You know how sometimes, when you have problem, you feel like there should be a simple solution but it continues to elude you? That’s been me I regards to posting my school’s teacher handbook on our school website. Our district uses Schoolwires for website management and it’s multi-step process to add or update a page.
Yesterday, at the Google summit, I had an Ah ha moment! I can embed a Google doc into the page and then just update the doc as necessary! Presto, the we page is updated. If you’ve never embedded a doc in a page, you simply choose file> publish to web and then copy the embed code. You can then paste that embed code anywhere that takes embed code. This is such an elegant solution that I plan to do this for all of my “handouts” both for my students and for my presentations. I’m also have a rocketry team at my site and they need to maintain an engineering journal. This is a great way to keep it updated on their web page. This ah ah alone has made all these days of PD worth it. And I still have one more day……
Today I participated in the Google Pre-Summit Boot camp. Before Michelle [email protected] Google+: +MichelleArmstrong Twitter: @myarm began, she asked us to complete a Google form ranking our comfort level with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Forms, Mail, Calendar etc… I use these tools everyday, so I feel pretty confident in my abilities. Boy was I wrong. There was so much I didn’t know! She did such awesome job and covered so much that my head is spinning. Simple tricks like suggestions and Offline mode in Drive. I did know that if I click “off line” I could work on my docs off-line, but I didn’t realize that if I go into the Google Drive downloaded on my computer, I cannot access my documents off-line.
I also found a solution to a problem at my site. For years, we have wanted to have teachers sign-up for computer lab time online. Unfortunately, everything we tried was too complicated. At Michelle’s school, they use Google Calendar to check out their computer carts. They have 1 calendar for each cart. They Mark the event as “all day” Then when a teacher “creates a new event” they include their name and the periods they need the cart. I think this will work really well for us. Now I just have to convince my staff. After today, I feel much more confident taking the tests to become a Google Educator. I can’t wait for tomorrow!
I just finished 3 full days at CUE Rock Star, Manhattan Beach. I must say it was a fantastic 3 days. The presenters were fantastic and I networked with some amazing educators. I learned a lot of tips for using Chrome and my new Chrome Book (which I won at EdCamp OC) as well as some new tools to use with students.
My 3 main take-a-ways were as follows:
1. The use of Weebly to create a more dynamic professional and class website.
For the past several months, I have been looking for a way to bring all of the tools and resources I use with students together in one place. For the last few years, I’ve been using Edmodo, but it isn’t meeting all of needs and assigning and grading lessons is cumbersome. At EdCamp OC I learned about Weebly. Weebly is a website create tool that is simple and straight forward. I think it will be a good way to bring everything together including my blogs and wikis.
2. The use of Schoology for a learning management system
During our wonderful extended lunches, Ed Campos Jr. @EdCamposJR told us that he uses Schoology to assign and grade student work. But his favorite, feature is the Discussions. Students can participate in THREADED discussions in response to a prompt, image or video. As a teacher I can comment, respond and for accountability, I can see who has and who hasn’t participated. Teachers at my school are looking at various learning management systems including Canvas, But I am going to try out Schoology. While there is an Enterprise Version which interacts with various grade book programs, individual teachers can sign up for a free account. My first lesson is ready to go. It is a first day of school discussion based on the video I created using my 3rd take-a-way.
3. Go Annimate So fun and engaging!
There is so much more that I learned, but it’s going to take e a while to assimilate it all. A big thanks to everyone who is now part of my Twitter PLC.
Percent Applications are part of the CCSS Math 7 standards. They are critical for real-life. So I asked my students to work in groups to create instructional videos. Their job was to create a video which explained the importance of the concept and directions on how to solve problems involving percents. I gave them the freedom to use any app, but I recommended Teach Me by Knowmia. Teach Me allows you to create a series of slides and each slide can be annotated as it is being recorded. Unlike some other video creation apps I’ve used, if a student messes up on a slide, just that one slide can be rerecorded. You do not need to start the entire recording from scratch. Students can draw on the slides, import images and copy and paste text. Students can also add images during the recording process using saves “props”. There are enough tools to make the videos interesting, but not too many to be distracting.
For the story boarding, I had students create a Google Presentations. Unfortunately, at this time this must be done on a computer, not a mobile device, but using Google allowed all students in the group to work on the storyboard at the same time. Next time I do this project, I will provide more instruction on the usefulness of the Google comments feature. This would be a great place to write out the script, instead of creating a separate document.
Over all, I was pleased with the results. In the future however, I’d like to have the students peer review the videos before I publish them. Some mistakes and “unclarities” were discovered after I published them. Groups using Teach Me could easily have corrected these problems if they had come to light earlier. One of the limitations of Teach Me is the inability to include live action. Therefore, some of my groups chose to use iMovie instead. Here is a link to the videos. As part of the unit, students: 1) Peer evaluated the videos of clarity and quality of instruction; and 2) Used the videos to take notes on the various topics.
Another limitation of Teach Me is that the videos are deleted after about a month. However, you can download them on a computer. Teach Me does provide embed code and a link for sharing, but I think it will be easier to download them to my computer and then share them via Vimeo. I know that the pro-version allows you to save directly to YouTube and your camera roll. Also, I created 1 class account and gave students the password. That way, All of the videos were in one place.
