Monday, December 5, 2011

Creating ePortfolios in the Classroom

Teaching students to build an online repository of their accomplishments, digital artifacts, and reflections fosters 21st century skills and aids in helping students with post secondary readiness. Global competition is fierce for top university placement and students now need to showcase and publish achievements using advanced technical, problem solving, research, media literacy, and higher order thinking skills.

Student portfolios are a great way to showcase a particular project assignment, student achievement, and allow for authentic assessment beyond standardized test performance indicators. Free web 2.0 tools can now push student portfolios to a new level. Embedding external video content, web 2.0 presentations, blogs, wikis, and collaborative tools adds elements of creativity, interactivity, and stimulating engagement to a portfolio.

Project Share, Texas Education Agency’s collaborative course management system, includes an ePortfolio tool. Project Share is very user friendly and serves as an excellent resource for Texas secondary students, educators, and post secondary students. The Project Share ePortfolio tool includes a very simple resume wizard that high school students find easy to navigate, allows for instructors to certify student work examples, and gives students flexibility options. Google Sites is another excellent choice for students and professionals to use. Google offers many video tutorials, how to steps, and examples of classroom use. Google Apps integrates nicely with Google ePortfolio tools.

Need some resources to help you incorporate portfolios in your classroom?

Google ePortfolios How To
Evernote: Ages 3rd grade and up can use and incorporate a reflection or video resource
Livebinder: You can find examples and create portfolios in livebinder.
Examples of High School Students Blogs
Dr. Helen Barrett is an expert in this field. Dr. Helen Barrett has published new resources, implemented an ePortfolio Academy for educators, and encourages teachers to focus on managing your workspace using real learning scenarios and to showcase student work, which produces the end result.

Project Share ePortfolio

Monday, November 28, 2011

Enhancing Your Project Share Course

Project Share is providing classrooms and educators with many new resources, collaboration features, and productivity tools, which will really enhance mobile learning opportunities for students. How can you enhance your courses and collaborations using Project Share? Here are some tips that I have found useful.

1. Reach out and collaborate daily. Add and invite students and professionals to join you in professional learning and dialogue. Post a cool new resource, ask questions, or give student examples of integration for other educators to use. Begin by searching for groups in your content area. Don't be afraid to email other educators or teachers that you find in project share. I have found that many educators are excited about the possibility of collaborating and just need an invitation or push to do so. So send a quick note to someone within project share that can add to your collaboration efforts in the classroom.

2. Use productivity tools in project share courses. I began doing this by creating weekly announcements, utilize the calendar feature, post your syllabus, and use your course mail system to keep students up to date. There are many other productivity tools you can encourage your students to use. These include the Take Notes feature, Work Groups, and Drop Boxes. Teachers should consider creating a drop box for each assignment submitted. Other classroom productivity tools include: attendance, grade grid, reporting features, Test/Quiz generator, and alert feature.

3. Use collaborative classroom tools: I am finding that students really love embedding content in the course wiki, forum, and blog tools. Encourage students to post feedback and model feedback for students. Consider grading feedback and teach students how to participate appropriately in a collaborative educational setting. My students are graded on the following scale. Fifty percent of a student's discussion grade is on their original posting of content to the course in the collaborative tool. Was the content appropriate or did it add meaningful subject matter to the course? Did students embed content? The other fifty percent of a student's discussion grade is how students respond to other peer postings. Did students pose a higher order thinking question? Was the response and feedback thought provoking? Did it generate more discussion?

3. Consider adding resources to course lessons. One of the many exciting tools available for educators to tap into when building online lessons is The New York Times Knowledge Network Repository. This tools gives educators access to content from the top minds and organizations.

These include

New York Times: Tap into articles, media, and content that dates back to 1851.
MIT OpenCourseWare
Star Date: University of Texas McDonald Observatory
Aventa Learning
PhET Simulations that are Interactive with University of Colorado
International Children's Digital Library
Flat World Knowledge: Free online college textbook resources

4. Embed other tools inside your course to make for a more enjoyable experience. Students love embedding tutorials or content within course wikis, forums, and blogs. Our students use Quicktime Player to create a screen recording and upload tutorials to schooltube. Other students have used Prezi and Animoto to create How To Presentations, which they then embed in the course content.

