Here are two videos on the same subject - making mistakes and the benefits. The first is more friendly for students, the second goes into more detail about the research. Although these videos talk about math, this is clearly something ALL teachers should be striving for.
Completely dissatisfied with my schools current LMS (Canvas), I jumped ship this year to Google Classroom. It has definitely been a learning curve, but overall I am finding it to work much better.
One of the things that I found I missed about Canvas was its ability to score an essay against a rubric in the same pane. About 2 essays into the year, I decided that this was a feature I could not live without, so I went hunting for a way to make this happen in either Classroom or Google Drive. It didn't take long to find Doctopus working with Goobric. This sounded like exactly what I was looking for! Not wanting to waste time reinventing the wheel, I then went searching for directions on how to install and use the two, which led me to the below video by Jen Magiera. Literally - all you need to do is watch the video and she will show you how to install and use it all, and your essay assessing troubles are behind you!
Below is an excerpt from a recent article in the L.A. Times.
This excerpt is one of many that PERFECTLY explain the significance of play in a child's life and the NEED for teachers and parents to make sure that they have the opportunity to play with reckless abandon -
"Free play — tag on the schoolyard, pickup basketball at the park, etc. — is a very complicated thing. It requires young people to negotiate rules among themselves, without the benefit of some third-party authority figure. These skills are hugely important in life. When parents or teachers short-circuit that process by constantly intervening, to stop bullying or just to make sure that everyone plays nice, Horwitz argues, we take "away a key piece of what makes it possible for free people to be peaceful, cooperative people by devising bottom-up solutions to a variety of conflicts." "
I experimented a little with a web-based system called Peardeck toward the end of the year. This system allows you to have all your students responding in real time, in an anonymized way that can be projected onto your board/wall. It can do everything from surveys, to polls, to multiple choice to short and long response.
The great thing I found about Peardeck was that it got my usually quiet and reserved students to engage and participate in a way that they are unwilling to do during class conversations. It also allowed students to easily and freely share dissenting opinions without fear.
The REALLY interesting thing, though, was that after using Peardeck in class a handful of times, my usually quiet and reserved students were MUCH more willing to share out their ideas during discussions, and those students with dissenting and minority opinions were less reserved and more willing to open up a dialogue.
Peardeck does require that you and your students have Google accounts, and it is really designed for and aimed at classrooms where every student has a device (ideally 1:1). I used it with classes that were not 1:1 where we had to reserve a cart or travel to a lab and this resulted in having to craft a class around using the tool. This year, I anticipate using it much more regularly in my 1:1 classes, as we will be able to simply use as it we need, whenever we need.
Just learned about Prism from a colleague who attended a conference. Basically, you can add text (poem, short story, excerpt from a text, etc) and allow your students to read it. While reading, you can give them up to 3 particular "facets" to be commenting on through highlighting of the text. If you are teaching learners who are new to literary analysis, it could be as simple as "I understand this part" and "I do not understand this part" or similarly in science, it could be "I understand" and "I am confused". As the age/development of the learners increases, this could be used for collaborative analysis (imagine viewing Orwell's 1984 and identifying the representations as "future", "present", "past", or even a lab report or essay to help students identify where things stop making sense to the reader!).
I haven't tried Prism out yet in the classroom, but am looking forward to it in the fall!
As I finish up my first year at a new school, I am introduced to all kinds of things that only happen at this particular institution (every school has them). In this case, one of them was a massive 50 question Vocabulary quiz for the 8th grade. It's purely for bragging rights and a small prize, doesn't count in the grade book.
The teacher who organizes the thing handed me a literal stack of papers (seriously, it was at least 4 inches high!) one day at lunch, including a very old (like written on a type writer!) copy of the question sheets, paper fill in the bubble score sheets, and a paper answer sheet.
As an English teacher, I love a good "real" physical book probably more than most, but this was a bridge too far. Once back at my desk, a quick internet search uncovered docs.zone as solid PDF to Word convertor. It actually allows you to convert to multiple formats, and use different levels. I used the "uber super special" setting (it's really called "OCR") to make an editable Word doc. It did a pretty good job, too, better than most, and with just some minor editing, I had a word doc of the question sheet that go uploaded to Google Drive.
Next was quick trip to Add-Ons inside GoogleDocs to grab the Doc to Form add on. This is a pretty nifty piece of software to do exactly what it says. Although it says it's free, it's really a freemium deal. It'll let you convert up to 10 questions from a Doc to a Form. More than 10, you have to pay the $3. I wasn't sure how often I was going to use this add on, so I skipped the fee and manually uploaded the rest.
Then it was on to the grading. Using the answer key, I completed the form/quiz once putting in the correct answers, then went to the response spreadsheet and pulled down the Flubaroo add on. This one is TRULY free.
The next day when my students came in, we pulled computers from the cart, they finished in less than 20 minutes, and before the last computer was back in the cart, i already knew exactly how they had done.
My total time investment? Maybe 2 hours to set the whole thing up. I figure I would have spent close to that just scoring them this year! So next, year, when we do this all over, I have NO time spent. Sometimes technology does help us!
Perhaps the greatest take away from this experience was this - the teacher who has handled this since dinosaurs roamed the Earth is one of those types who claims limited computer savviness. When I accidentally spilled that I had digitized and automated the process (I had kept it quiet out of fear that he and others would not approve my new fangled ways) he got mad that I had not told him so he could take advantage! He had been thinking there had to be a better way for years but just didn't know how to go about it and wasn't confident enough to ask others. Lesson learned; don't assume anything about people. Some may have no interest in what/how you are operating, but you'll never who those people are unless you let them know what/how you are doing things.
