Prospecting For Treasure

Always prospecting for the next treasure of an idea.

Blogging Through the New School Year

My school district has adopted Journeys by Houghton Mifflin as our new reading books. The little crates below are from our previous book, which was Houghton Mifflin Reading.

This week is registration at school.  I haven’t been in to work on my classroom, because our custodians are still cleaning and waxing, but I will be going on Monday.  When I do go in, these boxes holding our new reading materials are waiting for me.   The last week in July is usually about the time that I begin my gradual transition into thinking school thoughts and  beginning work on school projects.  This year I did not work a summer job, so I’m feeling more ready than other years to get started again.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eager to give up those extra hours of sleep in the morning or the leisurely cup of tea that I get to enjoy this time of year, but I miss the kids, and I like being in my classroom.

July is always a time that I re-evaluate how I’m spending my time and money, what has worked effectively, and what needs more improvement.  One of those areas needing improvement is the ways that I’ve been using technology.  I want to consolidate and improve my blogging, both for me professionally, and for my students.

Last year I had a class website, a class blog on Blogger, two class wikis, and all my students also had blogs on KidBlog.  This was too much, and it really became unmanagable.  This summer I have revamped our class website, and next year we will use the blog attached to our Weebly website.  Our class website is here.  My kids will still use Kidblog, and writing on our blogs is going to be an important part of our daily work.

I also need to consolidate my professional blogs.  I love the way WordPress blogs looks, but I’ve been frustrated by how difficult it is to embed material in a post.  I’ve also had problems with school district filters and losing formatting of posts.  This year I am moving to a new blog, titled Day’s Class Notes.  It is on Blogger.  There’s nothing easier to use than Blogger, so hopefully that will help me to resolve some of these issues.  Please look for new posts there.  Here is a link:   http://daysclassnotes.blogspot.com/.  I hope to see you there.

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July 26, 2012 Posted by | Education, Technology | , | Leave a comment

Adding Photos to Your Classroom Blog or Website

For the past three years I have been participating in a photo a day project.  During 2010 and 2011 I was very faithful about it, and I posted a photo every day of the year.  This year my posting has been much more sporadic.  While photography is a personal hobby, I also use a lot of photos for school.  Last year we even had a classroom photographer who was responsible of taking photos and posting pictures on our class blog.  Using photos is a great way to share things that we are doing with parents and others at school.   They can see the projects and activities that we are doing, even if they don’t have time to come to school.

If you are going to use photos that include students, be sure to check out your school district’s policy on this.  Our parents sign a release at registration each year, but I take additional precautions by having parents sign a permission slip  just for my class.  I let them know how I might be using photographs, so they can be fully informed.

If I do post photos of students on either our class website, class blog, or my professional blog, I never put a name with a face.  Depending on how the photo will be used, I sometimes photograph students from the back or side, so they are not easily recognizable.  If a parent does not want their child’s photo included, I simply leave them out.

When you have 28 kids in a class, it’s hard to pick just one or two photos to share with parents.  For a big project like our castle project, I photograph each child with and without their castle.  Students may use the castle only photo on their own Kidblog.  I usually make an Animoto, which is a slide show set to music, to show all the castles and kids.  Here is our Castle Animoto for 2012.

Our Castles for 2012.

I have been having some fun experimenting with several on-line photo editors to create photo collages or mosaics.  This is a great way to share several photos at once.  My families and the kids seem to like this.

One of my favorites is Big Huge Labs.  This is the first website of this kind that I learned about.  This website has lots of ways you can use photos.  I have made mosaics.  You can also easily create motivational posters, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, and lots of other things.  This website is easy to use, so check it out. This mosaic of our Medieval Paper Doll Project was made on Big Huge Labs.

Photovisi is another Photo Collage maker.  It has some different layouts than Big Huge Labs.  You can also add different backgrounds. During the last few days of school, we used M&Ms for math. We sorted, graphed, and worked with fractions with our M & Ms. Here is a collage I made on Photovisi with some of those pictures.

