People also ask how I stick with it. Now, I've had my ups and downs with this blogs - times when I blogged 3-5x a week and times when a month went by. But, the best growth really occurred when I committed to it and said I would sit down at least once a week (on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), and block out 1-2 hours of time to write. I've begun to get back into that habit again and it's been great. I generally start my posts early in the week and make some notes and reflections as I go, but do a final writing and conclusion at the end of the week to wrap it up.
This week was a little abnormal as I was in San Diego for a Microsoft Innovative Educator Training on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our school will soon be having both Google Apps and Office 365 accounts for the students, and four of us were sent to the training to learn more about the new things Microsoft offers that would be beneficial for education.
I'll start with my takeaways from the Microsoft training:
- I learned a few neat things about Windows 8 I haven't known in the year I've had a Windows 8 laptop. First, when on the tile view, you can go to the bottom right and click on the "minimize" button to be able to view all of your tiles at once. Second, instead of dragging windows to the far right and left to snap them to the sides, you can just use the Windows key and the right/left arrow. Lastly, you can actually search through the Charms bar (Windows-C; go to the magnifying glass) and it will not only search your computer's documents, but also the internet, and present the results in a very visually appealing way.
- OneNote is a great way to organize large sets of notes, curriculum building, and lots more. OneNote can be thought of as a bookshelf. On that bookshelf you can keep many binders. A OneNote binder is just like a physical binder in that you can have sections (dividers) and then many pages within that divider. The best part is that it's all digital, is easily searchable, can include text, images, audio, video, links to documents, embedded documents, and can be shared and collaborated on with others. I can really see this being a useful tool for teachers in a PLC who are building a curriculum to keep a "binder" full of the resources, but now it's collaborative and can be updated or added to at any point!
- OneNote Class Notebooks has a lot of potential, but you only have access to them if you have Office 365 accounts at your school and the domain administrator has opened up access for them. Basically, as a teacher, you can create a Class Notebook that includes a content library (for a teacher to organize all the units; teacher edit and student view), a Collaboration Space (where the students can collaborate together; you can modify this to be groups of students instead of the whole class by having different sections that are password protected for each group), and a Student Notebook, which is a private space for each student shared just with the teacher. Students can copy items from the Content Library to their student notebooks to edit their own copy of it. There are some great uses for this, but it still is in development and has some major concerns. First, there is no way to "copy" a Class Notebook for multiple periods or from year to year- you have to add the content to each one. Second, there is not an easy way to assess the work in the Student Notebooks besides going to each student's page and then finding the specific place in the page you want to assess. However, for student portfolios or for a structured/scaffolded way for students to take notes (think digital interactive notebooks made so much easier than cutting/gluing into a notebook)... this has a lot of great potential
- Resources and Learning Activities on the Microsoft Educator Network - these are free and available for use by anyone. I would highly recommend you check them out.
- Learning Activities
- Bing.com CCSS Aligned Lessons - Go to bing.com → click on “info” in lower right → Click on “get lesson” near the top of the page → can then search by grade, subject, etc
- Office Mix - This is a great way for teachers who are more comfortable with Microsoft Office (rather than Google Drive, Screencast-o-matic or Camtasia, and other tools) to make video lessons for use in class or as a part of a flipped lesson. You can record yourself talking over the PowerPoint (with optional picture-in-picture), but you can also insert screenrecordings of other parts of your screen, screenshots, and quizzes (multiple choice, free response, true/false, and polls). Each slide hosts the recording for just that slide, so if students go back and forth on the slides, they would get your voice associated with the part they are on. They have other video apps that look interesting such as Geogebra and Khan Academy, but I haven't had the time to play around and see exactly the purpose of them yet. When you are finished, you will "upload to mix" and it will create an "Office Mix" for you. This can then be embedded on your LMS or website. With Office 365, you are able to get pretty detailed data on student use, including time on each slide and results from any quiz questions.
