iPod and Edmodo

Today, me seniors jumped into my Edmodo online classroom on the iPod Touches. I needed an easy online source where we can coordinate all of our work. I believe this is it. We have been building basic skills on the iPods and the students have been learning to use tools they can take with them and use in college or the work place. It is a good thing, but all of the tools are individual parts of a system. I needed a platform to pull them together.

Now, we can use Edmodo as that platform. My students go onto Safari, the browser on the iPods, and either use the bookmark access or type in Edmodo.com and they are in the classroom.

Today, they either signed up if they did not have an account, or sign in if they were existing users, typed in the short code, and  they were in my class. Fantastic. They started by taking a short poll on how they store notes for my class, then posted a ‘Note” in response to a question I asked. They will then reply to a classmates note for their next assignment. A semi-threaded discussion board in a matter of minutes.

I have a second poll up now, asking which day of the week is best for them to access my after-school virtual office. I will open office hours one night per week, via Elluminate. The polling tool in Edmodo is easy to use and easy to get results.

All class announcements and copies of assignments can be placed on the site, so students will have 24/7 access to information. They can also hand assignments in via Edmodo, so we do not have to worry about hard copies getting lost or forgotten.

I linked all of our major tools to each class, this way, the students will log into Edmodo and begin the lessons from their. No more trying to type long URLs into the navigation bar, search Diigo for the correct link, or anything like that. Just log in and see the assignments. This will be great for students who miss class too.

Other teachers in the district have been using it for awhile. I toyed with it briefly last year, but we had BlackBoard, so I stuck with that. Moodle is on the horizon in our district, but Edmodo fits the iPods better. Less clutter on the screen, less of a learning curve for the kids. It has a “Facebook” feel to the pages.

My colleague, Bryan Pasquale, asked, Jeff O’Hara,  @zemote on Twitter, if there were any upcoming apps for Balckberries and/or iPods/iPhones. The reply was yes. Jeff, @zemote, reiterated that message again via a direct message in Twitter. Then we will be able to just jump to Edmodo from the iPod screen, no web browser needed. The site will not only make using the iPods easier, but make my overall classroom setup more powerful without the steep learning curve of Blackboard or Moodle.

iPod Online Quizzes

Yesterday, I ran a quiz for my Senior Econ  classes online, using Examview Test Generator and our class wiki. The results were rather good, although there are adjustments I need to make.

I made the quiz, a review of the terms we had been discussing, in Examview and chose to save them as an html file. I went to my class wiki at http;//mrsal.wikispaces.com and upload the quiz as a regular file. I have a page set up for this purpose.

In class the students went to the wiki page and opened the test on the iPod Touches. They had to enlarge the text to read the choices. All the questions were multiple choice or true/false, so the students only had to negotiate a drop down menu to answer the questions. You can create any number of formats, but I did not want to overwhelm them on the first try.

I allowed the students to use their online notes in Google Docs or Evernote, or their paper copies of the notes. Most of the students used the on;ine version of their notes and were scrolling back and forth between the web pages. This was difficult for a few students to handle, so they reverted to paper notes.

We did have a couple of students hit the wrong button to submit the quiz to me via e-mail, however we were able to get back to the quizzes without losing any information. The quizzes and results were then sent to my e-mail.

The first adjustment that I need to make is to have a paper copy of the version for students to have, just in case they want an easier copy to read. They will still answer online, but reading from a paper copy will help several of my kids out. They were struggling with scrolling around the screen while trying to read the enlarged text.

The main adjustment is for me to use quizzes for formative assessment, short quick reviews and study guides, instead of larger summative exams. The shorter versions will allow, or force students to see how much of the material they understand. They can then adjust their study habits accordingly. I will give them participation points for using these as a self-assesment tool. In the past it seemed to help my students greatly.

Overall I was very pleased with how the exercise went.

iPod Project Update: Hiccup in system.

I have been using Documents 2, the free version to use as a word processor on the iPod Touches. We have an issue and are trying to find a work around. My students can edit and add information to documents that were originated on Documents 2 and uploaded to our districts’ Google Apps Domain, but cannot edit documents that originated in another program.

I paid for the upgrade to Documents 2, the pay version and it does not address the issue. Students will only be using iPod Touches in my classroom. In study hall, or outside of school they will be using some other form of computer. I will be working on this fix for awhile. I tossed it out to the students, offering extra credit to the first to find the fix. So far there have been no takers.

I am in the process of contacting Savvy Soda, the app creator, to see if they know how to correct the issue.

iPod Project: Sign in & out Update

After about 2 weeks of use, and not continuous due to my schedule, we are down to about 5 minutes to sign the iPods out and another 5 minutes to sign them back in. This time has decrease dramatically with us getting used to the system. I hand them out in a linear fashion, I just run down the list of students from 1 to 25, calling out their names, the iPod number, and the students double check the number as they initial the sign out form.

To sign them back in, if I get a bit distracted, imagine that, the students remind me that we are under 10 minutes remaining in class. I have them start logging off, and as they are ready they come back to my desk and turn them in. I again call out their name and iPod number as they turn in the equipment. They again initial by their iPod number to state that they turned in the correct iPod.

If I did not have hall duty, we could start the process sooner, but I stand right outside of my door and get started as soon as the bell rings. Still, using 10 minutes out of a 40 minute class for administrative stuff is a lot of time, but until we convert to block scheduling, it is what I have to work with.

I hope to start having the students take quizzes using the iPods shortly, but that is another post.

iPod Rollout: All In.

