Thursday, 28 January 2016

Randomly Pick Kids with "Kidpicker"

"So, do you have a schedule for when students participate? How do you pick kids randomly that isn't biased or unfair? Some teachers know that certain students don't like to talk in groups so how to get them to participate?" 

I heard this a lot from teachers. Strategies or systems have ranged from drawing names out of a hat to having Popsicle sticks with names. Personally, I like "kidpicker" which randomizes drawing of student names for discussion tasks, or group work.

The kidpicker app that you can bookmark. Periods or class appear in the drop down menu

Kid Picker
Kidpicker is a google apps script developed by Andrew Stillman and you can see the link here. Upon visiting, you can install the script in your Google Account which sets up a spreadsheet in your Google Drive that you can populate with names if you have multiple classes or want to randomize from smaller pools of students.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Comparing Zaption and Edpuzzle

I have been using "Zaption" for video content and assessment and decided to try "Edpuzzle" to compare the two.

The Edpuzzle Dashboard
Edpuzzle, (like Zaption) has a dashboard that tracks whether my students have engaged with video content and all their scores on formative assessment questions. I can reset their score in the far right column and see their completion and score from each question.

What My Students Said
My students didn't like Edpuzzle as much as Zaption. Apparently, it's harder to start and stop Edpuzzle videos as opposed to Zaption. Edpuzzle has a specific button to start and stop videos whereas with Zaption, the user can just click on the screen. Also, Edpuzzle doesn't allow for "mastery" learning as if students get an answer wrong, they're forced to go on. Zaption allows students to get an answer correct before moving on to the next question.

This last point was a contentious one for my students and I as well as their teacher. With Edpuzzle, when students come to a question, they cannot go back in the video and watch the corresponding sequence again. On one hand, it forces them to pay attention, but on the other hand, what if they were "nodding off" and need to go back and review material?

From the Teacher's Perspective
Both allow the same analytics, but Zaption has more with their dashboard. One advantage that Edpuzzle has is the ability to "trim" videos which I really like. Both are exportable to "Google Classroom".

Augmenting Reality in the Classroom

"I thought that the field trip was amazing because as I ascended to the the cave, I heard faint noises coming from the birds in the Garden of Eden. I looked at the fresh water streaming and the aroma that filled the air was a mixture between humid air and water, which made my face scrunch up in disgust. Then suddenly, I heard a clear voice that started up like this. "Bong Um Duck Dim Sum Ma." The voice soon lead me into a forest, also known as the Garden of Eden. I walked, and tried to observe the crack on the rock. It somehow reminded me of a fault. As I reached this collapsed ceiling of Son Doong, I saw a bright ray of sunshine into the cave. I often wondered, if it were possible for vegetation in caves, and I found my answer. Yes. The jungle that was connected to the cave, making the cave available for vegetation. The vast air that blew against on my shoulder gave me a chill behind my spine."

The above was a piece of writing one of my students did as a writing warm up last month. We were learning about water distribution on earth, and how karst formations are created through weathering and erosion. I thought it would be fun to visit a limestone cave and have kids write about it by using some of the connections to descriptive writing they had learned in language arts class. 

Image courtesy of CC
We didn't go to an actual cave however, but visited one virtually. The Son Doong cave in Vietnam was recently discovered and National Geographic explored and mapped it out for an immersive experience complete with HD imagery, sounds, location map and interpretive signs along the way. With a little imagination, it was not hard for my students to imagine how the cave smelled, and how their appearance changed from clean cut to muddy and wet as they ventured in. 

What is AR?
Such is the power of AR, or Augmented Reality. The SAMR model of educational technology highlights that reading interactive features and being able to zoom in and focus on details fall under "Redefinition" and "Modification". 

360 Degree Videos
Simply do a youtube search for 360 degree video on youtube and you'll find a growing number of videos which have a user toggle in the corner allowing the viewer to turn in any direction and focus on subjects in the video which are interesting to them. See this one below I used with cardboard below for a lesson as we are learning about galaxies and scale of bodies in the solar system: 

Our tech integrationist had ordered some cardboard and I wanted a means for students to understand properties of scale in our Earth and Space unit and give them an interactive ability when "travelling through through space". Taking the above video, small groups searched for the video on their phones and hit the cardboard icon which was then viewed through cardboard. Most said it was the coolest thing that they had done in school all week! *One note, cardboard only works with Android, but Iphone users can install the app "in360tube" to use. 
Students take a break from model building to travel through space using 360 videos and cardboard. 

Google Street View
Google street view gives you the opportunity to see what a place looks like in a 360 degree photosphere. One of my favorite Chrome web apps is Earth View from Google Earth which shows a different Google earth view every time you hit a new tab on your browser. A click on the map below takes you to street view to travel, view pictures or photospheres. 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Video Assessment with Zaption

If you use videos to deliver content, Zaption can help you manage student viewership and give you analytics on questions you assign within the video. Here is a video that I made for a recent lesson "Earth's Seasons"


As you see, you can embed zaption videos on a site or send it to student via a link. What I like best about Zaption that didn't come with some other video platforms I've used before is that Zaption will tell the teacher if students have: A.) Watched the Video and B.) Told their score. This has remarkable applications for helping with workflow and here are some of the other analytical views:

Lesson analytics show average scores, time to view and how many viewed.