We had the opportunity to debrief a lesson that we had done with Desmos. I love when a fellow sees something and then continues to try it in the classroom and explore the possibilities. We decided that we wanted to continue to use Desmos as the class begins exploring Quadratic functions. So, my fellow is designing two "openers" to use next week on Quadratics and I will get to be in there to see how it goes and then debrief! I'm super excited. I love getting my math fellows to love Desmos as much as I do.
Yes, another fellow working with Desmos! For this fellow, it was the first time I had shown her Desmos, so we went over the basics of graphing and using sliders. She was planning on reviewing systems of equations word problems homework the next day in class, so we pre-made 2 Desmos graphs to model the solution to those equations for her students. I showed her "presentation view" (an option when you click on the wrench in the top right) that makes everything a little bigger and bolder for the students to see. Her next step is to use it to help model systems of linear inequalities so students can practice identifying the solutions without spending all the time on the graphing. One of our long term goals with Desmos is to get the students using it to explore and create rather than just using it as a modeling tool.
The math department just recently got Kuta Software, so we spent our session going over the different features of Kuta and the ways you can make Kuta work for you to make your life easier.
This was a pretty awesome meeting. Last time we met, this fellow worked on making a collaborative Google Sheet that other teachers could sign up for. One of her colleagues saw it and liked it, and wanted to make his own for a production his class was doing. She told him to come to our meeting, and he came in and my fellow taught what she had learned to her colleague with me sitting there to support and guide as needed. How awesome! It is so great to see them empowered and building confidence, and especially sharing what they have learned. This fellow has mentioned on multiple occasions that she would NOT be trying these new things if she didn't have a support to fall back on. I'm so proud of her for sharing and teaching her colleague!
This was a great week to just reflect and debrief with this fellow. We have been trying a lot of awesome ideas, and I gave the analogy that "Her Tech Toolbelt is so full and heavy that her pants are about to fall down". So, I think it is good to sit back and think about how we can use the tools we've been exploring more/better/deeper than we already are. It can also get overwhelming managing different things students are submitting when they are coming from a lot of different sites or tools. Since students submit links to some of their assignments on Google Forms (the things that aren't just pushed out through Doctopus), I showed her the VLookup formula so she could easily see who has/hasn't turned something in and easily give "completion" scores for assignments that aren't meant to be fully graded, but the students are expecting a grade in the gradebook for (students are very point-hungry here... it's the culture... hopefully we can work to start breaking that). So, VLookup is set and ready. If you want to learn how to use VLookup, you can see my (old but still good) tutorial here.
We have been working on using Socrative as a warm-up tool, and this fellow has been trying it on her own for a couple class periods. She used "snipping tool" to snip her own images and fully made her own quizzes (2-5 questions) and ran them in class. We went over the reports and how to view student responses and easily put scores in the gradebook for participation by doing the split screen (I showed her Windows --> and Windows <-- which she thought was so cool!). Then, I challenged her to do an Exit Ticket for her next class, since that is pre-made for teachers on Socrative... excited to see how it went!
Not-Official Fellow #8
This is a new teacher who isn't officially a fellow, but I've been working with her 2-3x a week on tech stuff. We have set up Doctopus, pushed out 2 documents now, and explored options for students recording their voice (it's a Spanish class). Today, I gave her a "pop quiz" on accessing and using Doctopus, and she "passed" with flying colors. We explored Tellagami, Animoto, wished that Adobe Voice wasn't just for the iPad, and other voice-recording options to see what will work best. I got the approval for the students to just use the webcam feature of YouTube as long as certain restrictions are followed. So, that might be the best option, and for more creative projects or options, they can use some of the other apps, which they will have to use on their phones since they aren't PC programs yet.
In final news,
The student tech team is officially launched... I'm going to put together a whole different post on that with our plans at some point this weekend (hopefully). I'm really excited to see how it goes and potential that this group has. I want to post our "plans" so that way we have a way to look back and reflect on the growth and changes we made as we began this group on campus.