Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Interactive Training and Walkthroughs, Right within G Suite

GAFE (Google Apps for Education) has changed the name to G Suite for Education. In addition to changing the name, Google has added several new features to some of the apps included in the G Suite. These features use "machine intelligence" to facilitate and add more functionalities to Google Apps. You can read Google's education blog to learn more about those new features.

In order to help APS staff, the G Suite Training extension (formerly Synergize) has been pushed to all staff. 

When staff login to Chrome with their APS Google credentials and utilize any G Suite core app (Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Hangouts, etc.), the following icon will show up in the top right hand corner of their screen:

The G Suite training extension is a tool for staff to use for self-guided training on how to use Google core apps; this will be helpful in the transition to Gmail/Calendar. When the icon is clicked, popular “how to” topics for that app will automatically populate. The option to search for specific content will also be available. After a topic is selected, an interactive based video will be presented within the app the person is in showing them exactly how to perform the function or feature they searched. For additional information on how the G Suite training extension works, got to the following link: http://www.androidcentral.com/googles-app-training-chrome-will-make-you-google-docs-master

Please let your Ed Tech Coach or IT Help Desk know if you have any questions or need support.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coding in Kinder at Murphy Creek

I had the pleasure of observing Marla Berkheim’s kindergarten class at Murphy Creek P-8 last week. I was amazed by the activities in this class. Mrs. Berkheim decided to include a STEM component this year. She researched to determine what her students would need for Coding and Engineering. Next, she used Donor’s Choose to help fund materials needed for Coding and Engineering lessons.

Last week the students started learning about Coding. Mrs. Berkheim created posters to help explain coding concepts to the students. The posters included real-life connections, definition and explanation of coding, terminology used in coding, and images of the Robot Mouse and controls.

After the Mrs. Berkheim and the class reviewed the posters and the rules of coding, the students paired up and explored using either the Robot Mouse or  Think and Learn Code-a-pillar.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Have a Hoot with Learning & Assessment!

I was recently able to use the online tool Kahoot when facilitating some professional learning. I had heard about the tool over a year ago but never tool the chance of using it when leading a session. The feedback I received from the use of the tool was extremely positive. Users were incredibly engaged with the experience and had tons of fun while going through a simple quiz game I had created.  There was laughter and excitement which made the learning fun and interesting.  I found it incredibly easy to use the tool and engage my audience which provided an atmosphere of genuine learning.

Kahoot is a simple and easy to use tool in any learning environment. You can sign up for free and create assessments quickly and easily which is a crucial component to any learning environment. Kahoot works on any device with internet access including all mobile devices. One of my favorite features is the ease of use for participants. There is no need for them to create accounts to participate. Each "game" or activity that you create has a special pin and the only thing your participants need to get started is to enter the game pin and their name.  Another great feature is the ability to override or "veto" any inappropriate or misused names. If any participants enter names that aren't correct or are inappropriate, you can immediate reject them and they are dismissed from the game.

It's incredibly easy to get started with Kahoot. This VIDEO allows you to get started using Kahoot in under 3 minutes so there's no need to worry about spending hours learning a new tool. You'll need to visit getkahoot.com to sign up and create your first game/assessment as well as facilitate it.  Your participants will go to kahoot.com to play and enter the game pin. I created my first interactive experience with Kahoot in about 15 minutes and we were off and running. Participants earn points for correct responses but it doesn't end there.  Points are also awarded for how fast they respond which means the element of competition is very clearly present at all points of the game. The person who responds first gets the most points awarded and so on. I loved watching the looks on participant faces as they worked to respond as quickly as possible with the correct answer.  After each question a summary of the leader board is displayed allowing the competition to grow even stronger. Life involves competition and participants love fun, friendly competition so let's incorporate more opportunities in our learning environments.

Kahoot will provide instant feedback to the participants in terms of right or wrong answers.  It also will provide you a summary of participant responses to each question so you can easily collect great data to reflect on at a later time or when the game is finished. The data can be downloaded as an excel spreadsheet for easy analysis or you can also save it directly to Google Drive if you prefer to utilize your Googliciousness.  Either way, you can have access to instant data and make real-time instructional decisions to support your learners. You can even replay any of your previous Kahoot's at anytime so learners can challenge themselves to beat their previous score(s).

