Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter iPad Finals

Winter iPad Finals

Today the World Languages Department successfully had the most students ever take their final exams on the iPads: 20 classes with seven different levels!

There is front-end work involved: About two-three hours to type one final exam on myMitty, plus testing and editing. are the benefits:
  1. Instant results that can be entered to Webgrade (No waiting for the scantron machine)
  2. Not having to worry about making enough copies
  3. No "Version A", or "Version B". You can have "Version infinity" (slight hyperbole) as multiple-choice answers are different for each student
  4. Students get their score as soon as they press the "submit" button
  5. Edits are easily made without having to make "errata"
  6. No paper or scantron waste
Tests can use multiple-choice, cloze questions with drop down multiple choice or fill-in, short answer, matching, or true/false.

See Rose or Graham for more information about write myMitty tests.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Using Blogs in the Classroom

As my ECJ India class prepares for our trip in July, I want my students to keep up-to-date on what is currently happening in India.  This semester, I experimented with a class blog.  Students were responsible for posting to the blog four times during the semester: twice they summarized a news article and created discussion questions linking the article to class material, and twice they commented on another student's summary and questions.  While the blog we've created is not particularly flashy, it has been a helpful tool for class discussions, as it shows the students that the ethical questions we cover in class are not just hypothetical--they're real issues that real people face right now.

Some of the students in my freshmen Introduction to Catholic Christianity class also used a blog as part of a project on characters in the Old Testament.  The students had to research an Old Testament figure and come up with a creative way to show the class the importance of this figure.  They had many options--drawing, painting, writing a song, creating a blog, etc.  The students who created the blog had to demonstrate that they understood their part of the story from the perspective of three different characters.  Here is an example from a student who wrote about the crossing of the Red Sea.

Setting up the blogs was simple.  For my ECJ class, I created the blog and added all of my students to it using their mittymonarchs account.  For the freshmen, the students used their mittymonarchs account to create their own blog--they completely designed it on their own.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Video Projects-Easier Than You Think

For the last unit in my junior English elective I assigned a video project. The students finished reading The Alchemist, which focuses on one's Personal Legend, and I wanted the students to make a video outlining their Personal Legends. This is the first time I have done this assignment, so frankly I didn't really know what to expect.

Here is the good news. I gave my students essentially NO technical instructions on HOW to make the video. All I told them was they could use iMovie on their iPads or a program at home. I also said they needed to have photos from their childhood and they could use video and music as well. As far as turning it in goes, they uploaded the youtube link and their scripts to an online text assignment. That's it!

I just finished watching all of their videos and they did an AMAZING job. With little to no instruction on HOW to make their movies, they were all able to do it, and they came up with some wonderfully creative ideas.

The point of this post is to encourage you to not be afraid to assign creative "techie" projects or assignments because the kids know what they are doing. I did not receive one email asking me how to make the video. So don't be afraid! Try something new next semester.

I have linked a few examples so you can see what they did:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Available Now: New Google Sheets

Google is starting to roll out a new version of Google Sheets (aka Spreadsheets). Take a look at this video for some of the new improvements:

↵ Use original player
By Google
← Replay

I'm looking forward to improved copy and paste of large data sets and the ability of to create custom filters. I suspect that custom filters on Google Sheets like the Master Faculty Schedule (imagine a filter that would show you all the teacher non-teaching a specific period) will be very handy.

If you want to opt in to the new Google Sheets experience click here to open you drive settings and click the Try the new Google Sheets Learn more box. Don't forget to click the save button commit your settings changes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Digitized Paper: A glimpse of the future

Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon posted a video and joint research paper on their work to create battery-free interactive paper books and activities. It will be interesting to see where this technology goes in the future.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Project Information Literacy: The Freshman Study

If you assign a research paper, I recommend taking a look at new study from Project Information Literacy called LEARNING THE ROPES: How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College. The researchers look at the challenges and skills gaps that college freshmen face across as they learn to do college-level research.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Manage Holiday Online Shopping with Elf Names

Kate posted a nice little rhyme about Google Shopping Express the other day. I highly recommend that you try it out - I'm a huge fan. It frequently saves me a trip to the store on my way home for work. It makes Amazon Prime seem slow (at least until the drones are ready)

But back to the topic at hand - managing holiday shopping.

I do a lot of my regular shopping online (it is an indispensable tool in my working parent portfolio) and the bulk of my holiday shopping online as well. A couple of years ago I was struggling to figure out how to distinguish between boxes that contained presents and needed to be opened privately and boxes that contained prosaic items that could (and should) be opened right away.

Enter the Christmas Elf Name Generator to the rescue. With a few clicks of a button I was able to create a Christmas alter ego: Tiramisu Fizzyspice.

Now all of the Christmas presents I order are shipped to her name and everyday things come to me. This allows me to do a quick sort at the door so I don't accidentally hide my coffee in the closet.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Google Shopping Express

Twas the weeks before finals and through out the school
teachers were grading and reviewing the rules
of Spanish and Physics and History and Math
 when deep down all they wanted was to follow the path
to the Mall for the gifts that they need to buy
but instead sat in Parker with a heart heavy sigh...

Take the stress out of the holiday season and try Google Express!

 This shopping service will deliver goods of your choice to your door . Choose from a variety of stores  and arrive home to find your shopping at your doorstep. Shop at Costco, Target, whole foods and more.