technology

Using Google Forms for Peer Evaluation

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ImageWe are lucky in our school board to have Google Apps for Education for both staff and students, and I have been very enthusiastic about using the apps for a variety of tasks.  Recently in my AQ course, we were presented with the task of looking at curriculum from a TPACK perspective.  We were given one cue card with some content we had to teach, one with a teaching style or pedagogy, and one with a technology tool.  Our cards said: DRAMA (content), DESCRIPTIVE FEEDBACK (pedagogy), and GOOGLE FORMS (technology).

“Impossible!”  We all said (I was working in a group of 3).  And then we started thinking about it.  We were all familiar with the way our students give descriptive feedback to their peers on a regular basis: the 2 stars and a wish model.  Essentially, the students raise their hands after watching a performance, and give feedback that is either positive, or a wish for improvement.

I wondered what would happen if instead of having the same 3 students always raising their hands to give stars and wishes, we gave them the Chromebooks and had them type their stars and wishes online.  We assumed that the students would be much more willing to comment if they didn’t have to speak about their stars and wishes in front of the whole class.

Last week, I put it to the test.  A grade 3/4 class that I teach was ready to perform the dances they had been creating.  I signed out the Chromebooks, and handed them out to students.  I showed them how to get to the form I created.

ImageOn the form itself, the students had to select the group they wanted to comment on from a drop-down menu.  Then they had to select whether they wanted to submit a star or a wish.  If they selected star, they were sent to another page of the form where they typed in their comment.  Likewise for the wish selection.  When they were finished typing their comment, they clicked “select” and were then prompted to either close the form or submit another response (allowing them to comment more than once if they wished).  I gave them no further instructions.

I was amazed by what I got from these students.  Most of the students took the initiative to give both a star and a wish comment, and all students framed both their stars and wishes in positive terms.  Here are some of the examples of comments from the students. These are copied word for word.

What’s more is that the students LOVED completing the form.  They all wanted to say something about each group that performed.  We still have some more performances to go through, so there is the potential for the novelty to wear off, but I can see them being interested for a long while.

 

Stars

Wishes

They rembered there dance and did it at the same time

I loved the flow, so much!

You guys did amazingly awesome I love your cool movements

I like how you took it nice and slow

They had graseful movementes and I love the dance moves.

I like the costumes.

they used powerful strokes in the dance.

they cept in syince

My wish for them is to make the dance a bit more longer.

Next time be prepared for the dance and maybe you should have made your dance longer.

They should work on doing their performance faster and taking their dance more seriously

I wish they could make the hiding part more clear

My wish is for them not to be silly and not laugh when there doing the play it kind of messes the play up.

They should work on their time

My next goal is to create a form with a video of the performance embedded right beside it.  This would be for the students of the group to self-evaluate.  What do you think?

Review: Planbook

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planbook screenshotAs a planning teacher going from school to school, the last thing I want to do is lug a huge daybook binder all over the place with me.  As a 21st century teacher, I am striving to use less paper.  Last spring at Edcamp Hamilton, I was speaking with a teacher who said she is under no illusions that she can be paperless as a teacher, but she can use paper less.  I thought it was brilliant, and have been striving to use less paper myself.  It was this mission that had me struggling to find a way to create a digital daybook in August.

I downloaded a few different apps and programs, and have started using and having some success with Planbook.  What I like about this program is that it is all online, so there is nothing to install on my computer, but at the same time there is an app for the iPad that syncs with my online account.  So I can enter my lessons and plans online on my laptop, and then just pull them up on my iPad.

Planbook is not free, unfortunately.  However, it only costs $12 per year to use, and new users get a free trial for 30 days.  Had I known that, I would not likely have signed up at the beginning of August, but closer to the end so I could really take it for a test drive during the month of September.

Having used Planbook for roughly a month, I am pretty happy with what it does so far.  It was fairly easy to set up my schedule on a rotating 5 day cycle, although it wasn’t quite as intuitive as I would like.  Teachers who are new to this kind of technology may struggle a little to figure out how it all works, but with a little time and some online help, it is fairly straightforward.

