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.
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.
People often ask how I keep up to date with what is happening online, with Google tools, etc. The simple answer is I cannot possibly know all there is to know about all of these tools. Perhaps if they all stopped changing, virtually every day... and time could stand still... perhaps, but doubtful.
Here are some things I use and you will also find links to some free online courses you can check out for Google Apps Skills. But... wait... what if you hate learning online? What if you want a blended course- meet in person and work online? What if you need 1:1 training? My calendar is online... you can schedule time and we can see how to best meet your needs.
I attend edcamps when possible. Edcamps are a great way to choose your own PD. If you come away from an edcamp without meeting some of your PD needs, you have only yourself to blame. I have Edcamp Access, Edcamp Boston, Edcamp Grafton and possibly Edcamp Quabbin on my schedule for the next few months.
I keep up with my PLN on Twitter. No, I don't spend my life on twitter, although one could. For those of you who are just starting out on Twitter, it takes time to find interesting people to follow, so be patient. I use PaperLi, Scoopit and other curation tools to pull the best from my contacts and deliver it to me via email. I do engage in educational twitter chats on Wednesday evenings, for an hour, and catch up on all things Assistive Tech, UDL and Computer Science K-8 by using TweetDeck columns or I can catch up with the Storify edition if I don't have time to participate.
I also use Google+ communities to keep up with topics of interest. I find it much easier to follow the threads of conversations on Google+ than on Twitter. The communities I follow include: GEG Massachusetts, CSTA K-8 Computer Science, EdTech Team Global Community.. and more. It is an excellent place for educators of all levels to find and build a PLN. I get notifications of updates, which aren't intrusive and can choose to look at articles or skip them.
Social Bookmarking and RSS
One other way I stay connected is to get a daily or weekly digest from Diigo communities. These social bookmarking communities offer an excellent way to stay up to date or as a way to curate or vet information when searching on topics for classroom use. I also follow several bloggers and either use Feedly to get the current posts or for a few that I find really useful, get emails with updates.
Below are 2 series of free self-paced modules offered by Steve Wicks.
Teach for Google_
These are free or low cost courses from Texthelp- creators of Read & Write for Google. you get the first 2 courses free and then it's a subscription- I think ~$ 39 for the rest of the 25 courses. They track your progress, give you badges, certificates, etc.
More training modules than you can shake a stick at. What are your goals? Where is your starting point? Google Training can take you from beginner to expert and all stops in between.
Synergyse Training (free trial)
This is a Google Chrome Extension which offers Just In Time training. They also offer a free 20 lesson interactive Google Classroom Course.
Most of us are familiar with Google Forms as we have seen them as surveys for PD and more. Over the weekend I was listening to Monica Burns, an educator who was giving a short webinar on SimpleK12 on Google Forms for Assessment. Just an FYI- SimpleK12 offers tons of webinars- sometimes a free batch on a weekend, but it's a subscription site. They have hundreds of short webinars on topics that you can use in the classroom, mostly delivered by educators in the classroom. I have had a subscription for years, so if you would like to see a sampling of what is available let me know.
Monica had some great ideas, some of which I will share with you here, but got me thinking about all the ways we could use Google forms every day. If you haven't seen the "new" Google forms, you may be a little surprised when you go to https://docs.google.com/forms/ or go to your Google Drive, click new, more and choose Forms. The icon is purple now and they have made a lot of cosmetic changes, and a few functional ones. If you've never tried forms- it's easy...and here's a series of 6 quick how-to videos (using the new forms) from Lori Alighieri.
Tracy Watanabe put together a terrific Google Form to show examples of various Google Forms for Assessment. Click on the image below to go the form to see these examples. She has 5 separate forms linked to this one and each one has tons of great examples K-12.
Monica Burns' examples- just a slideshow with screenshots from the webinar to give you some more ideas. She preloads the student names on some forms and by using the dropdown list has a quick and easy way to collect data as she observes the students.
More Great Examples
Examples from Kern Kelley
Examples from Tammy Worcester
King of Interesting Ways: Tom Barrett
Queen of Google Classroom and more... Alice Keeler has a good tutorial on how to create a formative quiz
Eric Curts has a really nice tutorial ( Just a note: the images are not working on it tonight... perhaps they will be there when you click thru) Online Assessments with Google Forms
And last, but certainly not least- I found a really cool Google Add-on for forms.
Doc to Form AddOn
If you have assessments created in Google Docs, this can help you quickly and easily convert them to forms. Why, pray tell, would you want to do that? Well, you can automatically grade a lot of the multiple choice type quizzes and much, much more if you use forms. Unless you like to carry those bundles of papers back and forth...
"Doc to Form allows you to quickly and easily create a form from text within a Google Doc.
Doc to Form allows you to quickly and easily create a Google Form from within a Doc. Simply select text and click a button to add your questions. You can choose from a variety of question types - ideal for converting traditional worksheets to Google Forms."
Warning: Soapbox... not tech tools
The other day I saw a post from Edutopia featuring many different resources for the “growth mindset”. I watched the RSA animation below and found that although I believe in some of this, much of it seems to be yet another recycled idea and is now more of a meme or fad. I actually remember back when Carol Dweck’s book came out and even have a copy on my kindle. If you have been in education for a while, you have probably seen many of the same ideas come and go and get re-branded with different names and various fancy doo-dads to liven them up some.
Back in 2008 I had the opportunity to spend a day at a workshop with Alfie Kohn. If you have never read his stuff, basically he is a proponent of progressive education, who likes to challenge established ideas. He seems to enjoy taking the alternate view, but can always back up his viewpoints with literature and research. Anyway…Alfie wrote a book that I had read called Punished by Rewards. which is another viewpoint that I kind of agree with. Recently he wrote about mindset for Salon and came up with this quote that I liked, “… the challenge for a teacher, parent, or manager is to consider a moratorium on offering verbal doggie biscuits, period.”
Are these two well respected educators and researchers coming up with totally different answers to the question of praise, rewards, mindset? I started looking around the web and as usual, one can find points of view on both sides. A friend of mine, Jackie Gerstein, wrote a blog post about this a while back and stated:
"The faddish or pop culture version of the growth mindset is emerging as: “Have a Growth Mindset.” This smacks of the “Just So No” campaign of the Reagan era. Catch phrases about a growth mindset will have as much effect on actually developing a growth mindset as just saying no did on curbing drug use."
Here is a piktochart that Jackie produced as a means for personal reflection for her students. Her take on the “growth mindset” seems to be that this is an ongoing, reflective process- not a one-time pep talk followed by a lovely classroom poster.
Carol Dweck herself has now a new article on Edutopia which seems to be attempting to clarify what educators should/shouldn't be doing around growth mindset.
"false growth mindset. This is when educators think and do all sorts of things that they simply call growth mindset."
I also noticed this article from PRI with the scary title of Is the notion of 'innate genius' widening science's gender gap?
What do you think? Is this a fad? Should we look at this as another version of Gladwell's 10, 000 hour rule? Will this go the way of "learning styles"? Do you believe in the growth mindset or is this just a new version of The Little Engine That Could? If you believe in the growth mindset, how is this reflected in your practice?