#SatChat: Time to Adjust my Listening Skills

Ah, two Saturday’s ago I was awake and in learning mode rather early so I jumped into a Twitter #satchat, a fantastic learning and networking opportunity each and every Saturday.   The topic was based upon student listening skills and how we teach those skills.

I had to admit that I do not formally teach those skills in my class, I emphasize them throughout lessons, but do not actually  formally assess student listening.  As I thought more about the topic, I also realize that I need to improve upon my listening skills, in class and real world.

Often, especially in the classroom, I am multitasking as students are asking questions.  This prevents me from giving my full attention to the student which is not only impolite, but it may cause miscommunication between those involved in the conversation.  I am making a concerted effort to address this ASAP.  Modeling skills we want students to use in our classroom is key, if we cannot meet the expectations we ask of our students, WHY should they.

Some other take aways I will implement in my classes are exit questions and peer to peer review time either at end or very beginning of my classes.  This will allow students to reflect with a classmate and practice listening skills while reviewing course content.  To keep this from being a full fledged chat and gossip session, I will have to float about the room and engage the students, which IS MY JOB.  A quick student reply/summary of their peer to peer would allow for students to earn points for their efforts and hopefully give me insight to content with which they are comfortable or need further assistance.

I will post further as this endeavor moves forward.

In the meantime, if you get the chance and are awake by 7:30 AM on a Saturday, check out #Satchat.

Cartoons Go To War 2017

Enlightening-The United States’ effort to explain and teach both citizens and soldiers how to handle the war effort was truly enlightening.

In the video “Cartoons Go To War”…five examples.

The article”When Dr. Seuss Went to War” states 3 supporting details.

One lingering question that has intrigued me during this lesson was Ted Geisel’s use of anti-Japanese imagery and how he adjusted after the war to become more inclusive and accepting of others.

Class Orientation Day Five: Getting caught up

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.

Class Orientation: Day Four Computer Lab

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.

Class Orientation: Day Three…Bring on the Blogs!

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.

Class Orientation: Day Two

What a day…today was organized chaos with a very productive outcome.  It was also iPod Roll-out Day.

The students remembered the process we discussed yesterday.  I ran a brief discussion as to what we were trying to accomplish and the students seemed confident we would be successful.  The Polyvision interactive whiteboard (IWB) was used to model the steps to each of the following tasks.

They came back to my cart when called to sign out their iPods.  They double checked the numbers, initialed the sign-out sheet and jumped into Safari to go to our district Edmodo domain.  The web pages were open on the Polyvision IWB and the regular dry-erase board contained static text as to what was needed for the class today.

Many students already had accounts and could log in and join my classes, others had to create accounts to join my class groups.  For the most part the students at both levels were at ease with the interface.  Even students who were viewing Edmodo for the first time noticed how it was similar to Facebook in looks.

Once the students logged in they saw the assignments for the day.  Each of today’s three tasks were listed as assignments along with turning in the signed parental forms from yesterday.  The goal was to ingrain the concept of “I need to turn in assignments” on Edmodo and know how to do so.  Last year my students were a bit forgetful with this concept, but we did not use the assignment tool until late in the school year.

At this time the signed forms were collected by hand and the students used the Edmodo assignment interface to leave a digital note that they had their signed forms.  I later compared the turned in forms to the number of students who left digital notes…the numbers were close.

The students were then turned loose to go to their new Gaggle email accounts.  The link to Gaggle was embedded in the Edmodo assignment along with a pdf copy of directions.  I had the directions opened on the Polyvision board with links to the various pages open in multiple tabs.  This enabled the students to view what to expect on their screens with a larger interface.  Students volunteered to run the board during this exercise.

Once logged in to Gaggle, the students came back to my desk to change their passwords.  Administrator or teacher rights are needed to do this with Gaggle.  We had the process down and moved quickly to update passwords without holding up the class.

Students then sent an email to my school email account.  This had them actually complete a task they may need to do in the future and get my school email address in their contact list.  The plan is for them to use their Gaggle accounts when signing up for Web 2.0 tools or to email me when Edmodo is down.  They can access their Gaggle accounts to verify email addresses and retrieve passwords if needed.  Otherwise, we will be using the Edmodo classroom for communications.

