At the end of every semester, I would have my students study the same redundant way from year to year. I took the packet of questions that correlates to my benchmark, created a similar packet, and handed it to my students. We slowly went through all the questions until we got close to the end of the semester. We finish up just in time for their final semester exam. Last year I took a different approach. I did not reinvent the wheel. I just took what I was already doing and added some tech.
Use Google Slides for Review
Having students collaborate on Google Slides is a great way to engage students in studying for benchmark exams.
Google Slides and other Google drive apps allow for real time collaboration. My thought process here was to let us work as a large team to create a study guide instead of everyone studying individually. I took my trusty ol' packet of questions and created a slide for every single question. Once the questions were in their respective spots I shared the Slides presentation with my students and had them jump to their respective slide. Each team was responsible for creating one slide that taught the process for solving that given question. What was even better about this was that at the end of the activity we had a full fledged study guide which I posted on Edmodo. My students could now review as much as they liked.
Hangout with another Teacher
Why not try using a Google Hangout with another teacher in your subject content area. Have some questions prepared and advance. Try playing Jeopardy style and see which class can answer the most questions correctly.
I have written about this topic with my friend and colleague, John Stevens, here. This was a fun little project that we undertook that went really well. We created a college basketball type bracket with our students, take a look at the results here.
Essentially we used our iPads and several Google Hangouts to have students compete against each other. John's class was 8th grade Algebra, and my class was 9th grade Algebra. I felt my students were really motivated and eager to get to the competition. I was still using the questions from the Benchmark study guide but my students had a very motivating reason to finish: "not losing to an 8th grader". The more prepared they were, the better their chances were in the competition. Below you will find the end result of our little experiment.
With a long break just on the horizon, we will surely come back to our classes invigorated and ready to teach. But perhaps we would like to try something new or finish strong before the semester is over. Regardless, you can always try to infuse some tech into your lessons. This does not always come free. We definitely like to advocate for sites to have tech committees, and creating a committee to purchase tech for your school site is a wonderful idea. Save money you might otherwise spend on paper, and try something new. Who needs paper anyway? We are going paperless! Here is one tech purchase worth the money. Check this out!
A wise man (Mike Cloutier) once told us about this amazing app: Nearpod. With this app you can engage your students 24/7 through rich, interactive, mutlimedia presentations you create. There is a free version, which allows for up to 30 students to use the app, but who has 30 students nowadays? Why not go the extra mile for the sake of the students and increase your capacity (with site funds of course)?
And... Our gift to You - How to download YouTube videos
Screencasting 101 for Chromebooks
We had a very enthusiastic individual suggest the need for some screen-casting tools that might help the general population. Platform will be a concern here. Not all tools that work for the Politically Correct (PC) and Fruit Brand (Apple) will work on a Chromebook and thus, here we have it: some tools that you may want to test out on that new Chromebook (also works on a chrome browser).
A little note about Chrome apps. IT does not have to come out and install them. Log into your Google account on a Chrome browser, search the webstore and: Viola! If this does not make sense the next part of this post will outline the process.
Movenote is great for creating a voice-over for a presentation. This app is installed directly on your Chrome browser and allows for a tight integration with Google Drive. You have an option to upload presentations directly from your computer or Google Drive.
Students with Chromebooks can leverage this tool to create their own flipped lessons. Explaining is an area of emphasis with common core and this tool is great for accomplishing that goal.
Click on the image to the left and you will be redirected to the download page. Click install and you are ready to start creating great content.
Google Hangout is general used to hang out with your friends or working collaboratively with your coworkers. It also has application for the flipped class. All you do is set up a Google Hangout, but don't invite any participants. From there, simply hit record. Google Hangout allows you to share your screen and present what is on your desktop. The recording will include your screen cast as well as an image of yourself in the bottom of the screen and your voice as you present. It is a great device agnostic solution to screen casting!
Create, Collaborate, Produce, Publish
Increasingly videos are the communication medium of choice. Newspapers have video clips to tell their stories, colleges require personal video essays from applicants, and teachers are creating videos to support instruction. Knowing how to create compelling stories and tell them via video are are essential skills for our students.
