- 30hands Learning - A user-friendly iOS app with video tutorials to help users create a video story by adding narration to images.
- Animaker Class - A drag-and-drop tool for students that also offers features such as group management, an in-app messenger, and task tracking.
- Book Creator - A mobile (iOS/Chrome) app for putting together stunning eBooks and digital stories with text, audio, images, and video.
- BoomWriter - A safe site for students (teachers create accounts, no student email required) to create digital stories. Once a story is published online, an actual book can be ordered.
- Buncee - A digital canvas that includes an educational portal that allows educators to track and monitor student progress, create assignments, share an "Ideas Lab," and more.
- Cloud Stop Motion - Create stop-motion video projects from any browser or device that can be used for digital storytelling or project-based learning.
- Comic Life - A fun and easy-to-use iOS app for telling a story by creating a customized digital comic.
- Elementari - Read, write, code, share, and remix interactive digital stories, portfolios, choose-your-own adventures, and more using professional illustrations and sounds.
- HeadUP - Allows students to create beautiful-looking stories in various subject areas in only a matter of seconds.
- Imagine Forest - Offers short writing activities and a story creator that comes with built-in story starters, artwork, and more to inspire students.
- Litehouse - Shape digital stories -- in four easy steps through a state-of-the-art text editor -- that can also be published on platforms such as WordPress or Drupal.
- Little Bird Tales - Students can create their own art and record their voice for stories. Also, offers interactive K-6 lessons and an iOS app for mobile learning.
- Make Beliefs Comix - Students can author digital comics in different languages, plus there are educational resources and lesson ideas.
- My Story - An iPad app in which a user can draw or upload a picture, add some text, and then record audio to tell their story.
- Nawmal - Students can create cool animated videos and build their communication, presentation, and conversation skills at the same time.
- Noisy Book - A fun iOS app that adds sound effects to stories that are read aloud and also allows users to fashion their own stories as well.
- Pixton for Schools - Offers an educational portal and more than 4,000 backgrounds, 3,000 props, and 1,000 subject-specific templates for creating digital comics.
- Plotagon - Users select characters, write a script, and Plotagon takes care of the rest to create an animated video.
- Speech Journal - An iPad app that pairs recorded audio with a digital picture from a user’s iPhoto library to create a story.
- Story Creator - Put together a digital story by syncing audio, text, video, and images. Users can also highlight text during narration to boost reading skills.
- Storybird - A story sharing site with an educational portal in which students can create art-inspired stories for embedding into sites or blogs.
- StoryJumper - Build a story from scratch or choose one of the story starters. Students then can add objects, text, and even upload their own art.
- Storyboard That - Offers a special education edition with more than 2,000 lesson plans and activities, cross-curriculum applications, and is also FERPA, CCPA, COPPA, and GDPR compliant.
- Strip Designer - An iOS digital comic app in which students can sketch, draw, mask, add warped 3D lettering and balloons, and combine everything with complex panel layouts.
- Tellagami - Tell a short story by building an avatar and then recording audio.
- UtellStory - Share a story through audio, images, and video, and even collaborate with others.
- VoiceThread - Users upload multimedia content and record a narration, then a finished VoiceThread can then be embedded into a site or blog.
- Wakelet - Wakelet lets educators bookmark any item on the web (i.e. article, blog, tweet, etc.) and then organize it into a digital story that can be shared with students or used for other communication, such as professional development.
- WriteComics - A simple-to-use site for building a digital comic.
- Zimmer Twins - A fun animated movie-making site with class management features.
Digital storytelling is a great way for teachers to encourage the creative use of technology in learning. The process can be used with almost any subject, and with the abundance of apps and tools available, there’s one that’s right for every classroom.
Seesaw for Schools is a digital app-based platform that allows students, teachers, and parents or guardians to complete and share classroom work. As the company itself says, Seesaw is a platform for student engagement.
Using the Seesaw app, students can show what they know using various media, from photos and videos to drawings, text, links, and PDFs. This is all on the Seesaw platform, meaning it can be seen and appraised by teachers and even shared with parents and guardians.
The student portfolio grows over time, allowing them to carry it through their academic career. This is a great way for other teachers to see how the student has progressed over time – even showing how they worked to get the final result.
