Trying out Thinglink

This week for class we were able to blog about anything! Like Megan, I chose to explore a new app that might be useful in my classroom. I had heard about Thinglink and wanted to try it out.

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What is Thinglink, you might ask? It is an interactive media platform that allows you or students to use multimedia content and links to share their knowledge. and tell their story by tagging images or videos with hotspots that include additional information. Students are able to add information or link to other websites, pictures, maps, videos, audio clips, or polls using tags on an image they uploaded themselves or got from the web. They can also link to their own google doc or presentation.

Signing up was easy and there is a free version. It doesn’t have all the options of the upgraded but I think it has enough to be useful in the classroom.

I found a great example that includes many of the features Thinglink has to offer. This interactive infographic by Local 10 News Miami reports on the death of baseball player José Fernández

“Readers can smoothly unlock various tags that include the pictures of the mass card, radio clips from the procession, Google map location of the funeral, and a plethora of articles and images honoring the life of José.”

Completed projects can be shared via social media, a link, or embedded into blogs or websites.

I thought this app would be a great way for student to show their learning. This website shows many ways to use Thinglink. Check out the site to get more information on any of the ideas I’ve listed below, or see some more!

Use Thinglink to:

  • Communicate with parents
  • Student portfolios
  • Interactive bulletin board
  • Add sound effects or oral explanations to images
  • Interactive book talk or photo collage
  • Multimedia definitions
  • Interactive report

Apparently you can even sign up for a teacher account where you can add students –> Thinglink Classroom. I didn’t explore this option but here is a presentation that explains the process. There is also a tutorial on this within the app along with some other tutorials.

You are also able to Explore other Thinglinks for ideas or to use in your classroom. I thought this one would be a great project for biology.

As great as this all sounds, when I tried to create my own Thinglink, I didn’t have much luck. I was able to upload my background image, but beyond that, nothing much would work. Somehow I was able to add one tag and that’s it. I was really disappointed. I emailed for help so I’ll see if they get back to me.

I was excited for the possibilities I saw in this app and how I could use this in my classroom. Hopefully I can figure out what I’m doing wrong.

I’d love to hear how you are using Thinglink in your classroom and if you had any problems you were able to overcome.

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Google Classroom…Yay or Ney?

Google Classroom is the LMS platform my group and I are thinking we are going to use for our project. When asked to review a platform this week for our blog post, I naturally chose it. After sitting down with my coworker who uses Classroom, and having her show me how she uses it, I was really excited about it. That was until I read Audrey Watter’s piece Beyond the LMS. I agree with her in that these LMS systems will be what others think education technology is. Google Classroom won’t revolutionize my classroom or make me a better teacher. It is a closed system, but for me, it is a start, and a reminder to keep pulling in those outside resources that will add to my lessons and provide my students with multiple ways to gain new understandings. From here, I can see myself moving toward student blogs and sharing and recreating in the world wide web.

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Classroom also provides an opportunity for me to add a different type of organization to my to my life and the lives of my students. Thanks to my smartphone, I don’t remember anything (perhaps Socrates was onto something)! Students, I feel are the same way. This system offers them a way to rewatch that YouTube or PPT that they may need for clarification or to deepen their understanding. Having that opportunity and a place where much of the important information for a course is posted without having to haul a textbook or binder around with them, could be helpful for many students. Below I have outlined what I learned about Google Classroom this week. All the stuff I learned seems pretty great!

Our school division is allows us access to Google Classroom and have made it easy for our students to use Google Docs. All the students have logins and there is no lost work or worry that they didn’t save their documents properly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a student lose all their work and have to start again, or just give up out of pure frustration. That is why I love that Google Classroom allows one to effortlessly transition between using it and Google docs, slides, or whatever else one can create in their drive. The drive integration is AMAZING!

It is definitely easy to get started using Classroom. You simple click on the + sign and select ‘Create class.’ Once you’ve named your class you can add assignments, announcements, a poll, questions, etc. You can organize your stream (assignments, etc.) by putting them into different units/topics to make it easy for students to find things. This also eliminates a ‘scroll of doom’ if everything is left uncategorized. The endless scroll can also be limited by the ability to bump assignments to the top.

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When teachers are posting assignments they have the option to supply one assignment to every student, or have students view or edit the same material. If you’ve given every student their own copy, you can view what everyone is doing in real time. I like this option a lot so I can keep my students on track. I can also make comments on their assignments while they are working on them. When students are finished, they simply click ‘Turn in’ and they’ve handed in their work. As a teacher, I can see how many assignments have been turned in and how many I’m still waiting for. Teachers can add due dates to their assignments as well. If students haven’t turned their work in by the due date, it tells them it’s late.

When adding assignments, teachers have the option of attaching files from their drive, an outside document, linking to a website, or adding a youtube video. You can even search for your video within the program. Teachers can also save a draft of a post they’ve been working on and schedule when they want it to be viewed by students.

Using the calendar option students can see all upcoming and past due dates. Teachers also have this option. Teachers can get a summary of who’s done what assignments in all their classes. Students are able to view a complete list of assignments. It even categorizes them into  done and to do, and lists the ones with no due dates.

“Google Classroom seems pretty user friendly and has a lot of options I love.”

My coworker is using announcements to make discussion boards. Students could comment on what she’d posted and on other classmates’ comments. You can control students’ messages

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and comments in the class stream by setting permissions for individual students or for the whole class. You can also see any comments and messages that a student made and then deleted. This system was working for her, however, I found this site that allows you to create a discussion board using Google Sheets.

When you are done teaching a class you are able to archive it so it clears off your home screen that shows all your classes. As with other Google Drive things, more than one person can edit a classroom at a time if it’s been shared with them. This is great for teachers that team teach. Classroom also makes it easy to navigate between classes if you have more than one.

One of my questions would be, if you’ve created and archived a class, can you reuse when it when you teach that class again? Is it a lot of work to set it up again? Do you need to delete things you don’t want to show right away?

My classmate, Roxanne, had this video on her blog and I thought it would be a great addition to my post.

Google Classrooms seems pretty user friendly and has a lot of options I love. I don’t have a lot (or any) experience with LMS platforms, but this is definitely one I will start using.