – The people at Common Sense Media bring a collection of vetted apps that might fit into your formative lesson plans. Search these teacher reviewed possibilities and decide how you just might use in the classroom. While you are there check out their Common Core Apps along with their Lesson Building App.

APPEd Review –Discover a site that provides in-depth reviews of 500 apps complete with screen shots. You will discover Instructional ideas along with comprehensive rubrics. It is searchable by Operating System, Price (many are free), and Subject/Grade. Discover some amazing formative interactives.

The Others for Formative

Not everything fits into one category! In fact many of the resources I have shared could bounce around to other categories. I have this last set you might be interested in. They could be used in a multitude of ways and so I include them in this last category. It really is up to you to see just how you can use these to make formative happen in the classroom.

Scrumy – It really is hard to find another tool like this! It is a project management module for individuals and/or groups. Scrumy allows all members including the teacher to see progress. It provides those important metacognitive moments for self-reflection on progress. Great for a PBL environment!

Plickers – Formative feedback with one computer or phone. Ask a question and students hold up paper with codes… suggesting their answer. Scan the group and get a temperature read on both the entire group and individuals. Data can be saved to help inform future instruction.

GoFormative – Part feedback, part game, part group brainstorming. Students can give feedback on their individual devices which can then be shared. One of the best features includes the ability to write or draw the feedback. This is a great formative tool to check understanding and decide the next move.

Prism – An outside the box application that measures the crowd in reference to a particular reading, Students are provided a text on their device and then highlight attributes in color to represent thoughts and understanding. The teacher and students are able to view the entire groups thinking process in relationship to the reading.

The Big Five Before Using Any Website with Students

1. Check your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)
2. Read and Understand the Website Terms and Privacy
3. Check with school administration
4. Get parent permission if needed
5. Teach Digital Citizenship

Have a system for vetting websites
Check to see if your LMS (Learning Management System) can do the same thing


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