Saturday, January 24, 2015

Okay, that was scary but easy.

So, I just dipped my foot into the the world of screencasting.

For my master's program, I had to create a lesson for my students where they had to apply something they learned and create something using an online tool.

I find it is sometimes hard to come up with "real-world application" style projects in English Language Arts.  If I had my students going around and correcting people's grammar, they would probably land in hot water.  So, what I did come up with (and will do if I have time at the end of the year) was a project where the students become the teacher.  They pick a topic or skill we learned during the year, do a little extra research on it, create a lesson that includes an online component, and teach it to their classmates.

One of the required components of my assignment was to create a "student" example using an online tool I'd never used before.  I decided to make a video using Screencast-o-matic on Jane Schaffer's Chunk Paragraphs.  This way, I can actually use the video in class if I need to.

Because I use Chrome for my browser, there was an issue with using the Screencast-o-matic webpage recorder, but there was an option to download a free application to my Mac, which is what I did.  It. Was. So. Easy. 

I could capture any part of my screen, and pause the recording and restart the recording and not have to start all over again from the beginning.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What I'm Working With

I've already blogged about my LMSs and what kind of Chromebooks I'm using.

Here are a couple of other sites that I use, whether a lot or sparingly:

Quizlet is a website that allows teachers and students to make online flashcards and study them. is a site I found that allows students to practice Common Core grammar and conventions.  I have not used this as much as I would like to as when time is short (and it often is), grammar always seems to be the first to go.

Here is a tutorial video for teachers.  And, there is a separate one for students.

Google Apps for Education is what I am using the most (read:  all the time).  With Classroom, it makes going digital too easy.  

One thing I like about moving my 'worksheets' to things such as Google Docs is that I can add things in color, including the student's answers.  My students and I also find that putting the questions in a table with a corresponding column for them to put the answers in is even better (and easier for me to pre-format with the color coding).

Here are some screen shot examples of how I can use color coding in tables.  Before I attach it to Classroom in an assignment, I make sure that I have already set up each box to the color I want.

I really like Schoology.  Apparently, my district is looking into getting a bid for a district-wide LMS.  I'm going to suggest Schoology.  I really like that I can automatically push updates to my school Twitter.

 I also like how all upcoming assignments are in the corner of the page.

But what I like about it most of all is the ability to create discussions and then get analytics on the discussion.  That means that Schoology will keep track of how many times a student responds and the traffic/popularity with dates and times (not that I wouldn't notice since I get an email sent to me each time a student responds).

If anyone has any other useful tools, sites, etc. that you think I should try, let me know in the comments.

I'm not so good at this blogging thing

I know, I suck when it comes to being consistent and timely with getting a blog out.

To follow up on some things touched upon in my previous posts, I have had a full class set of Chromebooks for quite a few months now.  I had posited that once I had them all that digital homework completion would increase.  That hypothesis proved false.  But, this seems to be a problem with paper assignments as well.  This is a really apathetic group of students this year when it comes to completing their work.

One theory I have on why so many students aren't completing their work in a timely manner is that they have gotten so used to a teacher's fear of failing a student (and the repercussions that often come with that), that they rely on that fear to earn at least a D without even trying.  Failure, however, should be a part of the learning process.  So, I've told my kids that I will allow them to fail if they so choose.  And, they really do have to choose to fail in my class (I gave my juniors the opportunity over the winter break to do up to 300 points of extra credit).  I've been encouraging my students to learn from their mistakes for the past few years now.  And, it feels like a I do a good job of modeling that for them (read:  I make a lot of mistakes in front of them).

I really need to create more meaningful assignments and spread them out to keep my grading woes under control.  I don't think I need the 10th graders to answer questions for every chapter.

The test I that I mentioned my juniors took earlier was a difficult test for all the juniors and not just my students struggled.  That made me feel a little better.  It did prompt me to pull back on the amount of time my 11th graders spent on the Chromebooks though, and made me realize that I need to ease the student's into the use of them next year.