Tech Tool of Week – Notability

I would like to recommend an app that our middle school students use that improves productivity. The app that stands out for our students is Notability. Here are some reasons why they like using Notability:

“It is a good note taking app. You can draw diagrams, doodle, insert pictures.” -Kyla

“You can put worksheets into it and you can do your homework without printing.” -Kyla

“You can move information back and forth between Google Drive very easily, and then you can turn in work using Google Classroom.” -Cassandra and Cameron

“You can write on (annotate) worksheets and pictures that you insert.” -Cameron

“It has a left handed mode for writing.” -Cameron

“It’s really awesome. You have a lot of options, and it’s really simple. It has a bar at the top that has all of the things you can do and it’s really simple to navigate.”  -Middy

“You can control how you want to organize the information that you put into it.” -Cameron 

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Cameron’s organized Notability files

What are some other productivity and note taking apps that you like?

The Rochester Mini Maker Faire

Rochester_MMF_logos_GooglePlusI am excited to be a part of the upcoming Rochester Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, November 22nd at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. I will be showing off some Allendale Columbia student projects from the Makey Makey May Term class from last school year.  AC students will also be on-site to demonstrate how Makey Makey works. This is going to be a great event! Read below to find out more!

“Ever wonder what you could make with a 3D printer, how to build your own robot at home, or design your own game? Rochester is hosting it’s first Mini Maker Faire. Mini Maker Faires celebrate everyone who loves to make, create, craft, build and anything DIY. The inaugural Rochester event takes place on Saturday November 22nd, from 10am to 4pm at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The day will be filled with exciting exhibitions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for all ages. In addition, there will be interesting presentations, speakers, live music, and visual and performing arts.”
-The text above is from The Rochester Mini Maker Faire press release.
For more information check out the links below:
Rochester Mini Maker Faire – rochesterfaireinfo@gmail.com

Connected Educator Month

October is Connected Educator Month. I have put together some resources about being a connected educator for teachers to explore. Click here for Connected Educator Resources.

Check out some older posts that I have written about being a Connected Educator.

Connected Educator Month Post 1 – Overview

Connected Educator Month Post 2 – Edutopia Connected Educator Resources

Connected Educator Month Post 3 – Connected Educators to follow

Connected Educator Month Post 4 – Twitter Chats

Tech Tool of The Week – Class Dojo

Last year, Allendale Columbia School art teacher Amy Oliveri introduced me to Class Dojo. It has been a staple in my classes ever since. Here is how I use it:

Attendance – We don’t have a centralized method for taking attendance at our school. I love the simple, fun interface. It’s quick and easy to mark everyone present. It also lets me view the data a variety of ways, both as a visual chart or a downloadable file.

Attendance

Tracking in-class behavior for effort grades – I use an effort scale (see previous post) with my classes. I set up Class Dojo to help me evaluate components of the students’ effort grades during class. It’s hard to keep track of class participation and disruptions while you are teaching. This simple tool lets me give students points based on criteria that I preset. So, if students contribute to the discussion or ask great questions, I can give them participation points or other kinds of points. It’s very customizable. I can also check the data for each week, each day or go back as far as I want.AssessmentReports

Class Dojo has some great easy-to-use features for teachers. Best of all, it’s completely free!

Do you use Class Dojo? If yes, how do you use it with your students? Do you use any other tools to keep track of classroom behaviors?

Tech Tool of The Week – New iOS 8 Camera features

Ok, sorry Android users, but I have been so happy with the updates iOS 8 has made to the camera on the iPhone that I have to share. (For a more comprehensive review of the iOS 8 Camera App update click here.)

First of all, I have an iPhone 6, so I have some features that older phones and iPads will not have. That being said, here are my favorites…

Time Lapse This will take a long video and shorten it up by taking out frames. So, if you shoot a 1 minute video, it will condense down to about 6 seconds. I used Time Lapse during our annual Blue/White Day (field day) to record students as they progressed across the field during an event, and it worked great.

