Digital annotations are not new to the realms of technology and education. Digital annotation tools continue to be available and ever changing. The power of digital annotations rests with the user and their abilities to capture their thinking, as well as, share it with others. In K-12 classrooms, digital annotations can be a great tool that empowers learners to begin capturing their thoughts and ideas leading to artifacts of learning which demonstrate understandings. Digital annotations can also be a great source for digital/e-portfolios allowing learners to reflect on their growth and development.
Why use digital Annotations?
Why should digital annotations be a part of every classroom and learning environment? Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all fundamental components of learning which lead to critical thinking and digital annotations have the ability to cover all four areas. Digital annotations empower us as learners to engage with text, capture our thoughts, share with others, and gain insights from others thinking. Writing is a great way to process our thinking and allows us to begin identifying the process to where our thinking is going. When we digitally annotate and begin to share those annotations in collaborative spaces, our annotations become the center of collaborative dialogue and learning in which we grow collectively. When we begin to learn about annotating for learning, collaborative spaces for sharing and engaging in digital discussion opens doors to understand annotation strategies and processes from other learners with more annotation experience.
Getting started with Digital Annotations
Where and how to begin using digital annotation tools can be daunting and intimidating however, there are a few simple tools that can empower us as learners to get started on the journey. The comment feature in Google is one of the simplest ways to get started. The feature is available on Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings and a few other tools in the G-Suite. It is even now available on any file housed in Google Drive. Comments can be added to PDF's, images, MS Word documents and more when stored in Google Drive. A simple highlight of targeted text or information allows a user to capture thinking and share thoughts collaboratively.
If you're looking for a more robust tool with increased options, Kami is a great selection. Kami has paid versions with additional features however, the free version has plenty of options that are perfect for learners to get started annotating digitally. Highlighting, underlining, and strikethroughs (in a variety of colors) are all available at no charge. Additional features include adding text, comments, and drawing shapes. Under a 14-day free trial when you begin your account you'll have access to drawing, text to speech and a few other advanced options to try them out. Collaborative annotations with Kami are a breeze and users can save their annotated files in Google Drive if need be. It also works well with Google Classroom.
Digital annotations can occur on web-based material as well. Hypothes.is is a great option to consider for annotating web sites. Hypothes.is is entirely free to all users for all features. The tool was originally created for medical professionals who were collaborating around medical journal readings to increase learning and growth. Hypothes.is requires a login which is fairly simple and free to set up. Users can highlight information on websites and even add annotations (notes) which appear in a side bar. Annotations can be public, private, or in collaborative groups. Tagging annotations is offered as an advanced feature at no charge as well for users to quickly access collaborative discussions or topics. Annotations appear to users when visiting websites while the Hypothes.is extension is enabled.
Digital annotations can be highly beneficial to us as educators along with our students. Collaboration is now easier than ever with access to new technologies and the tools shared above work just as well for adults as they do for kids. Curating and sharing resources saves us all time and energy and digital annotations can be a quick way for us to collaborate across schools, districts, states, and more. How are you thinking about using digital annotations whether for your professional practice or during instruction with students? We'd love to hear your thoughts using the comment section of this post and look forward to learning more about how you are transforming tasks through digital annotations.
BY GUEST BLOGGER Christopher Brannon Church
Brannon Church is a technology teacher at Carmody Middle School. He has been a teacher in Jeffco for 19 Years. For the first 18 years, Mr. Church taught 6th Grade and this year has joined the Carmody team as their Robotics Teacher. Here he shares how he is making impacts in student lives through the development of Jeffco Generations. Mr. Church provides some great examples of how students learn with technology and ways teachers can access resources to begin integrating technology that engages students in creative learning opportunities.
