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Mar 27 14

Tools for making audio-and video-based tests

by fsanchez

This week I read a great Rich Byrne blog post on the DIGITAL SHIFT website. In the spirit of the new PARCC assessments that will have media-rich questions, he has collected and reviewed the best online tools for making audio-and video-based tests. Here’s the post:

Video, audio, and images can spark students’ imaginations in ways that text alone sometimes can’t. Likewise, multimedia often helps students gain a deeper understanding of a question. In the past a struggling reader might have had assessment questions read aloud to him or her. Now, online video and audio allows these students take tests without another reader present.

Metta is a digital presentation tool that enables you to combine videos from YouTube, pictures from the web or your desktop, text, and voice recordings in one presentation. After you’ve assembled that part, you can insert multiple-choice quiz questions to gauge your test takers’ understanding. Students must answer questions before moving onto the next part of the presentation. Share your Metta assessments simply by giving students the URL. They can also be distributed to students through Edmodo and may also be saved in your Google Drive account.

ImageQuiz is a free service enabling quiz creation based on any images you own or that you find online. Students answer ImageQuiz questions by clicking on a portion of your chosen picture. For instance, if you use an uploaded image of a map, you can design questions that require users to click on states, cities, or countries, for their responses.

Creating an ImageQuiz assessment is easy. First, give your quiz a title and upload a picture or copy and paste the URL of an online image. Then, draw outlines around the portions of the picture that feature your answers. Finally, write your questions and try out your quiz. Distribute your ImageQuiz by sharing its URL—and feel free to check out my sample quiz:

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eduCanon is a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking students’ progress on flipped lessons built from YouTube, TeacherTube and Vimeo videos. Key feature: the option to track your students’ progress as they work through an assignment.

To create eduCanon lessons, start by identifying a topic and objective. Then, within the eduCanon site, search YouTube, TeacherTube, and Vimeo to find an appropriate video. Next step is to build multiple-choice questions throughout your video’s timeline. You may create as many lessons as you like and assign them any time.

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Kahoot , a service for delivering online quizzes and surveys to students, has a premise similar to Socrative and Infuse Learning, which I’ve covered here previously. Kahoot builds quizzes that your students can access through any device with a web browser (iPad, Android device, Chromebook). Each question can include pictures and videos. As the teacher, you may control the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. Students are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their responses.

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Finally, just in time for the 2013-2014 school year, Google has added native support for using videos in Google Forms, allowing you to create quizzes including YouTube videos and pictures. To do this, simply select “image” or “video” from the “add item” menu in your Google Form. If your school uses Google Apps for Education, this platform may be the most convenient way to create and distribute multimedia quizzes.

Do you think the dynamic multimedia test format will help your students? Then use these tools to craft vibrant, engaging assessments.

Mar 12 14

Join the NJEA’s 1st “Unconference”

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 8.18.26 PMOn Wednesday, July 16, NJEA will hold its first unconference, Techstock 2014. The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey will host the event, which is co-sponsored by the Southern Regional Institute and Educational Technology Training Center (SRI&ETTC), and the Richard Stockton College Master of Arts in Instructional Technology (MAIT) program.

The program begins with continental breakfast and registration from 8-9:30 a.m. followed by four one-hour sessions. Lunch will also be served.

The registration fee is $35, but the fee for early-bird registration, which runs from Jan. 6 through April 30, is $25. The final registration deadline is June 27. Registration is limited to the first 200 participants. Attendees will receive four hours of professional development credit. See flier for details.

Mar 11 14

Clean-Up Your Digital Footprint Resource

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 9.26.29 PMToday on Platform for Good, they had a great Clean-Up Your Digital Footprint resource for our Digital Native students. Here’s what they have to say:

Looking to improve your digital footprint? Here are seven easy tips that cover everything from checking your privacy settings to thinking before you post. Just download the list to get started on building a safer and more responsible online presence.

