Friday, April 18, 2014

ClassCharts Offers Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence in Classroom Management

ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports. ClassCharts allows you to create online seating charts for each of your classes. Through those seating charts you can record attendance, give virtual kudos to students, and record negative and positive behaviors. The information that you record in ClassCharts can be shared with parents and students through special log-ins that you supply to them.

ClassCharts offers a couple of features that I really like. These features make it different from other online behavior chart services. The first feature that stands-out to me is the option to upload pictures of students to your seating charts instead of just relying on cartoon avatars. The second feature that I love is the option to invite other teachers to collaborate on the tracking of student behaviors. For example, I can invite a teaching assistant who provides support to a special education students in my classroom to record behavior information when she is working with those students. I can also invite other teachers on my team to view and document behaviors about students so that we can discuss that information during team meetings.
click the image to view the full size

The latest feature added to ClassCharts is also its most-promising feature. That feature is the use of artificial intelligence to create seating charts based on recorded behaviors and interactions of students. ClassCharts refers to this feature as "influences." The influences feature will show you the effects of placing two or more students next to each other in your classroom. The information provided through "influences" is based on the behaviors you record for individual students. ClassCharts "influences" will show you if a student's behavior and performance improves or declines based on who they are seated near.
Click the image to enlarge it.
The students pictured are not real students. The names displayed here are fictitious. 

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

Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive

The new version of Google Sheets has brought with it a new way of using Scripts. All of my favorite scripts are now located through the Add-ons menu in Google Sheets. One of my favorite scripts now found in the Add-ons menu is Doctopus.

Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet script that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the script is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet.

The new version of Doctopus is easier to use than all of the previous versions. Now when you open Doctopus as an Add-on, you will be walked through each step of using the script. The old version of the script did that too, but the new directions are much clearer than the old ones. I used to say, "plan on messing up the first couple of times you use the script." I won't say that anymore. Click here to read the Doctopus developer's run-down of all of the new features of the script. Watch the video below for a tutorial on using Doctopus in the new version of Google Sheets.

An Interactive Atlas of the Valley of the Kings

Atlas of the Valley of the Kings is an interactive atlas developed through the Theban Mapping Project. The atlas contains more than 2000 images and models of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. You can scroll through 250 interactive maps in the atlas, click on images, and watch 65 narrated video tours of tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Applications for Education
The Theban Mapping Project offers a visual glossary of the terms used throughout the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings. The glossary on its own is worth having your students bookmark. When paired with the interactive atlas the glossary of terms makes a fantastic alternative to textbook passages about the Valley of the Kings.

Critter Cams Provide Students With an Opportunity to See Wildlife Live

It has been a long winter here in Maine, but soon we will start to hear spring peepers in the evening. That sound is a sure sign that other animals are coming out of hibernation and new animals are being born. If you would like your students to see some baby animals in action, take a look at the Wildlife Center of Virginia's Critter Cams. Critter Cams offers live look-ins at black bear yearlings, horned owls, and a bald eagle.

Another opportunity to view live webcams of animals is found through the National Zoo app for Windows 8. The National Zoo app features live webcam feeds of panda bears, lions and their cubs, tigers, cheetahs, and fish. Because these are live webcams sometimes you'll see the animals and sometimes you won't. If the webcam feed isn't showing the animals when you're viewing it you can switch to the gallery of still imagery. and Wild Earth offer live webcam feeds featuring animals in nature. Both of those resources are included in 7 Sites for Helping Students Learn About Wildlife.

Smithsonian & ePals Present the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge

ePals and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage are hosting the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge. The challenge asks students to identify examples of folklore in their communities, identify tradition bearers, and conduct interviews with tradition bearers. Interviews can be recorded in text, video, or audio. After conducting and recordings their interviews students need to create a short (under seven minutes) video, audio slideshow, or podcast about their chosen tradition and tradition bearer. Click here to see all of the presentation requirements. See the video below for more information about the challenge.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't make submissions to the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge, the concept of the challenge makes for a great local history project. Collaboratively creating a website to organize and feature presentations about local traditions could be a good community service for your students.