Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Peer Classroom Visits: HS teachers visit Millstone River!

On Wednesday, December 16th, high school teachers came over to Millstone River School for classroom visits. We came over for the opportunity to see what students at this level are working on. We were also curious to see how various technology resources are being used by students at this young age.

We started out our morning with a discussion about this practice as a form of professional development and how powerful it is to step outside of our own classrooms, content areas, and grade levels. There is so much we can learn from one another! Then, Laura Agnella shared some of the technology resources that the 5th grade teachers are working with and we discussed how they could be incorporated at the high school level. Then, we went off and visited the classrooms to see the students in action. It was a very productive and inspiring day for all of us!

Thank you again to all of the Millstone River teachers who opened up their classes and invited us in.



Here are some of the day's takeaways:

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My decision to participate was based on my desire to visit the elementary schools and get a taste of what my students in the Youth Teaching Youth program experience during their field placements.  I entered Millstone River with that thought in mind; however I gained so much more.  I left the building inspired, motivated, encouraged, and actually more relaxed, particularly regarding technology and the use of it in the classroom.  Not only was there an informative Google “workshop” in the Library at the start of the day, in each classroom visited the  students were actively involved and then willing to explain to their guests how their devices are used for various educational purposes.  Their enthusiasm was exciting and contagious!  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this experience and extend my thanks to the teachers and students at Millstone who so graciously opened their classrooms to visitors that day and the colleagues who designed it to be such a rewarding day. 
(Dawn Bozian, Life Skills, HSS)

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Entering someone else’s world (classroom) opens up a whole new set of possibilities for my world (class). You are exposed to new ideas and concepts that Pinterest just can’t capture.  You also get to see how these pedagogical approaches impact both student and teacher alike.  Visiting other people's classes (especially different grades and subjects) should be required PD hours for every teacher.  

Seeing the foundations of technology literacy in our students is an amazing process.  The ease with which students are able to interact with both the technology and each other is a sight to see.  Neither exists without the other.  Incorporating technology at such a young age is always a concern.  Will they interact with the technology but lose the ability to interact with one another?  Do they have too much access to information that we needs to be filtered?  And the list goes on.  A brief trip to the elementary school quickly alleviates those concerns.  The technology is woven into all aspects of the classroom and gives students the autonomy to use the technology when they feel it is appropriate, but not to limit them when they feel other methods will be more effective.  I hope that all classes are using technology as effectively as the ones that I witnessed on my recent visit. 
(Bob Corriveau, Science, HSN) 

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At the end of our morning "Tech Share" before our classroom visits, Melissa and Laura told us that they hoped we'd have a productive day.  My day was already productive because of the thoughtful presentation Laura prepared for us on technology resources.  In addition, the benefits of visiting other classrooms are many. . . from observing how other teachers utilize technology and motivate their students to making connections with colleagues that extend beyond grade level and discipline area. Other than what I learned during the brief morning I spent at Millstone, I now also have colleagues that have offered to share further insight and resources.  I welcome more opportunities like this one, and am happy to open my classroom as well.  
(Beth Pandolpho, Language Arts, HSS)

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After attending the professional development day on utilizing chrome books and Google Classroom at MRS, I realized that we as educators have a proactive say when it comes to the major technologies that are being established within our district. This professional work shop provided me with helpful instructional strategies/ resources that I could incorporate into my daily lesson plans.

I would definitely sign up for this professional development again! A big thank goes out to the MRS staff that allowed us to come into their classrooms!  
(Christine Fityere, Special Services, CMS and HSN)


Monday, December 21, 2015

Hathi Trust Digital Library from Mike Garzio

This post is from Mike Garzio, Social Studies teacher at High School South

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On our recent trip to the New York Public Library, the librarian turned the kids on to this great website www.hathitrust.org/home.

In 2002 google started the Google books project. It was a modest endeavor to digitize all of the world’s knowledge. So they went to 60 of the biggest and best University and Public research libraries in the US, Canada, and Europe and started scanning all of their materials into digital format. Some in the academic community started to wonder what would happen to this resource if Google were to be bought out or go out of business. 

In 2008 HathiTrust was founded to expand on that idea. It is a partnership between 60 different research libraries to easily archive and access this digital content. It includes copyright and public domain materials digitized by Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and the partnerships own efforts. Anything published prior to 1922 is available in full text. Anything still under copyright has been cataloged but not available in full text and can probably be found in circulation somewhere.