The next time you're thinking about assessing learners or want to have a conversation with them that involves data collection, check out Kahoot and watch the engagement soar.  Learning can be fun and Kahoot is one simple tool to bring the fun and engagement into your learning environment.  If you have questions or would like support with additional strategies for utilizing Kahoot in your instructional practice, contact your APS EdTech Coach.  It will certainly be a hoot!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Updates to Google Classroom

Two years ago when Google Classroom was first released, I was very excited to share it with teachers because of the ease in which documents could be distributed, shared, and collected. Although Google Classroom was a great tool, there were limitations. Fortunately, Google for Education has been very responsive to teacher requests and continues to make updates and improvements.

Several updates to Google Classroom were released in August. I wanted to highlight a some of those updates here.

Guardian Summaries
One of the common requests I have heard is the need for parents to access Google Classroom. There is now a feature named Guardian Summaries in which teachers can invite guardians to sign up for email summaries so that they can keep up with student progress. Summaries include student's missing work, upcoming due dates as well as announcements and questions posted by the teacher. Guardians can choose when they receive a summary daily or weekly. The can also choose to unsubscribe at any time. Sample Guardian Summary.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teachers, Would You Like to Try an All-in-One Grading Tool?

Try JoeZooApp

I recently participated in a Google Hangout Online with Carl from JoeZooApp. I am excited to start using this Add-on and the share with others.

He demonstrated the ease of using JoeZooApp as a Writing Feedback Tool, Rubric Builder, and a Grading Tool

The JoeZooApp is an add-on to Google Docs, and it works with Google Classroom.

Friday, April 22, 2016

How might we scaffold self-management skills for our students?

As an ed tech coach, I am often asked questions about limiting internet access for students. “Can we block youtube?” “How do we block this game site?” “We need to block facebook.” APS has a progressive view on site availability: we recognize that there can be excellent academic and relationship building reasons to leave social media sites accessible by all and we also know that shutting off one game site just means another game site is discovered the next week.

BUT...I empathize with the questions. It's understandable that teachers and principals might want limits on availability. Students finding ways to spend their entire class time on youtube searching for music videos instead of researching the Civil War is frustrating - and the least scary thing about open access. Cyber-bullying, violent or sexually graphic images and videos, and child predators on internet sites aimed at children are infinitely more concerning.

So what can we do about sites like youtube - which can have both excellent resources for students and teachers AND truly objectionable material?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Aurora Borealis Student Film Festival - Aurora Public Schools

Film/video is a passion for students of all ages. Through film production, students gain access to a wide variety of 21st century skills that prepare them for their futures. Along with those skills, students are able to explore their interests while voicing their opinions and views about the world in which they live. Student film is an opportunity for everyone to hear about the ways in which students interpret the world and solutions they possess to some of the world's problems.  It can also be a great way to understand their thinking and allow us to tap into the things that drive their desires and dreams so that we can hopefully support their efforts and achievements.

On May 11, 2016 Aurora Public Schools will host its first annual student film festival the "Aurora Borealis". The film festival will provide an opportunity for APS students to showcase their film production talents. The festival is open to all students in APS who have a desire to write, capture, produce, and edit their own short films, videos, or commercials.

The festival will be an Academy Awards of sorts to recognize and highlight the work of students within the district this year. Anyone is welcome to attend the event and view the student work while engaging in the socializing that will be present at the event.  Light refreshments will be served along with opportunities to connect with various students, parents, teachers, district personnel, and community partners. 

View the official 2016 film festival teaser video below.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Using Flubaroo to Give Students Meaningful Feedback

Flubaroo is a google add-on tool for google sheets that will automatically grade submissions based on the criteria that are set by the teacher. It's an extremely popular add-on. In its first iteration, it was a tool that worked best just with multiple choice or single word text/number questions. Recently it has undergone improvements that make it much more student-centered and teacher-friendly.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Give Every Student a Voice in Your Socratic Circle by Leveraging Digital Tools

Socratic Circles are a great way to engage students around a provocative question - students are engaged with the topic, encouraged to think about complex topics with a critical eye, and inspired to explore big ideas. 

