EdTech@Mapleton Blog

Photo of a starry sky at night surrounded by trees by Nathan Anderson
  • Clever: A Powerful Tool for Teaching and Learning

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 3/1/2019

    By now, you probably know something about Clever. You may use it to log on to the Bridges Educator site, or to things like Lexia or Istation. You may even know how to personalize links for your class or for yourself. What you may not know is, why do we use Clever in the first place? And, how can Clever help us with teaching, learning, and classroom management? Let’s explore some of the features you may not know about Clever.  

    Clever login page

    Why We Use Clever

    Clever has many benefits. Chief among these is Single Sign-On (SSO) which allows users to log on to websites without needing to remember passwords for each one. It also helps to protect student and staff data, as websites don’t have access to sensitive information about users, including login information. It makes rostering easy as well. Instead of having to register each individual student or staff member for new applications, Clever imports this information from ICampus. However, in addition to the convenience that its rostering and SSO features provide, Clever can also streamline tasks in the classroom. 

    Clever Features for Teaching and Learning

    Clever Badges allow young students to log on to Clever using a QR code instead of having to type in a long username and password. If students lose their badges, no problem! Contact the HelpDesk to request that a new QR code be generated for your student.  

    Did you know you can launch apps for all students at once? After everyone is logged on to Clever, simply go to your Classes page, and select the current class or section. Then go to Launch Application, and you will see a list of applications available to your students. Click on the application you want everyone to use, and voila! It will launch for all of your students at the same time. When you are done, simply select “Log Class Out” to log everyone out. For more information, see Clever’s support page on Teacher Tools 

    On My Page, you can change the name of your class, add or change sections, add an icon for yourself, and add any resource you want to your students’ pages. Are you using an article or video for today’s lesson? Use the sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen to search for the resource and add it your students’ pages. When it’s time to teach the lesson, these resources can be launched for the whole class at the same time, just like any other application.  

    Clever SSO is available for every site you or your students log in to. Use the Saved Passwords feature to securely manage passwords for each site. Once you enter the password, Clever will remember it for you. Do you need access to a site Clever doesn’t have SSO for yet? Request it, and Clever will approve it in 48 hours or less 

    Are you worried about students wasting time clicking around or typing in long URLs to access different websites or applications? Make Clever your homepage in the browsers on your Chromebook or iPads and add links to frequently-used pages, including Google Drive.  

      Coming Soon to Clever

    At the end of the month, Clever SSO will become available to all staff, even those without instructional duties. This will provide a one-stop experience for employees of Mapleton to log in to all of the websites they use regularly.  

    There will be a new User Interface (UI) for adults and older students with smaller icons, so that more is visible above the fold.  

    There will also be a Messaging option in the portal so that staff and students can receive announcements inside their Clever portal.  

    In two weeks, Clever will release Content Mapping. If you teach several sections, or several classes, you will be able to assign resources to specific sections or classes.  

    Clever is not only a way to keep student and staff data secure, but it can also make class time run more smoothly. Do you need help implementing any of the ideas here, or do you have a question about what Clever can do? Email the HelpDesk and I will be happy to show you. 

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  • Microsoft Office Lens for Differentiation and Accessibility

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 1/25/2019

    In the past few weeks, you might have noticed a tomato-red icon show up on your Ipads. Maybe you opened it, or even played around with it a bit. That icon is for Office Lens, which can be a powerful tool for differentiation and accessibility. Here are some ways you can use Office Lens to create a classroom where everyone can succeed. 

    girl with sunglasses by Jamie Brown on Unsplash

     Distribute Anchor Charts 

    If you created a fantastic illustration on the board or an anchor chart that will help everyone, there’s no need to recreate it. Use Office Lens to capture it in either document or white board mode. From there you can send it to be printed and copied for each member of your class, or you can export it to your Class Notebook in OneNote. You can also project it onto the board using Apple TV to use in a future lesson. You can annotate it, or even edit it to add more information.  

    Did you make a spelling error, or is some of it a little hard to read? Office Lens can convert handwriting to typed text. You can save it as an editable Word document, an image file, or a PDF. As a bonus, both handwriting and typed text are searchable in Office Lens. 

    Make It Accessible 

    Printed materials can be hard for kids to read, particularly if there is a lot of text on one page. Kids with dyslexia or other learning disabilities can miss out on content that isn’t optimized for them.  