Slo-Mo – This is a really cool way to capture students in action. Again, I experimented at Blue/White Day (see below) to capture a few events. I am super impressed with the video quality (240 frames per second).

Burst Mode – So, this has been the favorite of my favorites, although this feature doesn’t work on my iPad mini (1st Gen). You just hold down the button that takes pictures and you get 10 pictures in 1 second. The longer you hold your finger down, the more pictures you take. Seems simple. The reason this works so well is it groups the images into a set. You get to go into the set and decide which images are the best. So, think about how hard it is to capture someone jumping off a diving board. If you have any lag or you just don’t click at the right time, you will miss the picture. Instead, with Burst Mode, just click and hold. Then go and find the best images out of that burst. It works great!

Do you have any camera favorites or tips? Maybe a different camera app that you like better?

Tech Tool of The Week – Socrative

Socrative is an awesome formative (and summative) assessment tool for teachers. And, most importantly, it’s free and usable on any web-enabled device.

I have used Socrative in class with students and with parents at an open house. In a previous post I wrote about how great Socrative was, but recent updates have made it even better!  I really like the preset “Exit Ticket.” Socrative also gives you several ways to get the data out of the app.

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It’s an app that is well worth your time to explore.

Let me know what you think. Do you use any other web based tools with your students for formative assessement?

How Do You Grade Effort?

Why do teachers assess effort? Why does it seems so completely subjective? Why do students with an “A+” commonly get a high effort grade when they really aren’t working very hard? Conversely, why do “C+” students get satisfactory effort grades when they are working harder than most others just to maintain their grade? Can the effort grade be truly independent of the achievement grade? How do effort and achievement grades overlap and affect each other? Do students know exactly how their effort grades are being assessed?

Obviously, I have several questions about effort grades. Ideally, I would have all students working to achieve the best effort grades they possibly can. I would also like to take as much subjectivity out of this grade as possible. I also want students to know how I am assessing their effort in my class. It is possible that understanding exactly what skills comprise good effort could help those C+ students work more efficiently and with better achievement results. And in the long run, in regards to work ethics, motivation and resilience, effort grades may even be more important than achievement grades anyhow.

Last year, Judy Van Alstyne  and I created an “Effort Scale” (see image below) that we used with our classes last year. We don’t think it’s perfect, but it gives a place to start. We share it with our students, ask them for feedback so we can tweak it, and have them self assess.

What do you use? What would you change about our effort scale? Please share any ideas or thoughts that you have and rubrics that you use. EffortScale

Tech Tuesday 8.12.14 – Teaching with Tech? Learn about SAMR

This post was co-written by Judy Van Alstyne.

Image from Jonathan Brubaker’s blog Tech Tips for Education

What does SAMR stand for?

Substitution • Augmentation • Modification • Redefinition

What is SAMR?

A model, by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D., which shows four levels of how technology is used in the classroom from the simple exchange of tools (Substitution) to the sophisticated development of new tasks conceived and created in novel ways (Redefinition).

Example:

Notetaking

S: taking notes with a word processing application

A: taking notes with a word processing application and using built in dictionary and thesaurus tools

M: students create shared notes that allows them to collaborate with peers to create the ultimate study guide

R: study guide is shared with the teacher, peers in another school and/or other experts for feedback and revision to create a presentation (for example, an American Revolution study guide is exchanged with one created by a class in Great Britain)

Why SAMR?

to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning… to enable teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of achievement for students.”
(Quote from: http://msad75summertechnologyinstitute.wordpress.com/beyond-substitution/)

Does this mean I have to completely redesign every lesson plan to achieve the most sophisticated use of technology?

No! Understanding the SAMR model allows you to choose effectively which lessons are worth redefinition, which lessons work fine with simple augmentation, or which are simple substitutions that might even be better without technology at all.

Where do I start?

Check out Kathy Schrock’s site for a wealth of resources. Our favorite from her site: A flow chart for deciding where a given lesson falls within the SAMR model.