Instructors can model and do the same. Embedding third party interactive websites within project share gives students the ability to access quality and interactive content and packages content nicely in one place: Your Project Share Course.

Project Share is a true course management system, allowing educators to not only collaborate but create a true online learning environment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coming Soon to a Global Learning Network Near You: Instant Translation | Powerful Learning Practice

Coming Soon to a Global Learning Network Near You: Instant Translation | Powerful Learning Practice

Improving Your Interactive Whiteboard Lessons

The possibilities of real student engagement using the many new interactive whiteboard web 2.0 tools will continue to revolutionize the classroom experience. Are you looking for a new way to engage your students? Would you like to have the capabilities of an interactive board without having to actually have an interactive board?

There are many third party websites that will allow users to create content in real time.

FlockDraw: Free Online Drawing Tools and Collaborative Group Whiteboard. FlockDraw features include unlimited number of users, ten users drawing in real time, no registration needed, chat room, and other additional features.

Scriblink: Free Online Whiteboard that is simple, user friendly with export options.

CoSketch: Great site to use with middle school or high school students. CoSketch is simple, allows Google map support, and does not have the chat feature. The sketch can be exported only as an image. Nice tool to use with your students and my personal favorite.

Smart has just came out with their own web 2.0 version, Smart Express. Smart Express is notebook lite, including a pages and attachment tab. Tools are very limited, but it is a nice alternative and allows users to quickly access a familiar tool online.

Show Me Interactive Whiteboard App: A new app available on iTunes allows you to use voice over to record an interactive whiteboard lesson and it is FREE! Great news for apple users and lots of potential for classroom applications.

Doodle Buddy: It has been around for a while, but I thought I would mention it as a possible interactive whiteboard resource.

Adding more users to the interactive whiteboard experience can allow for an more engaging classroom lesson. Student can record narration, create collaborative podcasts, brainstorm, or problem solve using a collaborative interactive whiteboard web 2.0 tool. For example, many students could work in groups to solve a math problem, solve complex problems, brainstorm, and analyze scientific hypothesis, use images and text to improve scientific vocabulary skills, and add visual learning tools to your curriculum material.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Power of Project Share

Project Share is providing and excellent platform for a community of educators and students to connect, collaborate, research, and create content. Unlike other course management systems, project share gives educators the ability to network with other public school entities across the state and is creating a systemic approach. Teachers and students in our district have the ability to access content in a mobile environment that includes productivity, web 2.0, and custom tools. Google Apps for Education serve as a great resource for collaborative work groups but fails to offer a true course management system. Moodle lacks the ability for educators to connect and share with other schools on a similar platform. In addition, it is hard for an educator to find extra hours in the day to actually build a moodle content. It is nice to have a free resource to tap into that is a ready made course management system that is similar to what other districts and schools utilize in the state. Want to utilize an existing web 2.0 tool? Project share gives educators the ability to add a custom tool menu to embed other tools and third party websites inside a course.

The power of project share is that it also connects Texas to the global network of Epsilen. Another powerful set of tools available to educators includes a fantastic lesson plan system allows for educators to tap into NYT resources, The University of Texas McDonald Observatory online content repository, and PBS digital library. Project Share resources and collaborative pieces will save our teachers time, district travel expenses, and professional development resources.

System issues with Epsilen do exist and hopefully system engineers will continue to address bandwidth issues. However, project share serves as a the best solution to provide a unified effort in addressing a real need, a systemic approach to 21st century learning.

Would you like to see project share in action? Dublin ISD would love to collaborate and welcomes you to visit our wonderful small community. All students 7-12 grade access all courses using Project Share, and all teachers participate in PLN utilizing the project share platform. To learn more, please join our Connections Grant Group in Project Share.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Creating With Digital Timelines

Digital timelines are a great way for students to illustrate past events and act as a historian to produce and create content. There are many fabulous tools available to educators that can really add to your social studies curriculum content. One great resource teachers can tap into would be your local library and museums. Students can photograph content found in their local community to connect curriculum to their world.