So how does Seesaw for Schools work for students and teachers?
What is Seesaw for Schools?
Seesaw for Schools allows students to work on a tablet or smartphone to create content that is automatically saved online within a personal profile. This can then be accessed by the teacher, via app or browser, to assess work from any location.
The third stage is sharing in which teachers can allow parents and guardians to see the work of the students and share positive feedback, helping to provide encouragement in the classroom.
The Seesaw Family app is a separate app that parents and guardians can download and sign-up for and then have access to the child's progress from then on.
Family communications can be managed and shared by the teacher for a secure and controlled level of content, so parents and guardians don't need to worry about being overloaded.
Seesaw for School supports translation, allowing it to be used by ESL students and families who speak multiple languages. If the device language settings are different from the original message, for example, then the device will translate so the student receives the content in the language they're working with.
Seesaw does so much for free it's very impressive. Of course Seesaw for Schools, which is a paid solution, offers premium features such as monitoring students' progress toward a key skill, bulk creating and inviting, a district library, schoolwide announcements, admin support, SIS integration, and lots more.
Teachers can setup a class blog, allow peer-to-peer feedback, and enable likes, commenting, and editing on work and on the main blog itself. This can all be scaled as the teacher sees fit to ensure everyone is using the platform fairly and in a way that positively encourages progress for each student.
How does Seesaw for Schools work?
Students can use Seesaw for Schools to track the progress of their work in real-time. From recording a video of themselves working on a math problem to snapping a pic of a paragraph they wrote to recording a video of them reading aloud a poem, there are many uses in the real-world classroom or for remote learning.
The teacher is also able to build and view digital portfolios for each student, which will automatically grow over time as the students add more content. This can work the other way too, with teachers sending assignments to students with individual instructions tailored to each one.
All of it can be shared to parents and guardians via the app or added to a blog that can be private, in class, or more public, to those who are sent the link.
How to setup Seesaw for Schools
To get started a teacher simply creates an account, via app.seesaw.me. Then sign-in and at this point, it is possible to integrate with Google Classroom or to import a roster or make your own. Click the green check to move on.
Then add students by selecting the "+ Student" in the bottom right. Pick "No" if your students aren't signing in with email, then pick if the student has a device each or share, then add names or copy and paste a list.
To connect families, follow the same process as above only selecting the "+Families" from the bottom right, "Turn on Family Access," then print personalized paper invites to send home with students or send notification emails to families.
What does Seesaw for Schools offer over the free Seesaw version?
There are plenty of extras that justify the expense of getting Seesaw for Schools rather than simply using the free version.
All of those features are:
How much does Seesaw for Schools cost?
The Seesaw for Schools price isn't a listed amount. It is a quoted cost that will vary based on the individual school's needs.
As a rough guide, Seesaw is free, Seesaw Plus is $120 per year, then the Seesaw for Schools version jumps up again with a lot more features.
Padlet is a digital tool that can help teachers and students in class and beyond by offering a single place for a notice board. That's at its most basic.
This digital notice board is able to feature images, links, videos, and documents, all collated on a "wall" that can be made public or private. This means that not only can teachers post on the wall but so too can students.
Since the interactive space is easy to use and easily accessible from nearly any web browser-capable device, it's a great resource for teachers and students.
So how does Padlet work and is it a great tool for your school?
What is Padlet and How Does It Work?
Padlet is a place where you can create a single or multiple walls that are able to house all the posts you want to share. From videos and images to documents and audio, it is literally a blank slate. It's collaborative, too, allowing you to involve students, other teachers and even parents and guardians.
Who you share that with is up to you as a moderator. It can be public, open to all, or you can place a password on the wall. You can only allow invited members to use the wall, which is the ideal setup for education. Share the link and anyone invited can enter easily.
Once up and running, it's possible to post an update with your identity, or anonymously. Start off by creating an account on Padlet, or via the iOS or Android app. Then you can make your first board to share using a link or QR code, to name just two of the many sharing options.
How to Use PadletTo get posting, double click anywhere on the board. Then you can drag files, you can paste files, or even use the Save As bookmark with Padlet mini. Or simply click the plus icon in the lower right corner and add that way. This can be images, videos, audio files, links, or documents.