Students were great at helping each other and mentoring others who were having technical difficulties.  Their ability and willingness to help out freed me up to handle issues that needed full administrative rights to fix.  These included changing passwords in Edmodo and Gaggle, looking up users in Gaggle, and reconnecting iPods to my dedicated classroom wireless network.

We adjusted on the fly with some students not in Gaggle’s system; they could not complete some of the assignments yet, but collected information so I can try and get them in soon.  This situation reinforced the concept of flexibility and the need to adjust as necessary in the classroom.

The day was not flawless by any means, but it was a great learning process for all involved.  What seemed the most impressive to me was that all of this was accomplished on an iPod interface.  Most of my students have used iPods for games and music, but few have used them in a classroom setting, with the exception of students who had me last year in other classes.

Rock and Roll by the Velvet Underground 1970 | John Larkin

Rock and Roll 0

by John • History, Life, News • Tags: , on July 16, 2011

“Rock and Roll” by the Velvet Underground. A remarkable film for a remarkable song.

I was too young to appreciate the Velvet Underground when they originally released their albums during the 1960s. Besides, I seriously doubt that they were given air time on Australian radio at the time.

In 1974 or 1975 my older brother Paul bought the album “Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal” by Lou Reed. During the concert Reed and his band performed “Rock and Roll”. I was hooked.

Later, during my first year at university I met a chap named Paul who was a fan of Reed, the Velvet Underground, Iggy & The Stooges, Radio Birdman and similar artists. Paul had an amazing collection of live recordings of these performers on cassette tape as well as an impressive collection of albums. He allowed me to borrow a copy of one of his Velvet Underground LPs and I heard “Rock and Roll” in it’s originally released form. It blew me away. You can hear it as the soundtrack to the short film in the YouTube video above.

The song was originally released on the Loaded album in 1970. I have since collected other performances of the same track by the Velvet Underground, both live and in the studio.

“Rock and Roll” is one of those songs that makes me stop. It takes precedence at that point in time. It defines the moment. It defines me.

Another fantastic post from an Educator that I follow on my social networks. Not only am I a big fan of this post because I like the Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, but John publicly shows the human side of educators. John often posts ideas on his blog that are not directly related to formal school learning, but fit more of a life experience/cultural genre.

As an educator in the United States we constantly hear from administrators, politicians, and unions to be cautious, even fearful, of social media. I myself am still guarded as to what I post on my sites; sticking mainly to straight educational tips and topics.

This needs to change, we as Educators need to show students, parents, and anyone who is watching that we have a human side. We need to use the forum of social media as an informal educational tool. Pique the curiosity of others by exposing them to ideas and concepts they may never otherwise experience.

Student Math Projects

One of our high school math teachers, Kerri Heymann, @kheymann on Twitter, recently had her Algebra students create a neat project to help other students in the school.  The idea is not new, but it is useful; the students created screencasts of math problems and posted them on the Internet for other students to use as a review resource.  You can find the screencasts here.

The process was simple, students paired up, chose a topic, designed several problems and directions to solve them, then recorded their examples.  Kerri then posted the link to the videos on her school Edline page and her Edmodo classroom.  Now for some name dropping to explain the details…

The students set the problems up on the Polyvision Boards using RM Easiteach software, Kerri set up a free account and a channel on Screencast-o-matic, which the students used to record their explanations.  At this time I would like to thank fellow technology coaches, Jason Henry, John Deihl, and Carol Roth who helped with the recording ideas.  I could not find a way to record directly with RM Easiteach, and they helped clarify that you cannot do so at this time and suggested alternatives.  The students then came into several staff classrooms to record their presentations without distractions.

The students were comfortable with using the Polyvision Boards and Easiteach, we run both the Next Generation and older versions in our district.  Screencast-o-matic took them all of about 10 seconds to learn; the process went very well…the hardest obstacle the students had to overcome was giggling or shyness during their presentations.  The best part of the project was the independence of the students.  We sat back and waited to assist if necessary, but the students handled their issues well.

