Monday, November 30, 2015

21st Century Pen Pals with WeSpeke

WeSpeke is a free service that allows foreign language teachers to connect with other classes around the world. Similar to a pen pal concept, the classes get paired with another class that would like to practice that particular language. This is a good way to connect with native speakers and motivate students to learn and practice the language. The teacher chooses how he/she wants the students to communicate with one another, whether via text, audio or video chat. This is a great tool for any language teacher that is wanting to use technology to further their students practice of a target language. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

MoocNote for video curation and notetaking

MoocNote  provides teachers with a place to store the YouTube, Google Drive, or Dropbox videos. If you teach the same subject every year and want a place to store the YouTube video that you used to explain a certain concept, this is the way to do it. You can add comments to the videos which can help you to remember how you used in class. Your notes are synced to specific times in the video, which can also be handy when lesson planning. You can easily share your video list with other teachers and your classes. A great organizational tool for the flipped classroom. 

If you're a Google user, Google's single sign-on makes it easy to create an account. Simply click on the red Google Plus button. Pick the Google account that you want to sign in with and you are automatically logged in. No need to create an account and password. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

No more copies

the day the copier went silent.png
I was very excited to hear from Nolan as he shared with me on Twitter about his Chromebook launch experiences. He was enjoying the amount of time he was saving by not having to make copies for his students. Online assessments are so much easier than the paper version. In fact, online assessments are even quicker than even grading with scantron answer sheets. Students can get their score back from the teacher much quicker. You can provide the student with more immediate feedback than what was ever possible before. Not to mention how much money a school can save on paper and it’s better for the environment.

If your school is a Chromebook school, I want to hear from you. Send me a tweet @bsweet321. Use hashtag #tiacc.  I want to hear about the great things that are happening in your Chromebook Classrooms.

Temporary Tech Tattoos

The company Chaotic Moon Studies is working on developing a temporary tattoo that has circuits, batteries, LED's, and sensors. They intend for them to be used for a variety of purposes, but primarily for the medical field. It can help a parent monitor the health of a child,  monitor the health of a soldier, and even his location. Long term possibilities for this temporary tech tattoo including the potential of using it as a form of payment. Instead of using your smart phone to pay for items, a merchant could scan your tattoo. 

Chaotic Moon Studios - Tech Tats from Chaotic Moon Studios on Vimeo.

Ed Leadership with 1:1 Devices

Education has definitely changed a lot in the last decade. Significant changes in the way we disseminate information to the students and how they learn and interact with the content. Teachers are finding engaging methods of teaching their content. Technology provides educators with so many new and exciting opportunities.

Educational leaders are still walking around the classroom and observing teachers, but are you seeing what you think you’re seeing?

  • A teacher sitting at their desk no longer means that the teacher isn’t engaged with the students and is busy doing something unrelated. With 1:1 teachers can be working collaboratively with the students, proofreading essays with the students, and adding to an online discussion.
  • Silence in the classroom doesn’t mean that students are not actively engaged in the lesson. Students are often quiet as they are searching for information and determining how best to showcase their knowledge with the use of technology. Silence often means that students are focused on the task at hand.
  • Connections are being made beyond the classroom walls, and this is a good thing. Students can connect, share, and relate to other students across the globe.
  • Students’ work is no longer covering the walls, but online. Bare walls doesn’t mean that students aren’t creating, thinking, and making.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My teacher doesn't teach

As the Technology Lead at my school, I hear not only what is happening with technology from the teacher’s perspective, but also from the students. I always find it fascinating how kids see our lessons. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a student who was complaining about one of his teachers. He said, “my teacher doesn’t teach.” Concerned about what the student meant, I asked for more information. I asked the student to describe a normal day in the class of that particular teacher. The student went on to say that they have to watch videos for homework. The teacher doesn’t stand in front and explain things, instead, they work in small groups on activities and have learn on their own. I realized that the student was describing a flipped classroom where the teacher assigns videos outside of class so that the student can come in ready to apply the knowledge.


  • Explain to the students the strategy that you are using and why you are using it. In the example provided the student interpreted this technique as not teaching because it did not look like what they know as traditional teaching.
  • At times it will be more effective to wait until the end of the lesson and then ask the students why you used the strategy you used and what they have gained from it.
  • Writing objectives on the board doesn’t ensure that the students read it or understood it.
  • Make connections between what they are learning and why it influences them directly. How is it valuable to them.

