Thursday, December 8, 2011

Classroom Data Use - Blog Post Keeps It Simple

Using data to inform classroom practice is a priority for most schools and I am always looking for information to share with teachers that supports moving beyond the "snapshot" provided by high stakes assessments.  In this blog post, Rebecca Alber shares three simple ways teachers can collect and use data.  I hope this is a review or reminder for many of you reading this blog.  If not, Ms. Alber keeps it simple so I am excited about sharing her post.

"Data" is all around us in our classrooms.  I hope you enjoy these easy to implement techniques to expand your formative use of student data in your classroom.  Enjoy this post.

Here is another tip when reading blogs.  Always check the comments!  This post has some very insightful comments

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learning About Using Web Tools for Alternative Assessments

Over the past year, I have blogged about a number of Web 2.0 tools that teachers can use to to increase student engagement and support learning. I've shared tools with teachers and helped them integrate Web 2.0 tools into classroom lessons.  As teachers become comfortable with using the tools, the next step in the learning continuum is to use Web 2.0 tools for assessment for and of learning.  I encourage teachers to try an alternative means of assessing student learning and I know teachers like examples so I am sharing a blog post and a slideshow on alternative assessments.

In his blog Teaching Science and Math, David Wertzel wrote 5 Alternative Assessment Techniques in Science and Math  He keeps it simple and provides excellent suggestions for assessing with and without technology.  If you are a math or science teachers, consider following Wertzel's blog.  

Here is another example, a Slideshare presentation, Using the Web 2.0 for Alternative Assessment in ELT by Cecilia Lemos.

Using the web 20 for alternative assessment
View more presentations from cecilialcoelho

I believe technology can help teachers provide quality formative and summative assessments and it does not need to be burdensome.  Check out these ideas and try something new this month.  Keep it simple by beginning with a Web 2.0 tool you and your students are comfortable using.  Think about how you can "reframe" a traditional assessment using an online tool.

As always, if you have ideas for using technology for alternative assessments, please share your idea in a comment.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Google Docs Users - Self-Grading Flubaroo Rocks!

In my technology consulting, I've worked with a number of schools that are using Google Apps with students. I've written a number of posts about various features of Google and Google Apps but I haven't written anything about using Google Form in the Docs menu.  Google Docs Form allows teachers to create online surveys, quizzes or tests.

Here is an example of a quiz that I created using Google Docs Form.  You can take this 3 question quiz to get an idea of how you easy it is to with your students.  But, teachers who like using the "Form" often complain that grading the online quizzes is as time consuming as grading a paper/pencil quiz.  There are a number of ways to use Microsoft Excel formulas to grade your Google Form. However, it is somewhat complicated to do this if you aren't comfortable with Excel.  Last April, creating self grading quizzes/tests became much easier thanks to a Google employee, Dave Abouav.  Dave created an Apps Script for Google that calculates grades and he called it Flubaroo and it is FREE.

The teachers I have shared it with absolutely love using Flubaroo.  I think the easiest way to learn how to use Flubaroo is by watching the tutorial video.

There are a few steps to get to grading your quiz/test but once you learn the steps,  grading your quizzes and tests will be a breeze.  From the welcome site, you can read what other teachers are saying about Flubaroo and read the directions for using it on the "overview."

As you can see from this screen shot, the website keeps it simple for you.  I encourage teachers who use multiple choice quizzes and tests to check out Flubaroo and give it a try.  I hope you like this tool as much as I do. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Visual Searching with Spezify

 If you are looking for a new way to have your students search for information, check out Spezify.  This search tool keeps is simple and the results are presented in a non linear way with boxes that you can click on for more information. Spezify does not differentiate between types of media so your search will include images, blogs, webpages, tweets, video, etc.
You can modify your search preferences on the "tools" page and they include a safe search option.

This is a portion of results for "columbus day."  As you can see, there are a number of relevant choices for me to check out and others that are not relevant.  The visual presentation makes it easy to decide how you want to extend your learning.  This is a lesson that I believe all students need to learn. 

Another way to use this tool is to search for your name in Spezify to see your digital footprint.  I believe everyone should know what is out there about you.  This is another important skill for students and teachers and Spezify is a good visual search tool to help you do your search.

