Saturday, July 4, 2015

ISTE Idea - #6

This idea came from a Poster Session led by folks at Shutterfly. They have a Photo Story in the Classroom app for iPad and had several student sample book projects on hand to look through. 

I liked this much better then the Book Creator app we currently use. I've found the Book Creator app very difficult when it comes to sharing. You can upload it to Google Drive but it becomes a PDF with no fun book features (like flipping pages) and in order to share or purchase a book using Book Creator you have to download a secondary app (iBooks).

The Shutterfly app is much easier to use. Students can insert pictures, text, audio and easily share with an email address. If a parent or teacher wants to print out a project it is easy to order one through their program as low as $10 (the books pictured above were the 8x8 softcover books) or they can simply share for free with email.

The students will need an email address to signup but it can be a made up one because there is no email verification (I asked). We are a Google for Education school district so our students do have an email account. There are several how to use the app webinars on YouTube so you can check it out before you decide to download the app and use it in the classroom.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

ISTE Idea - #7

This was by far the coolest "tech tool" on the Expo Hall. The tool is called The Padcaster and it turns your iPad into a video recording studio. My friend Beth (in the first picture) and I were fascinated by it because we both are interested in starting up/improving student morning shows and find ways that students can record "out in the field" with their iPads more professionally. Basically you get the frame and the hardware to mount accessories - like an external mike, lights, etc. There are lots of video on YouTube that review the Padcaster (although they really need one demonstrating its use in a school). The cost was doable - $399 with the understanding that you have to buy the auxiliary equipment (i.e. the tripod).

Beth got her principal to purchase two of them and they bought The Newscaster Bundle. They got a discount so I believe the total for the two was in the $800 range. They are going to need to get two tripods to get started.

The folks that were there conducting interviews were a separate company called BeTerrific and they were demonstrating the production end of opposed to the hardware end of things. Since we were interested in the production end of things we had a ton of questions for them which they gamely answered.

In a later session I attended the folks in that session used The Padcaster to demonstrate the use of their app - so I got to see it on the expo hall and in an independent session not tied to The Padcaster (see second picture).  

I am excited that we have one school willing to try it out. If successful I should be able to convince other school's to invest.

ISTE Idea - #8

Kahoot! was the most popular and used tool this year for classroom assessment. Students and teachers loved it. When I was at ISTE one of the sessions (Gifted Resources - @MrsMHenning) featured a similar product called Quizizz.

I liked that it didn't emphasize answering questions quickly like Kahoot but also gave you a FULL leader board - not just the top few students. It also allowed for a self-paced option for those children who need more time to look at their answer choices.

In an effort to "sell" it to my tech team I looked up the differences between Kahoot and Quizizz and came across this great blog post on the topic. Since we also have Pear Deck in our district it was a nice comparison.

I think teachers will still like to use to Kahoot! but it is nice that we have other options to share.

ISTE Idea - #9

Last year I did my first Mystery Skype in the Classroom. I did a Mystery Number Skype with two first grade classrooms in my district (second picture). I first saw the idea on THIS BLOG and managed to talk two first grade teacher into trying it in their classrooms as part of their tech requirements for the district (our district requires 30 hours of tech training over a five year recertification cycle and documented proof of tech integration in the classroom). Since it was a first for everyone involved - both first grade teachers and myself - we thought this was the perfect starter project.

Everyone involved loved it...the teachers, the students, and us (the two tech coaches involved). The success of the experience made me want to try other Mystery Skyping sessions in the coming year so I was excited to attended a session on the topic at ISTE. 

The session was led by Katrina Keene (@teachintechgal and The presentation was outstanding (Here is a LINK to the presentation for anyone interested)! 

The first thing that impressed me was this video of kindergarten students doing a Mystery Skype session...all of the sessions were geographically in, "Guess where we are skyping you from?" The level of mapping skills the students used in this four minute video were impressive and had me HOOKED! (the video is also embedded into her presentation).

During the session itself we did two Mystery Skyping sessions. We did it with a group of 9th graders somewhere in the states on an summer exchange program (Florida) and we did it with a person who ended up being in Sweden. 

With the 9th graders questions were asked like, "Are you north or south of the Mason Dixon Line?" (they had to look that up). "Are you part of the original 13 colonies?", etc...We all had our maps up on our phones and other mobile devices trying to figure out where the other group was located based on all the questions. It was a lot of fun and was helpful going through an actual session.

