Snow Day Calculator

Every now and then, my students let me know of a great new technology website and with the craziness of snowpacalypse / snowmageddon 2013, they walked in today to let me know that there is a 99% chance of a snow day tomorrow.  Their rationale?

The Snow Day Calculator

Check it out and based on the reading , have fun sleeping in tomorrow morning…

I hope there isn’t any snow, because I’d much rather be teaching AP Economics tomorrow.  Hopefully my students are pumped to learn about aggregate demand and supply.

DISCLOSURE: Keep in mind, this has nothing to do with what’s really going to happen!

Smart Notebook 11

If you have a Smartboard in your classroom, you might have noticed the notebook software is all new.   Below is a complete handout filled with tutorials and pictures on how to use Notebook.  You’ll also see a document filled with the new features of Notebook 11.

If you are new to the Smartboard, I’d recommend the following four steps.  They’re great ways for a new user to start using it in the classroom.

Notebook Tutorial

1. Use the pens.  Anytime you pick them up, they’ll work.  You can write on webpages, word documents, pictures, etc.

2. Check out the gallery.  It’s the best way to find images, backgrounds, tools like timers and handwriting paper, and interactive games to make your classroom activity better.

3. Instead of creating all your own lessons, make an account and surf through Smart Exchange.  You can download lessons already created by other teachers.  You can search by grade or subject.  You’ll find specific topics like “2 step equations”, games (Jeopardy template), even topical lessons (Thanksgiving).  The lessons are even sorted by reviewed by other teachers.   You can preview any of them and if you find one you like, I urge you to download a lesson and edit it as you please.

Video Story Problems – Math and Science.

Video math problems are simply put one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever seen used with the iPads.  To see students have to present and solve a math problem using iMovie blew me away.

You’ll see a couple examples of it below but the premise involves a camera, a math problem and some creativity.  Each student has to illustrate a concept or problem visually.  The videos normally range from :30 seconds to two minutes and really drive home the points.  Once uploaded the students can even review them at home from the web.

Below is a video from a third grader.  The videos give the students a chance to not just solve the problem but come up with their own problem then solve it.

In terms of training, most teachers used the iPads or video cameras as part of their getting to know you activities at the beginning of the class.  That way, the students could get used to the camera, editing, etc. and not lose any class time.  It’s rather incredible how quickly the students pick up the editing and use of the iPad.

Most teachers created their own video channel on Vimeo or Youtube and uploaded the videos themselves after they were done, just make sure all your students have signed the consent form.  Plus as you continue to do this project, you’ll accumulate a nice collection of awesome videos!

I’ve also attached a Video-Story-Problem-Planning-Template that I’d recommend your students use.  Most teachers that use video stories stressed the importance of a clear road map for the video along with a script and storyboard.

Teachers also allowed their students to use flip cameras or their own cameras.  They could also bring it in on smartphone or flash drive and then have the teacher upload it to the vimeo channel.

Some cool examples I’ve seen?   Ratios of clovers in lucky charm marshmallows or percents in tipping.

If you’re really interested, I STRONGLY recommend you watch the video below.  It’s 15 minutes long but will really help you move forward with this in your class.

Complete Instructions

The Complete Video Math Problems Web Channel

By Keoleian

It’s Just One of Those Days Where I Love Technology

I took a half hour, an iPad, the Avid Studio video editing app, and an iPad flash card reader and made this movie of our boys.

Yes, we’re scared by how much they look alike, too.

Awesome, awesome story about a 9 year-old boy who created his own cardboard arcade at his father’s auto parts shop in east Los Angeles.

He initially had only one customer that bought his fun pass, but luckily it was a filmmaker who found his story inspiring.

The technology parts of this story are great–how social media can spread the word and inspire, for one–but the best part is clearly the creativity and innovation that Caine has.  I would give just about anything to have that kid in class.

The video is worth 10 minutes of your time and the story keeps getting better: thanks to crowdsourcing, over \$100,000 has been raised to help Caine attend college.  Looks like a good investment to me.

The iPad as a Creative Tool

A really cool article from Lifehacker about how people are unlocking the creative potential of the iPad.

To me, this is one of the major benefits of the iPad (and, really, of a lot of technology) that is often overlooked.  It not only encourages creativity, but it helps people who otherwise thought themselves to be unoriginal find a way to make something their own.

One of the biggest laments I have about the current generation of students is that they are so monotonous.  There is just not a lot of individuality, and consequently, not a lot of creativity.

It’s impossible to quantify, but every time my students work with iPads, I see creativity from them I have not seen before.

One of the biggest hurdles to implementing the Smart Response clicker system in classrooms has been the amount of work it takes to get things running the first time. The task of getting all your class lists set up can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be.  It is possible import all of your class lists from grade quick saving you a lot of time and headaches.

If you haven’t tried smart response yet and you have a Smart Board in your room I would highly recommend it. Smart Response can actually be a huge time saver for teachers if it is set up correctly and we already have the technology in our buildings. Smart Response is great for getting quick feedback about how much students understand a concept but it can also make grading a whole lot quicker on tests if you input the questions from a paper test and have students use the clickers to complete the exam.

The instructions below help to streamline the process of setting up class lists in Smart Response by pulling them from Grade Quick.

Importing Class Lists

Oven Hot Links – March 30, 2012

If you’re off on spring break like our district is, happy travels.  If not, hopefully your break arrives soon.

Top Ten Social Media-Savvy UniversitiesThis list is populated by two Ivy League school, two British universities, and our beloved University of Michigan.  It seems to have more to do with web presence than classroom interactivity, but there it is.  Bonus hotlink: How higher education uses social media.

Don’t Let Kids Overuse iPad - A helpful reminder that some kids need their “screen time” to be monitored.  Also important to note that the iPad should be a tool for education, not the end-all, only object kids use.

New iBooks for iPad Featured -  A slow moving behemoth like education is difficult to change overnight, but iBooks could push in that direction.

National Leaders Brainstorm for Digital Learning – How do we get there?

10 Ways iPads Are Used in Classrooms -  A good list.  Anything to add?

App Review: Socrative

Cost: FREE

Age: K-12

Subject: All

One of the best features of a SmartBoard is the Response system.  To operate a Response system, you need the SmartBoard and a classroom set of clickers, which usually run about \$2,000 on their own.  The best feature of Socrative is that not only is it free, it does a better job of what the Response system tries to do.  And yes.  It’s totally free.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle using Socrative isn’t the technology itself (how many of your students walk around with iPods, iPhones, or some similar device?), but the school policies enforced in your building.  If there was a ever a reason to relax policies on cell phones and the like, an app as useful as this must surely be it.

Fun? One of my least motivated students was adamant that this would make learning fun and he would “try harder.”  And he offered that information on his own–I didn’t prompt him on how Socrative affected his learning experience.  I find that response systems like this are often labeled “fun”, and they may be for a student’s first time through, but after a while, it just becomes “learning” all over again.

Somehow, though, this feels different.  I think the fact that it is so easy to use (no login information creation for students is required) and the fact that they can use it on their own device makes it a lot more “fun”.

Easy to Use? For both teacher and student, this app is crazy easy to use.  What makes it so effective is that it is available on any machine that can access the internet.  If you are working with laptops, students can visit your own class site (a cinch to create).  If you (or the students) have iPhones, iPods, or iPads, they can access the website or download the app.

Gets the Job Done? I searched socrative.com trying to see who created this app, my theory being that it had to have been created by a teacher.  Every hiccup I have seen with similar systems is absent, every feature I wish was included already is.  It’s just fantastic and I still can’t believe 1) how free it is and 2) how easy it is.  Student engagement is something that technology should increase, and I have never seen an app that achieves it so effortlessly.

1) An iPad is not a requirement here.  If you have internet access, you are good to go.  And if you have that, use it.  Use it often.  Use it daily.  Use it to for official quizzes, informal quizzes, exit tickets, review games, even short answer questions!  (A hidden bonus if you are using short answer questions and your students have iProducts: autocorrect!)

2) Use it to go paperless.  A “paperless” classroom is something that I always thought technology would bring me, but nothing really came close.  Every step of this is digital, from quiz creation and use to student responses and performance sheets.  And though you can work across devices, it is all very seamless.

3) There is a lot of promise for general classroom use, but I especially like the Exit Ticket.  I have always thought that this was a great idea, but it just seemed like a lot of work (and a lot of paper) for maybe minimal gain–what are the odds I’m going to have 60+ Exit Tickets read and ready for feedback on a daily basis?  Maybe if I am only grading Exit Tickets…

But Socrative makes it so much easier to give quick feedback.  Student answers can be exported to Excel and I can look at them all on one easy spreadsheet to see if they are getting the concept.

Use it in a cool way?  Tell us about it in the comments.