Friday, July 8, 2016

Teaching with Technology

Marc Cicchino discusses the many advantages of using Google in your classroom.

Marc Cicchino, the supervisor of English in Roxbury Public Schools and a faculty member at Rutgers University, spoke on June 29 at the Summer College for Teachers about teaching with technology.

Appropriately, Marc opened his presentation about technology by asking attending educators to pull out their cell phones, laptops, or tablets and jump right into a conversation. is a great resource for educators, Mark said, because teachers can easily send out a question to students to take a poll, ask for anonymous feedback, and allow students to engage when they otherwise might not be able. For example, a conversation on can allow student to engage with a video by making comments while it plays, allowing it to act as a backchannel. Additionally, allows teachers to easily send out a message to the class, such as a bit of trivia or an important announcement.

The next resource Marc shared with teachers was called TodaysMeet, which allows teachers to easily set up a chatroom. Marc says a helpful use of TodaysMeet is that it can allow students in the outside ring of a Socratic Circle to become active participants in the conversation happening in the inside circle.

A Socratic Circle that could be enhanced by allowing the outer circle to comment using TodaysMeet. (Photo: Sturgis Soundings Magazine)
Then, Marc turned to a discussion about Google Docs, showing everyone in the room that there are even more incredible features available for free from Google than we had imagined. For example, did you know that you can check the revision history of a Google Doc that your student is using to turn in an assignment? Using the revision history, you can see if a student is copying and pasting large amounts of their work from an outside source, see if the student is editing after the due date, or check who is doing what portion of the work on a collaborative project.

Google also offers a Research button in the Tools menu, which allows students to search for and insert citations in a sidebar within their Google Doc. This feature is a game-changer because it makes researching significantly easier for students, and it saves teachers from reserving research time in the school computer lab, leaving more time for work in the classroom.

Finally, Marc showed educators how to use Add-Ons, including EasyBib Bibliography Creator for Google Docs and Doctopus and Flubaroo for Google Sheets. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator allows students to easily create their bibliography and cite sources using a simple sidebar within Docs. Doctopus instantly creates an organized system of folders in Google Drive for an entire class, based on a roaster entered in Google Sheets. Flubaroo grades quizzes given on Google Forms for you.

Remember, technology is only an advantage in the classroom if its use simplifies or enhances an activity. Marc reminded educators not to get caught in the trap of trying to use technology too often and actually making activities more complicated than they need to be.

The SAMR model explains the four positive ways that technology can work in the classroom.
Marc's presentation can be accessed online here. Take a look and check out even more tools you can use in the classroom.

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