Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Future of Libraries

This video, from a recent program of the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley, discusses the future of libraries from the perspective of the Singapore American School.
Ron Starker wields a school psychologist certificate and is the Middle School Librarian at SAS. He has worked in schools in Oregon, Belgium, and Austria before moving to Singapore.
Doug Tindall was general manager of a Home Depot before serving as part of the US Army in Afghanistan as a technology specialist. He has also worked as a professional photographer, and is now part of the tech team at SAS.
Please take a few minutes to watch this intriguing view of what a library COULD be. What are your thoughts about the library of the future?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

More Tools for Effective Formative Assessment

In September 2013 we posted on popular web tools for formative assessment. It’s time to update that post with some new finds. We know teachers will find these both informative in regards to student achievement, and efficient in providing quick effective feedback to students.

Kaizena - Fast, high quality feedback on student work. Both teachers and peers can access student work (Google Drive only) and leave voice-recorded feedback to the creator. Tracks skills over time. Free.

Formative - Intervene in the moments that matter most. Teachers post questions, and students respond via text, multiple choice and drawing; teachers can see responses and comment immediately through the dashboard. Free.

Literably - The easiest way to assess oral reading and comprehension. Replaces the traditional means of administering running records. Students read and voice-record text, teachers get feedback on fluency and comprehension. Results post to teacher the next weekday morning. Free trial of 10 per month. Since the recordings are human scored, there is a cost for this service. Soon they will release Literably Practice, which allows students to record and listen to themselves to improve fluency.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Easy foreign language characters in Google Chrome

One of the Spanish teachers at my school wanted an easier way of entering Spanish punctuation and accent marks, particularly using Google tools. Cutting and pasting various Spanish-specific characters into various Google docs and Gmail was a big waste.  After a bit of research and trial and (many) errors, I think I found something that works pretty well. It's a Chrome extension called Google Input Tools and it seems to improve the experience of typing in a foreign language (and there are many choices) using Google Apps for Ed. Interestingly, I cannot seem to get it to work correctly entering info into THIS BLOG POST. Oh well, seems to work fine in Gmail, Docs, Forms and Slides,

Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Google Input Tools. Or, click this direct link.  Install it to your Chrome browser and allow it to run. Make sure you are logged in so you can get to the extension anywhere you are logged in to Chrome.

You will then see the extension to the right of the omni bar at the top of the Chrome browser. To activate the foreign language keyboard, simply click the icon, select Extension Options, and then select the language. You may need to turn the desktop keyboard back on, which you do by clicking Show Keyboard.
The keyboard will appear and you can see what keys equate to the punctuation needed. For instance, the ñ is the colon/semi-colon key for English. You can move the floating keyboard by clicking and dragging to the desired location.

It will take a bit of getting used to, but for those who write in other languages, this will certainly be a time-saver. Worst case, you can look at the floating keyboard and point and click at the appropriate character and achieve what you want easily.

Do you have any other ways of getting this done? I looked into settings for International Keyboard (on a PC) and a few other approaches, and they seemed more problematic and hassle-filled. This is a good choice for the casual teacher-user who just wants to be able to get the job done.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1:1 Classroom Best Practices

My high school embarked on a 1:1 iPad program this year, for all our students. We have learned many things about how to start and develop a successful classroom 1:1 initiative. While "everyone's mileage may vary," there are some important common themes and practices to consider when starting a 1:1 program. We had an ongoing need to capture our best practices for 1:1, so we created a site to do just that.

The 1:1 Best Practices site describes many aspects of implementing a successful 1:1 blended learning classroom, from the classroom teacher's perspective. We used short interview clips from classroom teachers who have significant experience with 1:1 and blended learning.  Wherever possible, some additional information was included that references other sites, app descriptions, student examples, and anything that would add value to a teacher wanting to learn more.

The site contains details about planning, overcoming 'gotchas', brief descriptions of apps and their use, and using technology for student collaboration, communication and creativity. Ways to assess student learning is also addressed. There is also some information regarding a flipped classroom model as well.

The 1:1 Classroom Best Practices site would be appropriate for ANYONE who wants to grow a 1:1 program in their classroom. We would love to have your thoughts about implementing 1:1, as well as any resources you have found valuable. Our program was with iPads, but I think lessons learned in any 1:1 implementation would be of value. Let us know your thoughts!

1:1 Classroom Best Practices

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How to create a check-out/ check-in system in Google Forms

Here's an interesting how to from Richard Byrne at using a new Forms add on called CheckitOut. Great for signing out iPads, cameras, lab equipment, and so on.

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