What I great conference I wish I was there…anyway, here is a Storify of Tuesday evening Tweets through Wednesday morning.
TRETC, the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference was held at Bethel Park Senior High School this year. TRETC is an excellent educational conference held in Western Pennsylvania every year, it has been growing regularly since I began attending them back in the early 2000’s.
Below is a Storify of the event, I collected Tweets and here they are:
EdCampPGH is a free “Unconference” where educational stakeholders gather to discuss how to improve education and share ideas. Below is a Storify of Tweets from EdCampPGH.
My daughter has supplied a huge amount of motivation for me to improve my blogging efforts and overall writing endeavors.
Last night while I was posting to my personal blog on Blogger, as opposed to my professional blog you are reading now, she asked what I was up to. When I told her I was writing a blog post, she asked to read it. Her reaction can be found here. The post she read can be found here.
I hope to finally ensure I make time to contribute ideas regularly across my social media sites. The goal is to add positively to the world around me, leaving it in better shape that I found it.
Last night we interviewed Rachelle Poth, PAECT member and foreign language teacher at Riverview School District. You can access the show recording here.
This is the Storify of our Twitterfeed from last night.
Admittedly, we have not had a lot of Tweets, but we will continue moving forward. It will catch on.
On Friday, December 12, 2014, four of my Honors Civics students stayed after school to participate in an Hour of Code. I would have had more students, however many students had an early release for the Christmas Dance which was later that evening.
Two of my students came back from the previous day’s activity to continue their work. This was the first time the two new participants were available to stay after. All four worked on iPads and used one of the free Lightbot apps available for an Hour of Code. We continued to use an Edmodo group dedicated to this endeavor as the platform for communication and organization.
I stood back after a brief overview and let the students discuss the events of the previous day. The two students who participated Thursday opted to continue on with the Lightbot puzzles instead of creating code via PageStudio. The new students joined in and they began working on individual tasks. I mirrored one student iPad onto my Interactive Whiteboard, IWB, using Apple TV.
The students were very quiet as they worked on their tasks, which was not what I was hoping for. The students were super-focused on what they were doing which was good, but I was hoping for more teamwork. As I observed what each was doing on their iPad, the student who was mirroring her iPad onto the IWB hit a snag and was stuck on a puzzle. I encouraged her to ask the others for help and reiterated that I was hoping for a group effort. As she asked for help, the students realized that they were all around the same puzzle and having similar issues.
The four students began to talk, collaborate, and test out possible solutions on their individual iPads, sharing their ideas with each other using the mirrored iPad. This went on for the rest of the sessions, almost the full hour. Their ability to work through the increasingly complex tasks increased in speed and the tasks were less tedious as they joked and talked out the solutions.
Overall, the session seemed to be a success. I posted an assignment in the Edmodo group to add to the enrichment assignment; write a reflection blog post on the Hour of Code, or record a short podcast reflection of their efforts. I am looking forward to seeing their thoughts on the activities and hoping for honest opinions. I would like to expand upon this event and getting their opinions on how to improve it is key. I also offered to continue with activities like these throughout the year if they are interested in doing so. Hopefully I will find out soon via blog post or podcast if they thought the effort was a success.
My major epic fail for the project was forgetting some Christmas cookies on my dining room table at home that I bought as a snack for the participants. I did remember to bring juice pouches for them, and had some animal cracker/cookies for snacks, but forgetting the good treats bothered me.
Thursday, December 11, 2014, we made our first attempt at Hour of Code 2014. Hour of Code is an optional enrichment assignment for my students. To organize the efforts of my students I created a group for them in Edmodo; which I used to survey them via the quiz feature and poll feature. Links to all resources were also posted there, though I just used Code.org‘s site as the main resource.
Due to scheduling conflicts we all agreed that the only two days this week that we could meet would be Thursday and Friday; with the majority of students only being able to attend one after school session. For our first day, I had two students stay after school, both have had experience with coding. They participated in CodeHS last year when they were in Middle School and this November they participated in a Hack Day, I was not the teacher of record for these activities.
The two students came in and jumped on the class iPads and off to Edmodo they went. Once in Code.org’s site they chose to use Litebot as the tool to complete exercises. The apps are/were free for Hour of Code. Both students were gracious enough to answer all of my questions about their coding experience as we worked through Litebot. They will actually be the main facilitators for this with other students, since they understand coding much better than I, you can see my previous post on this topic.
