Monday, March 31, 2014

Tech Skills Needed for Successful Online Testing

With state testing going online, many teachers worry that their students will not do well due to a lack of tech skills rather than content knowledge. In our district, my department has been tasked with helping teachers determine what tech skills their students will need. We are also working hard to find tools that will help students practice these skills without requiring students to take online practice tests over and over.

In Colorado, our students will be taking the CMAS and PARCC, both powered by PearsonAccess. We searched high and low for resources that may have already been created to help us with this task, but found few. So in an effort to help others, I am sharing our findings with you!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flipping Fantastic!

It's funny how information sometimes aligns. I read an article today in an issue of eSchool News that a colleague had sent to me titled, "Don't Make These Mistakes with Flipped Learning" by Meris Stansbury, and one part stuck with me: "teachers need to have an accountability system in place for flipped learning instead of just relying on students to watch the video with no checks-and-balances." The author gave a couple of examples, such as, "have them eMail answers to two-to-three questions after viewing the video materials and describe two questions that they have about the video or what they didn’t understand. Students should have this completed by a certain time of night."

Such a simple and seemingly obvious idea, but many teachers skip this step. Then, the stars aligned and my boss sent me a link to a great FREE tool she came across today: eduCanon. eduCanon lets you embed multiple choice questions into the timeline of a video and collect response data! You can even provide answer feedback to students right then and there. How's that for flipping fantastic? Other options include inserting free-response questions (available with the paid version), web content, images, equation editors, audio and more. Best of all, you can prevent students from skipping past parts they haven't viewed yet!

What a powerful tool for flipping instruction, or for use in a blended learning environment! If you try it out with your students, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

EDIT: Someone responded in the comments that they liked EDpuzzle better than eduCanon. I hadn't heard of it before, so I checked it out. I have to say EDpuzzle is pretty awesome too! I like that you can import videos from several sources, and their customer support is awesome. I couldn't figure out how to edit questions after they'd been created, and they responded within a few hours AND immediately implemented a functional change that I suggested, making it much easier to edit existing questions!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Free iOS Apps for a Limited Time

In case you're interested, here's a few potentially interesting iOS apps that are currently FREE! (Descriptions are copied from descriptions in the app store.)  I have not vetted these, but they look promising.... Let us know if they are any good in the comments!

littleBIG History (Usually $4.99) - "A revolutionary interactive timeline that lets you explore world history on an unprecedented scale - from the first miliseconds after big bang to the present and beyond. It places humanity in the large context of cosmos, earth and evolution of life."

Wonderful Days - Diary with Style (Usually $2.99) - "An ideal app for diary, journal, and note-taking. It is polished with a lot of customization options, including themes, photo frames, fonts, and icons. You can effortlessly keep track of your wonderful moments everyday, and enjoy them in exciting ways."

Prompts - For Writers (Usually $2.99) - "Get more than 1,000 starting lines and creative writing prompts to inspire you and give you ideas and improve your writing."

Functns (Usually $1.99) - "For practicing and learning multiplication tables. Linear progressions of the Times Table provide pattern recognition while a Random, or Shuffled Table progression develops memory retention. Students earn achievements to represent completion of specific skill sets related to both styles of times table progression."
King of Math (Usually $1.99) - "A fast-paced mathematics game with lots of fun and diverse problems in different areas. Starting as a male or female farmer, you level up your character by answering math questions and improving your total score. New character design and music for each of the ten levels. Collect stars, get achievements and compare your scores against your friends and players all over the world!"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blended Learning vs. Tech Integration

Like many others, my department has been drawn to blended learning and the personalized learning it allows. Both this year and last year, we worked with a small group of teachers in our district to help them implement blended learning pedagogy in the classroom.

We've had much success, but make no mistake, transforming teaching to provide students with a blended learning experience is no small task. One of our favorite articles on the topic, The Basics of Blended Instruction, by Catlin R, Tucker, provides some great tips for teachers looking to pursue blended learning.

One thing we observed in working with teachers is that it's extremely difficult to wrap your head around the difference between tech integration and blended learning. Truth be told, we were probably a bit fuzzy on it ourselves for quite some time!

In order to help explain the difference, we created a graphic based on Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura's SAMR Model.

Because we receive numerous requests from principals asking us to help teachers understand the difference between tech integration and blended learning, we also created the presentation below:

If you find the graphic or presentation useful, you are welcome to use it, just be sure to keep the Adams 12 logo in place, and leave a comment to share how you help clarify the difference for people!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

iOS 7 Tips & Tricks

If you've updated to the new iOS 7 on your iDevice, you know that it looks and feels quite a bit different! If you're having trouble navigating the new iOS or if you're looking for general tips and tricks, check out the presentation I've updated for our district's iPad/iPod Basics course!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Free Apps All Month!!

It's hard to believe that March is already here! Did you know it's National Reading Month? To celebrate, Auryn, Inc. is giving away a free interactive reading iPad/iPhone app each day of March! Today's interactive book is by Dean Koontz. It not only reads to you "karaoke style", highlighting each word as it goes along, but also lets you record your own narration, write your own text, color in the pictures, and much more!

Take advantage of this amazing promotion and download each free book daily! Be sure to get the full version, not the Lite one.

This will be great for your primary classroom or your own children! I am downloading them myself even though my little munchkin is still 8 weeks away from being born. :)

Check out the free book schedule below and don't miss out!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Get Organized!

For as long as I can remember, I've kept track of things I need to do with paper lists or sticky notes. Although this suited me fine for many years, when I started working as a Tech Trainer and now an Instructional Tech Coordinator, I found my system to be inadequate, to put it kindly.

Now I am constantly on the go; I'm no longer tethered to a single roo. I'm running from school to school to work with teachers, principals, and other administrators on a variety of projects. Not only did my to-do list/stickies not travel with me, the little scraps of paper that I jotted notes onto while away from my desk often got lost, or went through the wash in my back pocket. Not ideal. (Not to mention it's embarrasing for someone who is supposed to be a tech leader to keep track of tasks that way!!)

I then discovered the Tasks feature in Google.