Sometimes a photo doesn’t come out the way I would like.  There are several websites that allow you to edit or enhance photos.  One that I learned about recently is called iPiccy.  You can crop, change colors, add special effects, and add matting and frames.  This is a photo of the mastadon skeleton that I took on our field trip to the Iowa Historical Building.

Here is the photo after I have played with it a bit on iPiccy.

Funky Photo is a website for adding special effects.  It has less options than some of the others, but it is fun to play with.  This is one of my students at our Valentines Party.  He doesn’t usually look that. He has on a plastic mustache and lips.  His photo has been cartoonized on Funky Photo.

Recently I have been experimenting with a website called PicMonkey.  This website lets you edit photos, create collages and add special effects.  You can either upload photos, or there is a drag and drop option.  This collage of the flowers in my front yard was made on PicMonkey.  This website has lots of options.

Whether it’s for personal photos or school pictures, check out the possibilities with these websites.  They are fun to play with, and the photos add a lot to a classroom website or blog.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Education, Technology, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

End of Year Technology Survey for May 2011

School is officially out for the summer and my classroom is closed. Before the kids left for vacation, however, I had them participate in a survey about the technology we used in our classroom this year. I wanted to know how they felt about the projects and websites we used. To administer the survey I created a Google Form, which I embedded in our class wiki. Read about our survey and the projects they liked and did not like by visiting my blog, Day In the Classroom.  You can find it at http://dayintheclassroom.edublogs.org/.

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Making Our First Glogs

One of my goals for this school year was to learn how to make a Glog. I had heard about them, and seen a few, from others on Twitter, which is where I get most of my technology ideas. It took me a while to get around to doing it, though. I have been gradually working my way through the new Being a Writer materials. This is our first year with these materials. In March we began a new unit on writing non-fiction. The first project was to research and write about countries around the world. This seemed like the perfect place to try out the Glogs.

If you aren’t familiar with a Glog, it is an on-line poster. You create a Glog on the GlogsterEdu website. They can be embedded into wikis and blogs. As I read about GlogsterEdu from others in my PLN, I was very intrigued. With advice from others, I watched a couple YouTube videos to learn how to do this, and I created a sample poster to show to my students. I had the kids partner up to get things started, but ultimately each student made their own glog.

We started out with pencil and paper. We did our research by reading library books to learn about other countries. Students were able to choose whatever country they wanted, and several chose the same country. I created a organizational web so students could collect and organize their information before we moved to the computers.

When I began to look at the developing Glogs, I realized that some kids were into adding lots of unrelated animated graphics, but were not including much content. At this point I created a Making a Glog poster with my expectations and a checklist for students to use as they edited their work. Later, I used this checklist as a rubric to evaluate our finished Glogs.  Check out my file cabinet for PDFs of these documents.

This turned out to be a really wonderful project, and I was very impressed to see what the kids did with it. Their Glogs were way better than mine. They figured out how to find and embed photos and links in their Glogs. To make it easier for people to see our work, I created a wiki for this project and embedded all the Glogs. I also embedded the Glogs on each student’s Kidblog.

We had Core Knowledge Night, which is an open house type event, on May 5th. One of the problems with on-line projects is being able to display them for visitors to see. I set up three laptops with display boards. I also talked to the class about showing their work to their parents and other visitors. We had lots of people that took the time to see our work.

I will definitely be using Glogs in the future. The kids really enjoyed making them. It was a great way to demonstrate their learning. I also found that several students who often struggle academically really excelled with this project.

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

My First Technology Conference

This was everything I needed to attend my very first technology conference.

This summer, many of the people who I follow on Twitter have attended great technology conferences.  I’ve been jealous, as I’ve listened to them tweet about their experiences in Denver, Philadelphia, and lots of other places.  I am a classroom teacher in Iowa.  I don’t have a technology position, and although my principal is very supportive, there is no budget for me to travel to a conference. 

