Create Customized Projects with Powtoon and MashPlant

Powtoon.com is an awesome website where you can create animated videos and presentations for free.  These projects can be used by anyone.  When you get to the main site, you can sign in as a student, teacher, video artist/animator, entrepreneur, start-up, marketing pro, or other.  

After creating an account, you can start from scratch or pick from tons of styles in the gallery.  I used Powtoon with my students after a unit on two variable relationships in math.  Their task was to create an example problem, write the equation, create a table, create a graph, and explain what the relationship between the two variables. They were able to to this by inserting their own images along with the ones provides within Powtoon.  My students love to show what they know!  They really enjoyed being able to create a presentation that was animated and I Ioved that they could add voice and explain their thinking process.  

My students worked on these in groups of two and it was so easy to use MashPlant as a way for them to collaborate.  They posted the link into MashPlant and were able to work on it as a draft until they were ready to submit.  My favorite part of using MashPlant for student projects is its security and ability to keep everything in one place.  My kids loved being able to watch each others videos, rate them, and provide feedback to each other.

Check out a sample video here.

7 Tips for Managing Technology Use in the Classroom

How do we keep kids on task when using electronic devices in class?   With the internet, kids have the world at their fingertips and we should take advantage of that.  Use these quick tips to manage students while using technology in your classroom.

  1. Always have a back-up lesson prepared in case the technology fails.
  2. Post directions for frequently used computer operations near the tech center for kids to refer to.
  3. Make sure laptops, monitors, and iPad screens are turned off when giving directions.
  4. Assign a few students to be the classroom technology managers.  You can also assign students to be technology specialists.  Specialists can help others on a particular task such as animation, text, audio, powerpoint, uploading videos, etc.
  5. Plan a class meeting to talk about acceptable uses.  In the meeting, students can create a list of expectations when using technology.  Kids love taking ownership and might think of ideas that you did not think of.
  6. Help students recognize that technology in the classroom is for learning. 
  7. Arrange classroom seating so that it is easy for you to move around the room, see students screens, and get to them quickly.

There are numerous management strategies to add to this list, but here is a start.  This is your opportunity to teach students to become independent and trustworthy.  They need guidance in the beginning, but soon your students will take action and become engaged, self-motivated learners.

Global Collaboration in the Classroom

Online learning is powerful.  Students in traditional classrooms have been limited by the four walls of their classroom and a textbook, however, classrooms today have far more opportunities to connect outside of the classroom.  

Students are able to communicate, collaborate, and share with students their own age from any classroom across the globe using MashPlant.  They are able to gain real world experiences that are new and exciting to them in a safe and secure environment.  Students are motivated to learn through experience and teachers can add a global project to any subject that they teach.  

A high school teacher in Colorado Springs used MashPlant to connect her students globally.  She said, “I use MathPlant as a platform for my students to upload their videos securely.  In this way, they were able to connect with a French speaking school in Belgium and use this as a virtual pen pal experience.  MashPlant became a central place for my students to upload and download their videos as well as for the Belgium students to be able to share their videos.  This way we didn’t have to wait weeks to receive pen pal letters and communication with each other became almost instant.  My students love being able to comment on them, to rate them and it felt like using the French language for a real goal in their life rather than just as a class subject.”

So…how can YOU get started collaborating with international classrooms? 

To start, find a partner school to connect with.  If you wish to work with multiple schools, go ahead and dive in.  There are tons of international schools all over the world where English is the primary language spoken in the school.  In other schools, the primary language is the country’s native language.  

The link below will take you to a network of international schools.  

http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/01/25/the-world-of-international-schools/

After you have a school to connect with, collaborate together on project ideas.

Some project ideas to collaborate on

  1. Action projects - Collaborating with your partner school to make a difference in the world
  2. Learning a language - Learning through a real experience using the target language
  3. Cultural Awareness - Exchanging different areas of culture with you partner school.  Student debates.
  4. Social Awareness - Being aware of problems that the community of your partner school faces

The great thing about using MashPlant as a place to share and collaborate is that teachers can create a studio that students in both classes can access.  This allows kids to create videos that teach others a new language, post blogs about their culture, etc.  Introducing kids to the world will get them excited and inspired to learn with peers far beyond the four walls of the classroom!

Building Classroom Community Through Technology

Building Classroom Community is Essential

A strong community is an essential part of the classroom.  There are many things teachers do from day one of the school year to build classroom community.  Teachers go out of their way to get to know their students and think of community building activities.  Students and their teacher work together to set expectations and goals for the year.  The students need to feel that they all part of the community and have a voice in the events that occur in the classroom.  How can we go beyond what has already been done?

