Thursday, February 20, 2014

Show Me: A Great App for Flipping the Classroom

Flipped learning has become a hot item, but it can be much more than just an opportunity for students to learn the information from a video in the comfort of their home and doing the heavy work at school. Yes, it is powerful because it allows the teacher to work with small groups of students. It can also be used to flip lessons during class time. A teacher could create a video for the students to view during class while working with small groups. Ever feel like it would be nice to be able to clone yourself so that you could be more effective as a teacher? Show Me for iPad essentially lets you do just that.

There are many apps that perform the exact same task, and may even provide a better user experience than Show Me. However, I'm focusing on Show Me for the sake of my teachers as they are in need of providing an e-learning experience for students that may not have internet at home. What separates Show Me from the others is the ability to download your own videos instead of stream it on the company's server.

I broke down the process into three parts. I will first discuss the account creation process. Then discuss how to make a video. Lastly, I will show how to access and download the video from the Show Me website.

First thing you'll need to do is create your account. Once you download the app, you can create your account through it. You'll also be able to use that account information to access their actual website. When you create an account, your videos will be stored on their website so that you can always come back to them for download. In the future, I will be creating a video to discuss the advantages of creating student accounts so that you can differentiate instruction more effectively. Groups can be created directly on the site so that when you create a video, the it will go straight to their iPads. For now, here is how you make an account:

Next video will focus on how to create a video. Before you start making your own screen-casts, you'll want to take any pictures of documents or items you want to include. Show Me does not include a feature that allows you to take a picture within the app; only accesses your camera roll. I also recommend that you limit the length of your videos from anywhere between 5-10 minutes. If you go much further than that, you'll start to lose the students. You'll be surprised how much information you can cover in that period of time without the interruptions that occur during a typical lecture. 

The last video is on how to download your videos. However, this part is not necessary unless your students do not have internet access and they need to be able to have the video saved directly on their device. For making videos at school, the teacher can send the link to the video and the students can stream it from the website. Please keep in mind that the process for downloading the video takes awhile after the it is made. There is some converting and processing that has to take place for a few hours. I would recommend creating the video, wait at least two hours, and then download it. Once you download it, I would also suggest that you change the name of the file by right-clicking on it. I didn't exactly cover that part in this video. Lastly, you can then email it. If you use an "Learning Management System" (like Edmodo), you can upload it there.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Edtech and P.E.

Generally, one would think it would be a bad idea to combine technology with an elementary P.E. class. (I don't even like the idea of taking my smartphone on a run.) However, there are some practical ways to get a workout in for that much needed brain-break utilizing technology.

Mr. Starkel at Wayne Center Elementary is using Adventure to Fitness  for younger students and using Just Dance videos on Youtube (Here is a playlist I made) to get older elementary kids moving and active. I have found Adventure to Fitness very beneficial as it combines social studies and science concepts within the physical activities. It would not be surprising to find a video to match the content areas within the classroom. Adventure to Fitness has a lot of free content. I would recommend looking over the site yourself.

Last week I sent out a quick email to teachers about an app called "Tabata! Daily 4-Minute Workouts." This application is for iOS and was only free for a couple days. The app gives the user three different workout moves to perform. They perform the workouts a total of two times. This gives the user a total of 6 sets. As the user performs the tasks, the application also gives instructions on how to properly perform the workout. I was excited that several teachers took advantage of this opportunity as it is an app this is appropriate for all ages because being able to read fluently was not a prerequisite. 

Mrs. Owen's kindergarten class at Rome City Elementary loved the new app as they were able to watch the exercise on their iPod Touch and start the exercise when the sensei commanded it. What a great opportunity for students to have a break between learning opportunities! 



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blogging = Power has to be one of the best opportunities for elementary students. The makers of this product have given the teacher so much control, and have adapted the environment to meet the needs of a classroom extremely well. 

For the last few weeks I've had the opportunity to work with the fourth graders at Rome City Elementary. (However, it has been a little broken up due to all the snow we've had.) To get these classes going, I used three different sequential lessons to help launch a successful experience with blogging. Blogging does take some work, so setting high expectations from the start always pays off. If the expectations are not set, the teacher will more than likely become frustrated and give up. (This is speaking from experience from about five years ago.) 

With all this in mind, Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. McKibben wanted to have a blog so that they would have a great place to dialogue about reading. The focus will first be on a whole class text and then eventually branch off into the students' choice readings. 

The lessons I use go in this order:
  1. General orientation of the blogging website, purpose of a blog (teacher expectations for it), and how to write a proper post. I hit hard that the purpose of a blog is a place to have a voice and share information quickly. Students are very fascinated by the fact that as soon as they publish it goes to the entire class. This requires a discussion about trustworthiness and also leads into the last part of the lesson: how to write a proper post. Just like with any writing assignment, the teacher must model, model, model.
  2. On the second meeting, we start talking about commenting and the purpose of commenting. (I usually warn the teacher beforehand that students tend to love the novelty of making a comment and will sometimes not meet the expectation.) Again, I model proper commenting. I discuss what we want to see and what we do not want to see. To prove this point, I usually have a student come to the front of the class and tell me about something they like. I just respond with words like: cool, neat, and awesome. We as a class discuss how difficult that conversation is. Because it makes for a difficult conversation in person, it will make for a difficult conversation online. So the rules for commenting are as follows: 
    • Read the author's post first.
    • Only comment if you can say it nicely.
    • Only comment it it pertains to the post.
    • Comment in complete sentences.
    • When you comment, try to think of how it will create more conversation. If it will not, please don't do it.  (Here I often talk about wasted comments being like litter on the ground. It annoys everyone.)
  3. Reviewing the need for quality is necessary. It helps to set the bar high. In this lesson, I take some screen shots of blog posts, and use a nifty app called Skitch to blur out personally identifiable information. Here we look at examples of posts and comments. (I even post them on as a blogpost so the entire class can view it on their own device.) We discuss what is good. We discuss what is bad. We discuss if it follows the rules for posting and commenting. We also discuss how we can improve what is already there. After giving them some time to create a new post and comment, the work typically improves. I then ask the teacher (sometimes even the students) to identify some great examples of posts and comments, and we all visit and discuss those posts. 
Mrs. Rogers' class did a fantastic job of improving their posting and commenting skills. I'm confident that they will continue to improve. It was also interesting because before I even started my final lesson, Mrs. Rogers mentioned how difficult it had been for the students to get back into the routine of having a full day of school due to how much snow we've had lately here in Indiana. If you look at the pictures that are posted, every student is engaged. (Edgaged if it were my classroom.) Every student was intently writing. Every student intently read blogposts. Every student responded to someone else's thoughts about the question Mrs. Rogers posed to the class. 

I'll finish this post with a sample from Mrs. Rogers' blog. All things considered with the weather and disjointed lessons that took place, I was very pleased with the thought process these students had while posting. Blogging = power. 

In Sign of the Beaver, who is the better friend? Matt or Attean? 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blogger as a Teacher Website

This post will be dedicated toward preparing a teacher to utilize Blogger as their teacher website. The tutorials and content here greatly reflects the needs of the elementary teachers in East Noble School Corporation. However, some of the content might be useful as far as the directions on how to post, use the Blogger app, or creating shared folders. 

East Noble has used Edline as the primary method of teachers having not only an LMS, but a place to host teacher websites. Though Edline is a powerful product, we also found that it did not meet the needs of the elementary classroom very well. In fact, most products do not. What elementary teachers need is a place for them to quickly communicate what is happening within the walls of their classroom without spending hours deleting old content and uploading the new. A simple solution that I was able to come up with is Blogger

Any school that has an association with Google should have the ability to utilize their Blogger platform for teacher websites through their school accounts. Here is a sample of how Blogger can be utilized. 

Next year, East Noble will no longer be using Edline to host websites. All EN elementary teachers will need to move over to  Blogger. If you would like to move over before next year, feel free to follow these tutorials so that you can get started. 

Setting Up Your Blogger Account

Creating Posts

Creating Folders

Using the Blogger Application


Snag-It is a tool I probably use on a daily basis on my PC laptop. It allows me to create quick screencasts for teachers and students. It also allows me to grab screenshots and edit them with text and shapes. I can edit photos and merge photos together onto one template. There are multiple possibilities for this piece of software. My PC users are fifth and sixth graders and I was able to get a few classes on board with utilizing this tool. However, it is very overwhelming due to the vast amount of possibilities within this piece of software.

Teachers that have students using this tool may want to consider sending the tutorial site Techsmith has developed. It has written and video directions on how to utilize this tool.

