Today I want to talk about the four apps I use in my classroom every day, and the first one that I want to talk about is Google Chrome. Now a lot of people use different browsers. I personally like Google Chrome, and I like it for a few reasons.
One of them is that once you sign in to Google Chrome and you can see that in the corner here, and I’m right now from my laptop and it says that it’s recognizing me and I can sign on as me on any other device. And at that point, everything that I’ve saved, all of my pages, all of the recent pages I’ve gone to, passwords or anything else I keep comes with me and immigrates to different devices and that goes across my mobile devices, my laptop, and my Chromebook. And the reason I like Chrome specifically is that I work with districts and with students who work exclusively with Chromebooks and that way, we can communicate with the same browser without having to make accommodations to different browsers so that works really well for me. What I love about this is it does allow you to be recognized everywhere and to have everything you have immediately and all of your logins from Google, which are very common, across of course, Google apps for education, but even for other apps including some apps I’m gonna talk about later today.
So that’s the first thing that I use and it’s very very basic. It allows me to connect everything that I do.
The second app that I use every time I walk into the classroom, whatever we’re doing, there’s always time for students to work on their own or to do a specific task individually or in groups and for that, I have to use a timer because I’m not really good at keeping time while I’m conversing with students. And the easiest way to do this, there are apps that will do this on any device including my iPad but the easiest thing to do is actually to go in Chrome and just all you have to do in the search engine is say, “timer” and say how long do you need it. Let’s say seven minutes. You click on it. The search engine will bring it up, and it will start going.
So now we have seven minutes. It’ll ring and you can choose the noise at the end but that really doesn’t matter, but now it’s visible if you project it like I am right now. Everybody can see it. If not, only you can see it, but it’s a really quick way to get it going. And again, you can do the same exact thing from your iPad or even from your phone without going to a specific app, just live in your browser and any amount of time will work on that so you can set it or you can use just this one.
Again, going back and forth, I use Timer most often but you can also use a stopwatch if you’re measuring speed, how little time is it taking to, for example, everybody get ready and get going with the lesson so that’s another way to do it but that’s very very accessible, very very easy, incredibly useful. And what I love about this specific setup is it doesn’t require me to start anything else up. I don’t have to remember anything or where I put that app. I just type it in.
The third thing that I use in my classroom on a regular basis is the camera, and this is where I like the mobile devices a lot better than the laptops and Chromebooks because they’re truly mobile and all I have to do is activate my camera.
And I use my camera in a few ways. First of all, it’s always nice to collect some photos that we can share with parents or with colleagues if we want of kids being engaged, of what they’re doing, and again, what I love about the camera on the digital devices is right now it’s a very high quality camera. You can of course go between photo, so specific photo.
I love video if you want to do some videos if you’ve got kids doing some actions. For example, in P.E., slow motion becomes very very useful. Lapsed time if they’re doing certain experiments or other things that will work with that but most of the time, I use video and photos. The other thing that seems to be incredibly effective using the camera is of course to look and collect student work. So instead of collecting a lot of papers or if you’re looking for evidence of learning, all I have to do is be above the student’s work, make sure there’s not too much shadow. Right now I’ve got a really nice projection, but this is something you want to be concerned about and then all I have to do is click and now I have evidence of student work that I can show to somebody else, that I can send home to parents, that I can process while the students are keeping the original or keep working on their draft, so this is incredibly useful as a way to do that.
And the last thing, and I’ve shown this before, is there are certain structures that help you use your mobile device with its camera as a document camera. All you have to do is set it above, put the document below, and then even without any other apps and there are fantastic apps for that, but even without any other app, you can have it function exactly like a document camera. So if you have a mobile device like that, you really don’t need an extra document camera. This can serve all of your purposes, and again, one of the advantages, you can have it in a fixed device but you can also use it anywhere in your classroom. So if you’re projecting and you want to show somebody’s work you can just stand above them and show even better, stand above them, take a picture, and then show the picture because then you don’t have to stay there frozen. But if you want to show something in action, of course the camera becomes useful again and the great thing is, is once you take a picture, you also have the evidence collected and saved on your device.
And the one thing I want to remind everybody is especially if you’re doing video with photos to a certain degree, depending on how much memory you have, you want to find a way to do some cloud storage so you don’t have to store everything on your device because I know most teachers get the smallest devices possible from a memory perspective. This is just district choices to reduce cost, and as a result, they fill them up really really quickly so you want to make sure that you’re saving space by using cloud services, and we’ll talk about cloud services probably next time as a reminder of what’s out there and what can be used.
The last app I want to talk about is called Padlet, and again, Padlet is an app that is available on your browser. It’s available on mobile devices, and I’m going to show it from my browser because I’ve shown it before and I think it’s nice to see from a different perspective. So I’ve downloaded the specific app. If you want to go to your apps inside Chrome, you go on the left side. There’s a marker that says here are your apps. In my case, it’s on my second page and this is the Padlet app, and you can see that the login can be done through my Google ID, so this is a way to login with Google. And since I’m logged in, it already knows I’m there and it allows me to choose an account, and you can have multiple accounts which is really nice if you actually have multiple accounts you’re running, one for a specific class, one as a coach or something else.
I like condensing most of mine under the same thing just because it’s easier to do, and then, what you can see is these are my recently updated Padlets. These are Padlets I’ve used in my classroom for different reasons, and what you can see is, this serves as a board where I can post and more importantly, everybody in my classroom can post so I send them a link out. An account is really helpful because then everything is under the same account. You can name your page and then different students can post. And again, you can post. You can see here text is very easy but you can post pictures.
You can post audio and you can post links to the Web, so there are lots of things you can put there, and that’s a very quick way if you’re separating the students to do some group work. When you come together from a jigsaw for example, you can have each group talk about what they’re doing or if you want students to comment and then share, that’s another way to do it. So even individual students of pairs can each have a small comment. They can then comment on each other’s work and expand the scope of what’s available there. So, Padlet is a great tool for on the go student work, students sharing with each other, and sharing with you.
And what I love about having a Padlet account is then it is all saved, so you can see, this is from last semester for me for example. I still have it if I want to look at it, if I want to see what happened, or even if I want to use it an assessment, a formative assessment, this is a great tool. So today, on Mobile Learning in the Classroom, we talked about the four apps that I use every day in my classroom.