Monday, December 19, 2016

FREE - 2017 New Year Goal Foldable




I made one of these foldables years ago when I was in the classroom and thought I would give it another try.

Normally under the last flap it reads "list the titles of X amount of books you will read this year" but I thought that would be difficult for children who aren't sitting around with a list of book titles they are dying to read. So instead I used the "7" to indicate the amount of months left before school starts in August. Under that flap I am encouraging students to set a goal of reading one chapter book a month. Of course I would love for students to read more then that but I thought it was a "doable" goal, particularly for the reluctant readers.

I uploaded the foldable to the ClassFlow Marketplace. If you aren't a member you will need to make a free account.

The foldable packet comes with two different layouts. One is better for three hole punching and keeping in a binder. The other is better if you plan to hang the foldables in the hallway.

I also modified the foldable slightly for younger grade levels (grades 1-2) so there are two different grade ranges in the packet.

The foldable is EDITABLE in case you want to modify anything. The instructions on how to edit it from a PDF is included in the instructions.

Enjoy! (and Happy New Year)


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Family Code Night



Join millions of classrooms around the world December 5 - 11 as they celebrate and highlight an hour of code in the classroom. To find out more go to the Hour of Code website at https://hourofcode.com/us

There are a lot of free resources across multiple grade levels as well on the code.org website.

Last year, in many of our schools, the Hour of Code was worked into students computer lab specials rotation but I have also seen it worked into science lab times, as well as during math blocks.

Recently I found out about a website dedicated to helping schools host a Family Code Night. You can sign up for a free family code night event kit on their site and use that as a tech night focus.

Since the Hour of Code runs in December consider combining it with a holiday night with families (getting the PTO involved to serve cookies and hot chocolate). At a recent conference, I heard of one school hosting a Tech the Halls night where teachers decorated the halls with a technology theme. This would be fun to do in conjunction with a Family Code Night, with parents and students voting for the best decorated hall/wall. A school that I have worked with in the past has also set up green screen areas during a family holiday event where families can have their holiday picture taken with a fun winter themed background (someone suggested working with Walgreens or a local print shop to see if they would offer discounts on reprints of the pictures).

However you choose to recognize an Hour Code know that there are a lot of resources, activities, and lesson plans online so even if you aren't an expert...they will help you look like one!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Baby Steps to Paperless

When I was in the classroom about the first of the year we would all get an email from the principal letting us know that we were making too many copies and using up too much paper. 

This message appears universal as most of my teacher friends from other schools would get the same email from their administrators. 

Some schools, at that point, would put a limitation on the amount of copies you can make per month on the fancy programmable copier machines....and then you would have to ask other teachers on your team with lower copier counts to make copies for you until the first of the month kicked in (I always felt it was really unfair that your unused copies don't roll over to the next month!).

Now that each student has a device in our district there has been a greater push for teachers to go paperless (as much as possible) but a lot of teachers don't know where to start. 

I met with one of those teachers a few weeks ago and recommended she put together a list of everything she makes copies of and then mark if it was non-negotiable or not (in the paperless realm). She did a pretty good job. It was clear anything math related was a non-negotiable for her. She liked the students to have room to work out their answers. She couldn't have cared less about the Words their Way papers...but needed some help moving them to a paperless format (which I helped her using Google Classroom). 

We talked about her science curriculum and one thing she gives her students is a weekly quiz (ten questions just to make sure they were understanding the weekly lessons and were prepared for the end of unit test). I showed her how to make those quizzes in ClassFlow using their stand alone assessment feature (one of my favorites). She liked the variety of assessment types (not just multiple choice).


My favorite question types are:

Cloze - You write a short couple of sentences and then remove some key words (using the [P] in the picture below) and then students can drag and drop the right answer in the missing space.




Creative Response - I gave students a picture of the solar system and asked them to circle certain plants



You can also have them label an image, sort things in order, and match items.

I gave her students a pre-test on planet identification to show her how easy it was for the students to take on their iPad (or any device) and for the teacher to grade (items like circle the right planet and short answer questions have to be independently graded by the teacher). I have the Planet Identification assessment uploaded to the ClassFlow marketplace for free if anyone wants to use it with their students.

