Thursday, December 19, 2013

Baby Steps with Thinglink

ThingLink hit my radar at the EdTech Conference in Boston (11/2013).  The whole conference was quite an educational experience.  EVERY session I attended made my mind spin - in the best possible way.  Since the conference I have made a huge effort to try out some of the iPad uses shared at the presentations.  Exploring, however, takes time.  Time is not a teacher's friend. Worry not - I have been exploring and working and failing.....and succeeding!

Before I get started with my experience - I must give credit where it is due.  Lisa Johnson, also known as TechChef, was the presenter for Thinglink.  She was VERY enthusiastic. I sat at the edge of my seat, trying to keep up with all the information she threw out to the audience. THANKFULLY she left us with her contact information and links to her presentation. This proved extremely useful as I started in on my own adventure.

I thought long and hard about how I could use Thinglink in my classroom. I decided my first effort would be to use it to jazz up our classroom weekly newsletter.

Here is my process:
Step 1: Create an image
I do not consider myself creative, so this part was quite challenging for me.  I used shapes and banners in Microsoft Word.  In each of the shapes, I designated one part of our weekly activities: Independent Book Project, Endangered Animals, Holiday Concert, Math and Service Learning. Once I had the image composed, I used the "snipping tool" to cut and save the image to my desktop.  It was then quite easy to upload that image to Thinglink.

Step 2: Create Content for icons
Here is a picture of my image with the icons:
Don't judge the image - it was a first effort!!  The icons were easy to add - just click on edit then touch the picture where you want to add the icon.  Once the icon is placed you can add text or even a video.  Being able to add video was something that really appealed to me.  So, for two of the icons I used text, but for the other 4 I used videos of my students sharing what had happened that week.

I asked several students to help me out with this project.  Each of them took a few notes, practiced with a partner and then when they were ready I filmed them using the camera on my iPad.  This process - for all four students took only about 10 minutes!

Step 3: Get videos from iPad into Thinglink.
I used our school Youtube account to upload the videos.  Once in Youtube I copied the link and attached to an icon on the image.

Step 4: Publish to our school webpage (Haiku Learning).
On the left side of your image, there is a small share icon:

Once you click on the share option you are given both a link and an embed code. Thankfully Haiku Learning works really well with embed codes so that is what I used.

Blogger is not as kind with Embed Code. But I did a quick search on how to do that.  When you are in the  I did have to figure out how to put the embed code into Blogger though.  In Thinglink make sure to check the box "iframe embed".  Alter the size by clicking on the down arrows. I had to change the size to about half the original in order to fit it nicely onto Blogger.  Click "copy code to clipboard".  Then go back to Blogger and click on the HTML button on the left.  Put the cursor where you want the image and do a paste.  Make sure to save before going back to "Compose".  Voila!

Here is the final ThingLink:

There you have it! My first Thinglink!  I'm a little embarrassed by juvenile image, but it works. Since we had a snow day today I decided to fool around and create more sophisticated image.  I used Canva, another recommendation from TechChef.  MAN - I LOVE Canva.  It's easy and FUN!
Here's the image I settled on:

Much better, right?  None of the links are active yet - as I have to finish out the week and film the kids. But I'm excited about the direction in which I'm heading!

Now I have to come up with some ideas for how to use Thinglink to support the curriculum.  Have any ideas? Please share!

Thanks for reading!

Carrie Strine

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It’s been two weeks since I've returned from the EdTech iPad Summit in Boston.  The two professional days were extremely intense - but in the best possible way.  Weeks later, and I still find myself processing all that I saw and heard.  I’m amazed and in awe of what some teachers are doing in their classrooms. It’s all so exciting and stimulating - it’s hard to even know where to begin.

My biggest takeaway from the conference though can be summed up in one word - Choice. 

The iPad is an amazing tool with so many possibilities - so many choices.  But here’s the thing - the choice isn't all mine.  The kids have choice as well.  I don’t have to decide ahead of time what app the kids will use. They can do that all on their own - and often in a WAY more effective way than I could have imagined.

My goal for the next few weeks is to explore:
  • Subtext  - Super excited about using this for small group work in our research unit.
  • App Smashing- Okay, I’ll admit, this session was mind-blowing! But I got home and tried to do it and was totally unsuccessful. I love this idea and I think the kids will take this and run with it.
  • ThingLink - LOVED this - but need more time to explore and make something.  I’m not sure this is super useful for our kids, because the app isn't as smooth as the online interface.
  • Flipped Classroom - I need to get on this.  I love this idea, but once again, need time to make it all work.
My exploration needs to include my students, because let’s face it. They are WAY more adept at picking up how to use the apps on the iPad.  AND - they love being able to help their classmates (and their teacher).  Tech Tuesdays, something I've been doing for several weeks, will feature these apps.  I know the kids will get it sorted out.

Here is example of how choice can work - 
Two girls in my class are reading partners and both have been drafting a literature reflection in Google Drive.  One of them noticed the comment button and figured that since they can share their documents with me, they could also share their documents with each other.  So, as part of the revising process, they started commenting on different sections of each other’s papers.  I just so happened to discover this while I was at the iPad conference. Between sessions I “looked in” on the literature reflections that they were working on in school while I was at the conference.  

Check out this comment:  
I almost cried when I saw it.  When I got back from the conference I asked them if they could share how they were revising each other’s papers.  They were excited and enthused, but alas, time kept getting in the way.  So, then they asked if instead of just presenting in front of the class, they could use Explain Everything to show their process. They thought it would be easy to document their comments on the camera, and then talk through the process on that app.  What? How do they know about App Smashing? They mentioned that I could put it on the class website so their classmates could watch it at home.  What?  How do they know about a flipped classroom??  

Choice.  It works.

Carrie Strine