However, it can be a challenge to give all students a voice in a Socratic Circle that is 30+ students big...there are time, space, and personality constraints that sometimes mean the conversation is dominated by just a few voices.

By leveraging digital tools, you can mitigate these constraints and give all of your students a voice - thus giving all students the opportunity to explore their own thinking as well as their classmate's. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Using Goobric to Support Student Self and Peer Assessment

Many APS Teachers have been using Doctopus and Goobric to digitally grade student assignments. Now Doctopus/Goobric support student self and peer assessment! Students will need the "Goobric for Students" Chrome extension for these features to work

It will only work on newly issued assignments or assignments that have had rubrics newly re-attached.  

Allows students to see rubric alert and button in Google Docs editor
Rubric-based assessment is designed to guide student learning and revision, and rubrics work best as an instructional tool when students are aware of their criteria while they are working, engaging with them regularly as a form of self-assessment and peer-assessment.

That is why Goobric for Students provides a pop-up reminder and a button in the Google Docs editor designed to encourage students to review the teacher's scoring rubric as they are creating or revising an assignment.

Save Time With Writing Feedback Using JoeZoo Express

Literacy skills are necessary components of any content area. They are often becoming a focus for students of all ages and all classes in schools. Research has shown that students with strong reading and writing skills are able close achievement gaps and have accelerated learning experiences. One of the essential components to becoming a successful reader/writer is good feedback. When students receive timely, actionable feedback on their writing, they are able to improve dramatically. 

Providing feedback for student writing can be overwhelming and time consuming, however, technology is quickly making it possible to provide students with almost instant feedback when it comes to the foundational skills necessary to become a great writer. JoeZoo Express is a great new tool that can save teachers large amounts of time in providing feedback to students and quickly get them moving forward. Take a look at this video to see an example of how it works.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Annotation, too, might change: My reflections on a recent annotation flash mob

This reflection is "cross-posted" here but it originated on my personal blog. Cross-posting is publishing a blog post in multiple places to reach a broader audience. -Joe Dillon

It wasn't until I became a teacher that I began to annotate texts with real purpose. The pressure of being prepared for class after class of energetic 12 year olds drove me to read professional literature and young adult literature with a new focus and purpose. At the same time I was learning about how annotation helped me develop my professional practice, I also learned how annotation could support my students in making meaning in the texts they encountered in my class. In teaching I learned the authentic value of talking back to a text with annotations.

My copy of Peter Johnston's Choice Words. I must've been thinking about lit circles this day.

Still, though we shared our annotations in discussion, the act of annotating was an independent act that we did alone, while we read silently. Even in guided reading settings, we'd annotate segments of text individually before talking through those texts one segment at a time. The Internet, with its interactive opportunities and Web 2.0 applications, suggest a more social approach, and present an opportunity for teachers and students alike to consider the possibilities for annotating together. In pairs, in interest-powered groups and yes, oh yes, in crowds.

My copy of The Literature Workshop, by Sheridan Blau

With those as yet undiscovered possibilities in mind, some colleagues and I convened online for an experimental "annotation flash mob." Using the tool hypothes.is, we marked up the text "Skills and Strategies | Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create," by Jeremy Dean and Katherine Schulten.

Of the small mob that convened online, some talked in a Google Hangout (about 7 of us) and shared their screens to show us how they worked. Others (about 7 more), joined from points around the globe to mark up the text but didn't join the webinar. They dove into the article itself, jotting notes and responding to other annotation mobsters.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Formative Assessment Made Easy with Superquiz

Super Quiz is a great new formative assessment tool that has just been released.  Super Quiz is an Add-On for Google Sheets that quickly creates data and statistical displays of any student responses. Flubaroo has been another popular grading tool for Google Forms & Sheets for a long time and now there's another option that teachers can choose from. With Super Quiz, you don't need to wait for data on your students, you can instantly get breakdowns that will allow you to make quick instructional decisions and support struggling students.