How Can We Build Classroom Community Through Technology?

The use and availability of technology makes it easy for teachers to use technology as an avenue to build classroom community.

MashPlant Studio can improve overall classroom community which in turn will increase student motivation.  How can MashPlant do this?

1)  Students feel connected to their classmates and the teacher in each studio

2)  Students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas in the virtual space

3)  It increases student confidence when posting work they are proud of

4)  Student work can be collaborative (collaborative learning encourages positive and fulfilling relationships with others)

5)  Comments can be controlled by the teacher to prevent bullying online

6)  Students receive immediate feedback on their work

7)  The use of posting work, sharing, and commenting increases student motivation

 

The Importance of Digital Portfolios in the Classroom

What are digital portfolios?

Digital portfolios are collections of student work that focus on a student’s efforts, progress, and performance over time.  Students show pieces of work and reflect on them.  The reflection part allows students to think about their learning and self assess. The reflections also help the teacher understand each student’s learning process.

Why are they important?

Education is ever evolving because of advances in technology.   The power of digital portfolios can change the way students learn and teach them to be reflective of their own learning.  They can encourage independence and responsibility.  Students love to look back on work they have done and be proud of it.

How can I use MashPlant Studio to create student portfolios?

MashPlant has a built in portfolio for students.  As a teacher, every studio you post in MashPlant that students turn in becomes a digital potfolio for students.  When a student logs in, they see all of the work they have submitted and can look back and reflect on their learning over time.  


5 Reasons To Use Digital Portfolios In Your Classroom

1) Digital portfolios allow students to use technology available to them.  They can use pictures, videos, and audio recordings along with typical writing pieces in paper portfolios

2) Struggling students are given alternative ways to express themselves and show their understanding.  

3) Parents can see student portfolios anywhere and anytime.  They are able to learn what is going on in class in real time.  

4) Students develop strong oral and written communication skills.

5) Digital portfolios stay with the student over time which allows them to look back at their growth.

5 Great Websites for Student Learning

Kids go home after school and want to be on the computer.  Take the opportunity to assign homework that can be done online.  MashPlant Studio allows you to post an assignment and ask for feedback.  The websites below are great for kids to practice concepts as homework.  Ask students to answer a specific question, write down something they learned, or ask a question that they had in the comments section of your posted assignment.

  1. Sumdog.com for Math and ELA Practice (K-6) aligned to Common Core State Standards.  These fun games are linked to the CCSS.  Teachers can create an account and assign certain standards for individual students to practice..… Perfect for differentiation.
  2. Quizlet.com (Perfect for any subject)  Create your own vocabulary games in a fun and interactive way.  Kids love to manipulate the words and practice them with games on Quizlet.
  3. Learnzillion.com This site provides excellent videos created by the “Dream Team“ teachers covering each of the ELA and Math standards for K-12.
  4. Starfall.com  This is a great site for little ones learning how to read.  There are four categories to choose from: let´s get ready to read, learn to read, its fun to read, and I´m reading.  The best part is that the directions and new words are read aloud for students!
  5. Sheppardsoftware.com (Perfect for any subject) This site offers fun games for elementary and middle school students.  Games range from learning about the life cycle….to nouns….to integers.  What is not to love about ONE website that has tons of great resources?

 Check it Out!

How to Increase Student Engagement with Glogster and Mashplant

Teachers know that organization it KEY.  MashPlant is the perfect place to create assignments and manage all of your student projects.  As an added bonus, the collaboration and social sharing aspect keep my kids engaged. 

My students used Glogster EDU to create their last project.  Glogster EDU is the tech way of creating a poster.  The website is edu.glogster.com.  I recently used Glogster for a Systems of Equations project.  My goal was for students to be able to share their projects with each other and comment on them.  I decided to have my students take a screen shot of their Glog and upload it to our MashPlant studio called Systems Glog.  I use MashPlant so my students so they can see each others Glogs and interact with them!  Using MashPlant allows me to keep everything organized and interactive.  

This objective of this project was for the students to understand the connection between the real world and the math they were learning in class.  Each student had the opportunity create their own problem and solve it three different ways.  Each project I received was very different and I got to see the creative side of my students.  Glogster is fun and it inspired curiosity in my students.  They were very excited to be working on this project.  An outline and example of the project are below.

Systems of Equations Project Outline and Student Example:

  • Verbally

    • Create a word problem using systems of equations

    • Explain your problem.

  • Symbolically

    • Identify the variables you use to solve your problem.

    • Clearly set up the two equations to solve your problem.

    • Solve your system of equations using either the substitution method or elimination method.

    • Clearly label your answers.

  • Numerically

    • Check your answers in your original equations.