Tutorials Here

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ask3: Screencast and Collaborate

Ask3 is a product by Techsmith that I've known about for quite some time. In fact, when it first came out I quickly went on every classroom iTunes account and secured the download before it turned into a paid application. It has been over a year since the release of Ask3 and as it turns out, it is still free. :) Also, Techsmith even did an online interview with me last year about the use of Ask3 in East Noble School Corporation. That was an exciting opportunity for me as a tech coach to participate in the product development. 

Ask3 gives the teacher the opportunity to easily screencast instructional videos, distribute them to students effortlessly, and allow the students to respond and collaborate with text and video. In a sense, it becomes a video blog. It is a great opportunity for "flipping the classroom."

If you want to "flip the classroom" but your students do not take devices home, you can always create a 5-10 minute instructional video and have the students watch it in class as you work with small groups of students. This provides you with those precious minutes with your advanced or even struggling students to set their expectations for the activity and adjust the learning experience. 

Try it in one subject area. Use it for spelling instruction. Demonstrate a reading strategy by taking a picture of the mentor text. Take a picture of an example math problem and work it out. There are endless ways Ask3 can help make you more effective when differentiating instruction.

I have created numerous tutorials on how to utilize this app. Through all of my videos, I tried my best to prepare both the teacher and the student of what to expect from Ask3. If you have questions, please post them here so that all can view. 

Class Setup

Teacher Perspective and Setup

Managing Student Responses

Student Perspective and Setup

Pic Collage: Collaborative Tool?

Thanks to our new third grade teacher at Rome City, Cheryl Herber, I came across yet another way that Pic Collage could be used. She asked the question about whether or not it could be used as a collaborative tool? the answer is "yes." However, it isn't a live collaboration tool like you would get from Google Drive. It is a place where students can share their projects and fellow classmates can share comments. If you do not have a class blog or an LMS like Edmodo(This link only works for East Noble employees.), but utilize Pic Collage frequently, this would be a great opportunity for you. 

Since my focus on technology integration is at the elementary level, a classroom account is necessary due to the students being under the age of 13. If you are an elementary teacher and have not set up a classroom account, please view my previous post about this process. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Scrap Pad

Scrap Pad  was an app I came across last week when it was on "Apps Gone Free" . So I scrambled and stressed all my teachers out trying to get this application on their class sets of iPads. :) It is now $4.99, but I believe all the teachers that I work with were able to get it on their class set of devices. (A big sigh of relief.)

This application is very easy and fun to use. It can be applied to any subject area to allow students to creatively share their knowledge. If you have a creative way that you are using ScrapPad, please share it here in the comment section.

This video can be used for your own benefit for learning the application, or if you would like to share it with your students, that would be appropriate as well. This would be an easy way to introduce the application if I am not available to demonstrate it to your class.

Pic Collage: Management Tips

I know I tend to use and abuse Pic Collage, but when you have an app this versatile, it is hard not to do so. many teachers within my schools use this tool, but I want to add an element that I think will make it even more useful. 
If you create an account and log all the student devices into that account, the student work will automatically distribute to your iPad. That also has some disadvantages, because it will also go to all the students' iPads. The later issue can be resolved with proper expectations being set and procedures firmly established. 
  1. Make sure all students are clear that they are not to edit another student work. I often use the comparison of a younger brother or sister coloring all over a piece of artwork they have created. How irritating that is tends to hit home with students.
  2. Make sure you establish that this is a great opportunity. By having access to every students' works so quickly, the teacher will greatly benefit because of the ease of use. The students also benefit because they can view the quality work that their classmates are producing. The share-ability is something to celebrate. 
  3. Along with the share-ability, expectations need to be established that there is a mutual respect for the works displayed. Everyone will produce their best work. Everyone will celebrate the abilities each student possesses. 
These are the tips I have in regards to establishing a positive Pic Collage climate. If you have any other suggestions, please share them by making a comment below this post. 

Here is the video with instructions on how to sign students into one account and where to find the pieces created by students:

Along with this subject, I created a document that demonstrates how to turn off the social buttons as well as the pictures from the web. There are lots of opportunities for ease of access with the pictures from the web. However, I've had several occurrences where this caused much grief for teachers. I've contacted Pic Collage about their filtering and also the use of copyrighted pictures. I did not receive much response as to it being much of an issue. I ultimately want to keep our youngsters safe, and know teachers agree.

One way to resolve this issue is to just provide the pictures through email or create a shared folder through Google Drive or Skydrive. This will require more work on the teacher's part, but if the access to web photos creates concern for you as an educator, there are other solutions. Please let me know if I can help you with this process.