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Posted by on in Education Technology

screencast

This year I have been creating my own screencasts using Screencastify, the free Chrome extenstion available on the Chrome Web Store. Unfortuntately, my screencasts would not play for me or my students in Google Classroom, until today. 

How to Have a Screencast Play in Google Classroom:

1. Record and name your screencast

2. Create a new Google Doc

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Posted by on in Game-Based Learning

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As my first grade students left for their holiday break, I told one of the children to have a wonderful vacation. He sadly looked at me and said, "I'm not going on vacation. I am just staying home." I explained to him that by vacation I meant not coming to school. His reaction made me think about how many students never get to travel and experience the joy of visiting popular vacation destinations. It seemed, however, that a solution to that problem was sitting in my classroom waiting to be unwrapped!

I had an Xbox 360 Kinect system in my classroom. We were using Kinect games for learning and I had recently been given a copy of Kinect Disneyland Adventure. I took it home for my grandchildren to play while visiting for Christmas, and it turned out to be an authentic trip to the Magic Kingdom. Players enter Main Street USA, collect autographs from Disney characters in an autograph book, and use a map to select the lands to visit in the park. Pirates of the Caribbean, It's A Small World, and all of the other favorite rides from the actual park are part of the game. It is as close as you can come to an actual visit without traveling there.

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Using the game as a basis, I planned a unit for my students to "go on vacation" while learning and using a variety of standards based language arts, math, and geography skills! Working collaboratively in small groups, representing families, the students used the internet to research and develop a plan for taking a trip to Disneyland. In an authentic planning experience, the students learned to read informational text, evaluate information, and make informed decisions. They learned map skills, using online travel maps and maps of the park. Math and personal financial literacy skills grew as the kids learned to use calculators, to work with large numbers, and realized that vacations require long term goal setting and saving. There were plenty of opportunities to practice writing skills as well, as they created travel brochures, journals, and postcards for the trip. 

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Posted by on in Education Technology
google2
One of my colleagues recently got the position in a new school. This got me thinking, in a school with no prior practices and protocols, how could something like Google Apps for Education help:

Sharing Work

On a basic level, Google Apps provides an easy way for students to share work. As I have written about before, Google takes away the problem of collecting all the workbooks on a Friday afternoon, only to find that the one student whose work you were desperate to check has failed to hand their book in. In addition to this, students are then able to share and collaborate with each other. In support of this, platforms such as Google Classroom, Google Vault and Hapara allow you to streamline the process even more by providing teachers with the means of keeping track of work even easier.

Formative and Summative Feedback

Another benefit of staff and students working with Google is ability to engage with multiple points of feedback. In my experience, students often receive feedback and have little means of following up. Using comments in Google not only allows you to provide more timely feedback, but it also means that students can easily follow up with any questions that they may have in response. In addition to comments, Google Forms provides a powerful means of checking in with staff, students and parents on any number of topics. For more ideas, see Anthony Speranza's presentation.

Curriculum Planners

One of the common problems associated with curriculum planners is who has the most up to date copy. In the past, such documents have been housed on school share drives, while the modern trend has been to move them to clouds sites like Dropbox. Although both of these solutions work, they restrict collaboration (I don't count five teachers sitting at an interactive whiteboard as collaborative.) Sharing documents and assessment trackers with Google not only means that anyone can properly collaborate during planning, but it also means that people can add further comments at a later stage. This subsequently allows such documents to live and breathe, rather than be static creations lost in time.

Curating Resources

Whatever the purpose, whether it be booking resources, broadcasting daily absences, providing a repository for various resources, such as forward planning documents, or simply providing a central collection point for curriculum and assessment documents, Sites provides the means for connecting everything together. The best thing is that such spaces are completely open to make it what you want. You could have a whole school space or just a space for a specific class. The choice is yours.

Portfolios

Whether it be embedding a range of media within Sites or putting different pieces of work in Slides, Google offers a range of ways to easily create learning portfolios. What is also great is that staff and students can add comments or content to them at any time. For more ideas, Anthony Speranza's presentation.

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