We were having technical issues with the school wireless that had crashed several times during the day and was currently running rather slowly. I handed off my iPad to a student and they worked on tasks while I tried to get Litebot downloaded on other devices. I was successful, but it took most of the time we had to get the iPads set up. This will make tomorrow easier, although it limited what we could do today.
We projected my iPad screen over the Apple TV, practicing for the larger crowd expected on Friday. Overall, they seemed pleased with the effort, they will be back for Friday’s session. For Friday, they can use other code apps to actually work on creating code, while my other students can focus on levels that match their ability level.
I hope to have more to post soon.
“Wow! Why have I waited so long to try this out!!!!” Those were the initial thoughts I had yesterday when I finally tried out Touchcast. Touchcast is a video recording app for iPads and in beta for PCs. I have had this app on my iPad for awhile now, but never attempted to use it. My personality changes when I record myself, I become very introverted and quiet, not very good qualities for recording oneself.
Nevertheless, I jumped in yesterday to record a couple of short videos to introduce myself to my next school year’s Honors Civics Classes, you can read more about this here. After about 15 takes I came up with two videos that explain a few things about my class, important links, what is expected, and attempted to show a glimpse of my personality.
Videos are limited to five minutes at a time and you are given sixty minutes of storage on their site, which is not an issue since you can automatically push videos to your YouTube account for archiving. Touchcast has some neat built in perks such as sound effects, green screen, audio file insert from iTunes, and whiteboards. Best of all, it is FREE!
The videos were pushed to YouTube where I grabbed the embed code and shared to my Edmodo classroom for my incoming students to view. Super easy, super quick, and a great way to communicate with students and parents.
Check out Touchcast here.
I rolled out the students’ blogs last week in three of my classes while my other three classes logged in today. Overall the students were very productive, they began personalizing their blogs and writing their class expectation blog posts. The three classes that started last week are almost done with the assignments and ready to move on.
I broke the assignment up for my classes up to keep me from dealing with the potential of six periods of chaos in one day. Today, all six of my classes were in the computer lab, we all managed to survive the day. Having half of the classes wrapping up the assignment while the others were starting allowed me to troubleshoot issues so much more effectively.
Speaking of troubleshooting, I did discover that for the most part, the students who had blogs from my class last year had a harder time remembering their log in information…which I anticipated. Most could log in to Edublogs, a few needed their passwords reset via their Gaggle student email accounts. A select few needed assistance to log in to both accounts, but this happens on occasion and the students were eager to help each other out while I helped with the administrative tasks.
The students who were new had an easier time, they were given their usernames and they all had a generic password to use. There were a couple of hiccups with students who were added to my class in the last couple of days, and one or two that I missed when creating the blogs. I am not sure of it was out school filter or an Edublogs issue, but several student accounts were rough to set up and once they were logged in, they had multiple blogs created from my various attempts to create accounts for them.
Their first task was to change their password to something they would remember. The students then had to make their blog the primary blog. This defaults the students to their personal blog instead of the class blog at sign in. From there they began writing their expectation post and personalizing the space. The processes were modeled the previous day in class, using the Interactive Whiteboard. In a couple of classes I had the students gather around a computer while a student modeled how to turn in the assignments or complete a task that was confounding several students.
The assignments were posted in Edmodo along with my classroom expectation post. I also created a couple of screencasts with Camtasia for Mac for students who may need reminded how to “Turn In” their blog posts and/or personalize their blogs. The videos are posted on YouTube and SchoolTube for general access, they were also embedded in a folder within my Edmodo classes for easy access by my students. I could not resist name dropping tools so I can add the tags below…
All in all it was a very productive day, with many lessons learned and everyone playing different roles; students as teachers, teachers as learners. It was what school and learning is supposed to be about. And the chaos…it was nothing like I had feared.
I just wanted to add a quick post about a very useful and free tool for people who have Android operating system based devices. The device is called CamScanner. This app has both a free version and paid version, I continue to use the free version. This versatile app allows me to take quick photos of items with my device, then turn them into full blown .pdfs to be uploaded to the Internet.
CamScanner enables me to take a physical document and upload to my Edmodo online classroom without leaving my students unattended. It allows users to create files on the fly. My students will use the app to turn their work on paper into computer-ready documents that can be saved on the Internet. I used the app to scan and store my daughter’s pre-school and kindergarten art portfolios online.
You can access this free and useful app in the Google Play Store.