Monday, November 25, 2013

ThingLink Fun!

One of the coolest sessions I attended at the iPad Summit in Boston two weeks ago was about ThingLinks.  I had never heard of these before that session, but they are so easy to make and so useful in the classroom - especially 1:1 classrooms.  You can take any image and insert any type of link over top of it - basically creating a guided lesson for students to follow.  I created two this week - one for each of my math groups.  They worked out perfectly - as I was teaching one group, the other group was working through their ThingLink and vice versa.  I was even able to include videos that I had created so that students were still getting some instruction from me!  Here is the first ThingLink that I created:

I created the image in PicCollage using screen shots of problems they had already completed.  The videos linked over the images were created in Educreations.  I created the videos explaining how to do each type of problem.  Then, the question icon is their independent practice.  They can use the videos to help them solve all of the problems.  My students are very sweet, but not very independent yet.  By giving them the videos, I am giving them a resource to use so that they aren't constantly approaching me about each problem.  (And as much as I would love to, when you have 25 students in a class for 60 minutes, you cannot teach each of them one on one.)  Giving them the videos gives them a crutch, and allows me to be able to really work with other students that I may not have been able to get to before.

The second ThingLink I created is here:

This ThingLink is obviously focused on absolute value.  While the first ThingLink was designed as more of a review for students, this one was created to teach the initial lesson, and then I pulled them together as a group to clarify any misconceptions.  This was for my faster group of students who are a little bit more independent.  I created the image in PicCollage again.  It includes a video that I created in Explain Everything and posted to Vimeo.  While I love how that looks, I didn't realize Vimeo was blocked for my students - so I'll be using Educreations for now on.  I also linked to a website that had some practice problems, and included a Brainpop video/quiz that I wanted them to complete.  I edited the BrainPop image in Skitch to include the arrow, and text.  

A lot of these apps may be very familiar to some of you, but I really felt like I stumbled on a wealth of information during that session.  One of my favorite things about ThingLinks are once they're created, they're good to go - you can edit them if needed, and reuse them again and again.  They would be great for webquests too!

Do you guys have any cool ideas I could use these for that I may not have thought of?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Frustrations and New Motivation

Well, if anyone is still following me, thank you.  I know it's been quite the hiatus. I am having a difficult year transitioning to 1:1 iPads, and was really feeling like I didn't have much to contribute, which kept me from writing.  The change has also kept me very busy, which has prevented me from blogging as well.  Going from teaching with paper and pencil to a paperless environment was a much harder transition than I had anticipated, and doing that with a very sweet, but very low group of students has made it even more challenging.  Thankfully, my principal provided the opportunity this past week for some colleagues and I to attend the iPad Summit in Boston.  This conference was so inspiring, and I really feel rejuvenated going back to school this week.  I love it when you have terrific professional development that just re-energizes you.  I learned so much and realized that I am greatly under-utilizing this fantastic tool that I have.

One of the most coolest things I learned about were ThingLinks (which can be used without the iPad) and I will be using them this week.  This website,, allows you to upload ANY image (as long as it is a picture type file), and then insert ANY type of link over the image (video, other images, text, soundbites, websites, ect).  I am going to use it as a station next week, where my students visit the image, and access the links to learn about absolute value and practice graphing absolute value.

TechChef4U (click here to go to her blog) was the presenter of this session at the conference, and this was her ThingLink that is filled with examples, and directions:

If you click on the little circles, or numbers on top of the image, you will find the things that she has linked to. She is also one of the speakers that inspired me to start blogging again.  I realized that I am really much more excited about teaching and much more creative when I am sharing my ideas, and so I need to start doing that again.  Once I finish my ThingLink, I will share it with all of you!  I am also going to share some of the other great resources, apps and ideas I learned about while in Boston over the next few days/weeks, I promise!

What are some ways you keep yourself motivated?