Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Educreations

I've recently switched to the Educreations app as my primary screencasting app for my students to create screencasts.  Educreations is a FREE app and has, by far, the best writing style of any of the whiteboard apps that I've seen in terms of writing accuracy and colors.  It is also very easy to upload images (such as graph paper for math) to notate on from DropBox or the photo library.
I also like how easy it is, as a teacher, to watch my students' screencasts.  With a little help from other teachers over Twitter (thanks @gregkulowiec and @MsMagiera) I determined the easiest way to set up Educreations on my student ipads was to have my teacher account logged in on all of the iPads.  Then, I taught my students a uniform naming convention for their videos, which are all uploaded to my teacher account so that I knew who submitted each video.  I then can watch the videos from my computer and/or project or post their videos for other students to see!  So far, it has been very slick!
I think a fair barometer of technology in the classroom is to measure whether it allows students to demonstrate understanding, create meaning, extend learning, and/or to create something that can be used in the future.  Using screencasting seems like an outstanding way to reach these goals!  I also love the metacognition that occurs for students as they work through the problems (I ask them to narrate as though they were teaching someone who missed class the day we covered the problem they are working).
Below are 2 examples of screencasts my algebra students created.  In class today, my students were to select 2 problems they missed on a recent test and correct their mistake(s) using the Educreations app to demonstrate their understanding and correct their mistake:




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Using Google Forms With Students

I've been using google forms for the past few weeks in my classroom by having my students reflect on their iPad experince.  I've had them fill out this form after they've used an iPad in class.  I have LOVED how efficient it has been to get information from my students as well as the ease of reading their input.  Here's a sample of my student responses to the ipad reflection form:
What an easy and fast way to have students reflect on their iPad work and provide some metacognition on their learning!
I also made a shortcut to the google form (which is linked on my class webpage) on each of my student iPads that sends them directly to the google form.  I then put that shortcut in the dock of each iPad, so they have easy access:


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life is an Open Phone Test


I was struck, in a positive way, today by reading Will Richardson's response in a NYT article about how teachers are using technology and social media in the classroom.  Will's narrative reads:
Will Richardson:Let’s face it: For my children and for millions like them, life will be an open phone test. They are among the first generation who will carry access to the sum of human knowledge and literally billions of potential teachers in their pockets. They will use that access on a daily basis to connect, create and, most important, to learn in ways that most of us can scarcely imagine. Given that reality, shouldn’t we be teaching our students how to use mobile devices well?
Life as an open phone test--certainly the way that I live my life.  If I need to solve any problem (from the store hours of Best Buy, to making reservations at a restaurant, to finding the correct spelling of a word, to finding any historical fact), I can generally find the answer within a few minutes by utilizing my smartphone.  And, as Will points out, this reality will only grow, and the kids in our classrooms are already innately native to this information gathering technique.

So, how do we, as schools, move towards this model of responsible phone use?  Are there any schools out there who have models of responsible smartphone use where students are encouraged to use their phones for learning experiences as opposed to the more "neanderthal" uses (texting, gaming, etc.) that so many schools fear?  How will this look in the future in 21st century schools?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Explain Everything

I've been playing with the Explain Everything app over our winter break and like it!  It is one of several screencasting apps that provide a whiteboard  with recordable audio.  It also comes with the option of importing a picture.  Being a math teacher, I naturally imported a jpeg of graph paper from DropBox, and was pleased the function.  I probably won't load these on my student iPad's (as it costs $2.99 and there are several other free apps such as ScreenChomp, ShowMe, or Educreations that are great), but plan on using this app to create my own screencasts for some flipped lessons.  See my full review here
Some other features I like about Explain Everything:
*The ability to zoom in and out of your whiteboard
*The laser pointer--good to use while narrating
*Easy coordination with DropBox
*Easy posting to YouTube