Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My first video for my flipped class

Attached, linked, embeded in this post is my first video for my flippled classroom. It is rather long and I am already thinking I might cut it down but thinking I might like some feedback before I go and re-record.
I will be using this video to serve 2 purposes. One to introduce to concept of watching videos at home as well as how to take notes while watching the video. After a talk about note taking and introducing the cornell notes format students will watch the video as a class to practice watching a video and taking notes. I will be guideing a discussion around what they think is important and how they know it is important as well as the concept of "pausing" the teacher.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments. Click on the link below to view the video as it is a little too big for Blogger to handle.

NXT Piece Basics

Saturday, August 4, 2012

New thoughts on teaching

It has been awhile since I have posted to this blog. I have been busy with changing my class structure, room, starting up an FLL team, and most importantly doing some family time. Although no I am on a new adventure that I would like to share and hopefully get some thoughts on as I travel down this road.  Over the next year I will be working on flipping my classroom for my two robotics classes and possibly my tech 1 class.
I have tried something like this in the past with mixed results. I have created video intros to topics and skills students then work on in class watching a video trainer. What I found was that students just went to the video trainer and I still ended up lecturing or doing whole class instruction. I would really like to get away from traditional stand and deliver as I find that I tend to ramble on and on and loose my students. I also find that I am not able to diffrentiate my instruction very well either. Although I am finding that even with flipping/reverse teaching I find that I am still struggling with meeting the needs of my special ed, Ell, 504, etc. students. I am hoping that as I venture down this road that I can get support from you as well as my colleagues.
Ok I am off to do some reading in the book Flip your classroom: Reach every student every day. I look forward to your comments, feedback, and guidence on this "flipping" journey :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Cheap voting pods

I recently found a website called http://www.textthemob.com/ through a blog/podcast I subscribe to called TechTalk4Teachers. The site was mentioned as Mr. Grissom as the tech pick of the week. The site enables you to set up either multiple choice answers or simple discussion questions that people can respond to via their the text messaging feature of their cell phone. One of the best parts about this site is that as people send in their responses to the site, it automatically updates the graphs and discussion in real time. The other best part about this is that it is all free, only ask for a simple donation if you find the site useful. Although for the price of a small donation to the site the savings to you and your school/district can be huge.

There are some potential drawbacks that are not the big in my opinion but are worth noting. Even though there is no fee for the site standard text messaging rates do apply from the phone company (if you/your students are not on an unlimited texting plan). I don't see this as a huge problem because most kids I surveyed are on an unlimited plan. The other drawback is that it does limit those students who don't have cell phones to using a computer or borrowing a friends. Because they can borrow a friends (one thing they are apt to share) it negates the need for students to access the web to submit their answers. The only other drawback is the limited selection of question types one has to choose from. However I don't see this as a huge drawback as well in that mostly this would be used to get quick feedback to help guide instruction rather than for a formal assessment.

One of the things that is all the rage now are the interactive voting pods that are accompanied with interactive whiteboards and other presentation devices. These devices can cost thousands of dollars and need a ton of setup time and training. Now don't get me wrong these devices are useful and are starting to show some impact on student learning. However with textthemom.com you are able to do the instant voting and discussion portion of this, albeit in a limited fashion, with just a simple internet connection and student cell phones. Now I can hear the cat calls from the balcony already, "Let kids use their cell phones in class? You have to be kidding." No I am not kidding. I know that until recently I was constantly fighting with kids to keep their cell phones out of sight, turned off, etc. But then I start to slowly allow them to use them. First as research devices and simple calculators also as digital cameras in my digital photography class, know I am starting to use them with textthemob.com. What I have found is that as I allowed them to use them in class for academic reasons my problems with them decreased to almost nil. Plus I am hitting one of our state tech standards by teaching students the ethical and appropriate use of technology to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Groovin communication

This is tech Wednesday for 5-6-09. There have been a few of you asking me more about Microsoft Groove lately and how I can see it being used or how I use it. Thank you for sharing your responses in how you have been using it or how your students have been using it, even if it was by accident.

My building started exploring Groove as a way to communicate between classrooms and office staff in lieu of phones. We thought it would be better as you wouldn't have the constant interruption of the phone ringing etc. We worked on it for a couple of months but found that it was more cumbersome than the good old phone. If you were sitting at your computer constantly it worked fine but as any good teacher knows you can't be tied to your computer all the time. What we did find it useful for was collaboration between colleagues on projects. As you are able to share documents, create workspaces, etc. through Groove you are able to have a mini workspace where you can edit, comment, and share, information about documents in real time and at less cost than a program such as MS SharePoint. The pluses with Groove are that if you use the public server you have much less hassle with passwords, etc. All one needs is Groove installed on all machines and then send out invite for those who you want to join your workspace. However using the public server might pose issue for security that one who is more techie than I might comment on.