I have always felt the need to incorporate technology into my day. I realized early in my career that very few things can improve student engagement like introducing a new tool or program. However, this usually only works if the teacher is as excited to explore new opportunities with their students. Fortunately, opportunities are much easier to come by nowadays because of the availability of chromebooks and free software. 95% of the curriculum we are exploring at our middle school comes from free programs that coexist with student Google logins. The Jeffco Ed Tech team is extremely supportive, and has equipment/resources for teachers to borrow to show their administration how important purposeful play can be in learning.
With all the free resources out there that appeal to the STEAM driven teacher, there is no excuse for not trying to implement computer science into some aspect of their day. Most educational apps use the Google Identity Platform which eliminates the burden of student login problems. I feel that Jeffco is headed in the right direction when it comes to preparing students for a successful future.
Demonstrating how to use Makey Makey & Scratch:
An Exit Ticket Using Makey Makey. Students were given the opportunity to create a project using Makey Makey and Scratch. I wanted them to see that they are limited only by their imagination. One on my administrators came to me looking for ways to make exit tickets more engaging and relevant. With student input, we created our interactive exit ticket using Makey Makey and Scratch. It was a huge success, and students immediately tried to jump on the “aluminum foil switch” idea for their own projects.
Jeffco Generations Skills:
These are examples of using technology as a tool to develop Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as well as Communication skills from Jeffco Generations. As an initial activity with Makey Makey, students were to research their favorite childhood song, find the sheet music, create a piano in Scratch, and use the controller from Makey Makey to recreate their song. The most amazing part of this activity is that students completed this project with very little guidance. Students relied on each other to figure out how to fix bugs in their program to make their music selection work.
How do I get access? - I am extremely fortunate to have 1:1 chromebooks in all of my Robotics classes, and nowadays there are hundreds of reputable websites that are available at no cost. Many of the hands on materials that I rely on have come from my own pocket, or were funded through the Donors Choose website. Any student can learn to code!
Funding is out there - After borrowing Makey Makey kits from Jeffco Ed Tech I decided that I had to have a set for my class to take our scratch lessons to the next level. Believe it or not, it was fairly simple to acquire the funds needed for a Makey Makey kit. Donors Choose and Google’s CS First are practically giving away money to teachers that complete a few simple activities with their class.
Skill Application Across Content Areas:
One of the favorite parts of my job is giving students an opportunity to show off what they have learned in Robotics/Coding and using those skills in other content areas. An example this year is a 6th grader who decided to retell the entire story of Maniac Magee using Scratch by taking her character on a journey through the story. It was amazing! This clearly demonstrates proficiency in computer science as well as a deep meaningful comprehension of a novel in literacy.
Below are just a few activities where application of the following Jeffco Generations Skills were imperative to complete the activity. As students completed these activities, they developed these Jeffco Generations Skills:
Sphero Bridge Build: Students were to demonstrate Critical and Creative Thinking along with Communication skills as they used the Engineer Design Process to research, design and build a bridge with drinking straws. Bridges needed to support the weight of a Sphero and span over 50 centimeters.
Friday Fly Day: During this activity, students were to research ramp design and create their own ramp to support the weight and acceleration of Sphero. This activity supports Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Sphero Battle Tanks (captured with a 360 Camera): Students demonstrate Agility and Adaptability during their Sphero Battle Bots competition. Students used the Engineer Design Process to create “tanks” for their Spheros.
Merge Opportunities: During our introduction to 3D design, students were able to use Merge Cubes and AR/VR Goggles to check their 3D Prints. Instead of wasting printer filament, we are able to upload our designs to Object Loader and see if there are any flaws to our design. Students demonstrate Self Direction and Personal Responsibility as they create their own designs using Tinkercad, view their design in Augmented Reality, and print a clean final project.
In conclusion, I would urge all educators who are interested in integrating tech into the classroom to join Twitter. I have found so many creative educators on Twitter that share an endless number of incredible projects or ideas. Feel free to follow me @MrChurch (shameless plug) and make some connections with teachers all over the world that are passionate about integrating technology into their classrooms.
