Friday, February 12, 2016

Incorporate VR Field Trips and Explorations into your Formative Assignments!!

Virtual Reality (VR) is all the rage right now, but did you know you can easily incorporate it into your everyday Formative Assignments? Let's take a government class for example, how do you teach “How a bill becomes a law?” Maybe a School House Rocks song or a Crash Course Government Video off YouTube, Which are both great by the way. But also why not TAKE them to see our nation's capital where it all happens! Well a real trip is out of the question, and budget, but a VR trip is easy to use in a Formative assignment.
You can do this all in three easy steps:
1) Go to the website:, and look up the destination you want to go to. Click on your destination.
2) Once in your destination VR image go to the upper right and click on the “link icon”, an embed window screen will open up, then select copy, this will copy your HTML embed code. Do not worry, you don't need to know how to code, just copy and paste. View the steps above in animated gif below:

3) Now all you have to do is begin editing your formative document. Use the “Add Content” green button Then Choose “Add Text”. The first item choice in this tool is the embed button which looks like this “<>”. Click it and the text block will create a black screen. Click on the screen then “Paste” the embed code in this spot. Click on the “<>” embed button one more time and whala, you now have a VR tour of your location!!! View the animated gif below:

Here is a completed example for you to use )

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ziteboard a new way to collaborate using sketchnoting.

I love it when I come across a new tool that seem simple but has a chance to make a huge impact on education. Yesterday a friend of mine, Ed Campos, showed me a new chrome extension called Ziteboard. In simplicity it is a digital whiteboard which can be shared to a group through an email or a link. In the grander scale it has the chance to transform your classroom  by increasing collaboration on simple ideas and discussions like no other tool I have seen. By design, Ziteboard is an easy to use chrome extension (found HERE) which allows you to sign in directly with your pre-existing Google account. The extension itself gives you a clean white canvas, a simple pencil drawing tool, eraser tool, and undo button. The power of Ziteboard is not simply in its whiteboard function, but in its Prezi like format allowing users to zoom in and out of the canvas at will, giving you an unbounded space to collaborate and create on any subject and topic.


This unbounded canvas allows for you the educator or presenter to offer your students, staff, and participants a new way to take notes, REAL TIME COLLABORATIVE SKETCHNOTING! If you have not seen the power and creativity of sketchnoting please see the examples below and please read blogs by Kathy Schrock HERE and Matt Miller HERE. Sketchnoting allows your students to visualize their learning and create a digital mind map of their understanding of the topic or subject being taught.  Normally sketchnoting is a personal exercise, but with Ziteboard you open your ideas to others, allowing them to be built upon or extended by other participants. Ideas can be connected togethers and a bigger picture of the topic can take root.
Sketchnote by Doug Neil

I am only in the fantasy phases of using this tool, but I cannot wait to see if it can be used in a class of 8th graders and college students the same way. I envision this tool being used not only as a note taking tool, but also as a visual backchannel for my classes to share collaborate and create at any moment during class. I have big ideas planned for such a little tool!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Kahoot! helped me start and edtech explosion!

As an edtech leader on my campus I am always traveling and searching for the newest and best tools to use in my classroom. About a year and a half ago I came across a great little site called Kahoot!. The colors were bright, the site looked friendly, so I decided to investigate what this company was all about. What I discovered could only be described as EduFUN! The site and its game-like assessments were reminiscent of my favorite time sucking app, Trivia Crack. I have for years been playing "Trivia Crack" with my students to build relationships and have them learn at the same time. I had now found a way to bring the thrill of "Trivia Crack" into the classroom to replace my modern pen and paper assessments. I WAS HOOKED!

Being the tech guy on my campus, and an overly excited person, I went around my campus room to room praising the new web app Kahoot! as the next big thing in our classroom. I was awestruck when I discovered my fellow teachers were not as enthusiastic about my discovery as I was. I told them how fun it was to use and how easy the "Game/Quiz" was to make, but all I got was a shrug and a nod. As I later found out, I was known around campus as the "Too much of a Tech Guy" and the perception was whatever I said was easy, must still be complicated to the average teacher. Nothing I could say would goad any teacher into trying my new found discovery. 

I started to send out invitations to my fellow teachers, "Come one, come all, see the amazing Marquez and his Amazing students learning and having fun all at the same time!". No takers. Hmmm, what to do? I brought in my computer in to our PLC (Planed Learning Community) meetings to have them play one of my assessments, but there was no time for silly games when there is real data to be gone over. Hmmm, what to do? Finally, I went to a fellow teacher who never, I mean never used technology in his class. I sat him down a made him an offer he could not refuse "Please let me make you an assessment in Kahoot! for you to give in class. I will do all the work. I will collect and analyze all the data. I will even cover your duty for a whole week. Please, please, please, just try the Kahhot!" Reluctantly the teacher took me up on the deal. He tried the Kahoot! and all HELL-O technology broke out. The kids were hooked, and they could not stop talking about the quiz they just took and the fun they just had taking it.

Soon the word of Kahhot! spread across campus like a wild fire. Students were asking to be assessed almost everyday! Teachers across campus heard the "No Tech" teacher was using it, so it must be EASY to use. Soon every classroom was a Kahoot! classroom. Soon teachers were asking for more technology in the classroom. Soon teachers were willing to try all the tools I had been building up in my EdTech toolbox. Soon our classrooms became Google Classrooms, and our PowerPoints became Nearpod's, our videos became Zaption's, and our worksheets became Formative's. It was a tech revolution that is just now gearing us up to be a completely 1:1 campus. Kahoot! was the spark that ignited our educational firestorm. Thank you Kahoot! for being my match to start an explosion!!!