Sunday, 22 February 2015

#tiegrad: A Community of Collaborators share out their favourite tech tools

Last #EDCI569 class we started a session of tech sharing between peers. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, how awesome is this?!”  I was inspired by my peers who introduced me to more than a few tech tools I was unaware of and, in reflection, I was quick to think what a great and simple ProD this could be;  sign up to share out a tech tool and present in mini 15-20 minute workshops with staff throughout a school or within a family of schools. I’m thinking I might suggest this at my own school—as an alternative, it would be a great way to start each staff meeting—have a 10 minute Tool Share presentation by a staff member or members (voluntary of course).
During our bluejeans session, my peers shared tech tools such as the iPad app, Explain Everything, which is a tool that is used interactively with a whiteboard or as a means of screencasting. It seems to have an endless number of practical features including animation, drawing, laser pointer, narration, etc. This is the tool I am most excited to play with. Another tech tool shared was Padlet, a creation and curation tool that works kind of like an e-bulletinboard (I think). It can be launched via Google, which makes it easy for anyone with a Google account.  This tool was shared by @MelodyLWatson who uses it as a way to curate student work in the context of e-portfolios. Desmos was also shared during our session and the Math/Science cohort members were particularly enthusiastic about this tool, an online graphing calculator, that seems to bring a new dimension to comprehension of Math graphing concepts (which, sadly, are beyond my humanities minded brain).
In my position as Special Education teacher and Case Manager in a Distributed Learning school, I have some exposure to and knowledge of great tools, but coming up with ways to encourage learners to access and use them in this particular environment can be tough.  Much of my work is about supporting students to just get to school and to stay long enough to endure a conversation.  However, I have had some success using technology as a focal point for my students struggling with significant mental health issues.
One tech tool I've had a lot of success with is Haiku Deck.  While I haven’t used Haiku Deck to support presentation of curriculum content and academic learning directly, I have used it as a medium to reduce stress and take the focus off of the student when he or she is transitioning back into the school environment when significant anxiety has impeded his/her ability to attend.  In this instance, we often meet 1:1, have a low key chit chat (it’s mostly me who is chitting and chatting) and I try to get a sense of the student’s interests etc. I show them Haiku Deck on the iPad and create one, with the student’s input if s/he is willing; past examples include baking and snowboarding. It tends to be a fairly quick and easy process.  Afterwards I support the student to create one based on his/her own interest—the level of support varies somewhat, but generally I find even the most resistant students are willing.
Haiku Deck is available as an iPad app or in a web based format.  As well, it’s easy to send a completed Haiku Deck via email, or to share it via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.  Much like Twitter, Haiku Deck doesn’t have room to ramble on; its premise is one point, message or idea per slide.  Users are encouraged to be concise as too much text will reduce the impact of the image. By choosing just one word—e.g. snowboard—a myriad of pictures are immediately generated. Consequently, the user ends up with a selection of photos to further inspire the text content, which can be anything from one word to several sentences. Other ways to use this tool could include: 
  • KWL 
  • Brainstorming 
  • ESL
  • Poetry
  •  Summarizing
  • Reflections
  • Reading response
  •  Create an outline
  • Make connections between a Math concept to real life examples 
      Here is an example of the start of a KWL Haiku Deck:

Horses - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

I’ve included my own Haiku Deck example, which some of you may have seen previously, as it’s a reflection of my own #tieyoga #learningproject. 

#tieyoga - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

And, lastly, an example of a poem, a Haiku, in fact, written by yours truly, using Haiku Deck:
10 000 Steps - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

While the app has its own bank of shareable images, it also has the option to upload personal photos which is really useful if your learners have the option to take photos of their work or subject.  There is also a feature that enables you to control the slides from your smart device, which I have not tried, but would be handy if you were sharing in the context of a presentation. If anyone does have experience with that, I'd love to hear about it!

Sharing tech tools in the context of our own practice has been really helpful to me and made for the most meaningful learning around tech. Peer teaching in this way helps me to better pick and choose a tech tool in the most practical way and it's one more reason I value and appreciate my #tiegrad learning community so much. Thanks guys!


  1. I love the idea of starting a staff meeting with the sharing of an app or something that has been effective in the classroom. I also love the Haiku Deck. I have never seen this before. It would be great as a 'get to know each other' tool to use because it is quick and does not need a lot of planning with little writing. Great ideas Tanya!

  2. Hi Tanya,
    Thanks so much for writing about Haiku Deck, we love the decks you've shared - they look great! Here's our blog post on professional development that you might enjoy:

    Lisa from Team Haiku Deck