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Mar 7 14

Turn the Screen off for the National Day of Unplugging

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 1.49.05 PMA Friendly message from the good folks at the the National Day of Unplugging website: Do you have multiple cell phones? Take your ipad to the beach on vacation? Ever find it hard to get through a conversation without posting an update to Facebook? Is your computer always on? We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.

If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sundown to sundown – and starts on the first Friday in March. 

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Mar 6 14

New STEM Products

by fsanchez

Here are three neat resources for using STEM resources in early grades. Thanks EDsurge for the information!

  • Tynker is a visual-based coding platform teaches kids computational thinking and programming skills. With colorful graphics and a self-guided curriculum system, students can use Tynker in the classroom, or learn to code on their own at home.

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  • SparkFun brings together tools and STEM curriculum. Using things like paper circuits and conductive thread, SparkFun’s retail store projects and products promote experiential learning and self-led exploration.

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  • Surprise! ELA teachers, we didn’t want to leave you out. Power Poetry is the world’s first digital poetry community for youth. Power Poetry stands behind its message that “poetry has the potential to close the literacy gap.”

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Mar 6 14

White House Student Film Festival

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 9.15.50 AMA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Did you catch the big film festival this weekend? Not the Oscars, but the 16 student-made films that debuted at the White House. More than a hundred students, teachers and parents gathered on Friday afternoon to watch the films–and, yes, meet the President. The students, who ranged in age from elementary school through high school seniors, shared films that were not so much about the technology–but what the technology allowed them to do.

Here’s what the website says: A couple months ago, we asked students all across the country to tell us about the technology in their classrooms. We asked them to tell us why technology is so important, and how it will change the educational experience for kids in the future. They stepped up to the challenge in a big way: We received more than 2,500 official entries. These students brought us into their classrooms, homes, and backyards. They introduced us to their teachers, to their robots, and to imaginary characters that they dreamed up. They showed us how they learn. 

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Feb 12 14

Edutopia’s New Game-Learning Series

by fsanchez

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This blog is a huge fans of EDUTOPIA, the education think tank/foundation funded by George Lucas. (I’m glad all that money my parents spent for Star Wars action figures in the 80s is doing good today.) Edutopia focuses on their Core Strategies for Innovation and Reform in Learning: Comprehensive AssessmentIntegrated StudiesProject-Based LearningSocial and Emotional LearningTeacher Development, and Technology Integration

Well, now they have a new project called the Made With Play Video Series. Here’s how they describe it: Intrigued by game-based learning, but not sure where to begin? Edutopia’s new series takes a look at game-like learning principles in action and commercial games in real classrooms — and offers tips and tools for bringing them into your own practice. Made With Play is a co-production with Institute of Play Get more resources for game-based learning.

The one MADE WITH PLAY project I am most interested in deals with a social studies online game dealing with the history of civilization. Learn more about that below and by clicking on this link

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Historia Resources on the Web

 Histrionix Learning Company: Website for the creators of Historia

 Historia Guidebook (PDF): Guidebook used by students to research history prior to game play

 Historia Civilization Builder (PDF): Worksheets students use to build their own civilizations

 Historia Interactive Presentation (PPTX): Presentation given by teacher to guide game play

 “Designing a Classroom Game That Can Get Kids Excited About History,” by Brian Waniewski: How social studies teachers Rick Brennan and Jason Darnell developed Historia to make history come alive for their middle-school students (from The Atlantic)

Feb 6 14

Chemistry goes “Augmented Reality”

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 11.38.55 AMIn this blog we have previously talked about the great examples of teachers using augmented reality technology in their classroom. (In fact we even created a ML100 Centennial project using “AR.”)  

Well, here’s a great blog post, Elements4D – Exploring Chemistry with Augmented Reality, by Samantha Morra of about a wonderful new app.

