Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Blogger - Karla Schweizer

Today's Blogger is CODE teacher Karla Schweizer.

Karla is currently teaching 6-8 E/LA and Reading @ Thompkins Middle School is Evansville, IN.  Take a look at her Weebly site for her classes @ http://msschweiz.weebly.com/index.html.  Again, Karla is a guest blogger, please give her some cheers for her time and collaboration!

Day 5 - Scootpad


logo

For K-5 teachers looking to offer students a fun, interactive way of completing Common Core objectives, or for middle-level teachers who would like to provide students remedial work in reading and math, Scootpad.com is the place to go.

Scootpad markets itself as "the ultimate way to master math and reading skills. Self-paced and personalized practice keeps kids engaged & challenged."

Once you open Scootpad.com, you have the option to sign in as a teacher or parent. From the location known as the "Dashboard," you create classes into which you can invite students or, if they are too young to follow through with an invitation, you can load them in yourself. The website provides students with a username and password; they log in, set their grade level, and get started.

From your screen as the teacher, you can click on "Classes" and set up groups. They will look like this: 

When you load classes into the program, you can then invite students or set them up individually and provide them their username and password. When you click on an individual class, this is the page you will see:


The class dashboard allows you to follow student interactions, where classmates can welcome one another to the program and cheer each other on in the race to earn coins. Coins are earned by completing practices and homework assignments correctly. 

To add homework assignments, click on the "Homework" tab on the left. The screen that pops up allows you to name the assignment, provide a start and end date, set the task (Math, Reading, Spelling, etc.) and add students.






When you click "Add students" this is the screen you will see:



You can select individual students or all students. Then, Scootpad offers you the ability to track their progress and results. You can either click on "Homework" on the left and select the magnifying glass next to the assignment you want to see, or you can click on "Results" on the bottom left:


Once here, you can click the small magnifying glass to view results at a more specific level.


You can also view the progress of an entire class by selecting "Progress by Concept" or "Progress by Unit" on the "Results" page.


On the bottom of the above page, it offers you the option of generating improvement practice!

Students are also able to review incorrect answers and continue practicing at their own rate:



The coins students collect can be used to redeem prizes, on which you decide and load into the system. It then tells you when a student has redeemed a reward.



Scootpad also has apps on the iPad, Android, and Kindle. The Scootpad app is available, as well as their ConceptBANK app. With the demand for tracking progress and differentiating work for students, this online program is a big help!

Your Challenge: 

If you have used the tool, explain how. In what specific ways do you see Scootpad's able to be used in your classroom?  What creative functions can you think of past general remediation on Scootpad? Please comment with your thoughts/ideas!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 4 - Mural.ly

For today's challenge I would like to share a Web 2.0 tool called Mural.ly. Mural.ly was created originally as a space for collaborating on the design for game development. But as you begin to use it, you will find that it is a great environment to collaborate visually and present visual information in a simple way. Mural.ly provides a large workspace where you can design and create using traditional documents like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint or using media like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition to a flexible workspace, you have the ability to invite collaborators to your project. A collaborative workspace allows others to add content, chat, comment, and edit the workspace.

Your Challenge: Take a few minutes to watch the videos below. The first video shows some of the possibilities for using Mural.ly and the second is a getting started video if you would like some assistance learning how to use Mural.ly. Be sure to go over to http://mural.ly today and sign up for a free account and get started. Leave a comment below with some lesson ideas or project ideas for Mural.ly. Mural.ly is a great classroom tool but can also be great for teachers and staff to use as well. What uses can you imagine?



Getting Started with Mural.ly

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 3 - "Boo"gle Docs


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Let's be honest, who hasn't at least heard of "Boo"gle... er... Google Apps? Most everyone has heard of them, but do we all know the powerful potential for enriching education that they bring to our classrooms? Let's begin with what Google Apps are, a suite of communication and collaboration tools, or apps, developed by Google. They are accessible through any web browser connected to the Internet and store the information created by the apps within the "cloud." There are tons of apps available in the suite including the one we're using right now (Blogger), but for this post let's contrain our discussion to the five main apps in the suite which are Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs, Groups, and Sites. Other tools in the suite will be discussed in future posts.

GETTING STARTED
Here are some places to start your foray into Google Apps:
  • Create an Account (for anyone that doesn't have a Google account already.)
  • EVSC Google Apps Login (All EVSC teachers have an evsck12.com account.)
  • Gmail Login (if you are a Google Apps for Education user you will need to use your full email address to login)

COLLABORATION AND SYNCING
Since all of you will undoubtedly share a plethora of terrific ideas for using Google Apps in the classroom, I thought that I would comment on two of the most basic and important features of Google Apps, namely the ability to collaborate and stay in sync. With regard to collaboration, what Google Apps has accomplished is a paradigm shift from the solitary or one person focused work of crafting documents to a new paradigm of collaborative creation and review. Now up to 200 people can view my documents simultaneously. (It would have taken me a long time to print and share that many copies under the old paradigm!) What's more, up to 50 people can edit that same document simultaneously, a feat that simply could not have been accomplished previously.