What a great day to network and get ideas! I am always learning new things and now I really want to create a lesson on Discovery Board Builder. I’ll let you know what I “discover!”
Today we had our Renaissance “awards” assemblies. They are huge multi-media extravaganzas with a “march in” by our “card holders” (those who have earned all A’s & B’s), confetti (I’m still shaking it out of my hair) and performances. During one song, students whipped out their cell phones and turned on the light to show their appreciation. Some even had the lighter app and they were teaching each other how to use it. Speaking of authentic! I just had to smile.
It’s great to be back in Palm Springs at the annual CUE Conference. I just love the energy! When I first came to CUE, I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t get enough. I attended session after session, gathering tons of ideas, many of which revolved around software and hardware solutions. 20+ years later! I am still excited about gathering new ideas! but it’ sales about the solution now! and more about the people. Today I attended a wonderful session by Kristy Andre. She talked about some tools that she uses to promote the 4 Cs I her classroom. One of the tools she talked about were QR Code, a tool I have used quite a bit. But holly shared a creation site, QRstuff.com which I had never heard of. She ended her session with a raffle based on QR Codes randomly distributed to participants. I love this idea and I’m going to use instead of raffle tickets at my school’s next Coffee Chat.
I also listened to Dan Meyer talk about building perplexity in the classroom. I’ve always tried to do this, but never had it articulated quite this way before. In fact, I used one of his videos, Nana’s Chocolate Milk, a couple of weeks ago to get students thinking about ratios. The video situation stimulated a lot of great conversations and I never had to say, “today we are going to talk about ratios.” I know that I need to chew on this concept of “perplexity” further.
Finally, I got to try out Google Glass at dinner tonight. I must admit that I was skeptical based on what I’d heard on the news, but I must admit, they were very cool. I was able to take a short video, hands free. Google Glass also has navigation, GOOGLE search, and facial recognition. Maybe Google Glass could help me recognize those high school and college students who come back to visit!
Question: How do you get parents to buy in to BYOD? How do you communicate what’s happening in the classroom? Answer: (one of them) Involve parents in a BYOD activity! So that’s what we did. On the first Friday morning of the month, our school hosts a Coffee Chat for parents. We provide coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, and an interactive activity. For the month of march, I planned a QR Code scavenger Hunt for parents. The questions were simple. For example: When was Our school dedicated? The code linked to a page on our school web site. Also: What do involved parents check weekly? – linked to our school’s online grades portal. To create the codes I used QR Encoder for the MAC.
In anticipation of parents not having their own devices, I borrowed class sets of iPods and iPad Minis from several teachers and had students “check them out” to the parents. Then check out process involved trading a driver’s license, keys or a shoe for a device. We also helped parents download QR Code readers on their own devices. Many of our parents had seen QR Codes before, but had no idea what they were used for. The meeting was a huge success! I was fun for the parents, informative and super easy to plan. The parents would like another BYOD activity of
the next Coffee Chat. Any suggestions?
And just in time. The Iditarod kicked off with the ceremonial start on March 1st and so e of my students logged on to watch via Live Steam, which is only available to Iditarod Insiders. ThNks to the Mede PTSA, we have a class subscription. Some students posted on Edmodo as their favorite musher left the start line. On Sunday, the official start was supposed to be available via live stream, but my understanding is that the Iditarod site got compromised. It was fun chatting with students in real time over the weekend regarding the race. We used Edmodo and Cel.ly.
Now it’s Monday morning and the minute my students hit the room, they turned on their devices to check on the progress of their favorite musher. There is so much data available, that it is hard to see on their phones. Once they have updated their tracer sheet and moved their musher along the “race track” circling our room, they are watching videos, reading blog posts and discussing what they are seeing. I only have 1 iPad per group of 5, however this limitation is forcing them to collaborate and communicate.
The Iditarod is now only two days away and were busily preparing for it in class. Students have made blankets to send for the drop dogs, and calculated the cost of material and how much material I needed to buy. Each group has a selected a masher to follow during the race and using a shared Google doc created a poster to promote their musher. A group of students is now creating a race track which will wind all the way around the room indicating the miles between each checkpoint. Students of looked at data from the 2014 brace and calculated rates, ratios and percents. Here isa link to the Google presentation I have created to use as Daily Bell work. Many of the problems came from the teacher on the trail blog, others are my own creation. The content of the Iditarod ties in perfectly with our current unit: Ratios and Proportional Reasoning. The Iditarod race is a perfect catalyst. My students are fully engaged. Once the race begins, students will track their favorite musher using a tracking sheet and their mini sled will be moved around the room on our mini race path.
I have only begun to scratch the surface in regards to a unit on the Iditarod. Next year, I’d like to involve my entire seventh grade team in this engaging unit of study. During Language arts classes, students could read books about the Iditarod race. Life science includes the topic of genetics. Students could investigate the genetic involved in dogsled racing. Heat transfer is also another great topic for science as the mushers and dogs need to keep warm along the trail. The race is run in commemoration of a diphtheria outbreak in Nome Alaska. It took a team of dog sled team to get the medicine to Nome in order to save many lives. Social studies classes could look at the effects disease has on civilizations. Physical education could Focus on aspects of training, perseverance and more. The Iditarod is such a broad topic with so many facets. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what I can do in my classroom.