Thursday, April 5, 2012

Advice from My Go-To Google Docs Guy about Managing Google Docs

Even though I'm a Google Certified Teacher and I do 97% of my non-blogging writing in Google Docs (the other 3% is in Apple's Pages), there are still occasions when I am stumped by a question. In those cases I turn to my fellow Mainer, GCT, and all-around good guy Kern Kelley for help. Recently through Fred Delventhal I discovered a new blog post by Kern on the topic of managing Google Docs.

Kern's latest post Managing Google Docs in the Classroom walks you through a simple step-by-step process for managing the flow of documents that students share with you. If you have ever felt overwhelmed by a flood of documents in your Google Documents account, follow Kern's plan and enjoy having order in your Google Docs account again.

Hemingway Animated - The Old Man and the Sea

A few years ago I posted an animated version of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. This afternoon through Open Culture I discovered a new animated video telling of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. This version is shorter than the previous video I posted. I'd say the video is more focused toward addressing the themes of Hemingway's work than it is the details. But you can decide for yourself in the four minute video below.

Applications for Education
This video could be used as a good model for having your students create short book trailer videos about books that they read for your class. If you're not sure what a book trailer is, I encourage you to visit Book Trailers for Readers. I have a list of five simple tools for creating book trailers here.

The Best of Next Vista for Learning

I've written about Next Vista for Learning in the past and I mention it more often than not in my presentations because I think that it is a fantastic place for students and teachers to showcase their video projects. One of the ways that students and teachers can showcase their works is by making submissions to Next Vista's frequent video contests.

This afternoon I mentioned to Rushton Hurley, founder of Next Vista, that I had shown one of the winning videos from a recent contest during a presentation and he replied with a list of all of the videos tagged as "finalists" from their contests. Here is the list of 53 student and teacher produced videos that qualified as contest finalists over the last couple of years. . Like all Next Vista videos, these videos teach a short lesson of some type. I've embedded two of my favorites below.

Applications for Education
Students creating videos to teach lessons to other students is a great basis for a video project. Whether your looking for ideas for a project or your looking for a place to share your students' video projects, Next Vista for Learning is a site that you should have bookmarked.

A Few Good Minutes With MasteryConnect

This afternoon after my presentation at The Literacy Promise conference here in Salt Lake City I stopped in at the offices of Mastery Connect who has helped to pay my bills for the last seven months. After accidentally crashing a meeting, I sat down with some of the team to talk about what they've been up to.

First some numbers about MasteryConnect, their free mobile app has been used by educators 5.6 million times to look up the Common Core standards for the grades and topics that they teach. You can get the app for iOS here and for Android here. MasteryConnect's web-based products are now used in more than 4,000 U.S. school districts.

I was able to get a hands-on demonstration of the parent view of MasteryConnect. One of the cool things about the parent view is that parents can see how their students have done on specific assessments tied to specific standards. Not only do parents see the assessment title, they can see the actual assessment activity itself (provided that the teacher has uploaded it). For math standards Khan Academy and Learn Zillion videos are linked to each standard so that parents and students can watch the videos that are connected to the standards the student needs to work toward meeting.

Here are a few posts that I've previously published about MasteryConnect:
Khan Academy Videos Mapped to Common Core Standards
Put Common Core Standards on Your Blog or Website
Try Mastery Connect for Lesson Materials Tied to Common Core Standards

Disclosure: MasteryConnect is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Socrative Space Race - A Hit in Three Countries

I've written about alternatives to proprietary clicker systems in the past. Usually when I mention those alternatives, I mention using text messaging. However, in the last three weeks I've presented in three different countries. In two of those countries I wasn't able to text (at least not without incurring ridiculous charges) so the only tool for polling students that I showed was Socrative.

Socrative is a free student response system that allows you to gather feedback from students through any Internet-connected device. One of my favorite aspects of Socrative is the variety of ways in which you can pose prompts and questions to your students. The Space Race feature has been a hit everywhere that I've gone in the last three weeks. The Space Race feature allows you to create virtual teams for answering questions or prompts. The screen students see masks names, but as the teacher you can see your students' names and download a report of students' responses. Learn more about the Socrative Space Race in the post I wrote about it in January.

A Nice Model for Using VoiceThread With Young Readers

Update: The VoiceThread that I originally linked to in this post isn't publicly available now. Instead, I recommend visiting VoiceThread's education library for ideas about using VoiceThread with elementary school students.

This morning I had the privilege to present at The Literacy Promise conference in Salt Lake City. The title of my presentation was Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration. During the demonstration section I introduced some ideas for using VoiceThread. Since I have never taught students younger than 7th grade, I sometimes struggle to come up with ideas for projects with pre-K and elementary school students. That's why I was very happy to find this VoiceThread in which students and adults identify words that begin with different letters of the alphabet. This project was very well received by the audience and got some teachers to say, "I have to try this." You can watch the VoiceThread below (you will have to be signed into VoiceThread to view it).