Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Technology Driven Curriculum: Carpe Diem vs. St. Mary's

            I recently watched a webinar concerning wireless devices in the classroom. The webinar lecture was broken into two main parts. The first part was a discussion of the dropping price and ever expanding use of technologies, including wireless technologies. The second part was a discussion regarding technology driven curricula; two schools, each driven to use technologies in a different way, were used as examples.

What I Learned
Part I 
From the early part of the webinar, I learned that only a few years ago, internet use on PCs exceeded the use of application on wireless devices. But today, the opposite is true. I wasn’t sure whether to be surprised by this.
Personally, I have a computer (a laptop) in front of my face for the majority of each day and when I’m on the computer, I’m on the internet. I own a cheap phone that is able to connect me to the internet, but I don’t feel comfortable paying for the data package required.
My fiancé, for another example, uses his computers (a laptop and a desktop) for important tasks both important and frivolous throughout the day. He uses his laptop in each of his classes in law school and comes home to play games with the use of the internet on his desktop. We both have significant projects that require the use of a keyboard and large screen and his leisure time hobby of gaming requires a mouse, sometimes the use of a keyboard, and in his opinion, a very large screen. While he has a blackberry, he usually only uses it to send emails and get directions.
Technology in our professional lives and at home plays a large and essential role and therefore, we require large, sturdy technological equipment to do the job. It is very difficult for me to imagine a life away from the computers, a life where my phone or an ipad is my new best friend. However, all I have to do is look around me to see how much people have come to rely on the convenience of devices such as smartphones, ipads, and kindles.

Part II

In the latter half of the webinar, I learned about two schools, one called Carpe Diem and another called St. Mary’s. Both schools practice implementing a technology based curriculum, Carpe Diem more so than St. Mary’s. At Carpe Diem, students work on computers in cubicles for half of the school day, each day. The speaker of the webinar, while biased, (he works with St. Mary’s to implement a strong technological curriculum), dislikes the approach of Capre Deim and I’d have to agree. The speaker explained that this use of technology supports drill and kill as opposed to learning. He suggests that wireless devices along with teacher instruction, papers, and pencils be equal components of a technology focused curriculum. This would allow students to learn by doing, key word, “learn.”
At the end of the webinar however, the speaker noted that regardless of how technology becomes integrated into the curriculum, it will be integrated nonetheless and very soon, educators must be prepared to use such technology as wireless devices within the classroom for instruction.

Questions & Answers
Below, I have answered several questions inspired by the webinar.

1.      How prepared are you for engaging in each type of learning (Carpe Diem vs. St. Mary’s)?

I do not feel at all prepared and very little of my training in curriculum and instruction was geared toward technology use. I feel comfortable and confident in my ability to turn some lessons into technological experiences but I am not fluent with the variety of technological devices, especially wireless devices, that would allow me to implement integrated (technology based) units using best practices. For instance, I have used an ipad only a few times, I have never operated a smartphone, and I have never created an online lesson module (something I’m assuming would be necessary).

2.      What would you suggest teachers in your field adopt based on current knowledge of mobile/wireless devices?

Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question. In fact, this question is part of the reason why I signed up for an educational technology course. I do not use or am familiar with more than a couple wireless devices and I would not know how to implement them in the classroom. This is a topic that I intend to investigate.

3.      What would you recommend in terms of a school-wide initiative to improve teaching and learning at this point if you were in a position to do so?

I would know how to answer this question if I were familiar enough with an array of technologies to provide an answer to previous question, sadly I am not.

4.      A mixture of the two models is probably in everyone’s future. How do you see executing your version of the blend in your field?

Although I do not have answer to these questions, this particular question would be a great jumping off point, I believe, that would allow me to investigate how other educators have envisioned employing technologies in the curriculum and the possibilities for such tools to improve practice in my field. I intend to use this research to inform and develop my own opinions and ideas.

Monday, October 29, 2012

T-Test: Excel

T-tests can be extremely helpful in the world of educational research. There are two types of t-tests, independent t-tests and dependent t-tests. The former is used when comparing a difference between two groups given two continuous and categorical variables. The latter is used when comparing the same group on two separate occasions; it is used to determine whether a change has occurred or there is a difference for the group from the one occasion to the next. For example, I took the same data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) that I used previously (2011 reading scores for boys and girls in the fourth grade) and conducted an independent t-test. The categorical independent variable was gender and the continuous dependent variable is the fourth grade. When conducting a t-test, one will either conclude that there is no significant statistical difference (the p value is less than .05), in other words, the null hypothesis is accepted or one will conclude that there is a statistically significant difference (the p value is greater than .05), in other words, the null hypothesis is rejected. By looking through this site I was better able to understand both types of t-tests.

What I Did
            I had previously exported the data I wanted from the NCES into Excel and accessed the Analysis ToolPak add-in. Below are the steps I took to conduct the t-test analysis.

