The other thing I am excited about this week is finally getting my Breakout Edu box in the mail. Now this whole Breakout Edu craze has been building over the last year or so. I initially decided that it was just a fad and that the box was too pricey- $99. But, you can put together your own box of tricks for a lot less money and this phenomenon is growing- not fading into the edu sunset. Over the last 6 months I have seen post after post online about how teachers are using this in their classroom, about how engaged their students are, how it can be used across all disciplines, across all ages… ad infinitum. When I was at edcamp Boston recently I asked others how they are using it and once again, heard great things. So…what the heck is this Breakout Edu thing? It is simply a series of mystery puzzles… think " Escape the Room". Here’s an overview http://www.breakoutedu.com/
Once signed up you have access to tons of game and there is a very active facebook group with teachers posting all sorts of clever ideas.
If you want to give this a try on the April PD day... let me know and we can figure out a time in the afternoon for all brave souls to try one, or make up our own.
Below is one example-an overview of a "sandbox" game.
Texthelp has come out with an update for Read & Write for Google Chrome-with the addition of both Word Prediction and Speech Input. Check it out below: there are also a few other changes that you can read about on their blog... but speech input is a big one. This means that students who are using Read & Write to access assignments on pdfs can now use their voice to fill in their answers in addition to the typewriter tool (which now also supports word prediction)
Remember, we subscribe to this service. It is free for all staff, faculty, and all of our students as subscribers. If you have not tried it out, try it. If you have students who struggle-perhaps one or two of you have some students who need some support?... show this to them. It's a chrome add on- you have to be logged into your school Google account and have to be using/signed into the chrome browser. You need 2 extensions- the basic Read &Write as well as their new screenshot reader (which helps access inaccessible text)
Google introduced voice typing over the summer and has made some big improvements. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s worth the time to check. Located right in Google Docs- top navigation bar- Tools, you can now use your voice to format your document. Is it perfect? No… but it can be very helpful for both teachers and students to quickly get some notes down, as well as for students who are articulate, but struggle to put their pen to paper. Even though it’s still a blank white space, I have seen it help kids who think they “can’t write”.
These are the basic punctuation commands, but you can access the full list here, including lots of ways to format your document simply using your voice.
· Exclamation point
· Question mark
· New line
· New paragraph
Google Forms for Quizzes
I spent Saturday morning over at Mahar in Orange, at edcamp North Quabbin. I was really impressed with how well the teachers at Mahar are integrating technology into their day to day work with students and how much they love using Google Forms with flubaroo, integrated into Google Classroom. If you 've never tried flubaroo, here's the quick overview.
If you are not using Google Forms for multiple choice or short answer quizzes, you’re missing out on a quick and easy way to collect student data, to teach and give formative assessments and more. Google Forms has changed recently, so it may look different to you. The icon- accessed from your google drive> more> forms is now purple.
Here’s an overview video for the new version of Google Forms:
Forms to Teach and Assess
Tom Mullaney recently posted about using google forms for remediation and review, featuring his Impossible to Fail Quiz. What, pray tell, is an impossible to fail quiz? Here are 2 examples- Tom’s French Revolution Quiz and a Quiz on Google Classroom. Essentially, if you get the question wrong you are directed to a video or website or document to help you, then you get to answer the question again.
If you want to give this a try yourself.. check out his tutorial here
By the way he also embedded this into a Thinglink… pretty cool idea. We have a thinglink account that can be used at the elementary school for HES classes.
This is just a quick update on curation tools. I participated in a webinar on Saturday which featured Brad Spirrison from Participate Learning. This is, at least to me, a relatively new tool and I was surprised to hear Brad say that his group has been working on this for years. They started out as Appolicious. This is a link to the Livebinder of the resources shared.
So- what is it? It's a resource tool and a curation tool. I haven't explored all the resource collections - but it is growing and encompasses all grades/disciplines. These resources are being pulled together by educators, folks who have actually used them in their classrooms.
The curation tool is the piece I have tried and can recommend. I know that most of you do not currently see Twitter as an educator's best resource... but honestly, it can be. It takes a lot of time and energy to follow the right people, the ones that push your thinking or have common interests- which is where Participate Learning can help.
Twitter chats have exploded over the last few years and can be challenging to make time for and to follow, but can deliver just what you need- a group of people who share your interests, whether that is grade 4, or modern languages, history, or science- there's a chat for you. Participate Learning can make it easy to follow these chats and save the resources shared- whether you have time to actively participate in the chat or not.
We are moving toward a more individualized structure for professional development. You have the power to create your own PLCs within the school, within the district and within the world of connected educators. Twitter is just one more tool in your toolkit to connect you with the world. Whether you teach English to seniors, work with struggling students or teach second grade, there's a twitter chat for you.
Look at all of the chats you could learn from... and these are just today's chats
It changes every day!
Full Hour Long Webinar Recording
One of the organizations I have been involved in for years is Classroom 2.0. As a member of the advisory board we work together to come up with topics and presenters for the Saturday noon EST shows. I was very happy to get a positive response from Eric Curts when I asked him if he would be interested in presenting, but then he ended up being scheduled on the same Saturday that I would be in Boston for edcampBoston all day. I just finished listening to the recording of the show and want to share some of the highlights with you. Google Drawings have so many uses- graphic organizers, teaching math and even as a desktop publisher.
Eric has a ton of resources that you can access at his website. These are CC licensed- so you may copy, adapt and reuse them as long as you give him attribution and don't use them commercially. One of the fabulous resources he has shared is a folder with 40 templates you can use. To adapt and use these, simply open in Google Drive and click file/make a copy. Graphic organizers are easy and fun with Google Drawings.
Click on the image below to access Eric's Slideshow
Classroom 2.0 compiled a livebinder with tons of resources for Google Drawings. You can access the livebinder here. Just a note- the links are arranged on the left hand side. All of the other notes about the show can be accessed via the Classroom 2.0 archives. The videos below are all complete webinars, each about an hour long , but have lots of examples.
No time to watch complete webinars? Avra Robinson from Edtech teacher has a great playlist with short videos to help you learn more