The Best Six Podcasts for Teachers and Teacherpreneurs

I took a podcasting class maybe eight or nine years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but I know it’s been a while. I hadn’t thought about podcasts in years, and unitl my husband and I started listening to one of a faraway church we like, they were just a distant memory. Who knew they were still alive and well?
Since I’ve rediscovered them, I haven’t been the same. I really enjoy my commute because I always can listen to something in the car. Why would you want to listen to podcasts if you haven’t already? I think can think of three reasons.
Number one: you can learn while you drive. If you’re a teacher, it’s because you like to learn first. Obviously you can’t read books and take notes in the car, so podcasts provide a great way to learn and listen, and good podcasters also provide show notes that you can refer back to after your drive is done.
Number two: Twitter is also a great Professional Learning Network (PLN) for me. But I can’t tweet while I’m in the car. Podcasting allows me to participate in that great PLN in the car. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening, and I’ve been referred to another great educator with whom I can connect. Or have heard someone I already knew being interviewed on the podcast. There was even the one time I got to be on Vicki Davis’ show. Very cool 🙂
Number three: Finally, podcasts are great because if you make one in your classroom featuring your students, you’re giving your students an authentic audience. We all know that, beyond elementary school, students don’t really want to write for their teacher. Or they don’t write authentically for their teacher. But if they know someone else is listening to their work, they will be more likely to write and produce good content.
I hope the reasons are convincing enough, but if you want to hear what gets me excited about the particular podcasts I follow, watch the video below, where I feature these six favorites:

If you’re looking to get into the podcast game for the first time or the first time in a while, push play on the video below now:

Favorite Chrome Extensions for Teacher Productivity

People have all different kinds of favorites. Some have favorite shoe brands or favorite jeans or favorite stores. You know I’m a technology nerd, because I have favorite… browsers 🙂 if you’ve been a teacher for a long time, you might have been totally addicted to Internet Explorer for years. The problem is that it hasn’t been updated in at least four years. Even Microsoft, who created the browser, has changed over to Edge. I’m getting my feet wet with Edge and there’s a lot to like about it that I can show on another day, but Chrome is still my favorite.

One reason I love the Google Chrome browser is that it’s customizable. Not only do you  have a great modern browser, but you can also tweak it to make it enhance functions that you do on a daily basis. I thought it might be worth our while for me to show you some of my favorite Chrome extensions, how to find them, and how to make sure that your extensions travel with you from machine to machine.

The extensions I love and share in the video are:

  • Colorzilla
  • Crafty Text
  • OneTab
  • The QR Code Extension
  • Bitmoji
  • Emoji for Google Chrome

Ready to get started? Watch the video below. P.S. The quality of this video is terrible–I was trying something new and it was a fail:( However, the info is good…my apologies.

ADD LINKS TO OTHER POSTS HERE!

Pretty Up Your Online Life with Colors and Emojis

Can I get a shout out if you’re one of my fellow Pinterest addicts? If so, see the article I wrote before about that. But seriously, what draws us to Pinterest is the beauty of it. If we’re girls especially, we like pretty things…even if we can’t necessarily replicate them ourselves. Anybody else out there a member of the Crappy Craft Society?

Anyhow, prettying up our online life fulfills the same drive as looking at Pinterest. As a matter of fact, it also makes things better for a student’s life. How? I’ll give you four reasons.

Number one. There’s the fun factor. Teachers and students could all use a little bit more fun, right? Taking the time to make our OneDrive, our Google Drive, or our LMS look attractive holds the students’ attention just a little bit longer.

Number two. Color coding helps everyone find what they’re looking for faster. In the video below, I’m going to show you some tips on using color-coding to ensure that your organizational structure is obvious to you and your students. And that makes for more classroom efficiency.

Reason number three is that colors and emojis, which we’re definitely going to hit in this video, are great for young readers, struggling readers, and English Language Learners. If they can’t exactly read what they’re looking for, seeing it will help them access the material just like everyone else.

Number four: Lastly, symbols and colors also give a preview of what’s in the folder for everybody. That includes you, the teacher. I don’t know about you, but at the end of any given workday, my brain is fried. If I’m looking for something, and I can quickly recognize it by its color or its symbol, I will be more likely to find it so that I can go home :-).

See what I mean about the benefits of prettying up your online life?

So without further ado, let’s dive into how you can make your OneDrive, your Google Drive, and your learning management system more beautiful and more actionable for you and your students. Click on the video below.

Using QR Codes in the Classroom

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Links have been around for how long, now? At least in popularity since the 90s. And barcode scanners have been around much longer than that. But there’s something about a special type of barcode that makes students get excited. It’s called a QR code, and it’s a square code that corresponds to a certain web address. There are so many ways to use these codes creatively in the classroom that I want to share with you.

Looking for a good QR scanner for students? I like Inigma. It is free and ad-free. Some of the others have annoying games that pop up at the bottom and are fodder for already-distracted students to accidentally click on.

Here’s one I’ve used recently and that you might want to scan for a special treat from me!

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Below you will find a slide deck with my best ideas, but if there’s something  you can’t figure out, or if you want to know more, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would also love to hear your innovative ideas for using QR codes, so share those too!

QR Code Ideas for the Classroom

With Tech and Twang,

Suzy Signature Pink

Creating Custom Breakout Edu Games

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My husband and his friends paid to get locked in a room a couple years ago…and they didn’t escape…and well, look below:

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I still call Twitter the ultimate PLN, and you know why? It’s because of things like Breakout Edu that I discovered there. I always explain the game this way: we can’t lock students in a room, so instead, they break into a box. Classroom content is key, and with so many games available, it’s highly likely that the game you’re looking for is already available.

Custom Breakout Games

With that being said, I like to give creative gifts, and I also like to help teachers to be creative in their classrooms, especially with gamified lessons. So, I have had a need several times to build my own game. I’ve built at least three for friends’ birthdays and hangouts, and there couldn’t be a more exciting gift, in my opinion. With the advent of the new Breakout Edu Platform Digital Game creation tool, I’m not going to get too technical on how to build the games themselves, but I would like to share a couple games with you. When you push play on the video below, you’ll hear about the Clue-themed game I made for my brother’s birthday and a couple other fun ideas.

Here are the resources I mention in the video as well:

Happy watching!

One more thing! I would love to send you my tipsheet for my top ten favorite Breakout Edu puzzle ideas. Want to grab it? Click here!

Classflow: A Device-Agnostic Tool for Student Learning and Assessment

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Students are going to bring phones to class. I laugh as I pass teacher doors with posters that say phones aren’t allowed, or as I visit classrooms where teachers want more computers but aren’t using the mobile supercomputers that students carry in their very own pockets. I understand that teachers need to limit cheating or distractions, but what if there were a way to “hijack” students’ devices for the teacher’s own purposes?

Classflow is only one of many tools that promotes student engagement right from these mobile devices. Use of a mobile-based lesson delivery tool reduces the need to worry about lack of devices or distraction. We teachers are putting to work the devices our students already have and then can supplement with a few that we have. We are also taking command of their computers for academic purposes instead of just hoping those devices stay turned off and in their pockets–they won’t.

So let’s get down to business on what Classflow can do. In the video posted at the bottom of this page, I dive into just some of the features: instant whiteboard, quick polls, and the marketplace.

Classflow Image

Instant Whiteboard

There are times when only a marker and a big white page will do the trick. Because Classflow is built on a card system, each card you add is, by nature, just such a blank slate. Press the Instant Whiteboard button, and you will be immediately on a blank screen where you can write, draw, and add text in multiple colors. You can then send that page of notes to student devices, where they can screenshot it for later use.

Let me stop here and say why I think words like “instant” and the “quick” in Classflow quick polls are even more powerful. Let’s say that you’ve planned a lesson without engagement opportunities or you’ve run out of lesson before you’ve run out of time. Anytime a sudden inspiration strikes, Classflow provides a quick tool for you to engage your students without prior planning.

With that being said, it’s time for the next Classflow tool.

Quick Polls

Classflow offers eight types of Quick Polls, depending on what type of data you want to receive from students. I will highlight four of them here, and you can see them demonstrated in the video below as well:

Creative

Do you have those students in your class like I did who do better with drawing than writing? Or are you trying to have students tap into different learning modalities? The creative quick poll is the tool to use. It allows you to send a prompt to students and have them respond with a drawing. They can use multiple colors, shapes, and other tools to complete their drawings and return them to you.

Word Seed

As a former English teacher but still English nerd, I love connections among words. With the word seed quick poll, send out a text prompt to students. They are able to respond with one or many words that they feel relate to your prompt in some way. My favorite way to deepen the learning with this tool is to have students help take the general brainstorm and connect/categorize the elements. Instead of just focusing on their individual devices and personal contributions, students can now come to the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room and help sort and color-code what the others have sent in.

Scale

I love the scale quick poll for a ticket out the door. Need to know how confident students are with a lesson you delivered? Launch the scale and let them rate how they really feel. You can choose to show student names for flexible grouping the next day or simply take an anonymous poll to see what you might need to address again.