Another way I am starting to experiment with using Groove is for in-class communication with students. As one of our readers pointed out in one of his comments my students (as did his) found groove by "accident" on their machines. At first I panicked, should I let students know about this, what if they get distracted, ahhhh. But then the teacher/guide took over and saw this as an opportunity to work with students in their realm so I let them go. What I found was that there was and still is some distraction going on with chatting but I have seen students use it to ask me and each other questions about assignments, share assignments with me and others (on group projects). It has been interesting watching them play with this new tool. They have taken the time to make it theirs and find ways to use parts of it that meet their needs and ignore the parts they don't need. Now I know some of you may balk at this in saying why would students in the same classroom need to use a chatting tool to communicate with each other on a project. At first I would agree with you but then again we have to think about who we are teaching. Our students (digital natives) are more comfortable communicating electronically than face to face, so if it keeps them engaged in learning and helps them get the project done then I am all for it. I can say this and not feel like I need to turn in my teaching certificate because the objectives for my class center on showing students how to use technology ethically and to solve problems. Now if I was a communications, social studies, writing, teacher I might think differently. One other cool way students are using groove is to turn in assignments to me. Instead of having to post an assignment to our district portal or print it out they simply Groove it to me. Now I only have 2 or 3 students who are doing this but it is serving as an eye opening trial for me. I am actually considering having students next year use groove in my classes have groove accounts and hand in assignments that way rather than online or in a hand in box. It will enable me to give them faster feedback on their work and will also cut down on the paper I use. I can also see this a facilitating the writing/review process as well in giving students a "high tech" way to do peer editing of their work which I find hard to get them to do unless I force them to do it.

I love to see your comments so if you are using or know of someone who is using groove I encourage you to share your ideas here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Pixlr.com

It's been a while since my last post. We have been in the middle of our state standardized testing over the last month and that coupled with a few other things has zapped my energy. I am back now with another free online picture editing tool called pixlr.com

Pixlr.com is an online picture editing tool similar to Adobe Photoshop, Paint, and many others with one major difference it is free and no account is needed as all images are saved to your computer. Pixlr.come joins the ranks of gimp, Picasa, and others except that you don't need to download it to your computer which can be an added benefit. I especially like this site for those districts out there that are funning on a shoe string budget or no budget at all. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the others that are out there but for the price it comes with most of what one needs to do some pretty darn cool editing. Another potential drawback depending on your point of view is that you are limited to saving to one of three formats (jpg, bmp, png) although these three formats are pretty standard. Another thing I like about pixlr.com is that it will run multiple platforms just as long as you have a flash plug in installed (which you can download from their site).

For the demo I will run though some of the basic features of pixlr.com but I invite you to log on and share your thoughts and idea as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Microsoft Groove 2007

This Week I am showing MS Groove 2007. This is an instant messaging program on steroids. It gives you the ability to not only chat, but also to share voice recordings, send files instantly, as well as create a simple easy document workspace. It is a nice program that can be used to foster collaboration both locally and around the world and is fairly inexpensive. It is a great tool to use in the classroom as well to foster communication/collaboration between students, classes, and schools. This collaboration/communication tool is a great alternative for those that can't afford or don't want all the bells and whistles of a portal like MS SharePoint. If you are looking for a simple way to share files, and chat with others along with a few collaboration tools then groove is your program.

There are a few issues to keep in mind. Unless you set up and maintain a groove server within your district/school then you are forced to use the Microsoft groove server space so confidentially may be an issue. I have used this with both staff and students with mixed results. When using it with staff it worked great with those who would use it and were willing to take on the learning curve and approached it as a collaboration tool. It didn't' work for those who went in to it as a cool little chat tool. With students it is a slightly different story.

The students in my class found the program by accident and set it up by themselves. I am letting this go to see how their learning of the program evolves through their use. Currently I am watching them us it as a way to share files and talk to each other both in and outside of class. I know some are grimacing at students chatting online versus face to face, I did too, but once I took a step back and watched I found it works, especially for those that find it hard to chat face to face. I also see this as how they are used to collaborating as well as how they will need to collaborate in the real world. The one thing I am keeping tabs on the managing is the use of groove for chatting. So far it is working out quite well with the group who is using it as intended. It is allowing a rather strong willed group of boys to work together and get things done without the posturing and arguing that can happen with a group like that. If you are curious as to how it turns out let me know and I will do a follow up blog post on that issue.

I would like to hear some of your ways you can see this program being used in the classroom, please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Spelling City

This week I am showing you a website called spellingcity.com. Spelling city is a new twist on the good old spelling list. This website allows teachers, students, and/or parents to build spelling lists or choose from list of words already created and practice or test on those words. I remember as a kid in elementary school having to get out my spelling book and practicing over and over again word after word in hopes of remembering how to spell them for the test on Friday. This website is the same basic concept but in an online form that helps reach students in a medium they are more comfortable with.

The interface is pretty simple for all parties involved. You can choose to create either a 1, 5, 10 or a batch entry (unlimited). From there you can save your list for retrieval by students with a simple URL that can be posted on a class site, portal page, browser favorites, etc. This allows students to work with your list at their own pace on their own time or as a station in your classroom. From there students can test themselves, play games (simple games like matching, hangman, and word searches). One feature that I think is particularly useful is the teach me option. In this option the word is read out loud, spelled out loud, read out load again and then used in a sentence. This is helpful for your ELL (English Language Learners) who are working on learning sight words as well as other words by placing them in context.

All in all a very simple website that can be powerful for the elementary teacher as well as the secondary teacher in addition to parents. This can be used not only during the school year but also over the summer as well. In secondary content area teachers can use it to help students learn to spell key content area vocabulary. The one drawback is that if the word has a double meaning or is not recognized by the website, you will be asked to provide a new word, or the word will be excluded from the online exercise. For example I tried putting in some high level biology words such as angiospermae & hexadactylia (if they are spelled correctly) and it wasn't able to find a meaning in its references for those words. Unfortunately they don't take recommendations for word addition; instead they draw the words they include from lists built on the site. Not quite sure how that works since words the site does not recognize are not included in the exercise, etc. but I guess they are kept on lists you create and save.