Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Flipped Video Resources

First off, you might want to read my post on how to flip, but then, here are resources you can use with your classes.  I used to believe that teachers should create their own videos and still do if they are more suited for your students.  But having said that, there are many many resources out there that are far better than what a teacher can make.  The key to a flipped classroom is that during school hours teachers will have much more time and most of it one on one with students than they would have in a traditional setting. 

Flippers need to start by going to the Flipped Learning Network and looking at their abundance of resources.  For example, here are a number of videos in different genres.

CrashCourse was started by author John Green and his brother Hugh who have used real teachers as their scribes and have created a wide range of videos for social studies, economics and science.  Each genre has a complete set of videos which cover an entire course.  You don't necessarily need them all, but can pick and choose to find what is best for you.  They (and their friends) are constantly updating so if it isn't there, check back in a few days.  Below is one on plant cells.
 Kahn Academy is the best know place for flipping (and has teamed with CrashCourse) and has a plethora of math videos at all levels (high school and below), but has started to expand to courses such as economics and chemistry.  You can see their playlists here or go their site.  If you need more guidance ask your students as they use this course whenever they can't understand the teacher!

Here is a great site on how to flip an English class along with their videos.   Below is one they made on researching for a paper.

In a later post I will show you how you can easily make your own videos.  But for now, go to Google and/or YouTube and see if you can find completed videos for your classes.  Then start integrating them slowly into your classroom knowing that changing the culture can take time.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Brief Google Drive Tutorial

This is a nice overview of Google Drive and its power.  If you are like me, you have almost completely (I recently found my first use for Microsoft Word in the last year).  The video above shows you many of the highlights and how to use them in just a few minutes.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Improve Chrome/Firefox Speed

I usually have 6-10 tabs open at one time - which inevitably slows down my laptop.  Well now if you use Chrome or Firefox, you can add the "One Tab" add on and with one tap it will decrease your tabs to just one.  Then you can add new ones on and "untap" and open your other tabs when you want them.  Thanks to Hiram Cuevas for this great tip. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

WhatsDue App for Organizing Student Homework

I copied this post from Jeff Feinstein on my other blogs (see side bar).  I have written about Remind extensively and swear it is the best thing I have ever done (and yes it does put the burden on the educator and not the students - but hey they do the work which I like).

Remind creates a whole new communication stream with my students that transcends the 90 minutes we have face-to-face with each other every other day.  When I send them a text message I know that they received it on their phone instantly.

I use it sparingly, however.  I want my students to be responsible to check our class Assignment Calendar (a Google Calendar linked from our class Blackboard site) on their own initiative.  For that reason I use Remind only to announce that I've posted a new assignment, or have made changes to previously-posted assignment deadlines.

The consequence of my policy is completely foreseeable: Students forget (or neglect) to check the Calendar, and consequently forget that they have a project due at the end of the week or a quiz tomorrow.

The ideal solution would be to push to the students the obligation of monitoring their due dates using a more efficient and effective platform.  The WhatsDue app just might be that ideal solution.

WhatsDue is a free app for students (and their parents).  WhatsDue lets teachers create a to-do list of upcoming due dates that students can access from their devices.

Teachers register with WhatsDue and share a join-code for each class with their students and parents.  From the teacher dashboard, they then record each assignment and when it is due.

Registered users then get push notifications of upcoming due dates that are added to a clear display on their devices.  This picture shows an example of how that looks:

In this example, the student has six assignments due.  One (the Homework to "Do Assignment 3") is marked in red because it is due tomorrow.  The other assignments are listed in the order in which they are due.

