Monday, December 17, 2012

Extending Education Inside & Outside the Classroom

I have a student in my Technology 6 course that is able to complete his assignments before the other students within my classroom.  To extend his learning on the Technology components taught each week, he's begun to create & publish short Quicktime Tutorial Videos.  Once I have approved the videos, they are posted to my class website for use. As this tutorial bank grows, I will have a collection of videos to direct students to who may have been absent or just need a quick reminder on the correct steps to accomplish their tasks.

At this point, the videos are short and very elementary tutorials however the student who would generally wait for the others to catch up to him is now able to teach others and have his videos published on the web.  He is learning how to speak clearly and be concise in his instructions. It is exciting to see his excitement in this on-going project.

Mrs. Chapman's Class Page - How to Videos

Friday, December 14, 2012

Google Apps Ninja Program at Work

Earlier this year we started the NCS Google Apps Ninja Program in Leading Edge and PFAA Middle School.  This online resource allows students (and teachers if they are interested) to navigate through course materials and assessments to demonstrate mastery in Google's suite of tools (Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Search, and Docs).  As users pass tests they can earn white, green, black and master ninja belts.  What has been interesting to watch is how students use the information they learn in often unexpected ways.

For example, just a few days before Thanksgiving Break Karisa Bibayoff's 6th grade students started exploring the Google Apps Ninja Program.  On the Friday night at the start of Thanksgiving Break one of her students, also the class accountant, sent out the following email,
"Hi Everyone!
If you have noticed in class today during store there was the spreadsheet that we made. As you can see, everybody's account does not have the complete information because we are still working on putting your money in and what you brought in store. Sorry for the delay! For those of you who were absent or didn't want to buy anything, this is what happened. 
We think that by Friday everyone will be able to use the spreadsheet. If there is a delay, we will let you know either by email or telling you in class. Remember, if you don't know yet, you are on view only mode so you cannot do anything to the spreadsheet after you turned in the form or if we put your information in. If you have turned in the form twice please let us know so we can fix it. This spreadsheet is convenient for us accountants and Mrs. Bibayoff by letting us know who bought each item. 
Thanks for taking your time to read this email and have a great rest of the week."
On its surface the email itself might not seem that remarkable.  However, Karissa shared the background behind the message
"After starting the Google Apps Ninja Program our class accountant made a Google Spreadsheet for her job to keep track of pay for each student. She then emailed me for a list of the students she could import into her Gmail Contacts (something else she learned in the Ninja Program).  Once her email group was set up she sent out a Google Form for the class to complete with their names and job titles.  Then by sharing the Google Spreadsheet she delegated the input of the prior balances to her assistant accountant.  The rest of the class through the View Only option can view the overall account balances."
This story is a great example of how our students are using technology to minimize the transactional and maximize the relational.  I also think it demonstrates their comfort with technology and ease for learning how to use these tools.  Often, all we have to provide them is direction and opportunity and they are ready to do amazing things.  This story also shows that this digital prowess may be something we can leverage in our classrooms by providing them opportunities to share their expertise with others.  After the break Karisa had her accountants show her and the class just how they created these documents so that they are able to use tools like these for upcoming projects.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Edmodo in the Arts

Occasionally, the NCS Ed Tech News blog has guest writers. This week Karen Pollard, our PFAA Theater and Performing Arts Chair has created a piece sharing her recent experience using Edmodo.

I just had a great experience using Edmodo in my Acting II class – and no one is more surprised than I am!  

Before I tell you about it you should know that as an acting teacher I’ve been very concerned and confused about how to integrate technology into my Drama classes. I’ve been worried that it would take stage time away from my students and plunk them down in front of a computer.  I realize that our school has recognized and acknowledged the need to have an increased focus on expanding our student’s access to and understanding of technology and I think that’s extremely important. But I always worry that implementing a common direction for all will force the art classes (which are steeped in classical arts practices) to create inorganic strategies in the classroom that may not enhance a hands-on artistic environment.

So – why did I create this assignment? Well, first and foremost our students need it and this movement is clearly happening. The second reason (and the funnier one) is because this is an evaluation year for me and I had to come up with professional goals, so I came up with one related to technology. The assignment was very simple. I filmed my student’s final performances of their Shakespearean monologues. I uploaded them to YouTube and then pasted the links onto Edmodo. I booked the Media Center for a day and got them all online. I had all the students pick one other student to formally critique (using my rubric for terminology) and then they were required to respond to three other formal critiques after having viewed those pieces as well. I was a little nervous about this day because it was outside my comfort zone. I have no problem teaching teenagers to fall in love, kill or kiss each other on stage – but computer classes? No way!

