Bootstrap your EdTech

“Bootstrap” your EdTech

 

To “bootstrap” indicates to get started, develop, or create under one’s own efforts, finances, maybe even, ingenuity, with little or no assistance from others.

 

We often hear about entrepreneurs and start-up companies that “bootstrapped” it until they “made it.”  It’s a good term.  It’s relevant.  Additionally, Bootstrap is actually a “mobile first” front-end development tool for HTML, CSS, and JS.

 

There is an overwhelming amount of educational technology available to choose from for students, teachers, and administrators.

First, start with why.

 

Is there really a need for all of these tools?  In my opinion, yes.   There are certain online programs that provide value that are worth the cost, effort, and implementation.  Programs that allow for personalized learning paths, that are “adaptive” and personalized – remediating, or advancing, a student “real-time” – and those that provide educators invaluable analytics and insight into a child’s performance and mastery towards standards.  There’s also some awesome programs that facilitate creativity, collaboration, and discussion among students.

 

However, there is redundancy among many of the edtech tools that we have access to. So, continue to evaluate if your students and teachers are getting value from those online programs that you use.

 

Then, “bootstrap”, the rest.  What I mean by this, is utilize the free online tools that bring a lot of value.  Ask yourself, “Are you fully utilizing the online programs that are free?”

 

One of the biggest players in the truly free for educators market is G Suite for Education.  With a bit of creativity and understanding of the power of GSfE, you can implement everything from blended learning to differentiated instruction to collaboration and interaction with your community.

 

Here’s a few tips and concrete examples:

 

 

  • Google Hangouts: Find and develop connections in your curriculum/content to local (or global) specialists willing to share some relevant experiences.

 

      • Here’s an example: fifth graders engaged with nurse practitioners and transplant coordinators from The Lung Transplant Program at New York-Columbia Presbyterian University Medical Center to learn more about the respiratory system as part of their science curriculum.

 

  • Google Docs/Slides: Manage formative assessment feedback and comments using Action Items.

 

  • Google Forms: Have students create surveys for projects.
  • Google Sites: Almost limitless.
  • Create a site that stores all of your curated resources, videos, links, Docs, Slides, Forms, assessments, etc. for a project.  Facilitate student self-paced activities, blended learning, and share your created or approved instructional content through a Site.

 

      • Student created portfolio sites.  Create the opportunity for students to share the work they are proud of throughout the year.  Students will surprise you with their creativity and engagement when you simply give them a platform to express themselves.
      • Create a teacher site.  Make this as simple or robust as you would like. The canvas is blank for your creation.

 

 

 

Beyond Google for Education there are so many edtech tools that can enhance instruction, increase student engagement, and personalize and differentiate learning.

Without diving deep into these tools, here’s a bunch of online programs that are free for teachers:

 

Curiosity Machine

 

Khan Academy

 

The Lawrence Hall of Science

 

Math IXL (limited free for teachers)

 

Matific

 

National Science Teachers Associations

 

National Science Digital Library (NSDL)

 

Padlet

 

PBS Learning Science

 

Pear Deck

 

Peergrade

 

Science Interactives

 

TenMarks (limited free for teachers)

 

Smithsonian Education

 

Understanding Science

The Iceberg Model

The Iceberg Model is an awesome visual and analogy that helps you visualize and uncover the underlying causes of the events we see (the portion of the iceberg above the surface).

The analogy works because there is always an unseen portion of an iceberg that lies below the surface and with events, there are values, structures, and patterns that lead to the event.

Once you uncover the underlying structures, you can start to leverage those to transform and design outcomes or prevent unwanted outcomes.  You can use high value and high leverage concepts like the beliefs and values of your organization to create desired and positive outcomes.

 

Pear Deck

pear-deck-logo

Our teachers love Pear Deck!  

Along with being a really easy to use (it integrates with G Suite for Education), and a great engagement and formative assessment tool, below are some of the specific features of Pear Deck that our teachers like.  In another blog post, I’ll dive deeper into our systems processes for choosing educational technology.

Check in with students

Self-paced mode

  • Present lesson through Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • Allocate time for students to work independently on a portion of Pear Deck slide deck
  • Utilize multiple Pear Deck slide decks as differentiated “Station” Activities
  • Utilize differentiated Pear Deck slide decks in small group instruction
  • Pear Deck Student-Paced Overview

Take-Aways – turn the slide deck into a Google Doc for each student

  • Students can receive their individual responses on a slide deck
  • Google Doc can be used for studying and to continue the learning
  • Teacher can use comment feature of Google Docs to provide feedback on a student’s response to a question
  • How to Publish a Pear Deck Takeaway

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate

I recently presented at the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit held in my school district, Marlboro Township Public Schools.

It was a great event! I learned valuable new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging instructional technologies.  As we approach the start of the school year, I’m sharing and have attached my presentation slideshow on differentiating with Google Docs and Google Forms.

It’s a simple concept in that the teacher can share a Google Doc with a student and set him/her off on an individualized project and learning paths or provide specific links to differentiated content or activities.  Additionally, if you’re using adaptive learning programs like Study Island, ST Math, or others, you can link directly to those websites and sign-in pages.

Below is a skills checklist to get yourself started and a link to my slideshow and resources.

  • Understand basics of Google Docs and Forms
  • Understand Sharing Settings of Docs and Forms
  • Can insert hyperlinks into a Google Doc
    • Understand concept of linking Docs to Docs
    • Insert Link Shortcut Keys (Ctrl + K)
  • Can utilize Google Search to find resources, texts, videos, etc. to curate information
  • Can insert YouTube Videos
  • Understand how to add Sections in Google Forms
  • Understand new Forms Quizzes feature

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate NJ GAFE Summit16 Slideshow

Adaptive Learning Flowchart for Google Forms

I wanted to share this Adaptive Learning Flowchart that can be used when planning a formative assessment in Google Forms.

I don’t recommend trying to make Google Form assessment that verges on the complexity of advanced adaptive learning programs.  However, the flowchart I’ve provided should give you some assistance in planning a form that leads a student through a differentiated path or an adaptive type assessment.

 

Flowchart Graphic
Flowchart Graphic