My Big Campus is Amazing!!!

I have used Edmodo the past year and a half with my classes. I love Edmodo because it’s a free social learning network for teachers, parents, students, and administrators. It provides a way to connect, collaborate, and so much more.

Michelle Krill, a technology coordinator @mmkrill at my former school, introduced me to new course management resource called My Big Campus. My Big Campus is a wonderful resource that allows teachers to create a virtual classroom with their students. My Big Campus has so many features and endless opportunities to collaborate and teach your student’s 21st century skills!

My Big Campus has a resource library for websites, wiki’s, handouts, power-points, and videos, etc. Once you create an account, you can create separate classes or groups. As a teacher you can create a blog, classroom calendar, post assignments, and even grade assignments right in My Big Campus. Last semester I used the blog to have a virtual discussion before and after classroom debates. I also used the classroom “chat” feature to Back-Channel while my class watched videos.

 

MBC is by far one of my favorite programs. It has replaced a lot of other programs and allowed my students to go to one place to access all our classroom information. Two teachers in my department have already rolled it out, one with an honors program and another with the AP US history course. My wonderful department chair, Mrs. McGrath has actually encouraged our department to start using it for a department resource sharing. I have two trainings scheduled for this spring to teach teachers about MBC in my district. I am excited to share my passion for MBC.

 

 

 

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Update your Instruction with Social Media

Social media is becoming embedded in our lives. Research has shown that there are many benefits to using social media to enhance instruction in the classroom. Students are more engaged using social media, and it is truly a wonderful way to spread information and make connections with students. Implementing social media into the classroom is very simple and can be done using a variety of simple to use resources:

Incorporate Twitter into your classroom- You can identify a major concept you want students to comprehend. Tweet the concept to your student. Allow students to respond to the concept through Twitter. Students can compare and contrast, share ideas, and develop their critical thinking skills. As you teach a lesson you can allow students to Tweet or back-channel their thoughts and comments during the lecture. You can even post the comments on the Smartboard. You can even respond to student questions this way. Another benefit to using Twitter is that it can positively and proactively involve all students in the learning process and create an interactive classroom.
Create a Social Media group- Students can meet on Facebook, Google+, or Edmodo in groups. Students can be provided with various concepts to explore or research. Students can embedded blog posts, project-based learning activities, or other alternative assessments into the social media website.
Students can create a video- Many students own devices such as cell phones, tablets, etc that can record and produce a mini video. Students can record a video and then upload their videos to google video or youtube. Students can comment on the videos or simply learn from their classmates. Here is a good tutorial if needed.
Summarize textbook chapters using blogs – Create a blog (I like EDU blogs). Have student create a blog post or summarize a major concept. Students can also comment on other student’s posts. Blogging can increase comprehension and provide a wonderful resource for review.
Text Announcements- As radical and extreme as that may sound, students respond well to text messages related to instruction (I use a program called Cel.ly). Teachers can create a groups of students or cells. Teacher’s can text reminders to a entire class or an individual students. Students can even text their teacher if they have a question. The best part is that it is a controlled environment in that Cel.ly keeps a record of every message placed.
For more information visit

Top 10 Tech Ideas to Try in your Classroom

1.  Edmodo � This microblogging site was created specifically for teachers and students. Edmodo can be used to share notes, files, assignments, grades, and events. 

2. Google Applications � This free web based suite of tools from Google gives classrooms the ability to collaborate and share assignments online. The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool.

  • For more information click here
  • Here is a google form I made to monitor student and parent communication and here is a rubric I made using google applications.

3. Quizlet � Quizlet is a free flashcard creation site that can be used to study, create, and share flashcards. Teachers can create their own flashcards for students or use pre-submitted cards.

  • For more information click here and here

4. Wunderlist � Wunderlist makes it downright simple to organize your daily life. Just create a list and start filling it with things that need to be completed. Keep track of your more important tasks with reminders and notifications. It even syncs. For more information click here

5. Cel.ly � Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cellphone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.

6. QR (Quick response) Code is a barcode that can be scanned from any mobile device or computer. The code takes you to a specific website, content information, or more information about a particular concept.

7. Animoto �  Animoto is designed to bridge the gap between the high production value of film and television, and the more “amateur” feeling of most user-created videos and photo albums.

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Our apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Socrative runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

  • For more information here

9. Grade Chart is a simple grading tool for teachers and professors. Enter in the number of questions for the assignment you’re grading, and this will generate a quick reference chart to help you determine the grade percentage and letter grade for all possible numbers of missed questions.

  • For more information click here

10 Dropbox � is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again.

  • For more information click here

Use Neat Chat to Back-Channel

This week I tried my first back-channel with my AP class. I was impressed with the level of participation and discussion while we watched the video. What shocked me the most was that students asked and answered questions during the video. I posed a general question to the class that elicited responses but many students made comments about the video and even asked the class questions. We used Edmodo as the platform, which worked well. I was thinking of researching some other back-channeling options. Today’s Meet is blocked at my school so that option is out.

I recently discovered a back channeling option called Neat Chat. Neat Chat is the easiest and fastest way to have an online conversation with a group of friends or colleagues. The process of starting a chat session and inviting people is dead easy! Neat Chat provides you a clean, fast, and robust chat room.

 

 

 

Back-Channel in the Classroom

I am looking for interesting ways to bring technology into my classroom. One of my goals this year is to incorporate back-channeling into my classroom. This year I am going to  try back-channeling using Edmodo while my class is watching a video. I think students will be excited to share their information. I plan on posing a series of questions on Edmodo and having students reply to the questions and other students comments.  I just read a Great post from Richard Bryne at Free Technology for Teachers about Back-Channeling. He created the following slideshare post about back-channeling in the classroom.

Here is another Post called five platforms for classroom back-channels  from Richard Bryne at Free Technology for Teachers. Richard Posts mentioned 5 platforms. He posts:

Chatzy is a neat little website that I learned about from Wes FryerChatzy provides a free platform for hosting your private chat area. To use it, simply name your chat area, select your privacy settings (you can password protect it), then send out invitations. Instead of sending out invitations you could just post the link to your chat area.”

TodaysMeet is completely free to use. Setting up a chat area in TodaysMeet is very simple. To set up your chat area just select a name for your room (that name becomes the url for your chat area), how long you want your room to exist, and select an optional Twitter hashtag for your chat area.  

Edmodo is a microblogging service designed specifically for educational use. Using Edmodo teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. The latest version of Edmodo updates in real-time so that members of group can quickly respond to each other. Edmodo also provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group.

Present.ly provides a platform for creating your own private micro-blogging community. The free version of Present.ly lets you create a community based on your email domain. For example, if I had other people using freetech4teachers.com as their email domain, I could establish a Present.ly community just for people with that email domain.

Although it could be difficult to get enough invites for all of your students to use it now, in the futureGoogle Wave could be a great platform for back-channel discussions. Google Wave allows users to thread conversations, invite people into a conversation at any point, and see the text that others are typing as they’re typing it. Wave also allows you to post links, embed maps, and a myriad of gadgets. Watch the video below for a concise introduction toGoogle Wave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File Stork- Collect Files via Dropbox.

This year my classroom is going to be a paperless classroom in terms of student assignments. I plan on having students submit files using Edmodo, Google Docs, and Dropbox.

Going digital in terms of paper collection will allow me to cut down on emails in my inbox as well as paper on my desk. I have had students use DropitTOme this past school year. This coming school year I am going to have them use FileStork, which can send files to my online Dropbox account.

I learned about FileStork from Richard Bryne at Free Technology for Teachers. He said “You can make an individual file request by sending an email to someone. The other way, and the more practical way for teachers, is to create a “stand alone” request which will allow you to post an upload link on your blog or website. Visitors can then use that link to upload a file to your Dropbox where you can view it and download it if you like.” Thanks Richard for the Great idea! File request | FileStork - Request files from anyone using Dropbox 2011-07-07 08-54-22

Dipity Timeline Increases Enagement

I heard about Dipity Timelines from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers and thought you might like to hear about it. I had my students create online timelines today on the Civil Rights Movement. They turned out so much nicer than paper timelines from last semester. My students even embed videos and images into them.

Why use Dipity? My students were so engaged that I could have left the room while I was “teaching” and they would have been on task (I didn’t leave the room). It’s true like the induction presenter said last night- student choice and technology improves the classroom climate and student engagement.

How do students “turn in” their timelines? I read Lisa Nielsen‘s blog the Innovative Educator and she said that teacher’s of the 21st century Don’t Say, ‘Hand It In.’ They say, “Publish It!” That is exactly what my students did. They published, copied their link,  and pasted into an assignment on Edmodo. I not only saved paper but grading was a lot easier with my Google Docs Form rubric (see below).

Here are some sample student projects:
http://www.dipity.com/KelseySW13/Civil-Rights/
http://www.dipity.com/AlexandraMZ20/The-Fight-For-Freedom/
http://www.dipity.com/BreannaRR18/Civil-Rights/
http://www.dipity.com/HaleyAB07/Civil-Rights-Timeline/

How did I grade them? Here is the rubric