In short; almost any book and some journal content published prior to 1922 has been placed in this catalog and is available through an easy to use search function, in full text, for free. The link below is a list of all the HathiTrust partner libraries. It’s an impressive list.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Multicultural Studies class is exploring what it means to COEXIST from Joe Bossio

This post is from Joe Bossio, social studies teacher at High School North

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We’ve spent the better part of the month close reading primary sources from the Teaching Tolerance website section called “Perspectives” (http://perspectives.tolerance.org/)

For this unit, our focus has been religion, but we felt it was important to broaden it to include secular belief systems as well, so students as individuals and small groups researched and gave multimedia presentations in class. The aim was to identify “points of contact” among the various ideologies. Taoism, US Military Institutions’ Codes of Conduct, Hinduism, Christianity, and yes, even Jediism, were among those presented.

When circumstances and subject matter allow for a visual presentation, we utilize a bulletin board that was graciously set up by HSN building administrators for the Multicultural Studies classes to use. Previous board topics included “Breaking Through the Wall of Stereotypes” and “The World Makes, North Takes.” Time permitting, we document the making the boards though photos and videos.

We also conclude each unit with an academic discussion along the lines of a Harkness Table arrangement. Students are required to do additional research beyond the provided sources. In this case, the prompts for the discussion are the following:
  • Do religions do more to unite or divide people in society?
  • Where would morality come from without religion?
  • Does any one religion have a monopoly on extremism?
  • Do religious moderates have an obligation to speak out against extremists?

Click Here to watch the full video of the bulletin board being put together (filmed on an iPhone and edited with Magisto).


-Joe 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

CMS Take Apart Day 2015

On Friday, December 4th, students in the PRISM Program had a 'Take Apart Day'.  They brought in items to explore by deconstructing them to see what makes them tick, so to say.  As they take the items apart, not through destructive means (even though that was tempting), they arranged all the pieces for a photo.  That photo became the background of a ThingLink image which then included text, images, videos, &/or websites.  Below are a couple photos from the event as well as one team's ThingLink.  If you would like to view more, check out their blog post: Room 814. Makers. Movers. Shakers.

Students taking apart a camera

Students taking apart a digital watch

Students' ThingLink for taken apart motorized truck: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/731869658864418817

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Use templates to create files in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides mobile apps

Posted: 15 Dec 2015 02:23 PM PST
Templates allow you to quickly and easily create files with specific purposes—for instance, you can pull together a project proposal in Google Docs, an invoice in Google Sheets, or a case study in Google Slides without spending unnecessary time or resources on formatting. In September, we launched templates in Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web; today, we’re rolling out that same functionality for their corresponding Android and iOS apps.

Starting now, when you go to create a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation on your Android or iOS device (by clicking the red “+” button in the bottom right corner of your screen), you’ll be given the option to choose a template. These templates will be the same as those available to you in Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web, including a meeting agenda, pitch deck, expense report, and more.



Focus on your content, not your formatting. Check out the Help Center article below for more information on getting started with templates.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace:

Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

Monday, December 14, 2015

View functions in Google Sheets in your preferred language

Posted: 14 Dec 2015 02:22 PM PST
Employees across the world use Google Sheets. Starting today, any user whose preferred language is set to English or one of 21 additional, supported languages will see functions in Sheets on the web and mobile in that preferred language. (Please note that some specific functions will continue to appear in English only—even if the user’s preferred language is supported.)
Localized Functions.png
Following this launch, new Sheets users will see functions in their preferred language if that language is supported. Any existing Sheets user whose preferred language is supported will be given an option in Sheets on the web to keep their functions in English or to show them in their preferred language. If they choose the latter, they can switch back to English at any time by selecting Always use English function names under Spreadsheet settings in the File menu.
Localized Functions 2.png
Check out the Change a spreadsheet's locale, time zone, recalculation, and language Help Center article for a list of supported languages, as well as the additional articles below for more information.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming on January 11th, 2016

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Easier account syncing with the latest version of the Google Calendar app for Android

Posted: 10 Dec 2015 09:01 AM PST
When you’re on the go, you need your calendar events to be up to date. Now, the latest version of the Google Calendar app for Android makes it easy for you to see whether your accounts are properly syncing, and quickly fix them if they aren't.
calendar-account-sync.gif
If sync is turned off for any of your accounts, you'll see the message “Enable sync” in the left side Menu. When you see this message, click on your account's email address to turn sync back on.

If you're still having problems syncing your events, check out the sync troubleshooting help page.