    • Create a table with both equations. Use the same “x-values” for each and include your solution values.

  • Graphically

    • Graph your system of equations.

    • Clearly indicate where the solution appears on your graph

Build Community and Engagement with Photos

Students love to take picture of themselves.  So… why not have them take pictures while working on a classroom activity?  After the activity, they can upload the pictures to MashPlant and look back on their learning throughout the year! 

I recently observed a middle school science classroom.  The activity for the day was to create the periodic table using m&m´s.  As I walked around the classroom, I noticed that the students were very engaged and on task because they knew the pictures of them would be in the classroom studio.  Try it out and see how your students react!

If you are interested in doing this project, here is a short outline.

1)      Students were divided into groups.  Each group was given the symbol for an element in periods 1, another in 2, and another in 3.  Using the symbol and a poster of the Periodic Table, they were asked to figure out the name, atomic number, atomic weight, two interesting facts, number of protons, number of neutrons, and number of electrons. 

2)      After the kids had all the information, each group took out a piece of paper and drew out the information.  They made a key denoting the colors of the m&m’s that would be used for each part (protons, neutrons, electrons).  Then they drew it out in pencil before gluing down the m&m’s.  As a final step, the students collaborated as a class to put the elements in order.

Lots and lots of m&m´s…

Take a peek at the students in action…..

 

The Value of Teaching Kids Digital Literacy Skills

What is it?

Digital literacy is the knowledge and skills that kids need to think critically, behave safely, and interact responsibly in a digital world.

Kids need guidance

- Our students have a new way of looking at the world and need to learn the skills to use technology safely

- They need to understand that they are responsible for what they write online

- Kids need to learn how to collaborate with peers in an online environment

- Our students must learn how to research online using keywords and choosing valid sources

Why should we teach digital literacy skills?

We live in a digital world right?  Why not teach kids to become responsible critical thinkers, problem solvers, and teach savvy individuals.

Digital literacy allows for kids to develop critical thinking skills

- The Common Core Standards identify digital literacy as an important component of a strong curriculum.   In all grade levels, a standard exists where students are to explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.  MashPlant provides a safe space for students to publish their writing and share it with others in their studio created by the teacher.

-  Students are able to analyze, explain, create, and design

-  Projects can be reflective of their personalities and learning styles

Example project ideas that encourage critical thinking skills

image

Digital literacy promotes collaboration and a builds classroom community

- Students share and comment on their peers work

- They collaborate on projects and work together as a team

- They are able to connect with kids in schools all over the world

 

What topics should we teach? 

There are tons of different ideas, but here are a few that I think stand out as the most important.

Acceptable uses

Some examples are: Who is responsible for the technology? Who is in charge of accounts and where do they keep their password?  When can they be on social media in school?

Online privacy

We need to teach kids to be responsible for their online behavior.  Everything they do online is permanent and traceable.  The MashPlant platform makes online privacy easy for teachers.  They can set privacy settings, monitor posts by students, and allow sharing on social networks.

Digital Etiquette

Our students need to learn about posting pictures of others online and sharing media projects.  Many students are unaware of the consequences that can happen without getting approval.  Students need a set of guidelines to follow.

Best practices

It is important for students to learn effective online research skills, understand the tools used to access content, generate questions, and identify key words when researching.

Make a Difference with a Public Service Announcement

This project expands students’ awareness outside school walls, motivating them through their own interests. This is an opportunity to find out what your students are passionate about.  A PSA project integrates persuasive writing, film making, and global awareness. It also empowers students to make a change that will positively impact their community.

 

Project Outline:

1. Students work cooperatively to create a 30-second PSA.

2. Working in groups of two or three, students select a topic that interests them.  The topic must be approved by the teacher before beginning the PSA.  Here are a few example topics (drinking and driving, nutrition, dog adoption, homelessness, littering, world hunger, teen suicide).

3. Students will use a storyboard to develop their PSA based on their research findings from the Internet and concepts learned in class.  You can use the template below.  (To download our pdf story board, sign up or log in to your MashPlant account at mashplantstudio.com, go to the teacher´s lounge studio, click on teacher resources, then elements, and scroll down to storyboard template to download for free.)

 
4.  The students write the script using a storyboard to create the scenes.  They will decide on props and costumes.  They will also determine their roles in the production of the video (actor, recorder, director, etc).  

5.  Next, students begin to film their scenes.

6.  Once filming is complete, students edit and save their video.

7.  Students will then upload their PSA to the MashPlant studio created by the teacher. 

8.  Lastly, students view each other’s videos, comment, and share via social media to get the word out!  Let´s make a difference!!!!!