Slam Poetry App Smash!

I recently planned a lesson with a teacher that slowly morphed into something greater than what she imagined. She wanted her high school students to write their own slam poems at the completion of this unit. The one non-negotiable was the fact that it had to revolve around one of the topics below.

IMG_1426

Well, a week had gone by and the students all had their poems done. Now what? I’ll tell you what! Here’s what we did. I had the teacher create an assignment in Google Classroom that included a copy of the Google Doc template for their poem. We also added the topic flipcode for the Flipgrid Topic we created for this project, the URL for Soundtrap, and Adobe Spark. Once they had those resources, here is what they had to do:

  • write their slam poem in a Google Doc
  • create a background track using Soundtrap
  • create an Adobe Spark Video of their poem using their own images
  • record themselves reading their poem in the Adobe Spark Video
  • upload their finished video as their Flipgrid video response
  • mark the assignment as Done in Google Classroom

In anticipation, I created my own slam poem but to gain interest from the students, I created a quick food rap and the students loved it. I recorded the vocals and the beat using Soundtrap and uploaded them to my Adobe Spark Video project.

 

Needless to say, this was a fun activity for me and an opportunity for me to be creative. Imagine what the students felt? How often do our children get the opportunity to use their own creativity and voice to create a project that is relevant, tech-infused, requires critical thinking, and more than anything, fun! Give it a shot and see what your students create.

Quickly Create Google Docs with Google’s New Shortcuts

If you haven’t already seen Google’s new “.new” shortcuts for Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Sites, you need to familiarize yourself with them. They are quick, easy to remember, and work on any browser.

Google Docs Shortcuts

With these new shortcuts come new ways to add these to your Bookmarks Bar. Simply add a new bookmark to your Bookmarks Bar (on any browser) and name it (New Doc, New Sheet, Etc.) and add the appropriate URL (doc.new, sheet.new, etc) and save it. Now, whenever you need to create a new document, just click on the appropriate bookmark. Check out the GIF below. This can be done for any of these shortcuts. Enjoy!

New Doc

 

My Thoughts, Views, And Predictions On Soundtrap

STEAM schools are popping up left and right. In fact, many STEM schools are now incorporating the “A” into their curriculum and rebranding themselves as STEAM. In all fairness, they should as statistics show that the arts play a huge roll in our lives and help make up the whole child. With this being said, creation of the arts comes in many shapes and forms. One of my favorites is music and audio production. For those of you podcasters, music producers, writers, composers, teachers, or anyone interested in audio creation, Soundtrap is the perfect tool to handle all of these needs. Not only that, it is about to be used by educators and content creators like never before!

For those of you who do not know (or haven’t figured it out yet), Soundtrap is an all in one virtual music studio that can interface with USB instruments, microphones, and USB mixers. The best way to describe it is as follows: If Garageband and Audacity had a baby, and then that baby grew up, met Google Docs, and if they had a baby together, they would name it Soundtrap!

There is a track timeline equipped with pan tools, mute track function, and a whole load of other things you can do within the tracks.

Soundtrap Tracks

In addition, there are also tools to create your own music, loops, and tools that are very reminiscent of Garageband and Audacity. There’s also a collaborate feature which allows for podcasts, music creation, voice overs, and all endless EDU possibilities!

Soundtrap Options

My upcoming episodes of The EdTech Bites Podcast will be recorded and edited solely using Soundtrap and not Audacity, which is my go-to for podcast editing. I’m going all in with this tool and I plan on utilizing all of the bells and whistles that this amazing program has to offer. I’ve already began importing audio clips and recording segments such as my call to action using my Audio Technica 2100 microphone and Soundtrap. I must say that the audio that I have recorded and edited is professional and up to par with what I normally get from Audacity. There is one piece that Soundtrap has to offer that none of the others do, it’s completely cloud-based. This is an absolute game changer for the industry. The fact that I can begin on my work laptop, continue on my home desktop, and upload other audio clips from my son’s Chromebook, makes Soundtrap second-to-none in my book. In addition, I can send my audio file to my guest before hand and they can then record their segment on the same cloud-based file without having to be on the same machine, in the same room, or even worse, having to send audio files back and forth. So here’s what I’m getting to…

Soundtrap WILL revolutionize how creators create and collaborate. Without a doubt, many veteran podcasters and up and coming podcasters WILL choose Soundtrap as their means to record, produce and collaborate. If you listened to my latest podcast episode with Dr. Monica Burns, I made a prediction in that episode that I still believe because I will help make that prediction true. I predicted that Soundtrap WILL become the next big edtech tool, just like Flipgrid was and still is for 2018. The educator community with a HUGE boost from folks like Claudio Zavala Jr. and his #singasong movement catapulted Flipgrid beyond what anyone could have imagined and even birthed the #FlipGridFever. With this being said, here is what the I am making the “unofficial” hashtag for Soundtrap, #Soundtrapitis! (Get it?! Flipgrid has a Fever and Soundtrap has an itis?! Eh, eh!) I have caught #Soundtrapitis and there is no known cure yet. Not only have I caught this, it is contagious and will cause a major disruption to the educator community. But I’m not alone, at some point, someone in your district, building, or hallway will eventually catch it. My question to you is this: When #Soundtrapitis finally hits you in your classroom, home studio, or makerspace, what will you do with it?