My favourite feature of Planbook is the link to the curriculum.  In each lesson, you can actually look up curriculum standards from a bunch of different locations, including Australia, Canada (Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick), Scotland, and the U.S. (both state and national).  Curriculum expectations can be filtered by grade, subject, and category, and once you have found what you are looking for, you simply highlight it and add it to your lesson.  The expectation is displayed right in your daybook for future reference.

You can add lessons by the calendar view, or you can go into each class and add lessons within the class framework, on the cycle you have created.  This is very important for me as a planning teacher at two different schools!

I also like the fact that you can attach files to your schedule within planbook.   When I have a handout or want to print an actual lesson plan, I can find it attached to my daily plans (if I have attached it!) and print it off or just look at it for reference on my iPad.

The main problem I have found with planbook is that if you put too much detail into your daily plans it includes it in the plan display screen.  The best thing seems to be to type a brief summary of the lesson you will be doing and then attaching a lesson plan to the note.  The problem here, of course, is that I do not type up lesson plans for everything I do in the classroom, and I know that not many (if any) teachers do.

The other downside is that there is no way to add class lists or assessments to Planbook.  So if you are looking for a lesson plan suite, this is not your program.  However, since I do most of my data collection on Evernote, Planbook fits well into my system.  For now anyway!

 

New Year, New Challenges

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Let’s just set aside the fact that I am struggling to stay organized and ahead of the game as a part time teacher, and that this year I will only get to see my students once or twice a week, and at 2 (or hopefully 3!) different schools.  Instead, let’s focus on the monumental challenge of incorporating technology into that teaching and into my own organization and planning.

It’s August, and high time I start organizing my life for teaching this year.  So I began by thinking about how I would track what I was teaching to who and when.  Sounds easy right?  In the past I have used a binder as a daybook at one school.  This year is different though.  First of all, I will definitely be teaching at two different schools, and maybe more.  So do I create a different daybook for each school or do I lug my daybook around to each school.  OR, do I get with the program and use my iPad as a daybook.  Bingo.  iPad.

Okay…. so which app should I use?  Today I started browsing the apps available that will help me create a digital daybook.  Last year, and in years past, I have dabbled with a few.  When I was working in an LTO as a planning teacher, I used my laptop (pre iPad days) and downloaded Planbook.  It was decent, but really hard to set up, and not flexible in any way.  Last year, I tried LiveBinder on my iPad.  I liked that I could create my own daysheet as a pdf and add notes to it, but it didn’t really meet all of my needs.

When I create a physical daybook, I set it up with my schedule and then just write in the days as I go.  I add my lessons in pen, and write reflections after I teach.  I do this because it is usually a week, or sometimes more before I see those students again and continue with the lesson or the unit in question.  So the most ideal thing for me to do would be to write my own app and customize it the way I want.  But how in the world do you do that?

Stay tuned…

Private Profile Pictures: Teaching Elementary Students AboutTheir Digital Footprint

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My “safe” profile picture

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uniqueThis year I embraced the use of Google Apps for Education in my teaching.  However, I wanted to teach my students about privacy and digital citizenship as well.  While Google Apps for Education creates a sort of “walled garden” for my students, I also wanted to make sure that parents were comfortable with what we were doing in class.
The main problem is that there are a plethora of amazing tools at my fingertips as an educator, but teachers and parents still have a lot of fear around using technology with young children.  As a mother and a teacher, I understand the fear, but the reality is that things have changed since the days when the internet first came along and we had to be super careful.

These days, everyone is putting everything out there.  Literally.  So I see a real shift in how we present technology to our children and our students.  The fact is that these kids will use social media.  Period.  Whether they do it now or down the road is irrelevant.  Our job now becomes teaching these kids how to use social media in a responsible way.  We need to show kids how to present a positive digital footprint.

