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Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators


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Using iPads in the 1-to-1 Middle or High School Science Classroom

I taught a course this week at the Shrewsbury Summer Institute on how to utilize iPads in our middle and high school science classrooms. This “Tech Tip” is a summary of what was covered over the last few days. Regardless of what subject/age you teach, I’m hopeful you will still find most of this information useful.

MONDAY AGENDA

General iPad tips/tricks

Schoology Overview

Since Shrewsbury has committed to using Schoology as our Learning Management System (LMS) platform moving forward, Schoology was a big focus for the week. All participants had a sandbox course to explore. They added content, assessments, and spent time exploring the features using a laptop and iPad in both teacher and student views.

If you are unfamiliar with Schoology, visit their Help Guides website. They offer a lot of valuable information for teachers, students, and parents.

Notability, Pages, and Google Docs…the “Big 3”

In a science classroom, much of what we do revolves writing notes, annotating worksheets, and writing labs. While these three apps all have a slightly different focus, they are the apps I use most in my classroom for day-to-day work. We also spent some time creating data tables in these three apps, which is an important element in the science classroom.

1. Notability – I use Notability when I have a PDF worksheet and want students to annotate that worksheet. Data tables cannot be easily made within the app, so the worksheet must already have a table for them to fill in.

5 Notability features you may or may not know about

2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs when I want students to collaborate on research or a lab and I plan to give them frequent feedback (best example is my science fair project). It wasn’t long ago when students couldn’t even view a table within the app. They can now make data tables that are pretty functional. The only missing ingredient is the ability to merge cells. However, a workaround to this is opening the document in Safari in desktop mode. This allows them to merge cells!

3. Pages – I use Pages when I want students to write up their own lab report, complete with data table, photos, and graphs. It has the best formatting options and creates a “prettier” product.

I have found that many times, it does not matter to me what app students use. They all have their own preference. For this reason, I usually share resources as Microsoft Word files. Students are able to “open in” using any of these three apps. Once finished, they can submit their final work back into Schoology.

TUESDAY AGENDA

Creating Tests and Quizzes in Schoology

Participants spent most of the afternoon creating quizzes and tests in Schoology using point scales and rubrics. There are a lot of wonderful grading features in Schoology, and most of the questions can be automatically graded for you!

Creating Graphs on the iPad

I rarely have my students hand-draw graphs on graph paper. If you prefer that option, they can easily take a photo when they finish and insert the photo directly into Notability, Pages, or Google Docs.

Create a Graph (Safari)

Download the graph when you are finished as a .jpg file. On an iPad, the graph image will pop up. Press down with your finger and choose “Save image” to save it to your camera roll.

Pages app (or Numbers)

Creating a graph in both of these apps is very similar. You can create graphs that look more professional compared to the previous option. Graphs cannot be saved to the camera roll. However, you can “copy” the image and paste it later wherever you want to put the graph.

Data Analysis app

TuvaLabs doesn’t actually let you create a graph, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so cool. They have a huge collection of data sets that you can manipulate and visualize in a variety of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.11.28 AM

Using Photos in the Classroom

I think the camera is one of the greatest features on the iPad. Being able to take/share photos and videos allows for a lot of creative ideas that were not previously possible.

A few photo ideas…

Annotating Photos3975108995_a7c5e48ae7_b

When students are able to annotate photos with text and shapes, they are able to demonstrate their understanding. Instead of using that old diagram of a microscope, students could be asked to take a photo of an actual microscope in order to label different parts. It makes learning more authentic.

Here are three apps that my students have used  to annotate and label photos.

  • Skitch
  • Explain Everything (This app costs $2.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)
  • Notability (This app costs $3.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)

Student and Teacher Created Videos

Like with photos, the ability to create and share videos on an iPad opens up some pretty awesome ideas. As teachers, we can now begin to “flip” parts of our curriculum by creating videos and sharing them with our students. These videos can be lectures, instructions for a lab/project, demonstrations that may not be safe for the classroom, etc. Most students are comfortable using iMovie. That is their app of choice, but there are some other useful apps I recommend as well for different purposes.

Here are a list of apps for you to consider… 

iMovie – the gold standard

Explain Everything – lets you or students make a “screen cast”. You can embed practically anything (images, documents, presentations, other videos…)

“Green Screen” app by DoInk ($2.99) – This apps lets students create engaging “green screen” videos. You will need a solid color backdrop (does NOT need to be green). You can also utilize a green screen within Explain Everything if you do not have an actual screen to use.

Time lapse videos are useful for long exposures. The iPad takes repeated photos at a set interval (every 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, etc.) then combines those photos into a video. The camera in newer iPads already have a “time-lapse” function. Otherwise, you can use a specific app such as Lapse It or Hyperlapse.

