Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Accessibility, Reflection, and Feedback with Nearpod

How does a teacher deliver a visual presentation with a broken projector? How can a presentation be viewable to ALL students in the room, no matter how close or far from the screen they are? How can a teacher with any size class gather immediate feedback from every student during a lesson, whether it is a planned question or an on-the-spot question? The answer is Nearpod!

A class of 60+ accessing a Nearpod presentation simultaneously.
Physics teacher at Byron Nelson, Courtney Toht, temporarily delivers content to two full classes at a time as she supports students for a team teacher who is out on maternity leave. Her Science classroom had the physical space for 60+ students at a time, but students at the back of the room could not view the projected presentation at the front of the room and it was difficult to gauge students' understanding for such a vast number of kids...until she started using Nearpod.

Nearpod enables the teacher to take existing presentations from PowerPoint or Google Slides and import it into Nearpod. Once in Nearpod, the teacher can embed questions in the following formats: open-ended, poll, or quiz. These can be added prior to the presentation starting as well as can be added in during the presentation as need arises.

To join a live-presentation, Nearpod generates a 5 character code that can be written on the whiteboard, shared as a clickable URL, or assigned to a class in Google Classroom. Once a student connects into a Nearpod presentation, the presentation appears on each individual student's computer; so, previously-projected content can be accessible anywhere. Better yet, there is an iPad app for Nearpod so the teacher can control the progress of the presentation while being mobile around the room. When the teacher progresses to the next slide in a live-presentation that is teacher-paced, so does the presentation on the individual student computers.

After content slides are delivered, an open-ended formative question uses accompanies the content to gauge student understanding. When a formative question appears in the presentation, a new screen appears on the student computers with the question that has been posed to the class and a space to answer the question.
Student View: Displayed Formative Question with Space to Answer

As students answer, the teacher can view submitted responses to gather on-the-spot feedback that can be used to assess learning at any given moment. The teacher view also shows the percentage of students that have answered. A setting can be changed the make the students names appear anonymous so a teacher can show all submitted answers without associating a name to the response. 
Teacher View: Formative Question Feedback

If an exemplar answer gets submitted, the teacher can choose to share a selected response which means that answer gets pushed through to be viewable on all student computers. Mrs. Toht uses this feature to gauge understanding of newly presented material and shares students' answers to help them interpret the information using student-friendly and student-generated responses. Note that once the teacher shares a response, the activity closes and students can no longer continue submitting responses.

All features shown in this post are included in the free version with the exception of having 60 students connected at once; the free version allows up to 30 students to connect at a time. Upgraded features include the ability to assign student-paced lessons as well as additional question styles such as a "Draw It" style question which allow students to use their touchscreen or mouse to draw a picture or solve an equation by showing their work as pictured below. Same as the open ended questions, the teacher can view all students submitted work and share a selected response.

Moodle and Google Classroom are great places to store the actual presentation (PPT or Google Slides) for later access. Nearpod does not replace either of these Learning Management Systems; rather, it a tool used to present the content while gathering real time feedback from every student. A report is generated in Nearpod so the teacher can access the formative information after the live presentation has ended so the data can be further used to drive instruction.

1C - Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.
2D - Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Technology Tackles Tricky Standards

Over the past few years, Texas math teachers have been challenged with updated TEKS.  One of the new standards (4.5 A) requires students to utilize strip diagrams to represent their work.  Strip Diagrams can be difficult for students to comprehend without a clear visual representation. Mrs. Mooneyham, teacher at J.C. Thompson Elementary, met this challenge head on and turned to technology for help teaching students about the valuable strategy.  

In this 4th grade classroom, students spent several weeks utilizing strip diagrams to decode and represent word problems.  As a way for students to showcase what they had learned, the teacher created a Google Slides presentation with an individual slide assigned to each student in the class. On the first slide, students were presented with a word problem and asked to solve the equation using a strip diagram.  

Students were provided Thinking Blocks from the Math Playground website as a resource to create their strip diagrams. Once completed, students took a screenshot of their diagrams and added it to their slide, along with a written justification of their thinking.  An example can be seen to the left.