This past weekend, I finally got the opportunity to attend my very first technology conference, and it was completely unplanned.  In fact, I inadvertently wandered into my first session when I clicked on a link posted on Twitter.  I found myself listening to and seeing via webcam, Terry Freedman, an educator from the United Kingdom. 

That was the very first session that I attended at the 2010 Reform Symposium.  This was an international conference with people from 59 countries participating.  I was actually still in bed at the time, and it was possible for me to attend, because it was a free on-line conference, through the “magic” of Elluminate.

I have been exploring and using technology in my classroom for about a year now.  I have tried a lot of different things in that time, but I had never seen Elluminate before.  While others may take this for granted, I was so impressed by the fact that you didn’t just sit in your home and passively view these presentations, you participated in them; adding comments to the chat, voting, expressing opinions, and adding your thoughts to the whiteboard. 

I  attended Jerry Swiatek’s presentation, and listened to Tom Whitby and was inspired to involve my kids in sharing and teaching teachers and other students to blog and do other things we are learning to do..  On Sunday, that was reinforced by Monica Hardy and her students.

Sunday morning I got up in time to hear Kelly Hines, a teacher from North Carolina, who I have followed on Twitter for some time.  Her topic was “Tech in 10”, and was full of practical quick ideas, many of which were new to me.  I want to try the Fakebook, a template based on Facebook, to analyze a character or famous person from history. 

She talked about using Skype to connect with classes around the world, and she opened the discussion up to questions.  I raised my hand, by clicking a button, and found myself part of the conversation, when a microphone opened up to me, so I could ask my question.   This all took place while I was sitting on my couch, in my nightgown, sipping a cup of tea. I was a little unnerved at the time, but that was amazing.   This was one of my favorite presentations because there were so many quick easily do-able ideas to try.

Later that day, I was able to learn from Nick Provenzano, Paula White, and Tim Gwynn.

The downside to attending an on-line conference from your home, is that some sessions were interrupted by phone calls and other demands of daily life.  But today I was able to begin catching up on missed sessions through the archived presentations.  I’ve been able to view George Couros, Joan Young, Russ Goerend, and Nate Kogan in this manner. 

The quality of the presentations was excellent.  Most of the sessions that I attended had seventy to one hundred twenty  people taking part.  There were so many new ideas from people who are actually doing this stuff.  Many of the people presenting and participating in the sessions were people I “know” from Twitter.  It was fun to hear their voices, and learn more about their ideas.  For me, these people are the rock stars in the use of technology in education. 

Others have blogged about the high quality of the information shared, all of which is true.  I am also thrilled by the sheer awesomeness of this whole experience.  I am amazed that we have the technology to make this event possible.  I am so impressed by the vision, imagination and tireless work and dedication of Shell Terrell, Kelly Tenkely, Jason Bedell and Christopher Rogers who organized this whole thing.  It was one of the coolest things I have experienced in a long time, and right from my own living room.

August 2, 2010 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , | 12 Comments

Getting to Know the iPad

I have been a fan of my netbooks since I got one a year ago. This summer I am learning to use the iPad. Which one is better?

Yesterday, on my photo blog, I posted a photo of my Acer Netbook and the iPad, with excerpts of this post. I immediately received responses on Twitter, so I decided it’s time to finish pulling this piece together and get on with it. 

My school purchased a ten pack of iPads to be used in the classroom, and we received them just days before school was dismissed for summer vacation.  I checked one out for the summer, and I have been trying to work with it as much as possible.  A friend told me that I would fall in love with it the moment I touched it, and I want to love it, but I just don’t yet. Frustration has prevented that from happening. 

I love the ease of carrying it with me. It is thinner and even more lightweight than my little Acer netbooks, so it can easily slip into my bag.  At this point in time, however, I still find my netbooks much easier to negotiate. The familiar is always easier, so I have forced myself to use the iPad, and through use, things are definitely getting easier.  I still have some serious concerns, however, about its adaptability to the academic tasks I need it to do

For classroom projects, I often place shortcuts on the desktop to make things easier for the kids and myself. You can put shortcuts on the desktop with the iPad, and it appears that we could use it to write on our blogs at Kidblog.org.  Some of the websites we like to use, however, like Storybird, require flash and do not work on the iPad. The Animotos on our class wiki do not show up or work, and neither do some videos, however I have discovered that if you use the app for Animoto, you can view an Animoto.