What this means is that the document creation software that many of us grew up with is no longer the best tool for document creation anymore. In our classrooms this means that students can work in groups and everyone can be in the document creating and editing at the same time. Documents can be shared instantly with groups of people, and those people can interact with my creation easily and efficiently. Notes no longer have to be individual; with Google Docs a master set of class notes could be made simultaneously by the entire class. It could also contain pictures, videos and links to supplement the ideas and content presented in class. I'm sure all of you will share some of your ideas on how to use the collaboration features of Google Apps in the comments - the possibilities are tremendous, especially when you add Calendar, Groups and other apps to the mix!

We can take this idea of collaboration beyond the classroom however. Imagine creating your common assessments with Google Docs. Now everyone has the most current edition and editing can be a collaborative experience. One common set of PLC notes can be kept in sync between all members and shared with administrators who can view the notes when they choose. Data collection can be accomplished with Forms and everyone can have instant access to the results. These are just a few ideas - share yours!

My other favorite feature of Google Docs is the ability to stay in sync. I'm sure that just like me you have multiple computers on which you work. When you add in laptops, tablets and smart phones it means that there are a lot places that document I need right now could be saved other than the device currently in front of me. With Google Apps my work is stored in the cloud, and the most up-to-date version of everything is available on all of my devices. With the new Google Drive I can also have access when there is no Internet connection. Everything in my Drive is synced to my computer and editable in the Chrome browser, even when there is no Internet available. What a great feature for those students without a dedicated Internet connection at home. Now they can have the collaboration when connected, but retain the ability to edit and create when accessing the Internet isn't feasible.

Thoughts On Sharing...
by Jerrad Gleim
  • Sharing is simple and you can do it while you're working on the document or from your Docs list. Simply push the Share button at the top of your screen and start typing in the names of people you want to share.  You can set their rights to Editor, Comments Only, or View Only. Google Docs will even send them an email letting them know the document is being shared to them.  It's that easy! 
  • Are you worried about people accidentally deleting information? Google Docs has Revision History so you can always restore the document to a previous date and time.
  • As you're editing a document, you are able to see a list of individuals who are viewing/editing the document at that moment. The user list also has a chat feature so you can communicate live while you work.
  • Did you create a document, spreadsheet, or presentation using another program? No problem. Upload it to Google Docs and then share it.
  • Do you want to share the information in a doc on a web page?  No problem. Google Docs can help you to share a web link with users and even allow you to embed the doc in another website so as the document changes, the website stays up to date.

RESOURCES

VIDEO TUTORIALS

YOUR CHALLENGE: 
If you use Google Apps already what impact has it had on your classroom? How can you further extend the use of Apps to engage your students and enrich your curriculum? If you do not use Google Apps presently, in what ways might you envision it being used? For everyone, how could Google Apps make things easier for teachers? Consider not only your classroom but your department, building and district as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guest Blogger - Kara Yates

Today's Blogger is Kara Yates.

Kara is a member of EVSC's Community of Digital Educators (CODE).  Kara teaches English and Language Arts at the middle/junior high level.  She works closely with her students on her Wordpress blog mrsyatesclass.wordpress.com.   Make sure you take some time to look at her blog and give her some cheers for her work!

Day 2-Wordpress



Wordpress.com is blog hosting website.  There is also a partner website-Wordpress.org that will allow you to download the program.  However, it is very detailed and heavy in the html language.  For beginners and users that do not want to worry with the HTML settings--I highly suggest Wordpress.com.  If you can type an email-you can blog with this site.  

Wordpress.com even offers many tutorials that will help you get started with the basics.
Wordpress.com tutorials
Here is a list of many more helpful tutorials:
Dashboard explained


This summer I spent some time trying to figure out how to marry 21st century skills, collaboration, communication, and organization for my classes. I wanted something that would be simple to use for time management purposes--but would look professional and be user friendly for my students. I also wanted to model writing for my students.  I spent many hours reading blogs last year and decided that would be the perfect outlet for me to use this year. 

Here is my blog:
My blog-mrsyatesclass.wordpress.com
I try to blog something everyday for my students.  Somedays it is very basic in nature--just a quick review of what we accomplished in the class and any materials the students might need to reference.  Others days it is more reflective in nature.  These days are my favorite because it forces me to take a moment to see what worked and what didn't work and why.  I try to feature pictures of my students as well. (They LOVE catching themselves on the blog.) Writing a post is very easy.  If you can type and email-you can type a blog post.

