Saturday, November 22, 2014

Formative Assessment with Plickers

Formative assessment helps teachers make data-informed decisions to plan for and/or adjust instructional activities, identify potential misconceptions, monitor the pace of instruction, etc.

While there are many ways to formatively assess students, I recently saw Eric Sheninger use Plickers during his workshop at the Ventura County Office of Education, and thought, what an easy and inexpensive way to quickly assess groups!
Purpose and benefits
  • Collect data from multiple choice or true/false questions from a group.
  • View data as a group snapshot in a graph, or view individual data from audience.
  • Quick, low-tech tool to use, especially when you don't have the budget for clickers.
Technology and prep
  1. Teacher/Facilitator creates an account at Plickers.
  2. Download app for portable device: iTunes or Google Play.
  3. Print out a set of reusable cards.  
  4. Add class(es).
  5. Create questions.
Getting started 

Click here to download as PDF
Last thoughts

Multiple choice and true/false responses provide limited data of learning and understanding. However, it can be used as a quick assessment to make data-informed decisions and to spark discussions for deeper learning in the classroom, a staff meeting, or the workshop setting.
  • How do you use technology to make you more effective, efficient, and informed?
  • What other tools do you like to use to gather information from your audience?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mystery State Skype

Mystery State Skype isn't a new idea, it's basically taking learning geography and placing it in a game format like Twenty Questions via Skype, by asking questions to guess the location of the other classroom. Not only does this connect students from across the country (or globe), but it also gives a context for students to apply geography with critical reasoning, collaboration, communication, digital citizenship, and information fluency -- 21st century skills.

Skype in the classroom
Learning standards

What should your students research? I recommend looking at your standards to know what is expected of your students as a starting place.
Create a graphic organizer to guide their research, or adapt this Google Doc for your needs.

Preparing for the Mystery Skype



Setting up the Mystery Skype

There are many places where you can sign up for a Mystery Skype. Here's a few:


Tips:

  • Check time zone differences.
  • Set up a test call a few days before the event to make sure the technology is working, and to confirm the Mystery Skype day and time.
  • Double check how the teacher wants to do the Mystery State Skype. There are several variations of Mystery Skypes such as using yes/no questions or clues. The questions your students create will reflect what variation of Mystery Skype you do.

21st century fluencies

What 21st century skills will students use?
  • Research and Information Fluency: Do students know how to search for valid and reliable information?
  • Digital Citizenship: Have they been introduced to Skype etiquette
  • Critical Thinking: After researching, organize the information as questions in a logical order. To add an extra element to the research, have students make a list of the states that fits the question and add it to the map. Then when they ask questions in the Skype ("Is there a NBA basketball team in your state?") they can use it to eliminate/include states. 
  • Communication and Collaboration: Have collaboration norms been established?
What 21st century skills might also be addressed/included in the Mystery Skype?
  • Research and Information Fluency: Do students know how to use Google Maps?
  • Digital Citizenship, Communication, and Collaboration: Will you have students typing up questions and answers on a backchannel? If so, are they aware of what's expected of them as digital citizens
  • Technology Operations and Concepts: Do students know how to troubleshoot if the sound doesn't work? Do they know how to check the Skype preferences and then the computer hardware preferences for the microphone?

Roles

The roles you assign students will really depend on what tools you have available and best fits your students' needs. It's also important to make sure all of your students are allowed to be on camera prior to the Mystery Skype (check for non-disclosures).

  • Click here for a template with the steps as well as roles.



Going deeper

When the Mystery Skype is over, it's so important to go deeper by reflecting and connecting back to the learning.


Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano created this assessment of learning graphic organizer for a Mystery Skype.



Final thoughts

Focus on the critical thinking and the learning. Help students think through their reasoning while not giving them the answers.

Mystery Skypes should be a fun and engaging way to apply their learning for a real purpose and audience.

  • What questions do you have about Mystery Skyping? 
  • What insight or resources will you add to this conversation?
  • How else does this post connect with you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Formative Assessment and Google Forms

Formative assessment informs educators about student learning, and when done correctly, it also informs the students how to improve and move forward with their next goal. Teachers must know how to use the data to drive their instruction.


Formative Data by Tracy Watanabe - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Gleaning results from the data and providing specific feedback must be timely, which is why I like using Google Forms (along with other tools).

Why Google Forms

While there's a plethora of tools that can be used to collect formative data, I am going to focus on Google Forms.

Google Forms is an awesome time saver for collecting data in surveys, assignments, mindsets, exit tickets, etc. It aggregates the data collected into a Google Spreadsheet, and gives me a summary of the data in nice graphs as well.