The EdTech Bites Podcast Turns 1 Year Old!

Can you believe it? One year old? They grow so quickly (sniff, sniff)…

On June 28th, 2017, the EdTech Bites podcast launched episode 1 with Edward Zelarayán from Nearpod. I had the idea to do a podcast for a couple of years but for one reason or another, never got it off of the ground. I knew I wanted to do something different from the other podcast offerings in the edtech world. I knew I wanted to incorporate food somehow. After some discussions with Edward and some motivation from my wife, I decided to go all in with EdTech Bites. I interviewed Edward at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio and then interviewed Brian Smith the very next day. After that, Edtech Bites was born and began to grow in front of our very own eyes!

I’ve made some great connections through the podcast and am thankful for each and every guest I’ve had on the show. I’ve chatted with listeners and they are thankful for the content that I’m able to provide them with no matter where we may be (It still blows my mind that I can record an interview in person or via Google Hangouts in my den and be able to make it available to the world within a few minutes). I’m thankful for each and every listener and subscriber of the podcast and I want to thank you for telling a friend or colleague about EdTech Bites. I am not a published author or edtech evangelist but I thank those who have included me and my podcast into their own PLN. I hope your learning never stops as I know mine will not anytime soon. I hope that I can be a source of learning for you as many of you are a source of my own professional and personal growth. Thank you for this awesome year and there is much more in store for the future of EdTech Bites. I hope to break bread with you in person one day. Cherish your time at the table. Turn off those devices and have a conversation with each other while you eat. Remember, great conversations happen when we break bread with great people. Buen provecho!

Flipgrid Out Of Office Voicemail

I’m an Instructional Technology Specialist so teachers will come to my office at times and find me not there. I travel to 3 different schools so in some shape or form, I’m not there when a teacher needs me. In August 2017, I decided to create a Flipgrid Voicemail sign and place it on my office door when I leave. This way, teachers could leave me a “voicemail”. I realized that since I support three campuses, I would need 3 different signs with 3 different unique barcodes that pointed to 3 different topics. This way, it would be easier for me to track which schools needed me. Now, this is how I’ve done mine and in no way am the originator of this idea. I saw it with fellow #flipgridfever community members and put my own spin on it. 

I created mine in Canva with their free tools and using the “Oh No” Bitmoji. I went into Flipgrid, created my topic, and saved the QR Code for this topic. With the new updates to Flipgrid regarding their new privacy policies (and the other 900 emails we’ve all been receiving regarding updates to privacy policies), I will be adding the Grid Passcode to the sign making it easier for teachers to leave me a voicemail.

There it is! if you have any questions regarding this, please leave a comment down below or tweet me @edtechbites. Also, don’t forget to follow the EdTech Bites Facebook Page to be notified when new posts are added. Deuces!

Nearpod iOS Camera Integration

Unless, you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, you already know that Nearpod is one of THE BEST lesson delivery, assessment, and overall engagement tools out. But did you know that on iOS devices, you can turn it up a notch? Peep this!

While working with some math teachers a while back, I showed them all that Nearpod can do for them and how it can change the way the teacher and students engage with a lesson especially since our district has a BYOD infrastructure. In doing so, we had a mixed bag of devices we were using and noticed that when a student gets to a Draw It slide on an iOS device while using the Nearpod app, they have a nifty feature that is not available on any other device, the ability to use the camera! See the camera icon below?

Nearpod Camera Icon

Is that hamster in your head beginning to turn the wheel? Good! Here’s what you can do with this tool:

  • Have students take pictures of items that begin with a certain letter and have them draw the letter with a highlighter after (Pre-K, Kinder, ELL)
  • Bellwork/Warmups: have students take a picture of a sentence and make the corrections/edits on the fly with the drawing tools.
  • Have students take a picture of a math equation/problem and have them work it out using the drawing tools
  • Have students answer more complex math problems on a sheet of paper and have them take a picture of their work (see my work below)Nearpod Drawing

The possibilities are endless and so much can be done with this tool. If your schools have BYOD, iPhone/iPad users can easily use this on their own iOS devices (Nearpod, please make this available for Android and Chromebook users). There it is folks, another way to get the best use out of Nearpod and iOS in your classes. What will you do now that you know this information? Remember, it’s not about the tools… it’s how you use it!

STAAR FlipGrid For Parents

As a parent, I’m nervous for my children to take the STAAR test and pass (or other equivalent state test for those of “y’all” outside of Texas)! I cannot imagine how my children must feel! As parents, we want to be by their side and help them relax and focus. As teachers, the last thing we want is for a mob of parents to come into our class and attempt to accomplish this task. There has to be a way for parents to be able to do this without being too intrusive.

Flipgrid! That’s how! Teachers, email a topic to your parents asking them to wish their child luck on the test and give the students a couple of minutes in the morning to watch and listen to their parents give them words of wisdom. Parents, open this topic using the Flipgrid app for Android or iOS and tell your child the words they need to hear. How easy and convenient is that?

Teachers, here is the link to a pre-made topic in the Flipgrid Discovery section if you don’t want to start from scratch. Enjoy and good luck on the STAAR Test!