I am struggling with logistics of making the iPads work with our other available equipment. How do you print from iPad if you don’t have a wireless printer?  We have Pages installed on them, which is a word processing app, and I wrote most of this blogpost using the iPad.  While this app does not have the number of options that more sophisticated word processing programs offer, my students would be unlikely to utilize those anyway.  I was able to e-mail the document to myself in a word format, and then open and save it to one of my other computers, where I can print it.  This isn’t, however,  an easy or practical way to handle documents written by 29 students.  I’m also concerned that It does seem kind of sensitive, and I found myself ending up places that I hadn’t intended.  I am worried about students losing the work that they have spent time writing.

I thought that maybe using Google Docs would be a better idea, but I discovered that while you can open and view a Google doc, you cannot edit it or create a new one.  

If I put a Word document in dropbox, will I be able to work on it on the iPad?  I am excited that I can download an app for dropbox.com on it. That would enable me to make photos and other documents available for kids to use.   But first I have to convince my school district to unblock dropbox.

I do think additional apps will add to the usability. Since it does not belong to me, I have to have permission to add apps and download books onto it.  I am trying to select apps that support our academic goals.  I am planning to add the following:

  1. Multiplication by Sierra Skyware, Inc
  2. Math Master by Tapware
  3. Math Quizzer
  4. School Notes Pro
  5. Textropolis
  6. Spell & Listen
  7. Popmath Basic Math by popsoft
  8. Monster Mix and Match, by Critical Matter
  9. Things for Ipad

 

You can read more about these apps by reading: 

FREE iPad Apps for Educators and Parents

40 Amazing Ipad Apps for Kids

20 Amazing Ipad Apps for Educators

And thank you very much to Joe Fahs,( @Mpondo on Twitter) and other members of my PLN who shared these with me.

I do enjoy reading my Google Reader on the iPad, and if I had any good books downloaded to it, I’m sure I would enjoy that.  One thing I can tell you.  Even though I may have mixed feelings about the iPad, the kids will love it.  Twice now I have had people approach me at Caribou Coffee, my favorite hangout, and ask about my iPad.  I put it in the hands of a fifth grade girl who came over with her mom, and she absolutely lit up.

I’m writing at Caribou Coffee right now.  When I was deciding which computer to bring with me, I settled on my Acer Netbook.  I knew it would be easier to write, edit, and add photos and links.  So I’m still not in love with the iPad.  I’m having fun with it, and it’s okay as a supplemental computer, but it certainly isn’t the most versatile one that I own.

In the photo above, the design you see on the iPad was made using the Glow Doodle app.  This is one that I know the kids will like.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Kids Present Their StoryJumper Stories

Each student presented and read their StoryJumper story to the class.

Tuesday was our last full day of school, so that was the day for the kids to present and read their StoryJumper stories to the class.  I wrote about writing with StoryJumper in an earlier post.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out.  Everyone had been very excited and interested in creating these books, but there was also a lot of talking, which isn’t surprising during the last three weeks of school.  In fact, there was so much talking, that when I had checked on their progress about a week before, I was disappointed to see that most weren’t very far along.

Each person presented and read their StoryJumper book out loud to the class using the digital presenter. By the time the first three kids had presented their book, I was on the phone calling my principal to see if she had time to come up to see what they had done.  She is in our rooms frequently throughout the day, so she had been checking on their progress throughout the writing process.

Many of the kids were not finished, which is okay, because they can continue working on their books during the summer.  Even so, they had pages of writing, with illustrations to enhance their story.  My little authors really knocked my socks off.  Their stories were interesting, with good plot lines.  In fact they were interesting enough to hold the attention of the class while all 24 people presented.  Our Special Ed teacher, with whom I collaborate, pointed out that if we had asked the kids to write a five  hundred word story, they would have had a fit, but that’s really what they did, and they had a ball doing it.

We decided that next year we will devote some time to letting the class explore the mechanics of creating illustrations using the backgrounds and props, before they actually begin their books.  Creating their illustrations took much longer than I anticipated.  At the risk of thwarting their creativity, we may also talk about how to select backgrounds and font size so that the pages can be more easily read.

I always do a lot of writing with my students, but this year we have definitely surpassed anything I have done before, and that is largely because of the technology that we have explored and utilized.  We’ve written comments on our class wiki.  We’ve used Wallwisher, Storybird, KidBlogs, and now StoryJumper.  It has particularly made a difference for my struggling writers.  Using the computer removes any roadblocks caused by the physical act of writing.  It also makes reading their work so much easier.  This was apparent when every single student, including those with writing IEPs were able to read their StoryJumper book aloud to the class.  Is their writing perfect?  Is every sentence capitalized and punctuated correctly? Are all words spelled right?   No.  But they are writing, and I couldn’t be more please with their progress.  We are definitely going to do this and more next year.  I will be introducing blogging and digital story writing much earlier in the school year.  Imagine what we can accomplish if we have all year to explore and grow!

June 12, 2010 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

My First Year of Teaching With Technology: Where Do We Go From Here?

It is the last week of school, and this is a great time for reflecting on and evaluating the new things I have tried in my fourth grade classroom this year .  It is also a  time for making plans for next year.  I am amazed by how much my teaching and personal life have been transformed by my venture into using technology in my classroom.  It all started last summer with an on-line technology class, Using the Internet in the Classroom, and has continued throughout the year with my continuing professional development via Twitter.  At the beginning of the year I was trying something new almost every week, to the point of exhaustion.  Since January I have continued to explore new resources and new ideas, but at a slightly slower pace. 
 
By far the best thing we have done this year is the blogging, which is interesting since that is where I began.  The way I’m utilizing blogs has changed greatly since last April when I set up my classroom blog, Ms. Day’s Fourth Grade.  Our very first blog post was last May, following our annual field trip to Living History Farms.  Keep in mind that prior to that, I did not know what a blog was, and I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach classroom blogging, but my goal has always been to keep the kids writing.  I started out by writing a question and having the kids respond through a comment.  This worked ok, but it didn’t keep my students’ writing at the forefront, and they had little flexibility in deciding what to write and therefore, little ownership.   At the beginning of second semester,  I began having the kids write as the  “Guest Blogger” on our class blog.  We were working on opinion pieces so they were to write on a topic they felt strongly about.  This worked for some kids, but not for others. 
 
Then I learned about Kidblog.org   and after spring break, every child began to have their own personal blog.  I have seen real improvement in their writing since we began this latest venture.  It has also been very gratifying to receive the feedback and support that we have, from their third grade teachers, parents, our principal, and members of my Twitter PLN.   The kids have been excited about their blogs, but I was really hoping,  that more kids would go on-line from home to write on their blogs, or that they would write additional posts when they had free time at the computer center.  I have had only two students do that. 
 
I know how I feel about the things we have done, but I’m not always sure how the kids really feel, so I decided to have the class complete a survey about the technology we have used this year.  I created it on a Googleform and embedded it in our ReadtheWeb Class Wiki.  That is something else I learned this year, and I blogged about it in my post, Using Google Docs to Create and Embed an On-line Quiz.   As I was getting ready to analyze the data, I clicked on summary, and accidentally learned it was already done for me.  I often learn by hit or miss.  I am so glad I decided to survey the class, because I have really enjoyed seeing what the kids have to say.

Students were asked to rate each website on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1=I didn't like it and 5=I loved it.

They have really liked the Kidblogs, Storybird, and StoryJumper.  When asked what was their favorite thing that we did involving technology this year, one student wrote, “I liked the StoryJumper the best, because I love to write and the StoryJumper brought out my best story yet.”  How could a teacher not love a statement like that. 
 

