Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reflections On 2013-This Year's Most Popular Posts

As 2013 comes to a close let's take a quick look at the most popular posts here over the course of the last year.

It seems the voices, both for and against the Common Core State Standards got louder over the past year. Wherever you come down on the debate I hope we can all agree that, in most cases, summative assessments have their place. But in day-to-day learning in the classroom formative assessments give us a truer picture of how are kids are learning and how our teaching needs to adapt. In Formative Assessments Are Easier Than You Think, we took a look at a few, simple techniques and tools you could use each day to gauge how your students were learning and gain valuable insight into their learning. And in Why Formative Assessments Matter we look at a story of how formative assessments changed one classroom for the better.

The gathering of information is just one part of the digital literacy puzzle. Understanding how to organize, or curate that information is, I would argue, much more of an important skill. In the past, the only way we could keep our bookmarks and resources was in our browser. Now we can take that information anywhere, to any device, and share it with anyone with social bookmarking and social curation tools. In the post Doing More With Diigo we took a look at what the service is and how teachers and students could use it to collect, curate and share information.

Blogging is a large part of my professional and personal reflection process. I use my blog to share, think and learn in a public way. Blogging is also becoming a larger part of student's learning. But how do you get started? What services can you use? How can blogs be used in the classroom? Are their prompts you can use? How about grading them? In the post So...You Wanna Use Blogs In The Classroom, we looked at the answers to all those questions and more.

Collecting and curating information is just part of the digital literacy package. If you don't have the skills necessary to keep safe online, you could end up making a lifelong mistake. (Just ask Justine Sacco.) We all need to understand how be smart and how to protect our information and our identities while living online. In So...You Wanna Be A Good Digital Citizen we took a look at resources kids and teachers can use to be better digital users.

In my position of technology leadership I spend a lot of time talking to school and district leaders about technology integration and how technology can be better utilized for learning. I use a lot of resources to prompt conversations and get our administrators thinking. In the post 5 Leadership Questions To Finish (And Start) The School Year With I look at one of my favorite technology leadership assessments and pull out the 5 questions we all need to ask to help drive our reflections and our technology decisions each year.

An interesting collection of posts indeed.

While not as popular in terms of views, I did have some posts that were fun to write. A few of my favorites from the past year included:

Going Global-Tips and Resources for Global Collaborations
The Administrator PR Machine
The Summer Series of Learning (10 Posts To Learn Something Over The Summer, or Anytime!)
So...You Are Connected. Now What? 

This year proved to be my lightest for blog posts. After 5 years, however, I still find this space valuable for my professional and personal growth as an educator and learner. I am so glad you are reading and hope you will join me in 2014 for even more reflections, sharing, learning and growing!

Happy New Year!

photo credit: GraceOda via photopin cc

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why You Should Give @ThingLink A Try

I regularly use images in presentations. Pictures can be a great way to share a particular message, or can be used to create the imagery I am trying convey. But sometimes I want my images to have a little extra umph. I want to be able to use one image and have it contain lots of information.

Enter ThingLink.

Thinglink allows you to upload an image, grab one from Facebook, import from Flickr or use a picture from the web.

Then you tag the parts and pieces of the image with links, videos, embeds and more.

So I took an image of Tom Whitby and I doing a talk a few years back in NYC at the #140Edu Conference.

So you can see here, I've clicked a place on the image to tag it. Then I can insert a link to a website, video or really anything. It's really super easy.

Here is the completed Thinglink of my image.(Hover over the image to see all the tags.) 

If it's not working for you in the embed, you can visit the completed image here

And sharing is easy. You can embed, as I've done here. Or you can share via the traditional social networks like Facebook or Twitter. And they've made it super easy to share to Edmodo too. 

Wondering how it fits in your classroom? Here are a couple of posts that have tons of ideas:

Signing up is fast and easy. And I was able to upgrade to an Educator account with ease giving me a few more features. 

But what is super awesome is ThingLink is now offering free EDU Premium Accounts for teachers, a value of $250! ALL new teacher accounts that are created before the end of December will have access to Thinglink Premium features including custom icons, image carousels and stats, the ability to create classroom groups and much more!  There’s even a Thinglink app for Android and iOS devices!

The best news for educators is that students now have the opportunity to create interactive images to demonstrate and share their knowledge of concepts within a monitored environment. (You can go here to see how other teachers are using it.

If you already have a Thinglink account—no problem! Just be sure to email #premium to Write ThingLink EDU Campaign in the subject line. If you do not have a ThingLink account, simply create one with the email you responded to the promotion with.

So you can't beat free and you can't beat a free upgrade with loads of features. Head over to ThingLink to learn more and sign up today!