Thursday, March 27, 2014

ClassDojo Launches a Messaging Service to Help Teachers Keep Parents Informed

ClassDojo, a popular student behavior recording service, has launched an excellent new messaging feature in their Android and iOS apps. The new messaging feature allows teachers to send messages to parents about their children. The messaging featuring can be used to send messages to parents on an individual basis and on a whole group basis. ClassDojo is using the term "Direct Messaging" to refer to sending messages to individuals and the term "Broadcast Messaging" to refer to sending messages to all parents in a group.

ClassDojo's messaging service, like that of Remind 101 and similar messaging services, hides the personal contact information of the teacher and the of the parents. Parents have to opt-in to receive messages from the teacher.

Applications for Education
The new direct messaging aspect of ClassDojo's messaging service could be a great tool for keeping parents informed about the positive things their children are doing in your classroom. The broadcast messaging aspect of ClassDojo's messaging service could be good for sending reminders to all parents about things like due dates for paperwork or homework that their children need to complete.

I would be a little leery of using the messaging service to notify parents of negative behaviors. In those cases I would still prefer speaking directly to parents.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By Request - Seven Tools for Building and Sharing Online Quizzes

Earlier today, through the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page, I was asked for suggestions for tools for creating and sharing online quizzes. Many online quiz services allow you to create quizzes that give your students instant feedback. Some of the services provide the option to include picture and video prompts in your quizzes. And all of these services save you the hassle of printing your quizzes. Here are seven ways that you can create and deliver quizzes online.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart.

QuizBean is a nice platform for creating simple image-based quizzes that your students can complete online. The service offers some nice features that teachers will appreciate. You can now assign quizzes to students on a class-by-class or individual basis. Quiz results are automatically sent to your teacher dashboard when students have completed a quiz. Try my sample QuizBean quiz to get a better sense of how students will see a quiz that you distribute to them.

Quizdini is a free tool for creating online quizzes. The best feature of Quizdini is that you can create explanations of the correct answer for your students to view immediately after trying each question in your quiz. Your explanation can include text and or links to online resources like videos and images. Quizdini quizzes can be created in a traditional linear format or in a matching format that asks students to pair answers to terms.

ImageQuiz is a free service that allows you to create quizzes based on any images that you own or find online. When people take your quizzes on ImageQuiz they answer your questions by clicking on the part of the picture that answers each question. For example, if you uploaded a picture of a map you could write questions that ask users to click on states, cities, or countries. Creating a quiz on ImageQuiz  is an easy process. First, give your quiz a title and then upload a picture or copy and paste the URL of an online image into ImageQuiz. Then draw outlines around the parts of the picture that will be the answers to your questions. Finally, write your questions and try your quiz. To share your quiz just give people the URL of your quiz. You can try my sample quiz here.

Socrative is a free quiz/ survey tool that I've been using a lot over the last couple of years. Socrative replaces the need for expensive proprietary clicker systems in a classroom. Socrative allows me to create single question and multiple question quizzes with multiple choice and or open-ended responses. My students take the quiz on their iPads, Android tablets, or laptops by signing into my Socrative room number and completing the activity that I have cued-up in the Socrative virtual room. Socrative allows you to collect responses anonymously or with the requirement that students enter their names. Students don't have to create an account to participate in any of your activities. To participate they simply need to enter your Socrative room number when they visit m.socrative.com on their laptops, iPads, Android tablets, or any other device that has a web browser.

Infuse Learning is similar in concept to Socrative with a couple of differences worth noting. First, Infuse Learning allows you to create multiple rooms within your account. That means you can create a different Infuse Learning room for each of your classes rather than re-using the same room for all of your classes. Second, Infuse Learning allows you create questions that your students draw responses to. This can be particularly useful in a math classroom because your students can simply use a Stylus to hand-write their solutions to problems rather than trying to figure out how to type and format all of the symbols used in a math problem.

I couldn't create a list like this without including Google Forms. Using Google Forms you can create multiple choice, true/false, and free response questions quizzes. The latest version of Google Forms allows you to include videos and pictures in your quizzes. If you use the multiple page option in Google Forms you can send students to a new section of your quiz based on their answers to a previous question. Finally, by using a script like Flubaroo your quizzes can be graded for you and the grades can be emailed directly to your students.

Did You Know This About YouTube?

YouTube Help offers three helpful playlists for learning tips and tricks about YouTube and the YouTube mobile apps. The Did You Know? playlist covers an assortment of search and editing tips. Mobile Mondays is dedicated to tips about the YouTube mobile apps. And How-To's is all about the editing options built into YouTube.

An Illustrated Glossary of Genetic Terms

The National Human Genome Research Institute has a great talking glossary of genetic terms for students. The glossary is available online and as a free iPad app. The Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms features scientists explaining each term. Most terms are accompanied by an illustration and some terms are accompanied by 3D animations.

Applications for Education
After reviewing terms in the Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms students can test their knowledge by taking the Test Your Gene Knowledge quiz. The glossary on its own is a good review resource to link to your course blog or website.

Colds and the Flu Explained

After years of not getting sick this winter I've had the flu and caught a few colds. My latest cold has knocked me back this week. The only good thing about getting a cold is that it reminded me of some resources that can help students understand colds, flu, and the immune system. Those resources are included below.

What is the difference between having a cold and having the flu? Explania has the answer in the video below.


What is ‘flu? - Explania


So how is a cold or flu passed from person to person and what exactly is it doing to your body? NPR answers those questions in the following animated video.


Paul Andersen explains the immune system to high school students in the video below. This is a video that would be a excellent to use as part of a flipped lesson.