Friday, August 22, 2014

ClassDojo In the High School Classroom

This morning on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked about using ClassDojo in the high school setting. I admit that when I first saw ClassDojo I didn't think it would be a great fit for high school classrooms. It had a very childish appearance due to the cartoon avatars and the default behavior recording categories. A couple of months after I had put ClassDojo into the "K-8 only" I spoke at a conference in North Carolina where a couple of high school teachers (unfortunately, I don't remember their names) explained how they were using ClassDojo.

ClassDojo allows you to create your own standards to record in your class rosters. For high school students you could set standards for participation in classroom discussion be creating a standard like like "use of evidence in argument" or "thoughtful consideration and reply to opposing viewpoints." If your students are working in groups you could create standards like "efficient delegation of tasks" or "makes effort to include all group members."

The video below demonstrates how to add behavior standards to ClassDojo.

Otus - A Great Online Learning Environment

Otus is a free online learning environment that I first learned about in July. One of the founders of the company recently gave me a hands-on tour of the environment, I was impressed by the possibilities of what I saw. Otus was originally designed to be a service for teachers to distribute assignments, quizzes, polls, reading materials, and essential information from their iPads to their students' iPads. Otus has expanded to support use within a web browser on laptops and Chromebooks.

To get started with Otus sign up as a teacher either on the iPad app or in your web browser. Once you have registered as a teacher you can create classrooms. Students join your classroom through either the student iPad app or through a web browser. Either way students have to enter your class code to become a member of your Otus classroom.

The possibilities for teachers using Otus seem limitless. A few of the key features that grabbed my attention are the polling tools, the resource libraries, and the assessment tools. The polling function in your Otus classroom allows you to quickly create and deliver one question polls to your students. You can create your poll as a multiple choice, true/false, or open response poll. You can choose to display names next to poll responses or hide names.

The resource libraries in Otus are called bookshelves. In each of your Otus classrooms you can create bookshelves of reading materials in PDF format, add links to resources, and soon you'll be able to import files from your Google Drive account. Resources can be organized into folders and labeled with tags for easy sorting as you build your bookshelves. You can choose any item from your bookshelves to share with any of the students in your Otus classroom. It appears that you can share with an entire class or share with an individual student.

In the assessment section of your Otus classroom you can create multiple choice, true/false, and open response questions. You can assign assessments to students to complete immediately or to complete by a specified date. Soon you'll be able to create assessments that ask students to hand write and annotate materials.

Applications for Education
I only listed my favorite options in Otus, there are many others to explore. If you're looking for a good way to distribute lesson materials and assessments to students through your iPad or Chromebook, Otus is well worth taking some time to explore.

Close Reading Strategies, Rubrics, and Sample Assessments for History Teachers

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has an excellent resource for history teachers. The UMBC Assessment Resource Center for History offers sample assessments based on readings from six eras in U.S. history. The assessments include multiple choice question and performance tasks based on close reading exercises. The performance task assessments include scoring rubrics, sample responses from students, and the documents that students need in order to complete the performance tasks. Click here (link opens PDF) for a sample performance task.

Multiple choice assessments featured on ARCH are based on documents and images that students evaluate before making their answer choices.

Applications for Education
It will benefit students if you work with them to go through ARCH's historical thinking rubric before letting them attempt the performance tasks. ARCH's historical thinking rubric is more than just a rubric. There are small sections on close reading methods that students can benefit from if they are given guidance on how to employ the strategies outlined in the rubric section of ARCH.

Thanks to Glenn Wiebe for the tip in his post on assessing critical thinking skills.

Tackk Lessons - Lesson Plans Featured on Tackk - Digital Portfolios and More

Tackk is a free service that was originally designed for creating simple webpages, but has morphed into a good tool creating digital portfolios and assignment portfolios. This summer Tackk Edu was created to showcase examples of using Tackk to create and distribute assignments to students. Visit Tackk Edu to see science, math, social studies, art, and language arts lesson plans that utilize Tackk.

To create a Tackk page you do not need to register for an account, but unregistered Tackk pages expire after seven days. If you register for the service your Tackk pages stay up indefinitely. I recommend registering for a free Tackk account before creating your first page. Creating a Tackk page is a simple matter of uploading an image then adding text in the customizable fields above and below your images. Tackk pages can also accommodate videos, audio files, and maps.

Tackk is currently running contest for schools. The My Rockin Summer contest will award $1,000 to the school that creates the best gallery of Tackks about summer vacation.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Use Real Pictures in ClassDojo Profiles

ClassDojo has been on a roll with new feature releases this summer. The latest update allows you to customize student profiles and your own profile by adding real pictures. Now instead of just using the cartoon avatars you can use headshots in your ClassDojo profiles and rosters.

Applications for Education
Using real pictures in ClassDojo profiles is a good complement to the new option to share classes and reports between teachers and administrators within a school building. Having real pictures in the profiles when you share classes and reports could help your colleagues recognize which students you're referring in your reports.

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