1.      Chose Data from toolbar

2.      Scrolled down to choose T-test: Two Sample Assuming Equal Variances

3.      Filled in Variable 1 Range by clicking and dragging the cursor to select all scores earned by males (same for Variable 2 Range for females)

4.      Titled the new sheet by filling in New Worksheet Ply section

The t-test analysis opened in a new sheet.

If you don’t have Excel, you can still analyze your data in a t-test by using this free online t-test calculator.

What I Learned

Research Question: Does student’s gender impact 4th grade reading performance?

·         Null Hypothesis- There is no statistical difference between the fourth grade readings scores earned by males and females. Gender does not impact fourth grade reading performance.
·         There is a statistical difference between the fourth grade reading scores earned by males and females. Gender does impact fourth grade reading performance.

Critical P-level (alpha): P=0.05
Decision rule: Reject null hypothesis since 1-tail p value > 0.05
Summary Statement: Reject null hypothesis, 1.611E-07 (tail p value) <= 0.05
Statement of Results: There is a statistically significant difference between the 2011 fourth grade reading scores earned by males and females. Gender does impact fourth grade reading performance.

Research Topic for Students Using a T-Test
            Gathering data and analyzing data for a t-test is a fairly straight forward and simple process. However, I do not believe that I would have elementary or middle school students engage in research using a t-test as the concept behind such statistical analysis is complex for children at the elementary and middle school mathematical achievement levels. However, I believe this type of research could be fun and informative for students at the high school level. For a fun, science experiment using a t-test, I might give students the following research topic.

Research Question: Does preservation method (to be determined by students) impact the life span of a carved pumpkin?

Suggested Design: Each student is given a pumpkin (granted that there is an even number of students). Each pumpkin must be similar in weight, shape, and size. Students will carve their pumpkins, creating two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Half of the students, randomly selected, will use a particular preservation method (ex. acrylic spray) and the other students will use an alternative method (ex. pumpkin fresh spray). Students will observe their own pumpkin every day. Once the pumpkin matches this description the, profuse mold and rot (more than one student will confirm), the pumpkin will be considered deceased and the student will plug into a classroom Excel document, how many days the pumpkin lasted since its carving. The Excel document will have two columns labeled by preservation method. The students will each practice using the t-test function in Excel and the class will discuss the findings. Throughout the process, each student will maintain notes and complete a lab report.

Dependent, Continuous Variable: Life Span of Carved Pumpkins
Independent, Categorical Variable: Preservation Method
·         Null Hypothesis- There is no statistically significant difference between the numbers of days the pumpkins lasted before being confirmed deceased due to profuse mold and rot. Preservation method does not impact the life span of a carved pumpkin.  
·         There is a statistically significant difference between the numbers of days the pumpkins lasted before being confirmed deceased due to profuse mold and rot. Preservation method does impact the life span of a carved pumpkin.
Ideas for preservation methods can be found on this site.

Standards Reflection
Conducting educational research using digital age tools towards a goal of evaluating and reflecting upon teaching practices in order to better support student learning meets standard Five "c" of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards.

Adapting educational experiences by incorporating student use of digital applications such as Excel meets standard two of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards and its components.

Diigo: Week 8: Technology Edition

This week, the materials added to my public Diigo library are related to technology. It has been customary for me to add news articles from sources such as The New York Times and CNN. While I did add a couple articles this week, I also wanted to share news related to a new technological feature and resource; I added a blog post from Google's official blog and a website.

As an undergraduate I studied earth science and oceanography. I'm crossing my fingers that I get to teach fifth grade earth and space systems which focuses on concepts regarding the ocean environment. I have tested and investigated many resources for a fifth grade oceanography unit and by far, my favorite has been Google Earth's underwater feature. I love the idea of taking students on a virtual tour of the seafloor!

Last year I learned about a project, known as the Catlin Seaview Survey, being conducted that would provide panoramic views of the Great Barrier Reef. These images were given to Google for use in Google Earth. In addition, by visiting the website for the Catlin Seavew Survey project, one has access to virtual tours of the Great Barrier Reef, information about the various locations were footage was taken, and more information about the project itself. For more information about Google's and the project's partnership and for a link to the website, visit my public Diigo library.

Next, I found an article written regarding the length of a high school education at one technologically based school. To find out why students are entering a lottery to attend this school for six years instead of four and visit my public Diigo library!

Finally, I found an article written regarding creating a fake identity for online safety. While this may not be something that I would encourage my students to do, the topic of internet safety is an essential part of the technology curriculum for every class at every grade. There are always new risks that shouldn't be taken and new ways to protect yourself; teachers should stay vigilant and share this information with their students. Since I have been required to create many accounts through this course, I figured it would be smart to investigate this internet safety tactic for myself. Visit my public Diigo library to stay informed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Diigo: Week 7: Full Day Kindergarten Edition

This week, I'm working on a research project/presentation regarding the pros and cons of full day kindergarten. I was interested in finding articles that related to local schools' movement to full day kindergarten.