No doubt about it, they love our class wiki with all the links to games and other resources.

Our ReadtheWeb class wiki is very popular.  Our wiki has pages for different subject areas.  With the help of teachers on Twitter, I have collected links for math and language websites here.  When students do not have a specific assignment at the computer center, they may use the wiki to play games, which build reading and language skills.  We have a link to the wiki on our class website, so students can also go on from home.  Someone said, “I like the ReadtheWeb wiki, because I got to play fun games, and learn at the same time.”  
 
When asked “What did you learn this year about computers and/or the internet, that you didn’t know before?  One of my students said, “I learned that there are kids’ blogs.  I only knew about websites for adults only.” 
 

Our webquests were not nearly as popular.

Not nearly as popular were the webquests we did.  The kids have better memories of “Mountain Trek” which was our first technology experience, than they do of the American Revolution webquest.  One of the things I liked about a webquest was that it controlled where the kids went on the internet.  I felt that it kept them more accademically focused.    I asked the kids if they felt 4th graders were old enough to do their own research and find their own websites, because this is a direction that I think I will be going next year.  I am very interested in learning about Glogs, and having kids collaborate on Googledocs.  I have seen examples of these from other teachers on Twitter, some from kids younger than mine.   I am thinking about having kids take more control of their research. 
 
One student responded with, “Yes, because there are some things that we cannot find on the websites you give us.”  Another said, “Yes, because if they do that they will not be bored, plus they will learn more, also.”  
 
Next year I want to do more in the way of  teaching actual computer skills;  helping kids to learn how to use search engines, upload photos, and add links to their blog posts.  I think all these things will make the things we do more personal and meaningful.  I think their Kidblogs could become a personal portfolio for each student.  It would be great to have kids present their work to parents at parent teacher conferences. 
 
When I asked the kids about what they have learned this year, someone said, “I learned how annoying technology can be sometimes.  But it can also be fun, if it works correctly.” 
 
Boy, isn’t that the truth!  We have three aging Dell desktops, an ancient Dell laptop, and five — year old HP laptops for 24 kids.  Next year I will have 29 students.  I am concerned about how to make this work with five more kids. One of the laptops is designated for a special needs child who will be in 5th grade next year, so there will be one less computer.   This cart of laptops is actually for the entire school, but they have been housed  in my room most of the time, since only one other teacher has shown any interest in using technology.  While I keep sharing the things I am learning with my colleagues, I also worry what will happen if anyone else on staff gets the technology bug.
 
My school has just aquired ten new IPads.  One of my projects this summer will be learning how to use them.  We can have a lot of fun with those.   But I’m wondering if any of the other teachers will be interested.  It would be fun having someone to share ideas with face to face, but with such limited resources, it would be hard to do the things I have done this year if I had less access to the equipment.  
While equipment concerns are sometimes frustrating, I have learned that once you start on this technology trail, there’s no turning back.  For me personally, incorporating these new ideas into my classroom has revitalized my teaching.  I am excited about the things we are doing and learning, and I know I communicate that enthusiasm to my students.  So many times this year I have begun lessons with the words “I want to show you something  I just learned.  It’s really cool . .”   So no matter how many kids we have, and how little equipment, somehow I’ll make it work.  There’s no stopping now!
 
 
 

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Creative Writing With StoryJumper

After bringing our Medieval History unit to a close, and following our big celebration of Core Knowledge Night, I needed to do something to excite and hold the interest of my students during the remaining four weeks of school.  Earlier this year we wrote digital books on StoryBird.com and they had a ball!  It’s a great website, but I was less than satisfied with the quality of my students’ writing.  They loved dragging the photos into place, but their stories seemed to be a matter of drag a picture, write a sentence, drag a picture, write a sentence.  I wanted their books to be more story centered, and less illustration centered.  After blogging about our experience with Storybird,  Blake Williams, one of the co-founders of StoryJumper, contacted me and told me about StoryJumper.com.  StoryJumper.com  is a creative writing and book publishing website for kids.  It allows anyone to create and publish a kid’s book, both online and also in hardcover.
 