ClassFlow has lots of help videos and here are the ones I felt were useful when making assessments

- Creating an Assessment
- Delivering an Assessment
- Reports

Even before our 1:1 days of iPads and tablets I could get creative becoming paperless, We had a set of four classroom computers that I could have rotated students through taking the quiz. The media center had a bank of computers students could use and our computer lab had some open slots that I could book if I needed to.

Becoming paperless doesn't have to be overwhelming. Look at what you currently make copies of, see what resources you have, and find ways you can make your first baby steps!



Sunday, October 2, 2016

My First Mystery Skype - Review and Resources






This week I tried a Mystery Skype for the first time with at 2nd grade class.They have a serious amount of mapping skills in their standards...and the teacher asked for a tech project tie in. I first wrote about Mystery Skype in this post.

In preparation for the activity I had my super nice boss order these place mat maps on Amazon (we ordered 12 based on a class size of 24 so that students could pair up).

This was a two day lesson (the class has a 40 minute Social Studies block and I took two days of it). The first day was reviewing what the class had learned and then (focusing solely on the United States) we taught them the four regions of the U.S. (NW, SW, NE, SE). We had them draw it out multiple times on their map. Once we did that we played a mystery state game. I left the classroom and the students came up with a state I had to guess when I came back in. This was done so that I could model questions a couple of times (crossing out states that I had projected on the interactive white board - Promethean for us). Then I flipped it so the kids had to guess my state a couple of times.

Some of the questions:

- Does your state border Canada?
- Does your state border an ocean?
- Does your state border Mexico?
- Is your state in the South East region?

The second day I had arranged for my mom to Skype in and and they had to ask her questions to find out where she lived (Utah). They did a really good job with the questions and crossing out the states on their map (and they got it).

The students really enjoyed it, and my mom did a great job with the kids.

Next time I would choose another class, that way the students can ask questions back and forth.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Parent Teacher Conference Resources



With parent/teacher conferences coming up, you can use https://calendly.com/ to manage your conference schedule (and it is FREE!!!). Using Calendly will allow you to create a calendar where parents can view and sign up for available time slots online (none of that dreaded paper and shuffling of time slots).  Parents receive email confirmations and have the option to add the appointment to their personal calendar. For an overview of how to set up a calendar in Calendly for parent conferences, please watch this short, step-by-step video (please note that I used the dates of Oct. 20 and 21st as a reference point since those are the dates for our district) -




Looking for a quick parent/teacher conference checklist? Check out this form on Google Docs. The list is a reminder of what might be covered during a conference; please feel free to change the form to meet your needs.
  


Have student’s evaluate themselves and use the information to share with parents at your conference with this Student Self Assessment Form.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Google - Force Users to "Make a Copy"



I often make presentations and want to share my resources with teachers. I tend to put a lot of speaker notes on my google slides and I wanted the participants to have access to them but I didn't want them edit my original document. In the past I just put a STOP slide first and gave instructions on how to make a copy so they didn't unintentionally write over the master document.

At a conference I was at this summer a teacher said there was a way to force users to make a copy. After a short internet search I came across this blog post - force users to make a copy of a Google doc on a website called Shake Up Learning. It was exactly what I needed!

As an added bonus..the blog is really good and focuses on all things Google in education (I would definitely recommend following or subscribing). I also follow the owner Kasey Bell on twitter as well @shakeuplearning.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Art and Craft of Selling in a Teacher Marketplace



On my radar this year is putting together work to sell in teacher marketplaces. I tried it “back in the day” when Teachers Pay Teachers were turning out millionaires like Deanna Jump.

In my exploratory phase (July 2012) I made an account and put up eight items (five free items and three paid items) with the last thing posted being (July 2014) – as you can see I haven’t really tackled it in a while (and I will go into the reasons why). My total earnings for my three paid items have been to date: $618.

Most of my items have to do with science notebooking in one way or another.

I gave up, or put it on hold in 2014, for several reasons…I was starting a second master’s program, I was raising a son, I switched jobs, etc. The real reason I gave up is that it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING (two of my least favorite adjectives).

