Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three Ways of Assessing Students' Understanding Through Mobile Phones

As all good teachers know, a score on a quiz, on a test, or the completion of a large project doesn't always give us the full picture of what students know about a topic. Let's take a look at three ways to assess a student's understanding through the use of their mobile phones.

1. Reflecting on learning.
Ask students to use the video camera or audio recorder on their phones to create short reflections on what they have learned during the week. Students can post those on a classroom blog.

2. Documenting a process.
Ask students to use their phones to take pictures and or videos of a work in progress. If they're working on a long-term, hands-on project, have them document the process through pictures or video.

3. Capturing real-world examples.
Have you recently taught a math or science topic that is frequently seen in a landscape or cityscape? If so, have your students take a picture of a representation of that topic. For example, if you recently taught a lesson on acute and obtuse angles, have students take pictures of examples of each as they see them during a walk around town.

5 Five Google Forms Add-ons I Frequently Recommend

In the course of a year I lead many training sessions about Google Forms. In all of those sessions I have a handful of Google Forms Add-ons that I introduce to participants. These five Add-ons cover a lot of bases.

FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.


Form Notifications is a Google Forms Add-on that will send you a notification when someone has completed your Form. You can set notifications to be sent to your email address after every response has been gathered or after a set number of responses has been gathered. You can have notifications sent to more than one email address.

g(Math) is a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Choice Eliminator removes response choices from your Google Form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

CheckItOut is a great little Google Forms Add-on that allows you to create a simple check-out/ check-in system. With CheckItOut enabled in Google Forms you simply title the set of items that people will be checking out (iPads for example) then choose if you want people to choose from check boxes, a list, or multiple choice question. Watch the video below to see how the CheckItOut Add-on works.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Another month seems to have passed in a blink of my eye. As I do at the end of every month, I have a put together a list of the most popular posts of that last 30 days.

A quick personal note before I jump to the list: thank you, again, to everyone who sent a note of condolences on Morrison's passing earlier this month. My house still doesn't feel the same without him here, but Max (Morrison's adopted little brother) and I are adjusting.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. 10 Good Tools to Help Students Learn New Vocabulary Words
2. Great Google Drive Add-ons for Teachers - A PDF Handout
3. 7 Tools for Adding Questions and Notes to Videos
4. Have You Tried Voice Typing In Google Docs? - It's Easy to Use
5. A Round-up of Recent Google Classroom & Drive Updates
6. Share to Classroom - Get Your Students on the Same Webpage With Ease
7. Quick Rubric Provides an Easy Way to Craft Rubrics
8. 4 Ways Visual Literacy is Being Taught in Classrooms to Empower Learning
9. Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout
10. A Guide to Blogging and Examples of Classroom Blogs

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
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King University offers online M.Ed programs.

Google Photos Will Soon Let You Create Shared Photo Albums

Yesterday, Google held a big event to unveil new products and product updates. (Click here for a summary of everything announced). One of the update announcements that jumped out to me was the announcement that soon you will be able to create shared photo pools through Google Photos. This feature will allow you to quickly share photos with friends and family in one place. Much like a Google Drive folder, you will be able to restrict access to your photo albums on a variety of levels.

Applications for Education
For years I have recommended that teachers create a shared Google Drive folder that students can access to find pictures that they can re-use in multimedia projects. Using the new Google Photos shared albums feature could be a great way to have students contribute pictures they've taken to a shared album for classmates to access to find images to re-use in projects.

5 Stories Your Students Can Tell Through Maps

When people think about Google Maps, Google Earth, ESRI, and other digital maps they tend to think about what they can see, not what they can create. In a free webinar that I am leading tomorrow, I will share tools and strategies for telling stories with digital maps. Here are five of the stories that will be covered in the webinar. Click here to register.

1. Autobiography
Ask students to add placemarks to maps to represent some of their favorite personal moments. Students could create placemarks about their summer vacations, a favorite field trip, or just a set of happy memories connected to locations. Including images and videos to their placemarks will add additional illustrative aspects to their stories.

2. Biography
A map is a great backdrop for telling the life story of a famous person living or dead. Students can create map placemarks for the important events in a person's life. For example, they could map the life of Theodore Roosevelt and include in their placemarks the places he visited before, during, and after his presidency. Ask students to include explanations of why the events they mapped were important.

3. Book highlights
As an alternative to a traditional book report, ask students to map the highlights of books they have read. This can be done with fiction and non-fiction books. If the book they've read is set in a fantasy world, ask them to draw the map as they envisioned it while reading.

4. Changes in landscapes/ cityscapes
Google's My Maps and Google Earth allow users to create maps containing multiple layers. Have students create one layer using imagery of a place captured 30-100 years ago. Then ask them to create a layer using current imagery. This is a great way for students to see the effects of erosion on a landscape. It's also a great way to see how a cityscape has changed over time.

5. Correlations between data sets.
This is the most challenging of the five stories for students to map. They will need to create multiple map layers to illustrate a correlation between two or more data sets. For example, students could attempt to show a correlation between droughts and animal migrations.