Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gathering Feedback with Socrative Classroom Activities

"This is sic! This is so cool!  I can so do this!"

These are just some of the comments my students expressed when our class used Socrative for the first time. As educators know, engaging students in their coursework can be challenging at times -- not with Socrative however!

Socrative is a student response system that leverages the use of smartphones, laptops and tablets by having students respond to questions in various quiz and game formats. Almost instantaneously, student responses are populated and can be viewed by the entire class. No matter what format you use, Socrative is a fun and easy way for students to receive immediate feedback and for teachers to collect marks.

For a quick video tutorial on how to get started with Socrative, please see below.

One key feature of Socrative that I would like to highlight is "Exit Tickets". "Exit Tickets" allow teachers to check in on student understanding of the day's material before they leave class. To do so, teachers can use Socrative's pre-designed "Exit Ticket" activities or design their own in real time or before class. Once student responses are submitted, they are collated as an emailed report or an online google spreadsheet.

Sample Classroom Activities:

Socrative also has a sharing option. By selecting the sharing option in the "Edit Quiz" section located in the Main Menu, a SOC number is assigned that allows the pre-made quiz to be imported by others. It is no secret that educators always appreciate the sharing of good resources! Below I have included the SOC numbers of the English quizzes I have created. Please feel free to share with others.

SOC-256509 - Poetic Devices
SOC-256496 - Types of Poems
SOC-90777 - Short Story Terms #1
SOC-93415 - Short Story Terms #2
SOC-93503 - Short Story Terms #3

I highly recommend Socrative for classroom use as it is a very effective and engaging educational tool for students! Check it out here!

Lynda Hall originally wrote this guest post for Free Technology for Teachers July 2, 2012.

Photo Credit: Frantz, Sue. Socrative. 2012. Technology for Educators, Renton, Washington. Technology for Educators. Web. 16 June 2012.

Friday, August 24, 2012

19Pencils: The Ideal Classroom

The time consuming task of searching the web for engaging educational content can be frustrating especially for busy teachers.  To help ease the time-crunch, educators will want to try 19Pencils, an educational website for K-8 classes that offers a high quality search engine rich with educational content only.  This educational resource library for teachers has been collaboratively developed by educators from around the world who have shared their teacher-tested materials.  Resources such as lessons, activities, interactive websites, quizzes, etc can be saved and managed using the 19Pencils website which allows teachers to create a collection of resources specific to their students needs.  

The 19Pencils service does not end with searching for resources however!  The true value of 19Pencils is found in the creation a class page where the newly found resources can be directly shared with your students in an easy to use thumbnail format!  

Additional Features of 19Pencils:

Once you have registered for a 19Pencils account, you can also enjoy the use of the following:

1.  Thousands of educational topics are available.  Searches can be quickly narrowed down with the use of the site's search filter.  Each day more and more resources are added by great educators worldwide.

2.  Adding your own content is easily done in one click of the mouse.  The best part is your resource is immediately shared with the rest of the 19Pencils teaching community.

3.  Within your Class Page, student progress and assignment completion can be monitored from the teacher account.  Also, you can create or add custom (single question or multiple choice) quizzes for your students.

4.  If you already have a class website - no problem!  A 19Pencils widget can be embedded into your existing website directing students to 19Pencils activities.  

19Pencils is still in beta meaning that feedback is welcomed as the website's intent is to assist teachers in the best way possible.  If you are a K-8 teacher and you are looking for a time-saving, educationally sound search engine for teacher-tested resources, I highly recommend trying 19Pencils!  Click here to get started!  

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Print Anything, From Anywhere, At Anytime with Google Cloud Print

 Google Cloud Print is a print service that allows any device (computer, tablet or smartphone) in the network cloud to print anything from anywhere in the world.  For instance, if you are at home and need a worksheet(s) printed off for your students the next day, print from the Google Cloud Print service rather than your traditional printing method because the next morning, you will find the printed worksheet(s) at school waiting for pickup at the chosen printer.  That type of convenient service is even better than getting it hot off the press! 

Additional Features:

1.  No need to install hardware as all connections are via the web.

2.  Security is of utmost importance to Google.  All print jobs use the secure HTTPS web connection.  Once the print job is completed, the printed files are deleted from Google's servers.  In addition, you can personally delete print jobs and their history by accessing the Google Print Management page.

3.  In a single click, you can share printer access with friends, family, co-workers, etc. through the Google Print Management page.

How to Get Started with Google Cloud Print:

Before you connect, you will need the following items
1.  A Google Account - if necessary, click here to register.