Stop motion apps allow you to make an animation video using a series of photos. Here is a great stop motion video a teacher created to model chemical reactions. There are many stop motion apps out there, but my students have used the free Stop Motion Studio app.

While time lapse videos produce a video that is sped up, “slow motion” apps can be used to slow videos down. Newer iPhones have a “Slo-Mo” function in the camera roll. For iPads, you can use the SloPro app.

WEDNESDAY AGENDA

Gamification

This wasn’t initially going to be part of this course, but Doug Kiang’s morning keynote was all about gaming. I created a badge system this year and hope to include more gaming elements moving forward.

General iPad/iPhone Recommended Apps for Teachers and Students

Here is a list of general apps that I feel everyone should have to stay organized.

  • Some type of task manager or “to do” app (2.Do, Any.Do, Google Keep, or Reminders)
  • Calendar: Google Calendar or Sunrise
  • Password app: 1Password
  • iosnoops.com (apps gone free, apps discounted, and new apps)

General apps for Science class:

Science Probeware

The high school teachers practiced syncing their Vernier probes and LabQuest 2 interfaces. Students can connect their iPads to the LabQuest 2 interface over a WiFi connection. The middle school teachers spent time learning how to connect iPads with our Pasco probes using the AirLink 2 bluetooth interface.

Presentation apps

Students are very comfortable using Keynote on their iPads. While this is a great app, there are many other wonderful options for both students and teachers.

Google Slides and Keynotes can be opened in Notability and/or E.E. This allows students to annotate and take notes while you present.

Curating and Sharing Resources

Where will you keep all of your “stuff”? You must consider whether you want it to be private, public, or shared only with your students. Personally, I use Google Drive and Dropbox to save all of my documents, photos, and videos on my computer. I then upload handouts from those folders into Schoology for students to access.

I bookmark all of my online resources using Diigo. It’s fantastic. For you Twitter users out there, you can even have all of your favorite tweets automatically saved to Diigo! I will put some online resources into Schoology for my students, but I’ve found that if there are too many links, it’s easier to provide them with a single link that sends them to my Learnist site. Learnist is like Pinterest, and it’s where I bookmark academic web resources for my students.

Infographics

Infographics are graphical representations of data. They are especially useful for sharing out a lot of information. Visual.ly and Easel.ly both have plenty of examples you can search through. Easel.ly also lets you customize templates to make your own infographics. STEM Literacty Through Infographics is a great website that includes a lot of published student-created infographics. Compound Interest also has a great collection of chemistry-related infographics.

My favorite tool for creating infographics is Canva. Both the website and iPad app are easy to create visually awesome infographics.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

One of Shrewsbury’s district initiatives moving forward focuses on project based learning.

Here is the updated Professional Practice Goal:

By the end of the 2016-17 school year, all grade level and department teams will have re-designed and implemented an existing learning experience for students that includes:

  • An open-ended question that requires students to think critically about an engaging topic
  • A special introductory event to the learning experience that generates curiosity and motivates students to learn more about the topic
  • Multiple pathways to demonstrate learning
  • Opportunities for students to share their thinking and collaborate with others
  • Work shared with an audience beyond teacher and classroom
  • Technology integration that enhances learning at the Modification and/or Redefinition level (SAMR Model)
  • The resources for this learning experience will be organized digitally to support team and department collaboration and innovation.

General PBL Resources

Buck Institute Website

Buck Institute – Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

Buck Institute – Essential Project Design Checklist

Project-based learning ideas

(These are resources that participants in the course found and shared.)

List of physics PBL from bie.org

Blocking Sound PBL

Eggstreme Sports

Go, Score, Win with Physics

CASES Online

Free Project Based Learning Resources That Will Place Students At The Center Of Learning

Effective teaching methods —Project-based learning in physics 

IOP Institute of Physics – Problem based learning modules

Chemistry PBL Ideas:

  • Water quality – ions (nitrates, phosphates, chloride), dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, etc of different bodies of water and well water sources
  • Nutritional analysis of various drinks of choice
  • Combustions reactions – production of CO2 with various forms of travel

Biology PBL Ideas:

Kahoot!

If you’ve never heard of Kahoot yet, you’re missing out. It’s a very fun (and very competitive) online quiz game that lets students compete against each other. You can create your own quiz games or you can use public quizzes. The quicker you answer a question correctly, the more points you earn!

Getkahoot.com – Use this link to set up an account and run a quiz

Kahoot – Use this link to take a quiz

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Traveling Tech Tools

All of our blog posts focus on ways of integrating technology in the middle school classroom. However, there are a lot of uses outside of the classroom as well. This blog post describes how I used utilized technology to make my trip to Iceland such a success.

Planning the Trip

My two friends and I (one of whom lives in London, England) used messaging on Facebook and a shared Google Doc to plan our trip. My brother’s friend went to Iceland last year and emailed him the itinerary she did. I copied this into the Google Doc and opened it up for feedback. We each did research independently, and I kept track of these sites by bookmarking them using Diigo, which is a social bookmarking tool. I knew I would be bringing my iPhone and iPad on the trip, so these resources could be accessed later on through the Diigo app. With these tools, we were able to come up with a rough idea of what to do each day, as well as book our rooms in a hostel in Reykjavik for the week. 
I purchased my flight through one of the many online dealers. I have not found one to always be better, but this time around, Priceline gave me the best price. The flight itself was through Delta. 
Here are two apps I downloaded ahead of time for my iPhone/iPad along with a description of each:
TripTracker (free)
Get real-time status for flights, real-time itinerary push alerts, live weather reports, route maps, hotel information and car rental information to make your travel a breeze.

Fly Delta (free)

I always download the official airline app. You can check in and get real-time status for your flights. I received a message from them telling me my flight had been delayed and the number of my new gate. 


During the Trip

When traveling overseas, you must be careful not to have “data roaming” enabled. I have read some scary stories of people being charged hundreds of dollars in roaming charges. Always turn “cellular data” off. To be safe, I turn on Airplane Mode. This still allows me to connect to WiFi, but nothing else. Last year on a trip to Italy, I contacted my service provider (AT&T) and purchased a one month international package that let me use cellular networks for roughly $30. The connection was spotty at best so I decided not to do it in Iceland.

Since I rarely was connected to the Internet while traveling, I ditched Google Drive for Evernote. While I could read my Google Docs, I could not edit them. I happen to be an Evernote Premium member, so I can download notebooks and edit them offline. As it turned out, Evernote was very helpful for two main reasons: 

1. I created a note for our budget. Since there were three of us taking turns paying for food, gas, excursions, lodging, etc., we had to make sure we all paid equal amounts. I used Evernote to take photos of receipts, plus noted the amount of every expense throughout our stay.

2. Since we could not access Google Maps as we drove (no WiFi), I looked up all of the places we planned to visit on Google Maps the day before while at the hostel. I then took screen shots of those maps and added them to our Evernote Notebook. If we got lost, we looked at the map and figured out where to go. 

eCurrency ($.99) was another very helpful app. As I mentioned before, the Icelandic currency is confusing. For example, a typical beer costs 1,000 Kronas, which is roughly equivalent to $8. This app lets you quickly and easily convert between any two currencies. The exchange rate is updated daily so you know it’s accurate.

After the Trip

Once my friends and I returned home, our first priority was to share photos with each other. Collectively, we took over 1,000 photos, but hey, Iceland is a beautiful country! We each used a slightly different approach to do this: 

Friend #1: Created a Dropbox folder containing his ~600 pictures and shared it with us. This worked very well until it maxed out the space allowance in my Dropbox account. I could not receive any more photos so my friend had to remove them and add the rest for us to download. 

Friend #2: Created a Google Drive folder containing his ~100 photos. This worked just like the Dropbox route but since I have more storage in Google Drive, I was able to get them all no problem. 

Myself: I put my ~300 photos into a folder on my computer. I then compressed that folder into a zip file. I placed this zip file into a Google Drive folder and shared it with my friends. 

Once I received all of the photos, I sorted through them and placed them into different folders. I used Photoshop to touch up some of the photos. If you do not have Photoshop, there are a lot of free options online such as Pixlr and Aviary

The last step is to back up my photos online and share them with friends. Many people choose to share all of their photos on Facebook. While I did post some photos on my Facebook Timeline, that is not where I would choose to host all of my pictures. For this purpose I choose to use Flickr. This is Yahoo’s photo sharing service and is used by many professional photographers. Not only is it just better than other photo sharing sites, but you can sign up for a FREE account and receive 1 terabyte (TB) of free space.

To put this in perspective…if you have a 5 MP camera, you can upload 700,000 pictures!! No other site comes close to giving you that much space for free. 


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Social Bookmarking in the Classroom


Two weeks ago, I explained how to use a service such as Xmarks to sync all of your online bookmarks on all of the computers that you use. If you are stuck without one of your personal computers, you cans till log in to the Xmarks website and access all of your bookmarks from any computer in the world.

In today’s post, I will explain how you can take bookmarking to a whole new level. Let me introduce you to “social bookmarking!”

