Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Whetting your APPetite - Vol. 4

I'm sorry that I have taken so long to post a new "Whetting your APPetite." It's been a busy few weeks. In Vol. 4 I'm focusing on two of my favorite new Math Apps -- Rocket Math and Math Motion. Enjoy!  

Rocket Math - $0.99
This app follows a video game-esque concept. You create a user profile, choose an avatar, choose a rocket body, then are tasked to "customize" that rocket. However - you must buy rocket parts to improve it! You earn money by solving math facts. The math in this app starts off as a review of the four basic math operations - from easy facts to more difficult 2 digit by 2 digit problems. It provides a touch-screen "work pad" on which students can do scratch work. Once your rocket is created, you can launch your rocket and use the motion sensors in the iPad to keep it from crashing. Once you've reached "outer space" you get to embark on more varied math missions - even vs. odd numbers, polyhedral identification, etc. So very engaging yet so much embedded math (even the earning and spending of money is embedded math!).

Motion Math - $0.99
This app uses the motion sensors in the iPad to teach kids how to be friends with that old math foe: FRACTIONS. In addition to the kinsethetic bonus of the interface, the app scaffolds up and down based on student performance. That's right! It's adaptive! Woooooo for Motion Math!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm in Blog-Love / Grading Tests with Google Forms

Sooo... I just had my first blog-crush.

I've marveled at other blogs in the past few weeks (since I've discovered that they exist), but this is a full-on Twilight-esque crush. One of my iPad sages, Margaret from TechEd, sent out a blog via another iPadding teacher: Teaching with the Cloud. Some of you may already be familiar. This guy writes just about teaching with... wait for it... GOOGLE!!!!

In this particular post, he explains how one can grade assessments with Google Forms. Wow. Check out this guy's blog; it's pretty fantastic.

http://www.teachingwiththecloud.com/2011/04/use-google-forms-to-create-quiz-and.html

Hello Edmodo, Why you're just Facebook for School!

What? Kids can't be on Facebook in school! Well now they can... in a way.

Enter Edmodo.com - an educational social networking site that allows teachers to create virtual classrooms in which they can:
- Create assignments
- Create calendars
- Write messages to whole class, groups of students or individual students
- Upload content to a "library"
- Grade assignments
- And more!

Students have their own accounts through which they receive/send messages, turn in work, revise work, download class content and check the classroom schedule. Parents can also get accounts so that they can see students' grades, progress and comments. The gradebook even exports as a CSV file for ease of use.

I've been using it daily since we returned from Spring Break to help my students to collaborate in mathematical problem solving. Even better than using a blog-site, Edmodo allows my students to not only communicate with each other about their math thinking, but also gives me the opportunity to assess them privately and have one-on-one coaching conversations with individuals or differentiated groups of students. I have two classes - 311 and 313. I created "classes" for each room then "groups" within the rooms: Mercury, Venus and Earth in room 313, and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in room 311 (we're also doing an astronomy unit). The kids can log in, get a personalized assignment, collaborate to solve it and then receive private feedback from me! Then I just dump the data into my district's gradebook system.

An added benefit is that the kids are so incredible jazzed up about getting on "school facebook." The first time we used it they literally ooh'd and ahhh'd... a feat for a group of kids so entrenched in cool technology for the past 8 months.

www.edmodo.com
 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free Everyday Math Apps through Saturday 4/16!

Get 'em while they're hot (and free)!
Note to Everyday Math teachers: These are the same games you play with your students & the Everything Math deck... if you have iPads or iPod touches in your classroom... definitely get these!


McGraw-Hill iPhone / iPad apps for !!free!!: Monster Squeeze, Tric-Trac, moreEditors' Choice

The iTunes App Store offers select McGraw-Hill Education applications for Apple iPhone / iPod touch / iPad for free, as listed below. At $2 off, each is the lowest price we've seen. Deal ends April 16. The deals:


Everyday Mathematics Addition Top-It: 0 to 10 addition game
Everyday Mathematics Subtraction Top-It: 0 to 10 subtraction game
Everyday Mathematics Name That Number: Order of operations game
Everyday Mathematics Monster Squeeze (pictured): Cyclops octopus number line game
K-12 eFlashcards: Textbook vocabulary flashcards

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wonderful World of iTunes U

In a previous post, I wrote about how I create mini-lesson movies for the iPads. You may have been thinking, "OK that's fine, but I don't have time to create my own movies." No worries - welcome to iTunes U. This is a section on the iTunes store with many - often FREE - video lessons and professional development material.

Khan Academy on iTunes U
One particularly amazing resource is Khan Academy - a series of video lessons brought to my attention by the great Bruce Ahlborn (my iPad Yoda). Khan Academy was created in 2006 by a businessman named Salman Khan. What began as a tutoring tool for Khan's cousins, Khan Academy is now a 2100+ video library of free lesson resources - many of which are available on iTunes U, and the rest of which you can find at http://www.khanacademy.org/. I teach using the Everyday Math curriculum and so found it especially interesting that I could find lessons on lattice multiplication and other uncommon algorithms within this database. In addition, there are lessons ranging from a myriad of academic subjects and levels - from economics to astronomy -- all free.

Another great resource is located in the K-12 section of iTunes U. I have found many great PD opportunities for myself in this section, learning more about the Common Core State Standards initiative and primary problem solving strategies. While perhaps not a direct use for your students, these videos have been very intriguing for my professional growth and would have been overlooked had I not gone digging through these sections. If you have the time - take a look. Administrators, this may be an engaging and inexpensive way to give your staff differentiated PD while also teaching them technology skills.

In short iTunes U is a great place to "shop" for some ed resources - even those who have no money to spend can leave laden with great material to expand their students' (or their own) horizons.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Digital Differentiation - There's an App for That.

I've been App collecting for almost 8 months now... much to my bank account and husband's great dismay. However, I've found some great gems (stay tuned to the "Whetting Your APPetite" posts for some of these). While it's been great fun discovering Apps, I've found that - much like many educational resources - not all apps are great for all students. So can you differentiate Apps? Why of course!

Thanks to the iPad OS update a few months back that allows for folders, Apps can be sorted by learning needs. As I assess my students and find that a certain group needs scaffolding in numbers and numeration, I can create a folder with Apps that address this need.

What's that? Six students show a deficiency in fractions? There's a folder for that!

Hmmm? 20% of the class needs more work with basic division facts? There's a folder for that!

I believe you can get the gist... So by creating differentiated folders by strand and level, I can differentiate not only my lessons, but the reinforcement games that kids play on the iPad. Welcome to the next step in digital differentiation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whetting Your APPetite - Vol. 3

Another great app list -- with information on each app, price, and the CPS school that is utilizing it! Sortable and informational!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Whetting Your APPetite - Vol. 2

Qurki - FREE
Students can use this App to communicate in literature circles, math blogs, social science discussion groups and science lab groups. It works much like an instant messenger chat room, but it is closed to any without the room code. In this way it is a secure, yet instant way for your kids to chat from across the room, between classrooms or even between schools!




Mobile Me iDisk - FREE (App); $99 (Mobile Me Subscription)
Yes, a bit pricey to get, but by far the best content sharing platform I've tried. All of the Apple apps - Pages (Apple's "Word"), Numbers (Apple's "Excel"), Keynote (Apples "PowerPoint"), iBooks (Apple's digital reading platform) and more have a built-in "Save to iDisk" / "Open from iDisk" option. Note that the iPad does not work like a traditional computer. It doesn't have "folders" to which you can save and open files. By utilizing iDisk, you introduce folders to your iPad's "desktop." Students turn in work, I write in comments or grades and save the files back to the iDisk; I save videos, songs and shared readings, etc. It is like a digital "turn in tray" for myself and my students. So far, really loving it!


Idea Sketch - FREE 
Concept mapping, idea webs, bubble organizers. Whatever you call it, this free App allows your students to create them - simply, color coded and ready to use for their planning! Definitely work downloading - even if you want to just play around with it. After all... it's free!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Please Share Your Questions

As I think about what topics to explore in this new blog, I wonder what questions people may have?

Some have already emailed or asked me in person to share certain ideas, but I'd love to hear what other topics, curiosities or issues teachers might be experiencing and would like to be discussed on this blog.

Please comment and share below.

Also, if anyone has any ideas to tips of their own to share, please also leave a comment -- we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks,
Jennie

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cloning Teachers

I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who laments that the school day is too short. We barely have enough time to teach all of our subjects (social studies? science?), much less enrich our students' learning with the arts, give them time to burn off some energy and work on social skills during recess. All day we're rushing as if we're late for the bus with "Quick, let's learn before the bell rings!" lessons. Add to this - the need to regularly assess learning and then use that information to differentiate instruction for groups of students, nay, individual students. How is there time for it all? I've always wished for more hours in our day... or a 3 or 4 clones of me to teach the kids. While the school day is something that is beyond my control, thankfully cloning myself is a possibility. Well... in a way. 
 
Ingredients for Cloning Yourself:
- MacBook Computer - price varies based on model
- Point 2 View Doc Cam - $69.99 on Amazon

1. Get your materials together, just as you would teach the actual lesson 
2. Plug in the Point 2 View doc cam into your computer and open the P2V included software (which will open a video window showing the images that your doc cam is capturing)
3. Open QuickTime Player
4. Go to "File" under QuickTime Player
5. Click on "New Screen Recording"
6. Make sure the recording volume is on
7. Click Record
8. Maximize the P2V video window
9. Begin to teach your lesson, recording your writing on a slate, walking students through a math journal page, modeling a science experiment, editing a paper, a shared reading of a text, or whatever your students may need!
10. Press "Stop Recording" 
11. Upload video onto iPad, iPhone, or computers
12. Repeat steps 4-11 with a video on the same topic, scaffolded to the different level, as students' needs may dictate
13. Have students watch videos (with headphones) based on instructional level, following along on parallel instructional sheets, notebooks or other materials.
14. Pull students while class is watching the videos to work one-on-one or in small groups on needed skills.
15. Lather, Rinse and Repeat. 

See? Teacher - Cloned! Beyond the simple fact that by creating these videos, I am then free to pull small groups to look at slides, dissect a flower or conduct an experiment, this method also offers a myriad of other unique opportunities. For example, the students can now pause the lesson and rewind if they didn’t understand something – a feature that a live lesson with 25 students would not afford them. Furthermore, absent students who usually simply “miss out” on any lessons occurring when they were not present can now come before or after school to experience the lesson in the exact way they would have were they present! The students now experience a personal, up-close view of all manipulatives and demonstration objects that are being used in the lesson (rather than often having to sit in the back of the classroom 20 feet away from the lesson). 


In soliciting students for feedback on our daily use of iPads, they all cite that watching these videos is a high point of their day. 

Says one student, "It makes me want to come to school everyday 'cause I know that Ms. Magiera got a lesson just for me that day. I don't want to miss my lesson. I like it cause she's - like - talking just to me. It's cool kinda being the only kid in the class."

PS: I also am excited to have a library of these differentiated videos for next year's instruction. Here's to hoping I teach the same grade level and subjects!

Whetting Your APPetite - Vol. 1

One of the reasons I started this blog was to respond to many people asking for my favorite Apps. I will begin posting a series called, "Whetting your APPetite" -- sort of an "App of the Day." Some days I may do more than one... some days may go without an App. Please comment and send in any Apps that I haven't mentioned and you love as well!

E-Clicker - $9.99 (Host); FREE (Student App)
I love any app that makes my students cheer when I say, "It's time for a test." E-Clicker is a great assessment tool for short quizzes or student polls. The way it works is that you create short multiple choice quizzes on the iPad, or at editor.eclicker.com. (Note that due to the interface and method of quiz delivery, it is not suited for longer assessment.) You can include pictures that you draw on the iPad, download from a website or capture with your camera (built-in if you are so lucky to have the iPad2). You can also include an explanation for the correct and/or incorrect answers. Once you have completed the quiz, you save it and can then "beam" it to your students' iPads or other mobile devices. The question immediate appears on your students' screens and they can select their answers. Once everyone is ready, you end the question session and a bar graph of student responses is generated on each screen. Now you have the opportunity to discuss common misconceptions or correct answers. The students love the immediate feedback and are extremely engaged by the novelty of "magically" receiving a question from the teacher and "magically" seeing their peers' responses. As an educator, the instant data this program provides is invaluable when it comes to RTI, differentiated instruction and parent-teacher conferences.

Mental Note - $2.99
Slate routines and activities are common place in many subject areas throughout elementary classrooms. In math, students hold up answers to mental math questions; in reading, students may write short responses and show the teacher. While I have always enjoyed the quick assessment opportunity this routine provided me, I always anguished at losing all of that formative information when students wiped their slates clean. Mental Note turns your iPad or iPod Touch into a dry-erase board -- a dry erase board that automatically saves and timestamps student answers, can include photographs, typing and record students' voices. Welcome to Slate Routines 2.0.

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Recently I had the great honor of being named an Apple Distinguished Educator. Although only a member of this cohort for a few short weeks, I have already received much helpful information and resources. Below are two great web-resources for Awesome Apps:

http://www.apptivities.org/



http://www.adesontheweb.com/ADEs_on_the_Web/ADE_Hottest_Apps_Blog/ADE_Hottest_Apps_Blog.html/