2.  Chrome Web Browser

3.  Printer(s) - NOTE: The setup process will vary depending on what type of printer it is.

4.  An internet-ready computer

Depending on the type of printer you are trying to print from, click on the link below to connect to the Google Cloud Print Service.

Connecting Your Cloud Ready Printer
Connecting Your Classic Printer

I use the Google Cloud Print Service extensively.  You just can't beat the convenience!  I constantly have colleagues asking how I am able to 'take' printed materials from the photocopier without having to wait.  I am sure you will have a similar experience.  Give it a try!  Click here to get started.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

photo credit: <a href="">irrezolut</a> via <a href="">photo pin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Create Your Own Myth with Story Creator2

Story Creator2, designed by (East of England Broadband Network from the United Kingdom), is an educational web tool that allows students to create their own digital story based on a myth or legend theme.  The animated features Story Creator2 offers are a mix of text, background images, characters, speech, voice-over, sound effects and more.  Click on the links below to view sample stories:

The Legend of Robin Hood
A Mermaid and a Magic Comb

As you can see, the final copy of the story can be uploaded for others to view.  It has been my experience that students, even the weakest writers, enjoy using Story Creator2 because it captures their imagination and creativity by including a visual aspect to the narration.

How to Get Started:

Below is a tutorial you could show your students that outlines the basic features of Story Creator2.  

For more detailed Story Creator2 tutorials, visit the E2BN Tools Page.

**Please note that Story Creator2 functions best when users are registered and logged in to the site.  To do so, teachers must register.  Click here for details.**

Sample Classroom Activities:

1.  Have students re-create an historical myth or legend.  e.g. Zeus, Beowulf, Rama, Quetzalcoatl, Attila the Hun, etc.

2.  Have students write their own myth based on the characteristics of a myth.

3.  Story Creator2 offers a Teacher Resource Page that provides background information about myths and legends, downloadable lesson plans, storyboard templates and an interactive map of selected myths.

Story Creator2 is a fun and engaging web tool that encourages students to creatively write.  I hope you give it a try!  Click here to get started.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Remind101: The Perfect Forget-Me-Not

As educators know, a great deal of communication with parents and students is needed to ensure academic success.  

With that being the case, which method of communication is best to guarantee a high degree of contact?  The answer is easy, of course ... texting! 

In fact, a recent study found that 77% of teens aged 12-17 have a cell phone and with each passing day that number continues to rise (Lenhart, 2012).  The March 2012 report published by PEW Research Center also found that text messaging is the primary means of communication for most teens with 63% saying that they text on a daily basis - an average of 60 text messages per teen.  The report further explains:

"This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%)."

Needless to say, texting has a very high rate of use!  So, how can educators take advantage?  Not surprisingly, there are many products available but hands down, my favorite application is Remind101!  Why?  It is free, easy to use and confidential!

Easily, the best feature of Remind101 is all phone numbers are private.  The only information anyone will see is the user's name.  In addition, the sign-up process is extremely easy as students and parents simply send a text message with the assigned custom code to the phone number provided.  Remind101 will also send messages via email.    

Additional Features of Remind101:
1.  iPhone & iPad apps are currently available.  A companion Android app is set to be released in September.
2.  Send a message to an entire class or classes with only one entry.  
3.  Messages can be programmed to be sent at a later time.
4.  A record of previously sent messages is kept for later referral.

NEW for Canadian users! 
As of July 2012, Canadian educators can enjoy the benefits of Remind101 without the fear of additional cell phone charges!  Click on the following link for information on how to switch your current U.S. phone number to a Canadian one.  
Canadian Numbers Have Arrived!

How to Get Started:

Refer to the Remind101 video tutorial below as it will get you started in a matter of minutes.

Possible Uses for Remind101:

Clearly, the sky is the limit with Remind101.  Below are just a few ideas:

1.  Remind students of any classroom or school activity - homework, bell schedule changes, classroom changes, dress-up days, dances, assemblies, intramurals, etc.

2.  Keep parents updated regarding class & school activities.  e.g. - date and time of Student/Parent/Teacher Interviews or school orientation days, etc.

3.  Extracurricular activities - send reminders about practice or rehearsal times to your students.

4.  Send messages about fun facts, study tips or after school tutorials.

I am extremely confident that you and your students will fall in love with Remind101.  If you have any other possible uses for Remind101, please leave a comment and share your great idea with other educators!  To get started now, click here!

This post originally appeared on "The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers".

Lenhart, Amanda. "Teens, Smartphones & Texting." Http:// PEW Internet & American Life     
     Project, 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. 

photo credit: <a href="">nutmeg66</a> via <a href="">photo pin</a> <a href="">cc</a>
photo credit: <a href="">Ian Muttoo</a> via <a href="">photo pin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Sunday, August 12, 2012

InstaGrok: The Perfect Search Engine for Students

In this technological age we now live in, we are incessantly bombarded by vast amounts of information especially by way of the internet. The volume of information and the speed with which it can be communicated is daunting.  As a result, learning how to efficiently curate and collate information in an organized fashion is of utmost importance.  Students, in particular, will need to be taught key research skills.

InstaGrok is the perfect search engine to teach students research strategies as it is specifically designed to find educationally-suitable, age-appropriate content.  This is very different from other all-purpose search engines as InstaGrok immediately filters out any non-academic information.  Another important research strategy students must learn is how to conceptualize a topic into manageable and content-related chunks.  InstaGrok's mind-map feature is excellent for this as it visually breaks down related aspects of a topic into separate easy to understand bubbles.  Accordingly, the availability of these main features alone will greatly assist students to fully understand and successfully complete their research projects.   

Additional Features of InstaGrok:

The video below further explains additional features of InstaGrok.  Please note that to use InstaGrok, one does not need an account; however, to take advantage of  InstaGrok's full capabilities, it is recommended.

InstaGrok is an excellent research tool for students.  Click here to start your first search!

This post originally appeared on The Detective 4 Teachers.

photo credit: <a href="">AJC1</a> via <a href="">photo pin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Friday, August 10, 2012

Create Striking Videos with Animoto

Animoto is an engaging video presentation tool students can use to demonstrate their knowledge on virtually any topic.  Whether students love to perform in front of the camera themselves or prefer to use images and video from Animoto's wide selection, students can create eye-catching and informative videos within minutes. 

Another advantage of Animoto is the fact that there is no longer a need to purchase expensive equipment and software to create great looking videos with your students.  Using pictures, video clips and music, Animoto's simple interface allows students to create engaging educational videos in no time.  

How to Get Started:

Click on the link below to access Animoto's Helpdesk.  There you will find an excellent video and screenshot tutorial to help you and your students get started.

Animoto HelpdeskTutorial

NOTE: Educators with an Animoto account already can apply for an upgraded AnimotoPlus account which allow students to create full length videos rather than the free 30 second clips.  It is important to note that it may take a couple of weeks to receive the Animoto Code. 

Sample Classroom Activites:

1.  Geography - Below is an introductory video on ecosystems and biomes I used for my Social Studies 10 class to demonstrate the expectations of this assignment.

Sample Ecosystems & Biomes Video

2.  Extracurricular Wind-up Video - After learning about Animoto in our class, a former student of mine created a video about his rugby team's playoff run.  I have also used Animoto to sum up my basketball team's season.

3.  Demonstration tool - use Animoto to breakdown step by step a sport skill or how to properly conduct a science experiment or cooking technique.

NOTE: It is important students are taught copyright guidelines especially in regards to music selection.  Please refer to my previous post for details - Creative Commons, Copyright & You.

I am positive student engagement and motivation will be high when creating videos using Animoto.  Click here to give it a try!

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Talking Voki Avatar

Voki breathes life into any avatar!  Give it a try.

As demonstrated, Voki is a fun and interactive web tool designed to create speaking avatars.  
Students enjoy creating avatars with Voki as it is a fun and creative way to verbally demonstrate their knowledge in a safe environment.  

Other features of Voki include:

1.  Voki offers many opportunities to share avatars including email, embed code or direct access to your favorite social media site. 

2.  The free version of Voki includes an educational section with many lesson planning ideas for all grades and subject areas.  Lesson ideas are easily accessed using the site's search tool. 

3.  Voki offers a paid version as well which provides educators with a class management system, ready-made lessons, and how-to tutorials.  There are several pricing plans available but it is wise to try their 15 day free trial first.

A quick how-to guide to get your students started with Voki is available below.
Getting Started with Voki

Sample Classroom Activities:

1.  Ice Breaker Activity - to get the school year off to a positive start, have students create a short autobiography to introduces themselves to their new classmates.

2.  Website Homepage Introduction - verbally introduce yourself and the purpose of the website using a Voki avatar on the homepage of any website.

3.  "Exit Ticket" - before students leave class, have them outline what they learned.

4.  Reflection tool - have students reflect or summarize the key points/issues of a literary work.

I am confident your students will enjoying using Voki.  Give it a try!  Click here to get started.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.