Thursday, July 3, 2014

AmericanEDtv Brings You ISTE Highlights and More

The ISTE 2014 conference wrapped-up earlier this week. I was there for a couple of days, but I couldn't stay for the whole conference. I know many of you would have liked to attend too, but couldn't for one reason or another. Fortunately, you can catch some of the conference highlights by visiting AmericanEDtv. AmericanEDtv is hosted by Dr. Rod Berger. AmericanEDtv features interviews with presenters and vendors at conferences like those hosted by ISTE, ASCD, and SXSW Edu. To get a sense of what AmericanEDtv does check out Rod's interview with me and his interview with Marc Prensky.

Plickers - The Student Response System for Classrooms That Aren't 1:1

Plickers is a neat student response system that I learned about at ISTE 2014. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses.

Applications for Education
Plickers could be a good student response system to use in classrooms in which students don't have laptops or tablets to use. Using Plickers to poll your students instead of asking them to raise hands to indicate if they "get it" or not allows students to reply anonymously by holding up their cards. Have all students hold up their cards at the same time, scan them, and see the results. Students won't know who said they "got it" or not because each code is unique to each student. Click here to learn more about the Plickers cards including how to create your own.

Presentation.io Is Shutting Down in September

Presentation.io is a neat service that allows you to share your slides to your audience members' mobile devices and remotely control the transitions of the slides on their devices. It is a nice way to make sure that all of your students are on the same page with you. Unfortunately, Presentation.io was recently acquired by Cisco and is going to shut down on September 1, 2014.

Nearpod is a good alternative that you might want to consider using. Nearpod is available for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Developing Good Credit Habits - A Game for Teaching Personal Financial Responsibility

Econ Ed Link hosts hundreds of lesson plans and interactive games for teaching students about a wide range of topics in economics. Teachers can search the lesson plan index by grade level, concept, standard, or length of lesson (one class period vs. multiple class periods). Most of the lessons attempt to provide "real world" context.

The interactive section of Econ Ed Link offers four pages of videos and games. The videos and games can be used as stand-alone activities or as part of lesson plan. I tested out the interactive game on developing good credit habits. Developing Good Credit Habits is a game appropriate for middle school and high school students. Students earn money by correctly answering questions about credit scores, interest rates, and spending practices. The purpose of the game is to purchase items and pay expenses without damaging your credit score.

Applications for Education
Econ Ed Link offers lesson plans appropriate for all K-12 students. Many of the lessons are designed for use not only in the classroom but in the home as well. The parent section of Econ Ed Link offers good material that you can send home with your students to get parents involved in students' learning about personal economics.

How to Register Students for Services When They Don't Have Email Addresses

This is a bit of a re-post from a couple of years ago, but it's worth revisiting as I know that many teachers can still benefit from this. Elementary school and middle school teachers often ask me how their students can use services that require email addresses when the students don't have email addresses. The solution is to use Gmail+1.

Here's how Gmail+1 works. Let's say there's a new service that I want my students to use but my students don't have email addresses that they can use to register for that service. In that case I can quickly generate Gmail addresses for my students by using the Gmail+1 strategy.

Here's how the Gmail+1 hack works:
1. Create a new Gmail account just for your class. Example mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com
2. Issue email addresses to students as follows mrbyrnesclass+1@gmail.commrbyrnesclass+2@gmail.com
3. Gmail overrides the "1" and "2" at the end of the mrbyrnesclass and sends all emails to the inbox at mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com however almost all other services that require an email for registration will recognize mrbyrnesclass+1@gmail.com as distinct from mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com
4. Students can use the "+1" emails to register for services, but I get to see all of the emails coming and going.
5. Because of #4 above I may have to confirm all of my students' registrations on a new service.

Disclaimers:
1. This hack doesn't work on every service so your mileage may vary.
2. Don't give students the password to the class email address (in the example above I would not give students the password to mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com) because if they have it they could all send and receive email from the account. The passwords that they choose on  the services that they register for should all be unique and they should not share them with each other.