Mystery hangout and its impact on student engagement

Elizabeth Hutchinson, Head of Schools’ Library Service Guernsey recently ran a joint session with Angela Etheredge (St Anne’s School, Alderney) and Stony Evans (Library Media Specialist at Lakeside High School, Arkansas) on Mystery hangouts and its impact on student engagement during the British Isles Google Summit that was held at Les Beaucamps High School.

If you are interested in connecting your class with other students from another country, here’s a very detailed blog post on how they pulled off their first international mystery hangout plus insights from both students and teachers.
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Android Apps on Chromebooks and How to Set Up in your Edu Domain

By Allison Mollica

Android coming to Chromebook has been talked about for over a year now. It is now here and ready for you to use in your Edu Domain! It is in BETA mode but it is VERY FUNCTIONAL and if you have a compatible Chromebook (running Chrome 53 or later) you can configure your domain to put a 'PLAY' store of APPS available to your teachers and students.

Here are the steps to set up Android in Admin Domain for Chromebooks.

In short, you need to login to Go to Device Management > Chrome Devices and then select Android Applications. Next, accept the Android for Work Agreement. When that is enabled you can select and configure Android Apps.

Click to Configure the Apps. Click on the + sign to shop for the apps. Select an app you want to make available to your students. Once you APPROVE it you need to CONFIGURE IT! If you don't configure it then it won't show up in their SCHOOL PLAY STORE as an option.

When you configure the app you have a choice to Force Installation, Pin to Taskbar (which I recommend for Google Classroom, for example) BUT you can simply make a tool like Toontastic, WeVideo, etc as an install option.

Once you set up your store, you probably want to know what the user experience looks like. I've created a video below to show you how the student experiences the play store accessing and using apps.

With the PLAY store app pinned to the student task bar they can open and see what is available in the store and install as needed:

I would LOVE to hear your feedback! Are you as excited about the potential as I am? What will be your first apps to send out and how will this change how you are DBA at your school?
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Fostering Literacy Skills: Five Amazing Technology Solutions for Teachers

Literacy skills are the first set of abilities a new learner picks up when they first step into a classroom and having had little to no previous teaching sessions, acquiring them is arguably one of the most challenging experiences of a student's academic life. 

Without the right approach, however, teaching how to read and write can be just as taxing to a teacher, as learning the skills is to a young student. There's often too much to cover in very limited time. Moreover, despite kids at a young age having the natural instinct to learn, an ineffective teaching method can get boring pretty fast.

With the tools below, teachers can encourage their students to be active creators of content, rather than passive consumers of information. We're now well into the Digital Age, where kids are exposed to content through technology at an early stage. In fact, with texting, social media, gaming, surfing the web, and anything else they do with their little gadgets, our students read and write more now than ever before.

When teaching literacy skills, therefore, it's reasonable to use technology as an accelerator to deliver meaningful learning contexts to kids, in the friendliest and most efficient way.

With that in mind, read on and discover tools that will help you to create engaging and captivating lessons, where your students can quickly learn to become great readers and writers.

1. The Text Set Project

Text Sets from Student Achievement Partners are designed to create a coherent and gradual knowledge and vocabulary building process that gives the student the interest and desire to learn. They do so by building sets consisting of articles and media in similar topics, whose texts are sequenced from lower to higher reading levels.

Research shows that a young learner picks up new vocabulary much faster by reading words that are grouped into topics than with any other approach. Using Text Sets in your classroom is advantageous because, in addition to promoting literacy, it helps students to expand their knowledge across different fields of learning.

Moreover, you can create sets based on the needs and interests of your learners, and as they advance, students can make a few of their own. The Text Set Project also includes suggested activities that help students express their literacy skills, as well as a glossary for access to advanced vocabulary.

Get onto SAPs website and learn how to create text sets and integrate expert packs with their professional development module. You can also get pre-compiled sets, which will collectively support your students in building vocabulary, knowledge, and the ability to read independently.

2. Read&Write from TextHelp

Read&Write offers a broad range of tools to help students to grasp reading and writing skills across the web, as well as offline files, on any device or platform. The package gives your students the ability to highlight text in multiple colors, see the meanings of words explained in text and pictures, turn words into texts as they speak, and translate spoken words into other languages.

Experts suggest that young learners pick up most words by reading or being read to. So, instead of relying on workbook pages and traditional exercises, set up Read&Write on a Chromebook from a leading manufacturer such as Acer and use the tool to uphold your students' literacy skills.

You can also create personalized lists for the class based on the topics you're teaching, and with just the click of a button, Read&Write will build a graphics organizer with the information on a list.

All in all, Read&Write is a remarkably all-inclusive package that tackles the difficulties of teaching new words with relative ease.

The tool can be purchased as an annual subscription by individual educators, schools, and organizations, and it runs perfectly on Windows, Mac, Android and Google Chrome platforms. TextHelp also provides frequent automatic updates to keep the software up to date and future-proof.

3. Academic Word Finder

Academic Word Finder is yet another teaching tool from Student Achievement Partners and, in its unique way, it's just as impressive as Text Set.

This tool utilizes the three-tier vocabulary system to identify the words that frequently appear on content areas. By checking passages for the most used words, the Academic Word Finder helps teachers to select the most useful vocabulary to teach.

The web-based utility is easy to use. Just paste a passage and select a grade, and the Finder will identify the Tier 2 vocabulary to focus on with the students. It also provides word meanings, pronunciation and an example sentence for each word.

Learning new words always starts with the most common terms. Although a professional educator's judgment is always preferred to software, Word Finder serves as a helpful tool in teaching vocabulary.

4. Text Compactor

Sometimes even basic learning material can be a little too complicated for learners, which means it's nearly impossible to find just the right content all the time. Text Compactor helps to make this a reality by providing simplified versions of overwhelming texts.

Creating shortened text with Text Compactor starts by pasting the original passage and moving the horizontal bar to set the percentage of text length to keep in the generated summary. If, for example, you want Text Compactor to replace 50 percent of the passage's hard words, set the bar at 50. When you're satisfied with the results, you and your students can proceed with the newly simplified passage.

Text Compactor is a great educational tool that teachers can utilize to help struggling readers understand complex information and find meaning in new vocabulary.

5. ThingLink

ThingLink promises to revolutionize the art of storytelling in schools by encouraging students to create interactive media. The process involves starting with an image and building up adding links to videos, audio, texts, maps and other images to come up with a multimodal story.

Introducing ThingLink in the classroom can offer your students an opportunity to employ creative thinking, comprehension, listening and writing skills in a virtual setting. For instance, the project could be an area's history, complemented by music and art from the particular era, or a map that becomes interactive by incorporating actual pictures of the places in it. You can also use the tool to organize resources for an upcoming class session, through an interactive image or video setup.

Exploring topics with ThingLink, therefore makes learning fun and intuitive, and ultimately improves the rate at which students grasp literacy skills.

Teaching literacy skills is no easy task, but leveraging digital tools such as the ones above can help you transform learning and empower your students, both in the classroom and in the outside world.

Editor's note : This is a contributed post. Opinions and views expressed belong solely to the author and does not represent the opinions and views of AppsEvents.

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