Mrs. Mooneyham always strives to provide students more opportunities for written feedback.  To take this activity deeper, students were asked to look at the work of one of their classmates and use the comment feature of Google Slides to ask questions and/or provide meaningful feedback to one another.  Feedback from the teacher was also given in the same way.  Mrs. Mooneyham found this piece especially valuable stating, “Students took giving and receiving feedback very seriously. They were able to see multiple ways to represent the problem using strip diagrams and were exposed to a lot of great feedback that would be lacking in a notebook.”

Through this learning experience, students were able to further develop their problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.  The integration of technology into this lesson, increased engagement and deepened the level of learning.  Natalie, a student in the class, enjoyed this experience. “I liked how we got use this cool app that helped me understand strip diagrams.  The technology gave me the opportunity to do something outside of our other work.”  Thinking outside the box and looking to the vast array of resources available through technology, took this seemingly simple lesson to the next level.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Frankenstein Project Based Learning: It's ALIVE!

Students in Mrs. Day's English I GT class recently completed work on an amazing project based lesson over Mary Shelley's classic novel, Frankenstein.  According to the project instructions, students were tasked with creating a portfolio of artifacts that answered the driving question: Does knowledge or progress ever become a moral liability? Student groups chose their own area of scientific advancement to research, then explored the driving question from different perspectives and considered both the positive and negative effects of advancement. Based on their subject they created four products of their choosing to represent their findings and related them to the themes found in Frankenstein and how they apply to the world today.

The group of Michael, Matthew, Marcos, and Jonathan chose to do their project on robots and the future of artificial intelligence. "This project was fun because we got to put our own spin on it, both by choosing our own products and in how we did the presentation, which we did as a skit," said Michael. Jonathan elaborated that they "appreciated the product list Mrs. Day gave us because we got to choose what digital tools to use in order to more efficiently represent our topic." This way, students not only got to choose the topic themselves, but they also chose what tools to use. This allowed them to represent their thoughts on the subjects they chose as they related them to the lessons in the book. Michael explained that their research gave them a different "perspective on whether people should do things rather than if they could do things."

The group started by using a Google Doc to plan out the project, including their subject, research, pros/cons of the subject, links to resources and products, and even a script for their presentation. They decided to use a Google Slides presentation to present their portfolio of artifacts, which can be seen here:

The group used multiple tools to create their products.  For example, Matthew used Lucidpress to create their preparing for a Robot Uprising pamphlet "because it had lots of built-in design options for making pamphlets."  They used Imgur to create a Wanted poster for a rogue robot.  Marcos said the ability to choose their own tools, like Canva, and create their own products was very helpful.  He explained that it "gave us ideas how to connect things back to the book.  I chose the Survivor Shopping List because I thought that people would need to know what they'd need to survive, similar to what Frankenstein needed."

Check out the presentation above to see all the products as they were presented, which was in the form of an interactive skit.  The ability of these students to choose their route of learning was evident in every step of this project, and is represented in the quality of their products.  "I love the way these students draw comparisons between a novel from 1818 and modern day technology," said Mrs. Day. "These students prove that literature and the lessons it teaches are always relevant."

Monday, December 12, 2016

Digital Review of a Math CBA

Students and teachers both feel the pressures of Curriculum Based Assessments or better known as CBA's. It is a time where students show what they have learned over a longer period of time. Fifth graders at Sendera Ranch Elementary were challenged by their math teachers, Mrs.Courtney Baker and Mrs Tracie Gomez, to display, explain, and justify mathematical ideas and arguments using precise mathematical language in written or oral communications that would help students to review and study for the next CBA in a new way.

5th Grade, Sendera Elementary, Collaboration, Educreations, Screencastify, Google Drive, GAFE, CBA, K-5, Interactive, Math, Voice Recording, Digital Learning, Peer Feedback, Interactive, Review,

First, the teacher deconstructed the review questions into three modules and assigned them to groups of students. Each group received five review problems that represented each module. Students downloaded the questions from Google Classroom to their Google Drive and imported them into the interactive whiteboard application called Educreations. In Educreations students created HOW TO videos using the annotation tools and voice recording features. Using this web based digital tool made it easy for students to demonstrate to their teacher they could solve the problem and show their work digitally. Below are pictures of Kristopher and Maverick as they are recording their Educreations videos.