The main reason why it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING is that the work has to be original (or at least labeled for commercial reselling) – from wording, to clipart, and fonts. 

As a teacher I can honestly tell you that most of the resources I use in my classroom has been pirated in one form or another. I take an idea from Pinterest, I get cute fonts from different sites, I add pictures to my presentations from google images…without a care or worry in the world! Now I am trying to enter a world where I can make money from these things…but they aren’t my things (so I could be sued…and I don’t want to be sued).

I managed to come up with three original ideas from 2012-2014 and putting those together took some time. When it came to deciding if I wanted to spend my nights putting together things to sell or watching Dancing with the Stars. I have to say Dancing with the Stars won.

I’ve kept my “store” open on TpT and always had it in the back of my mind to (when my life settled down) give it another go.

Well this year I am giving it another go. This is in large part to becoming a ClassFlow Ambassador. ClassFlow has opened up a Teacher Marketplace and part of my Ambassador requirements is to post two items in the marketplace each month (either paid or free). I don’t mind the obligation because it is “forcing” me to do something I have wanted to get back into and it is helping me really get to know the ClassFlow software. Although not as established as TpT, I feel their Marketplace has potential (because this month the Promethean Planet websitemerges with the ClassFlow website directing thousands of new users to the Marketplace). I also really like having a deadline (two products a month…it is a lot more specific then “I want to sell stuff”).

So now I am back to my original problem of creating work using resources labeled for commercial reuse. I started doing some research on how other sellers go about finding their resources. I started at the top with advice from Deanna Jump. I found the advice too generic. I need SPECIFICS. Luckily I came across this post which had some really good practical advice, which I used in my first product – Site Word Bingo Cards. I used font from a seller she suggested and I used images from https://pixabay.com/ (which someone in a chat room suggested).  I modified that first product and made a second completely digital product – Site Word Gaming.

My big AHA moment, as I put together these two products, is that I am not graphically creative (I actually knew that but this was more of a harsh reminder). If you are one of these graphically challenged people you can do what I did…look at graphic design elements from other sellers. You can’t outright copy but I found I liked a color blocking idea in one and the use of circles and the placement of words in another. I sort of combined those into a something that looked somewhat creative.




Bottom line my advice in the art and craft of selling in a teacher marketplace is:

1.       Know how to get items that you can reuse commercially
2.       Tweak graphic design elements if you aren’t creative
3.       Give yourself a monthly goal
4.       Find ways to re-purpose similar ideas

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cool Things in Schools

I love my job...I get to go to a bunch of different schools and I always like checking out what other teachers have posted or have done in their classroom. Here are some of my back-to-school finds.

1. The "You Decide" poster. It was located outside a nurses office and when I saw it, I stopped to look at it (which is always a mark of a good display). I loved its simplicity and message.


2. The "stage". I delivered a class set of iPads in this classroom and and literally said, "Shut the front door! You have a STAGE?!?! With a RUNWAY?!?! Can I walk it?!?!?". It was ridiculously cool (#everyoneshouldhaveastage). The teacher made it over the summer after visiting the Ron Clark Academy last year and he did an awesome job (side note: visiting the Ron Clark Academy is on my bucket list). There were other Ron Clark touches that I need to take pictures of but it is the stage that I really loved (the kids loved it as well and laughed when made a big deal of walking it). I told the teacher that I need to come back and model a lesson JUST to be on the stage :)



3. The "Cafe Room". I was doing iPad rollouts at this school when someone told me about their Cafe Room. The media assistant, who had gotten the grant and did the bulk of the decorating, was happy to show it off. It was seriously cool. It was in their old drama room that had been painted black (walls and ceilings). The media assistant hung empty frames around, had brick wall decals, the room had painted iron tables and chairs, cool curtains around the Promethean board with paintings behind it, and a faux chandelier in the center. The room is available for teachers to book with their students. I would definitely find excuses to use it as much as possible!  





Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back-to-School Activity - Twist on a Pair/Share




I was recently in a training class where the trainer used a “divide and slide” activity to get us up, moving, and sharing. It was a lot of fun. I thought it could be used for a back-to-school activity along with another strategy I’ve used with students before called a “Six Word Story” (this strategy is part of the Discovery Education Spotlight on Strategies series).

In this activity students would come up with a six words sentence to highlight something they did over the summer. They would then share with their classmates during the “divide and slide”.

As a teacher, you might need to model writing a six-word sentence (this type of writing is also referred to as micro-writing). So on the board I might model writing a six-word story:

- I worked to rescue sea turtles.
- I geocached in five different states.
- My mother-in-law fell breaking her hip.

Give students a reasonable amount of time to write their story (I would cut up paper in fourths and give each child a sheet to write on. Once they were done have them get in the “divide and slide” lines to share. They have to introduce themselves to the person across from them before starting (i.e. “Hi, my name is Eve”…then they share. When it is the next person’s turn they will say “Hi, my name is Jason”…then they share. This way they start to get to know each other’s names.) If a child says they did “nothing” over the summer…challenge them to come up with a six-word story that indicates they did nothing.

You can even grade it as an easy ELA/Writing grade. To get a perfect score the story has to have six words (no more/no less). It would be fun for the kids to go home and say they got an “A” in a writing assignment the first day of school.

If you have time, have students share the most interesting/attention grabbing six-word story they heard (it can’t be their own!).


I use to keep short stories (similar to this) in the student’s writing folder because it can be used later as a jumping off point for longer writing pieces. 

If you try it...let me know how it goes!

Educational Ambassador Programs



I recently applied and was selected to be a ClassFlow ambassador for the coming school year. I heard about the position when I attended ISTE and volunteered to be a part of their focus group (see blog post HERE). I have done numerous training within our district on how to use ClassFlow (we went 1:1 with devices in all grade levels last year) and for the most part I was self taught (they have a lot of great getting started videos). I applied hoping to get more detailed training with all their new changes (which I will) and first dibs on any new product launches (and I also have secret fantasy that I will get to visit the Ron Clark academy since they are a large sponsor...no word on that happening but my fingers are crossed).

Apparently there are a lot of Ambassador programs with various educational companies...because I heard of two others while I was at ISTE. I'm actually shocked this was the first year I heard of these types of programs. ClassFlow is free (you can sign up here) and is a place you can build interactive lesssons that can be pushed out to student devices. So instead of you being at the front of the room teaching from your board, calling one student up at a time, to interact with the lesson...you can send out your lesson to the students and they can interact with it. It is pretty cool and I have done a lot of modeling in our district using the software. (See my first ClassFlow blog post HERE from 2014). 

ClassFlow was an easy company to decide to apply for...mainly because of our districts use (and it helps that it is a product I love and promote in our district all the time).

I actually didn't know what becoming an ambassador meant so I applied blindly. I was thinking I would get a free t-shirt, maybe some free stuff to hand out during training, a field trip to schools using the product well, co-teach at a conference...those sort of things.

While I haven't got any free t-shirt (yet) I did get a list of things you are asked to do as an ambassador which does include attending training and webinars, respond to posts within the community, help promote the product on social media, etc. It helps that I have no obligations this year for me so I am free to jump into being an Ambassador (last year I was in an intense Master Naturalist class for the full school year). I actually signed a contract (scary!) that said I would do all these things and a spreadsheet each month where I attach and send in proof. The person in charge is really nice and used to be a classroom teacher so she understands "life" happens. I think the contract is in place to help remind you to do all the things you are supposed to do. There is an "escape" clause in the contract for both the ClassFlow folks or you...if you need an out.

FYI - Another random Ambassador fact (at least for ClassFlow not sure of other companies)...I have to have a background check and a drug screening.

If you really love and use an educational company I would definitely check to see if there is an Ambassador program that you can apply for. I have a friend who runs a lego lab in one of our schools and I told her she should check with the "Legos for Education" folks to see. She knows I would make a HORRIBLE Lego Ambassador since I am terrible at building things and cleaning and sorting legos is my idea of torture. 

If you are interested in becoming an ambassador, but not this year, think instead about starting a blog or being active on social media as your goal for the school year. I think having both (a blog and being activity on social media) is what pushed me into the "accepted" category when I applied. 