    With Office Lens, any printed material can be made accessible. Simply open the camera and scan the page as a document. Open Immersive Reader in the View menu, and you can change the font, background color, text size and word spacing. You can even turn on Text to Speech, and Immersive Reader will read the text to your students.

    Save Paper  

    Teachers are constantly receiving handouts containing information, some of which can be very important to keep on hand and reference later. If you want to keep the information but ditch the paper, scan it into Office Lens and send it to any of your Office 365 apps to use later. Save important PD information in a PD notebook in OneNote. Edit assessments in Office Word. Contact information from business cards can be added to Outlook. 

    Going paperless can help students stay organized as well. Many students have trouble keeping track of large amounts of paper, and using paper clips and binders can be a challenge for kids with certain fine motor disabilities. With Office Lens and OneNote, students can stay organized much more easily while still being able to access the information they need. 

    Other Apps for Differentiation 

    Do you need your documents translated to your student’s home language? Google Translate can translate printed materials and spoken conversations using an iPad or the student's mobile phone.  Request Google Translate for your iPads by sending an email to the Help Desk 

    For translating websites, you can download an add-on for Microsoft Edge from our Microsoft Educator store 

    Professional Development 

    You can learn more about Office Lens and differentiation with Office 365 by visiting the Microsoft Educator Community. It features hundreds of online Professional Development courses that you can complete in bite-sized chunks whenever you have 15 minutes to spare. Each completed course awards you badges, and you can print off a transcript of completed courses for recertification credit.  

    Increasingly, there are more and more ways to differentiate using mobile technology. Office Lens is just one of many tools available to Mapleton teachers to help all students access learning. How do you use mobile technology with Office Lens to differentiate? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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  • No SMART Board? No Problem!

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 1/10/2019

    Interactive whiteboards have been around since the early 1990s, but they exploded onto the education scene in the early 00s. Their versatility and interactivity gave teachers a whole menu of new ways to engage their students. However, some studies have shown that they can slow the pace of learning, particularly in low-achieving classrooms where one student is called up to the board at a time.  

    In Mapleton, some schools are equipped with interactive whiteboards. We are unlikely to add any more interactive whiteboards in Mapleton because in many ways, technology has moved on, and we can now have the same or better functionality without the interactive whiteboard itself.  

    Here are some ways to use your traditional whiteboard like a smart board using Apple TV, teacher and student iPads, and Chromebooks with Office 365.  

    girl with tablet by Igor Starkov

    Displaying Student Work - Apple TV and Office Lens

    Apple Classroom is a great way to display student work while using a class set of iPads. Simply switch the view from your teacher tablet to the tablet whose work you want to display.  

    If students are working from paper, you can use your teacher iPad as a document camera. With Apple TV mirroring on, use the Camera function to show great work students are doing all around the room. You can photograph work you want to discuss, and then use the Edit button on the bottom of the photo to annotate the student’s work using a variety of pen tools, just like an interactive whiteboard.  

    If you need to convert your students’ work to a PowerPoint, Word document, or PDF, you can scan it instantly with Office Lens and convert it to a workable document at the push of a button. 

    Collaborative Problem Solving – Apple Classroom and Office 365

    Studies have shown that inviting one student up to the board at a time to show their work or explain their thinking decreases engagement and slows the pace of the class. With Apple Classroom, students can work on their own iPads all at the same time. This makes it easy to switch your projector to the view of any student’s iPad at the push of a button.  

    The same functionality exists for Office 365. Students working on Chromebooks can work on shared documents or presentations that can be projected from your computer. You can also see who is doing what in a shared document in real time, both from your own computer, and from each student computer. 

    Annotating Documents – Office Lens

    One major benefit of using an interactive whiteboard is the ability to annotate text without having to write or type it all down yourself, and without having to mess with markers. These days, you can do both with your iPad or laptop. And, you can project pages from physical books in the same way.  

    Simply use Office Lens to photograph the page you want to use, and Apple TV to project it to the board. Office Lens has a variety of pen, marker, and highlighter tools to annotate the document. When you’re done, you can save the annotated or clean document for future use. You can also convert scanned documents to PowerPoint, Word, or PDF files at the push of a button.  

    Are you using documents that are already digital? You can open them in Office Lens from OneDrive, or you can use the snipping tool in Windows on your laptop to isolate specific sections or images and then annotate them.  