From a brainstorming board to a live questions bank, there are lots of ways to use Padlet, limited only by your imagination. Even that limit can be overcome by allowing the board to be collaborative so your students can use their imaginations to grow it in new directions.
Once ready, you can hit publish and the Padlet will be all set to share. You can also integrate it with apps such as Google Classroom and many LMS options too. These can also be embedded elsewhere like on a blog or the school website.
How Much Does Padlet Cost?
Padlet is free for its most basic plan, which limits users to three Padlets and caps file size uploads. You can always use one of those three, then delete and replace it with a new one. You just are not able to store more than three long term.
The Padlet Pro plan, designed for individuals, can be used by teachers and costs from $8 per month. This gives you unlimited padlets, 250MB file uploads (25 times more than the free plan), domain mapping, priority support, and folders.
Padlet Backpack is designed specifically for schools and starts at $2,000 but does include a 30-day free trial. It gives you user management access, enhanced privacy, extra security, branding, school-wide activity monitoring, larger 250MB file uploads, a control domain environment, extra support, student reports and portfolios, content filtering, and Google Apps and LMS integration. Depending on the size of the school or district, custom pricing is available.
District leaders consider cybersecurity their No. 1 technology priority, with 69% saying they are proactive or very proactive in this area. However, only 18% have a full-time staffer dedicated to cybersecurity according to CoSN’s latest edtech leadership report. Cyberattacks against education institutions continue to increase as student and school data present an attractive target for cyber criminals.
Less than half of K-12 students receive any education about cybersecurity, which is surprising since the issue is a priority for districts and the cybersecurity workforce shortage is considered a national security weakness by the U.S. government. Districts have an opportunity to raise the level of awareness about the need for strong cybersecurity with educators and students while teaching valuable and transferable skills.
“We need to invest in K-12 education and introduce students to the knowledge, skills, and capabilities around cybersecurity if we want to have a long-term, disciplined approach to closing the cybersecurity workforce gap,” said Kevin Nolten, academic outreach director for the nonprofit CYBER.ORG.
Working under a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, CYBER.ORG provides a no-cost professional development, curriculum, and resources for teachers who want to integrate cybersecurity lessons into their classrooms. By teaching cybersecurity concepts, teachers can help shape students’ confidence to succeed in the future workplace. Cybersecurity skills can also be integrated into content areas, such as math, science, and ELA, that are already aligned to learning standards.
“For example, there’s been a cyber-attack on the nation’s power grid. The lights are out and we need light to investigate the problem,” says Nolten. This scenario is the context for teaching a lesson on series circuits and parallel circuits–a concept required by academic standards. “By creating a real-world scenario, relevant to the content, we begin engaging students within their math, English, and/or science classroom.”
Even if students don’t move into cyber careers, what they learn and having awareness can create opportunities for employment as technology plays a role in all industries now.
CYBER.ORG partners with the Louisiana Tech University’s Science and Technology Center in the College of Education to offer an online Cyber Education Certificate program for K-12 educators and administrators.
The organization’s goal is not to supplant any district’s existing curriculum but to complement existing content with its free digital courses. Courses include cybersecurity, computer science, advanced math, physics, engineering, and robotics.
During the PD workshops, teachers are guided through the curriculum as if they were students. Teachers experience projects through hands-on activities such as programming a robot to navigate a maze using sensors, programming a device to send an encrypted message, and building an enigma machine out of a piece of paper and a round chip can, just to name a few.
After receiving training:
More than 21,000 educators have received training or use resources from CYBER.ORG, and it has impacted 3 million students so far.
CYBER.ORG has also reached out to develop relationships with state departments of education to recognize the IT demands that districts have and to work together to solve those challenges through teacher PD.
Bottom line for Nolten and his colleagues is the belief that if we do not invest in quality education programs, our future—even our country—will be hurt. “It’s our responsibility to ensure our next generation workforce has the knowledge, skill, and ability to protect ourselves in cyberspace,” says Nolten.
As the leaves turn and schools are still scrambling to wrestle with the right balance of in-person and remote classes, many have shifted to what’s been referred to as a “hybrid” model. In this model, some students attend remotely while others attend in-person. Hybrids come in all shapes and sizes -- from weekly rotations to alternating half days to a more synchronous or “concurrent” model in which all students are “in class” at the same time, just in two different places.