What I Learned
Elementary schools throughout Fairfax County, Virginia began instituting full day kindergarten for every kindergartener as of 2011. However, they have been offering some full day kindergarten programs for at-risk students since 1990.

Loudoun County, Virginia is interested in implementing full-day kindergarten but have found that a significant amount of construction will need to be done in preparation. They have drawn a construction proposal that compares the cost of modular construction to building additions. However, the school board found that there is simply no room in the FY13 budget for this development. Loudoun County currently offers 9 full-day kindergarden programs for current PreK and at-risk students.

Frederick County, Virginia is working to develop full day kindergarten begining in 2013. While they do not have the budget to institute programs county wide, they have been granted room in the school budget for additions to several elementary school. It is said that this money will enable the county to begin working towards offering full day kindergarten.

To read more about concerns over full day kindergarten read over my new article finds in my Public Diigo Library.

What is your opinion regarding half day and full day kindergarten?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Working With Data (Descriptive Stats): Excel

Summary & What I Learned
     Today I learned about the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES website is a government run website through which collected and analyzed data is presented to the public. The NCES collects data on a national scale and therefore, is able to present data comparing state scores across the country.
     To keep the data organized, there is a simple selection process through which the essential data is targeted, minimizing what is presented. Statistics are available for fourth grade, eighth grade, and twelth grade for reading, mathematics, science, and writing. Comparisons can be made by gender, race/ethnicity, lunch eligibility, and percentiles. Data can be displayed from a single year or across years. The data available shows scores every other year from 2000 to 2011. Once the selections are made, a data table will be displayed which can also be exported into Microsoft Excel.
     In Excel, formulas can be applied to the data for a particular use. In a recent stats class, I learned to compute single columns of data one formula at a time. Today, I learned to gather descriptive statistics with just a few clicks using state comparison data from NCES using an Excel add-in. I chose to analyze grade 4 reading scores from 2011 by gender.
What I Did
     After exporting the data I wanted from the NCES website, I had to install an add-in for Excel in order to gather the descriptive statistics. Below, are the steps I took to get the add-in.
  1. Went to Office button
  2. Clicked on Excel options
  3. Clicked on Add-ins
  4. Chose the Analysis ToolPax
Below are the steps I took to get the stats.
  1. Chose Data from toolbar
  2. Clicked on new Data Analysis button
  3. Chose Descriptive Statistics
  4. Clicked an dragged cursor to select data in one column
  5. Checked box for Summary Statistics
The data and analysis opened in a new sheet. I double clicked on the new tab to rename the sheet.

I created yet another sheet where I could place a scatter plot of the data for quick reading. This is what I did.
  1. Went back to original sheet
  2. Chose Insert from toolbar
  3. Clicked on Scatter (chose which look I liked)
  4. Clicked on Select Data
  5. Clicked and dragged to select data
  6. Changed axis titles
  7. Copy and pasted into new sheet
How I Would Use It
     The NCES website is a reliable source through which to gather data for research and papers. I inted to reference it the next time I am in need of statistics regarding local or national schools and students.
     Excel can be a great resource for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data for qantitative research. I intend to use it for these purposes while gathering data for my Teacher Work Sample and as I conduct action research in the class room.
     For my elementary students, I envision them using what they know about charts from mathematics to create charts of their own using Excel. This way, they will be able to manage their own data in order to create accurate and attractive graphs in a most efficient manner.
Standards Reflection
     Conducting  educational research using digital age tools towards a goal of evaluating and reflecting upon teaching practices in order to better support student learning meets standard Five "c" of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. 
     Adapting educational experiences by incorporating student use of digital applications such as Excel meets standard two of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards and it's components. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Classroom Website: Google Sites

            Blogs are great, Google Docs are great, online quizzes are great, maps are great. But, what’s really great is being able to serve people all of these things in one place. By hosting a website, one is able to have a pages or embedded objects for all of the above. My students, my students’ parents, and my colleagues do not need to check their emails, get on Google Drive, plug-in the URL for my blog, and click a link to a Batchgo map just to access information I have shared. Effective communication is a standard that all teachers should strive to meet; with a Google Site, teachers are able to communicate with a large community of people in and organized and efficient manner.

