As an edtech blogger I get to review quite a few products and services each year. Some things I like and incorporate into my school, some things I like but don’t need, some things I want but can’t afford and the remainder are things which I do not care for, to put it mildly. Which brings me to the edtech training subscription service called Atomic Learning.
I have had an Atomic Learning account for the past five years and it has saved my edtech-bacon a few more times than I would like to admit. If fact, I couldn’t really imagine being able to do my job effectively or efficiently without it. I have never found anything that compares to it – in price or product.
So let me tell you about three of the ways I use Atomic Learning in my elementary school…
- Tutorials: these are probably what Atomic Learning is most known for. Every time I need a little help with an application, like our district moving to Office 2010 from 2003, I will use their little 2 to 3 minute videos to keep me on the cutting edge. After all, I am the tech guy in my building so I had better know what I am talking about. I also send teachers to these tutorials so that I don’t have to stand over their shoulder teaching them step by step how to do something. This way I can be in 20 places at once. So I am up to date (they are adding new tutorials every week), and more efficient in my job.
- Workshops: it is by using their themed workshops that I got into podcasting and filmmaking with me students. It’s like having my own little professional development course that I can take at my own pace. Plus, it is way better than regular PD because Atomic Learning never wastes my time. I only watch the lessons that are applicable to me. I have no time to waste in my job so I like the fact that I don’t have to be stuck in boring ol’ PD meetings. Instead, I do most of mine while sitting on my couch with my iPad.
- Spotlights: this is something fairly new for Atomic Learning. They shine a “spotlight” on a new concept and show you everything you need to know to get better at it. They feature “best practices” so that I can be better at what I do. I go to tech conferences to steal ideas for my school and these spotlights kind of remind me of mini conferences, they give me ideas that I usually start using the very same day.
In the end we are all just looking for better ways to get the job of teaching done, for me Atomic Learning delivers.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School.
#edtech #edchat #FETC
After my recent presentation at FETC, I got the usual question, “How do you know so much about filmmaking?” My answer is simple, “Atomic Learning.”
Years ago when I first wanted my elementary kids to make their own movie I turned to the Video Story Telling Guide at Atomic Learning. Back then we barely had anything — a flip video camera, a tripod and our school had a subscription to Atomic Learning. That was it, but it was plenty enough to make a movie. The first movie I made was “Dude! Where’s My Pencil?” Thanks to what I learned about filmmaking from the video tutorials I found on Atomic Learning, So began on my path to student filmmaking and I haven’t looked back since.
I look at the lessons on Atomic Learning as just tools that help me get to where I want to be as a 21st Century educator. Since my first film, I moved on into podcasting with young students, and many other projects. Projects that help my students become better prepared for the modern world that they live in. Projects that I was able to do because of the lessons I found on Atomic Learning.
The latest thing I had to take on was the iPad, more and more students are using them and I want to make sure I was ahead of the curve so I turned back to Atomic Learning and did a search for iPad and I got 192 lessons! I scanned the lessons and soon for the ones that I needed to stay ahead of my kids.
At a modern educator I need every tool that helps me stay on top of my profession, so it is nice that I don’t have to go all over the web looking for help.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary SchoolRead More
#edtech #edchat #elemchat
In the past, trying to differentiate instruction in a tech class was almost impossible.
Take for example, teaching my fourth grade students how to edit their newly recorded podcasts in Audacity. I could only go as fast as the slowest student, because I didn’t want to leave anyone behind. “Okay everyone, let’s add music to our podcast. Under “Project” select “Add Track.” I would say. Then I would have to go around the room and help those students that were now lost. Meanwhile my tech-whiz students would just sit there bored out of their minds. This kind of instruction was not working, two or three students were holding up the entire class.
Then the idea of a flipped classroom came along, where the students learn content on their own and get help from the teacher later when they are working on their skills. But the thought of making all those screencasts of the steps involved made my great idea fade. I just do not have the extras hours that doing something like this would take.
If only I had some screencasts…
I chewed on that for a few days when it suddenly hit me — I use screencasts all the time to learn new tech skills. My school has a subscription to Atomic Learning for our teachers, but I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t use it for my students. So I had the guys at Atomic Learning set up a generic log-in for my students and then assigned them the Audacity lessons that they would need to do their U.S. Constitution podcasts.
Boom baby! Instant differentiated instruction by flipping my classroom with Atomic Learning screencasts. Besides, there screencasts are way more professional than I would have done. Now my students can go as fast or as slow as they want when it comes to building new skills. My tech-whiz students now just pick and choose any video tutorials that they might need while other students will watch the same tutorial three times until they get what it is talking about.
Now I can spend my time “working the room,” helping students one on one without slowing down the whole class.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School
Below is one of the U.S. Constitution podcasts that my students made.Read More
I had a little extra time over the Thanksgiving break to finish my new video how-to guide called 10 Steps to Success Student News Podcasting.
In this Video How-To guide I give you all the secrets that I use to get my elementary students to do the best student-news podcast on the web, and how our news podcast makes our school over $1000 a year.
Step 1: Developing a Show Format, Step 2: How to Set-Up your Studio, Step 3: Writing your Script, Step 4: Setting Up your Show in iTunes, Step 5: Putting Together a Great News Team, Step 6: How to Train your Team, Step 7: What to do Before the Show, Step 8: Doing the show, Step 9: What do do After the Show, Step 10: Extras.
Here is the intro video so you can see what it is all about. I have it for sale in my store (above) for $35.
- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary
#edtech #edchat #elemchat
What an elementary teacher learned from the Titan of Tech.
Some would argue that an elementary tech teacher and one of the great innovators of Silicon Valley could not be further apart, but regardless of that distance I have learned a lot from the man who influenced much of the technology we use every day, whether or not is was made by Apple. So as my humble tribute to this man I offer the three things that I learned from Steve Jobs.
Simpler is always better. When I design my lessons for my students I always look for the simplest way to get things done. This past week I have been teaching digital photography to my fifth grade students and instead of a million different rules about what makes for great photography I only have three. Three rules that are easy for my students to remember, three rules that allow my students to take surprisingly good photos.
Always tell a story. When I get up to show my students a presentation I now go away from bullet points and use powerful images instead, images that help to move my story forward. When I teach my students about the history of podcasting I have images behind me of a family gathered around an old radio listening to a radio-drama, and then I move to an image of students hanging out at a skate park and listening to the radio and the students draw the connections that a podcast is like a radio show that you can listen to anytime and anywhere. That is when an image of a person on a subway listening to a podcast comes up and the connection is solidified. Images make the story.
Never give up. Let’s face it we all get kicked around by the world we live in. Focus on what’s important and don’t let anyone stand in the way. For years I had these ideas of what an elementary news show could be like and time after time, it just wasn’t quite right. So I would make a few adjustments and slowly we began to move towards the show that I have imagined years ago. Now we have a great show, everything I ever wanted from my students.
So farewell Steve and thank you for making my world better place for those of us who like to “think different.”Read More