It occurred to me on the flight back from CUE 2015 that I see a lot of information on a regular basis through my PLN (primarily Twitter) which I then retweet to others following me. But it also occurred to me that not everyone is on Twitter, therefore, I will be attempting to collect the the articles and ideas that I see that are of value into a single location for easier access. I have divided the content of the information into two categories - EdTech: things that are of interest to those looking to forward technology usage in schools, and Classroom Integration: things that are specifically applicable to to teachers in the classroom and their integration of technology. I am currently experimenting with using Scoop.it though I may find something that works better. Right now, you can access each of these feeds in the menu bar to the left, under EdTech Articles and Classroom Integration Articles.
I had an interesting thing happen the other day; I came upon that moment in the life of a teacher when the lure of technology dangerously sways one away from the curriculum for which it actually should serve. I offer this brief testimonial so that others might see how easily it can happen and hopefully self-identify so as to avoid it in the future.
My students are reading Shakespeare’s Richard III. This is a rather difficult piece of literature, what with all of the incumbent history combined with the density of reading middle English Shakespearean prose for only the second time in their life. As such, we are reading and deconstructing the text in class; no take home reading, unless to re-read sections in order to heighten their understanding.
This, in turn, leaves my students with less homework to do (yeah!), but also takes up more class time that I, as most teachers, would desperately love to be using for the many other things I would like to cover.
One of these particular subjects that my students are in need of is practicing revising their written work. We have written several essays thus far this year and most tend to read as only 2nd or 3rd drafts. With this in mind, I hit upon an idea; as I am not assigning them homework, perhaps I could assign them some relatively easy writing project that would accumulate over the course of reading the play that would provide us the fodder for practicing revision later down the road. Thus was born the idea that for each scene of the play we read, students will compose a minimum half page piece of “fan fiction”, a roughly parallel fictional account of what happened in the scene. By the end of the play, students will have several pages of text which were hopefully not too painful to have written and will provide them work to then revise.
This was the plan. But then my brain started thinking (or over thinking, as the case usually is with us teachers!); first I wanted to encourage them to be creative in their writing, rather than stale. Perhaps a bonus, a reward, a prize for the most inventive/creative/etc. Then I thought, why should they be limited to writing, perhaps some of them would like to act it out, or create a stop-motion with Legos as you may have seen on the internet, or perhaps a stick figure animation, or Animoto or the like. Wow! This could be really cool!
And there it is, the moment when the curriculum was just supplanted by the very technology that is supposed to be supporting it. By imagining what the technology would allow me to do, I completely lost sight of what the whole point of the exercise was supposed to do, namely, to produce writing that we could later practice revising. I, for one, certainly would love to see a flurry of creative works in various and sundry forms from my students recreating the scenes of Richard III, but that is not what the curriculum demands for this particular need. Thus, my students will be writing a short piece of “fan fiction” for each scene, so we can revise it later. Perhaps not as sexy as Lego Richard III, but that’s okay, because while Lego Richard III is fun, what my students need is practice revising their writing.
Be careful out there to not be swayed by the capabilities of the technology. Remember, it is a tool to support the learning and your curriculum, nothing more.
For those interested in using Prezi in the classroom, or having your students use, they have reorganized their pricing pages and made it even more difficult to set up a free educational account.
To set up a free educational account (you can check out the differences yourself between an edu and public account, but basically and edu account allows you to make Prezi's private), you need to go http://www.prezi.com/pricing-6/edu and choose the free account. BE WARNED - this will requires verifying the email address as an educational account and then sends a confirmation email to the email address, so if your school filters student emails from external networks (as they probably are due to COPPA and CIPA) you will need to let your IT department know AHEAD of time so they can open the filter for emails coming from Prezi.
(In reality, when you set up your account, check out the domain address (the part after the @ symbol in the email) of the Prezi confirmation email, and give your IT department that domain, so they know what to allow through the filters.)
Alternatively, you could also set up multiple Prezi accounts at your institution (get some other teachers to set them, or ask your IT department to give you multiple email addresses) and then give the students those username/passwords. As long as they are not working on the same prezi on the same account. (i.e. if you have 3 students who want to work on the same prezi, they can do it, as long as each student is logged on to a different Prezi account.)
Just used Chogger in class today. Students are reading Orwell's 1984, and I figured a good stick figure comic would be a great way to review the key points.
Chogger appears to be a great tool. You can quickly create whatever kind of comic panel you want, with as many or as few panels as you desire. It has the option if importing images or drawing them. And you can layer in different images, placing them in front or behind one another.
We ended up running into a few issues in the 2 classes I used it in: moving an image from the image collection into a panel led to lots of resizing issues that were pretty difficult to overcome. In addition, it seemed that the Chogger server got overloaded with 12 different machines trying to access it from the router. (I grant that the network at my school is not the greatest, but it happened in 2 different classrooms at different times in the day.)
We ended up problem solving by taking a screen-shot of the mostly completed comics, and then cropping them once they were pasted into a Google Doc.
It should be noted that we were using the FREE anonymous version, so perhaps with creating a user account things improve.
I will give it a couple months to see if things improve and try it again before I completely write it off. It is a great concept, and one of the best/easiest comic creators I have come across, if it actually works the way it appears to be designed to.
Just created some videos to help some fellow teachers use Google Drive as a classroom tool so figured I'd share them with everyone. You can click on the links below or view them on the MrOBrienTeacher YouTube Channel. More coming soon, so keep checking back.
I teach 8th and 9th grade English at a 6-12 coed school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I also regularly speak at national Tech Education conferences on the topic of integrating technology into the classroom.
- Tech in the Classroom
- EdTech Articles
- Classroom Integration Articles
- How To Videos
- Change the Way You Think About Education
- Student Work
- Gaming in the Classroom
- Learning to Code
- Videos Worth Watching
- EdTech M.A.