This is the last planned post of tweets from Storify. This is cross-posted to the Southwest PAECT Blog located here.
This is the last planned post of tweets from Storify. This is cross-posted to the Southwest PAECT Blog located here.
This is also posted on the Southwest PAECT Region Blog on Blogger located here.
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.
Once again, school has started at NBHS and we are getting into the groove of the year. This year I have 3 senior Econ/POD/Psych/Soc classes, 1 World Cultures Class, and 2 Honors Civics Classes. The grades in order listed are 12th, 10th, and 9th. I run a basic orientation every year to introduce the students to the tools we use in class, such as Edmodo, Edublogs, and the iPods and iPads. Over the years I have scaled back what I introduce to the students, some of the items introduced were rarely used, or used so much later in the year students had to relearn how to use them, no need to mention them here.
This year is nice, orientation is moving much more quickly, almost all of my seniors already use the tools that were introduced, a few need to learn Edublogs, but have used Edmodo, my are similar. All of them used Edmodo last year, but need to learn Edublogs. A few of my freshmen have used Edmodo in the past, but none have seen Edublogs yet. Almost all of my students, if not all, have read or written blog posts, so they understand the basic concepts, they just need to see the specifics of Edublogs. Every one of my students has had experience with some sort of mobile device, specifically iPods or iPads, possibly just not in a learning situation. The students familiarity with these tools makes my job so much easier. No longer do we need to start at square one and move forward, most students have some experience and they willingly mentor those students who may need assistance. This frees me up to troubleshoot issues like resetting passwords, reconnecting devices to the Internet, or working with students who need a lot of assistance.
Three days into class and all but one of my classes have logged in to Edmodo and field tested the iPods with Edmodo, along with the new Edmodo interface that will soon be released to the public. The only class that did not log in will do so on Tuesday, we hd abbreviated periods due to a pep rally schedule. We had a few hiccups and bumps in the road, which is par for the course when using technology. Fortunately we turned all of them into learning situations, with students helping each other out, mentoring others, and even helping me troubleshoot and test different workarounds to the issues. The most important lesson students learned was patience and not to stress if things go awry, I emphasize the fact that if things don’t work as planned, we adjust and move on without penalty.
At the end of the day, only about 4 students had to use one of the laptop computers to access Edmodo and complete the assigned tasks. if we would have had more time, or preferably block scheduling, I could have kept those students on the iPods and worked out a solution to the log in issues. If time was not short, I also could have had the students start on their blogs. The biggest consumer of time today was the handing out and collecting the iPods from the students. Most of my classes are 20+ in student numbers, it takes time to hand out the devices and collect them with the system in place, manually handing out the devices and students initially a sheet of paper. The good news is that it took under 10 minutes to hand out and collect devices in each class, and history has proven that the time improves as the year goes on and we all become more familiar with the process.
Next week we jump into Edublogs and students start writing posts about course expectations, then we move into the course curriculum. The students’ familiarity with 21st Century tools and skills as enabled us to move forward at a faster pace into the purpose of the courses, the actual curriculum.
Today, the last day of week one, we headed back to the computer lab. The plan was to have the students go into Edmodo and check their grades, then work on any assignments from this week that they had not yet completed. I had graded everything that they had turned in so far and placed grades in the Edmodo gradebook.
We discussed why some of them had submitted assignments but not received grades. This meant something was not right, they may have submitted the wrong assignment, a name was missing, or I may have missed the assignment. This process of submitting work through Edmodo will keep all of us informed as to the status of work and what we need to to do keep EVERYONE successful.
The students worked well, many went back and “officially” turned in assignments through Edmodo that they had completed but not submitted through the online classroom. I was able to work more one on one and with small groups on technical details for Edmodo and Edublogs.
We did encounter an issue with Edublogs where some students could not log in and their password resets to Gaggle were not working. I submitted the issues through the Pro Support tab in my dashboard and before the period was out I had the issues resolved. Sue W. and Ronnie B. were the specific helpers in Edublogs support. They did inform me that Gaggle disables the password resets from their site, but they were working to resolve the issue.
I had one or two students who were new additions to my classes and they were once again added into everything. I was able to sit down with a couple of students who were behind and assist them with tasks. As more students asked for help we went to the mentor approach. Some students who were asked to mentor others were a bit surprised; they did not think they knew enough to help. They were wrong, they did an excellent job helping others which made the day a success.
There were a few parent concerns sent in on the signed information sheets. I was able to zip off email replies to answer their questions. The main concern was about a lack of home Internet access and if it would affect student grades. I assured the parents that time is given in class to complete assignments, and my room is open during the day for students to come in and work. A lack of home access should not be a problem unless students are wasting time in class and not utilizing time during the school day.
Overall, the day was very productive and the students cleared out most of their due assignments, which left me with a ton of work to grade. The pace was much more relaxed, which I greatly appreciated. It has been a bit tiring this week, but the groundwork is in place for the rest of the year. There are a few more tools that need to be rolled out, but they can wait until they are needed for specific assignments.
Today, my students went to the computer lab around the corner from my room…they experienced working on the iPods, now they needed back in their comfort zone. The assignments that needed to be completed could be done more efficiently on a larger interface than what the iPods could provide.