For example, below is a Google Form used by a high school teacher. He told me that this tool is a time saver because he can quickly see which questions his classes have mastered and which questions need more attention. Question #6 below is an example of a question that merits more time.


Examples

Below are a plethora of examples of formatives through Google Forms. You can choose which content area you'd like to look at. There is also an area that isn't content specific.


Click here to view the examples.

Differentiated Google Forms Tutorial

Below is a tutorial for creating Google Forms. It is differentiated for your experience and comfort level.


Click here to view the tutorial.

Final thoughts

It took me a little time to learn how to use Google Forms because change takes time. However, it was well worth it because it helps me easily and quickly collect data.

After data is collected and organized, I can decide what the next appropriate steps are. It might mean I change my lesson plans and add more pre-teaching and reteaching opportunities along with enriching because that's what the data reveals. It helps me to quickly address students' needs and provide them with specific feedback.
  • What data do you collect? Why do you collect that data? How does it drive instruction?
  • What are some new ideas you gained from this post?
  • What ideas would you add or challenge?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Introduction to iPads iOS 7: Part 1--Hardware

How does a teacher start to use iPads in the classroom? This post will include the basics for getting started. Part 1 focuses on the hardware fundamentals with iOS 7, while Part 2 focuses on iPad integration in the classroom.

Hardware basics
  • Turning on / off the iPad: Hold the sleep button for five seconds until you see the apple appear on the screen to turn it on. To power down, hold the sleep button for five seconds, then  "slide to power off."

  • Putting the iPad to sleep: Press the sleep button. To wake it up, press either the sleep button or the home button. Use this feature to save the battery or to have students' full attention.
  • Open an app: Tap once on the app you would like to open. If it is not on the first page, you can swipe through the pages with your finger to look for it. If you have many apps/pages, then you can find it with the Spotlight search. Just go to your Home screen by pressing the home button, and swipe down from the middle of the screen, then the search field will appear.
  • Typing: The onscreen keyboard appears when a blinking cursor is observable. Place your finger where you want to type to move the cursor to that spot. Double-tap the spacebar to insert a period (including the space and the shift for the capital letter of the next sentence). To insert numbers, go to the number and symbol keyboard by pressing the number and symbol keyboard key.

  • Scrolling: To scroll up or down a page, drag two fingers up or down the iPad.
  • Zooming and shrinking: To zoom in, place two fingers on the iPad and stretch them apart. To shrink what is on the iPad, place two fingers on it, then pinch or pull them together.
  • Cut, copy, or paste: To cut or copy text, highlight the word or words first. To highlight, double-tap a word, then use the blue circle bracket to pull to the beginning of the desired text to highlight, and the ending circle bracket to the end of the text. Then tap copy or cut. Tap finger at desired placement to paste text. Hold finger in place to see text under a magnifying glass. In case of mistake, simply shake iPad to undo.
  • Screenshot: To create a screenshot, press the sleep button and the home button simultaneously. It will save in the Camera Roll album (see icon below).
Camera Roll icon
  • Saving images: To save an image, hold finger on image until "Save Image" or "Copy" choices appear. Then select "Save Image" to store it in the Camera Roll album.
  • Exiting apps: To minimize an app, tap the home button. To completely exit the app, double-tap the home button to view opened apps. Flick the app up to close it. Scroll through the list of running apps by swiping to the next page.
  • Basic care for iPad: Use dry microfiber cloth to clean the iPad. Don't use cleaning products or compressed air. See Tip #9 for more information. Keep iPad (especially the charging doc) dry. 
  • Troubleshooting tips: If the iPad does not respond correctly, 1) check battery to see if it needs to be charged; 2) close apps that are minimized and running in the background (see "exiting apps" above); 3) shut down iPad normally, then restart it; 4) check how much available storage is left and if it's getting close to running out, take off some apps, pictures, video, or songs; or 5) if all else fails, try a hard reboot by holding the sleep button and the home button simultaneously for approximately ten seconds, let go once the Apple logo appears.

Final thoughts

There are more tips for using the hardware, but the above includes the basics for getting started. For more details, click here to download a PDF of the iPad iOS 7 User Guide, or see Tips for iPads in Classroom.

In my experience, learning how to use an iPad is easier than other devices I've introduced to teachers and students. I'd like to hear about your experiences with it.
  • How easy/difficult was it for you or your students to learn how to use an iPad?
  • What would you add to this list? 
  • What questions do you still have?
Note: This post was originally published in January of 2013, and has been updated with iOS 7 information.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Harnessing Powerful Ideas: Leading One-to-One

How you set up and lead one-to-one is based on your vision for one-to-one. So, what's your vision?



Why 1:1? How will students use the tech? For what?

