Monday, May 20, 2013

The Flat Classroom 15 Challenges

While I can't seem to make it through a MOOC (maybe I'm just trying to learn too much at once), I am managing to keep up (somewhat) with my readings. These next challenges are related to Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Chapter 4 focused on communication. I was introduced to the term technopersonal and was reminded how our students from impoverished homes (and districts) are lacking in the development of their technopersonal skills that are essential for success in today's world. However, we still are faced with educators who don't have time for their students to use Google Docs in 5th grade because the students need to learn cursive in order to be successful on the SAT. Seriously? Yes, I was told that today! In Chapter 5, the Enlightened Digital Citizenship model was shared. I think it points out the complex nature of something that many adults take for granted. Educators are tasked now with finding room for it in their already crowded curriculum; but in the lives of our students, I would argue is more important than a lot of the content there. The chapter also talks about copyright issues, which again, are big and complex. So, onto the challenges!

Challenge 4: Communicate with New Tools
This challenge is to use an asynchronous tool and a synchronous tool that were discussed in the chapter and share them on my blog.

The synchronous tool is easy. Today, I participated in a Google+ Hangout with one of the developers of There were 5 of us in the hangout. We were able to share information and questions, Kevin was able to share his screen with us, and we were able to use the chat feature as well. It worked really well and was all for FREE! (I should have taken a screen shot during the hangout!)

Unlike Jarod in the video, educators in SBISD allows educators access to Google+ and therefore, Hangouts! We are planning to use it as part of our Connected Learning Networks this summer. I am really excited about it!

For the asynchronous tool, I used Google Docs. Shelby Acevedo at NHS, shared a presentation and was soliciting feedback. I was able to insert comments when I had a few minutes. She can read them when she has an opportunity to return to the presentation later today. You can even give voice comments now which I should have used just to give it a try! Had Shelby been online at the time, we could have used the chat feature to converse synchronously. While I didn't use that feature today, Sheri, Carrie and I employ that capability all the time. It is one of the great features that I find invaluable and one of the reasons that One Note falls short for me!

Challenge 5: Go Mobile
For this challenge, I am to use my own mobile device and find at least one educational way it may be used. Gee, which way... We encourage teachers to use tools such as Socrative for formative assessments in classrooms. We are a BYOD district so what a better way to encourage the use of cell phones in the classroom. How about using Twitter? Teachers can create a classroom hashtag and use Twitter as a backchannel, as a summarization tool, find "experts" to follow.. the list grows everyday. How about using Audioboo as a way students can self assess fluency? I worked with a teacher to develop an Audiobook workstation in the classroom complete with a rubric and step-by-step directions (more for teachers than the students). We also have teachers and students creating tutorials (recording the lesson on the iPhone or using EDUcreations, Show Me Interactive Whiteboard, etc. on the iPad) and uploading them to YouTube. Our challenge is that YouTube is not accessible within the district right now on iOS and Android devices. We are working with our content filter to get that changed.

Challenge 6: Create a Classroom Monitoring Portal
This challenge is a little more "challenging" for me. We are to create a CMP (classroom monitoring portal) for our classroom. I'm not sure that I totally understand all of the components of a CMP... Here is go, none-the-less.

(I have been holding onto this post for a week or so. I cannot seem to figure out the RSS. I have contacted The Flat Classroom folks. they are working with me but with everything else going on here right now, it will be another week or so before I have time to move on! So, I decided to go ahead and post Challenges 4 and 5!)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Microsoft Partners in Learning

Recently, I attended a two day Microsoft Innovative Educator training. It was fast paced, fun and full of terrific resources for teachers that I didn’t even know existed! Here’s a quick run-down on one of those resources! Certainly worth a look!

You’ll find some terrific free Microsoft software as well as some rich resources for teaching and learning! To begin with, you’ll need to create an account. Once signed in, select the resources tab and then Free tools.

Resources>Free tools
Here, you’ll find an extensive list of tools, many of which are free software along with tutorials and learning activities. Here are a few tools we explored during the training that you could use in your classroom today:
Windows Movie Maker - A free movie making tool. During the training I was able to use Community Clips to create a short video tutorial for Windows 8.
Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 - A powerful computer algebra system, with step-by-step equation solver and powerful visualization tools, that will help students grasp mathematical concepts.
AutoCollage - Select several images and the software will generate a collage in seconds!
Songsmith - Songsmith automatically generates musical accompaniment for anyone’s voice. Get rappin’ today!
WorldWide Telescope - Explore outer space from your classroom!
These are just a few of the many tools there. Spend some time - there’s something for everyone.
Another category certainly worth your time is Professional Development and then 21st Century Learning Design.

Professional Development>21st Century Learning Design
As part of the Innovative Teaching and Learning Research (ITL) project, rubrics were developed that help educators identify and understand how they can build students’ 21st century skills into their lessons. There are 6 rubrics of 21st century learning, each one an important skill for students: collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, real-world problem-solving and innovation, the use of ICT for learning, and skilled communication. You’ll find the rubrics here (well worth your time) as well as examples of learning activities from around the world.

The Partners in Learning Network is a place where you can come to learn on your own or find and connect with other educators around the world! I'll be sharing more from the training in upcoming posts! Thanks Robyn and Sarah!