Augmented Reality (AR) blurs the line between the physical and digital world. Using cues or triggers, apps and websites can “augment” the physical experience with digital content such as audio, video and simulations. There are many benefits to using AR in education such as giving students opportunities to interact with items in ways that spark inquiry, experimentation, and creativity. There are a quite a few apps and sites working on AR and its application in education. 
Elements4D, an AR app from Daqri, allows students explore chemical elements in a fun way while learning about real-life chemistry. To get started, download Elements4D and print the cubesThere are 6 physical paper cubes printed with different symbols from the periodic table. It takes a while to cut out and put together the cubes, but it is well worth it. In Elements4D, the cubes then become the trigger that bring the elements to life. 

Students point the iPad camera at a cube, and it will reveal additional information about that element. 

With 6 cubes, students have 36 naturally-occurring elements. Through AR, they will learn their names, what they look like, and their atomic weights. Here are gold and carbon. (If a student clicks on element, they will get more facts about it.) 

The best part, though, is when students put two cubes together, then they can see how they react and get the resulting compound and chemical equation. Notice, when they are not touching, Hydrogen and Oxygen are gasses. Put them together and, you guessed it, they turn into water. 

One of the big benefits of these cubes is that students can “play” with elements that they could never handle in a classroom. In fact, students can even “play” with Plutonium. Here are the cubes for Plutonium and Bromine separately. Notice that Bromine is a liquid and Plutonium is a solid. 

The really wonderful thing about this AR app is that it stimulates inquiry. After showing this app to students and teachers of different ages, the reaction has all been the same. They want to manipulate the cubes and see what happens. They are excited about chemistry. 

Using Elements4D students could do a variety of these activities: 

  • Create a log of different chemical interactions. Draw how each element looks individually and then how they look together. Take note of the state of matter, color, etc.
  • Pick one or two elements and see how all of the other element react with them.
  • View each element and create a chart sorting them by state of matter: solid, liquid or gas.
  • Try just putting gasses together, or liquids or solid. What kinds of conclusions can students make after observing what reacts to another element.

AR can make the 21st century digital classroom a dynamic place to teach and learn. We are just beginning to see apps and programs that are harnessing the potential that AR can have in the classroom. If you have not played with any augmented reality apps yet, check out Elements4D. You are in for a treat. This app works great and fosters inquiry and experimentation with chemical elements in a safe environment. 

Feb 3 14

Digital Badges at MLHS

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 3.04.20 PMSpeaking with our building principal and our new online academy specialist, I learned that MLHS is the only high school in America that is issuing digital badges to students through the Mozilla OpenBadges platform!

So, what are digital badges? Mozilla posts on their site that “A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations. And because the system is based on an open standard, you can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of your achievements — both online and off. Display your badges wherever you want them on the web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning.”

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If you are interested in another option, check out Class Badges, a free achievement tracking service that launched late last year. 

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On Class Badges teachers create goals for their students. When students reach their goals teachers give them a badge to them to keep in their student profiles. Teachers can create goals for things like completing a large research project, for perfect attendance, or for completing an informal learning activity with their parents while visiting a local museum. This month they have added the option to create your own custom badges for anything that you would like to track and reward your students for doing. 


Jan 17 14

Great “Platform for Good” READS

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 12.54.57 PMAs a big fan of the social media site A PLATFORM FOR GOOD, I hope to share some of the best posts from them of this past month. 

Here are a few from the past couple weeks that I think you’ll want to see: 

Online safety information
It’s important to be diligent when it comes to protecting your personal information online. Here are 5 steps to help you make sure you’re protected.
Digital parenting questions from kids
Kids ask the darndest things! And what they want to know about their parent’s technology use may surprise you.
Mobile security tips
Before giving kids a cell phone, establish mobile security guidelines and boundaries with these 7 steps.
Online Safety Basics
Start kids off with the online safety basics by helping them understand how offline rules apply online too.
Talking About Commenting With Kids
A lot of commenting happens online! But are we talking to kids about the importance of civility and respect? Here are tips for starting the conversation.