I'll keep using Remind to alert my students to schedule changes.  But WhatsApp seems to go further in helping my students manage their assignments than simply using Remind alone, so I'm going to roll this out on the first day back from winter break.  Even better: Could you imagine how cool it would be if all teachers throughout your building used WhatsDue?  I'll work on promoting that as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Making Your Own History Videos

So this is a great video that I found from one of my long ago students. It is a Ken Burns type look at Star Wars.  It would serve as a fun back drop for your students to make their own videos about various wars you are studying.  To do so you might want to use the collaborative video maker called WeVideo which also can be added as an app to Google Drive.  Here are videos showing how to use WeVideo. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Personalized Urls

We normally start my classes with a five question quiz where my students can use their notes from their flipped video to answer the questions.  It serves a few purposes.  First I won't count the quiz grade if the notes aren't good enough as I want the kids to have a repository they can use later (which is easy with the search function in Google Drive).  Secondly the questions are the main points for the day so it tells the kids what their exercise is going to be about.

But to the point.  I very rarely use the LCD in my classroom other than for when I am giving our opening quiz.  But the other day the my LCD lightbulb went kaput.  So I had to improvise by taking the url from the Google Drive document into a Tinyurl which I also personalized.  For example I am doing the fifth and sixth units in my for AP microeconomics called  So I wrote the url on the board and didn't worry that we didn't have a LCD.  It also is nice when kids want to redo a quiz, I just give them the url and we are all set.

In addition there is that allows you to keep a repository or your shortenings as well as Google's shortening.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How to Set Up Chromebooks for Test Taking

For those of you investing in Chromebooks the video above show you how to use them for secure test taking.  We use TestNav (Pearson) and fortunately this is one of the ones that can be used.   When you secure a Chromebook, the kids cannot get to any other sites except the one you are using for the exam.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Flipping and Grouping in the Classroom

Two days ago my county's deputy superintendent spent part of a period with one of my classes.  He was curious how we were doing with our Chromebooks.  One of my students said something like she really liked the class because "We live in an interconnected world and that is how we operate in class from working constantly in groups to having access, using multiple modalities (my word meaning Chromebooks and smartphones), to a world of information." I am not doing her justice, but tomorrow I am teaching social studies chairs how "Flipping and grouping" can change the way they teach.
  • We start class with five questions which are the overarching points for the day.  The kids can use their notes and if they do poorly, they can stay after school to take the quiz again.  After all don't I want them to learn the most important points?
  • Next we go through a "problem set."  To do this we are grouped in mixed ability groups that change from time to time or even can change (such as with a jigsaw) multiple times in a day.  Problem sets grew out of my economics' classes, but now has spread to all of them.
  • As students work, I move around the classroom, listening and helping.  What I have found out is that all students talk with small groups and ask questions and are willing to give feedback to their peers. When a few groups have the same question, I stop everyone and address it with the greater group. Depending on the assignment and the class we also go over it when everyone is done with it. 
  • I get multiple times a day to talk to each student.  Every other day or so I even call up kids who are missing work.  As long as I haven't gotten to the test, I will accept any assignment without a penalty and even let kids redo work to raise their score.   Crazy I know!  But the goal is to as well as possible on the assessments.
  • Also students to not need to be in the same place, but rather can be behind or even ahead depending on their needs.  
  • So formative assessments can be done as many times as a student wants and all of my summative tests allow for second chances - as long as the kids go through and understand their failings on each question.  
Getting rid of my large teacher desk has forced me to move around the room much more than in the past.  Creating pre-made groups fosters better discussion and, in turn, learning.  Simply doing it has made me change how I teach or, in many cases facilitate learning.  In a nutshell this grouping in fours and flipping has changed the way my students learn.  If Facebook's new open campus is a bellwether my kids will be better ready for not only assessments, but also future jobs. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Way to Incorporate Technology in the Classroom

I like the video above as it talks about how you can incorporate technology into your classroom and even gives you an example of the higher level of application technology can allow.  I like the blog that it was found on as it address a recent WashPost editorial (which I might add has made it clear that it is against technology in the classroom).  The author of the editorial stated that she didn't like her iPads as it made the kids quiet, but the blog author notes that so does reading a book!

Really it is time we stop attacking technology and stop citing all the biased findings that it hurts student retention.  Are we really serving our students if we fail to prepare them for an increasingly interconnected world?  If we use paper and pencil and paper for everything and continue to teach our students in rows and in concert how are our pupils going to be ready for the working world.  We need to adjust our teaching and work with our students in the highly connected and technological world in which they live.