Yes/No

Finally, the two-option yes/no quick poll is just what it sounds like. Ask the students any question and have them respond with yes or no. They are able to vote again as needed, but each student is limited to one choice at a time. My idea for using this tool in class is as a digital version of an agree-disagree chart. My freshman students loved days when I would give them ten hot-button statements related to a text they were about to read. As they gave their opinions and made their cases, they were engaged with the text before we even read it. In the case of Classflow, it’s easy to discuss the agreements and disagreements, as the live poll pops up on the screen and you call on different students to make their cases.

Marketplace

The final piece of the Classflow puzzle I explore in the video below is the Marketplace, which offers a bank of free or paid ready-made lessons for you to launch to student devices. Each resource is composed of PowerPoint-like slides that Classflow calls cards. As you swipe to the next card, students now see that one on their own devices’ screens. You have great content and a captive audience, and you didn’t have to create a thing.

Are you ready to see Classflow in action? Check out the video below, which is embedded from the Facebook Live Tech Tuesday session I host every week at facebook.com/techlolley at 8PM EST.

Has this exposure to Classflow shown you something you’d like to try in class? Did you find a new feature I missed? Please share in the comments below.

Want to save this idea for later? How about pinning this article to one of your Pinterest boards?

I look forward to hearing from you either way!

With Tech and Twang,

Suzy Signature Pink

Tools for Digital Writing and Drawing with Students

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Remember the days of MS Paint? I mean, I know it still exists, but I remember watching my brothers draw these amazing creations on the computer. Photoshop wasn’t even a gleam in its mother’s eye yet…if computer programs have mothers…but I digress. Anyway, I have never possessed the hand-eye coordination to draw anything with a mouse…until now.

Until now that there are touchscreen devices! Even if you and your students don’t have touchscreens, I want to share with you three tools for amazing digital drawing and writing. Here are several reasons why that type of tool matters, and why paper and pen, though still important, are not the be-all-end all in the classroom anymore:

Reason 1: Tactile learning with the hand-to-pen-connection

Students may love looking at a screen all day, but we adults know that truly committing something to memory happens when we write the information. Why not combine what we know to be effective with what they enjoy doing? Writing and drawing on the screen synthesize those two skills and make them more engaging and effective.

Reason 2: Signing documents digitally

When I went to the doctor the other day, I was expected to print and scan a 22-page packet before I got there. Absolutely not! Instead, I converted the PDF to Word (easy trick shared in my video below!) and signed digitally with Word. You and your students can sign documents securely as well the same way.

Reason 3: Annotating and explaining

Part of what makes apps like Seesaw so great (I’m an ambassador!) is that students can explain their thinking. With digital drawing and writing, your students can show what they know, and you can create quick screencasts for parents and students giving them a tour of a resource or teaching a concept.

Reason 4: Joy

As I mentioned in my post about prettying up your online life, there’s something about color that brings joy. With all the pens available (I will show several in the video!) digitally, there’s no need to break the bank on Flair pens anymore. Students with an artistic bent will be excited to do their math work again…if they can do it in pink;)

Reason 5: Color-coding

More than just joy, colors bring structure. Students taking notes in class can use colors to categorize what they write, and along with emojis or symbols, they can set their focus on important elements for later review.

Reason 6: Organization

Speaking of organization, the best thing about using a digital drawing or note is that it’s less likely to get lost. I have SO many notebooks in my house and office that I don’t remember what’s written where, such as my original draft for this post, ha! By teaching students a file structure, you can help them ensure that the notes and drawings they create in a digital medium are safe. If nothing else, Windows has a great search feature:)

So now that you know the “why” of digital inking, how about me showing you the tools? Click play on the video below, and prepare to be amazed as I share ideas for drawing and writing with Word, OneNote, and Windows Ink Workspace!

Want more cool tools? This video was part of the Twelve Days of Tech-mas, originally hosted at my Facebook Fan Page. Go follow and like it now so you can be in the live audience every Tuesday when my newest tip goes live. But don’t worry if you missed a few. They’re all linked right here:

Day 1: Digital Writing and Drawing YOU ARE HERE! 🗺️ 🌍

Day 2: Creating Custom Breakout Edu Games

Day 3: New Ideas for Using QR Codes in the Classroom

Day 4: Pretty Up Your Online Life with Colors and Emojis

Day 5: Favorite Chrome Extensions for Teacher Productivity

Day 6: The Best Six Podcasts for Teachers and Teacherpreneurs

Day 7: Creating Your Own Free Embed Code

Day 8: Interactive Student Review with Better Flashcards: Pear Deck Flashcard Factory 

Day 9: Recognize Incremental Learning and Increase Motivation with Badging

Day 10: Create Recipe Lists and Auto-Populated Emails with Office Quick Parts

Day 11: Automate Your Life by Connecting Favorite Online Tools with IFTTT

Day 12: Organize URLs and Enhance Productivity using Excel Spreadsheets and OneDrive