We met in my room to review the lesson for the day. We ran a quick overview of what needs done by looking at the assignments in Edmodo. They saw haw to use the “Grades” tab to see what they have turned in, received grades for, or owed. The Blog Expectation Parent Sign-off sheets were handed out, and I showed them the Dashboard of their blogs on the Polyvision Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). The last lesson for Orientation was also rolled out. After the students post to their blog, they are to personalize their blog to their liking. It is their blog, hopefully they will use it beyond mandatory class assignments. They should be allowed to place their stamp on it. There is a rubric for basic minimums required, it is their blog to personalize, but there still needs to be some requirements in place. I shared a folder with links to a few widgets for them to use in Edmodo.
Once in the computer lab the students jumped into the assignments. Some caught on rather quickly and became student mentors to others. This helped me out tremendously; since there were still a few new students in some classes that needed put into the class system, Edmodo, Edublogs, and all of the previous assignments. Once again I could handle the administrative tasks and have my students mentor the new students and get them up to speed. Once those were completed, I floated about and worked one on one or with small groups answering technical questions.
Overall the day was rather fast paced and a bit hectic, but very productive. Two more days in the computer room and we are jumping into the curriculum.
Today we slowed the pace down a bit during class orientation and let the ideas of this week soak in.
A student from each period logged into Edmodo and projected their view of Edmodo to the rest of the class. It looks rather different on an IWB when compared to the screen on an iPod Touch.
We worked around the various functions as a review and the students were given instructions to finish up left over tasks from yesterday. The students liked the notification feature in the top right of the screen, they saw how easy it was to keep informed of class information.
Next the new assignments were introduced; signing in to their individual blog, changing their password, and if there was time they would start their Class Expectation Blog Post. The first two assignments were short and sweet. The third assignment made their faces drop at first…it seemed as if more than a few were expecting DOOM and GLOOM when the word BLOG was mentioned.
I then explained that instead of writing paragraphs and essay question answers on paper that would be possibly forgotten at home, in a locker, lost by one of us, and eventually thrown out or forgotten, we would complete most of our writing on the INTERNET. Same writing they are used to completing, different platform for submission. The mention of Digital Portfolio and Resume did not seem to resonate with them as I had hoped…I will explain that purpose again once they have more information posted online.
A student volunteer worked the Edmodo interface where the assignment, links, directions, and rubric are posted. They pulled up the documents in a preview mode as we discussed the assignment. They opened my example post on my Class Expectations for this year and saw what was expected of them. Students who were in my classes last year added to the information. Once they concretely saw what was expected of them they became more relaxed. I suspect, and hope, the office will get less calls this year because, “Mr. Salvucci is making my child blog and I thought the class was about social studies.”
I know information being filtered through students to parents can become muddled or convoluted so I am sending parent information letters home to be signed. This should help keep confusion to a minimum. Unfortunately, I forgot to send them home with my earlier classes, so they will all be send home tomorrow.
A few students who were added to my class through schedule changes or being new to our school did not yet have accounts. I jumped into Edublogs and used my Pro status to create blogs for them. The entire process took about 30 seconds per student. During Period 8, we had a slight “hiccup” and my students lost connection with Edublogs, but were still able to access other web sites. I posted a quick tweet to @Edublogs asking about their status and received a timely reply. The entire time of being unable to connect was only about five minutes and it was toward the end of class so we just wrapped up the lesson for the day.
In other events of the day, my two world cultures classes voted on dividing into sub-groups. When the idea was brought up, I began to comment that I know what we can do…which was finished by one of my students from last year, “you are putting it to a vote with a poll.” Some of my students know me and Edmodo rather well. The results of the poll will appear later in this post. Just as a note they were given the option of staying in one group or splitting since they are not an overwhelming number of students.
I have one class, a period 2 20th Century U.S. History class that is one day behind everyone else due to Junior class meetings on Monday. They were almost caught up by the end of the period, with some students even to the point of logging into their blogs. It was nice to see them jump right in and be comfortable with what we were doing.
All in all I believe we had a very productive day.
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.
Okay, I finally played around with restrictions on my class set of iPods. I am not a big fan of censorship, and banning things, I prefer to have things open and teach appropriate behavior/use of tools. Afterall, the world outside of school does not have filters, students need to learn how to self regulate.
Anyway, as I updated the iPod cart I began looking into the restrictions on the devices. You can limit content and what can be adjusted on the iPods and lock in those restrictions with a four digit code. I set two iPods up with restrictions to see what would happen. You can restrict the following items; Safari, YouTube, iTunes, Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, Locations, Accounts, In-App Purchases, ratings for multimedia and apps, and game center settings.
I locked down the two iPods restricting everything but Safari and YouTube, since we have a firewall and filtering system here in school which would control what can be accessed from those apps. The restrictions were not worth the effort, they not only blocked others from working with the iPods, but they blocked me. I could no longer use the cart to update apps and information, I had to go into the iPods individually and unlock the passcodes to make adjustments. The process was going to be too cumbersome. I need to be able to make adjustments to apps and such from the cart.
By limiting the “accounts” my students would not be able to log into school email using the email app on the device. I also have the students using Evernote and Google Apps, they would be locked out of adjusting those accounts with the restrictions on. I took the restrictions off for those items also.
It was a nice, short experiment that proved to me to keep restrictions to a minimum. I did lock down the Game Center, and restricted media to PG-14. This was mostly for superficial reasons, the students cannot access the Game Center because they do not have my iTunes password. The students are also limited to what they can actually download to the devices and I have made a habit of not putting explicit material on them either.
Overall, for the time it takes to adjust the iPods it does not make much sense to put the restrictions in place for a high school setting. Unless you have a lot of free time with nothing better to do…