Thursday, November 19, 2015

TodaysMeet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Today’s Meet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Written with Marissa Grodnick, NJH ELA Teacher - @marissagrod

I saw THE COOLEST thing last week. Coolest. Some teachers decided to take an in-class discussion (Socratic Seminar) and integrate the iPad, transforming the learning for their students. It was the best of all possible worlds, fusing some "yes" answers to Alan November's 6 Questions and the CLR strategies that we've been working to develop.

Above: An image from Alison Rubbelke's ELA7 class

"ELA 7 loves Socratic Seminars (student-run discussion analyzing high-level questions using proof from concepts and ideas learned in class) as summative assessments because they are student-centered, student-led, CLRT and graded on the spot--easy for teachers.  However, with a class of 25+, not everyone gets a chance to say what they want.  After doing a little digging, Alison Rubbelke and I discovered TodaysMeet as a possible new twist to our seminars.  

We revamped the Socratic Seminar into a fishbowl-style discussion with an inner circle orally discussing questions and an outer circle (backchannel) using TodaysMeet to comment on and discuss the inner circle's conversation.  

Above: An image from Marissa's "1st block ELA room" in TodaysMeet.

The day before:
Kids were given a Socratic Seminar prep sheet with guiding questions.  They had to come up with ideas and support them with quotes and examples from the texts we've read.  
Kids also did an exit card stating inner or outer preference for group set up

Create two even groups.
Login to TodaysMeet and create rooms for each block.  
Each room gets it's own url for kids to simply click and join. Make rooms open for as long as you want (I did one week so I could grade later and have inner circle kids read outer circle as part of reflection piece)

Above: Students were asked to provide evidence to support their opinions.

Day of:
Set up room with inner and outer circle.
Outer kids join TodaysMeet room--I just linked rooms to my moodle agenda--make sure they use real names.  Start conversation with asking one question, and let kids do the rest.

During & Grading:
I used a black spreadsheet to grade while listening.  I also glanced at TodaysMeet and added some helpful prompts or comments to keep them on track.  I let the discussion go for about 30 minutes.

Reflection.  Inner circle was asked to go and read outer circle comments as part of reflection.  Outer circle was asked to summarize and add some things they wish had been said or discussed."

Above: Another image from the backchannel discussion in TodaysMeet.  It helps for the teacher to check in and write prompts to encourage students to dig deeper.

TodaysMeet was super easy for kids to use and easy to set up.  It took less than 10 minutes of setup and kids were in immediately.  No login, no account, etc.  It also acts like twitter in that it is character limited--which makes kids concentrate on quality not quantity.  

Here’s the blog Learn it in 5’s quick how-to tutorial (a great site that allows you to either watch a short tutorial or read some quick info to help you get started including a brief synopsis, benefits, & drawbacks to the app).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pick kidPicker For Your Class

Written with Johannah Olson @olson_johannah, NJH Science Teacher

What is it and why should I try it?
KidPicker is super easy to run and use. Essentially, it's the digital version of the CLR popsicle sticks meaning I never have to "borrow" Beckman's tongue depressors ever again! However, it is important to note that unlike the analogue popsicle sticks where you pull a kid's name and set them to the side, this script is truly random in that it can (and will) re-pick the same kid immediately as they "go back into the bucket."

Andrew Stillman, author/creator, describes it as a web app (i.e. it's just a URL, no gallery installation) meant to ensure that within a given class period you don't call on the same student twice unless you've already called on every other student first.  Andrew Stillman kidPicker post on Google+

How to get started?
If you're a first time user start by collecting all your student's names (and blocks) in a Google Form - this makes it easy to copy and paste them into the pre-made spreadsheet the script spits out at you.

Next, open the kidPicker script URL

“Allow” kidPicker to run in your Drive account.

Now open the Sheet that was created.

For the final part of the setup, cut and paste the first and last names from the form you collected them on to the kidPicker sheet the script provides.  The spreadsheet given to you holds all of the classes that you have (it starts with two as the default) as tabs at the bottom - rename these to your class names and add pages as you need them.

How do I use it?
Go back to that script. Tip: Make it a bookmark so you have easy access when you’d like to use it for class.

Tap “pick next student” when you want a new name to pop up.  Easy-Peasy.

kidPicker Step 4.png

Bonus! Attach some formative assessment to this activity! Assign a score by pressing one of the buttons “1, 2, 3, or Absent”.  These button values get recorded on the spreadsheet, along with the date.  You don’t even have to use numbers - you can add words to the buttons too! Pretty cool.