The thing I like the most about Zaption is that it can be assigned through Google classroom and students are given reminders of assignment due dates so they'll know if something is overdue.

"Viewers" shows average score and time to view. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Drawings as Graphic Organizers-Limitless Possibilities!

I'm astounded at the ways that Google Apps can transform educational products. In science, we had a huge engineering initiative and are learning about space after the holiday. So, I thought the movie "October Sky" would be an appropriate movie and segue into our space unit after the Christmas holiday. Still, I wanted students to write about the story line and transformed a "Story Line Template" from "Building Reading Comprehension Habits in Grade 6-12: A Toolkit for Classroom Activities" by Jeff Zwiers into the following:

I instructed my students and make a copy, after which I had them complete the story line and if extra time was available, customize the story with a theme of their choosing. See how some students went above and beyond!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Provide Mastery Learning through Data Validation and Google Forms

I'm working my way through my level 2 educator course and every module has a formative assessment afterwards. The assessments are usually 3-4 questions and if you get a question wrong, Google wants you to know, and know what the "correct" answers are. Why not do the same with our students?

Enter Data Validation
With a google form, you can select the 3 bullets at the bottom of a question and select "data validation" with this and indicate that an open-ended or text response matches what has been entered in the validation. What this means is that if a student has an incorrect answer, the form will not allow them to move on until their answer is correct. This has enormous potential with key concepts and spelling of key vocabulary. Here is a quick tutorial:

There is a downside with this. Too many questions of this nature may frustrate students as they can't submit the form until is 100% perfect so I recommend doing this sparingly with only a few key questions.

Related Posts
Doc Appender: The Ultimate Peer Assessment Tool
Tips for Customizing Your Google Forms Functionality and Efficiency

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Power of Screencasts...and the Tools to Do Them

Screencasts are a dynamite way to show "how-to" tutorials. Recently my teaching partner and I used screencasts with our students for them to show their understanding of plate tectonics by synthesizing information on a map that we created into an oral presentation that would be recorded.

When the learning product is differentiated, class presentations may follow. However, in this case the skill was all similar and we didn't want to have to sit through 20 of the same type of presentation, but we did want the students to construct an explanation of plate tectonics supported by evidence. This is not done by a multiple choice test and is done best by referencing information. There were two screencasting tools that were handy for us.

QuickTime Player
If you're on a Mac, nothing is easier.  Search for QuickTime Player in your applications folder and drag it to the dock. Right click and select "New Screen Recording". Do a mic check to make sure that the volume is to your liking and do a trial recording. What I like about QuickTime is that it allows you to crop a small part of your desktop for a screencast leave out some of the desktop clutter. Videos are saved as a MOV file and easily shared to other sites.
If you don't have the luxury of a Mac, go to the Google Chrome web store and install "Screencastify". Screencastify isn't as sleek as QuickTime, but what I like is the option of integrating the screencast with the webcam which isn't an option for QuickTime. Screencastify also has the same sharing options and editing options as Quicktime. Make sure that students are signed into their chrome browser and are not using "Incognito" mode.

Compatibility With Google Sites
One problem that we came across was how to upload these videos to their portfolios. Our current school doesn't have a Youtube channel and I considered creating a channel that my students could login to, however, there was a much easier work around that didn't involve this at all.
Since my sixth grade portfolios are Google Sites that I created with Site Maestro, we learned that we could just go to "Drive" and insert a raw video that was embedded without having to be uploaded to a third party site.

Inserting a "Video" from Google Drive eliminates the need for Vimeo and Youtube sites. 

Working With Drive
To get the work to me, I simply created a drive folder which all students were given access to. They were able to drag and drop their work from their desktops, or save to drive (with Screencastify) for purposes of assessment and evaluation. From there, they could search Drive for, and insert their videos. A word of caution: Quicktime's MOV file is easily uploaded from drive, but the default file type from Screencastify took about 4 hours to convert after being uploaded and saved to a Google site. We work in South Korea with lightening fast internet, so expect longer if you have slow bandwidth.

"We learned that we could just go to "Drive" and insert a raw video that was embedded without having to be uploaded to a third party site"

In terms of time, the project took about 1 hour, from when I first introduced the project to modelling the tools to giving them time to play and when they finished their recordings. We had made a collaborative map beforehand and had a strong knowledge base through formative assessment. See a finished piece of student work for yourself!

NGSS Standards: 

  1.  Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
  2. Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
  3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
  4. Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms.
  5. Evaluate limitations of a model for a proposed object or tool.
  6. Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
  7. Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.