What I Did and How I Would Use It
The classroom is a community, the school is a community, and each of my students comes from a community of their own. When communities work together bonds form, knowledge becomes synthesized, and developments occur. By creating a classroom website, teachers create a portal through which home and school become joined. Interested parents can address school experiences and learning at home and they are also given a medium through which to collaborate with teachers. Therefore, I created a sample classroom website through which to communicate with students and parents at home. I made sure to include an “About Me” page, an “About our Classroom,” page and pages to encourage collaborative communication (documents and forms, classroom blog, and contact me). To bring the classroom into the home environment, I also created pages that would hopefully inspire parents and students to explore classroom topics together. For instance, I have pages suggesting good books, family field trip locations, and interesting websites. I do not wish to isolate myself from parents as we all have similar hopes for the children in our lives but to bring together school and home in a way that best supports student learning, development, and experience.
Google Sites is a standard option along with Blogger, Google Drive, Google maps, etc. Anyone with Gmail can create a Google Site. Creating a website through Google is very much like creating a blog. To get started, I fiddled around with different templates, fonts, and colors. As with adding pages on a blog, pages can be added to a website. Then, I created several pages, each with a different purpose. To meet my purpose, I chose different layouts for each. I embedded gadgets such a calendar and a slideshow, I embedded pictures, and I created links to web sources as well as additional pages (pages that would not show up on my sidebar). My favorite thing was embedding pictures that could serve as links to new pages.

What I Learned
I’m pretty proud of my website. I love clicking through and looking at all of the pages. I love that I’ve found so many different ways to get information and resources out to students and parents. However, I can see others being more confused than excited by all the extras. With a blog, it may be clearer to parents and students what is new and most relevant. Also, with a blog, I can still organize and emphasize some content. With a website, I am requiring that parents and students either sign up for alerts when I add or change my site or I am requiring that they constantly check my site and sift through my pages for new stuff. To solve this issue, some people may include a link to a blog from their website but it is my personal feeling that a blog is redundant to a website and vice versa. When I have my own classroom, I hope to try to maintain both a blog and website and to assess after some time whether one is more effective than the other. After all, I hope to practice efficiency in the workplace and to maintain so many technological resources, I believe, will call too much attention away from other matters.

Standards Reflection
            Teachers who share a classroom website with parents and students are meeting ISTE-NETS-T’s standard thee “b and c.”  These components of standard three require teachers to communicate relevant ideas through various digital media and formats for the purpose of collaboration in support of student success.

Diigo: Week 6: Standardized Testing Edition

Standardized testing is always a hot topic in educational news. Usually I find articles o standardized testing to be from the same old, depressing point of view. But, this week, I read three articles, each focused on a unique issue and with a different perspective.

This week, one individual told me that she keeps her children home during testing time. To this comment, a colleague remarked, "You can do that?" How radical right? Well it turns out that a significant number of families in New York school systems are keeping their children at home during field tests of  the new Common Core Curriculum test questions. As the standards have changed in this state, new tests need to be administered. Twice a year, students are required to take field tests to determine the quality of drafted test questions. These same families however, do not feel they can take the risk of keeping their children at home on the day the official test is administered as it would likely impact the chances of student promotion for the following school year. (New York Times)

But what happens when an administrator persuade high school students to stay home on testing day? The answer: they are arrested and fined. One superintendent in El Paso, Texas is being accused of removing low achieving students from the tenth grade--sending them home, holding them back, promoting them to eleventh grade--to avoid having them take a standardized test in order to show higher passing rates for monetary gain. Families and students accuse this man of influencing higher student drop out rates as well; if their not good enough to be in school on testing day, why should the go to school at all? (New York Times)

Standardized testing may cause more harm than good you may say; however, there are scholars that con look past student distress and see the benefits of analyzing student learning potential and progress. Some of these scholars say that the standardized tests administered in most states aren't enough, that we could be and should be testing students in kindergarten. Doing so would allow teachers and administrators to respond sooner with early intervention and to assess which students will need more extensive support throughout the school years. (Education News)

Who will win, the scholars, the administrators, or the parents/students?

Read these articles and others from the week in my Public Diigo Library.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rubric: Rubistar

            A rubric is a document that students receive before beginning a project that outlines what quality work will earn them the grade they are striving for. Rubrics are created in a chart format with anywhere from one to five columns and rows, generally. Columns are labeled with points or quality descriptors (excellent, acceptable, needs improvement, unsatisfactory, etc.) from lowest to highest or vice versa. Rows are labeled with the product characteristics the teacher will be looking for and grading on (organization, spelling, required elements, design, etc.). The grid is filled in with specific product descriptions that correspond with one quality descriptor and one product characteristic each. Students should be able to read the rubric to determine what work needs to be done to receive the mark. After a project is completed, the teacher highlights the product descriptions that match the level of work met by the student; this serves as feedback, giving the student an idea of their strengths and what they could do better next time.
            Rubrics do not need to be fancy, a title, a spot for the student’s name, and a small grid is all that is needed. There is a “fancy” website however, that allows teachers to choose a rubric type, based upon the type of assignment, create a rubric by simply filling in a grid, and sharing or saving the rubric. The website is called Rubistar and it makes it possible for teachers to create and store rubrics in minutes simply by registering. Once a rubric has been created, it can be downloaded as an Excel document, saved as an offline browser document, or printed.

