Thursday, June 12, 2014

Using Thinglink in the Library Classroom, Marcia Mariscal, Goethe Elementary

Thanks to the iPads, I was able to have the students explore Kids InfoBits.  They worked with partners opening the different tabs, clicking on the sound button, and adding information to their backpacks.  The third graders were able to email articles of information to their cps gmail account.  This was the first time the students were able to explore the sight in class.  On the second day of class the students picked a specific animal to research.  The students worked with each other answering a series of questions to gather more information about their animal.  Because I encouraged them to read two to three articles depending on the age of the group, the gathering of facts took two 50 minute class periods.

As a teacher, I knew I wanted the students to do research on a topic using the CPS database, but now I had to think about how they would share their learned information.  The traditional safe route for me would have been to create a project, a poster that students could pour all their learned information on.  But because of the iPads, I decided to think outside the box and plan for the students to use technology to share their new learned knowledge.  But What?  I decided to go the expert for advice.  My tech teacher Mrs. Simenson, who suggested to use Thinglink.  Thinglink?  I had not heard of it and was definitely not familiar with the app.  Thinglink is an app that allows you to add an image from your camera roll and add informational tags, as well as, add video. What’s great is that you can create an educator account which allows you to set up student accounts.  They generate your email domain and provide you with a password for each student.

Well I decided that my 1st through 3rd graders would be using the Thinglink app to display the information obtained from their research.  A word of advice, when you create your class list, change each of their password to a more manageable one.  The domain and the password they provide is too complicated for kids.  I made sure I changed all their passwords to one they could remember.  To make it even easier, I chose the same password for all my students.   Another tip I would give myself before I do this again, and therefore letting you know, some students did not know or forgot how to type an underscore.  Because the username they generate contained their first name, underscore, last name; it took a while to login to the website.  I also found that first graders needed help adding the @ sign. Once these small hiccups got resolved, it was smooth sailing from that point on.  The students picked up on the app very quickly.  I thought the first graders would have a hard time understanding, but boy was I surprised.  They were done adding their facts to their tags in no time.  I was so excited to see them clicking on a tag and rereading their information.

Besides displaying their information in a new way, what I found positive about this app was the sharing of information that goes on.  Students are able to see other classmates work and comment on it.  They are able to see my stream with other grades and comment on them as well.  Now it is not just their class, but 1st through 3rd are sharing information with each other.

It truly is a community of learners.  I know that I want to continue next year working with Thinglink and teach my students how to embed videos into their interactive image.  I am very excited for what next year will bring thanks to the introduction of technology into our library.

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