I am blogging about my EverFi trial run with my students. While our school is in the throes of Keystone Testing, I thought it best to take a side excursion with a lesson on Digital Citizenship; students are sometimes fried from 3-4 periods of standardized testing so why pile on. There is also a lesson on STEM Education, but I am not attempting that with my students as of yet.
Starting out with EverFi is easy, the URL for the site is www.everfi.com/login. If your school is not listed in the drop down menu while creating an account, it may take a bit of time to become verified. You could also email my contact at EverFi Alyssa Mahramus, her email is amahramus [at] everfi.com, I checked with her about publishing her email before posting it here.
Once you have your account started, the easy to use dashboard allows you to create classes, I made one class for each period, I will explain more in a bit. You can also use the dashboard to review student scores, review ands reset student information, create student accounts, access your courses, and review support materials. The entire menu is uncluttered with an easy dropdown interface. You can also preview the lessons from the students’ perspective which I find very helpful.
I actually started by creating a class for my daughter, jumping right in without previewing the resources, it was easy to maneuver through the lessons. I did preview the resources before rolling out the courses with my students at school, I wanted to be prepared for any questions they may ask.
So, I clicked on the “Classes and Codes” tab and set up one class for each period of students, I like keeping the groups organized so I can filter information during class in an easy fashion. I set up for the “Ignition” course; EverFi automatically creates a course code for the “Future Goals” STEM course if you go this route. I did find that creating a course for “Future Goals” does not seem to reciprocate for “Ignition” in the same fashion.
Armed with class codes and pre-made curriculum I was ready to rollout the courses to my students. The roll-out will be discussed in another post.
Recently I encountered the opportunity to try out EverFi, a free website/program that offer courses in Digital Citizenship and STEAM Activities. Digital Citizenship fits nicely into my curriculum, so I am giving it a try.
I started out the pilot project today with several of my classes; our school’s Winter Semi-Formal is tonight and many students had early releases to prep for the dance. I thought it best to work with start with small groups and see how things work.
Overall it was a fairly painless experience, I will post a bit later on how to set up classes and how to sign up students for the lessons.
Here is the Storify from TRETC 2016.
I learned a new game today, well I heard of it Saturday at EdCampPGH, but I tried it out with my students in class today. The game is QuizletLive. Students are broken into random teams and must communicate and collaborate to answer questions correctly. My students loved it and I was able to use my existing Quizlet flashcards as the basis of the game. There was no need to build new material, which a a HUGE time saver. QuizletLive motivated my students, the vocabulary review grew into a repeated competition for class supremacy.
There is a brief tutorial video embedded in the site so there is no need to repeat instructions here. You see live tracking of student progress while the students are playing.
In my not so humble opinion, the random grouping of students is probably one of the biggest benefits of this tool, along with using pre-existing resources. Having students step out of their comfort zone to work with new group members is important. They can no longer become complacent and work with their usual band of cohorts.
If you get the chance check it out…SOON.
It has been a long time since I participated in a Saturday morning educational Twitter chat, called #satchat. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s on Digital Citizenship, I archived most of it via Storify.com. The hashtag #satchat was either continued or highjacked after our conversation, so I had to manually create the Storify today. It took almost 2 hours of work on my part…from now on, I will create my Storifys as the #satchat ends.
I am still sifting through information from PETE & C 2016 and implementing ideas into my professional self. One idea that I especially liked was from George Couros, whom I follow on Twitter and via his blog, Connected Principals.
The idea was to daily Tweet something you or your students do in your classroom, adding a hashtag so you can easily track your Tweets. I have started that process, which is not very difficult to accomplish; there should be tons of ideas that can be promoted in your day if you just pay attention to what is going on…I am using the hashtag #Sal308.
This is my first weeks’ effort archived via Storify.com.
Today I rolled out a new concept for my Honors US History and Government I class, a semi-independent book study.
The project has evolved from numerous ideas. After reading over my archived Tweets from PETE & C, a #KTIchat, and a #PAedchat on Twitter, I am intent on fostering a culture of learning in my class, not a system of work and grading. I want my students to be motivated to learn instead of just wanting to earn a score.
At first, I wanted them to become Muckrakers and find things about town and school that could be improved. However they will be my students again next year and I want them to have a meaningful Summer Reading Experience, this new project will be a test run for that adventure. On a side note, we may still do the Muckraker project later time permitting.
Anyway, I chose The Jungle by Upton Sinclair since we are studying the Progressive Era AND we have enough copies of the books for my class. (The Pennsylvania budget impasse has our district on a purchasing freeze.). School finances are a major inhibitor of new things this year.
I borrowed a study guide from a colleague who used to teach the book in her class and adapted it towards student publishing. Only the first 20 chapters are used in the book study, the last 10 can be completed for Accelerated Reader enrichment points. The reading is grouped into four project sections, with each section needing some sort of published project to explain the discussion questions. Students must create a blog post, a podcast, a video, and then have one project of their own design. The project styles can be created in any order of their choosing. The final aspect would be to create some sort of Book Trailer we would publish. I created a very open-ended rubric of expectations, more to keep me somewhat objective in my grading than for restricting student creativity. Students are not required to be on video in my class, they may have “Special Guest Actors” in their stead, but they must create on multiple medias.
When I explained the project to my students, they were not phased by the reading and the questions. When explaining the project sections, some were nervous about the technology. When I explained that the rubric leaves much room for THEIR creativity, I saw shear terror in some students eyes, and much trepidation in most eyes.
I asked the question, “Truthfully, how many of you are nervous or scared about this project?” All students raised their hands, I joined in too. I explained that it was okay to be nervous, we have not done something this open-ended yet this year. I was even nervous because I was not sure how smoothly things would run. But I tried to reassure them that we will adjust to any “bumps in the road” that we may encounter and we will work together for success. This seemed to calm most of the students’ fears, some will take longer to calm down.
My goal is to get them to learn, create, and share as a second nature. I want my students to be able to express themselves well and gain their voice on a public platform. I want them to want to learn and be inquisitive, not just perform for a number or grade. Hopefully this project in a step in that direction. As we move forward I plan to record our progress, our missteps, our adventures, and my reflections on the journey here.