Teens these days are posting inappropriate photos and comments all over facebook, twitter, and other social media sites.  I think the main reason for this was the explosion of social media and adults’ fears and reservations.  When social media first came about, the majority of educators did not embrace their use in teaching.  As a result, the first generation of social media kids had no training and therefore have no knowledge of applying a filter to what they do online. They are not aware that what they post at 16 will follow them for the rest of their lives and affect their job prospects in a few short years.

That’s why I started the year by explaining to my students in no uncertain terms that from now on, whatever they post online will be online forever.  They can never take back the inappropriate comment they post, or the photo of themselves that they send out to someone online.  We talked about how to stay private, and the students came up with all the answers I was looking for.  Try it with your own students.  You will be surprised how much they know.

As for pictures, we started the year by creating “safe” profile pictures for my students to use online.  I introduced the idea after we discussed internet safety, and gave my students the tools to access various web tools to create photos.  You can find these resources listed below.  I also went to each site ahead of time and created my own profile picture to show the students how creative they could be.  You can see my examples above.

So, you are probably wondering… how did it go?  My students were so engaged with this activity, and used their profile pictures all year long.  Better still, they applied what they learned to our subsequent activities with Bitstrips, Comic Life, and Kid Blog.  Success?  I think so.  And maybe, just maybe, when my students are 16, they will think twice when they post something online, and consider how it will impact their digital footprint.

For more information about Internet Safety, check out this great Common Sense article.  It’s a great resource to share with parents.

Tools for Creating a Safe Profile Picture with your Students:

  • Clay Yourself – Create a clay version of yourself.  From Hotels.com
  • DoppelMe – Create a dynamic avatar.
  • Lego MinMizer – Create a Lego figure of yourself.
  • Marvel Super Hero Creator – Create a super version of yourself
  • Unique – by Rasterboy
  • There was also a great Toy Story 3 Toy Creator, found here, but it doesn’t seem to be working anymore.  Hopefully it will be back some day, because it was FANTASTIC.

My First EdCamp

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I want to start this post by saying that I am feeling overwhelmed right now with all of my new learning and the way I have started using technology in my PLN.  I have a bunch of blog posts in my head and am trying to filter them so that they are relevant and useful to people who may be reading, rather than just spewing thoughts from my head as they appear there.

On Saturday I attended EdCamp Hamilton with my colleagues from the AQ course I am currently taking with Brenda Sherry (Integrating Information and Computer Technology in Instruction, Part 1).  I had never been to an event like this before, and I honestly have mixed feelings about it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the EdCamp model, it is what is referred to as an “unconference.”  Basically, you show up to the event with some ideas of what you would like to discuss with like-minded attendees.  Everyone meets at the beginning of the event to pose their questions, and then the questions are posted on a schedule.  You choose the discussions you want to join, and everyone contributes.  There is no leader.

There are, however, organizers who set up the event and run things on the day.  For EdCamp Hamilton, we had a great team of organizers, who did an absolutely amazing job.  The event ran smoothly, and there was a great turnout.  Lunch was delicious, the space was great, the scheduling was done quickly and efficiently, and the organizers were extremely helpful.

I first want to say that since joining Twitter I have met so many educators online, and the best part of EdCamp for me was seeing a bunch of them face to face.  However, I was a little outside my comfort zone, and therefore didn’t talk to many people or introduce myself to them.  In retrospect, I think this is the problem I had with the EdCamp model.

I took part in some great discussions with some amazing educators, doing amazing things in their classrooms.  But I don’t think I enjoyed the event as much as I could have, simply because I was more reserved and introverted than a lot of the people in attendance.  I also missed having someone to lead the discussions and present a visual to accompany my learning.

In short, I’m not sure what this model can really offer that I can’t do on Twitter or by reading blogs.  Yes, it’s nice to chat with people about what they are doing in a face to face atmosphere, but how is it really that different from a Twitter chat?  I think I prefer the traditional conference model, although I do recognize that my reserved attitude on Saturday may be to blame.  Perhaps if I had put myself out there a little more and introduced myself to more people, I may feel differently right now.