Launch Details
Release track:  
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace: 
Full rollout (1-3 days for feature visibility)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Better search experience in Google Drive

Posted: 09 Dec 2015 01:49 PM PST
When you store important files in Google Drive they’re not only safe, they’re accessible from any device. Finding these files again from any device should be super easy, so we’re rolling out a new search experience to get you better results — even faster.

Drive lets you search across all your files, regardless of the device they came from. To make that easier, you can use these new ways to find your files:
§ Narrow your search to a file type from the search box on Android, iOS, and the web.
§ Open advanced search instantly from the search box.
§ Access recent files or search Drive from the home screen using 3D Touch on iOS. 
§ Search Drive using the iOS search bar without opening the Drive app.

Several behind-the-scenes improvements give your search queries even better results than they did before. And to get more specific results, anyone can now do the following:
§ Search for shared files by file owner using their name or email address.
§ Use advanced search options like the date a file was modified, words it contains, or who it was shared with.

This is all part of an ongoing effort to make Drive the easiest place to find your files. See below for the specific rollout details.

Launch Details
Release track:  
- Android and iOS features launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release
- Web changes launching to Rapid release, with Scheduled release coming in early January (monitor the launch calendar for specific date)

Rollout pace: 
Gradual rollout (potentially longer than 3 days for feature visibility)

Impact: 
All end users

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What the Tech? Conferring

Google Search by Reading Level

Here's a great tip from GMS IRLA teacher Peter Shaughnessy:

Did you know that you can conduct a Google search by reading level? See below for a step by step guide, from the original Teach Thought blog post, How to Google Search by Reading Level

What's your favorite tip or trick?



How To Google Search By Reading Level
1. First, choose a term and Google it as you always have, whether you’re looking for a copyright-free version of Moby Dick, or an analysis of Moby Dick by a certain reading level.
google-search-by-reading-level
2. From the results page, scroll to the bottom and click on “Advanced Search.”
google-search-by-reading-level-4

3. Within the Advanced Search options, you can choose whether or not you want to annotate the search results with reading level, or filter the search results by reading level (Basic, Intermediate, or Advanced).
google-search-by-reading-level-2
4. After you select an option, click ‘Advanced Search to display the modified search results. Next, click “Advanced Search,” scroll to the bottom, and filter results by reading level.
Once the filtered results show, you’ll notice a bar graph display at the top of the search results quantifying the search results by reading level (e.g., 35% Basic, 46% Intermediate, 19% Advanced). This is a nice opportunity to make some inferences about your search term or the publishing nature of media around that term as well.
google-search-by-reading-level-3

For more great ideas from Teach Thought, check out 30 Innovative Ways to Use Google in Education

Timely Feedback When Submitting a Google Form in Eighth Grade

This week we have a guest post from Lisa Sacca, 8th Grade Science at CMS. 

     For the past month or so I've been using Google Form "Checkpoints" with the formMule add-on that Dan Gallagher showed me.  He created the first one after I expressed interest in getting and recording feedback electronically. If you are interested in form-atively assessing your students, having the data compiled in one place, and giving the students immediate feedback (regardless of where they are), then this is perfect.  

     In science, we are currently in the chemistry unit and I tried this several times with recognizing types of reactions, counting atoms, and balancing reactions and have continued to use it for pH.  All you need to do is write one big idea question and push it out in a Google form.  In the results sheet there is the formMule formula that sends the students an immediate email based on their response -- "Congrats" or maybe "Unfortunately your answer was not correct, here is some extra practice".  In those emails you can also include your own links.  I like to make my own screencasts and send those links.  But I have also taken a picture of my work and hyperlinked it, used an online video, or even a link to a website or web page.

     It is a great way for the students to know "ok, this is what I should be able to do now" and they know right away and can get the answer or help right away.

I have asked my students how they feel about it and here are some of the things they have said:

"I keep submitting because I love the 'CORRECT' email"

"I keep trying until I get it right"

"I like knowing as soon as I hit submit"

"I do these from my phone, it's easier"

and finally the best one...
"I like that only me and the teacher know how I did on it and I don't have to ask about it in front of the whole class"

I definitely recommend you try this!!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Add to-dos to Google Calendar using Reminders

Posted: 07 Dec 2015 09:13 AM PST
Calendars are great for keeping track of what's next and to-dos are great for keeping track of what needs to get done. But we often manage them separately, so it's hard to see everything that’s going on and prioritize what's important.