Here’s what I didn’t expect. The crazy, positive energy the kids felt when they watched themselves on YouTube. They felt like stars. They also felt a heightened sense of importance and responsibility to be thorough with their critiques because it was being posted publicly. When I asked them to discuss the value of this assignment the next day in class the overwhelming assessment was the lesson was “so cool.” They said they were far more engaged than they would have been if this were a traditional writing assignment.

The other unexpected benefit of this assignment was it actually bought an entire week of stage time for my kids. I have always taken a week to view their performances in class and then openly discuss aspects of each piece.  Now I can add a class exercise and they get more time to develop their skills on stage. I know this won’t work for everyone but I thought I would share a tiny success.

Karen Pollard
Theatre Arts Department Chair
Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pinterest & Twitter - ETLN Notes

Every month during the school year CTAP 3 at the Sacramento County Office of Education hosts a Ed Tech Leadership Network (ETLN)meeting where educators from across the community come together to discuss and exchange ideas for using technology in the classroom. 

December's ETLN topic of discussion was Social Media.  Gail Desler, from Elk Grove USD, shared how educators are using Twitter and Laurel Lyda, from San Juan USD, presented on another social media resource, Pinterest. 

What is Twitter?  Twitter is an online social media service that is often referred to as "micro-blogging" because each "Tweet" (text-based message) has a limit of 140 characters.  Micro-blogging allows users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links.  And, there is no minimum age restriction!

Education Tweeters by Gail Desler (@GailDesler)

  • Robert J. Marzano: Education expert and consultant who tweets about practical applications for available studies.
  • Will Richarson: Author, speeaker, instigator, blogger about the Web anad its effects on schools, education and learning.  Author of Why School?
  • Steven W. Anderson: One of Edublogs' Twitterers of the Year, predominantly writes, talks, and researches effective strategies for web 2.0 educational tools.
  • Vicki Davis: Flat Classroom Project co-founder Vicki Davis (alias "The Cool Cat Teacher") enthusiastically embraces all things educational technology.
  • David Warlick: Educator, technologist, programmer, author & public speaker, exploring the realms of edtech or educational technology.
  • Larry Ferlazzo: Sacramento's own-EL teacher (Luther Burbank), writer, activist.
  • 2012 Edublog Awards- Best Individual Tweeter - International annual competition- a great Twitter sampler!
  • Catlin Tucker - High school English teacher in Windsor, CA that wrote the Blended Learning book mentioned by Joe.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse boards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
  • Education Technology - Edudemic's recommended Pinterest boards for learning more about technology in the classroom.
  • Learnest - A Pinterest-like website geared towards educators.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Helping Teens Think About What They Post

This morning as I was getting ready for work I heard two stories on the news, one from NPR and another on the Today Show, that were great reminders for the importance of talking to students about the appropriate use of technology.  In the past few months two mobile device apps, Snapchat and Wickr, have appeared on the market.  Both of these applications allow users to send content in the form of photos or text messages to other individuals and set timeframes for when the content will automatically delete itself from the recipient's device.  Here is the catch though...with a few additional clicks a screenshot of that material can be easily captured for later use.  Digital data is never gone forever and that is a key digital citizenship concept our students must fundamentally understand when it comes to using technology.

Digital citizenship is something that can and should be easily integrated into any content area and grade level.  As a matter of fact, schools are now required to
"...educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."  
The exact lessons and amount of instructional time spent on this content are left up to individual teachers and school sites to decide based upon the needs of their students.  As a school we have selected Common Sense Media's Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum to assist teachers with integrating this content into classrooms lessons.  The curriculum has age-appropriate lessons from elementary through high school built around eight categories.

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy & Security
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint & Reputation
  • Self-Image & Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright

The Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum can be introduced as part of a technology elective in the grades where we offer that course, however the concepts need to be reinforced throughout all our classes.  As a matter of fact, last year NCS teachers identified lessons they planned to teach, but each of us needs to find ways for bringing this content into our classrooms through authentic classroom lessons and experiences.  The lessons within the Common Sense Media curriculum are designed so that teachers and can easily modify the content and use the lessons independently from other lessons within the curriculum.  For example, if you are using Edmodo with your students for classroom discussions you might consider using the Build Your Ideal Community lesson to work with students on appropriate conversations and interactions for promoting positive online communities.

After Winter Break we will spend some of our professional development time reviewing the Common Sense Media Curriculum and developing links between these lessons and the units each of us already teach.  However, to get things started you might consider your own lessons and technology use and explore the Common Sense Media curriculum to begin making your own connections.


Photo: IMG_5503 by Tray on Flickr