No matter the learning model, each type comes with its own set of unique challenges in regard to managing the day-to-day classroom.
While every teaching and at-home environment is different, the strategies presented in this article should be useful in any situation, in particular a synchronous, or “concurrent,” hybrid learning environment.
Teaching in an environment in which you have students online in real-time with some students in the classroom can stretch a teacher’s capacity. Not only are they potentially dealing with troubleshooting technology issues at home, but also managing their in-person students.
Here is what teachers managing this situation should consider.
Have the same learning device in both locations Obviously, teachers have little control over this, but a district providing a uniform device to all students adds one less layer of complexity to what already is a challenging teaching environment. Having one uniform device means that students can help one another and the teacher can turn to one basic troubleshooting toolkit if something isn’t working. Since some students are in the classroom in a hybrid setting, the teacher can also observe the “student view” to a lesson or assignment to get a better picture of what the remote student might be dealing with.
Be consistent with applications and software This is something that many teachers can control. Have a core set of applications that all students in the class must use whether they are in-person or remote. Investing time in training students on the ins and outs of these platforms at the beginning of the year is a useful long-term strategy to avoid confusion later. Create step-sets or video instructions using a screen recording tool so that students in any location can understand how the application works and the desired outcomes.
Record your instructions ahead of time You might be thinking, “If I’m going to be doing this all live and in real-time, why would I record my instructions?” The reality is not all students will have success logging on to every synchronous lesson. They might have internet connectivity issues or you might be managing an in-person student meltdown in your classroom and forgot to let them in from the virtual waiting room. Having a recording of your lesson allows you to play the recording during the live portion and walk around the room providing assistance as needed (essentially cloning yourself). If a student misses the instructions, you can post the video on your preferred Learning Management System (LMS) of choice for later viewing. Remember: Due to FERPA regulations, recording a live video session with students and posting it on the web is not advisable.
Utilize the extend desktop feature on your laptop Another challenge of hybrid teaching is that if you mirror your desktop to the projector screen, students will be able to see the other students on the call and chat, which could lead to unnecessary distractions. If you are teaching with a laptop, you likely have a way to extend the desktop. This is particularly useful when you are showing students in your class a presentation and you want to still see the remote students on the video call.
Place the presentation you want to project on the extended desktop and select to share that window in the video call instead of the entire screen. Students in both locations will see the presentation in real-time and you’ll be able to monitor the video chat on your laptop screen rather than the projector. Note that Google Slides and Apple’s Keynote both allow for “Present in Window” view but Powerpoint forces you to go full screen, which takes away from this technique (unless you use Powerpoint online in a browser window)
Allow time to socialize As some students won’t be in person, they’ll miss out on some of the social interactions they would normally encounter while in class. In an elementary setting, this is particularly vital to building that classroom community. Set aside time each day for students to go into breakout rooms or small groups, mixing in-person with remote students. Allowing 5-10 minutes of playful banter on a topic helps those learning remotely to feel more included in the classroom. In a secondary setting, when doing group work, try and mix some of the remote students with the in-person students to help foster collaboration.
Use interactive online tools One way to help foster that collaboration and sense of classroom community is using interactive online tools such as Nearpod or Pear Deck, which can work with students in class and remote at the same time. An online brainstorm wall such as a Padlet can be a powerful way to have students share their work in a virtual gallery walk. Gamified quizzing software such as Kahoot!, Quizlet or Quizziz can add an element of competitiveness that can be done in either environment. Having students reflect using a blog, Google doc, or eportfolio such as bulb, is a great way to internalize learning and help the teacher better understand the thought processes of remote students.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
When you are designing the learning experiences for students in your hybrid classroom, don’t create two different lessons for each environment. Many of the strategies and tools you use in a physical classroom should be easily translatable to an online one as well. Employing the interactive online tools previously mentioned in your synchronous class and having space on your LMS for asynchronous work and instructional videos help students achieve the same goal regardless of what environment they might be in.
Checklist for hybrid teaching and learning
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Valerie Bourbour is a certified educator and past Co-Director of The Academy of Ormond Beach. Ms. Bourbour has experience in online learning platforms and aims for student success.