Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Google Classroom – Edit PDF feature has downside!


open-in

CLICK THIS ICON!!

The new option of editing PDF’s in Google Classroom is sweet – the math teachers in my building are excited! However. . .

On the iPad, when students click on any resource (even if it is a google document/slideshow) it opens in PDF editing with a “pencil” icon and an “open in” icon (see below) they need to click that “open in” icon in order for it to open in Google docs. I’ve been running into the issue where students are editing a PDF copy of the document instead of the shared google doc, which means I can’t collaborate at all and they can’t collaborate with each other.

It is just a matter of training the students to click that icon!

 

Staying Organized using Google Apps for Ed. in the classroom


(Scroll to the bottom to skip to the video)

I was recently asked (twice in the same week) to share how I organize student work shared with me via Google Apps for Education. At nErDcamp Northern New England I attended a session on using Google Apps to give feedback to students (See the session notes here) and shared how I organize all the documents that students share with me.

-A side note: As an 8th grade teacher in Maine, each of my students has a MacBook Air to use. We are also a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) District which has allowed me to be a mostly paperless classroom.

When I began using GAFE in the classroom the document list was much easier to navigate, but when the format changed I knew that I had to as well.

I always have students make two folders – an “LA” folder and a “LA Pass in” folder, they share the “LA pass in” folder with me and put it in folder inside the LA folder. This serves a couple of purposes: 1. It provides students with some structure for their own files (I actually lead them through this process for each of their classes). 2. It provides an easy way to share and see what is shared with me – after the folder is shared with me, EVERYTHING they put in there becomes shared with me.

–Another side note: I have strict naming protocols, EVERY DOCUMENT (and folder) must follow this format: [Last name, First initial NAME OF ASSIGNMENT]. I don’t look at anything named “untitled document”.

When an assignment is ready to be passed in they fill out a form I create using GAFE. It asks for their Name (a separate question for last and first), class section, and a link to their shared document. Now, I often will include other items – a question that forces them to go through a formatting checklist, a reminder to put the assignment into their “LA Pass in” folder. I have recently began including a grid question that recreates the rubric so they can self evaluate on the assignment and I also include questions that make them reflect on the process of the assignment.

The student accounts (and so the account I use to interact with them) are managed and I am unable to share the exact forms I use with students but here is a link to a PDF of the form students used to submit the final draft of their poetry essay.

The brilliance of using a form to collect student work like this is that I then end up with a spreadsheet with a link to the assignment that I can sort by last name, class section, or by how they scored themselves.

Watch the video below to see the form, the spreadsheet it creates, and how I use it.

Set up a Digital PLN


 

When I mention to people that I’m on Twitter most respond “I don’t see the point” or “I don’t get it”. That is when I explain to them that I use it as a Personal Learning Network (PLN). If you set it up right, Twitter is a hotbed of links, resources, thought-provoking questions and statements, and support for educators. If you looked at the list of accounts I follow on Twitter you would see that they are all related to education and technology, this means my feed only (well 99% of the time) contains only items I have interest in (okay maybe I’m not interested in every post, but the chances are high that I will be).

Of course some of you are thinking – I can’t sign up for yet another site. The good news is that you can reap the benefits of Twitter without participating. As an educator we know that participation is a better model, it works without it but is so much better with it. By utilizing the search bar on the twitter site you can find tweets on just about any topic. Even better is to search for hashtags, that is a tag added to the tweet that provides a way to have a conversation. At the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit people tweeted about what was going on using the hashtag #gafesummit This means that if you go to the search bar in twitter and put in #gafesummit (include the # symbol) you will see all the tweets. If you wanted to have students tweet about a novel their reading and have other students (within or outside the school) interact you could have them add a hashtag, e.g. students reading Lord of the Flies would add the hashtag #LOTF to let everyone quickly and easily be a part of the conversation.

There are lots of hashtags you can check out such as

Find me on twitter here. Look at who I follow (this is a great way to find new people to follow)

I also use Google+ as a PLN. The great thing about Google+ (and this is similar to Twitter) you can add people to circles and they don’t have to add you back. Being able to organize your contacts is great (so great that Facebook copied this), this allows flexibility, you can have a PLN circle (that’s what I call it), a friends circle, family circle, people you’ve met once but don’t really know circle – PEOPLE WILL NOT KNOW WHAT CIRCLE YOU’VE PUT THEM IN!!!!!

The advantages of Google+ are:

  • Not limited to 140 characters
  • Much easier to follow a conversation
  • HANGOUTS!!

If you don’t have a digital PLN start with Twitter and putz around there. Leave a comment with your tips/tricks/suggestions for follows/hashtags!

 

 

Managing Student Work in Google Docs


It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Google Docs. Managing student work can be a nightmare though. Collections help but you still end up with multiple open tabs (or windows if that’s your style). The Free Technology for Teachers Blog (written by a Maine educator and something you really need to check out) had a post that provided a link to yet another blog that gives some step by step directions on how collect assignments via gdocs and click through them all in the same window. I’ve set up the form on my site here. I’m going to try it out just for Lord of the Flies assignments as a test run. 

The post can be found here and it includes a link to make a copy of the form (you don’t even have to create it, just add the list of your assignments (or you could have the student fill that out and remove that piece of work. 

One or two spaces after a period?


Not many students use two spaces after a period, but some do and they ask me about it (which is right, why, and does it matter). To lay it to rest once and for all – The answer is one space after a period. 


I always knew that this two-space habit originated in the dark ages of the type-writer (okay even before that but the 13 year olds can’t even fathom that far back can you?) because there was no difference in spacing between characters (i.e. letters, symbols, spaces etc.) so two spaces were needed to give the reader a visual indication (in addition to the period) that the sentence had ended.


I recently came across an article (called “Down with the Double Tap” clever huh?) that goes into even further detail, so if you are interested, or just not convinced, here is some more information on this topic – enjoy.

What is the “backchannel”?


The term “backchannel” refers to what teachers would call the side-conversations that happen during class. Now we know that not all of these conversations are off topic, sometimes students are getting clarification of directions, brainstorming, getting feedback, or engaging with the topic/material in some other way. Tapping into this backchannel brings all that to the attention of the group. It brings questions and answers, feedback, and other chatter that has the potential of creating a whole new level of engagement to your class. You don’t have to acknowledge everything that is posted and obviously some direction and modeling and practice using it will have to happen. You can archive these conversations and make them available for students to access later.

Todaysmeet is a free resource that allows you to create rooms that expire. (A different room for each unit? class block?) There is no signing up for you or students to use this site. Students enter a name to use and start typing. The downside is that students could put whatever name they want and you would have a hard time monitoring who is saying what (if you wanted to do that), easily dealt with by having clear expectations. The benefit of this site is that only people who have the link can join the room.

Twitter is also geared perfectly for this. The use of hashtags (#) keeps everyone together and allows for a more complicated organization to happen (if desired). This does need a (free) account for all who want to participate. The downside is the need of an account (it is free and easy to set up), and that it is public to anyone (they would have to be following a user or search for the hashtag which would limit the number of outside audience members). The benefit of this is that you could track who is saying what easier, it would be easy to access later, the conversation could continue after class ends.

Class Seventeen – Students thinking about Text/Image Relationship


Today we began again with writing and adding detail. We wrote and then passed our work around so that we could read each others and ask questions. This worked well. Each person (myself included) got their work returned with questions from two people. Then we went back and answered the questions. I think that both Franklin and Adam realized that they were leaving things out that their reader wanted to know. Tomorrow, I’ll ask them to ask questions of their own writing and try to answer them. My goal is to show them, while getting feedback from someone is good, how they can work on adding details to their writing to make it more interesting.

The work on “A Circle of Friends” is going well. I printed out the text for each page last night and today the guys cut them out and figured out where on the page they should go. A couple will have to get formatted to fit in a tall narrow spot and three or four got split between two pages or split to go in different spots on the page. They decided that two should involve the font getting bigger to make the image of the words reflect the meaning of the words. It really showed that they were thinking about the text and the relationship it has with the images. I simply made changes to the digital copy, and asked one or two questions; they did the work and the thinking – SCORE!! I was starting to wonder if this project purpose had gotten lost. Today showed me that it wasn’t and in fact it was better than I’d hoped for.

Tomorrow will be the big push to get all the projects done. In addition to the aforementioned project, Adam is creating a fake Facebook wall and Franklin is performing his reading of “Falling Up” that we will record and show. I hope it can all get done!! Time has really flown for these seventeen classes, I can’t believe that after two more it will be over and I’ll have my Masters – SWEET!!

%d bloggers like this: