Friday, September 27, 2013

Sharing documents with young students

You can share a Google document (document, presentation, spreadsheet, etc...) with students without Google accounts, but that document would have to be set to a sharing option of open to "anyone with a link". (See video on how to do that here) This means the document is literally open to anyone with the link directly to the page, but the page is not included in any Google searches. Making it highly unlikely that anyone would stumble upon the document by accident.

However, it is also public so make sure you tell students that they should only use first names.

Another alternative which I used yesterday in a classroom is an etherpad. ( Again this is an open document, but is not included in any search engines. The advantage of the etherpad is that each person who uses it is given a different color highlight so it is easy to see who has done what. (Video on opening an etherpad here)

With either option then the hard part is sharing the URL (the web address of the page) because they tend to end in a looooong string of random numbers and letters. (for example this is an etherpad and this is a google document

I like to use to make the address easier to remember. To use tinyurl take the web address of the page one of the really long URL’s from above and paste it into the first box. Then I like to add a custom alias in the box in the bottom, such as murphypad1. This way it is easy to remember and type into the browser. Then click Make TinyURL!. (Video on how to do that here) Because every web address has to be different you cannot reuse the same custom tinyurl more than once.

You can use both an etherpad and google doc again and again. Here is an international company that reuses the same note pad for meetings on a monthly basis Yes they hold monthly meetings with an open notepad and not only can anyone watch live, but you could participate if you want.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apps in the classroom

With the new technology in the schools there are a lot of people asking what apps to use with iPads. This is a very difficult decision for me to make. I’ll share some ideas, but frankly they will leave you unsatisfied. At the end of the day the apps you use in your classroom will depend on what and how you teach.

Some apps are great for use in centers. Some are better for individual use. Some track student usage, most don’t unless you pay for it. Some tie into other programs such as BrainPOP. My best solution is three fold.

First, do like the kindergarten team and discuss apps together and decide which ones you want to use across the grade level. (Don’t forget to include support staff or at least supply them with a list of the apps you use)

Second, use app review sites. Here are my suggestions. There are many out there and I like to find the ones created with education in mind.

Third, share what you learned. I have a form here where you can review the apps you use. If you don’t have time then send the apps to me and I will put them in (it just won’t be as good because I don't use them in the classroom)

App review sites

Also don't forget about my website and Diigo list. Which are really the same thing in different forms.

A list of webapp review sites with notes on the quality (feel fee to add any you know)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New and improved Google Forms

A few years ago I suggested the idea that a teacher might use google forms to create self grading quizzes for pre-tests.

This is a pretty decent idea I think, as a pre-test  should be low stakes enough so that you don’t need to worry about cheating. I also liked the quick graphs to see what questions were the most and least troubling.

Most teachers, I think, use something a bit easier to set up like using their HaikuLearning account.

Recently Google upgraded their forms to allow inserting pictures and now video.

Imagine the flipped classroom now. Insert a video, ask three questions, insert next video.

It doesn’t have to be a measure of mastery, but simply a quick check to see if the student is getting the main idea. Later, in class, the teacher can use the answers to make groups for the day, start the conversation from a general point of contention, etc.…..