: : Tech skills:  double click, drag, type

 In March 2012, I tweeted the following:
Since then Quizlet added lots of new features.
What is great is that in two years it is on now on teachers’ tongues and gotten the attention of reading specialists, such as Sally Gabb. Thanks Sally for suggesting we do a Tech Tip on it!
Creating Flashcards and More
On your first attempt using Quizlet, you might just want to think “flashcards” and adapt instruction to how you might normally use flashcards with your learners. Start by simply - and I mean simply - creating a set of words by typing in the terms and definitions you want your class to study. If you are not working on specific words for a reading or topic of study, then consider using sets of cards that other teachers have made public. 

Learners Building Their Own
What naturally happens is that students will ask if they can make their own set. Be ready to take tech integration further by letting them “have at it” and start creating and sharing them with each other. Make sure they deepen the learning experience by recording their own voices, if possible. However, check to make sure they are not sharing incorrect pronunciation!

Blended Learning
Gamify your class sessions. Use a computer and projector or better yet a SMARTboard to show as a series of activities on the screen. Create teams and develop a scoring system. Individual students from each team come to the computer or board to select the correct answers or play Scatter

Teacher Accounts
Quizlet now has both iOS and Android apps and is on the verge of working out how, with a teacher account, students’ progress can be accessed by both apps. If students will be using computers then it is definitely worth $25 a year. 

Steve Quann

How do you use Quizlet? Could you share a set with our community?

We had a great time at the COABE Conference last week and came back with lots of ideas to sift through for the blog. You'll be seeing them appear here over the next few weeks. First though, we wanted to share two ideas from the winners of the Tech Tip contest that we held at our booth. 

From Lindsey Miller: Using Google Voice with English Language Learners

Give your students a homework assignment to answer a question or describe something related to the unit you are working on in class, for example, to describe what they had for dinner. Give them a phone number to call for a Google Voice account and ask them to leave a message there. The voicemail files can then be downloaded as MP3 files and played back in class. 

Google Voice is free and has many features, such as voicemail transcription. Have you used it in other ways in your classroom?

From Heather Elliott: Creating a Class Website

Create a website for your class (Heather uses nicenet.org - a free platform that's been around for many years). Use it to host discussions (similar to Facebook posts), post homework, on-line lessons, and email your students all at once. 

Do you have a class website? What service do you use to set it up and what have the results been? Do you have any class website best practices to share?

Leah Peterson

: : Tech skills: double click, drag, type
Having a student see a visual representation of relationships among ideas can aid in the comprehension of vocabulary and other concepts. Using a graphic organizer is one way to do this. Some teachers use these tools for organizing idea generation when doing pre-reading or writing activities, while others find it can be useful to use as a creative way to bring together ideas after a reading or even an oral presentation.  

Sometimes it isn’t worth the bother to use technology when you can just use the white/black board. But
Popplet is so easy and neat that I really encourage you to try it! It's a great tool for semantic mapping or webbing. You can make 5 for free. Here is a quick demo (no audio):
** To learn more, if you are at COABE, come to my session on Project Based Learning 2.0 on Monday afternoon, March 17th. **

Lesson idea:

Here is a lesson idea to show you a way I’d use Popplet in a simple project-based learning activity. Since it is close to St. Patrick’s Day, my sample activity will be a green one on Climate Change! 
  1. Use a projector to display popplet.com. You don’t even have to sign up if you just want to use the demo page. Demonstrate how to make a popple (bubble) by double clicking in the center of the screen. Type “Climate Change” and explain to the class your idea about doing a project on the topic. (If you want to you can even insert an image or YouTube clip to engage your learners). To ease into the topic, ask the class what they think of when they hear the words "Climate Change". (If you want, you can focus the activity more by asking them to type in evidence of climate change.) Ask each learner to come up to the computer to add their thoughts in a new popple. Show students how to branch from the central popple and how to link related concepts. 
  2. Explain to the class the problem or driving question at hand. “What can we do as a class to help fight climate change?”
  3. Tell the students that before working on a solution, they need to research the causes of climate change.  Break the class into groups and ask them to do an Internet search. (Depending on your students’ level of experience on the web, you might review how to evaluate web resources or direct them to specific websites.) Have each group sign up for Popplet, unless you have created a group account. Each group should create a Popplet and use it to add key evidence to explain the causes of climate change. Encourage groups to add media to popples. Then ask them to present their whole Popplet and findings to the class. 
  4. Solution stage: Brainstorm and discuss a list of solutions your class could undertake. 

