New! from Google
Google announced a new set of shortcuts that you may find useful. Now to open up a new doc, sheet, or slide, simply type new.doc or new.sheets, etc. into the omnibox (address bar).
This should prove to be a time saver and is easy to remember!
Check It! Finally a spelling/grammar checker in Google Docs, courtesy of Texthelp and Read&Write for Google Chrome! We are fortunate to have R & W pushed out to the entire district, so everyone can benefit from this new feature. Kasey Bell, over at Shake Up Learning has a nice post about this. Remember, if you need to boost your skills in Read & Write, or just want to explore their offerings, they have a great training resource here.
While I was meandering about on Texthelp's YouTube channel, I noticed something else that was new to me- DataDesk. This enables the teacher to lock in features on a student's R&W toolbar for a period of time. It is hooked into Google Classroom. Now, I don't think this tool has widespread use- but for example, if I have a student who is easily distracted and I want him to work on highlighting and defining all the vocab words in a passage, I could shut off all the other features and just leave the highlighting tools on. Check out the video below and see if this tool is useful for you.
Math Type for Google Docs
I know that some of you have been waiting for this one to come along for awhile. MathType is now up and running in Google Docs as an add-on. Note- it is currently free, but they are giving you a heads up that it will require a license in the future. So, if LaTex or Equatio aren't making you happy, now you can try MathType. There is also built-in support for chemical equations.
Now for "Secrets" from Matt Miller
I try to keep up with Matt Miller's blog, his podcasts, his tweets, since he is in the classroom and has great practical ideas. This week's blog post has 10 "secrets" "Find the tips, tricks and features of your favorite G Suite tools that you didn’t know existed!" Take a quick trip over to Ditch That Textbook and check out Matt's ideas. There were a couple I didn't know.
Stop Motion Movie Making
To Test or To Teach/Learn
I was reading through some recent work on Modern Learner and I have to say- the title:
"The Testing Emperor Finally Has No Clothes" hooked me. Bruce Dixon has pulled together a very thoughtful article around the "tyranny of testing". Although I don't often agree with Alfie Kohn, thinking that he likes to stir the waters and stand back and watch, this quote, "90 percent of the variations in test scores among schools or states have nothing to do with the quality of instruction." really struck close to home. Just go read the article.
Then come back... and read about how they are changing education in Singapore. This is the title of that article: Children in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exam results. Here's why A quote: "“Learning is not a competition,” states Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Education Minister. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is planning a series of changes aimed at discouraging comparisons between student performance and encourage individuals to concentrate on their own learning development."
If you still feel like reading, try this one from the Irish Times: Classroom of 2030: A flashforward to learning techniques. Education to not only use technology as tools but also to inculcate computational thinking.
The world is changing rapidly. Our education system is not. These kids are our future.
Are we gonna just test 'em or learn with them?
Tuesday Tips from #GoogleEdu
This was a new one for me, hat tip to Kasey Bell of Shake-up Learning, but #GoogleEdu has a series of Tuesday Tips now. These are for Forms, Classroom and Google Expeditions at the moment, and come as a slide deck- see links below. I couldn't find any other source for these tips, so follow #GoogleEdu on Twitter to stay informed.
MAP Test Correlation Tool
I wrote a while back about the MAP test correlation tool being used by KIPP schools on the west coast, referencing this site and spreadsheets. This worked, but was pretty clunky and labor intensive to set up. Each student had a color coded sheet, which related to their scores on the MAP test, and they also had their own copy of a color coded Kahn Academy list of skills to practice and check off. A lot of flipping back and forth. Lo and behold the NWEA folks have come out with a new tool - a prototype- to do the same thing. This is the tool. It is easy to use; I tried it today with 3rd graders. Here's the instruction page for teachers. Students in grade 3, 5 and 6 are all set up with their most recent MAP scores. There is also a new icon on the hes.symbaloo page which matches the little icon on the top left of this paragraph. Don't ditch the other spreadsheets since this is a prototype and may disappear.
The other cool thing about MAP tests, and I don't say positive things about tests lightly, is the new next gen student profile section with breakouts for instructional ideas. I went to a webinar last week on it and was honestly impressed with the ways to use the data. A bit time-labor intensive, but when you have time- check out the next-gen student profile section. This is a link to the recorded version of “Student Profile Report – Instructional Module.” Below is an example of these reports. You can go through the step by step and see some short videos here.
Most of us have had that magical moment in the classroom when the YouTube video we plan to show now has nasty ads, or obscene comments- which weren't there when we previewed it.
There are lots of ways to get around that sinking feeling, but they do take a bit of planning.
Here's a symbaloo with some ideas for you. I will also pop this onto the HES Teachers symbaloo for those of you who use that as a start page.
So, what are these? The top row- are all places that you can paste the YouTube url and get a clean version to show your class. The row on the right- all ways that you can download the video and put it on your drive. You need to be aware that the TOS for YouTube asks that you do not download and view. The way YouTube makes money is through ads and clicks- not from folks downloading.
The row on the bottom is kind of a mish mash. You can chop out pieces of videos to show. Perhaps you only want the middle 3 minutes of a 20 minutes video... adjust it. I also added a couple of chrome extensions that you can use to hide comments or ads.
One very easy workaround is to insert the YouTube video you want to show into a Google Slide. No ads, no comments- just the video, unless you click thru to the YouTube site.
As many of you know, I come from "The Land of No Testing"... actually my former school did do a couple days of ERBs and I think it was 7th grade that had to take the Otis-Lennon to be eligible for the Johns Hopkins G & T programs. Needless to say, the amount of time devoted to testing and preparing for the tests in public schools, not just my current school, amazes me.
I am not against accountability, not against using some sort of measure to see if kids are learning what we are teaching and helping teachers reach more students. The data we collect from the tests must be useful, must be timely and actionable. I spent a lot of time recently collecting data about assistive technology use in our district. Dealing with the data itself, making some sense of it and then wondering if anything will come of the data can be a frustrating process and this did not cost any money, just time.
The data collected from MCAS, from MAP testing, etc, etc... what is it used for? No, I don't mean how it is used to rate schools or teachers- but how is it used to help kids? How is it actually used to inform instruction? As learners, we all need feedback in order to make progress. Feedback months later is not always useful.
This weekend I was catching up on some blog posts from EdSurge and noticed an article about KIPP schools in the Bay area who use the MAP test scores to inform their math instruction by correlating the MAP data with Khan academy videos. NWEA has info on their site about this. I also contacted the author of the article and he sent me a link to a lot of material, including examples of how they are using this data.
While I am on a math tangent, last spring I attended an edcamp at Worcester Academy. I learned about Jo Boaler and her site youcubed, the WIM (week of inspirational math) and her book, Mathematical Mindsets (I have a copy if you'd like to borrow it). Last week I saw a post from Alice Keeler, referencing this book that really resonated with me, a certified math phobe. Check out the WIM activities- K-12.