The purpose of one-to-one is to give the students ubiquitous access to learning. The device itself is not the purpose of one-to-one -- augmenting students' learning is. Therefore, it's essential to know what change you want to see in your district/school that one-to-one can support.
  • What learning do you want to see, and how will technology make that possible?
  • What does that look like? 
  • How will the students use the technology to accomplish those goals?
For me, it's simple, I want to see students using their critical thinking to create, collaborate, communicate, and contribute as digital citizens.



How does 1:1 connect to and support other district or site initiatives?

One-to-one is a learning initiative, and not a technology program. It should not be treated as something separate or as an add-on. It needs to directly connect to the district's/school's mission and vision statement, especially regarding how it will enhance the educational goals.

One-to-one must also connect to and support other district/site initiatives. For example, our district is also implementing the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (known in other states as the Common Core State Standards); therefore, it's imperative that we connect and communicate how technology is built into the standards.

What percentage of the tech budget goes towards educator PD?

One-to-one can make a difference when there is ongoing, job-embedded professional learning. Yet, I hear about some of the epic failures, and one of the lacking ingredients is the allocation of budget, time, and energy regarding professional development.

Professional development for one-to-one must be more than a few workshops before the beginning of the school year. Administrators need training to lead a one-to-one learning initiative, and so will the teachers. Consider investing in technology peer coaches that "get it" and have great people skills.

Set realistic goals for each year of implementation; focus on the pedagogy; help them gain quick wins; and support the educators. Change is difficult, and it takes time, which is why having ongoing professional learning is important for one-to-one success.

What feedback do you collect from students and parents? How often do you collect it?

In addition to communicating with staff, include students and parents in the feedback loop. There is a lot to learn from students and parents by collecting feedback and listening. Use their responses to improve the one-to-one initiative. Furthermore, this needs to be done throughout the year.

I like asking questions based on Kirkpatrick's levels of evaluation.



Final thoughts

First and foremost, create clear goals for one-to-one and communicate those goals.

When those goals can clearly be communicated, it will help with:
  • decisions about devices to purchase
  • the programs/apps to load on those devices; 
  • other 1:1 campuses to observe or interview to learn from and with; 
  • and how to prioritize educator training.

Beyond the infrastructure that needs to be established, the leadership must be ready to drive the initiative by:
  • creating, communicating, and implementing the vision; 
  • connecting the initiative to other initiatives; 
  • provide educators with ongoing, job-embedded professional learning; 
  • and collecting feedback from all stakeholders, including students and parents.

Image by Scott McLeod

This post was written in honor of Leadership Day 2014, a call from Scott McLeod to share powerful ideas with education leaders.
  • What powerful ideas would you add to this post about leading one-to-one?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What insights can you share?
  • How else did this post connect with you? 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Core Tech for Math Common Core Standards #ISTE2014

In this post, my focus is sharing some of the math resources that I heard about during "Core technologies for the Common Core" by Kyle Brumbaugh and Elizabeth Calhoon at #ISTE2014. I'll also add a few ideas of my own.

Math in the real world

Students should be able to apply mathematical concepts to real world issues. In the real world, math doesn't come in a box labeled, "Today you will only use your multiplying with fractions skill." In the real world, students must use critical thinking to solve problems.


As math is taught, it must be relevant to our students by connecting to the real world. Technology can assist in relevancy by giving students access to real-time data, current information, interactive tools, and audiences beyond the four classroom walls.

Use appropriate tools strategically 

Students are asked to choose appropriate tools strategically when solving math problems. Appropriate tools include traditional tools such as rulers, protractors, etc., and it also includes online tools.


There are a number of online tools for mathematical learning.
  • Desmos: Graph functions; plot tables of data; evaluate equations; explore transformations; and much more. Students can create models that can be manipulated by changing variables. This tool is powerful enough to be used in trigonometry and calculus.

  • Google Calculator: This tool can be used as a "scientific calculator" or geometry calculator. It can convert from one measure to another for temperature, length, mass, speed, volume, area, fuel consumption, time, and digital storage. To use this calculator, you can either type your equation directly into the Google (or Chrome) search box or do a search for calculator.
  • GeoGebra: Online site that allows students from all levels of education to build models and test them using a variety of mathematical concepts. It joins geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics and calculus in one site.

Information and data tools

Students must be able to collect data, synthesize the data, evaluate data, and present data in strategic and creative ways. Technology can also greatly increase productivity for students and teachers.


