Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Peer Review Sounds Like Magic

A revision of one of my photographs that I edited
in Picasa Creative Kit for my photography students.
I love hearing students think out loud. In fact, I love hearing discussions where students use textual evidence to support their analyses of literature. Today, I was able to enjoy another auditory pleasure: listening to students assess each other's writing according to the literary analysis essay rubric and give advice to their partners for improvement. I asked them to be overly critical with each other's essays so after revisions they will be able to earn the highest score possible when I review the essays.  As I walked around the room offering advice and checking progress, I heard students give advice on organization, word choice, support, citations, and grammar usage and mechanics. Some students noticed, much like when I have someone review my writing, that mistakes they made glare at them, and they tend to catch them before the person reviewing the writing.

Revisions have been made, and I am excited that the peer review discussions have made the students more reflective on their writing processes. My hope is that students will begin laying the rubric beside them as they write so they will give attention to the categories. My eventual hope is that students will no longer need the rubric for writing or review, but will have high expectations for their own writing and automatically work the review and revision steps into the process.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Introduction of Speech Class Reflection Video Blogging

 As I contemplate the use of 21st Century Tools and the Speech class using these tools to communicate, I continue to ask how eager students are to try using tools that others may shy away from. For some, video speeches are just as intense as speaking in front of a crowd. For others, it seems to be a natural form of progression for expressing thoughts. I am intrigued at how naturally some students have transitioned to vlogging from blogging. Some created their first vlog in one take, while others took clips from multiple takes and edited them together to create a cohesive thought.

As you view the video, bear with me as my voice is raspy from some asthma symptoms. On a side note, I think all of my future videos will be created using my iPad instead of my laptop cam - I like the quality on the iPad much better.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You Have an iPad for Your Classroom - Now What?

How can I use my iPad
to improve student learning?

The first consideration is how many iPads you will have - is it one for the classroom, or is it one per student. That will drive the way you use the tool. The second consideration is to keep in mind that the iPad is a tool - make sure the lesson is your focus and the iPad is used as a tool to improve student understanding and learning on that lesson.

The iPad is a great tool for research, collaboration, video production, etc. Following are two sites that will get you started:

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom by Charlie Osborne 

iPads in the Classroom by Kathy Schrock 

While both are great resources, following is a list of the apps that I use for education:

Box - my cloud file storage app of choice - allows sharing and commenting on files and shows the version of the file if changes have been made
Evernote - a great notebook app that can be shared with others
DocsToGo - an office app that is compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint - also syncs with Google Docs,, Dropbox, iDisk, Public iDisk, and SugarSync
QRReader - reads and creates QR codes. (Vicki recommended you check out QR codes as well)
Drop Box - cloud file storage and sharing
Prezi Viewer - view and edit Prezis
lino - post-it note style brainstorming app
CommonCore - the Common Core Standards
SugarSync - cloud file storage and sharing
EasyBib - bibliography citation creator
Save2PDF - create a pdf file from a document or web page
neu.Annotate - a pdf viewer that allows you to mark up and take notes on the pages
Noterize - a notetaking app (text, freehand, highlighter, and post-its)
Total Recall - a brainstorming app (create context maps)
Mikogo - screen sharing app
LiveBinders - excellent app that brings your LiveBinders pages to the iPad. Collect web sites on a topic/lesson in one convenient binder for students to view
Trello - organization and project management app (I use this with my yearbook class, and the Flatclassroom leaders use it to manage the projects)
Blogger - post blogs from the iPad
Rover - the only iPad browser that enables flash
Google Drive - access your Google Docs
Adobe Reader - great pdf viewer that allows for highlighting and freehand notes on the pages
Flipboard - excellent information access. Will house your news, social media, education research, etc feeds all in one book-like app
Kindle - access your Kindle books
Nook - access your Barnes and Noble books
Play Books - Google's ebook reader
Kobo - ebook reader
Mirriam-Webster Dictionary
Currents - similar to Flipboard (more tech oriented)
iTunes U - great lessons that may be used for the classroom or professional development
Stanza - ebook reader
Teacher - socrative app that allows you to use i devices as clickers for formative feedback
Flashcards - flashcard app that can be synced to your web account
TeacherPal - classroom app for attendance, gradebook, planning, etc.
Knowmia Teach - create video lessons for your students
ShowMe - create video whiteboard lessons for your students
iBrainstorm - great brainstorming app
VoiceThread - access your VoiceThread account and create/edit your VoiceThreads
Bamboo Paper - great notebook app
SimpleMind+ - great mind mapping app
iMovie - video editing and production

Social Networking:
Skype - video chat
LinkedIn - professional networking
Bump - transfer files from one i device to another
FaceTime - video chat with another i device
Twitter - stay in touch with educators around the globe using hash tags (#edchat, #edtech, #flatclass)
Diigo - social bookmarking - share bookmarks of sites and highlight and post notes on websites
Pin++ - Pinterest app
TED - access TED videos (organized by category)

While that is an extensive list of great apps, I have many more but only included the ones that sounded like they might be of use to you. Most of the apps are free - I think DocsToGo and iMovie are the only paid apps above. iPads are great tools when used as tools. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Goals for Improving Technology Professional Development

As I reflect on the goals that I have established for improving technology at Pleasant Plains School District, I have found that there are five goals that require continuous attention. The full size view of each chart may be seen by clicking on the respective chart.

Teacher professional development training in the teacher leadership models 

Encourage teachers to take ownership in their own professional development and to share ideas with their colleagues  

Teacher professional development training in the tools available in the Edline hosted district website 

Student and parent technology training, including training on the Edline hosted district website as well as any communication tools that the district utilizes.

Ongoing technology integration professional development for teachers. This model would be used for any technology tool that teachers would like to integrate into their lessons to improve student learning and understanding.
As noted, each goal is based on a cycle of training, evaluation, reflection, and needs. Both student/parent training and teacher professional development tend to occur based on immediate need. There is often little or no evaluation, reflection, or needs assessment completed to determine further needs. Education tends to be flooded with reforms that require administrators to hold professional development workshops on changes in legislation or in standards. Therefore, it is important to follow the process which includes a preliminary needs assessment; multiple learning venues for the learners; a method of evaluating not only what was learned, but also the effectiveness of the training; reflection on the training by both the trainer and the participant to make necessary adjustments to be successful; and a needs assessment that will drive the content of the next training sessions. If any of the steps are missing, training will continue to follow the course it currently has been following, a system based on immediate needs and not on long term improvement.

The area that I need to focus on the most is the importance of the cycle for each of the training goals. I, like most educators, tend to get caught up in the training - the immediate needs. I do typically make it through an abbreviated evaluation process and a personal reflection phase of any training that I have led, but tend to bypass the evaluation process of the entire training and fall short of a needs assessment that will lead to a reboot of the cycle. As I move forward with the training goals for the district, I need to ensure that the administrators are on board with the cycle as well as the teacher leaders leading the training.