After several days of limited roll out with the iPods, we went all in. I have 24 to 25 students in each class. I allotted about 10 to 15 minutes for signing the iPods out and another 10 to 15 minutes for signing the iPods back in. I was hoping it would take less time. The first day, we averaged about 10 minutes with each process, a little longer turning them back in. This is an issue with 40 minute periods, but time for logging in and out should decrease as we get used to the system.

The students were able to jump right in with Google Docs using Documents 2. They began using Documents 2 to type definitions for class and take notes. Some students chose to use Evernote, which is also a free app to take notes. I left the choice up to the students.

If a student needed to use the hall pass, their iPod was turned over to me until they returned.

All of the resources we are using to gain information are Internet based, so students can jump around on the Internet with Safari to view sites and record notes on the program of their choosing. In the beginning their was a bit of awkwardness with the system.

iPod Rollout, Day Three: The last of the small groups

On the third day of our PSSA retakes, my classes were once again around ten to twelve students per class. I had about a fifty-fifty mix of experienced users to new users. Granted my experienced users had one or two days of using the iPods in class, but it was enough for this type of setting.

The students were able to review the sign out and sign in procedures, and explain why they had to give the iPods back to me if they were using the hall pass during class. Basic review is good, we need to make these procedures second nature, normal class sizes are around twenty-five students per class.

The rest of the period we had the new users set up Google Apps if their iPod was not already set up. Students who had used the iPods previously served as mentors for the new users. They worked with Google Apps, Documents 2, and Evernote. They also jumped on Safari and worked on accessing the class Diigo account and my Netvibes class page. The students practiced expanding or making the screen larger by using their fingers on the screen. The typical practice is to place two fingers close together on the screen and move them away from each other to expand the text. The opposite action makes the text smaller so you can see more of a web page at one time.

To me it looks like the old “Kids in the Hall” skit where they “crush each others’ heads.” They would look at each other through their thumb and forefinger so the other person’s head was located in the space. They would close their fingers together and say, “I am crushing your head!” There was a way to block this, if a person noticed what was going on…but I digress.

This was the last day of small group work and I had seen most of my students on one of the days. My students were ready to mentor each other as needed. I gave out five participation points for each day of class for their promise to do this. The students seemed at ease with the iPods in this short time. So far, so good…

iPod Rollout: Day Two

The second day of the iPod rollout was similar to Day One; PSSA make ups kept my class numbers around ten students. I had a mix of students from the previous day and a few students who were logging in for the first time. I had the students partner up one to one with iPods and review how to set up the Google Apps info on the iPods. That went smoothly.

The next step was to have the students use the iPods to log into their Evernote accounts. Evernote on the iPods allows you to create text notes and voice notes. It also allows you to view pictures you have captured. We concentrated on text notes. The students logged into their accounts and typed information with the iPod Touch keyboard. They then synchronized the notes by hitting the “Save” button in the upper right hand side of the screen. You also have the option of sending the note to an e-mail address. I do not plan on using this option much, all of my students are signed up for free Evernote accounts.

I walked around the room and monitored the students as they worked and was able to work one on one with them if they had questions. Towards the end of the period I collected the iPods in about fivc minutes time. Once again, the students intialed a roster sheet as they signed the iPods out and in again. The students were starting to see how useful the iPods could be in a class setting.

iPod Classroom Rollout: Day One

This post was started back in October, I am finishing it now….

Yesterday could not have been set up better for the iPod rollout. We have PSSA retakes going on for the seniors. It worked out well for me that many of my students were retaking the PSSA Math section yesterday. I had 9 and 10 students in each class. I ran through the process of setting up the iPods with my seniors. It went rather smoothly, if I do say so myself.

I handed out the iPods one at a time, with the students initialing next to their name when they received the iPod. Each student is assigned a specifically number iPod that they will use throughout the year. The hand out process only took a few minutes since numbers were low.

The first thing I had the students do was scroll around the screen and look at the apps that are loaded on the iPod. All of my students were familiar with how to scroll about the screens, so we did not spend much more time doing so.  I focused on two apps in particular for the first day. I downloaded the Google App for the iPods and Documents 2 by Savvy Soda. Currently I am using the free version of Documents 2.

I had the students go into Google and set up the iPod to access our Google Apps domain for the school district. They did this by opening Google and clicking on the settings tab at the bottom of the screen. It asks for the domain name that you would like to work with. The students typed in our school’s domain and we were set. The info will look like this on your iPod if you do this…

Google apps info accent

I had them then log into their school Google account and work with viewing items in their account.

The next step was to log into Documents 2 and access their Google Account using the “G” icon at the top right hand side of their screen. This allows students to log into Google and then access their documents for editing purposes. The process is simple. The click on the “G” icon and log into Google Apps when prompted. They then have access to all of their saved documents.

Student sthen choose a document by tapping the screen and choose “Download” when prompted. They will be notified when the download is complete. They then navigate back to the Documents 2 main section by using the back button on the top left hand side of the screen. This will take them to the main document section of Documents 2. They tap on the document to begin editing. I have found that there are issues with the free version when trying to edit files originally typed in Word. The screen is blank, so I think I may need to upgrade to the paid version. That being said, files started in Documents 2 open easily.

To save back to Google Apps students click on “File” in the upper left hand corner of the screen. They will be prompted to choose from “Save,” “Save Ax,” and “Discard.” They choose “Save Ax,” which takes them to the next screen where they can edit the document name and choose between saving to the iPod, uploading to Google, emailing the document, or moving it to another folder on the iPod.  I have my students use the “Google Upload” option. They are notified when the upload is complete.

Since my students share iPods, I have them delete the copy on the iPod and close out of the programs. We signed the iPods back in the same way they were signed out. The sign in and sign out process did not take long since we only had a few students in class. Overall it was a success.