Module 4 – Practice Embedding: SlideShare

SlideShare is another tool that is new to me.  So many applications for the classroom!  I could embed my presentations in my site for kids to update their notes after class, share presentations with colleagues, and give students a place to create and turn in products.

The presentation I’m embedding here is on something this course has started me thinking more about: flipping my classroom.  As I said in my module 1 response, I feel like I spend a lot of time in my class just delivering content because students come with so few foundational skills in social studies.  If I could use videos full of content, presentations and lectures to get the information into students at night, it would leave class time free for discussion, questioning and (most importantly) thinking.  So many thoughts… so little time…


Module 4 – Practice Embedding: Vimeo

I’ve used YouTube in my classroom for years, from Crash Course to TedED to my own Cornell Note videos when I was experimenting with flipping (which I may go back to when I fully wrap my head around it).  But, I have almost no experience with Vimeo.  My niece is at NYU Tisch School of Arts, and she puts all her projects on Vimeo; so I thought it was more filmmakers and artists displaying their work.  But, a quick search showed that there are tons of content-relevant videos available on Vimeo.  Here’s one I found that’s perfect for my China unit:

Terra Cotta Army from Viking Cruises on Vimeo. (I have to admit, I also chose this because it was posted by Viking River Cruises.  I dream of cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg when I retire.)

I like that Vimeo is not full of ads.  I often run YouTube videos through ViewPure before I post them to my class, and this saves me that step.

Module 4 – Practice Embedding: ThinkLink

ThingLink is an interesting tool.  It’s a platform for creating interactive images and videos, and I really think it’s applications in the classroom are endless.  As a social studies teacher, I immediately see opportunities to create posters full of primary sources like photos and documents, audio clips, and maps.  It’s also an incredible vehicle for student to create products of learning, either completely originally or from an image that I assign.

I’m going to have to play a little bit with finding other educators to follow, as there seems to be a lot of garbage in the “explore” section.  Right now, I’m grateful to have fellow JumpStarters’ blogs to explore to see what they’re finding.

Here’s a link to one I found on Hammurabi’s Code, and here’s a cool one I found (maybe done by a student?) on WWII.

Module 3 – Create Your Portfolio

Reflect on the process of starting your portfolio blog, what challenges you faced, and what you learned.

I started a Weebly page for my classes about 3 years ago, after my district’s web platform changed for the third time and consequently deleted my class page once again.  I love Weebly. Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.28.41 AM As Jen says in the Teacher’s Guide to Tech, Weebly allows you to create “a great-looking website with very little technical knowledge.”  Perfect for me!  My website is pretty static, and it’s a great landing spot for students and parents looking for more information about my class.  I use Edmodo (Google Classroom next year) to post daily updates and class resources; it works well and I love it.  So, I was a little disconcerted when I discovered that I would need to learn a new platform and create a new website.

But, I have been thinking for a few months that I’d like to start selling on TPT, and in order to do that I needed to brand myself.  I’ve had some writers block when it came to creating a catchy name for my store, and building this blog forced me to just make a decision and pick an epithet.  Sitting on the WordPress registry page, my cursor blinking frustratingly at me, I decided to call myself The Topknot Teacher.  I don’t know how I’ll ever find time to teach full time, take care of my family *and* blog, but at least I’ll have the tools to do so.

I know that I have a lot more to learn about WordPress, but I’m confident that this course will walk me through it.  Here I go!


Module 2 -Lay the Groundwork

  • Describe the tools you chose for this module, talk about what it was like to learn them.

Although I use both Google Drive and Dropbox daily in my life as a teacher, I chose a shared Google Drive folder for our group cloud storage.  I love Dropbox for my own file storage, and I use it a lot to access resources from multiple devices.  But, when it comes to collaboration and multiple users adding and retrieving files, I really prefer Google Drive; the interface just lends itself so easily to sharing and I wanted us to be able to comment on each other’s work.

I’m also using both Voxer and a Facebook Group for backchannel discussion during this process.  Facebook Groups have recently become one of my greatest sources of professional development.  I know that the greatest resource teachers have is each other, and it’s been really helpful and inspiring to be able to connect directly with educators all over the country (and world!).    Voxer, on the other hand, is a new tool for me.  Love at first use!  I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to use it with my colleagues, parents or students yet, but it’s a great tool!  For parents, I can see how it would be the perfect hybrid of a phone call and an email; I have a hard time making phone calls home because free time during the school day is so limited, but at the same time there’s a lot of tone and vocal cues that just don’t come across in an email.  So, devising a useful, authentic way to include Voxer in my room is on my to-do list.