What I Did
            I created a rubric for a fifth grade, end of unit brochure using Rubistar. I created my rubric for a specific project, but another teacher may find that the product descriptions I used are nondescript enough to be used for various other projects. Rubistar gives suggestions for product characteristics to look for in a project which gave me inspiration for my choices. I chose my quality descriptors based on an elementary grading system I am familiar with (O=Excellent, G=Good, S=Satisfactory, N=Needs Improvement). As the project would be an end of unit assessment, I decided to replace, “Needs Improvement” with “Unacceptable” as would expect my students to have the very basic tools necessary to meet expectations that would earn them a mark of “Satisfactory.” With Rubistar, I was given more grid boxes than I needed. I left them black and they were not included in my final product. Once I was finished, I downloaded my rubric, then uploaded it Google Drive so I could share it with you and embed it into my Google Site.

How I Would Use It
            I like to involve students in making their own decisions within the classroom when reasonable. I believe that including students in decision making regarding major projects and grades gives students added responsibility and motivates them set and strive to achieve educational goals. By creating rubrics with students, they are allowed to participate in this decision making role. Rubistar could be used with a projector or SmartBoard and would be a great resource to use in the classroom that will help guide student and teacher to create effective rubrics that all can agree upon and understand.

What I Learned
I am by no means an expert at creating rubrics. I am still in the learning process when it comes to developing assessment materials. I have taken courses in the past in which the Rubistar website was suggested for rubric creation. However, this is the first time that I have developed a rubric on my own and the first time I have used this resource. I have not been in a position where I needed to create my own rubric yet, as teachers often share rubrics online although, I do imagine that this resource will be a valuable resource in my student teaching placement and as a future teacher.

Standards Reflection
            Incorporating Rubistar in the classroom in the ways I’ve described, meets at least two components of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. Standard three “a” requires teachers to synthesize prior knowledge with knowledge (learning) of new technologies to demonstrate ability to use technological applications successfully. Every teacher should know how to create a rubric using paper and pencil. Some teachers will also know how to create rubrics in Excel or Word. Teachers who apply such knowledge to an unfamiliar, digital resource like Rubistar, meet this standard. Also, standard two “b” encourages teachers to bring technology into the classroom in ways that will motivate students to set their own educational goals and assess their progress. Students are able to accomplish both of these when they are provided with a rubric and/or opportunities to collaborate on the rubric creation process therefore, teachers who use Rubistar with their students met this standard as well.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Self Grading Form: Google Forms

            Since Google Form results are collected and stored in a Google Spreadsheet, answers can easily be converted to quantitative data and formulas can be applied to automatically grade answers and calculate student averages.

What I Did
            I created a brand new Google Form with quiz questions. For the questions, I went to the Virginia Department of Education’s website to access previous subject tests for Virginia’s Standards of Learning. I collected science questions based on standard 5.7 and presented them in the quiz as they appeared in the test, as multiple choice questions. After several people responded to the quiz, I accessed the spreadsheet from Google Drive. Across from the row of questions, I listed the correct answers. In the columns of answers, I wanted numerical data that would identify whether each student answered the question currently (received a score of 100 respectively) or incorrectly (received a score of zero respectively). At the end of each row, I wanted to calculate the average score earned by each student. Special formulas are used to obtain these scores.
For individual questions, you need to use something that looks like “=if(B3=$J$1,100,0).” This specific formula is used, for example, when the first student answer is in B3 and the corresponding, correct answer is in J1. This formula can be dragged down the column to automatically grade all student answers. The formula for obtaining the average looks like “=average(J3:O4).” This specific formula is used, for example, when scores from the first student lies between J3 and O4. This formula can be dragged down the column to automatically grade all student answers.
Grading the form, while a fairly easy thing to do, is a very difficult thing to explain. I watched this helpful video before I attempted working with my result spreadsheet.

Take my quiz!

See my quiz results!

How I Would Use It
            As this application requires computer and internet access, I most likely would not ask elementary students to take Google Form quizzes to earn grades. This is not to say that I would not want to be able to obtain this data. Teachers should constantly analyze student data for information about student progress and teaching effectiveness. Alternatively, I may use this application to give student anticipatory quizzes before a new teaching unit. Grading this form would allow me to identify what information students already know and what information students may have misconceptions about. Finally, it would be possible for me to give students the same quiz at the beginning and end of a teaching unit to monitor overall student progress.

What I Learned
            I recently took a course through which I learned various formulas to use in Excel spreadsheets. I learned formulas that allow me to add a column of numbers, find the average, to find the standard deviation, and to find the correlation of two columns of data. Some of these formulas will be helpful in the classroom on a daily basis while others will be helpful mostly while conducting research. The formula and format for grading is new to me and one that I will certainly be able to use frequently in the classroom in order to work both work more efficiently and gather data for research.

Standards Reflection
Teachers who engage in action research may find Google Forms to be an asset to their work. Using this tool for such an endeavor would help them to meet standard 3 “d” ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. The standard calls for teachers to locate, analyze, and evaluate information resources using digital tools. Google forms allow teachers to locate, analyze, and evaluate authentic information. Overall, the outcome is the same, teachers are collecting research that allows them to use research for their personal development, to support research in their field, and to support learning in their classrooms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Google Form: Google Drive

The user of Google Form creates this product with the intention to gather qualitative or quantitative data. While there are applications that allow users to gather such data through surveys, such as Survey Monkey, Google Forms can be used for an extra special purpose; a Google Form could be a survey or an online quiz.
Google Forms are best seen not described as they have two faces. Once a user has completed their form, it becomes available for public use as a website. However, the form’s creator continues to use the form through the use of a Google Spreadsheet. The individual taking the survey or quiz sees an arrangement of various question types on a themed background. They may be asked to go through one or more pages of questions. Once their answers are submitted, the creator can view responses in a spreadsheet without doing any of the work to organize the information. As Google Spreadsheet allows the user to employ formulas for easy analysis, Google Forms can be used as an efficient classroom resource.

How I Would Use It
Here is a list of simple ways I might use Google Forms in my classroom.
·         Attitude survey before starting a unit of study
·         Field trip survey (ask students about their learning and experiences to determine whether the trip was worthwhile)
·         Students create their own quiz at the end of a unit
·         Anonymous mid-term or end of year survey
·         Self-assessment form
·         Survey answers can give direction for class discussion
·         Survey students about a sensitive lesson topic (students do not need to be put on the spot; teacher can explain general student thoughts and feelings)
·         Grade student presentations in the moment

Google forms for professional development.
·         Departmental surveys
·         Survey answers can give direction to teacher or school wide meetings
·         Survey students for action research

I found a Google Presentation called “81 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom” and like the following ideas.
·         Students survey other classes and graph results
·         Create a Woordle based on qualitative responses
·         Create a class story by collecting ideas for plot, character, setting, etc.
·         Entrance and exit tickets
·         Keep track of discipline referrals 

What I Did
            There are two ways to go about creating a Google Form. In Google Drive you can either create a form as with a document, presentation, etc. or you can open a Google Spreadsheet and choose “Form” from a drop down list from the tool bar. Either way, you will be served a simple page that gets you started by accomplishing three tasks. First, add a title. Next, add a description. Finally, create your first question. There are seven question types: text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale, and grid. At first, I didn’t understand what some of these choices meant. I checked out a YouTube video of a Screencast which described each.
            I created my Google Form to be a getting to know you survey. I would put this or a similar form on my classroom website, hoping students would take the time to answer some questions about themselves, their family, and their favorite things. I found uses for each question type. I was pleasantly surprised to learn, while playing with the question types, that depending up the respondents answer to a multiple choice question, the user can set the respondent on a unique questioning track. For instance, for my survey, I am having students tell me which season is their favorite. If they respond that winter is their favorite season, they will be sent to a new page with questions specifically about winter. Therefore, I can ensure that respondents do not become confused or waste their time with unnecessary questions.
            When I was finished creating my form, I was able to share it as a website, I was able to embed it in my blog, I could embed it in a website, or I could email it.

Take my survey!
This is what my survey results look like.

What I Learned
            I had absolutely no idea that Google offered such a useful feature. What’s more, if I had noticed the option to create a form, I don’t think I would have understood its purpose or ventured to use it. I’m glad to know about it now, as I’m sure it will come in handy in the very near future.

Standards Reflection
Teachers who ask their students, their students’ parents, and their colleagues to respond to a Google form, there are meeting standard 3 “b” of the  ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. The teacher and respondents are collaborating to poll data using an online resource. Of course, data is ineffective unless something is done with it. The teacher who collects and analyzes the data is ensuring that the data will be used to inform classroom practices that will ultimately support students’ success.

Teachers who engage in action research may find Google Forms to be an asset to their work. Using this tool for such an endeavor would help them to meet standard 3 “d” ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. The standard calls for teachers to locate, analyze, and evaluate information resources using digital tools. Google forms allow teachers to locate, analyze, and evaluate authentic information. Overall, the outcome is the same, teachers are collecting research that allows them to use research for their personal development, to support research in their field, and to support learning in their classrooms.

