Monday, May 20, 2013

Tagxedo Word Clouds & Common Core Aligned Lesson Ideas

I recently discovered a fantastic website that brings the Common Core to students in a new and exciting way.  Similar to another word cloud building website, WordleTagxedo, allows students to create amazing eye-popping word clouds by turning your own words (or from speeches, news articles, websites, etc.) -- really anything -- into beautiful displays.  Tagxedo also allows users to customize fonts, themes, colors, and even incorporate shapes or photos of anyone -- even yourself!  What makes Tagxedo so much fun is that you can also purchase your creative word designs on mugs, t-shitrs, mouse pads, and more for those one-of-a-kind personalized gifts.

Yet, it's what Tagxedo brings to a classroom that is a perfect fit for Common Core aligned project ideas and lessons.  Because Tagxedo is word-based and relies on technology to create the Tagxedo itself, it can be incorporated into numerous CCSS lessons that can get engage students in topics that may otherwise be dry to some.

Here are just a few ideas to incorporate Tagxedo into Common Core-aligned lessons:

1.  Create character traits of your favorite characters from books that students are reading into a Tagxedo that takes traditional character trait maps to a whole new visual level.
2.  Use Tagxedo for Math vocabulary when studying particular topics that are heavy on content vocabulary.
3.  Use Tagxedo in Social Studies to create an informational poster to highlight a particular point in history, U.S. Presidents, holidays, geography, etc.
4.  Use Tagxedo for an ice-breaker to allow students to create a visual word cloud that represents themselves for the first day/week back at school.  Students can then share out the types of words that they used to describe themselves for their new classmates.  TIP:  Students can upload an image of themselves and then use the available online tools to enhance themselves and their word creations.  It takes the old boring "All About Me" to a whole new technological incorporated level.
5.  Use Tagxedo to create amazing keepsakes for moms, dads, relatives, etc., for graduation or other holidays throughout the year.

How are you using Tagxedo in your classroom?  Share it out below by posting a comment -- or Tagxedo it out!

Follow Adam on Twitter @ps101hyman or @TpTEduTech

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why High Schools Need APs of Technology

With the onset of the Common Core State Standards, one position that will be in greater demand in the nation's high schools will be a technology assistant principal.   Although this type of position is relatively unheard of at the moment, it will certainly become needed in the years to come.  

Typically, high schools are broken down into smaller departments...English, math, science, social studies, the arts, etc.  Yet with the Common Core State Standards, it is imperative that schools also adopt and incorporate a technology department.  Forget about maintenance and even funding for now, which will be a huge part of the job no doubt, but rather, focus on the implementation of using the technology that is available to foster different learning styles, enhance learning, and get students used to the tools that they will be using more and more in an educational setting, and, of course with a goal for college and career readiness.

One focus that will be a certain requirement for an AP of Technology will be professional development.  That's a huge factor.  Case in point: although younger teachers certainly feel more comfortable using technology, they may have a hard time incorporating it into the more rigorous curriculum.  Furthermore, younger, more inexperienced teachers or rookie teachers may benefit from technology PD simply to help them understand the limitations that technology may have; every student in every class doesn't have a computer or tablet with them at their disposal during every minute of the day.  Teachers will need to understand how to manage their classrooms with some sort of a shared system until the days where either BYOD is a mainstay or state and/or federal funding can cover the cost of the 1:1 technology ratio that will eventually be a given and not so much a far-fetched wishful fantasy.   Also, keep in mind that the available technology will most certainly change and teachers of all ages and abilities will have to adapt.  After all, we all know that the students of the future will always be a step ahead of us.  

The burning question is whether or not an AP of Technology is limited to high schools or if that is something that will ultimately be considered in the middle and elementary school levels as well.  With technology budgeting and allocation, available grants, constant maintenance and upkeep, software updates, professional development and ongoing training that is aligned with the Common Core, an AP of Technology of the future may be as synonymous with all levels of education as math and reading is to us now.  In addition, take a look down the road...not too far down that road you will also have a flipped curriculum in place to some degree in many, if not all schools.  How will teachers be rated when they are recording and posting lessons without their class physically with them at the time that the main lesson is given?  Now, factor in the technology that hasn't even been invented yet, and that is the point where a regular technology teacher or coordinator and regular assistant principal may not cut it any longer.  

As with any technology, you always have to be thinking several steps ahead - especially with technology in education.  What's good for today's student will most certainly be antiquated and a non-factor with tomorrow's student.  Technology in education must morph and adapt with the times and as a result, so must the way our schools are run - from administration to teachers to students alike.  

Think about how your school may adds future issues with technology on all levels and if an AP of Technology is something that may be in your future.