Students in our local elementary are studying physical and human characteristics of the local community to learn geographic concepts, map skills, and the idea of chronological events. Students are researching and working with the local museum to create an illustrated digital timeline on the history of their school. We found 5 significant events: First educators (whose pictures are in our local museum), a state basketball from a state championship game, first yearbook, rodeo band uniforms to reflect cowboy rodeo culture, and information on the actual construction of the current Elementary building built in the 1980's. Students will use their iPods to record information about these items and will produce a digital time line. This idea could be adapted to fit any American event in history such as Early American History, Civil War, WWI,Great Depression, WWII, NASA, etc.

Need a digital time line resource?

Check these out:
Dipity Digital Video Timeline
Data Driven Timeline
Xtimeline allows you to create widgets
Preceden: Great Simple Timeline for making simple graphs

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creating QR Code Content With Your Local Museum using iPods and Kaywa

Students in Dublin are learning how to apply research to their community and how to create content to share with the world. Students last spring worked with our local historical society to create QR bar codes for the community and will continue to work on projects this year. The process is described below and we would love to connect with other schools and museums to repeat this process.

Museum GT Project Planning:
1. The museum curator, Mary Yantis, will select items for students to catalog. These first project students will catalog around 60 items.
2. Choices for Creating QR Codes
a. Student take a photo, use their iPods to take notes on the item, and create QR codes later in computer lab using free web site Students learn how to summarize important content in 140 characters or less. Students could also create a video podcast on the item and create a QR code using their video description instead of a text description.
3. Students use the B-Tag app to access QR codes and instructions for access QR codes are given to museum curators along with training.

To learn more about this project, visit our Connections Grant Website.

Research and Student Production Connections Possibilities:
1. Students could use voicethread to create a video of the museum and embed bacodes inside video.
2. Other museums in town are interested in replicating.

Other Ways to Extend to other Teachers:
1. Create a Virtual Tour of Your School
2. Make Displays Interactive
3. Link Books To Online Resources, Link Homework, Link Worksheets, Geocached QR Code Test
4. Explore physical models and maps
5. Use QR Codes to Vote or Poll
6. Use to Make A Graph or Data Chart
7. Add QR codes that lead to book trailers to the backs of library books . . .
8. Add QR codes to math worksheets with video tutorials of how to solve the problems.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Copyright in the Classroom

Protecting ideas is more important now then ever before. Ideas are the first component to creating a new process, product, or concept, and as we teach students to become creators and publishers, it is vital for our students to know how to protect their works and productions.

How do you teach copyright to your students? I have found a couple of great resources that you might find helpful.

Copyright Interactive Quiz

Interactive Copyright Web Quest

Public Domain Tracker

Copyright Criminals PBS Lesson

Monday, September 12, 2011

Awesome Video Creation Tools for Your 21st Century Classroom

A great way to have students engaged throughout a lesson is to give students a creative outlet for explanation and elaboration using video technology. Check out some of these amazing free video tools and give your students the ability to capture their world and community so they can make connections to the learning content in your classroom.

Animoto: Animoto is a great way for students to create music videos to produce a quality video in a short amount of time. Students upload their own pictures, have the ability to animate a short summary of text, choose from a wide variety of royalty free music, and can embed video content or export the completed product. There is a free app available for iPod use and teachers can apply for an educator account to receive Animoto PLUS account additional services for classroom use.

Voki: Avatars are a great way to get kids interested in content and Voki allows students to create web videos that can be shared or embedded on a classroom blog or website. Students have a wide variety of avatars, scenes, and backgrounds to choose from. Voki is a fun way for students to create content in the classroom.

Xtranormal: Xtranormal is another avatar site that allows students to create movies and share/embed to another website or classroom blog.

Windows Live Movie Maker: Microsoft's new Movie Maker product is also Mac compatible and is free. There is an automovie option, which allows users to create professional videos easily and students can share or upload via YouTube or burn a DVD using Live Media.

One True Media: Allows for students to create videos by uploading photos and video, adding effects, text and free music. Students can create and share their product for free.

I hope this has helped you find a new tool to use in your learning endeavors.