Starting today, people using the Google Calendar Android and iOS apps can now create Reminders to keep track of their to-dos alongside their events. Here’s how it works:

Reminders help with the details
Reminders can be created the same way as an event
by tapping the red Create icon (“+”) in the bottom right corner of the screen. Calendar can then add things like phone numbers and addresses automaticallyusing information from your contacts, as well as Google's knowledge graph, to provide a bit of extra help.

Reminders stick around
While events come and go, Reminders stick with you over time so you can track them until they are actually done. If a Reminder isn't completed, it will appear at the top of your Calendar the next day. And all it takes is a quick swipe when you're done.
13_Swipe.gif

Reminders work across Google
In addition to Calendar, you can add and view Reminders from a variety of Google apps: Inbox by Gmail (for any Apps customers in the early adopter program), Google Keep and Google Now. This makes it easy to add a Reminder to your Calendar when you're checking your email or only have time to create a quick note.

People can start creating Reminders today with the latest versions of Calendar on Google Play and the App Store. And don't worry, we're working on bringing Reminders to the web too.

Check out the Help Center for more information.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Rollout pace: 
Full rollout (1-3 days for feature visibility)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Getting Started with Google Drawing from Bryan Fisher

This post is from Bryan Fisher, social studies teacher at High School South


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Students have been using Google Drawing to create illustrated review sheets and group projects in my social studies classes. So far it’s been well received by the students. When I introduced it, they all just went to the program and began working!

Student example #1:  Making note-taking more personalized with symbols, arrows, and images.
Student example #2:  Reviewing concepts in social studies with Google Drawing.
We have only used it a few times, but I am interested in learning more about the program for the future. In the future, I think we might try to use Google Drawing for other tasks like making timelines and graphic organizers.

~Bryan
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Resources for using Google Drawings:




Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Structuring Lessons that Allow for Student Choice from Alison Eitel

This post is from Alison Eitel, language arts teacher at High School South

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Students in the driver's seat:
Students choose the output option that best reflects their new learning.
NEW UNDERSTANDINGS
As an English teacher, I am constantly having to make decisions about what I will teach, and what I will leave out.  There is simply not enough time to say everything there is to say about a text in the time allotted.  This was no different for my unit on The Crucible.  As we finished reading the play in LA II Honors, I bemoaned all that my class had not had time to explore together.  But my students are bright and motivated, and I wanted to give them a chance to reach some self-directed, deeper understandings of the text on their own, without large class instruction. 

For their final assessment, I devised a group project in which they would be able to a) complete a supplementary reading dealing one facet of the text, b) discuss the reading with a small group, c) reexamine The Crucible through this new lens, and d) create a "new text" synthesizing themes and ideas for both their article and The Crucible.  This "new text" would demonstrate their developed understanding of the play and I hoped would be a format to share with and engage the larger class.

...and students research digitally. 
Students research in print...
SUPPORTING STUDENTS' CHOICES 
I provided each group with a selection of supplementary articles to choose from based on their collective interest.  This would be their “input.”  I also gave them a list of genres to consider for their ‘output.”  The list included:

  • a simulation of a Time magazine
  • a tabloid
  • a newscast
  • a digital archive
  • or a character blog. 
I conferenced with groups individually to ensure they were digesting the articles and moving forward in their knowledge of the texts.  

Once they had some new understandings of both their article and The Crucible, I encouraged them to think about which genre might best frame their ideas and to select a format for their output that they were already somewhat experts in.  (This way they would be able to filter their new understanding into a familiar format, and I didn’t have to teach into these genres too much.)  Nonetheless, I did require them to examine real-life versions of  these genres--Time editions, blogs, and tabloids-- in order to accurately simulate this genre.

Students work in Google Docs to collaboratively
plan their projects. 
FINAL PROJECTS
For the final product, students presented their new texts to the class and shared their new understanding.  Students were encouraged to think of how they might not just tell the class what they did, but actually teach the class about their new understanding, inviting their classmates to share in their new knowledge.  Many of the projects were quite impressive, as the students used their individual creative strengths to communicate their new learning.  I saw everything from:

  • live newscasts at the scene of the witch trials 
  • twitter feeds featuring Abigail Williams stalking John Proctor
  • Proctor as Time Magazine's "Tragic Hero of the Year." 
The students had a lot of fun creating these new texts and exploring The Crucible in a new way.

This is my second year doing this project, and this year I made several changes to guide the students along.  It is still far from perfect, and I have a host of ideas for revising next year.  But overall, students responded positively to both the freedom to pursue their groups' interests and the creative choice.  We all agreed that it was an authentic assessment of their learning, and it was a lot of fun! 

~Alison 

AN EXAMPLE OF STUDENT WORK: