Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Six Online PD Opportunities With Me This Spring and Summer

Last week I worked with the Midwest Teachers Institute to create a schedule of spring and summer online courses. This spring I will be offering two sections of Getting Going With GAFE (Google Apps for Education) starting on March 23rd and one section of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders starting on March 24th. Three graduate credits are available for each course.

Email subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter receive a discount on course registration.

More about Getting Going With GAFE:
Is your school transitioning to Google Apps for Education? If so, this course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that GAFE offers to teachers and students. Getting Going With GAFE is a Practical Ed Tech webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With  GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice.

Getting Going With GAFE costs $147. Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments.

Course dates:
Spring section 1: March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 20
Spring section 2: April 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26
Summer section 1: June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Summer section 2: July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

More about Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders:
Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is designed to help teachers and school leaders develop an understanding of the many ways they can use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a five week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned. After establishing blogs we’ll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities.

This course costs $147. Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments.

Course dates:
Spring section: March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21st.
Summer section: July 6, 13, 20, 27, and August 3rd.

About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Infuse Learning Is Shutting Down - Here Are Some Alternatives

Since I first saw it three years ago, I have recommended Infuse Learning to any teacher that wanted to use a student feedback tool that supported drawings and mathematics symbols. It was great because students could draw responses to your questions and you would see their responses instantly in your Infuse Learning account. Unfortunately, earlier today Infuse Learning announced that they will be shutting down on April 3rd. While I'm not aware of anything quite as slick and robust as Infuse Learning, there are some feedback tools that might fill part of the void left by the closure of Infuse Learning.

Otus is a free online learning environment that designed for use on iPads and Chromebooks. One of the features of Otus is the option to create quiz questions in which students have to annotate a document or image with the drawing tools in the app. You could create a quiz question based on a document that has math problems typed on it. Your students could then write on the document to submit their answers to the problems. Click here to read more about all of the features of Otus.

MathChat is a free iPad app on which students can draw and write free-hand responses to math problems. The "chat" part of MathChat refers to the ability to collaborate and chat with other users of the app to get assistance with problems. Sabba Quidwai wrote a great post about using MathChat in the classroom. You can see Sabba's detailed post here.

Magisto - Create Videos on Your iPad, Android Device, Chromebook, or Windows PC

Magisto is a mobile video creation app that I've written about a few times in the past when it was only available for iOS, Android, and Chromebooks. Last week Magisto launched a free Windows desktop app to round-out their offerings. Like the mobile apps, the Magisto Windows app helps you mix together pictures, music, and raw video clips to create short videos. Videos created on the mobile apps will be available through the Windows desktop app too (provided you sign into and sync your online account).

Applications for Education
Magisto is not a replacement for full-fledged video editing tools like WeVideo or iMovie. What Magisto excels at is providing an easy way to quickly create a video of highlights of a school event. Magisto might also be used to develop a short book trailer in video in which students share the highlights of a favorite book. Check out Book Trailers for Readers to learn more about the book trailer concept.

Prodigy - A Fun Game Environment for Practicing Math Skills

This is a guest post from Richie Saltzman of Prodigy, an advertiser on this blog.

Game-based learning is a popular topic in education, especially digital games that take an adaptive approach to learning. Adaptive games are not only a great way to engage, but also a great way to personalize learning to meet the skill level and needs of each student. There are some great adaptive games out there, and when used as a supplemental teaching tool, can have a profound impact on student learning.

One program that is doing a good job of gamifying math is Prodigy Math Game. Prodigy is a free, adaptive math game that integrates 1st to 7th grade math into a fantasy style game that students absolutely love playing. Prodigy’s math content is completely curriculum-aligned and covers standards from the Common Core, MAFs, and TEKS curricula depending on your location. Prodigy takes game-based learning a step further and provides teachers with a powerful set of reporting and assessment tools that allow them to easily identify trouble spots, differentiate instruction, and better manage classroom time.

Over 1,000,000 students and 50,000 teachers use Prodigy for free math practice and it’s easy to see why. Here’s what one teacher we spoke to had to say about the program:

“The best thing that prodigy has done for my students is bring excitement to mathematics. The program exhibits the perfect balance of engaging elements for students and feedback tools for teachers.

Elements of Prodigy I like as a teacher:
  • The ability to track student use and accuracy gives great information to help with evaluation of students math abilities
  • The ability to give assignments relevant to the math students are doing in class allows for reinforcement of concepts taught
  • The ability to differentiate assigned lessons for students on IEPs and students who need a challenge
  • The program’s curriculum-alignment saves me from having to weed through for relevant questions - I can be sure Prodigy’s questions will reflect the curriculum
Elements of Prodigy Math Game that students enjoy:
  • Engaging in math battles and earning new rewards, pets, and other items
  • The ability to see how they are doing relative to their classmates
  • Students who struggle seek help from classmates in the top 5 instead of always going to the teacher.
  • Game questions align with the questions seen in class.
Additionally, since Prodigy is web-based students can play from anywhere on almost any device. In fact, my students spend a lot of time playing the game at home, and thanks the reporting tool I can use their progress data to better inform my classroom instruction.” Maureen Teffer, Learning Centre SERT Prodigy is effective at engaging students using an adaptive technology to cater to each individual. Prodigy’s personalized approach quickly identifies gaps in students’ understanding and works with them by pulling them back to prerequisite skills and then scaffolding them forward through more difficult concepts. As a web-based game, Prodigy can be accessed at school and at home on virtually any device. You can sign-up your class for free in less than 2 minutes.

Pearltrees - Visually Organize and Share Collections of Files and Links

Pearltrees is a visual bookmarking tool that I first tried nearly five years ago. Over the years it has changed in response to feedback from its users. One of those changes was a transition from free-form webs of related files and links to its current format of visual squares and folders. I'm a big fan of the current format.

Pearltrees now allows you to organize collections of links, videos, images, and files. All of your collections appear in your Pearltrees homescreen and from there you can access and add to any of your collections. The new format makes it easy to drag-and-drop files from your desktop to a collection in your Pearltrees account. The Pearltrees browser extension enables you to quickly add content from a webpage to your collections. To combine folders or create sub-folders simply drag and drop one folder on top of another just like you do when making folders of apps on an iPad. Speaking of iPads, Pearltrees works the same way in your web browser as it does in their free iPad and Android apps.

Pearltrees offers a handful of ways to share your collections of resources. In addition to the typical methods of Tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing collections, you can embed your collections into a webpage. Embedding your collection into a webpage could be a great way to share collections of resources with your students when they visit your classroom or course blog.

Applications for Education
Pearltrees recently published a good guide to using their service in schools. Included in that guide are tutorials for teachers and use cases for education. One of the use cases that stands out is the option to collaborate with students on the development of collections of resources during a research project.

Last but not least, Pearltrees now offers a slideshow display option that you can use when viewing all of the resources in a collection. Simply click on any item in a collection to launch the slideshow. Using the slideshow format could be a good way to have students quickly take turns discussing the resources that they have added to a collaboratively created collection. I envision doing this by opening a slideshow and flipping through the slides. When a resource that a student has added pops-up he or she will have 20-30 seconds to talk about why he or she added that resource.