My students are trained to check the blog daily.  If they have any questions--they know they need to go to the blog first.  They are also  learning to ask questions of each other and and me via the commenting feature.  It is nice to see them taking care of each other.

My goal is to have each of my students create their own blog at the start of 2nd semester. During November students will be taking turns "guest blogging" on my blog.

I asked them to tell me their thoughts about the blog.  Here are some of their comments:

How has having the blog helped you?
  • It has helped me a lot. I have needed help before and I have forgot things about projects and it has given me information I have needed.
  • I love using the blog because if I forget what we talked about in class it is always on the blog.
  • The blog has helped me so much this year. Whenever I don't understand an assignment, I go to the blog and there are ALWAYS extra instructions and tips.
  • The blog has helped me because when I am absent or confused I can access the blog wherever I am.
  • The blog has helped me Tremendously. It has helped me because if I am out sick I just cheek the blog and all my assignments are right there at my fingertips! When i get back to school I am all mostly caught up!
  • The blog is always a great help to me. It's a neat way to get resources for class, and to connect the classes in a way.
  • The blog is useful for downloading resources such as handouts. Also, it is great to know what we did the other day if we were not here without even mentioning it to the teacher. We can even submit assignments from home!
  • The blog has helped in unthinkable ways. It's fantastic when your sick or absent, you can go on the blog and finish you work and not be a day behind. It is a whole lot easier to do assignments . When Mrs. Yates has a sub we get a lot done and really enjoy those days where I can work by myself.

Why is blogging important?
  • Blogging is important because it can easily spread information through a group of people or just one person. You can also limit who sees the information.
  • Blogging is important because it is always available and constantly up to date.
  • Blogging is important because it lets the teacher and students communicate. It also lets the parents see what is going on in the classroom.
  • Blogging helps us know what's going on in our daily lives. Using a blog for school is helpful, because we can easily see if we had any assignments on there. The comment section allows us to easily access other students or our teacher is it is needed.

 How does the ability to comment help you with the blog?
  • Commenting has helped me because if I have a question, I can just comment and Mrs. Yates will reply. It is also helpful because other students can see my comment so that Mrs. Yates does not get the same question a million times.
  • The ability to comment has helped me to earn a pride paw, and get me interacting with more of my classmates.
  • If I have a direct question and I comment it, then my teacher or another student has the ability to help with a possible solution.
  • The ability to comment has helped me with the blog because anytime I have a question or concern on any assignment or blog that has been posted I can just comment and ask that question, usually i get a response by Mrs. Yates or another student within that hour.
  • If I have questions or concerns, I can comment on the blog and Mrs. Yates gets back to me within the hour. If their is a problem on the blog I can leave a comment and it gets fixed lighting fast. It also allows me to share my opinions about the day and the class.


Challenge:
Check out some different blogs.  How do you think blogging will help with your instruction? Will it be a means for personal reflection? A way to communicate with students & parents? A collaborative project from your PLC/team? (Please reflect below.)

Some blogs worth viewing-




Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 1 - My Big Campus



Welcome to Day 1 of the EVSC ICATS 30-Day eLearning Challenge!!!  Today's topic is My Big Campus.  My Big Campus (MBC) is a modern Learning Management System created by Lightspeed Systems.  MBC has a great social feel and allows teachers and students a safe online platform for presentation, communication, collaboration and engagement in the classroom and beyond.  MBC is a free cloud based solution that works with or without the Lightspeed Systems mobile content filter.  Take a look at this brief video giving an example of how MBC can be used.


In addition to online assessments and assignments, announcements, discussions, video chats, blogs, Twitter integration, Google docs integration, and Facebook integration, one of the greatest features of MBC is "Bundles!"  The system allows users to create a "Bundle" of information that can be used to deliver content to an end user in many different formats.  What's even better is that the bundles are dynamic, meaning they can be edited in all locations in real time, and shared to people outside of the My Big Campus environment. Here is a link to the My Big Campus Teacher Training Bundle created and shared by Rachel Porter, one of the My Big Campus Coaches.   Take a couple of minutes to look over the bundle linked above to get a feel of how the system works.

Note: There are many good Learning Management Systems on the market.  Some are free and some are not.  The most basic features remain constant with most of them.  In the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation we are leaving one system and moving to MBC as our new LMS for multiple reasons.  For the purpose of the challenge, do not feel as though you must use MBC in order to contribute here.  The real discussion is not the tools presented, but in creating ideas of how they can be used to ignite a flame of learning in your students!

Your Challenge

With all the challenge posts, we encourage you to take a little bit of time diving into the tool presented and reflect on innovative ways to use it in conjunction with your classes.  The beauty of My Big Campus and the challenge in general is in contributing to the discussion and benefiting from those conversations.  After looking at My Big Campus, please share your creative thoughts on how a system like this could be used to ignite a flame of learning for your students.