Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Afternoon of "EdCamp" - Khan Academy, Adobe Voice, and Desmos

I am at a weeklong conference called Summer of Summit Foundations Week with Summit Public Schools up in the Bay Area.  I have learned a TON and my brain is full, recharged, inspired, mind-blown... and many other similar adjectives.  This organization has done so much with blended and personalized education to reach all students... it is truly amazing.  

If you have not heard about Summit Public Schools, I would check out a little bit about their Personalized Learning Platform by reading this EdSurge article

Today we had an afternoon of "EdCamp" style sessions, although they were much more structured and not really "EdCamp" besides the fact we could choose where we wanted to go.  I was happy to choose 3 great sessions.


1. Khan Academy - I know what you are going to say... so don't say it.  I haven't been the biggest advocate for KA.  Well, I'm more not an advocate for the library of video lessons that at some points seem to claim to be the "savior" of education and by using the videos you have a "flipped class".  I am an advocate for the math practice portion of their website, which has undergone some pretty amazing updates over the last several years since I first came across it.  A team of KA employees came for the hour and shared a little bit about their philosophy.

Khan Academy’s Learning Philosophy
1. Personalized to meet each student’s needs
2. Mastery-based for a strong foundation
3. Interactive among peers and between learners and coaches

They emphasized that KA math practice is used in many different ways in different classrooms, including:

  • Differentiation
  • Foundation building
  • Practice (in class or at home)
  • Absent students
  • Test Prep

There is a level of fluency with math facts that is needed and I think that Khan Academy math practice can really help with that.  The majority of the problems are NOT multiple choice and actually help with critical thinking, modeling, and making sense of problems.  I could see this being used with lower level students who need repeated, guided practice that gives automatic feedback, as well as with older students who need review and refreshment with algebraic skills and thinking.

They have "missions" that you can take after you do a pre-test.  The "missions" start at "early math" and then 3rd-8th grade, and then high school math classes/topics.  You can switch between missions at anytime and your progress is saved. 
My current skills list.  I can practice any of these,
or add my own from the "mission progress" chart.

 Based on how you did the pre-test, they recommend specific exercises to practice.  There are always about 5 in the list so you have some choice, and then you can add whatever ones you want from your "mission progress" on the right hand side.
My progress on the 7th grade "mission".
Darker blue is mastered,
 lighter blues=making progress.

You must get 5 problems correct in a row to move "up" for the concept.  You have to do that multiple times over time in order to achieve "mastery".  A time clock starts on the concept once you have moved up one level so you can't just do the next level for that concept right away - you have to come back at a later time.

I know I'm a math nerd, but I was engaged and I thought it was really fun.  There are badges and points, which can be motivating, but even I had to think critically and problem solve.  There are step-by-step hints if you are stuck that will guide you through the problems.

In addition to the "missions", they also have problems aligned with the CCSS standards by strand.

I know there is a lot of negative press among #flipclass teachers and KA, but if you are a math teacher, #flipclass or not, I would highly recommend checking it out simply for the personalized mastery missions.  


2. Adobe Voice -  Tom Nguyen @tomng, the project lead/developer of Adobe Voice was here to share about this new app.  I am very excited about the possibilities!  

Here is the EdCamp Description:
Adobe Voice is a new free iPad app that lets anyone create a stunning animated video — in minutes. No filming — just talk, one line at a time, and pick from over 25,000 images to show your ideas. Voice automatically adds cinematic motion and a soundtrack so that students and educators can persuade, inform, or inspire anyone with beautiful narrated videos. Apple named Voice their Editors' Choice and #1 Best New App in the App Store. Designed by a graduate of Stanford's Graduate School of Education, the app scaffolds the storytelling process. Students can learn how to communicate ideas through effective narrative structure, skip spending time dealing with production, and focus on their content and story to easily craft engaging videos. “One of the simplest, most creative, most joyous apps ever written.” — David Pogue, Yahoo! Tech

This is SO super easy to figure out.

Download the free app "Adobe Voice"
Then just "Create a New Story"

Choose a story title

Pick your story "structure", or you can just
start with a blank canvas.  This is GREAT for
students who need scaffolding and structure.

Just start recording and adding pictures
slide by slide

My favorite parts...

  1. They have fully editable templates that act as "building blocks" for students when making their own videos.
  2. You record the audio one slide at a time and can re-record that slide by just holding down the record button again.   It's best to just record 1-2 sentences at a time because each slide is one image and you want to have a different slide for each image you want to come on the screen.  This is great for students so they don't have to record a huge chunk at one time and they can re-record each tiny segment until they are happy
  3. The app automatically "sweetens" the audio to make it sound clear and crisp.
  4. The app automatically adds background music and adjusts the volume of the music based on your voice.  You can choose your own background music to customize and match it to your theme.  All the sound clips included on the app are Creative Commons licensed.  The sound clips are organized by emotion and were composed specifically for this app.
  5. You can choose from a few different layouts on each slide and add a "clip art" image (all creative commons), an image (google search for all creative commons licensed, or upload your own picture), or text.
  6. Images are animated automatically based on the theme that you choose.  Each theme comes with different colors and fonts, but also a custom animation for the images and text.
  7. No editing required.  Very easy to learn!

I made a fun little one for FlipCon14 Bingo.  Check it out here.

This app is literally BRAND new.  Like, in the last month.  There are still a lot of things they are trying and developing and are always looking for feedback.

I could see this being used in the classroom in so many ways:
1. By teachers - quick, engaging introductions to topics, projects, etc
2. By students in all subject areas.  In math, they could take pictures of EACH STEP of a problem, and talk through it.  It would help with explaining and breaking down concepts one step at a time.  In English, they could share their stories and projects, but it could also be used in younger grades to work on reading fluency (with a dash of creativity).  In history, students could tell the stories of what happened in the past - even from a first person's perspective.  In science, students could talk through what they did during a lab and then what they learned.  So many more, but those are just some of my immediate thoughts.

A picture of most of our team with @tomng


3. Desmos.  I've blogged before about Desmos but I still wanted to check out the session because it was focused less on the graphing calculator part of their website and more on the teacher part.  If you haven't gone to go there right now.  They only have four full lessons published right now, but they are so good and so worth it!

Desmos Curriculum
-Interesting, targeted tasks, designed by teachers
-immediate, recursive feedback for students

-carefully crafted teacher “dashboards.”

I took a selfie with the CEO, Eli Luberoff, who led the session.

We had time to play around with "Penny Circle" and "Function Carnival".   Since it's summertime, now you have time to play around with them as well.  I would log on to the teacher dashboard, but on another computer or device go on the student side so you can see what is going on.  It would be helpful to have a few "students" doing things at the same time, so gather some colleagues and just play.  


  1. Is there a way to do the mission "tests" without watching the videos?

    1. As far as I know, yes. I don't usually use any of the videos and I was able to do a bunch.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...