Once the student was done with their video, the next tool used on the Chromebook was Screencastify. Screencastify was used to capture the tutorial video with easy integration into Google Drive as it saved the video for future use. Google Drive allowed the students the ability to set the shareable settings to allow others to view the videos. Click the image below to view Jack’s tutorial video showing the problem solving process for problem #12.


Jack stated, “This was an awesome way for me to send work to my teacher. It made learning math FUN!”

Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Gomez wanted to have something published that could be sent home to parents to provide help to their student before the CBA. Teachers also know the importance for students to provide peer feedback with written communication and doing this digitally enhanced the learning. Students created a Google Document where they embedded their Screencastify video and shared the doc with their group where students added detailed peer feedback. Students not only saw their peers comments, but they could go back and make any corrections needed based on feedback for the final production that would be published. Below is a copy of Kayden's Google Doc with peer feedback. Kaden states, “I like to read the feedback so I can make changes. Also, look at the time the comments were made, some of them were after school.” Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Gomez were so impressed with the students focus and dedication to the project. With the help of the Google Tools, this project extended to well past the school day and students were able to log into their Google Account from home and continue to learn.


The final published product is a compilation of student tutorial videos. A Google Slideshow was created and teachers gave all the students in class editing rights. Each student had their own slide where they embedded their video and a link to their video. Once the Slideshow was complete, the teachers published and emailed it out for reviewing outside the classroom walls. Click the image below to access the final product that was sent home this past Friday.

When I asked Kaden what he liked about this type of project he stated, “Normally I do not like computers, but the Chromebook makes things easy to organize, record, and do many things at one time.” Kayden added, “after reading through my peer feedback I knew I should have made the denominators equal.”

Maverick stated, “I know I am going to do well on this CBA.”

The amazing part of this project is just how fast the students have adjusted to the 1:1 environment. All of these skills were accomplished within ten days of the Chromebooks becoming deployed on this campus. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) emphasizes skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. This project met the ISTE Standard of Knowledge Constructor in which students critically curated a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produced creative artifacts and made meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Do You Know Your Brain?

Can you name all the parts of the brain and their functions? No worries, Mrs. Smith's 5th Grade GATES class at Schluter Elementary has you covered. Students embarked on a cerebral adventure in which they created original work to showcase their knowledge of the brain. Students could choose any digital tool, and their resulting products reflect each student's passion for learning.

"We made a song about the brain parts as a parody of the song Heathens. We went on YouTube and found background music. We kept on thinking of things that would fit in, if the words went with the song. We alternated between our lyrics and the rhythm of the music to make sure they matched. I don't think we would have been able to do this project without technology. We had fun and we learned more about the brain by making the song."
~Luke & Christian 

"We needed to find a way to teach people about the brain, in a more fun format. We chose to do a parody of YMCA. You have to find research, a lot of beforehand research. We used a notebook to write lyrics and multiple devices. It is easy to decide on the lyrics by finding the lyrics to the original song online and as you go along, you change out the words for what you want it to say. Then you get a device to record. We used a piano version of the music, which felt slower than the original version."
~Brandon & Trevor

"The purpose of this project was to explain what we've learned about the brain and our growth. Working with Powtoon was hard at first, but we liked it because you can express it in different ways, how you feel about it. We learned more about the brain from doing this project because you have to write it out and research and really have to think about it and plan it out a bunch. I shared it with my parents and they were amazed and proud of me because they liked how we expressed it different ways." ~Brylee & Kendall

"I've used Google Slides before; for each slide, I chose what went together. If we didn't have technology, I probably would have made a poster. I prefer Google Slides instead of a poster because it is neat and organized. If we didn't do the project, I wouldn't have wanted to learn more about the brain." ~Lucy 

"I did a Smore and I wanted to use it differently than I have before. When you share a Smore you can look and see where it went and who saw it, all over the world. For Smore, you can look more about what you're working on, which you can't do with a poster. We didn't go full-on in class about the brain, so this project let us go in more detail and learn more." ~McKenzi

These student products not only teach others about parts of the brain, they also showcase how these future-ready students are empowered learners, innovative designers, and creative communicators, standards described by the International Society for Technology in Education.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Science: Inside Out

Seventh graders in Mr. Crawford’s science class, at Medlin Middle School, recently took a closer look at their inner selves. Literally! In studying the systems of the body, students participated in a dress up day. Their “costume” would be one of the eleven systems of the body they recently studied in class. Using various supplies to represent and label the major organs of a body system, the entire campus was able to see detailed visuals of the learning taking place in Mr. Crawford’s classroom.

