Friday, October 16, 2015

Formative: Collecting info in a different way

For many of us in education, we are often in search of new and fun ways to assess kids to see if the material we covered that day stuck.  There are several web 2.0 tools out there to do this, poll everywhere, todaysmeet, kahoot, but, I found another site that also can be used to collect data and information but, it is done a little bit differently than the other sites, as it allows interaction and doodling.  It's called Formative.

Formative is set up a little like Kahoot, where the teacher creates a panel of questions (or even just one question) and sends the kids a link to a question, survey, short answer response, etc.  It saves all of the questions within the site so you can reuse them year after year.  The site also establishes a data summary so you can check and see understanding.

One of the components I appreciated was the capability of making classes within the site.  I feel that is an awesome aspect of the site.  It can help aggregate data even better by comparing classes to each other, gauging needs of different levels.  I can help a teacher do differentiation.

I decided to try the site out with my yearbook staff.   I added a photo of a student at the fair and ask the students to caption the photo.  They received 5 points for doing so.  I think I am going to start doing this for a daily starter.  There are hundreds of yearbook photos out there.  If they caption them together, we can get several done with good captions!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Interactive Lessons with Aurasma

A few years back, I attended a conference where one of the speakers shared a program on her iPad called Aurasma.   It takes a specific trigger image and makes it interactive.  I was intrigued but didn't think much about it again.

Not long ago, my yearbook representative stopped in and showed me something a school district in Indiana is doing with Aurasma and it blew me away!   The kids are shooting photos for the pages, but also short video clips as well.  They used images on the pages to trigger the video clips.  (For example, at the championship Volleyball match, they did a few short video clips of a serve, a spike, etc... and had one of the images tagged to trigger the video clip.) It is AWESOME.

That got me thinking, what can classroom teachers do with this program to make their lessons interactive?   Even teachers of secondary students could use this app to make class different and exciting.

Picture a social studies class.  Place clips of images around the classroom and find a short video clip or audio piece that links to it.  (I have discovered about 30 seconds max for the clips) Have kids download the aurasma app and take a tour of the room.  The same could be done in an Art class, a math class, or even in English.

The whole concept is a great way to incorporate technology but also make class different for the kids.

To use it, one has to have a login and an account create and the app has to be downloaded to the device (tablet, smartphone) so it works.  You can create the actual triggers (or aura) on the computer and merely use the device to make it work.  It really doesn't take that long to make things happen either.

My yearbook staff decided quick to make the book interactive and have video clips of things that happen.  I can't wait to see how it comes out.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Using Newsela to Differentiate a Classroom

One of the expectations of every classroom teacher is to differentiate the classroom and create lessons that fit to the needs of each student.   Many teachers who incorporate reading into the classroom are probably finding difficulty managing this concept and struggle to get good, quality articles.   I have come across a way:  Newsela 

Newsela is a collection of nonfiction articles that cover an array of topics.  It is free to use, just create an account.  The exciting part about this website is the ease of differentiation.   Every article has options to choose the lexile level of the text.   What does this mean?  You can print the same article but have different versions so the lower reader can read the same information with simpler text.

The site allows you to establish classes so you can store content relevant stories for later use.  These are saved in binders.  What is awesome about this, it also creates reading comprehension questions for each article as well.

I created a student account and a teacher account so I could see how it worked. It was very easy to establish a class and find articles.  There is even a progress check which identifies student needs.

This is definitely a site to look at and play around with.  Every content area can benefit from the articles and it helps pull that nonfiction need into the classroom. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Symbaloo organized my library

Being organized via weblinks helps me share what I know with my staff and students.  Symbaloo is so easy to use and user friendly that anyone can figure it out. The outcome can organize a lot of great links for your students and for you.

I decided after I saw a school library media specialist library use her Symbaloo to organize her library, I had to do it as well.   I made a color coded Symbaloo for the different components of information kids can access through the library website.   I learned that I can actually embed the Symbaloo directly on the Follett Destiny site so kids can see it immediately when they go to the card catalog.

I selected links that are specific to my kids.  Book report info, PBL type materials, Research sites (paid and free), citation sites, even some places for homework help.   It was a simple process and it was fast to complete.  When I did in class lessons, I shared the Symbaloo with the students and showed them how simple it was to use this method to access their needed information.  I even have some additional space later to make more tiles if I come across some.  

Symbaloo is a MUST HAVE for any educator.  It is a simple way to sort and organize.  For my purposes, it offered a large amount of information in a more organized way.  It has made life for my students easier for sure.