More Technology Integration:

Teachers can also use Popplet to create a mind map, save it as a pdf or jpeg and print it out, but below are some ideas for moving to deeper integration of the tool. Implementing these of course depends on access to technology and tech skills of students.
  • Each student signs up and gets their own Popplet account (see group rates). Students can use theirs for regular classroom work, such as pre-writing activities, to visually tease out and organize the main idea and supporting details, for example of a persuasive paragraph of why their school should go green. See this YouTube to get more related ideas on how to use Popplet in teaching. 
  • Teachers, and better yet students, can collaborate on a Popplets. Perhaps collaborating with other classes on a project or topic, such as working on how their school can become “greener.”  Read this post to learn how your students can connect with others.  
  • Use the image and video feature to illustrate how your school implemented changes and share it with the world via social media or the school’s website. See ways of sharing a Popplet below.
Steve Quann

Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).  
: : Tech skills:  Use of a projector, web video, and Word

What is STEM?
As most of you know, STEM is an acronym that stands for the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In our field, science and mathematics have sometimes been incorporated into instruction, but not until fairly recently has technology been included. (Although it is well over a decade now that we have been advocating for it.) To be honest, I don’t know many places, if any, that introduce engineering into their curricula. If you do, let us know! 

Is it important for us?
STEM is most often referred to in education as curriculum to prepare youth for the new skills they need to compete in modern technology-based society. But I think you can see how this movement can also be very helpful to the populations we serve. 
“Instructors need to offer project-based experiences that help students understand how technical disciplines can be applied in creative ways to solve real social challenges.” From Pedagogy 3.0 .
Let me share some simple ideas that you might consider for helping learners practice their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. 

Lesson idea:

  1. Select a video from physics.org. You might want to enlist the class to help you decide which one.
  2. Sometimes vocabulary can be introduced before watching a video. But in this case, since the videos are demonstrations with only background music, no speech, you may want to engage students with the video first and then ask them to name the materials used in the experiment and the steps taken. (Review commands if necessary.) Then scroll down below the video and go over the material used and the written instructions.  
  3. If you have the material on hand, ask the class to instruct you to complete the experiment. (Or if you are working on the past tense, you could instead ask them to explain what happened.) Completing the experiment could be done in a number of different ways depending on your goals. You could work together as a class and talk out the steps while writing them on the board or you could have students write out the steps individually. Think about this logistically because you might need each student in front of a computer for them to be able to recall the steps. 
  4. These experiments can sometimes seem to be merely magic tricks. Make sure to ask students to reflect on what they can learn from these experiments as they relate to science. 

Have learners watch separate videos in pairs or individually. Ask them to write down the steps and exchange the instructions, so that another student or pair can read them and perform the experiment. Alternatively, have students prepare to instruct other students orally.

Note: the material for the experiment would of course need to be made available for this portion of the lesson.  

Steve Quann

Have you done this or a similar activity? Do you have a favorite science experiment video? Share your ideas in the comments.
I recently attended a workshop by Arielle Winchester on creating infographics and it got me thinking about how infographics could be used as a classroom activity. Generally speaking, infographics are visual representations of data, but they can be used with a wide range of information types. Previously we did a post on creating timelines, which can also be done as infographics. Some other ways to use infographics are flow charts, instructional steps, and comparisons. Creating the infographics online gives students the opportunity to experiment with different ways to display the information by simply dragging in different elements. But beware, this can become time consuming, so you'll want to try this out on your own before introducing it in your classroom. 

