Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to Organize Free Conference Calls

Whether it is to collaborate with colleagues or to talk with parents about their children, from time to time you could find yourself in need of a free conference call service. At MindRocket Media Group we've been using for our meetings and it has worked out well. makes it easy for anyone to quickly create a free and private conference call number. To create your account simply visit the site, enter your email address and choose a password. The service will then generate a phone number and an access code for you. Give that number and access code to your attendees and you're ready to start hosting conference calls. does offer some paid upgrades like custom greetings and hold music, but the core service is completely free.

Google Calendar users who want to organize conference calls can put their numbers and access codes into the invitations that they send out as Google Calendar events. Click here to learn how to create Google Calendar events and invite people to them.

Applications for Education
Skype and Google+ Hangouts can be great ways to host virtual meetings with parents. However, if the parents you're trying to invite to a virtual meeting don't have Skype or Google accounts, you have put up an obstacle to meeting. Dialing a phone number and entering an access code when prompted is a much easier way to get parents into a virtual meeting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Use Your Google or Edmodo Account to Create HSTRY Timelines

Since the first time I tried it last fall I have been impressed with HSTRY. HSTRY is a great multimedia timeline creation tool. There are two features of HSTRY that make it stand-out from the crowd. First, as a teacher you can create an online classroom in which you can view all of your students' timelines. Second, as a teacher you can build questions into timelines that you share with your students. You can even insert explanations of the answers to your questions.

This week HSTRY added two new log-in options for teachers and students. You can now use your Google Account (consumer or Google Apps for Education) or your Edmodo account to use HSTRY. HSTRY now has apps in the Edmodo store and the Chrome store.

If you used HSTRY last year and you're planning to use it again this fall, you'll be happy to note that you can now archive your old HSTRY classrooms.

Check out the video embedded below to learn how to make a HSTRY timeline.

New Tagging and Discovery Features Added to eduClipper

A few weeks ago I shared a video of eduClipper's founder, Adam Bellow, talking about some new features being developed for the app. This morning those features went live.

These are the new features of eduClipper that you'll see when you update the free iPad app. 

1. eduClipper now has a new start-up tutorial for users. The tutorial makes it easier than ever before to start using the app efficiently.

2. The free eduClipper iPad app now has a featured content section showcasing the most popular content and content contributors on the service.

3. You can now add subject category tags to everything that you save in the app. The tags will make it easier to organize and find shared resources.

4. If you want to share content from your eduClipper account to Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you can now do that with the sharing function built into eduClipper. 
Disclosure: I have a small advisory role with eduClipper.

ClassDojo Introduces Groups...More to Come

Last week I had a conversation with ClassDojo's head of marketing, Manoj Lamba, about some of the new features they're rolling out before most teachers go back to school for the 2015-2016 school year. There are a few that I want to share with you, but I can only share one of them today (the others will be unveiled in early August). Beginning today you can create student groups in your ClassDojo account.

ClassDojo Groups allow you to arrange groups of students within your ClassDojo classroom. You can put students into groups according to tables or by another criteria that you select. You can give points and recognition to the entire group for things like working together, group problem solving skills, and any other behavior that you want to reward. Group points are displayed in students' profiles along with the individual points they've earned.

ClassDojo Groups work in your web browser as well as on the iOS and Android apps for ClassDojo.

Applications for Education
Check out the playlist embedded below for nine ideas on using ClassDojo.

Beyond Assessment: 3 Other Uses for Socrative

This is a guest post from Beth Holland (@brholland) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Socrative is a free student response system that works on any device. With its built-in quick questions and quiz options, it is an incredible resource for formative and summative assessments. However, Socrative can be used for more than just quizzes.

Socrative as Backchannel

A backchannel is a digital conversation that runs concurrently with a face-to-face activity and provides students with an outlet to engage in conversation. Consider using the short answer option within the Quick Questions to give each student an opportunity to share his or her ideas before engaging in class discussion. For those students who may prefer to communicate in writing, or who might need more time to formulate their thoughts, this can be a great way for them to share their ideas.

By using Socrative instead of a more public backchannel tool such as Padlet or TodaysMeet, students may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas. Teachers may also consider using a teacher-paced quiz as a backchannel. Discussion questions could be crafted in advance and then pushed out to students as a way to guide the face-to-face conversation.

Socrative Space Race as Lab Procedures

While the initial intent of a Socrative Space Race is to provide some element of competition for students as they progress through an activity - Greg Kulowiec has a great blog post about how to do this. In a science lab, a Space Race could be used to present lab procedures and capture data across lab groups.

With the space race projected, lab groups and teachers have a virtual progress board. Upon completion, the spreadsheet report could then be shared with the students so that they can analyze not only their observations and data collection but also that of the entire class.

Socrative as Writing Center

Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker) uses Socrative to help students craft thesis statements. By asking them to type their draft theses into a short answer Quick Question, he can then push the sentences back to the class for a vote. As a group, they can discuss what makes a strong thesis statement and offer suggestions to their peers. Students can then rewrite their statements and submit them for voting as many times as needed in order to collaboratively improve their theses.

Socrative can also be used to set up a peer-editing session. Teachers can create a quiz with questions such as thesis statement, intro paragraph, textual evidence, etc. In fact, a single short response question could even be used for students to paste in an entire essay. Once the teacher has completed the activity, the reports can be used for a number of peer-editing activities:
  1. The individual PDF reports can be edited using a PDF annotation tool such as PaperPort Notes (iOS) or DocHub (computer/Chromebook). The PDFs could also be converted into Google Docs and then edited using the “Suggestions” feature.
  2. The spreadsheet report can  be shared with students as a Google Sheet and then formatted to include a “feedback” column.
  3. Using the Save-as-Doc Add-On in Google Sheets, teachers can take the Socrative report and convert it into a Google Doc to be shared with all of the students as “Comment-Only.” Once the Doc has been generated, students can use the Suggestions to provide feedback to their peers, and teachers then have a single document with all of the writing as well as the edits in one place.

When looking for one tool to use in a number of ways, Socrative is a great option for all areas of the curriculum.

If you are looking to learn more, Beth Holland will be a featured presenter at the November 17-18 EdTechTeacher iPad Summit Boston. Both Early Bird Registration and the Call for Proposals are open.

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