Friday, July 22, 2016

Making Snap Chat Filters





Recently at a conference the sponsoring company (Discovery Education) posted some fun snap chat filters. This lead to the "How did you do that?" question from many of the teachers in attendance. Lindsey Hopkins, the DE employee who created the filters on the above pictures, lead an unconference class on how she created them. It was very good!

The discussion in the session also focused on how to use them in schools and there were a lot of good ideas -  Spirit Week - Homecoming - Prom - Back to School Nights - Professional Development Training or Seminars. People also make them for events like weddings and parties.

NOTE - These aren't the crazy filters with rainbows coming out of your mouth and giant eyes these are more like branding and location filters.

I went ahead and made a test filter for a meeting with my supervisor to discuss possibly using it at one of our summer institutes (and to see how easy or hard it was to set up). It takes about 2 days to be approved. They have two types of geofilters - one for "community" (free for cities, universities, a local landmark, or another public location but no brand logos allowed) and then one that is labeled "on demand". That is a paid one but it is inexpensive. For my meeting I chose the "on demand" filter and I made it live in the location I wanted for 2 hours for $5. You can schedule them out in advance for a specific time, specific hours, and of course a specific location.

Lindsey had some trial and errors and shared with us some things she learned -

- Do a set time period. You don't want to have to pay for a filter when no one is in a school at night.
- Only select the area that people are going to be using the filter (cost is also based on the size of the area you select).
- Using light colors for the lettering works better then the dark colors

I asked about programs for setting up the filters and she used Photoshop (Snapchat has some templates you can download that are compatible with Photoshop). I am used to PicMonkey (and it is FREE) so I followed this great YouTube tutorial for how to set up a snapchat filter in PicMonkey.



The process was easy (I completed it in under a half hour). I think it would help if you had an art student or teacher design the filter. I have no graphic experience and it shows in my rather lame filter attempt (I will post it once it goes live). 

The steps are as follows:

1. Make the filter on some editing software (complete guidelines are on their website)
2. Go to their website and select the type of filter (free or paid)
3. Upload your filter
4. Choose the date and time for your filter
5. Select the area you want your filter to appear (I just typed in the address and used their tool to highlight the building - Lindsey suggested do it slightly outside the boarders).
6. Pay or submit based on what filter you selected

Once done you will get an email confirmation that they received and are reviewing it. A teacher in the session was concerned that a "creative" student might try and post a nasty filter but we felt it would get vetted during this review process. I got my response that it was approved and will go live within 24 hours of submitting. 

I definitely think it is a fun way to promote your schools and take advantage of students and parents using Snap Chat.  

UPDATE: 

These were the filters I made for the meeting with my supervisor. While she liked the idea we see where using a white background for the wording wasn't necessary the best color (see pictures above). We also had a problem getting the filters to come up on her personal phone. It worked fine on my work phone, her work phone, and another persons work phone (all had location services on and were connected to the buildings wifi). We tried her personal phone and another person's personal phone, both had location services turned on (in general and for the app) but they were connected to their data plan (Verizon in both cases). In theory, the filter should have showed up for them. I am not sure why it didn't. I have an email into the Snapchat folks to find out. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chrome Extension - CraftyText

I am currently at a conference specific to users of the Discovery Education website and I have been going to a number of classes. In yesterday's class, how to use green screen with DE resources, the instructor Dave. T. showed us this fun chrome extension. The extension basically lets you display text (in this case his website address) in a huge banner like format across your screen (see last picture). This is a great tool for directing students to websites that they normally couldn't see on your screen (in the past I just copied and pasted web addresses to a Word document and blew it up - this is much better!). 

Below are screen shots on how to get the extension and how to use it. 









Monday, July 11, 2016

ISTE 2016 - Honorable Mentions or for Further Research

As always there is way too much information at tech conferences to the point of shutting down (that happened to me in Atlanta at my first ISTE conference). Focusing on trying to get a specific number of ideas/tools has really helped keep me grounded (make no mistake though... I am still overwhelmed but at least I come back with things to focus on).

I have to prioritize my notes but there are always items that are left over that deserve an honorable mention...or at least a  blog note so I don't forget them.

