June 29th – Google Classroom Quizzes

Back on February 13th I briefly spoke about Google Classroom which is another LMS system for your classroom. I’ll end of doing “A Week With” series closer to the start of school (mainly waiting for any updates that might happen over the summer), but one helpful feature I wanted to showcase now was recently introduced… Quizzes!

June 29th – Google Classroom Quizzes

Google Classroom has been very responsive to the suggestions people have been making.  As I stated in my previous post on Classroom, it is a relatively new product that requires a lot of feedback from the end users to tweek and perfect.

As the new features roll out without installations (the great thing about the Internet) one item that popped up was the ability to make Quizzes on the Google Classroom “Stream”.

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Like Google Forms you can select a “Short Answer” or “Multiple Choice” for the responses and it collects it in a nice spreadsheet or graphically representation for the teacher to see.  I wanted to mention this feature so before people run off for summer vacation OR you are thinking about your classroom, you know this is an available option.

 

June 28th – Edomodo

Edomodo is another LMS (Learning Management System) but is free for teachers to sign up and invite their students to the platform in classes.

June 28th – Edomodo

Edomodo takes on a Facebook-like look to engage students.  You setup a classroom, invite students and post work or start conversations.  This is very similar to Google Classroom, just a different look and students don’t need to have a Google domain account to join the class.

Disclaimer: I often refer back to Google Classroom – but I’m not saying its the best.  It’s the most convenient.  With the past two schools I’ve worked in being GAFE focused and Google Apps for Education – everything just works together to Google products.  I constantly push other products to make sure people have a range of what works for them, not a certain product.  Remember: the key to anything in education is understanding the concept of what your trying to accomplish – then you can find your own path that works for you to get to the goal.

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Pros: 

The look is clean, and the Facebook-ness is easy for students to understand where to look for everything.  The Apps available are pretty robust and the “Planner” app is a smart design.

Cons:

It’s another login to remember.  The ease of the autofill of a personal device takes away that, but then it limits the range of what people can do where ever they are. I feel like passwords have become the new bane of the connected teachers existence.  Like anything else in the classroom, either students are going to be prepared and remember their passwords, or just going to struggle with organization in general.  The one login (ie Google Classroom for Drive, Docs, Classroom, Email) helps in keeping students engaged, rather than sending password recovery emails to themselves constantly.

 

June 27th – Schoology

As we’ve finished looking at a few of the free blog options – let shift our focus to educational focused ways to connect with your classroom.  First we’ll start with Schoology.

June 27th – Schoology

Schoology is a pay for service which your school would need to sign up for.  With that being said, it’s one of the better, if not best, LMS (Learning Management Systems) available.  The look is clean and it’s made for teachers by teachers so the mindset is very connected to what a student needs.

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Schoology Home Page taken June 24th

I’ve used this product at past schools, we don’t have an account to check the most updated features, but it’s certainly worth checking out the demo and having a conversation with your Technology Department/Director of Technology to see if it’s a good fit for you.

Schoology has a YouTube Channel with plenty of demo videos and helping guides.  As well as the inspiring video below.

 

 

May 29th – Force “Make a Copy”

In the previous two post, I’ve talked about an assessment I gave to the students and they had to “Make a Copy” to share with me as they turned it in.  This usually leads to headaches as students can’t find the “Make a Copy” button or someone (if you’ve given editing rights) modifies the original copy.  Well you can only give people the ability to copy the document with a little trick – this will save a ton of time.

May 29th – Forced Copy

On any Google Doc (Slides, Draw, Sheets, etc…) you have a bunch of different “Sharing” options.  You can share with individuals, share with anyone in the organization, share with anyone with the link, make it completely public and share with anyone with the link (outside of the organization).  Typically we share by individual names/email addresses or with anyone in the organization.  But a little trick of changing the URL – just barely – will preserve the original and others can make a copy.

The steps:
1.) Create you document (I’d suggest putting directions on the original document)
2.) Share > Anyone with the Link (might have to select the dropdown, needs to be anyone outside of your organization)
3.) Copy the URL Google Drive gives you
4.) Change the last word “edit” to “copy”
5.) Reload the page and you’ll get the “Make a Copy” screen

Google Make a Copy

Like handing out assignments, students will just need to share with you and you have the original intact!

May 11th – A Week With iBooks Author

Typically I don’t like to introduce products that are OS specific, but I just finished a large project in iBooks Author so I felt I should write about it, for a week.

May 11th – A Week With iBooks Author

iBooks Author is free download for the Mac from the App Store and gives you the ability to create iBooks (also PDF’s without any interaction) for the iBooks App on your Mac or iPhone/iPad.  It functions much like other book creation programs but has some pretty powerful options with the “widgets” you can add in makes iBook Author pretty powerful.

Getting Started:
Seeing as how iBooks Author is a download (free) but doesn’t come with the Mac OS, I’m going to assume most people haven’t seen much of it.  First download from the App Store and open the program.  Much like Apple’s iWork Suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) iBooks Author starts with templates and you can pick from pre-styled iBooks.

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On the main landing page you’ll see the formatting options along the top of the screen, along with Widgets and the Inspector/Media/Colors/Fonts options that pop-out separate windows with other options (like other Apple iWork products).

Along the left hand side you’ll see Intro Media, Table of Contents, and Glossary.  With this being a digital/interactive book, you can have a video play as the intro media.  The Glossary option is pretty amazing because you create glossary words as objects, that you can just drag and drop into “similar words”, and because the book is digital – the index feature instantly finds all the words through out the book without listing page numbers.

From this point you might want to check out some free books on the iBooks App.  I’d suggest searching “One Best Thing” which will give you a collection of Apple Distinguished Educator iBooks that tend to show off what the program can do.

May 4th – Study Habits

Study habits are always something that people struggle with.  Being a high school teacher I hear all sorts of crazy things students do to study (but at least they are right?).  I look at it with a lens that we’ll need to be able to focus with all these distractions all around.  One way is the Tomato Timer method or “Pomodoro Technique.”

May 4th – Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is also named because of the tomato kitchen timer that can be used as the timer.  Basically the technique has periods of intense focus and then a break to keep your brain fresh.  The original technique had 25 minutes set to work on something, then a 3-5 minute break.  After 4 “pomodoros” (25 minute focus sessions) then you had a longer 10-15 minute break.  This keeps the brain active and admits that we have too many things going on, and adjust accordingly.

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PomodoroTechnique.com Taken May 24th

Ironically there are a bunch of apps for your SmartPhone, the typical cause of distraction, available which you can set for a certain amount of time and informs you of the breaks.  If you have trouble focusing – try it for a few “pomodoro’s” and see if you are hooked.

May 3rd – Tiny Scanner

In continuing with the paperless classroom theme I started yesterday, just wanted to put another tool out there. The functionality of Tiny Scanner and Genius Scan are very similar, just a different interface.  I would download both and try them out!

May 3rd – Tiny Scanner

Yesterday I spoke of the pains of printer, paper and toner – today I’m going to try to take a more positive tone!  Tiny Scanner (sometimes Tiny Scan – but both by Appxy) and Genius Scan both have free and paid versions with different functionalities and different ways you can share the PDF you’ve created.

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Tiny Scanner (and Genius Scan) can help to produce equity within the classroom by giving everyone equal access to the text at hand.  Now to be truly equity, you need to address individual needs, but giving everyone access to the text is a good start.