Thursday, August 21, 2014

IFTTT

With the school year either just starting or getting close, I'm thinking it's a great time to talk about automating your online life!

As technology comes into the classroom, it can also bring more time spent on work for teachers -- posting to a blog, tweeting, posting pictures on Instagram, updating statuses or photos in Edmodo or a Facebook page, etc. There are times when I want to post the same thing on multiple sites, and it can be a pain to log in to everything and re-post.

IFTTT {If This, Then That} is a free, online tool that's designed to help you. Their logo is, "Put the internet to work for you." I think that's an idea we can all get on board with, huh?


IFTTT can be a little difficult to explain, so I'll let this screenshot from their website do the talking:


After you sign up for a free account, you're allowed to create what IFTTT calls "recipes." A recipe is a combination of a trigger and an action, and it follows the "if this, then that" format. So a recipe might look something like this:

IF I publish a post on Blogger, THEN tweet about my new post on my Twitter account.

or...

IF I post a photo on Instagram, THEN post it on my Facebook page, too.

or...

IF the heat index gets above 95 degrees, THEN send me a text message so I can tell my team that we're having indoor recess today.

You get the picture. :) IFTTT has partnered with over 100 websites {called channels} to help you create recipes that best suite your needs. I've been a member of IFTTT for 1-2 years now; they've added lots of channels since my first day, so even if you don't see a lot of channels you could connect to, have faith that they will add more!

Some of my favorite channels to utilize
But, as I stated before, there are a ton more!

Recipes

Need ideas to get your creative juices flowing? IFTTT has a whole list of great recipes that you can browse  by "featured" content or by channel.

Some of my favorites include the following:
-IF I post a new picture to Instagram, THEN upload it to a Dropbox folder.
-IF I favorite a tweet, THEN import it into an Evernote notebook.
-IF I haven't met my step goal on my Fitbit by 4:00 pm, THEN send me a text to tell me to get movin'.
-IF it's the first of the month, remind me to change my mantel decorations. {Yes... I'm that girl! :) }
-IF it's the first of the month, THEN call my Google Voice number to keep it activated.
-IF I log a new weight in my Fitbit app, THEN add a new entry to a Google spreadsheet.
-IF a new book is added to the NYT Best Sellers list, THEN send me a text.

And then there's this one, which I don't use but think is funny:

 IFTTT Recipe: Use Liam Neeson's badass quote from 'Taken' to scare someone into returning your phone. connects email to phone-call

Uses for the classroom
  • Cross-post on social media
  • Post pictures taken on a field trip or in the classroom to a social media account automatically {or text them to the room mom to put on a central, photo-sharing site}
  • When your location changes on field trip days, tweet about it so parents know where you {and their kids!} are at all times
  • Teaching students about cause and effect?? This isn't a fully developed idea, but a colleague of mine suggested it, and I think it sounds promising!
  • Send a welcome message to new followers to class social media sites.
  • Send a text to yourself when a student shares an Evernote notebook with you {here's the recipe}
  • Organize incoming e-mails with a certain keyword into your cloud account {here's one from Gmail to Google Drive}
  • Send a text to yourself when a paid app goes free {here's the recipe} -- could be great for watching those pricey educational apps!
  • Notify you if a new educational book goes on sale {here's a good recipe}.
  • Get education news from the New York Times sent directly to you.
  • Tweet links you bookmark in Diigo under a certain tag {like this recipe}
I have to admit that I get a little overwhelmed when I look at all the triggers and actions that can combine to make a great recipe. You could spend hours browsing the already-created recipes and probably still not know them all!

The point is, IFTTT is helping make your life a little easier by automating what it can so you can concentrate on the rest. We could all use a little of that! ;)

Do you use IFTTT? If so, what is your favorite recipe? If not, which recipe(s) would you be willing to try?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Socrative

I learned about Socrative last year but brushed it off, thinking that I didn't have time to implement it into my classroom. The TCEA 2014 conference in February talked SO MUCH about it that I decided to give it another shot.  I decided that this is a tool I NEED to share with you all, so... here we go. :)



Socrative is a fantastic formative assessment tool that can be used with any device that has a browser. This is great for 2 reasons:
  1. Since it's not tied to any particular application, it's great for the BYOD school that may see a slew of different brands in any given day. 
  2. If you teach younger students, you'll find that a lot of times their parents don't give them the password to their iTunes account because the parent -- understandably -- doesn't want a bunch of charges on the credit card for things like Angry Birds. ;) Since Socrative can work in a browser, this means kids don't need to download any particular app before getting to school with their device.
It's a totally free tool that only requires the teacher to have an account. Once you sign up {sign up here}, you can log into your account and start creating those formative assessments. You can create pre-made assessments before class, or you can create them on the fly during class -- it's totally up to you.

Socrative offers the following assessment options:
  • multiple choice
  • true/false
  • short answer
You can put in the correct answers and have Socrative grade the assessments for you. You can then download the results via an Excel file or Google Spreadsheet, or you can e-mail the results.

Once you register as a teacher, you get a "room number." Once you tell your students this number, they can log in to your room so that you can now see everything they're doing. As far as I know, your room number never changes, so you could post that big and bold at the front of your class, students would eventually memorize it, and it would make the logging in process go much more quickly the more you use it.

It even has pre-made templates for exit tickets, and you can play a game called "Space Race" that I've been told even kids as old as junior high get excited about.

You can share your quiz with other teachers who use Socrative by giving them your quiz number. From there, they can pull it into their account and use as is or edit it to fit their needs more closely. {This is wonderful who people who teach on a team or with a whole department that needs to give similar assessments.} 

Here's a cool little video made by the Socrative company that will tell you more:



Have you ever used Socrative? What was your experience with it? Do you use some other type of formative assessment?

Infuse Learning

Infuse Learning is very similar to Socrative, but it does seem to have a few more cool features, so I thought I'd write about that today. :)


Like Socrative, Infuse Learning is browser based, which means it works great for the BYOD classroom. The one thing that's wonky about Infuse Learning is {the last time I checked, anyway} it doesn't work with Internet Explorer. But if you download my fav web browser, Firefox, you're good to go.

There are a ton of formative assessment choices when you use Infuse Learning:
  • Likert scale
  • open ended questions
  • multiple choice
  • sorting
  • true/false
  • draw response
Infuse Learning. Browser based accessment tool that does not work in IE. What Gay showed us at the beginning of the year. Can do numeric, Likert scale, open ended, MC, sort, true/fase, draw response for the littles, etc.  Downloads results as a PDF. Be careful not to share results on the screen because students have to put in their name. Not anonymous. No login. Could submit PDFs to things like FlipSnack to make a class book of answers. Can give immediate feedback. Can track students' progress and see how long it takes them to answer. The biggest issue right now is that it doesn't work in IE, but there's a rumor that says the 2.0 version (available in the next couple of weeks) will have something compatible with Internet Explorer. 

Infuse Learning. 51747. For the drawing portion, can see kids who have already turned in their project. Can see names. Probably wouldn't want to show results on Promethean, but can download all results as a PDF. Can turn off names so they don't show on the Promethean if you want to show all answers to everyone. Could draw an insect and label the parts. Could draw the solar system and label all the planets. etc. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BIG Changes

I have some B-I-G news: The Teacher Garden is about to undergo a complete and total makeover.

I'm re-branding, re-designing, and re-locating everything. You will still have access to the same great ideas, video tutorials, and products -- just under a new and catchier name. :) 

This renovation will occur sometime within the next month, but I wanted to let you know ahead of time so you will know what's happening if you suddenly come to this web address and can't find me!

My new blog name will be Innovate. Motivate. Educate. and you can find me at www.InnovateMotivateEducate.blogspot.com once the transformation occurs. Go ahead and bookmark that site now -- the URL is mine, but I obviously haven't switched over yet. :)


Why?
When I started this blog, I brainstormed names for dayssss. I already had products I wanted to share on TpT, but I couldn't think of a "company" name I loved. I finally settled on The Teacher Garden so I could get going, but... I have to admit: I didn't love it. At all.

Now, 3 years later, I've finally thought of a blog name I love {if this process is any indication of the future, my husband and I are in big trouble if we ever have to name a pet... or children. Yikes!} and am going to take the plunge to change everything, once and for all.

What does it mean for you?
Unfortunately, ALL my links will change: this blog address, my Teachers Pay Teachers store, my Teacher's Notebook store, my Pinterest/Twitter/Facebook handles... even pins that are circling Pinterest from The Teacher Garden. I'm a little stressed about all of that, but I'm SO excited to finally have a blog name that I feel actually "fits"!

Here's what you can do to help:
  1. Bookmark my new blog URL: www.InnovateMotivateEducate.blogspot.com
  2. Anticipate my usernames on social media changing to TheIMEblog -- please say hello when you see me! :)
  3. Be on the lookout for a giveaway once the transformation is complete!