What are your goals for 2016? There are so many new and exciting things to try both in and out of the classroom. So I put together a list of 16 Things for Teachers to Try in 2016 to help inspire educators to try something new this year. What will you try? What would you add to this list? Please add to the comments below.
- Google Cardboard: This year you will see both virtual and augmented reality take-off in 2016! Google Cardboard makes virtual reality accessible to the masses and with the advent of Google Expeditions, Google has made virtual reality not only cheap and convenient but also focused on using it to engage students in the classroom. Google Cardboard has also been making the news a lot lately! Did you see how a doctor used Cardboard to save a baby’s life? Virtual reality, or VR, is a game-changer across the board, and it will revolutionize learning. Get your own Google Cardboard now, or build your own. Be sure you get version 2.0, both versions work, but version 2 is a much better design. Look for more blog posts on Google Cardboard coming soon! Curious about VR? Search “VR,” in your mobile app store. You will find tons of virtual experiences! (See also Google Cardboard Comes to iOS, now 52 Google Apps for the iPad!)
- Sketchnoting (or Visual Note-Taking): Research has shown that drawing your notes, even doodling can help anyone learn and remember information better (See research: The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard). I am not a sketch artist like some of my friends, Sylvia Duckworth (click to see Sylvia’s fantastic sketches) and Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook (click here to see Matt’s awesome sketchnotes), but I’m trying to learn! I also greatly admire the work of Brad Ovenell Carter . Follow Brad on twitter: @braddo.Two mobile apps to try with sketch noting: Adobe Illustrator Draw and Paper by FiftyThree. I’ve been dabbling with Paper for some time, but my sketches are not ready for primetime. But that’s not the point! You don’t have to be an artist to use this method for learning. I also have been using the Pencil stylus by FiftyThree. Look for me on Instagram sharing my sketches soon and #failingforward. Also, be sure to check out these excellent books on sketch notes: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde, and The Sketchnote Workbook by Mike Rohde. Below is a great introductory video to the concept of visual note-taking:
- Blogging: The power of sharing your voice cannot be overstated! I started blogging just under two years ago and it transformed my career and my learning. Blogging with your students will give new meaning to their writing and their work! The power of sharing your voice, your learning and your passions online cannot be overrated. (See my post on The #ShakeUpLearning Challenge: Share Your Voice.) Start simple! The bottom line is just to get writing and posting on a regular basis. Don’t get caught up in trying to choose the perfect platform. Perfect is the enemy of done! Already blogging? Maybe you need to re-commit to blogging regularly or offer to mentor someone else who has been putting it off for far too long, and by all means get your students blogging! Here are my 5 Tips for New Bloggers.
- Podcasting: If blogging isn’t for you, maybe you should share your voice through a podcast. Podcasting has continued to grow like wildfire, and educators across the globe are sharing through this medium every day. If you don’t want to podcast yourself, be sure you take advantage of the all of the phenomenal podcasts that are available online across many different platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, and Overcast. Here is a list of some educational podcasts to get you started.
- Live Streaming: Live streaming is about to take over everything whether we like it or not! My opinion is that teachers should always model a positive social media presence for your students. Find ways to try one of these rapidly growing apps: Periscope, Meerkat, Blab.IM or soon…Facebook! Yep, Facebook is piloting its own live streaming application. THIS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING! Follow @ShakeUpLearning on Periscope.
- Wearables: While maybe everyone doesn’t need an Apple Watch, wearables will soon be everywhere. If you don’t quite get it yet, or maybe some of these gadgets don’t fit your teacher’s budget, it’s worth paying attention! Your students will soon be walking in with wearables, and not just watches. Eventually, even our clothing will be connected. Investigate the possibilities of wearables and ALWAYS think about how devices can be used FOR LEARNING, not just a distraction. Check these out: Moto 360 Sport, Apple Watch, Google Glass 2, and this list: 50 Wearable Tech Game Changers for 2016.
- Start a YouTube Channel: You may already have one and not realize it, but everyone needs a YouTube Channel. Even if you only use it as a curation tool to create playlists of your favorite videos, and playlists for your students. Video content is dominating now that we can stream on just about any device. Click here to learn how to set up your own YouTube Channel. And here are 20 YouTube Channels for Educators to help you find great content, and follow Shake Up Learning on YouTube!Oh, and as a side note, Facebook video is also an excellent way to share your voice. It is now one of the fastest growing mediums for video. Remember the days when we thought Facebook would never have a place in the classroom or the workplace? That is all changing! Check out Facebook for Work.