4 Digital Notebook Options

In a 1:1 classroom you have an opportunity to use the device in a variety of ways and essentially become a paperless classroom. Digital notetaking will vary depending on the device that your school is using. 

Here are some ideas:

  1. Have an ongoing Google Doc. My students have an ongoing Google Doc that they open and access every day to write their bell work. At the end of the semester students submit their Google Doc to me through Google Classroom.
  2. Notebook for Class- Available in the Chrome Web Store. Anyone with a Google account can use it. Not limited to Google for Education users. Looks similar to an actual notebook with a spiral spine. Students can submit their notes taken in their notebooks to the teacher through the app.
  3. OneNote Online- Collaborate online. Helps productivity. Free version has limited capabilities.
  4. Evernote- Clip images that you see online quickly and takes notes about it. Take handwritten notes and save them in Evernote. Good tool for sitting at a meeting our conference and wanting to remember the information discussed.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

22 Resources for Teaching Science with Chromebooks

  1. Amoeba Sisters- YouTube videos on life science concepts- done with humor!
  2. STEM- STEM resources for high school students
  3. BBC News- Current Science news.
  4. Science Behind Hollywood- gets students excited about science through movies
  5. PBS Science- lessons, videos, activities on many topics
  6. PhET- simulations on a variety of Science topics
  7. Science Daily- Science news
  8. General Chemistry Online- tutorials, simulations, compound library
  9. Learn Chemistry- connects chemistry to other fields
  10. ChemEd- 3D simulaitons, periodic table, tutorials
  11. ChemCollective- virtual labs, scenario based activities, tutorials
  12. Chemistry Notes- chemistry lecture notes
  13. Chem Game Tutor- chemistry game that requires balancing equations, moles, acid and bases, equilibrium,etc
  14. Physics World- news that involve physics
  15. The Physics Classroom- detailed lessons and practice tests
  16. Cells Alive- animations, quizzes, worksheets
  17. Scitable- online library with a variety of biology topics
  18. Biology in Motion- animated cartoons that explain biology engaging
  19. Listen Current- Free resource that allows students to listen to a variety of Science topics. It has built in questions and assessments.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Digital Storytelling with PowToon

The PowToon Presentations Edu App is available in the Chrome Web Store. Students can easily sign in using the Google Plus single sign-on.

Screenshot 2015-11-19 at 7.22.09 AM.png

  1. I had students watch this YouTube video first on how to make a PowToon
  2. I gave students time to play with the different features of PowToon and become comfortable with it before assigning them work with it.
  3. Then I told them to create a PowToon using 7 of the vocabulary words we were currently learning.
  4. I let students pick the background, accessories, number of slides, etc. that they wanted and needed. Many of them asked, “how long does it need to be?”, and I would answer, “as long as you need it to be”.
  5. Adding voiceover and music was optional, but encouraged.
  6. When done, students clicked on save, then share. They copied the url address of their PowToon and submitted it through Google Classroom.

Student Example:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Accent marks in Google Docs

In the foreign language classroom, you will need to know how to put accent marks for your target language. I like using Easy Accents. It’s an add-on available in the Chrome Web Store. From a Google Doc, press add-ons and then Get add-ons. It supports several languages. 

Once it’s installed, you click on Add-ons on the top of your Google Doc and then Easy Accents. Screenshot 2015-11-17 at 3.14.47 PM.png

Next a menu will open on the right. Click on Easy Accents- Start. It will open a menu on the right of the screen. Select the language.
 Screenshot 2015-11-17 at 3.16.45 PM.png
In a few seconds you will have all the special characters you need for that language. Screenshot 2015-11-17 at 3.20.19 PM.png
This menu will remain open on this document as long as you have it open. To include one of these characters in your text, simply click on it and it will add it wherever the cursor was in your document.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Turning off notifications in Google Classroom

If you are tired of getting your email flooded with notifications every time a student turns in an assignment or if you’re students don’t want to get a notification every time you post an assignment in Google Classroom, you will need to change the notifications settings.

