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 to sign up and create your first game/assessment as well as facilitate it.  Your participants will go to 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.