Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Quill - Packs of Interactive Writing Lessons

Quill is a free service that puts a new spin on the old writing worksheets that most of us used in middle school. The service offers more than just the writing practice activities, but that is its core feature. There are three activity categories within Quill. Those activities are Quill Proofreader, Quill Grammar, and Quill Writer.

In Quill Proofreader students are shown students passages that have grammatical errors placed in them. Students have to identify and correct the errors in the passages that they read.

Quill Grammar requires students to complete short exercises in which they finish the construction of sentences by inserting the correct words and or punctuation marks.

In Quill Writer activities students work together to construct sentences from a shared word bank.

Applications for Education
You can assign Quill activities to your students through your teacher dashboard. Once you create an account on Quill you can create a class and distribute assignments. Your class will have a code that your students enter when they sign in to use Quill. After creating your class you can start to browse through the pre-made Activity Packs. Each Activity Pack is labeled according to skill type, grade level, and Common Core standards.

ClassDojo's Big Ideas Teaches Kids About Growth Mindset

ClassDojo has launched a new initiative that they are calling Big Ideas. The purpose of Big Ideas is to introduce students, parents, and teachers to big ideas or trends in education. ClassDojo's Big Ideas does this through the use of videos and accompanying discussion guides.

The first series in ClassDojo's Big Ideas series is all about Growth Mindset. The series will be five episodes in length that follow Mojo (ClassDojo's much loved green monster) and his friend Katie as they explore different aspects of growth mindset. The first video in the series is live now and other episodes will be released on Sunday. The first episode is embedded below.

The ClassDojo team developed the Big Idea video series with guidance from a new partner in Stanford University’s Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS). PERTS is an applied research center that partners with schools, colleges, and other organizations to identify educational practices that improve learning outcomes and to drive the effective adoption of those practices on a large-scale.


Applications for Education
The Big Ideas video series can be used in any K-12 classroom. The discussion guides that accompany each episode are suitable for K-6 students. When you download the discussion guide (PDF) you will also download a sheet of "tear away" questions that you can send home with your students to discuss with their parents.

For resources to use with older students, take a look at Mindset Kit produced by PERTS at Stanford University.

Monday, January 18, 2016

NEW! Nearpodize Your Classroom from Your iPhone

This guest post is from Sabba Quidwai (@AskMsQ) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

The world of mobile teaching and learning seems to be getting smaller and smaller and Nearpod is no exception. Last week, they brought their interactive and dynamic tool to iPhone.  At a time where the idea of a “phone” being used for teaching and learning still makes many uneasy, Nearpod created yet another avenue to show the value of using smartphones in the classroom as a means to enhance the learning experience for both teachers and students.

App Overview

When opening the app, you are presented with three options:
  • My Library – access and launch presentations that you have created from your computer
  • Explore – find lessons by grade level and subject area
  • Join – experience Nearpod as a student and join a presentation

NearpodBlog1

When launching a presentation from your phone, you can navigate the presentation in much the same way as you would using your laptop.  Question responses show on the screen, and you can share the results with your audience. This is particularly helpful when presenting with students, in a meeting, or at a conference, enabling you to step away from the podium and truly engage with your audience.

NearpdBlog2

Use of proximity and audience engagement is especially important when modeling to students what great presentations look like.  Oftentimes, students stand behind podiums ready to read off the slides as they have seen many others model for them.  However, Nearpod encourages interaction and engagement through asking thoughtful questions that assess understanding, provoke discussion, stir controversy, and allow for reflection.

Ways to Get Started

Upon first glance, many mistake Nearpod for a glamorized version of direct instruction. However, when you begin using it, you will see that the list of ways in which it can be used grows by the day.  Now that Nearpod lessons can be run from your phone, it’s one more way to model great digital citizenship and effective use of technology.

Here are a few ways that you can make the most of this new app:
  • Instead of launching a keynote or PowerPoint, Nearpodize your lesson by opening the presentation with Nearpod, add some questions, and launch it live with your phone.
  • Facilitate meetings with faculty, administrators, parents or any other school wide presentation using your phone so that you can interact more closely with them.
  • Let students practice their presentation skills using their phone.
  • Pair Nearpod with visible thinking routines such as, “Think, Pair, Share” to generate class discussion.

Want to learn more? Sabba Quidwai and Beth Holland will be presenting on Nearpod at the February 2-3, 2016 EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit. You can also learn more from the Nearpod team themselves as they will be exhibitors at that conference.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Week in Review - Mornings With Max

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where I am home after a great week at FETC in Orlando. It was long week and a good week of meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. I went to the conference to learn and to record some media for MindRocket Media Group. Much of what I learned and recorded with be appearing on EdCircuit in the next few days.

As fun as it is to attend a conference, it's always nice to come home. My dog, Max, has not left my side all morning except when we played fetch in the fresh snow earlier. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you're doing something fun just like I am with Max.

The week's most popular posts:
1. 4 Helpful Gmail Settings for Teachers & Students
2. 12 Lessons on How the Human Body Works
3. 10 Good Video Sources for Social Studies Teachers and Students
4. Create Video-based Polls on ClipChoose
5. Have You Tried Kahoot's Ghost Mode?
6. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
7. Numberock - Math Music Videos for Kids

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
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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.
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.
KidzType provides a fun way to teach and learn typing skills.

Two Ways to Record Skype Calls on a Mac

Yesterday's post about Skype Translator prompted someone on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page to ask about how to record Skype calls on a Mac. There are two methods that I have used to record Skype calls over the years.

Record video of a Skype call:
I use a rather simple method to capture video of a Skype call. I simply open Screencast-O-Matic on my Mac then frame the Skype the window. When I'm ready to start recording I simply press record on Screencast-O-Matic and capture the video. One flaw in this method is that I cannot use a headset during the call because it won't capture audio from both parties. So make sure you're in a quiet place and just rely on your Mac's internal mic and speakers.

Record audio of a Skype call:
On a Mac you can record audio of a Skype call by using QuickTime. The screenshots below provide directions for recording a Skype audio call by using QuickTime. After recording your call you can take the audio file and use it Garage Band or another audio editing tool like Audacity to edit the audio.

Step 1: Call your contact. You can call by connecting to a Skype contact or you can call by dialing a phone number.
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Step 2: While your call is in progress open QuickTime and select "New Audio Recording" from the "File" drop-down menu.
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Step 3: Choose an input source for recording your call. Unless you have another microphone connected to your Mac, select "Built-in microphone."Click the red "record" button when you're ready to start capturing the conversation.
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Step 4: After your call has ended, save the recording then export it to your desktop as "Audio Only." You will then be able to use the audio recording in the sound editor of your choice.
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