(Interesting) Note: The script will only create a column in your sheet once per day, so if you want to record the button choices (1,2,3) and then later change the buttons to, say, “red, yellow, green” those words will be in the same column as the original number choices.

Questions?  Tweet Johannah to see how she's using it in her classes. @olson_johannah 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Doctopus is the new gClass?

...admittedly, I am perhaps the last to know.

I love(d) gClass Folders and how it ‘streamlined the workflow’ (obnoxious industry term) for teachers and students.  Are you new to both?  

In a nutshell:
gClassFolders is a free, Google-Spreadsheet-based add-on for Google Apps for EDU that creates class folders for students and teachers to simplify and streamline their experience of using Google's world class productivity and collaboration tools in the classroom.  source

My explanation:
gClass Folders was a script in Google Sheets that took the names & emails of your students and created folders for them.  If you had more than one class you could group the folders by class and prep, and if you had a co-teacher you could add them.  It created folders that allowed you to share docs with an entire class to view and/or edit.  It gave students a place to turn their work in & gave teachers an organized way to keep their students’ assignment folders.  No more worries about misnaming folders, docs or forgetting to share with the teacher(s).  It saved a lot of time in class.  Plus setting up the folders was easy & took only a few minutes.

Recently I had several teachers with new classes for semester 2 want to set up their gClass folders like they did last year and even this past Fall. We realized then that gClass Folders is a script that is no longer supported.

I understand that the movement is to Google Classroom, but Google Classroom isn't for everyone and there are teachers who love gClass and have been using it for over a year. It’s tough to change how you collect assignments (your workflow) in the middle of the year.

Enter Doctopus.  It’s the new gClass.  But better.

In a nutshell:
Doctopus makes it easier for teachers to share, organize, and assess student work in Google Drive.

Its tentacles copy and "hand out" Drive files to a roster of students, giving teachers full control over starter template, sharing configuration, folder organization and file naming, as well as full visibility over all work in progress -- including the ability to bulk revoke and revert student editing rights.

Created by a veteran teacher, Doctopus is built with teacher workflow in mind -- taming complexity and unlocking the power of Google Apps for differentiation and collaborative projects.  source

My explanation:
See everything above. AND here’s what makes it better: you can add an additional script called Goobric to assess student work.
Doctopus does much more than I'm writing about here - this post will explain how to use Doctopus like the gClass Folders script.
Doctopus was developed by Andrew Stillman who works with New Visions For Public Schools.  If you need more than my tips & images below --and you’re looking for tutorial videos-- please go to this aforementioned site; Jay Atwood did an amazing job explaining how to install the script step by step.

Tips for creating folders:
  • One class per sheet - they recommend using a single class - no more than 40 - per sheet
  • What you “name your roster” is what you’ll call your class (e.g., Life Science 1B) & will be on all of the folders
  • Click & unclick “Create Class Folders” to move forward and see what your folders will look like - it must be a temporary glitch in the script

  • You can stop here; you only need to do steps 1&2 to create folders for kids to turn assignments in - the additional steps are directions for how you want Doctopus to distribute documents to all of your students.  Since this isn’t how most of us have students get worksheets for class (we generally use Moodle or a website & link assignments there) you can click the “x” in the upper corner and close out.  However - if you have a co-teacher you’ll add them in Step 3.
  • New student?  Absent student the day you collected emails?  No problem!  Easily add their information to your roster and re-run step 2 of the script.

Tips for helping students obtain/understand the folders once they’re created:
  • Your students will get an email when their folders are created.  BONUS - different from gClass, Doctopus sends instructions in the email to help students move the newly created folders from ‘Shared With Me’ to ‘My Drive’.  Instructions!  With links!  This is SO helpful <3

  • If you need a little more instruction for your students here is the part in Jay Atwood’s Doctopus tutorial video where he explains what a student should do once the folders are shared with them.
  • When students turn in work they’ll add their assignments to the folder in their Drive (‘My Drive’) that is labeled ‘Class Name - Lastname, Firstname’.
  • Note: Correct me if I’m wrong - but when we set these up for students the folder that the students add their assignments in was already in their Drive.  When they click “Add to My Drive” they are actually nesting their class ‘view’ and class ‘edit’ folder inside of that one.  I don’t know why it is like this.  It’s a little different than the tutorial video that shows Jay’s student with three separate folders (similar to gClass; a ‘turn-in’, a ‘view’, and an ‘edit’).  At this point I don’t see this causing problems.  You’ll just need to remind students which folder they turn their assignments into.

Coming up soon: Integrating Google Classroom AND Doctopus.  WHAT?  I need some time to process this.  In the mean time, here is Jennie Magiera’s most awesome screencast explaining the process.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Talkboard: Create. Together.

Have you heard of Talkboard yet? From what I have seen, I’m really excited about what’s possible!

Here’s how the company describes their app:
Talkboard: Ideas without boundaries
Talkboard is a collaborative whiteboarding app for iPad that lets you sketch out ideas and work on them with others.

Talkboard is a live, collaborative whiteboard that students can use on their iPad. They don’t even need to be in the same classroom, they can be on different wi-fi networks and still be able to work together.  The app even allows participants to chat live which could make any work done outside of class easier. The final product can be exported as a PDF or as an image. Bonus: the app links to their Google Apps account so if you're in a GAFE school they don't have another login/password combo to remember.

My colleague & I spent some time working with it, and I created some ‘how to’ Skitch pics to introduce you to the app.  I also tried it in class, having my students collaborate in lab groups, using the app to write their procedure out together.  (The purpose of the lab activity was to practice writing a clear, concise procedure.)  It worked well!  The drawback was that there are a lot of colors and pen choices to choose from so some students had trouble focussing on writing their directions & instead wanted to draw. I anticipated this possibility because it’s a risk that comes with trying something new in class; like me, some of them needed time to play around with the app before getting serious.  

Our engineering teacher is probably the most excited to use this app.  He has been looking for a program that would allow students to collaborate virtually on the engineering design process [ask→ imagine→ plan→ create→ improve] but needed more than what Google Docs can currently offer.

So what do you think?  Is there a better collaborative app that allows students to work together at the same time?  Have you looked at BaiBoard?  I wonder if it’s similar?  I’ll check it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flipboard (for ed) 102: Utilizing Flipboard For Your PLN and Creating & Sharing Your Own Magazines

Flipboard is one of those apps that I hear people say consistently that it’s a favorite.  If you’ve got a school-issued iPad, because you’re supposed to be integrating the iPad into your curriculum, chances are Flipboard is one that you’ve used for yourself.  p.s. If you haven’t used Flipboard before...well then have I got an amazing new app for you!  (If you’ve never used it. here’s a link to getting started & setting up your account -- more like a short “101” tutorial.)

Official definition: Flipboard is Your Personal Magazine. It's a single place to discover, collect and share the news you care about. Add your favorite social networks, publications and blogs to stay connected to the topics and people closest to you. source

Short version: Flipboard is a cool way to read your own designer mag on your iPad.  YOU get to decide what goes in it!

Even though Flipboard may not be one that your kids use--(Or maybe they do?  Maybe you utilize this app in class?)--but one that you use, doesn’t mean it still can’t be meaningful for school.  There is tremendous professional development available on Flipboard, it’s not just for looking at the latest pictures on Cute Overload :D or getting updates on Sochi or reading the NYT.

If you use Twitter as your PLN, add it!
Consider adding the Twitter account, that you use as your Personal Learning Network, so that the multitude of tips & links, through tweets, can be read quickly and in magazine format.  The great thing about Twitter is that it is limited to 140 characters; so you’re already getting mini-headlines & links to further explore new ideas and techniques for your practice.  

How To:
If your Twitter account has more personal interests consider creating a professional one and adding that instead of your personal one.  Unfortunately, as of the timing of this blog post, you cannot add an additional Twitter account.  

Add Education Blogs
How fabulous would it be to be able to flip through the daily/weekly posts of your favorite ed blogs in a magazine-type format?  I love(d) ed tech blogs so much -- that I started one myself -- and for awhile found it difficult to check in with them on a regular basis due to lack of time.  In the beginning, I would simply bookmark a site I loved; later I started saving them into my Evernote account.  Neither of these ensured that I was learning these new ideas/tips/tricks on a regular basis.  Not until I added them to my Flipboard account was I exposed to them with more regularity.  As a result, I’m learning more and enriching my own PD.

How to:
  1. You’ll need to copy the RSS feed from the blog & paste it into the “search” field of your Flipboard account.
    1. Most blogs have the RSS icon available on the homepage; sometimes it’s under a tab called “About”.  Do you see this picture on the right of my page?
Some blogs will have the icon look like a button at the top of the page:

              b.  Click on that icon & copy the URL in the address bar.  They will often have the word “feed” in them.

Here are some sample RSS feeds for some of my favorite ed tech blogs. Copy & paste the following short URLs into the ‘Search’ field of your account:
  • Free Technology for Teachers RSS Feed:
  • iPad Addition RSS feed:
  • AM Technology Edu RSS feed:
  • iPad Insight:
  • Techno-Logical-Teaching RSS feed:
A great transition for the next section is to share with you the magazine that iPad Addiction’s blogger created.  Click on the hyperlinked text, open it in Flipboard, and subscribe:

Create Your Own (Collection of Articles) Magazines
OK, I saved the most fun Flipboard feature --IMHO-- for last: You can create your own magazine & share it with others!  This is a great feature for teacher leaders in schools with, or transitioning to, a 1:1 environment.  Create your own tech PD magazine, specific to your school and ask your teachers to subscribe.  Let them read through, and learn from, your suggested tech PD specific stories and ideas.  

1.  Create & name your magazine.

2.  Save any story to your magazine by tapping the “+” button:

3.  If you decide you want to delete a story that you’ve saved, tap the “share” button.

4.  If you’d like to have co-contributors, tap “Invite Contributors”.

5.  To share your magazine with others, tap the ‘Share’ button & copy the link.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Kahoot!

  • What if you could check for understanding as a way to guide your instruction?  
  • What if we could get a snapshot of where our students are at so that we could re-teach or review material that the students didn't get?
  • What if there was an activity that did these things AND your students were begging you use it in class?

My answer is to Get. Kahoot. Now.

If you’re unfamiliar with it you soon will be.  (It spread like wildfire through our district over the last two months.)  Kahoot is a formative assessment activity that students play like a fun trivia game, using their mobile devices. 

It's not just something you make for them; increase their critical thinking & ask your students to create a Kahoot for an upcoming test.  If they sign into on their iPad, through the Safari app, they can create their own.

If you’d like to see the game I created when I introduced it to staff, and use it for your own PD, you can search the “Public” Kahoots for some of the title: “Team Meeting Practice Quiz 2014”.  Then “Duplicate” it and edit it how you’d like.

Here’s your first tip - there are two different sites to know:  

Scroll through the presentation to see the benefits & get some helpful hints for creating your first Kahoot.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Create-your-own 4 Pics 1 Word (Voacb Review) Game with Pic Collage

...This activity is just a clever ruse to learn new vocabulary words.  

This year we’ve got the iPads on lock down aka they’re hooked to The Configurator aka WE choose the apps--so we’ve put on a limited number of educational games for the students to play. Whenever a kid gets downtime I see them playing the game ‘4 Pics 1 Word’.  They love it!  I’d go as far as saying that, for our students, playing ‘4 Pics 1 Word’ borders on obsession.

Imagine my excitement when one of our math teachers told us about an activity that she had created - 4 Pics 1 Word Vocab Review Game.  Brilliant!  She showed me the examples that she had created (see below) and her kids loved reviewing their vocabulary this way.  They worked collaboratively, as a class, to guess the words that went with the pictures that she projected on the whiteboard.

I thought about taking this game and turning it into a creation activity for students.  Having students find their own pics, to describe the new words that they’ve learned, increases the critical thinking that they’re doing about them.  This is going to help them increase their understanding of, and remember their meanings, better.  I knew this activity would fit well with Pic Collage, which is a fabulous app that our students love using in class.   I asked a few of our iPad Geniuses if they were interested in creating some of these Pic Collage-s, to review some of the vocabulary that they had recently learned in class, and they were psyched to do it! (See their examples below.)

If you’d like to increase the critical thinking even more, have students explain why they chose the pictures that they did. For example, for the Life Science vocab word ‘Nucleus’ below, “The nucleus is the boss of the cell so I chose a picture of Michael Scott, the boss on ‘The Office’” and “The nucleus is the control center and so I chose a picture of the control center in iOS7.”  Or, have students explain why they guessed the answers that they did.  Have them explain what they think the pictures are representing.