As a first step, the project went very well, we are already planning expanding and improving upon things for next year.  Hopefully the students can help pull other staff members into similar projects next year.  After all, students are the best at pulling hesitant staff into the realm of classroom technology use and making these tools a part of everyday life.

The First Week of School: a reminiscence

Well, the first week of school with students is now over.  My ambitious Student Technology Orientation Plan is behind schedule, but I am adjusting well.  Somethings are out of my control, such a s schedule changes, pep rally schedule, Gaggle emails, and class sizes, I just work around these issues.

Day One was the worst day of the week, I handed out my classroom rules and expectations and reviewed them with all six classes…ARGH!  It was tedious and mind-numbing, even with variations and exaggerations, but necessary to review with students.  I did not hand out the iPod Touches on this day for two reasons.  I still was upgrading the software and adjusting the apps on the iPods; over the summer I loaded all of the apps I have tested on the iPods for some conferences and workshops I presented at.  I also had students in and out of classes with schedule changes, so I thought it best to show them the cart and explain the sign out process before trying to accomplish too much in the 40 minutes I have for each class.  We did manage to break the monotony a bit by having some students use the hand-held mini Eno Board to control my Macbook from their seats.  I survived the day feeling much like a zombie after the mindless repetition of the day.

I had some students approach me asking for help to use their own devices for learning.  I gave them a list of free apps that can be used for educational purposes, as long as it is not in a classroom, since it is against many school districts’ policies.

Day Two was another story.  The students were called up one at a time to sign out the iPods, initialing next to their name on a class spreadsheet.  We worked on double checking the ID number on the iPod they use.  It sounds silly, but it is important to make sure they are signing for the correct iPod, they are after-all responsible for its well being during class.

The directions for the day were projected on the Polyvision board, I use the RM Easiteach notebook software to organize my lessons. Students were directed to open up the Safari browser and go to Edmodo.com, which is the platform I use for my online classroom.  The process was helped along in the 11th and 12th grade classes by some unofficial student mentors who have worked with the technology before in class, either iPods, Edmodo, or both tools.  In the two 9th grade classes none of the students had never used Edmodo or iPods in class, but they were smaller classes which makes working with them easier.

The students either signed into Edmodo or created accounts, then used the 6 digit code to join my class.  They students are grouped by subject, then I created small groups for each period.  This will help with class management of information and allow for greater collaboration.  An explanation to how Edmodo will be used can be found on a previous post.  Students were urged to help each other out while the Edmodo class was projected up onto the Polyvision board.  I directed traffic by modeling what do do on the board and floating around the room, once again we used the mini Eno board to control my Macbook. The students introduced themselves to the class by posting a note in Edmodo and then answered a survey question in Edmodo.  They were able to see the live updates on the vote and posts on the Polyvision board.  We wrapped up each class a bit early to sign the iPods back in.

The only hitch was in my last class when the Edmodo site went down.  Fortunately there are a number of students in ths class who have used Edmodo and were already logged in when the site stopped working.  They were directed to work the classroom, showing others how Edmodo looks on an iPod, while I used the static image on the Polyvision board to explain some things.  In the middle of all of this organized chaos I put out a question through Tweetdeck to see if anyone else was having Edmodo issues and a quick Skype message to Edmodo co-founder Jeff O’Hara about the issue.  I had replies from both sources within 30 minutes, but I was too busy to respond back to them.  By the evening Edmodo was back online.

The students enjoy watching me fumble around with the mini Eno board while others tried the board and showed me up.  It is important for students to see that everyone has a learning curve with new ideas and tools.

Day Three began almost the same as Day Two and the students were becoming quite comfortable with the process much more quickly than I had hoped for.  Sign-out the iPods, go to Edmodo, and the assignment is right there.  Today’s assignment was to click on the link in Edmodo to jump to the class wiki and request to join.  I explained that Edmodo is how I push information out to them and the wiki is their platform to collaborate and publish their work. Students who needed to finish up yesterday’s assignments were given time to do so.  They were also encouraged to look over the wiki and the various iPod apps to become more familiar with the tools.  My last class of the day worked on getting caught up with the other classes, they joined the Edmodo class and began posting introductions and completing the survey.