Diigo: Week 5

My Public Diigo Library has just been updated. The New York Times has reported on some very interesting issues in education this week including a couple articles related to technology in the classroom. I've highlighted the heck out of a few that appealed to my logic, emotions, and personal ethics. Put on your thinking caps, grab some tissues, consult your coincence, and check out my library.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Google Forms Part 1

Google Drive has an option for creating forms. Forms make it easy for surveying or quizzing students. I just made a Google Form survey to give students before they join me in our classroom for the new school year. If I could get students to fill out and submit this form, I would be able to learn about them as individuals and about their backgrounds so as to make them more comfortable during the first weeks of school and to better differentiate my lessons and other class experiences. To view my Google Form, click on the link above or check out the new page I created specifically to hold the awesomeness that is my Google Form.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Presentation: Prezi

            Last week, I learned how to use PowerPoints in new ways; this week, I learned how to use a more “modern” version of the presentation application called Prezi. Prezi is an online resource that allows users to create presentations with text, photos, videos, diagrams, shapes, a drawing tool, and a highlighter. While it may seem at first that Prezi is more limited in its functionality, I believe that it actually provides many more flexibility for the innovative designer. Most significantly, designing a Prezi is not simply about setting information into creative designs as is PowerPoint, designing a Prezi is about presenting information in a manner that corresponds to the logical thought patterns of a creative and critical thinker.
Without having had multiple experiences using Prezi, I would say that for me, using this application is like creating a fancy, professional graphic organizer. Unlike with PointPoint, which can be developed slide-by-slide as the user’s ideas develop, with Prezi, I would suggest creating an outline or other graphic organizer that illustrates major ideas in an organized fashion before beginning a Prezi project. When starting a new project, Prezi will give you the option to choose a design template which includes a diagram for your information or a blank presentation. With either option, you are given a canvas on which to create boxes or circles or whatevers of information that can be moved around, resized, and tilted. Prezi is the ultimate tool to use for thinking outside of the box, or should I say slide, and running wild with your ideas; the only rule is to reduce the risk of your audience experiencing motion sickness.
  One of the most iconic features of the Prezi is the zoom and pan features. This allows the user to easily group objects and information and to create an engaging and memorable presentation. These features make it possible to set information at different orientations while allowing corresponding information to be grouped. At the beginning of a presentation, the presenter is able to explain on big topic at a time before delving into specifics.

What I Did
            I opened a blank Prezi with the intent to create a timeline featuring information from the video I created for my last blog post. I started with a line. I added a frame for a title and frames to display pictures and information relevant to a time periods and immigrant groups using the bubble tool. I zoomed into the frames to add text (a title and bullet points of information). I imported a picture with the bubble tool. Things were looking a little like my PowerPoint slides so I spiced things up by changing the size and tilt of text using the zebra tool. Finally, I tried to accomplish something that I don’t believe could ever be done in PowerPoint. I zoomed into my pictures until it was no longer recognizable. I then imported another picture within the current picture. Using the path feature on the bubble tool, I connected the text in the order I wanted it presented and then did the same with the photos. By choosing to pan from the larger original picture to my inset photo, I was able to create a unique effect.  Now, when I show my presentation, it appears as though you are traveling to a location inside my photo to view a close up of an object. You have to see it to believe it.

What I Learned
            As this was my first Prezi, I sure learned a lot. I believe that if I had not watched the tutorials before getting started, I would still be figuring out where features are and how to use them several hours later. However, I would have to say that the greatest lesson that I learned from this experience is that I should not take PowerPoint for granted.
            The final product of a well designed and informational Prezi is something to be proud of. But, I found it to be significantly more time consuming than using PowerPoint. The features that make Prezi so special can be temperamental if one is not thoroughly practiced in using them. While Prezi allow the user to present information in a way, I believe, that can best promote learning (logical information flows, diagrams, and movement), I also believe that PowerPoint presentations are able to lead learners to learn and gain knowledge.

I also learned that
  • Prezi has a seperate site for educators called Prezi U.
  • Prezi users can collaborate to edit a presentation by clicking on a "meeting" button while working on a canvas.

How I Would Use It
            Students in Virginia and across the country are starting to be held accountable for their knowledge and ability to use computer technologies and applications. I taught students in a fifth grade classroom, many of whom did not have computers at home. These students were just beginning to use PowerPoint. I would most likely not go into a classroom expecting my students to use Prezi themselves. However I would allow students to use Prezi at home for a special project, such as a book report, if they were already familiar and practiced with using PowerPoint. I would first have to make sure that the student interested extending their learning in this way was in fact ready to move beyond PowerPoint and I would have to have the parent’s permission to introduce this technology as it is a web based product that publishes your projects publicly.
            In addition, I may use Prezi for select lectures in my classroom, however due to its time consuming nature, I anticipate limiting my use of Prezi for conference appearances and sharing information with my colleagues. Perhaps with more practice, I will find more uses for Prezi in my professional life.

Standards Reflection

Teachers Teaching Students
When teachers use Prezi to encourage student engagement with content area knowledge, they are meeting standard 1 “a” and 2 “a” of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. Both require the teacher to bring content area knowledge to students through technology in a way that encourages all to think creatively and innovatively about issues. As the Prezi anti-format encourages the development of a topic in a fluid and logical way, I believe that such presentations excite a student’s creative and critical mind.