    Virtual Field Trips and Skype

    Virtual field trips and webinars work really well in Mapleton. Connect to the field trip or webinar with your teacher computer and project the image onto your projector. Since your projector and computer connect wirelessly, you can move your computer anywhere in the room without disrupting the image. This way, the presenter can hear questions from individual students or see the whole class from your computer’s web cam. You can also choose to connect from your iPad and project using Apple TV. 

    If you can't find a virtual field trip on your current topic of study, Skype has a robust community of educators all over the world. Bring global learning to your classroom by connecting to experts, collaborating with students in other countries, participating in international service projects, and more!

    Video Recordings for Substitute Teachers 

    It’s hard to be out of the classroom, but with Mapleton technology, you can be there without actually being there. While you are making sub plans, video record yourself giving complicated directions or explaining concepts and have them cued up on an iPad for the sub. Students as young as second grade can be the technology expert and help the sub figure out how to project the lesson using Apple TV. Never again will you have to wonder if the sub will understand the concept well enough to explain it to students.  

    What else?  

    How do you use iPads or computers in conjunction with your projector to enhance student learning? Add your ideas in a comment below or post in our Office 365 Training Team. Do you need help implementing any of the ideas in this article? Email the Help Desk and your friendly building tech or I will be happy to come show you how. 

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  • Beat the Slump: How to Keep Kids Engaged in December

    Posted by Janna Scarpella-Straub on 12/3/2018

    It's no secret that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break seem like some of the longest of the year. Night falls earlier each day, the weather is turning cold, and students and teachers alike are focused on the excitement and stresses of the upcoming holiday season. And yet, we have three weeks of school that we can't afford to waste on holiday crafts and word searches, nor is that the best thing for the kids we serve. For students who might lead lives of uncertainty outside of school, it is important to stick to predictable routines until the last hour of the day on December 20th. Annie Spratt boy touching a tree trunk

    However, there are things we can do to make the time pass more smoothly both for our kids, and for ourselves. The best part is that these things are already considered best practices for education. As long as we recommit ourselves to including brain breaks, discussion strategies, and engaging instruction throughout the day, these best practices will help us and our students stay focused throughout December. 

    Brain Breaks - When our kids' minds are filled with the excitement of the upcoming holidays and the stress that changes in routine can bring, attention spans will be shorter. Break up lessons with brain breaks! Here are some resources for implementing brain breaks in your classroom, or expanding your repetoire: 

    • GoNoodle is probably the most well-known resource for brain breaks, and for good reason. Browse by category or channel to find exactly the right short video to fit your needs, from mindfulness and meditation, to playful songs, and even indoor recess. 
    • Cosmic Kids Yoga - This youtube channel has tons of free resources for kids from age 3-8. Their offerings range from short 1-minute videos demonstrating individual poses in a kid-friendly way, to 20 minute yoga adventures. The Zen Den and Peace Out series offer mindfulness and meditation videos as well.  
    • YouTube Playlist: Brain Breaks for Middle School - Older kids need brain breaks too! According to this article on Edutopia, secondary students need a 3-5 minute break for every 20-30 minutes of concentrated learning. This playlist has tons of videos with ideas for fun brain breaks that appeal to middle and high school students. 

    Cooperative Learning - Kids want to talk, so why not let them work together? Strategies for cooperative learning have been shown to develop students' critical thinking skills and engagement in lessons. It is also considered a best practice for ELLs, and students who are in need of language development. 

    • Kagan strategies are a good place to start. These structures, developed by Dr. Spencer Kagan in the late 20th century, are some of the easiest and most flexible ways to introduce cooperative learning into a classroom. This youtube playlist introduces some of the best strategies for getting your students to begin having academic conversations during class. 
    • Active Learning Strategies from Just ASK include printable graphic organizers and activities for grouping kids in a lot of different ways for a lot of discussion-based activities. 

    Focus on Engagement - It's a good idea not to try to change too much of what you do in the last weeks before break. Again, keeping routines the same is important for giving kids a sense of security in the weeks leading up to a long break. However, ensuring that your lessons are engaging will help kids stay focused on the right things. Edutopia has a number of articles on how to foster student engagement using proven strategies such as: 

    • Technology Integration
    • Project-Based Learning
    • Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

    Do you have your favorite strategies for getting through December? Please share in the comments below! 

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