Module 1 – Taking Stock

  1. What are your biggest concerns or challenges with technology? Choose two or three and describe how these things hold you back.

My biggest concern is integrating technology in a way that is transformative, authentic and engaging.  I feel like a lot of what I do is just using our iPads to replace books, pencils and paper.  So in terms of the SAMR model, I really spend most of my time in substitution and augmentation.  I know there are tons of other, better things I could be doing, but I don’t know what I don’t know.  


That’s really my only concern.  We’ve been 1:1 with iPads for 3 years, and I feel like I do a good job of integrating technology into my classroom.  My interactive notebook is the only paper we use; I use Edmodo daily to stay in touch with students & parents and disseminate & collect work; my kids have worked through stations with resources linked through QR codes; I’ve done some interactive notebooking in Google Slides; I use Padlet for collaboration and entry/exit slips… In terms of the other teachers in my building, I know that I’m on the front end of technology integration.  But I KNOW I could be using these iPads for far cooler, more engaging things.  

  1. In “Why Bother With Technology?” many reasons are given for why technology is worth the trouble. Which two reasons are most relevant to you? Using a specific example for each, explain how using more technology could make a difference for you.


So my number one is “It gives you more one-on-one time with students”  Jenn says “By putting some of the straight-up information delivery into the hands of technology, teachers get more time to interact with students at higher levels of thinking – things only humans have the subtle decision-making skills to do. We can talk more with students about the whys of our content, and spend more time on things like discussion, evaluation, and problem-solving.”  That resonates with me because my students come to my class without a lot of background knowledge in social studies.  They can’t read maps or timelines and they’ve never been introduced to big ideas in history like social and political systems or economics.  So, I feel like I spend a lot of my class time delivering content and never getting to the higher order things like discussion or problem solving.  I used to teach AVID, and I would LOVE to incorporate strategies like Socratic Seminar and Philosophical Chairs.  But I just never seem to have the time to get the basic info into them and then also work with in in a critical way.  


The other biggie for me is “It increases student engagement.”  I teach low income 7th graders who think that anything found outside of their phones is boring and lame.  I have a handful of kids every year who get sucked into the mystery and Otherness of the ancient world and grow into history nerds over the course of the year, but for most of them, it’s just another class.  Anything I can do to make the class more engaging and get my content into long-term memory is a plus!


  1. After reading the descriptions of teachers who have woven technology into their work and lives, choose two specific tools that interest you and describe how they might be used in your work.


Voxer is really intriguing to me, and I’m going to figure out how to use it with my students.  I don’t think they would chat about homework, but I like the idea of using it as a collaboration tool.  (And possibly parents.  I feel like it’s the perfect marriage of an email and a phone call.)


I’m also interested to learn more about Kahoot.  We have half day Fridays twice a month with only 25 minute classes.  I love using that time for review games, and love finding  ways to make them flashier and more engaging.


And a third (sorry, I need 3) would be Kaizena.  I use DBQs as my final assessment for each unit, and providing quality feedback in a timely manner to 125 students is always a challenge for me.  Voice recording could be a gamechanger for me.  

  1. After reading “How to Implement Technology,” choose two tips you believe are most important for successful use of technology. Explain why.


“Get Clear on the Reason” I think is a great one for me to keep in mind as, again, I try to climb to the higher levels of SAMR.  Am I simply enhancing or truly transforming?


And also “Find the Video Tutorial.”  It has become clear to me that in some instances, I know more than the Tech teacher.  I teach in a small school in a small district (40 total staff in my middle school.)  I need to find resources for information and collaboration outside of my building.  

  1. Choose one thing you learned from the Q&A section and explain how you might apply it to your work.

The question about management and how to keep kids on task is a good one for me.  With iPads, it’s so easy to toggle between apps, and I can be everywhere all the time.  How do I keep them focused on my work and not browsing Google Images for Nike Jordans?  

  1. Preview the 30 tool categories covered in the Teacher’s Guide to Tech. Choose two that are especially interesting to you and explain how you might use these in your work.


Again, I need 3.  I’m really interested in discussion, feedback and collaboration for all the reasons that I’ve explained throughout these questions.