If you work at AC, come to the library after school on Tuesday, March 18th at 3:30 for a special SAMR workshop. Be prepared with lessons or tasks to share, analyze, and potentially redefine!

Tech Tuesday 7.15.14 Technology SAMR Model for Administrators – Part 1: Staff Presentations Via Edutopia

Image from Jonathan Brubaker's blog Tech Tips for Education

Image from Jonathan Brubaker’s blog Tech Tips for Education

In a previous Tech Tuesday post, Teaching with Tech? Learn about SAMR, colleague Judy Van Alstyne and I attempted to summarize what SAMR is for teachers. We also encouraged teachers to visit Kathy Shrock’s SAMR site to get started with implementation.  Recently, Judy found an excellent post on Edutopia by Joshua Work. The focus is for administrators, but the key elements apply to everyone. Happy reading!

Technology SAMR Model for Administrators – Part 1: Staff Presentations | Edutopia.

The Makey Makey Gelatin Keyboard

The Makey Makey May Term class focused around the ideas of invention, creativity and imagination. Students were given a Makey Makey (a simple pre-programed circuit board that lets users control a computer by using alligator clips and anything that is conductive). Students were taught the elements of basic design, and circuitry. After field trips to RIT’s MAGIC Center and The Kate Gleeson College of Engineering, students were asked to put their creative skills to the test. For their final projects, students had to use the Makey Makey to create a project that was original. One project that really stuck out was “The Gelatin Keyboard”. The two eighth graders responsible for that creation wrote about their experiences with the Makey Makey.

How did you decide to create a keyboard made of Jello/Gelatin?

Francesca wanted to make a keyboard and I wanted to incorporate Jello/Gelatin into our project. Therefore, we came up with a Gelatin keyboard. –Alison

We wanted to make something fun but it seemed like everyone was making game controllers. We decided to make the thing itself fun to use or play with instead of what it is doing. I guess you could say that games are more fun than typing, but I think the keyboard was really fun to use. –Francesca

Why did you change from store bought Jello to Gelatin?

We were telling Mrs. Oliveri (our art teacher) that our jello was not firming up so well and that we were worried that our project was going to fail. She gave us a recipe to a strong gelatin modeling material that was made of glycerin, gelatin, water, and rubbing alcohol. –Alison

The Jello was taking too long and once it was done, it wasn’t strong enough. The gelatin took a lot less time to make (if you did it right) but it was also at least 10 times stronger. If you wanted to mold it to a certain shape, all you had to do was put it in the microwave and then let it sit for a while to harden so that part was fairly easy as well. –Francesca

How was your project made better by collaboration?

An idea would get better with each other’s positive and negative opinions. That idea would form into something great that we were both happy with. –Alison

Each person is creative in their own way and the more different creative ideas you can have the better. Sometimes you don’t agree on how to do something, but you try both and one definitely works better, but if you just had your own idea it might not have worked. I don’t think our project would’ve been able to work if there weren’t two of us, collaboration is key. –Francesca

What would have changed about your final project?

I would have hidden some of the wires better to make it look better. –Alison

I don’t think I would change anything about our final project, maybe a few things in the process, but I really like how it turned out. –Francesca

Did it work out the way you hoped it would?

It worked out even better than I had hoped. I did not expect it to work so well. –Alison

It did, indeed every key ended up working so that was really good. I do think that it turned out better than what we were thinking of. Halfway throughout the process I was thinking whether or not we would have a final project, but we figured out the problems and it worked very well. –Francesca

What advice would you have for someone who was going to work with a Makey Makey for the first time?

You can make anything you want with Makey Makey you just need patience and a lot of wires. –Alison

Try everything. If you think of something, try it because that’s the point. There are no limits, maybe it won’t work the first time, but keep going. Also, be patient things may not happen the way you want them to and that can be good or bad but learn from your mistakes. –Francesca

For more about the Makey Makey May Term class, check out my previous post, Makey Makey and May Term.