One other difference in most classes was the use of my Livescribe pen.  I received a Livescribe pen at the KTI Summit this past summer.  The pen records sound and pen strokes then uploads them to a computer.  You can push the information out to the Internet to share with others.  The plan is to have students take turns taking notes in class then push the notes out to Edmodo and the wiki as an additional resource.  At this time I am unsure about using the audio recording feature in class.

Day Four followed the previous patterns, students took the Livescribe pen to make a file of record for what we did, students signed out the iPods, logged into Edmodo and looked for the assignment of the day.  There have been a number of schedule changes in all of the classes, so the students were directed to help each other out and get all of the previous tasks completed.  While they were doing that, I handed out the directions and parent sign off sheet for Textmarks.  This will allow for parents and students to sign up to receive text message updates for my classes.  The students worked on getting each other caught up and used to the iPods.

Day Five had shorter periods, we had our first pep rally of the school year.  The students signed out the iPods and logged into the Edmodo classroom.  Each class then followed the link to a Google Form that was embedded into the class wiki.  They were asked 8 questions, such as name, period, what tools they were comfortable with, which ones they weren’t what tools would they like to learn about.   This will give me some basic information as to how they are adjusting to the new tools in class.

Once they finished filling out the short form, they were directed to the Evernote app on the iPods.  Students were to create accounts or log in and we worked with typing on the iPods.  I also modeled how Evernote works on a computer, by projecting the process onto the Polyvision board.  Students practices taking screenshots on the iPods so they could upload them to Evernote, it seemed to be a very productive day, except for my last class.  The announcements for the pep rally interrupted the class, so we stopped signing out iPods and discussed how the week went.

Overall the week went well and we seemed to accomplish a good bit of basic work.  the students are catching on quickly, so we can start getting into curriculum sooner rather than later.  I did not want to overwhelm students by tossing them into new technology and then dumping curriculum on top of that right away.  It would be unfair and many could shut down and be lost for the year.  As for signing the iPods out and back in, we are down to 7 or 8 minutes in my larger classes, not bad considering I have around 30 students in some classes, to under 5 minutes in my smaller classes.

There are a few more basic tools to be introduced next week, along with the first Blog assignment of the year using the iPods, but that is another post for another day.

Google Images: A Clarification…

I have been a strong advocate of using Creative Commons for all projects, students, teachers, mine, regardless of whether or not the projects would be posted on the Internet. My philosophy is fairly simple, we as educators need to be consistent.  As a teacher, we give students a zero for copying answers off of someone else, be it homework or a test. We consider it cheating and wrong to do. Well, copying images off of the Internet that aren’t ours to use is pretty much the same thing, unless you have their permission to use the images.

You can’t fail someone for cheating, then turn around and teach them to copy any image off the Internet regardless of usage rights. Well…okay…you can…but you will look foolish to the kids who are fairly intelligent.

Now to my point…I was against students just “Googling” for images, mainly because they would not check for usage rights, they would just copy and paste, or download and insert. They never checked for copyright. I tried to push to sites where usage was usually permitted, such as Flickr and our CFF wiki where I posted many open source links.  I have to admit that it was a losing battle.

At the two days of Google Training at IU 7 in Westmoreland County, I learned the solution to my situation. You can go to Google’s Main page, then click on images. You will see a list of links across the top of the page, choose “Images.” You will be directed to a search page specifically for images. Next to the box to search, choose “Advanced Search Options.” (See Image Below)

Google Image Search

Google Image Search

In advanced search options you can choose which type of usage rights you are searching for. There are five options for usage rights, I have one highlighted below with a yellow arrow. You can also choose for a content secure search based upon your students’ ages. This option is highlighted by a blue arrow.

Check out the arrows.

Check out the arrows.

If you take the extra five seconds to work in advanced search you can easily use Google Image searches to get information for class presentations and projects.  This not only models appropriate behavior for your students, but it keeps you from compromising yourself down the road if you ever decide to post your presentation publicly, or get called into a parent conference for failing a student for cheating.