EverFi Teacher Sign Up

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/loginIf 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.

 

 

 

I learned a new game today…

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.

#satchat March 5 2015

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.

 

Thinking Outside the Box

Today I had two seniors ask me a question about a project they are working on…I was blown away by their thinking.  The project is a video on one of Freud’s Defense Mechanisms.  They are to be acted out to either explain the mechanism or quiz students about the mechanism.

Long story short, these two students asked if they could act out their idea via text message, instead of shooting video of themselves.  They explained further by stating that they would carry on the conversation on their phones, all dialog and details, while recording the screens.

Considering texting or some form of texting via multiple apps is one of the main forms of communication between that age group, I believe it could be a phenomenal idea and a first in the time this project has been in my curriculum.  Just a focus on the message, if well written can be very powerful and true to their form of normal communications.  Even more importantly, it is an idea and initiative all their own.

I hope plan on updating everyone once the project is complete.

Timeline Reflection: Progressive Era

So, my students added to their timelines in Honors US History I, overall they turned out well, I am extremely happy with how the project is progressing.

There are a number of things about the project that are in the running for my favorite aspect of the project, but I think I must say that having the students pick their own specific topics of research was my favorite aspect.  Their ownership of topics seemed to give them more interest in their work.  A close second was their presentations to the class, all of my students did well, and I see potential moving forward as they become more comfortable with speaking in front of everyone.

Some of the interesting facts that were shown by students were the fashions of the day.  Attire seemed much more formal, which still boggles my mind, even though I have taught this era for a number of years.  I wonder how I would have survived back in the day without Hawaiian shirts…

Looking back, I think we need to improve upon the turn in rate on Edmodo.  There are still students who turn in the wrong links to their projects or do not turn in their projects at all.  We are almost 3/4’s of the way through the school year, this should not be happening anymore.

Moving forward, I am implementing my students to reflect more on their projects.  It is a takeaway from what my review of all the PETE and C Tweets.  I used to have students reflect on their work, but it died out over time.  It is going to be reinstituted at all levels, including my own, starting with this project.  The reflections should help create better projects moving forward.

My Labor Day 2015

This Labor Day weekend was interesting.  My wife and I attended the wedding of a family friend’s daughter, then we took a family trip with our daughter to Sandusky, Ohio and the Great Wolf Lodge.  It was our first time to visit that water park, but we have been to Sandusky many times.

The forecast called for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80’s, we decided to find a place with indoor and outdoor water areas.  I had checked Groupon to find a good rate, but after calling the Lodge 800 number, I found my AAA rate to be better.  We arrived early Sunday afternoon, actually before check in, so my wife did a quick social media search for local restaurants that we have not visited in the past.  We found the Dockside Cafe, a walk-up restaurant with bayside outdoor seating.

As we sat down and waited for our food to be ready, my wife found someone’s wallet that they dropped.  We returned it to the counter where the staff paged the gentleman over their PA system.  The grateful owner rewarded my daughter with $20 for our honesty, we attempted several times to respectfully decline the reward, but he was adamant.  Shortly thereafter our food was ready and we were paged to go pick it up at the side counter. The Perch Tacos were excellent!!!!!!  I would post pictures of them, but shortly after we left here, my trip took a precarious turn.

After our lunch we drove back to the Great Wolf Lodge and checked in to our room and the water park.  I planned on taking pictures and video of our stay for posterity.  I placed my iPhone in the waterproof case that I have used for two years.  The reliable case has kept my phone safe during water slides, pool adventures, rain storms, and other watery adventures.

Unfortunately, this time things would play out differently…in my haste to start having fun, I tucked my phone into the case with a few dollars for poolside snacks and rushed down to the water park.  My “Spidey-sense” of foreboding and onrushing doom, was triggered briefly, but I shrugged it off as a mild bout of OCD.

For the first few water slides and pool events, I kept checking the seal on my phone case.  All was good, so I let my guard down and further buried the sense of worry from my conscious mind.  Two water slides later I casually reached for my phone to snap a picture when I saw the water-tight seal was no longer water tight…the phone was in a small bit of water inside the pouch.

To make a long story less tedious, the iPhone could not be revived, and it would cost $200 for the replacement even though I have a protection plan on it.  That is cheap for a replacement, but not when I was due for an upgrade in two months.  My photo/video memories did not materialize, but the weekend was till fun.  Meeting new people, running into another family we are friends with, and enjoying the last “Summer Weekend” of the season made wiping out my phone less crushing.  I am now running an old flip phone, “two screens, two keyboards, and no Internet,” but that is fodder for another post.

 

Floating In-Service: Day One

We get a floating in-service day at the beginning of the year, at least the last couple of years have afforded us this option.

I use the time to prep my room and wrap up loose ends before the year starts. My best assistant, Arianna, usually comes with me to help out with my tasks.

Day One went much better than last year, when my room was not done being cleaned and put back together.

This year, my iPads were already in the cart, not all the way updated, but close enough. They have new management software on them and apps can now be pushed out remotely.

Arianna pushed out the new iOS update to each iPad, so they are all good to go. I just need to submit an email as to which apps need to be pushed out to the class set. That will be a future post.

While Arianna updated the iPads, I set up my desk and unboxed my class resources from storage. There were some class documents that needed updated, along with setting up my Edmodo groups for the year. My online gradebook was set up and rosters printed and converted to Google Sheets as needed.

We spent several hours organizing and setting up. I have to return for a second day, so we wrapped up our work and headed to Hank’s for tacos.

All in all it was a productive first day.

Motivation

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.

More Blogging Please

I have tried several times to begin blogging more frequently.  Unfortunately, I have failed on each occasion.  This summer I plan to try again, however I wish to not just blog more often, but post more often with relevant and high quality posts.

I will be updating several of my websites that contain educational resources;  maybe…just maybe…I can combine the two endeavors into a lasting behavior.