The StoryStarter Workbook can be printed off or downloaded to your computer as a PDF file.

One of the things I really like about StoryJumper is that there is a complete downloadable lesson plan for 7 step story creation.  This first time, I stuck pretty close to the lesson plan.  There were lots of chuckles from the class as I revealed the lists of possibilities for character building, setting, and plot structure ideas. I can see lots of opportunities to use this 7 step plan with the class.  After they have learned how it works, we could build on the original plan and brainstorm possibilities of our own to get everyone thinking.

 
I also like the prewriting that is involved with this website, before we ever get to the computers.  This seems to work better with my class, not only because the quality of their writing is improved, but we also have only nine computers to work with.  This way I can rotate my authors through the computer centers, while others are still working on their first drafts at their desks.
 
StoryJumper lets you set up an on-line class and assigns screen names to the students, which adds to security.  The teacher can decide whether to permit home access to the stories.  If you choose home access, you can print off a note to go home with each student, that provides information about accessing the website, as well as a password for the child to use from home.  All the teacher has to do is print off these notes.  It is already done for you.  To me, that is a really big plus.
 
After we had our writing under way, the website also provides step-by-step directions on how to build their story on the website.  There is a video available, but we had trouble getting that to work.  This may be due to the weak wireless internet in our building.  Our wireless internet was down on Thursday, and we struggled with it again on Friday.
 
Once the students are working on line, they select backgrounds, props, and use text boxes to add in their writing.  They can resize, rotate or flip scenes, props, and text boxes. They create a cover, dedication page, and can easily add and move between pages.  Your own photos can be uploaded and used as scenes or props. We aren’t doing this at this time, but that opens up a lot of possibilities for future projects. 
 
We are now six and a half days away from the end of the school year, and my class is totally engaged in this project.  I think that’s saying a lot.  Most of the problems we’ve encountered are due to the limitations of our aging equipment.  We’ve had some problems with writing showing up in places we didn’t want it, but kids are helping kids, and the project is going well.  I’m hoping we will have most of the story creation finished by the end of this week.  I want each child to have time to present their StoryJumper book to the class during that last two and a half days of school. 
 
Once the project is done you can decide who to share the book with.  It can be kept private, shared with friends and family, or submitted to be included in the StoryJumper public library.  For a reasonable fee, you or parents can also choose to have a hardcover book published.   This is a great website for the upper elementary student!

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments

Using Google Docs to Create and Embed an On-line Quiz

I am a Google Docs novice.  I just started using them about a month ago.  This week I learned how to create a quiz using Google Docs forms.  Then I embedded it in a page of our class wiki.  Many of you may be saying “Well, duh!,” but I didn’t know you could do this, and I think it is so cool. 
 
Once again this is something I learned through my ongoing professional development on Twitter.  I’m not even going to try to explain it to you, because I couldn’t possibly do it as well as Richard Byrne, (@rmbyrne on Twitter), on his blog, “Free Technology for Teachers”.  His post from Friday, January 29, 2010, How to Publish a Quiz Using Google Docs  explains it all.
You can create a quiz including multiple choice questions, essay, check lists, or a short line of text.  I found it easy to create the quiz and easy to embed it.  Once it was embedded, it was simple for my fourth graders to use.  
I tested it first, by taking the quiz myself.  This turned out to be a really good idea, because then my answers were posted first on the spreadsheet, and that gave me my answer key.  Your first question needs to be “Student Name” so you know whose work you are looking at.  All the answers that students give are displayed neatly on a spreadsheet.   
I really liked the spreadsheet.  It made it easy to analyze the questions that my students had difficulty with.  Now I know where reteaching is necessary.  When it came to grading the quiz, I found it easier to print off the spreadsheet.  Then it was very easy to correct the quiz and interpret the results.   There is also a date stamp, so you know when each student completed their work.  
 
Google Docs are so great for those of us who work on multiple computers.   Thanks, Richard Byrne, for teaching me something new!

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments