Thursday, May 16, 2019

Nearpod Interactive Presentations

Of all the digital formative assessment tools on the Web, Nearpod does something unique: It provides teachers with real-time feedback on student understanding to help monitor and adjust instruction. At its core, Nearpod is an interactive presentation tool that allows teachers to share their presentations with students as well as assess their understanding through a variety of formative assessment question-types. Teachers can upload PowerPoint, PDF, and PNG files and add questions in between their slides to check for understanding. When the teacher advances her slides, the students' screens will automatically jump to the slide that the teacher is sharing. When students reply to questions, the teacher will be able to see who answered correctly and who answered incorrectly. Getting started is easy. You can log in with your Google account and upload a PowerPoint presentation you have already created. If you are accustomed to using Google Slides to share presentations with students, you can download your Slides as a PowerPoint file or you can add the Nearpodize Chrome Extension to upload your Slides directly to Nearpod. Nearpod also has a vast library of teacher-created and commercial content that can be copied and modified. Check out the video tutorials below or sign up for a summer workshop to learn how you can use Nearpod in your classroom.

Nearpod 01: Create and Explore

Nearpod 02: Import Slides and Add Activities

Nearpod 03: Live Session and Student View

Nearpod 04: Live Session and Student Reports

Nearpod 05: Nearpodize Chrome Extension

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Google Forms for Review and Breakout EDU

Google Forms are useful for collecting data from surveys and quizzes, but you can also use Google Forms to create review activities. You can set up an answer key of sorts so that students must enter the correct answer or they won't be able to submit the Form. This technique can also be used to create your own Digital Breakout EDU activities in which students must solve a series of puzzles to "unlock" their answers on a Google Form rather than a physical lock. The video below will show you how to include "Response Validation" into each question on your Form, forcing students to enter the correct answer.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Virtual Reality Made Easy

I've been playing around with Google Cardboard recently and am excited about the potential for using it in the classroom. Google Cardboard is a virtual reality platform that pairs with a smartphone that runs a variety of virtual reality applications like Google Expeditions to immerse the viewer into a virtual world filled with educational content. Users can download one of Google's templates like a tour of Machu Pichu or create their own VR content using Google Maps Street View that can be published to Expeditions using Google Tour Creator. Here's how it works:

Required Materials:
  • Google Cardboard 
  • Smartphone
  • Google Expeditions App
View an Existing Expedition using your Smartphone:
  1. Download and install the Google Expeditions app to your smartphone and log in to your Google account (see Android and iOS links above).
  2. Open Expeditions, search for a Tour you would like to view in VR and download it to your Library (Note: Google Expeditions has VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) content. Think of it this way--VR replaces your vision; AR adds to it. Explore both! 
  3. Open the Tour you selected and insert your smartphone into the Google Cardboard headset and immerse yourself into a virtual world!
View an Existing Expedition using Google Tour Creator:
  1. On your computer or Chromebook, visit Google Tour Creator.
  2. Click Get Started and select Templates from the menu at the top of the screen.
  3. Scroll through the templates and select one that you would like to edit or publish.
  4. You can publish the template as-is, or you can add your own text, voice narration, points of interest, and scenes.
  5. Publish your template--you can view it on your computer or Chromebook or you can open it using the Google Expeditions app on your smartphone to view it in Google Cardboard.
Create Your Own VR Tour using Google Tour Creator:
  1. On your computer or Chromebook, visit Google Tour Creator.
  2. Click Get Started and select + New Tour from the menu at the top of the screen.
  3. Give your tour a title and description. Upload a cover photo, select a category, and click Create.
  4. Search for a location and drop the "peg man" onto the map to add a Street View photo to your scene (or upload your own Street View photos--you can take 360° photos using the Street View app for Android or iOS on your smartphone. Some smartphone cameras will allow you to take "photo sphere" 360° photos with the native camera app.
  5. Add the scene to your tour and type a title and description. You can also add voice narration and points of interest. 
  6. Continue to add scenes and publish your work when you are done. Your tour by default is public, but you can make it unlisted.
  7. View your tour on your computer or Chromebook or you can open it using the Google Expeditions app on your smartphone to view it in Google Cardboard.

Google Tour Creator Walk-Through

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tales from the Classroom: Breakout EDU

 Let's face it...the day before an extended vacation can be less than productive at any grade level. Nonetheless, Camillus Middle School Teacher Stephanie Murphy was prepared to break up the monotony with a Breakout EDU activity in her 7th Grade ELA classes on the day before April Break.

Breakout EDU creates ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve. Speciality K-12 Breakouts can be used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, language arts and have embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context. (Source: BreakoutEDU--How it Works)

Breakout EDU: How it Works

In Mrs. Murphy's class, students worked in collaborative teams to solve a series of puzzles that put their problem-solving skills to the test. Rather than unlocking physical locks, students played a Digital Breakout as they entered alphabetic or numeric codes into a Google Form to see if they had solved the puzzles correctly. From Mrs. Murphy:
The day before break calls for some collaboration, communication, and grit! Seventh graders in my English Language Arts classes at CMS participated in an "Escape Room" activity, asking them to unlock five codes. The website took them to five other sites, and the codes were entered into a Google Form. The record time for the day was 17 minutes, 29 seconds. Students were engaged and enthusiastic!

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about Breakout EDU, please contact Barb or Rob. We have 3 Breakout Kits you can use in your classroom!

Parts of a Breakout EDU Game

Facilitating a Breakout EDU Game

Digital vs. Physical Breakout EDU Games

Aligning Breakout EDU Games to Standards

Breakout EDU Reflection

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Seesaw Stats

The folks at Seesaw do a great job communicating with teachers. They periodically email me with links to engaging teacher-created activities for the grade level I listed when I first signed up for an account. They also let me know when they are offering PD in Your PJs, their free, online training sessions that help you learn how to use Seesaw from the comfort of your couch. Most recently, they shared with me some statistics about Seesaw usage at West Genesee Schools. Kudos to Split Rock, O-Road and WGHS for making the Top Schools list! If you are interested in learning how to use Seesaw, you can register for the upcoming online class or register for a summer workshop.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Digital Tools to Support Advanced Literacies

The thoughtful conversations that took place on our recent Superintendent's Conference Day were the first steps in WG's efforts to promote strategies that address advanced literacies across the curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade. One thing that stood out to me as I listened to various conversations unfold was the opportunity for meaningful instructional technology integration across all subject areas and grade levels to support advanced literacy skills. Specifically, digital tools like Flipgrid and Seesaw provide a platform for students to amplify their voice to demonstrate learning, regardless of grade level and subject area. This aligns with Hallmark 2--Talk/discuss to build both conversational and academic language and knowledge. The chart below provides a brief overview of Flipgrid and Seesaw's functionality.

I recently facilitated an online Comparative Study class with Split Rock teachers tasking them to integrate both Flipgrid and Seesaw into their lessons. Here's what they had to say...

In my opinion, Seesaw seems like a great choice for teachers who want a tangible product like a formative assessment or practice task. By snipping or taking a picture of a worksheet/assignment, students can now complete it using the various choices (ie: draw, label,etc.). Furthermore, kids can share their understanding verbally through voice notes. It’s not as engaging as Flipgrid but it still gets the kids talking about their learning. This is great for early finishers as well. Another big advantage I see with Seesaw is that it encourages basic computer/keyboarding skills like re-sizing, colors, backgrounds, etc. that could be important to know for web design and coding classes in the future.
--Doug Farfaglia, 3rd Grade
Flipgrid and Seesaw are great tools for engaging students in activities. Both have excellent features which allow for teachers to teach, support and evaluate speaking skills in a time effective way... Having students present via Flipgrid and Seesaw saves time and would allow for more opportunities for students to practice speaking skills. Additionally, having students practice in this format allows them to build their confidence, especially if they have very little experience in speaking in front of groups...Both Flipgrid and Seesaw are great ways for students to share their thinking, especially if they are apprehensive participants during whole-group instruction. As such, both tools can be great tools for formative assessments, helping direct a teacher's attention in order to organize small groups and differentiate instruction.
--Michele Coonce, Special Education
There are several ways that I have started using Seesaw and Flipgrid in my short time of signing up. In my opinion, the simplest are tasks to set up are where the students are reading for fluency via video or recording and responding to a story such as a retelling or a summary. During this comparative study I am trying to improve the students’ responses to each other's’ work. One of the math assignments I created tasked students with creating a word problem, solve a classmate's problem, and then respond to the solutions. Other areas I am trying to focus on with the use of the digital tools are in science, social studies, and the NextGen standards. The science report card standard of obtains, evaluates, and communicates information is perfectly addressed with the use of these digital tools. I look forward to share some of these activities with my grade level team.
--Wendy Vogt, 2nd Grade 

Flipgrid Resources

Check out the links below to learn how to get started on your Flipgrid journey

Seesaw Resources

Check out the links below to learn how to get started using Seesaw

Interested in learning more? 

Register for an online class to learn how you can successfully integrate Flipgrid or Seesaw into your instruction.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Advanced Literacies for Academic Success

Anecdotal feedback from our March 20th Superintendent's Conference Day has been overwhelmingly positive. Our Curriculum Advisory Team put a lot of work into making preparations for the day's activities and it certainly paid off as the conversations that were held across the district were thoughtful and engaging. The thoughts below are from WG Literacy Coach Stephanie Finn, who graciously accepted my invitation to contribute a guest blog post for this week's Tech Tips Blog. Thanks, Steph!

Reading and writing,language-based competencies, have become prerequisites for participation in nearly every aspect of day-to-day, 21st- century life. On March 20th, 2019 the entire West Genesee district participated in professional development to expand our understanding of advanced literacies and the Next Generation Standards. We worked collaboratively to dive into the brief series that was written by Dr. Lesaux, Academic Dean at Harvard School of Education, to help us figure out how we can foster advanced literacies in today’s classrooms. Meeting today’s demands for what counts as ‘literate’ requires a new approach to instruction and a need to focus attention on strengthening our instructional core. This was a kick-off event to begin a multi-year plan of professional development, curriculum transformation and review to ensure that we have a guaranteed and viable curriculum that meets the needs of all of our learners at West Genesee. 

The video snippets below represent a small sampling of the thoughtful exchanges that took place across the district.
Advanced Literacy  & Math Instruction

Advanced Literacy & Instructional Time

District-Wide Recap