There are many different possible uses, approaches, and websites for infographics. This lesson is using easel.ly to create a comparison infographic. Easel.ly struck me as one of the simplest sites to use, but it also has more limitations than some of the other sites. If you're using more detailed data you might want to experiment with Piktochart.com which is a more comprehensive site. 
  1. To get started with easel.ly, all you do is open the site and click on "Start Fresh". There's a short video on the home page (less than two minutes) that you can watch that will give you an overview of the site. You don't need to register to use the program, but you will need to do so in order to save your work. 
  2. Show some examples of comparison infographics to demonstrate what you will be doing, such as this straightforward comparison of two products, or this one comparing two athletes. You can google image search "comparison infographics" to get many more examples.
  3. Infographics need to start with some data or information to be presented. This activity will be easier if you have a clear goal for the lesson related to the subject matter you are studying. Have students pick what they will be comparing related to what you are working on, or assign them their topics. You may want to discuss as a class what might work well as an infographic and what might be less effective. You could also phrase the comparison as a question "Which is better this or that?" or "Should I do this or that?" This might be a good activity to do in pairs so that students can help each other come up with ideas. 
  4. Click on "Vhemes" and drag the "Nerds vs. Geeks" infographic into your work space. Alternately, you can click "Clear" to start with a blank canvas, though it may be less intimidating to replace text and images than to start from scratch. 
  5. Click on elements to select them, then double click to edit. You can delete selected items by clicking on the trash can or add new images by clicking on "Objects", selecting the appropriate category then dragging the image onto your page. You can then resize the image by selecting it and dragging the corners. Add new text boxes by clicking on "text" and dragging the text type onto your document. 
  6. Once you have your content entered you can beautify your design by changing background colors, arranging images, and tweaking sizes. 

On a different note, some teachers have used infographics to create teaching aids. Here's a fun one of 10 misunderstood words that is also an example of a comparison infographic. And here is another that helps teach about adjectives

Leah Peterson

Have you used infographics in your classroom either as a teaching aid or a class activity? Tell us about it in the comments!
: : Tech skills:  Use of a projector, Google or Word Documents, possibly poll creation and texting
Digital Learning Day (February 5th) is approaching quickly, so I went to the Digital Learning Day site to peruse some of the lesson ideas from last year. Below is a lesson adapted for adult learners. You might adapt this further depending on the class learning objectives. For example, if you want your focus to be on writing, then change the discussion to a writing activity. If it is grammar, then you might use the present perfect in the poll question and elicit answers in complete sentences. If your goal is to offer conversation practice, have students work in groups throughout. I even see how the graph in the poll might be an appropriate discussion of percentages for numeracy classes. And if you are looking for opportunities for an authentic purpose for a reading, have students read an article, like this one from The Change Agent’s technology issue (the full issue is available for purchase on their website).

Lesson Idea:
  1. Introduce the activity by explaining that you are going to examine your individual uses of technology, discuss the advantages and disadvantages, and then come up with ideas for how to use technology for learning.
  2. Projecting a blank Word document (or better yet, have the class collaborate using Google Drive), brainstorm a list of digital media and technology used each day.  Explain digital media and be specific as to the types you mean (e.g., apps, games, texting, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.). 
  3. Use a projector to show an SMS Poll (e.g., Poll Everywhere). Alternatively, create a poll in Excel and tally results as you ask for a show of hands. Before asking students to respond to the poll, ask them to reflect on the last 24 hours and then add up the number of times they used any of the previously mentioned technologies. You can use the question below: 

    How many times did you use technology in the last day?
    a.      Less than 5 times
    b.      6-10 times
    c.      11-14 times
    d.      More than 15 times

  4. Use the above results as a jumping off point for a discussion or writing activity about what they think about their use of technology. Ask the class to explain what the advantages and disadvantages are of our society’s current use of technology. If your time permits and it is appropriate for the class, consider having your class read a short article, such as the Change Agent article linked above, as warm up or perhaps as a follow up, with the discussion being a pre-reading activity. 
  5. Go back to the brainstormed list and now ask the class to help you mark each technology according to purposes for which they are generally used. (e.g., For entertainment put an E beside the technology, for Work a W, and Learning an L.) 
  6. Have the class break up into groups and discuss ideas on how to use these technologies and media more as learning tools to practice English, work on Math, study vocabulary or connect to get help on homework, etc. After each group has at least one or two ideas, ask the groups to come together to share and discuss ways in which students can adapt technologies so they can be used for learning. In addition, investigate how the class as a whole might use technology to support each other’s education. 
  7. As a closer, ask the class which tools on the list they can now add L's next to.   

Steve Quann

Share what you are doing or did for Digital Learning Day last year or this year in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe (on the right) if you have not already done so!


The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) is excited to announce the launch of the latest LINCS online course: Integrating Technology in the Adult Education Classroom. This course is designed for instructors who are at the beginner/intermediate level of technology integration in the classroom. It is available on the LINCS Learning Portal, along with additional online courses from several other OVAE initiatives, in topics including English as a second language, adult career pathways, Learning to Achieve, science, and more.

Integrating Technology in the Adult Education Classroom discusses why technology is important for teaching and learning, how instructors approach integrating technology, and what tools instructors can use to integrate technology. Throughout the course, you will learn about examples of adult education instructors’ personal experiences in integrating technology. In a culminating activity, you will create a Technology Integration Action Plan for a unit or lesson that you select for use with your own adult learners. You also will have the opportunity to interact with the LINCS Community throughout this online course. The course takes an estimated four hours to complete.

To join the LINCS Learning Portal and access its online courses, follow the following steps:
  1. Go to the log in page at: https://courses.lincs.ed.gov/.
  2. Click the Create User / Sign up button in the Need to register? box.
  3. Complete the requested information to create your account. Check the box to accept the terms and conditions; and click Create an Account.
  4. An email will be sent to you to confirm your email address. Click the link in your email to verify your email address and complete your account set up.
  5. Within that email, click the Continue to LINCS Learning Online link and log in by entering your username (email address) and password.

We'd love to hear about the Technology Action Plan you create. Email us a copy for consideration as a guest post.

Leah Peterson

: : Tech skills: web navigation, enter text into fields, organizing information

One of my favorite activities when I was teaching adult English language learners involved using a timeline. I would draw a timeline on the board. I labeled it with years that ranged from the earliest birth year possible, considering the average age of the class, and ended it with the present year. I would then give a number of sticky notes to each student. If I were working on listening comprehension, I would ask a question about learners’ lives and the date of its occurrence (When did you arrive in the United States?) or perhaps I would ask them about recent historical events. Students were then asked to come up to the board to place a sticky note in the appropriate location on the timeline. If I were working on writing, I would ask learners to respond to a question about when they were born, etc. They would write the complete response on the sticky note and place on the timeline. You get the idea. There are a lot of variations.

Substituting Technology

Depending on your objectives, the use of technology may or may not be called for here. The activity itself is already quite engaging, but certainly technology can be easily integrated. In fact, the exact same activity can be executed with a very simple technology tool - an online timeline maker. Using this website fits under the “substitution approach” of tech integration. The example above includes the basic activity staying the same (using a timeline) and the new technology tool (web-based) replacing an old one (line on a board). Read this explanation of SAMR for further illustration and other approaches to technology integration.  

Substitution to Redefinition

Those with more experience in technology integration often more deeply incorporate technology in the teaching and learning. They use technology to create new tasks with the activity. For example, teachers might encourage learners to create a YouTube video about an event in their lives or if they create a timeline on the life of Cesar Chavez, students post it to a blog and elicit comments from others. If you are interested in an advanced timeline maker and seeing potential ideas for timelines try Tiki-Toki timeline maker or read this blog post from Mr. G Online.  

Steve Quann

Please share how you have used timelines with your classes and how you think a new technology could be used. 
Tech Tips for Teachers has been approved as a Teach100 Blog, a list of education blogs rated and ranked by Teach.com. Teach100 just celebrated its first birthday, and currently boasts a list of 532 blogs. Blogs are rated based on frequency of posts, interaction from readers, and other factors. The rankings change daily. Our ranking is posted on our site. Help us improve our ranking by clicking "like" under the posts you enjoy or Tweeting about them. Besides improving our ranking, this lets us know which posts have been most valuable to you. We use this information to continually improve our posts and get you more of the ones you like best.

Leah Peterson