To help you use this keeping it simple tool, here is brief tutorial on Spezify.
I hope you enjoy learning a new search tool and as always, leave a comment if you use this tool with your students.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Learning Kerpoof with Videos

Last November, I blogged about the free multimedia tool Kerpoof. Click here to read my November 11, 2010 post.
 Over the past year, I have shared this resource with a number of teachers and worked with them to find ways to use Kerpoof with their students.  Kerpoof was developed by Disney and is appropriate for all grades.  Kerpoof still keeps it simple and recently, I discovered some some tutorial videos to explain how to use Kerpoof.  Not only do they explain the features of Kerpoof, they also present ways to use it to support instruction.
This 10-minute video is by Tori White. Tori is a teacher and her video provides simple to use examples at the elementary level.

Here is another tutorial from The Covili Channel.

As a consultant, I am frequently asked for follow-up support and videos are an easy way to provide that support.  You can check out YouTube and other video sites for videos of  Kerpoof and other sites you use with your students.  I hope you find these videos are worth a few minutes of your time.  Enjoy!

John Locker for Documentary Videos

If you are looking for a video clip to support a lesson, check out this free multimedia resource, John Locker.  This site keeps it simple and offers documentary videos on a number of topics.  You can search the video library by topic, highest rated, most viewed, featured, and recently published.  The site has content from a number of video sources.  I know some schools/districts block some video sites, so always check your video in advance to ensure that you will be able to view it.
Note - There are ads at the beginning of the videos, but you can simply close the ad and continue to the videos.
In addition, when you create a log in to John Locker, you can upload your own documentary videos.  This option supports my believe in the benefits of digital storytelling.

I hope you will find John Locker a good tool to expand and extend learning in your classroom. As always, leave a comment if you like this resource. Enjoy!
It is very easy to embed the video into your classroom website or blog.  The video page features a description of the video, the video url and the embed code.  This example is Brazil and it's Music.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogging for All - Give It a Try!

As you begin the school year, I'm sharing an article on blogging that keeps it simple. Blogging is a great way to share information, encourage reading, writing and publishing, and support students to expand their digital footprint in a safe manner.  Check out Educational Blogging Platforms for Students by Johathan Wylie. 
This article shares some free blogging tools, some of which I use. I have written posts about some of the tools that Mr. Wylie discusses.  I've worked with teachers who preferred one blog site over another for various reasons.  You can click through five "kid friendly," safe options for developing a classroom blog.  They all have slightly different features but you can't go wrong choosing from Wylie's list.

Class blogs and teacher blogs are becoming increasingly popular.  This wiki Support Blogging provides an alphabetical list of links to hundreds of school related blogs.  In addition, you will find wonderful information about blogging and resources to use.

I hope readers will enjoy these resources and you will learn about simple blog tools to consider using.  Your blog doesn't have to be complicated or fancy.  Just get a conversation going with your students and see what happens. 


Monday, September 5, 2011

Intel Visual Ranking Tool

In my last post, I wrote about the Intel Engage website and the professional development that Intel offers for teachers.  In addition, Intel Engage has a number of free tools and resources for teachers. 
One of my favorite free tools that is available on the Intel Engage website is their Visual Ranking tool.  Intel provides examples for you to view, practice and use.  This tool can be used by a teacher with an LCD projector, with an interactive whiteboard, or on individual/group computers.  Teachers frequently make lists in lessons but, the use of a ranking tool taking a list and organizing ideas, prioritizing, debating similarities and differences,  and evaluating importance of list items, dates, events, etc.

The Visual Ranking interactive tool can be used by individuals or ranked by groups of students.  After students rank the choices, they can compare their list to those from other groups or individuals.  Additionally, the tool provides correlation data so math is included in the use of the visual ranking tool.  Here is a short video of Intel's Visual Ranking tool that keeps it simple.

Using this tool promotes higher level thinking and supports necessary discussion, debate, analysis, and comparisons that engage students in meaningful learning.  There is so many ways that teachers can use this tool.  I hope you will register on the Intel Engage website and check out this tool and see what it does, watch the video, and try the tool with your students.