Old Tools, New Uses Part I

Over this holiday break I have been working on cleaning up my “Digital Clutter” and attempting to learn new concepts.  My daughter is sick, the weather is miserably cold, so we are homebound which gives me time to sit and learn when not entertaining my daughter.

I have been doing double duty, setting up study resources for my students while learning new concepts, the whole “two birds with one stone” adage.  To learn a concept in a vacuum is silly, especially with other work I could be doing.

I let my classes know that they will have a test the Friday we return from break, with two study/prep days to start the post-break classes.  There would be resources posted for students who want to use the holiday break to do some pre-prep work.

I glanced over my TES-Blendspace site that I use to host my students’ projects.  Many teachers use it to host lessons for their students, it could make a great resource for my students.  Upon downloading the app on my iPad I reviewed lessons from other teachers.  They posted various forms of information, media, text, webpages, and allowed for students to respond to the information.

This format was used for my students’ review, the original Prezis were linked via the Blendspace along with webpages that contain both video and text information.  Each block of information was followed by a block of teacher created text that explained what to focus on in the students’ notes or asked questions on the material previously presented.  Once completed, they were posted in the Edmodo classrooms and parents and students were notified via Cel.ly that the resources were posted.

There were three of these that were created for the review, it will be interesting to gain student feedback to see how these work for them.  There is a good chance that these can be used throughout lessons as a self-paced review tool moving forward, or even as a way to push out supplementary information to classes.

Time will tell…but for now it feels good to expand my repertoire and use some of the tools I already implement closer to their full potential.


End of the Year: Edmodo Clean-up

The end of the school year is upon us; time to wrap up loose ends and organize everything so summer is productive after a brief shut down and decompress.  It is at this time I usually archive my Edmodo classes for the current year, deleting them erases everything, archiving saves information for later access if necessary.  Yes, I am a hoarder…but that was a previous post.

This year, PAECT pushed out a student survey for inout about technology, I received it yesterday.  The link to the Google Form was promptly sent out to students via Edmodo, with an update via Cel.ly.  Archiving needs to wait until the survey closes out next week.  I thought about what to to do with the classes in the mean time, I have good students, but I did not want to chance inappropriate comments being posted in the group feed.  If comment were to show up I could delete them, but there would be no way to handle the issue with the students.  I am fairly certain that 99.99% of my students would not post anything inappropriate to the class feed, but when it comes to silly comments and goofiness, the number drops to 95%.  *

I decided to go in change students in all of this year’s classes “Read Only.”  Students can still message me with questions and concerns, but they can no longer comment in the classroom feed.  To do this I clicked on the “Members” tab on the left side of each group.  This pulls up my students in alphabetical order where I click on the “More”  tab to the right of each name.  A drop down menu appears and you click on “Read Only.”   It may seem a bit cumbersome if you have a large number of students, but it is nice safeguard against a possibly bad decision.  In reality, it did not take long to accomplish this task.

*Yes, the numbers are unscientific, but I did have a large number of students who forgot to sign out of accounts on the shared iPads this year.  The students who found these issues gleefully shared the incidents with me, but did not post anything in the other students name.  Therefore I think my numbers are fairly accurate based on informal observations.

20011 School Year Day One: With Students

I titled this post accordingly, since I have been prepping for the 2011/2012 school year for awhile.  In general, I am always trying to build upon what I work on with my classes and improve as a teacher.  Specifically, I have been “game planning” specifics since I was told which courses I would probably be teaching in late May.

My plan was to scale back last year’s student class orientation from the two week monstrosity it became to a nice clean and concise three day roll out.  I am only introducing Edmodo, Gaggle email, and Edublogs as hands on tools right now.  Google Docs and possibly Evernote will be rolled out once we start working with books and documents.  Anything else will be dealt with on an as needed basis throughout the year.

Anyways…away we go…

Today was an intentionally slow day, handed out class rules for students to bring back signed, reviewed the rules, discussed how we use the iPods and iPad in class, talked about what topics we would be covering, and from my third class on introduced Cel.ly.  Cel.ly is the new group text notification tool that I will be using this year.  I will discuss Cel.ly in another post sometime soon.

One reason for starting slow is that the students are still fine tuning their schedules.  I have had several students added to my classes, and one entire class missed their class period due to a Junior Class meeting.  Most students SHOULD have their schedule changes completed by Wednesday at the latest.  Another reason is that I have many students for the first time this year.  It is important for them to be able to ask questions and get an idea what we will be doing before jumping in.  Admittedly, there were few questions from new students, but a good number of questions came from past students.  The most prevalent was whether or not I would be pulled out to be the district’s Technology Integrator again.  I do not know if they were hoping the answer would be “yes” or “no.”

By this evening, a small number of people have signed up for my Cel.ly groups, which is a good sign.  I have everything for tomorrow set up in Edmodo. I am hoping tomorrow’s iPod roll out goes smoothly, that is the key for moving into actual class work in the next few days.

I hope to post a review of tomorrow’s activities by Wednesday morning.