New: CLOSED CAPTIONING IN GOOGLE SLIDES
Presenters can now opt to show real-time automated closed captioning while presenting in Google Slides. Google uses your computer's microphone to detect your spoken presentation, much like using the voice-to-text option that is available within many G Suite tools. This feature can help make your presentation more effective for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, non-native speakers, visual learners, and in loud learning environments.
Need to make a recording of your entire mini lesson or direct instruction while teaching? Enable the closed captioning feature and use a screencasting tool, wuch as Screencast-o-matic or Screencastify, to record the progression and pacing of the slides WITH the words you are speaking. This video can be distributed to students via Google Classroom or embedded on a website so that students who missed instruction or need reteaching can watch the video on an as-needed basis.
For directions on using automated captions visit the Google Help Center
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New Google Sites
Google has made great improvements in their website software with the addition of the new Google Sites. These sites integrate easily with Google, allowing the user to embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, YouTube videos and more to their site. To build a site, you simply drag and drop in the pieces onto the work space that best meet your needs. A great way for students to get started is to assign sites.google.com/create within Google Classroom. Doing this will give students easy access to the website creation homepage.
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Seesaw is a great tool for building digital portfolios for students in all grade levels and content areas. Some of the great benefits of Seesaw include the ability to add drawings, audio, and video notes. This tool provides a safe environment for students to gain exposure in social media-like environments, as they practice liking and commenting on posts by others students. It is also a popular choice for educators who want to share student learning directly with parents, although these portfolios can be public on the web, as well.
"It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn't online, it doesn't exist." - Austin Kleon
A few last thoughts...
As you are considering ways to integrate digital portfolios into the student learning experience, it is important to remember that not all artifacts have to be digital. Snapping a photo of a physical piece of evidence, or recording a video of a student speaking, is a great way to allow the physical and digital worlds to collide and create a bigger picture of what a student can do!
Want to Know more?
What's a Sketchnote?
Consider how some students might greatly benefit from sketchnoting as they listen in the classroom. How can you use sketchnoting to have students demonstrate learning after watching a video or listening to a lecture, guest speaker, audio book or podcast? How can sketchnoting engage the brain for some students in the way 2-column notes and graphic organizers cannot?
Get to Sketchin' - How do I get started?
Although this equipment works well for many teachers to begin their sketchnoting journey, it is often outside of the price range for a typical classroom. To get your students sketchnoting, consider allowing the physical and digital words to collide. Encourage students to show what they've learned and how they have made connections by sketching on paper with pencil or ink. Using a mobile device, have students capture their sketch with the camera or a scanner app. These images can be uploaded to any of the G Suite tools, Google Classroom, Schoology, Google Sites, and more.
Interested in learning how Sylvia Duckworth does her digital sketchnotes? See the video below!
The Sketchnote Challenge
We challenge you to try creating your own sketchnote showcasing a bit of new learning! Share your sketchnote with @JeffcoEdTech on Twitter. Don't forget to add the hashtag #SNDay2018, as well. We also encourage you to get your students sketchnoting in the classroom as a way to sense-make new content and make connections.
Building individual discussion threads only one time for each student using Schoology discussions is an easy way to support this practice. The following presentation identifies 4 easy steps to set this up.
- This method provides privacy between you and the student.
- Able to start conversation and follow-ups with students.
- Doesn’t have to be graded/assessed.
- Posts are ongoing, chronological and archived.
Are you ready to start your students in digital journaling? Ask your school Digital Teacher Librarian or Educational Technology Specialist for support in getting started.
- Quickly communicate what is happening in your classroom.
- Inform parents of upcoming events.
- Share moments captured electronically.
- Allow you to design a flexible newsletter format.
- Allow you to maintain an online newsletter archive.
- Allow you to work collaboratively with your teammates.
Link to video: How to Create Classroom Newsletters using Google Slides
View the presentation below to learn how to set up Google Slides Q and A in your next Google Slides presentation and give your learners a new avenue to communicate!
Digital Teacher Librarian
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