  1. Click on the three horizontal bars. leaf1.png
  2. Scroll down to Settings. Screenshot 2015-11-17 at 2.55.50 PM.png
  3. Click on Settings.
  4. Unclick the Notifications checkmark. Screenshot 2015-11-17 at 2.56.44 PM.png

Now you will not receive notifications when a student's submits work late. You will need to tell the student to email you or let you know that the work is in Google Classroom and ready to be graded.

Monday, November 16, 2015

My research: Screencasting feedback in online learning

Problem: Written feedback in online learning is often not personalized. The distant nature of online learning makes it difficult for students to develop rapport with their instructors. Attrition rates in online learning courses are higher than on ground.
Purpose: To determine whether screencasting feedback in online learning influenced students’ grades and course attrition.

Research questions:
1. To what extent, if any, does screencasting as a form of instructor feedback influence online students’ course grades (discussion posts, tests, final)?
2. To what extent, if any, does screencasting as a form of instructor feedback influence online course attrition?
Two sections of an undergraduate C++ online course taught by the same professor during separate times.The instructor was experienced in online learning. Kaltura was used as the screencasting software. A total of 59 Computer Information Systems online students. 28 participants in the experimental group. 31 participants in the control group.
Methods & Instruments
Quasi-experimental quantitative study. Multiple Regression to determine the correlation between course performance and attrition in both the control and experimental groups. The statistical assumptions were checked using histograms P-P plots.
Results for Research Question 1
Significance of 0.972,which indicates a failure to reject the null hypothesis. There was insufficient evidence to support the existence of a significant difference between screencasting feedback and online students’ grades, which were operationalized by calculating the overall average.
Results for Research Question 2
Significance of 0.898, which indicates a failure to reject the null hypothesis. There was insufficient evidence to support there being a significant difference between screencasting feedback in an online course and course attrition.
Screencasting had no significant influence over traditional feedback. This research failed to make a connection between screencasting and course grades or attrition.
Recommendations for future research
Further research on the potential solutions to the problem of course attrition in online learning. Future research will a larger sample size and the same type of LMS. Gathering qualitative data. Other academic levels, such as high school as a comparison.

Friday, November 13, 2015

From selling lemonade to selling passwords: Innovative student

Mira Modi is an impressive 6th grader. She has her own business selling passwords at . She uses dice to generate random sequences of numbers that she then associates with words. She charges $3 a password for your uniquely created password. Your password is physically mailed to your house. She does this to ensure that your password is not compromised.

Of course, I had to support Mira’s business. I ordered a password through her website. It was an easy process. After a few weeks, I received my password in the mail.

This young girl is an example of 21st century learning. As teachers we need to cultivate creativity, ingenuity, and willingness to solve the world’s problems.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Critical Thinking Twitter Activity: A fish with a life-jacket

Einstein the goldfish had problems swimming. His owner created a life-jacket with tubes to help him swim.

Students are to read the article and then go to Twitter to express their opinions and thoughts.

This week’s class Twitter discussion:
-Give your opinion of this special situation.
-Is this creative approach to the problem cruel or an act of kindness? Why?
-How would you have solved the problem?

Anyone is welcome to participate in the discussion. Please be respectful of others. Use hashtag #SweetBP1.

Sample of responses from students.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Teaching critical thinking skills

I taught critical thinking as adjunct online professor for several years. Critical thinking isn’t about focusing on rhetorical devices and mnemonics, it’s about helping students make connections with the real-world. To help students evaluate information that is presented to them from a different view point. With these skills we create a better world, a better understanding of it, and empathy.

How do I teach critical thinking skills to my high students today?

Every day students walk into my class and have a bell-ringer or warm-up exercise waiting for them on the board. Once a week, that warm-up has a current event or world event discussion.

Some of the recent discussions:
  1. View this YouTube video . Give your opinion on whether or not you would like to live with a tiger and why. Would this be allowed in our state? Why or why not? Why is it allowed there?
  2. Seattle Gum Wall Clean-up. After 20 years of tourists traveling to this place and putting their gum on the wall, it is being cleaned up. Give your opinion.

Once students have posted their responses in either Google Classroom, Twitter, or both, we then have an in class discussion of the topic. For example, is the gum wall gross or art, why? What makes something art?

None of these questions have one answer. They’re open-ended questions that get kids thinking, talking, and caring about the world around them.