Students Teaching Peers
When teachers encourage students to use Prezi in the way I described above, the teacher is meeting standard 2 “c” of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. By allowing select students to extend their experience and learning by creating Prezi’s after they have learned to use PowerPoint, they are providing those students with a customized learning activity through the use of a digital resource. This addresses the diverse needs of the gifted student.

Teachers and Professional Development
When teachers use Prezi to present at a conference or present information to their school colleagues, they are meeting standard 3 “a” of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards. Most likely, they will have already learned to use and have employed PowerPoint in their teaching careers. Therefore, they are connecting what they know about this presentation application and transferring it to this newer technology. In addition, they are effectively communicating information to school personnel.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Video: Photostory and Youtube

             I have taken thousands of pictures but creating videos is something I’ve rarely done. This week, I learned how to turn collections of my favorite photos into informative or just downright fun videos by following a process using PowerPoint, Microsoft PhotoStory and Youtube. The main objective was to create a video in the style of Pecha Kucha 20X20; that is twenty photo slides, each twenty senconds in length with an accompanying voice over. The project I decided to create, as I learned more about using these tools and this website, was a virtual field trip to one of my favorite locations in Virginia, the Frontier Culture Museum.
The Frontier Culture Museum is a great place to visit to learn about the culture, customs, and lifestyles of certain African, English, Irish, and German persons before immigrating to America as well as the fusion of these characteristics into the early American way of life. Visiting the Frontier Culture Museum is a wonderful experience for a family outing or field trip. It is not like most museums however. The museum is not one big building full of dusty knick-knacks, no. The rarities are authentic, period houses strategically placed along a walking trail.
My video highlights the exhibits as well as the culture and history that can be discovered at the Frontier Culture Museum. The video serves as a virtual field trip and to entice viewers to take a trip to through the Shenandoah Valley and through time.
The Frontier Culture Museum, while very hospitable to school groups, providing additional activities for hands-on learning also provides educational materials on their website. For teachers, the website offers documents outlining student activities at the museum and the corresponding Virginia Standards of Learning. To read the museum's field trip guide, click here. To read the museum's field trip program discription, click here. To find ticket prices info (under $8 for school groups and under $11 for general admission) as well as registration info, click here.
What I Did
I began my project in PowerPoint. I created a 20 slide presentation with an introductory slide and a concluding slide with photos I took at the Frontier Culture Museum in between. I chose the photos based on their quality, attractiveness, and educational context. As I arranged the slides, I thought about what information would augment each photo and the presentation as a whole. In order to use Microsoft PhotoStory for the next step, I had to convert the PowerPoint slides into JPEGs. This was easily done by choosing this file format in “Save As.”  
I downloaded Microsoft PhotoStory for free and imported the PowerPoint file. From here, I was given the option to rearrange my photos, add zooming effects, transition effects, and most importantly, adjust the length each slide would be shown. While many options are provided, PhotoStory tries not to overwhelm by having its users work with their videos in manageable steps. Finally, I was able to create my voice over. It was ridiculous how nervous I was! But the good news was that each slide is recorded individually. So, if I messed up, I wouldn’t have to start back at the beginning. In order to be able to upload the video to YouTube, I saved my finished project as a .wmv file.
            Having already signed into my Gmail account, I was able to go to YouTube and simply click, “Upload,” at the top of my screen in order to share my video. My video took a minute to upload during which time I titled by video, added a description, and added tags. My video and the information I included saved automatically.

What I Learned
            In the past, I have created both PowerPoint presentations and uploaded YouTube videos. However, this was my first time creating a PowerPoint with text limited to two slides and my first time using Microsoft PhotoStory. I am slowly becoming more confident limiting the amount of text I use in presentations. I’m glad since this encourages my students to practice deducing information from images. Additionally, I am becoming better at using my slides as jumping of points for lecture and discussion as opposed to being tempted to read off of them. Using PhotoStory has also helped me to practice focusing my “lectures” to the essential information in a timely fashion corresponding to the attention span of my students.
How I Would Use It
            Creating a video with PowerPoint and PhotoStory would be a cool addition or alternative to the traditional book or oral report. Students could be instructed to use only photos they or their families have taken, granted all families have a digital camera or extras are available from the classroom. This way, students are encouraged to make text to self or text to world connection during book reports and are better able to make connect to and engage with the other conventional subjects. I must note however, that I would not ask or encourage my elementary students to upload their videos to YouTube for privacy purposes.
Standards Reflection
            I believe that creating videos for and in the classroom best corresponds to standard 2 parts “a, b, and d,” of the ISTE-NETS-T’s standards.  Teachers can create videos to teach material using digital resources that promote learning and creativity. The creation of such involves the design of new learning experiences. In addition, when teachers encourage students to create videos regarding content based learning, they are encouraging them to include information and details derived by following their scholastic interests. The student is given the freedom necessary that allows him or her to practice managing their own learning. In the end The student will have created a product using technological resources that serves as evidence of learning which can be used by the teacher for either formative or summative assessment.