These are:



www.brainrush.comA FREE web tool for teachers to create games to be used in the classroom
You can create your own games or use premade ones. The site allows the teacher to associate their own voice with correct answers.



https://www.edu.buncee.com/home - I heard Buncee mentioned enough times that I made a star next to it in my notes to explore when I have time. It looks like it is a place to make and store lessons to share.



https://awesome-table.com/ - Awesome Table came up a few times as well. Apparently it is a web application that displays data from a Google Spreadsheet into various types of nice views. It looks a bit complicated (thank goodness for YouTube videos) but it had some potential in my world. 


How To Festival - I ran past a poster session and stopped to listen to the presenter talk about a "How To" festival her high school puts on showcasing student talent (from harmonica playing to cracking a whip).The point is to pretty much showcase the awesomeness of the student body (which I thought was a fun idea). I am "bookmarking" it because I think it has potential as an alternative to a technology night. I was thinking rooms where students show parents "How To" do various things on the computer.

  
Ergotron Sit/Stand Classroom Desk (click to see the desks in action in a classroom) - I saw this on the vendor floor and actually spent two days trying to win one (I didn't). It is an adjustable desk that allows students to adjust the height very easily. It has a deep pocket for a water bottle and a pencil and tablet holder. A hook on the back can hold a backpack and there is an optional bin system that can be purchased to hold books. They are pricey - $350 when bulk ordering ($550 for just one) so it may not be financially feasible to outfit an entire school (or even classroom). Our district has several schools making over their media centers into "maker spaces"  which is where I thought these cool desks might fit in.  
 



ISTE Top 10 - #1 - Seesaw




There were several hot topics at ISTE this year (gamifying PD...global collaboration...coding...micro-credentialing ) but one tool that kept coming up (even before I got to ISTE) was Seesaw. So in all fairness it was on my radar prior to going to ISTE but it just seemed to pop up EVERYWHERE during the conference (which I'm hoping is the universes way of screaming TRY IT).

Seesaw is a student driven digital portfolio website where students can upload pictures of their work, videos, add links, etc. To see an overview of the product CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video.

It reminds me a lot of Easy Blogger Jr. which I had explored a couple of years ago, which at the time was free in the app store. I just checked today and it is now $5.99. Seesaw is FREE (there are some pricing options for more functionality) but I think the basic version is enough for simple classroom use.

I like that it works over multiple platforms (we have tablets in our 6-12 classrooms with the possibility of mini-laptops in grades 3-5 next year...currently they have iPad Airs). I'm not sure I can sell our middle/high school teachers into using Seesaw but I feel like I can get some of our elementary school teachers on board.

I tried with Easy Blogger Jr. years ago but it fizzled a bit...I think primarily because at the time our devices were fairly new and teachers were just trying to get a handle on using them in the classroom. I'm hoping to generate more buzz this year with some teachers who will be willing to try it for the entire year.

I have to say the Seesaw people were super helpful at their booth and their website has a ton of help topic areas with videos. I'm hoping to post updates throughout the year as I slowly recruit users.  

ISTE Top 10 - #2 - Amazing Race Challenge Using MyMaps




I went to a ticketed session titled "Challenge Students (or Staff) to Google MyMaps Amazing Race." (click on the link to view the presentation and resources). I was lucky to get into the session since I didn't have a ticket! They have a non-ticket line that I got into early so I was the first person they let in after everyone else. It was shockingly popular at 8:30 a.m.

The presenters had us get into groups and we were given a series of challenges that made us use Google products in order to complete the various activities (we used MyMaps, Forms, Drawings, Tour Builder, Slides). I liked the team building aspect of it...we are currently doing Escape the Classroom for team building but this seemed a bit easier (not sure in terms of set up though...that seemed multi-layered with MyMaps and Forms but doable without buying locks and boxes that are needed for Escape the Classroom). This was another example of gamifying professional development. If I had to describe it to someone I would say it was like a super interactive webquest. On the linked presentation there is a planning document for an Amazing Race session he ran where participants gained experience with Google Classroom, Kaizean, Flubaroo, and Plickers. He also has links to other examples of how to use the Amazing Race scenario (i.e. in math).