Additionally, students were challenged to assume the role of a scientific graphic designer. Their task was to create a digital flyer that represented their new learning of the systems of the body. Working in groups of three and four, students began researching and designing. Initial planning for the flyer took place in Google Slides. Using information gathered through their research, students were able to collaboratively contribute their portion of the project to a shared presentation before moving on to their final product. Eleanor especially enjoyed researching the body systems online stating, “it helped me enhance my learning by giving me endless answers compared to what you get out of a textbook, which is limited information.”

It was also an expectation that their digital flyer would include an original video created by the group. The video should contain information about the body system they researched, and could be presented through a variety of methods. Some groups chose to interview a professional in the field, while others created music videos or newscasts. Fliers included content from their research and images too.

When asked what he enjoyed most about the project, Luke said, “the best thing about using technology in class is that it makes things much easier and quicker. It changes the way I learn by engaging me more and getting me more interested in the project.” Dodge said he especially enjoyed, “interacting with his group in Google and FaceTiming with them while working in Smore.”

It’s no surprise that all students walked away from this project knowing so much more about themselves than when they began. They also walked away with a number of skills that will enable them to function in a digital world, as referenced in the ISTE Standards for Students.

Additional student can be viewed using the links below:

Monday, November 14, 2016

From Pages of Policy to Personal Practice

Students in Mrs. Wilsie's Tech Apps class at Tidwell Middle School were recently challenged with the task of not only understanding the nine page AUP (Acceptable Use Policy), but also working together to create a resource for other students that would help them understand and apply the AUP as well. Students started the unit by creating norms for group collaboration using Spider Scribe. Next, they used the Google Docs Outline tool to create an outline for the AUP as they broke it down into sections. According to Casen, narrowing down the information was one of the hardest parts. He comments, "At the beginning we felt overwhelmed because there were nine pages of the AUP and we had to use three types of multimedia to show how to follow it."

After understanding what the AUP entailed, students used the Tools that Make IT Click Blog to choose the platform they thought would best relay their information to other students.

A Screenshot of Masongo, Keller,
Madeline, and Logan's Blendspace.
Click HERE to View
When asked why her group chose to use Blendspace for their project, Madeline commented, "I was looking at Tools That Make IT Click and I really liked how Blendspace was orgnanized into boxes. We noticed that we could add links, pictures, and box off information off for our audience." Casen, Soniya, Benaiah, and Fatou decided to use Google Slides so that they could collaborate. They embedded videos, animation, and a Kahoot quiz so that students who viewed their presentation could test their knowledge. Maggie, Corbin, Jacob, and Blake created a newsletter using Tackk. They utilized the "button" feature in order to create a series of hyperlinks to send viewers to various student-created resources. Blake pointed out, "Our favorite part was the skit that we made about AUP. We used Screencastify to record our video."

After starting to work on their presentations, classes had the opportunity to connect with, and interview a few professionals via ZOOM. The video conference allowed students to see that the AUP is a part of the 'real world' and that it impacts adults in the workplace everyday. Students talked to Brooke, who works remotely with IBM in sales and Carrie, the Human Resources Director at Fidelity Investments.

After seeing the capabilities of ZOOM, one group decided use ZOOM to connect with each other even when they weren't all in class. Blake added, "ZOOM was easy to use and we were able to work even outside of class. I liked that you can message each other during the conference, so that we don’t interrupt each other."

At the end of the project, students used Google Forms to give their teammates a rating on collaboration and teamwork. They also shared their final product on a Padlet wall for the class to view and leave feedback.

Students walked away fom this experience with a clear understanding of the AUP and how to apply it to their daily digital lives. They also learned a lot about collaboration and teamwork. Maggie points out, "When we started as a group it wasn’t that smooth, but we got better as we worked together. Team work wasn’t easy at first." Casen sums up the unit by stating, " It would be helpful for other students to view our presentation. We made something that would benefit the whole school."