Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tech Tip Tuesday: Thinglink

This week's tech tip is so much fun- and you can use it on your blog as well as in your classroom! Back in my early days of teaching when I didn't get an LCD projector (too low on the totem pole), I had a trusty overhead projector (yeah, the one with the lightbulbs, mirrors, transparencies and markers) . I frequently would show students a picture related to something we were about to study (a picture of Japanese architecture before reading Sadako, for example). Students would call out words and phrases that came to mind related to the picture.

Now, the digital age is in full force. Thinglink is a tech tool that has both a web-based platform and an app for devices. Thinglink allows you to upload any photo and have students (or blog readers) comment. Comments can be links, images, videos or text. And- it's free! You can embed it into a website or blog, add it to a group that students can join and access on devices, or share via a link. You can go back to your thinglink image days, months or years later for reference.

This tool is great for:

  • Building and activating background knowledge
  • Making predictions
  • Reading response
  • Pre- and post-assessment
  • Exit ticket
  • Warm-up activity

Check out the thinglink below and feel free to comment:

In addition to having students comment on photos, you can use them to help students build knowledge on certain topics. I recently visited a classroom and saw the teacher using it to introduce certain habitats. She embedded websites where students could get more information about certain topics, videos they could watch, animal sounds to listen to, and more. They had recording sheets to record information as they "discovered" it. It was such a rich experience for introducing the students to the study of the different habitats. Check out the Thinglink below about Lunar New Year:

This would also be an excellent tool for project-based learning. I helped my teachers create a project and rubrics for interactive map projects. Students explored home states or home countries, and created interactive maps. They had several elements they were expected to include, and they had to use a variety of modes- finding appropriate videos, recording their own information, embedding text that they had written. It was a great project-based learning experience!

Why this tool is great for ELLs:
Visuals are very powerful for making and sustaining connections for English language learners. Giving students a variety of ways to respond ensures that each student can find a way to respond despite his or her English level. In my experience, many ELLs do not have computers at home, so the fact they can access a thinglink on a device like a smartphone is a bonus. Also, it is great for building background on topics or allowing students to  develop and express their understanding in a variety of ways and language domains.

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