This is definitely something I will be sharing with teachers this year and helping to set up.

ISTE Idea - #10

I used to use BrainPop a lot when I was in the classroom. Mainly I used it whole group as part of a lesson. I would show a video and then students would answer the questions on an erasable white board (and then later with our ActivExpressions). We had a classroom subscription at our grade level (we had three 4th grade teachers at the time). In our district BrainPop is not a district "given". If a school wants to purchase BrainPop they have to do it on their own. In my case we (our grade level) was given a certain amount of money to spend and this was one of the ways we chose to spend it (classroom subscription is $220).

At this time we were not 1:1 with our devices so a classroom subscription was sufficient.

The BrainPop workshop I attended was definitely eye opening because it is no longer the "old" BrainPop I was used to using. There is a lot more student interactivity, high order questioning, and tools built into the program that allow students to engage and use the material.

My favorite was their new Concept Mapping Tool. I was sitting next to a teacher and we talked about how in the past for web/map making we used "Kidspiration" and/or Word's "SmartArt" feature. This new feature took concept mapping skills to the next level in both content and design. It is hard to explain so to see it in action there is a video on their SITE.

We got to play around in the tool (see my first picture). I did mine on plants. I pulled up the BrainPop plants video...which then gave me a corresponding vocabulary and picture database (see the left of the screen on the first picture). I could drag and drop vocabulary (or add my own), include pictures, create linking arrows. The drag and drop vocabulary would automatically link to the portion of the video that explained the vocabulary term. You could watch the video - pause at a certain point - and then take a snapshot of that part of the video to include in your web. Once your web was done you can turn it into your teacher or save it to work on another day. It was quite impressive.

Here were some of my notes during the session -

- Does it work on iPads? We are 1:1 ipads in grades 3-5...I used my Dell Tablet in the session...which is what we have 1:1 in grades 6-12. I was told it is not supported on mobile devices at the moment. This wasn't too troublesome as most of our schools have computer labs that can be booked out. It could be used in the middle schools but not being supported on mobile devices it would make it a tough selling point at the elementary level. We currently use the Popplet App for mapping/web purposes but not to the level available through the BrainPop Mapping Tool.

- You would have to have a "school" subscription vs. a "classroom" subscription to use the tool. The school subscription would allow students to have their own accounts and turn in work (which is nice since we are going to a model where students can take their devices home). That is a huge cost jump though (from $220 to $1,695). Not sure how many school's would pay for that (and the tool is only for regular BrainPop not BrainPop, Jr. - although they had focus groups looking at mapping for younger children).

- Would our middle school's (who have Dell tablets...which aren't considered mobile devices) think it was too "baby'ish"? I didn't think the students would but the teachers that might be a tough sell at that level.

- You can't use any outside resources (i.e. pictures or links to other websites). You must use only BrainPop resources (which are pretty it wouldn't be that limiting).

All-in-all it was a pretty neat tool that I am keeping an eye on. If you already have a school subscription to BrainPop you definitely want to check it out. At a minimum BrainPop does provide their Concept Mapping video free so if you are teaching your students how to concept map you might want to book it for an introduction (I've done mind mapping with students in notebooks before and wrote about it HERE so I would definitely show the video before attempting again with students).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ISTE - Tech Conference - The Rule of 10

I am very fortunate that I got to to attend the ISTE conference in Philadelphia this summer (International Society of Technology Educators). Whenever I go to a conference, depending on the size and length, I try to find at least ten usable ideas that I can bring back. A lot of times I "forget" the ideas once school/life gets going. In an attempt to remember I am going to write a series of posts 1 through this is my warning post :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Presentation - Success!

A big "Thank You" to all the wonderful middle/high math and science teachers in yesterday's workshop. I was pretty nervous..I've never presented to math teachers or high school teachers. Everybody was so great - even though I forgot things I needed in my car and forgot to ask if anyone had questions at the end!

I loved the enthusiasm for notebooking and was happy to hear several people were already using them in the classroom. (Shout out to Helen for her packaging tape idea over one of my notebook covers that is tearing after so many workshop showings).

I particularly loved that they all got together for a group photo at the end :) - I am such a huge picture taker. 

Thank you again!....and I expect to see my blogger counter go up ;)