I am hoping to spend some time looking over Mr. Gauthier's resources and trying it out this year in both a PD setting and in the classroom with students.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #3 - Challenges and Badges




At ISTE they have a series of sessions known as Snap Shots. It is where you get two sessions in an hour verses one. I like the format mainly because you get more information and ideas for your hour of time.

The ISTE organizers try to relate the two snap shots so they sort of match. For example, I presented a snapshot about ideas for using digital cameras in the classroom (look at the presenter notes to see an explanation of each project) along side a group of teachers presenting about movie making in the classroom.

One snapshot session I went to featured ways to engage teacher learners using challenges and another focused on engaging learners using badges (click on the links to be taken to their presentations). The idea was part of a larger concept of using the challenges and badges as a way of providing micro-credentials for teachers (to read an interesting article on the topic CLICK HERE). To earn micro-credentials, teachers follow activities to demonstrate mastery in a given skill. The idea is that badges will incentivize teachers to earn these micro-credentials. So basically this is a way to gamifying PD.

Honestly the idea of earning badges appeals to me...I earn them with Fitbit and Geocaching...but I am not sure if it would appeal to a lot of our teachers. They are burned out with an ever growing list of things that "have to be done" in the classroom. Still I think it is a concept worth exploring .

I thought that maybe I could do a hybrid of the two. I liked the idea of monthly challenges from the first presentation (as a way of testing the waters):



That way we can test out the badge system on a smaller scale. I liked the cutesy badges from the second presentation - designed in freepik.com and hosted on flippity.net (verses the first presentation designed and hosted in credly.com) but that might be the elementary school teacher in me :):



Obviously the big problem is how to manage the system of badges with as many employees as we have. Luckily we have an awesome tech coach who likes challenges like this (shout out to Estee Williams!). I am going to present this idea at the beginning of the year and if I can get enough support we might give it a whirl as a way of making our PD a little more engaging.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #4 - Zaption (?)




This WAS my favorite thing at ISTE but I just found out the company sold and is closing on September 30th. WHAT?!?! 

It is a lot like EdPuzzle (a site where you can embed questions in YouTube videos) with the exception that there is a "presentation mode".

With EdPuzzle you can have students join your class and assign them YouTube videos, with questions to answer embedded in the video...this works well if YouTube isn't blocked and you don't have buffering issues.

What I liked about Zaption is the presentation mode (which EdPuzzle doesn't have). Basically a teacher can show the YouTube video (with questions) on their interactive white board (in a lot of schools YouTube is not blocked for teachers). Students would join the presentation with their device. As soon as a question pops up within the video it gets pushed out to students to answer (so they aren't watching the video on their device just answering questions).

The only reason why I am highlighting it is that I want EdPuzzle to adopt this feature (email already sent!) and I want to follow the purchase of Zaption to see if they are going to rebrand the product in the future.

Update...this is the response I got from Edpuzzle..kudos for the quick reply but UGH on the response: Thanks for your suggestion but the presentation mode doesn't match our product. We believe each student should learn at their own pace and that is one of the most important parts in EDpuzzle. We understand it can be engaging and useful (specially) if the district blocks YouTube. There are some really good apps that enable you to do something similar. I hope you understand our position. We will definitely keep working on some surprises for our teachers.

I am going to play with some of our programs to see if I can't do something similar...I'm thinking ClassFlow might work with their new desktop feature

ISTE Top 10 - #5 - More Google Extensions...for YouTube





I took a Straight Outta of YouTube class put on by the Google Education folks (click on the link to see the slides of extensions that were highlighted). The two extensions that I thought I would use is Floating For YouTube and the GIFit extension. 

Floating for YouTube allows you to float a YouTube video on the screen and work within another program at the same time. I thought this would be good for students if you ask them to take notes on a video. They could "float" the video...watch it...while taking notes in Word or Google Docs. 

The other extension, GIFit, allows users to make a GIFs from a section of a YouTube video. I was playing with the idea of students creating stories using GIF's. I used this site to get free GIFs for my sample project but started running out of GIF's that would work. The idea of creating my own GIF's that I could use was appealing and something I plan to play with.