 Watch this video will give you a quick overview of social bookmarking.

As the YouTube video above suggests, social bookmarking sites are very helpful for teachers because we tend to get a lot of our information on the Internet. There are so many great resources out there, but it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all using your traditional web browser’s bookmark and “favorites” features. Bookmarking sites such as Diigo and Delicious allow you to give each bookmark multiple tags. “Tags” are relevant words that will help you keep your bookmarks organized.

The last site I bookmarked was a news article on Yahoo! News about a 12-year old girl who blogged about her fight with brain cancer. She joined her parents to start the NEGU Foundation, a non-profit foundation that raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer. NEGU stands for “Never Ever Give Up!

This brave girl, Jessica Joy Rees, recently lost her battle with cancer. However, she has been an inspiration and a hero to all those who knew her. I bookmarked this site because we are having the “Changing the Conversation” programs at Oak and encourage students to look for ways of giving back. I knew I wanted to share this story with everyone at school in case you wanted to include it in your meetings:

http://news.yahoo.com/12-old-girl-blogged-cancer-fight-died-233503455.html

Where Do I Begin?

The first step is to sign up for an account with a social bookmarking site. There are many out there, but the top two are Delicious and Diigo.

Delicious is run by Yahoo so if you already have a Yahoo account, then you do not need to create another account to use Delicious.

It was one of the first social bookmarking sites and continues to have a large user base. It is very simple to bookmark sites, but it does not offer as many advanced features as other sites.

Diigo is a more advanced social bookmarking site.

It lets you bookmark sites just like Delicious, but it has a whole suite of other options that can really come in handy for teachers and their students such as: digital highlights, interactive sticky notes, add notes, and more.

1. Visit these two sites and decide which one fits you best.

2. Set up the bookmarking button on your browser that lets you easily add bookmarks. These will be “add ons” or “extensions” just like Xmarks and can be located in your browser’s “Tools” menu.

3. Begin bookmarking sites. Each time you bookmark a new website, give it tags so that you can easily locate it in the future.

How Can I Use Social Bookmarking In My Classroom?

I use Diigo every day to bookmark resources that are relevant to my personal and professional life. As a science teacher, I have bookmarked over 500 different websites. Just about all of my bookmarks are “public” and can be viewed at the link below. Each time you bookmark a site, you can choose whether to make it public or private.

http://www.diigo.com/user/mrmularella

1. Share resources with students and/or other teachers.
While there are benefits to sharing certain resources with your students, the biggest advantage to making bookmarks “social” is collaborating with your peers. All bookmarking sites allow you to make groups and join networks. Imagine how helpful it could be if we created a Sherwood/Oak network where we could share bookmarks with each other!

2. Make student research more engaging, collaborative, efficient, and…..fun!
As students troll the Internet for online sources in class, they spend a lot of time writing down bibliographical information and scribbling down information as quickly as they can. They try to jot down the URL so they can find that same resource again or they try to copy the link to their email.

While using Diigo on team this year for medieval research and science fair projects, our students have been able to:

  • Bookmark relevant websites — this saves all important bibliographical info. (No need to write down)
  • Highlight important information on a page so when they return, they don’t need to re-read the whole page again.
  • Add sticky notes with personal observations and questions. Group partners leave messages for each other.
  • Students working in a group become “friends”. This allows them to view each other’s bookmarks, their sticky notes and everything they highlighted!

3. Research directly on Diigo or Delicious.
You can search for information on these bookmarking sites much like you would in Google. The difference is that the results of your search will be websites that were bookmarked by others.

In the screenshot below, you can see some of the results from when I searched “social bookmarking” on Diigo. Notice the numbers on the left. This tells you how many Diigo users bookmarked each site! Chances are…if a website was bookmarked by hundreds of other people, it probably has some useful information.

Other Social Bookmarking Resources:
This is a group you can join in Diigo. Teachers all over the world add websites that they bookmarked that are relevant to education. I get an email each morning that lists all of the sites that were bookmarked the previous day by other teachers.  

You can have your account upgraded to a teacher account. This allows you many features such as creating accounts for your students, setting privacy accounts for your students so they can’t communicate with strangers, and setting up a class “group”. This would allow all students to share bookmarks with each other in the class.

Blog post from TeachHub.com that outlines the useful features of social bookmarking

In Closing…

The best advice I can give you is to start playing around. There is a small learning curve with social bookmarking because it’s a different approach (tagging vs using folders) to saving websites, but I assure you that it gets easier, and it helps you to become more organized. 

As always, please contact us if you have questions or if you need some help implementing any of these ideas. Also, if any of you are using a “cool tool” you would like to share, talk with us about writing a guest blog post!