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Bloom into EdTech: The Blog: November 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Digital Note Taking

So much pressure is placed in education on using technology. However, in many classrooms it is the teacher utilizing the technology for presentation of their notes, and the students are the ones who are handwriting them down in journals and notebooks. In my opinion, using digital tools in the classroom as a form of note taking is a tremendous stride in the right direction. There are many tools that can assist students with note taking; G Suite, Evernote, Notability, etc. are just a few of the examples.

Today’s big push appears the interactive notebooks. An interactive notebook is a paper notebook that allows students to place notes and teachers can create activities within the sheets of paper (Interactive-notebooks-home, N.D.). I could easily see this transition to students using either Google Slides in conjunction with Google Draw or Evernote to create an interactive notebook and replace its paper counterpart.

Some advantages of incorporating digital notes into your classroom:
  • There is no more excuses. Students cannot say that their “dog” ate their notebook.
  • When a student is absent, sharing digital notes can be done in a pinch.
  • Honestly, think of how many trees you would be saving.
  • Students can record audio into their notes (Holland, 2014).
  • Students can employ text to speech options to have the notes read back to them (Holland, 2014).
  • Students can collaborate with other students on their note taking or “interactive notebook”
  • It’s motivating. Technology is a tool that is familiar to students. The pen and paper has become almost foreign as students begin to type faster than write with pen/pencil.
  • Digital note taking helps students practice their typing skills.

Some disadvantages of digital note taking:
  • Student’s can easily get off task and be distracted if they elect to open various tabs and wander in cyberspace.
  • When students are typing notes, research suggests they are more likely to type every single word as opposed to the hand writers (Doubek, 2016).
  • Students who use the copy and paste feature may not redeem the full potential of note taking and absorbing the information as they write (or type) it out (Mosleh, M. A., Baba, M. S., Malek, S., & Alhussein, M., 2015).

Please note I am not listing “technology failing” as an option here. I have pencils/pens and pencil sharpeners fail on me several times- and perhaps even more than I have had technology fail on me.

What do you think?


Doubek, J. (2016).  Attention, Students: Put your laptops away. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away

Holland, B. (2014). The 4Ss of note-taking with technology. edutopia. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-4ss-of-note-taking-beth-holland

interactive-notebooks - home. (N.D.). Interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com. Retrieved  November 26, 2016, from https://interactive-notebooks.wikispaces.com/

Mosleh, M. A., Baba, M. S., Malek, S., & Alhussein, M. A. (2015). Challenges of Digital Note Taking. In Advanced Computer and Communication Engineering Technology (pp. 211-231). Springer International Publishing.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Creating Infographics and Posters for Digital Literacy

What is digital literacy?

By definition, “Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills” (ALA Connect, 2016). Technology is changing the way our students learn, read, and obtain information. We need to create a curriculum that nurtures this way of learning. Being able to close-read visual information is just as valid as being able to close-read text. There are many tools on the market that enhance our understanding of digital literacy as well as our students.

Today we will be looking at a product called PiktoChart found at https://piktochart.com/

PiktoChart has free and of course, paid educational offers.

Within PiktoChart, students have the ability to make and publish Posters, Infographics, Presentations and Reports. Templates are provided, however I prefer to have my students create their own from scratch.

Can I say that I love the fact that you can easily embed videos, graphs. Students can easily create mutlimodal projects with ease using PiktoChart.

Here is a quick guide to get you started:

As well as a video tutorial:


Digital Literacy Definition | ALA Connect. (2016). Connect.ala.org. Retrieved 21 November 2016, from http://connect.ala.org/node/181197

Friday, November 11, 2016

Setting Safe Search to Pixabay

If you are ever in the search for royalty free, high-quality images to use with your students, Pixabay.com is the place to go. I have been a huge fan for years and have found from experience that the bigger they grow and the more popular they have become, the more I am running into questionable images.

Luckily, {although not foolproof} Pixabay has a Safe Search for images built right into their Website. Please know that sometimes, (like anything else) questionable content slips through the cracks. You are always your students best line in defense to make certain they are safe. Making sure students know how to "handle" the situation is also a priority (i.e. have them turn off the screen before the come and report it).

Here is how to access it Pixabay's Safe Search:

1. In the top right-hand corner is a menu button. Select it and press FAQ.

2. Scroll down until you find the Safe Search section and check off the box to enable.

That's it! Happy safe searching!

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Using Google Draw to create a Doodle 4 Google

What can I say?

There is nothing you cannot do in the G Suite. For the last two years or so my 4th-grade students have taking place in Google's contest, Doodle for Google (found here: https://doodles.google.com/d4g/).

In years past we have used a variety of tools employing various devices (iPads, tablets, etc.). This year I decided to give Google Draw a go with my students.

I love Google Draw. How can you not love a tool that you can access anywhere? An artist by trade, I have found many workarounds to use this basic tool.

For example, check out this Google Draw Artist, Joshua Pomeroy by watching his video here:  https://youtu.be/OkAuMOjXFCc He makes it look so easy right?

Here was my give-it-a-go:

Not too shabby for my first attempt if I do say so myself!

I thought to myself, "self, why couldn't I use this tool with my students to illustrate what they feel the future will look like?"

Below is a Screencast of what tools I introduced to my students. You can hear their discussions and enthusiasm while I am showing them these tools. Please use it as a guide- a starting point for yourself. I personally uploaded the video to Google Classroom for them to refer back to when needed.

Please take note of the following:
1. I sneezed, It happens. Especially when you are creating a video for your students (and audience) to reflect on.

2. I rarely use the scribble tool and mainly use the polyline tool because of the inability to be able to fill after you draw an organic shape. I went back after this video was created and showed my students how to change the color, which you can simply do by clicking the scribble line and clicking the down arrow on the Line Tool menu AFTER the line is drawn. This is me. Uncut. In the moment. Schooled.

My student's learned two key points after they began their first Google Doodle using Google Draw:
1. How to make a suggestion to Google in the Help section by requesting that the scribble tool will fill a shape when it is completed. Dear Google, ......


2. Teacher's sneeze! Just kidding. But we do. They learned very quickly that they need to adjust layers and not be too click-happy with the polyline tool.

After my lesson on Google Draw, many went on to draw their illustrations without using an image as a guide. I will share those with you as soon as they finish!

Here is my second example:

I think I may have a future as a Doodle Artist!

Have you used Google Draw in any of your lessons? Art teachers, I would love to hear from you!

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