When students create videos, they become engaged with the task at hand and tend to think deeply about what they are communicating - whether they are creating a book report, a public service announcement, or informing others about an issue important to them.
In this month's blog, we are highlighting three easy-to-use movie-editing tools that you and your students can master.
WeVideo is a great choice if you need a program on which you can edit on any device because it lives online in the Cloud.
WeVideo is free...up to a point. When you sign in for your account you will get 5120 MB for FREE and the ability to share your videos online. If you want to be able to download your videos, or you want more space, you can upgrade for a small charge.
Animoto is another good online movie making tool. You can easily create a beautiful, engaging video to share online. Again, the lite version is free and limited, but for $5 a month you can upgrade. We usually don't advocate for an application that takes money out of your pocket, but this one is worth a look
If you want a robust, easy-to-use video editor, you can't beat iMovie. The limitation here is that you have to use a MAC device to use it. So, if you have an iPad or a Mac laptop, you are all set. If you don't, you can stop reading here.
iMovie comes loaded for FREE on all Mac devices today. (Note: The key word here is "today." If you have an iPad 2 or 3, this will not apply to you and the program has a small charge.)
New DIGICOM Website Launches!
DIGICOM is dedicated to helping teachers and students in PSUSD develop their video production skills. We hope you will take the DIGICOM Challenge and create a movie to submit to the DIGICOM Film Festival this year! This year's theme is LIVE AND LEARN!
Visit the new DIGICOM website at www.digicomfilmfestival.com.
The submission deadline for the DIGICOM Film Festival is Monday, March 31, 2014.
The DIGICOM Film Festival will be Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 - 8:30 at Palm Springs High School Auditorium. The Film Festival is FREE and open to the public.
Sometimes we just wanna have fun.
It is Halloween and we have some fun apps to take a look at. These might not be your daily used apps but they definitely have a purpose in the classroom. Take a day or two to try these in your classroom and have some fun.
This app allows students to create a 30 second video out of any image or self portrait. The students can choose the location of the eyes and mouth where they want them animated. After the image is set, students can voice over the images, and they look as if they are speaking.
Use this app to have students explain their thinking or impersonate an expert. Best of all this app is just a fun way to get the students motivated. Enjoy!
This Web 2.0 tool allows you to animate any photo so it appears to speak. Just specify where the lips or the jaw is located and add your recording. Then record your speech and create.
Teachers can use this tool to assign homework or make comments on their webpage. Students can use it publish their writing, make speeches from first person perspective, or practice reading aloud. It is a useful tool for everyone!
Common Core Connection
Have students verbalize their thought process with one of these apps. Explain the process and have Sir Isaac Newton explain his contributions to science and math. Or perhaps Abraham Lincoln tells his story and his position on slavery. What a great way to meat CCSS.ELA W 6 (Use technology to publish writing)!
The new age of resumes and portfolios is a website. With social sites like LinkedIn.com and Twitter, students need to be aware of the power of the web. Building a website has become a matter of dragging and dropping. Coding and HTML knowledge are not necessary; although, knowledge in those areas give a student a healthy advantage. It is best to start small, but get your students moving on the right path with one of these web creation tools.
Since Palm Springs Unified already makes use of the Google domain, why not use Google sites? Since students will be creating and storing their documents, presentation, and spreadsheets on their Google drive, it is simply a matter of drag and drop or copy/paste for students to display their work. Google sites also quickly embeds materials that students may have created on other sites, such as VoiceThread or Animoto. This makes Google sites a simple solution to portfolios and resumes. It's the perfect format for students to present themselves to future employees.
Weebly is yet another solution to this dilemma. This site is incredibly easy to use. It's just a matter of drag and drop as well as copy/paste. Weebly also has the added benefit of creating a url that is relatively easy to remember. An example would be "studentnameportfolio.weebly.com." Furthermore, students can continue to add to their portfolio as they continue through school and add throughout their scholastic career. As we outlined last week, blogging is a great way to address common core writing requirements. Weebly offers an easy way to get started with blogging. Watch the tutorial below and see if it is something that would benefit your students.
Common Core Connection
Common Core requires students to know the 4 C's: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Having students create an online portfolio that addresses these requirements is an effective approach. When students incorporate all of the tools that you use in your classroom, they have evidence of the 4 C's.
Get your download on!
Chromebooks and the Chrome browser continue to evolve in the education space. There are many apps being created to fit a wide variety of needs. Looking for some free thinking map creation tools?
Thinking map apps we like.
Images are links. Use Google Chrome browser to install apps.
Common Core Connection
It is easy to find apps such as these that will help you achieve your Common Core goals. All of these apps will help you to ENGAGE your students and support both your own and student productivity.
Of course, these concept map apps will enable your students to create
thinking maps that define context, develop language, classify and order
concepts, analyze cause and effects, and see analogies. These
"visual maps" will enable your students to organize thinking about complex
relationships so they can be understood, explained and presented.
How to Begin Blogging with Your Students
Blogging is a written website that expresses personal opinions, activities, and experiences. Blogging has been around for awhile, and there are many tools for the students to use. It is not so much about the tool but about the conversations to be had. Is there a political issue that has the class fuming? Have them air out their opinions in a controlled web space. Have students raise awareness about an issue that is going on in an underprivileged nation. Have them reflect on their lessons. Get the students discussing, get the students learning, get the students publishing.
Blogging meets CCSS.ELA-Literacy in Writing, Standard 6 which states: Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing, and to interact and collaborate with others.
Why not add it to your digital toolbox?
Start with a simple tool like TodaysMeet.com. This website can be accessed with all devices. There is no app. They just need to point their device to TodaysMeet.com/yourtopicgoeshere. The students can then have an ongoing conversation about anything. Once the conversation is over the transcript can then be saved and posted anywhere on the web or printed out for notes/records. A key management piece is teaching students not to use "text talk" and use complete sentences, as well as correct grammar usage and mechanics. Obviously there are some behavioral management things to consider with cyber-bullying and the like, but common sense media does a great job of addressing those issues.
Todaysmeet.com also gives voice to those students that would not necessarily raise their hand in class but are vigorous texting machines. Socratic method works well in this format as well and students are more likely to be engaged if they have a device they can use to respond. TodaysMeet has a really small learning curve here so give this tool a shot.
Common Sense Media
Using TodaysMeet is a great way to introduce blogging to your students. It is also a perfect time to begin teaching cyber safety and digital citizenship.
Here are some great lessons to do with your class as you introduce blogging to your students:
K-2 Screen Out the Mean
3-5 Super Digital Citizen
6-8 Forms and Norms
9-12 My Online Code
KidBlog is an awesome tool! Over 3.7 million students across the globe are using Kidblog, because it has the features teachers and students want.
Designed by teachers, KidBlog is safe (COPPA compliant), simple, and robust. Teachers set up a class blogging site where students are given individual accounts. Students can then publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community.
You can use KidBlog to create classroom discussions, practicing writing skills, create an e-portfolio, reflect on learning, and formatively assess your student's writing. Give your students the chance to share their writing with an authentic audience!
Google Apps for Education
Palm Springs Unified School District is officially a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) school. All of our students have Google accounts with 30 GB of space. As Educators, this means we can create great content on the web and truly collaborate with our students. Google has been developing their educational sector and is strongly advocating to get into the classroom. Google has definitely infiltrated the classroom with the introduction of the Chromebook. The Chromebook offers an inexpensive way for districts to get technology into the classroom, preparing students for the 21st century.
Google Drive has many tools inside of its suite of apps. We have written a tutorial that outlines how to use some of those web apps. One of the more basic apps within Google Drive is their word processing app called Google Docs. Google docs allows for ultimate collaboration. Students can edit assignments simultaneously. Projects and research papers can now be written as a group, without students having to meet face to face. Students can be in the comfort of their own homes and work on their assignments together, and all they need is an internet connection and their computer/tablet.
Google Docs also automatically saves a copy of your work every six seconds or so. The days of losing your work are over. Not to mention the revision history feature allows you to go back in time to use an older copy of any document, just in a case a students "accidentally" deletes their work.
Common Core Connection
Research is a large focus of the new common core implementation within Google Docs. Students open the research tool, and a search bar opens on the right. Students can seamlessly cite their resources when doing their research in MLA, APA, and Chicago style formats. This is also a great way to reinforce copyright laws as well.