Technology also helps us to tap into the plethora of data and resources available on the Internet.
  • Google Trends: Use the statistics and analytics from Google searches. Each spike on a graph connects us to specific events going on in the world. This allows students to research statistical information to use in data visual displays and other projects.
  • Google Public Data:  Statistics of topic you search, with the ability to hone in on certain data such as age, gender, economic status, or location.
  • Infographics Archive: Search the archive of infographics, create an infographic or data display using their suggested tools, and submit your infographic to their archive. 
  • Piktochart: Create an infographic or data visualization with this tool. This is a great way to take data and synthesize it to present in a creative way. 
  • Canva:  Create infographics, presentations, etc. with this simple and beautiful free tool. (Thanks Lisa Johnson for introducing me to this tool!)
More resources
  • Khan Academy: There are online tutorial videos as well as skill and drill exercises that provides students with feedback.
  • CCSS Math: Sort the standards and find more resources for each standard.
  • Learn Zillion: More video tutorials that really focus on conceptual understanding along with the skills.
  • Ck-12: Online math textbook. There is a teacher version in addition to the student version. You can set it to your state standards and grade level (6th-12th).
  • Gooru: More online resources for various content areas.
  • Real World Math: This is a collection of free math activities for Google Earth designed for students and educators. These activities help connect mathematics to the real world.
  • TedEd -- Math in Real Life: Here's a series of TED talks (or You Tube videos) for Education connecting math in the real world. It has videos, lessons, and the ability to create your own lessons.

Final thoughts

Technology can enhance learning. It's a tool to gather information, organize, synthesize, analyze and draw conclusions. It gives students access to quality and current information/data. Students can use it to understand abstract concepts, and construct their own understanding of a concept. They can use it to create, collaborate, and share with others inside and outside of the classroom.

The bottom line is technology is part of our world; part of preparing students to be college and career ready; and is built into the standards. It needs to be part of how we "do school."
  • How do you incorporate technology in math?
  • What resources or tools would you recommend?
  • How does this post connect with you?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Core Tech for Learning with ELA Common Core #ISTE2014

One of the #ISTE2014 sessions I attended was "Core technologies for the Common Core" by Kyle Brumbaugh and Elizabeth Calhoon. They had a great introduction to the Common Core and a plethora of helpful tools.

In this post, I will share some of what I learned from them, and add in a few more resources, ideas, and tools.

ELA Text Complexity

Readability levels are an important ingredient for figuring out text complexity. Reading Standard 10 specifically states that students must read complex text, "Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently."

Text complexity reminds me of a s'more. It contains three main parts, and while you can talk about each ingredient separately, it's not really a s'more until you put them all together.


Tools for readability

Have you ever wondered if the text on a website is the appropriate reading level for your students? Here are some tools for assessing the quantitative measures of readability:
  • Online-Utility.org: Determines the Flesh-Kincade Reading Level by copying and pasting the text into the box.
  • Lexile Analyzer: You can scan your text (or type it in) to see the complexity of what you've written (or text in any website). Note, you'll have to register to use this site.
  • ATOS: Determines the ATOS reading level by copying and pasting the text into the box.
  • Lexile: This site helps you find the lexile range, and recommended books for that range.

Table: Supplemental Information for Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards

Writing readability and editor 

Sure, you can use the tools mentioned above to assess the readability of a student's writing, but the following tool also includes editing.
  • Hemingway app: This tool color codes sentences with editing suggestions for lengthy sentences, passive voice, etc. Note: This app currently costs $4.99.

Text with adjustable readability
  • Google advanced search: Set the readability levels in the advanced search.
  • ReadWorks: Reading passages, lessons, and units with comprehension questions for K-8th and by select domain or standard.
  • Newsela: You can find current events by content area. Create student accounts and it will provide different copies of an article with various reading levels.
Here's an example of the Newsela teacher dashboard

Online books
  • Project Gutenberg: Free ebooks that are available for free download (in the USA). They can be read online or through the Kindle App. (The Kindle App is a free app, and it allows you to read texts in a variety of formats on a variety of devices -- not just on a Kindle. You can highlight and annotate with this app, and the selections can be saved using a student's free account at Amazon.)
  • Oxford Owl: Free ebooks that are tablet friendly. 
  • Google books: This is a great research tool for online books. I recommend looking at this tutorial on Free Tech for Teachers by Richard Byrne.
  • Open Library: Borrow and read books.
  • Bookshare: An accessible online library of books with large print, great for people with print disabilities.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art and Getty Publications: Read, download, or search online art history books for free.
 
Online portfolios

There are many tools that can be used as a portfolio. The beauty of a portfolio is it shows growth over time.

Have you considered these tools for portfolios?
Final thoughts

There are many resources available for learning the ELA standards. Technology is included in those standards. We are no longer in a day and age of putting technology off as something we didn't get to. Technology is essential for students to be prepared for college and careers, and it is built into today's learning standards.
  • What ELA tools and resources would you add to this list?
  • What other thoughts or ideas from this post would you like to challenge, add to, or share?