- Google Classroom: Google has made this application specifically FOR students and teachers! Google Classroom is a free application designed to help students and teachers communicate, collaborate, organize and manage assignments, go paperless, and much more! It is a must if you are 1-1 with Google Apps for Education. Not 1-1? No problem, Google Classroom is great for any classroom that regularly uses Google Apps for Education, and for any grade level that has the skills to log into their Google Account. Ready to get started? Check out The Teacher’s Guide to Google Classroom eBook (now available on Amazon), which is loaded with step-by-step directions, screenshots, tips and tricks, and shows both the teacher view and the student view. FREE BONUS: The Student’s Quick Guide to Google Classroom is included for free with this eBook, which includes printable directions and step sheets for students to follow. Get the eBook now! Also check out the 6 Tips for Getting Started with Google Classroom Infographic.Speaking of Google, did you know you can get a FREE Google Cheat Sheets eBook when subscribing to this blog? Get your copy today!
- Join a Google+ Community: I have been singing the praises of Google+ for a while now, and despite what many think, it isn’t going away. In fact, it just got a major overhaul. But one of my favorite features is Google+ Communities. These communities can be private or public, and offer a fantastic way to share, connect and learn online. I’ve used communities to support blended learning experiences with my students.(13+). You will find a community on just about everything that interests you, and every subject and grade level imaginable. Find the Google Educator Group in your area, and Google Apps for Education communities. There’s something for everyone. Check out my post on 5 Reasons Educators Should Use G+.
- Gamify a Lesson or Professional Development: Gamification isn’t going anywhere just yet. It is not a fad; gamification is proving to be a viable way to learn. If you haven’t tried it yet, start planning a lesson in 2016. And if you are in a position to deliver professional learning, try gamifing your PD! Take PD to the Next Level with Badges like Denton ISD. Also, check out my gamification Pinterest board for resources.
- Create a badge for your students: Speaking of gamification, badges have also become a great motivator for both teachers and students to reach learning goals and show off their accomplishments. You can create badges with a variety of applications, including Google Drawings. I’m also a fan of Credly for the 13+ crowd just because it is fast, clean and easy-to-use. I also have a post on Badges here: 5 Awesome Resources for Badges in the Classroom; and check out one of the most popular posts of 2015 on using badges in professional development!
- Create an avatar: Another great way to add a layer of gamification is to have students create avatars for their profiles. Using avatars online help protect student identity and model good digital citizenship skills. Check out this post: 6 Fun and Free Avatar Creators for the iPad.
- Breakout EDU: Breakout Edu is a way to bring the escape room type of games into the classroom and teach teamwork, communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Each game is a puzzle for the students to solved to unlock the box. This unique and engaging way of learning is great for all ages. Check out the Breakout Edu website for more information on how to get started. The video below explains the concept in more detail.
- Participate in a Voxer Chat: It seems everyone is on Twitter now, but many have not experienced Voxer. Voxer offers a unique way to connect, collaborate and learn with other educators. It is a walkie-talkie app for smartphones that allows you to have not only one-to-one chats but also group chats. You can use the voice feature, or even text message. The messages are all saved so you can listen/read when you have a chance. It can be overwhelming at first, so start small! Follow the #eduvoxer hashtag to see what’s shaking on voxer. It’s also great for family communication.Sarah Thomas created this great Voxer 101 Video:
- Brand Yourself, Your Work, Your Class and/or Your Campus: Branding is not just for companies anymore. It is becoming a necessity to brand yourself and your online presence. It will especially be important for our students entering the workforce. To get started branding yourself, your work, your classroom or your campus, begin with your website. Choose a style, logo, font and colors that you use consistently. Create social media cover images using tools like Canva to give it a consistent look. Canva has tons of templates that make design and branding easy!
- 3D Print Something Awesome: Yep, 3D printers are everywhere and are so much fun! If you haven’t experienced one, find one in your district or your area to try. A lot of high schools have them now, and a lot of school maker spaces are investing as well. There are also a lot of local maker spaces popping in cities across the country. Even if you don’t find a 3D printer, find out what the fuss is all about. Maker Spaces are AWESOME! Check out all of the cool things you can print from Makerbot’s Thingiverse.
- Let Your Students Teach You: I say this ALL THE TIME! In fact, it’s on my Top Ten Tech Tips poster. Don’t be afraid to let your students teach you, especially when it comes to technology! There is no way to know it all these days, and technology changes so quickly that it is no exception. I learn something every time I teach a class, no matter the age group! Be open to letting your students show you a few tips and tricks. Looking for an app that does something specific for your students? Ask them! I bet they know something awesome you can use, and if they don’t, they will be excited to find one for you. Make them a part of the planning process.
- Jar of Awesome: Celebrate and remember you and your students’ success and accomplishments with the Jar of Awesome. Every time you reach a milestone, a learning goal, or receive recognition, simply add a slip of paper with the accomplishment to the jar. When you or your students are having a bad day, revisit the jar and how far you have come! See more ideas for the Jar of Awesome here.
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