Thursday, November 19, 2015

TodaysMeet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Today’s Meet Meets the Socratic Seminar - Microblogging in a Digital Classroom

Written with Marissa Grodnick, NJH ELA Teacher - @marissagrod

I saw THE COOLEST thing last week. Coolest. Some teachers decided to take an in-class discussion (Socratic Seminar) and integrate the iPad, transforming the learning for their students. It was the best of all possible worlds, fusing some "yes" answers to Alan November's 6 Questions and the CLR strategies that we've been working to develop.

Above: An image from Alison Rubbelke's ELA7 class

"ELA 7 loves Socratic Seminars (student-run discussion analyzing high-level questions using proof from concepts and ideas learned in class) as summative assessments because they are student-centered, student-led, CLRT and graded on the spot--easy for teachers.  However, with a class of 25+, not everyone gets a chance to say what they want.  After doing a little digging, Alison Rubbelke and I discovered TodaysMeet as a possible new twist to our seminars.  

We revamped the Socratic Seminar into a fishbowl-style discussion with an inner circle orally discussing questions and an outer circle (backchannel) using TodaysMeet to comment on and discuss the inner circle's conversation.  

Above: An image from Marissa's "1st block ELA room" in TodaysMeet.

The day before:
Kids were given a Socratic Seminar prep sheet with guiding questions.  They had to come up with ideas and support them with quotes and examples from the texts we've read.  
Kids also did an exit card stating inner or outer preference for group set up

Create two even groups.
Login to TodaysMeet and create rooms for each block.  
Each room gets it's own url for kids to simply click and join. Make rooms open for as long as you want (I did one week so I could grade later and have inner circle kids read outer circle as part of reflection piece)

Above: Students were asked to provide evidence to support their opinions.

Day of:
Set up room with inner and outer circle.
Outer kids join TodaysMeet room--I just linked rooms to my moodle agenda--make sure they use real names.  Start conversation with asking one question, and let kids do the rest.

During & Grading:
I used a black spreadsheet to grade while listening.  I also glanced at TodaysMeet and added some helpful prompts or comments to keep them on track.  I let the discussion go for about 30 minutes.

Reflection.  Inner circle was asked to go and read outer circle comments as part of reflection.  Outer circle was asked to summarize and add some things they wish had been said or discussed."

Above: Another image from the backchannel discussion in TodaysMeet.  It helps for the teacher to check in and write prompts to encourage students to dig deeper.

TodaysMeet was super easy for kids to use and easy to set up.  It took less than 10 minutes of setup and kids were in immediately.  No login, no account, etc.  It also acts like twitter in that it is character limited--which makes kids concentrate on quality not quantity.  

Here’s the blog Learn it in 5’s quick how-to tutorial (a great site that allows you to either watch a short tutorial or read some quick info to help you get started including a brief synopsis, benefits, & drawbacks to the app).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pick kidPicker For Your Class

Written with Johannah Olson @olson_johannah, NJH Science Teacher

What is it and why should I try it?
KidPicker is super easy to run and use. Essentially, it's the digital version of the CLR popsicle sticks meaning I never have to "borrow" Beckman's tongue depressors ever again! However, it is important to note that unlike the analogue popsicle sticks where you pull a kid's name and set them to the side, this script is truly random in that it can (and will) re-pick the same kid immediately as they "go back into the bucket."

Andrew Stillman, author/creator, describes it as a web app (i.e. it's just a URL, no gallery installation) meant to ensure that within a given class period you don't call on the same student twice unless you've already called on every other student first.  Andrew Stillman kidPicker post on Google+

How to get started?
If you're a first time user start by collecting all your student's names (and blocks) in a Google Form - this makes it easy to copy and paste them into the pre-made spreadsheet the script spits out at you.

Next, open the kidPicker script URL

“Allow” kidPicker to run in your Drive account.

Now open the Sheet that was created.

For the final part of the setup, cut and paste the first and last names from the form you collected them on to the kidPicker sheet the script provides.  The spreadsheet given to you holds all of the classes that you have (it starts with two as the default) as tabs at the bottom - rename these to your class names and add pages as you need them.

How do I use it?
Go back to that script. Tip: Make it a bookmark so you have easy access when you’d like to use it for class.

Tap “pick next student” when you want a new name to pop up.  Easy-Peasy.

kidPicker Step 4.png

Bonus! Attach some formative assessment to this activity! Assign a score by pressing one of the buttons “1, 2, 3, or Absent”.  These button values get recorded on the spreadsheet, along with the date.  You don’t even have to use numbers - you can add words to the buttons too! Pretty cool.

(Interesting) Note: The script will only create a column in your sheet once per day, so if you want to record the button choices (1,2,3) and then later change the buttons to, say, “red, yellow, green” those words will be in the same column as the original number choices.

Questions?  Tweet Johannah to see how she's using it in her classes. @olson_johannah 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Doctopus is the new gClass?

...admittedly, I am perhaps the last to know.

I love(d) gClass Folders and how it ‘streamlined the workflow’ (obnoxious industry term) for teachers and students.  Are you new to both?  

In a nutshell:
gClassFolders is a free, Google-Spreadsheet-based add-on for Google Apps for EDU that creates class folders for students and teachers to simplify and streamline their experience of using Google's world class productivity and collaboration tools in the classroom.  source

My explanation:
gClass Folders was a script in Google Sheets that took the names & emails of your students and created folders for them.  If you had more than one class you could group the folders by class and prep, and if you had a co-teacher you could add them.  It created folders that allowed you to share docs with an entire class to view and/or edit.  It gave students a place to turn their work in & gave teachers an organized way to keep their students’ assignment folders.  No more worries about misnaming folders, docs or forgetting to share with the teacher(s).  It saved a lot of time in class.  Plus setting up the folders was easy & took only a few minutes.

Recently I had several teachers with new classes for semester 2 want to set up their gClass folders like they did last year and even this past Fall. We realized then that gClass Folders is a script that is no longer supported.

I understand that the movement is to Google Classroom, but Google Classroom isn't for everyone and there are teachers who love gClass and have been using it for over a year. It’s tough to change how you collect assignments (your workflow) in the middle of the year.

Enter Doctopus.  It’s the new gClass.  But better.

In a nutshell:
Doctopus makes it easier for teachers to share, organize, and assess student work in Google Drive.

Its tentacles copy and "hand out" Drive files to a roster of students, giving teachers full control over starter template, sharing configuration, folder organization and file naming, as well as full visibility over all work in progress -- including the ability to bulk revoke and revert student editing rights.

Created by a veteran teacher, Doctopus is built with teacher workflow in mind -- taming complexity and unlocking the power of Google Apps for differentiation and collaborative projects.  source

My explanation:
See everything above. AND here’s what makes it better: you can add an additional script called Goobric to assess student work.
Doctopus does much more than I'm writing about here - this post will explain how to use Doctopus like the gClass Folders script.
Doctopus was developed by Andrew Stillman who works with New Visions For Public Schools.  If you need more than my tips & images below --and you’re looking for tutorial videos-- please go to this aforementioned site; Jay Atwood did an amazing job explaining how to install the script step by step.

Tips for creating folders:
  • One class per sheet - they recommend using a single class - no more than 40 - per sheet
  • What you “name your roster” is what you’ll call your class (e.g., Life Science 1B) & will be on all of the folders
  • Click & unclick “Create Class Folders” to move forward and see what your folders will look like - it must be a temporary glitch in the script

  • You can stop here; you only need to do steps 1&2 to create folders for kids to turn assignments in - the additional steps are directions for how you want Doctopus to distribute documents to all of your students.  Since this isn’t how most of us have students get worksheets for class (we generally use Moodle or a website & link assignments there) you can click the “x” in the upper corner and close out.  However - if you have a co-teacher you’ll add them in Step 3.
  • New student?  Absent student the day you collected emails?  No problem!  Easily add their information to your roster and re-run step 2 of the script.

Tips for helping students obtain/understand the folders once they’re created:
  • Your students will get an email when their folders are created.  BONUS - different from gClass, Doctopus sends instructions in the email to help students move the newly created folders from ‘Shared With Me’ to ‘My Drive’.  Instructions!  With links!  This is SO helpful <3

  • If you need a little more instruction for your students here is the part in Jay Atwood’s Doctopus tutorial video where he explains what a student should do once the folders are shared with them.
  • When students turn in work they’ll add their assignments to the folder in their Drive (‘My Drive’) that is labeled ‘Class Name - Lastname, Firstname’.
  • Note: Correct me if I’m wrong - but when we set these up for students the folder that the students add their assignments in was already in their Drive.  When they click “Add to My Drive” they are actually nesting their class ‘view’ and class ‘edit’ folder inside of that one.  I don’t know why it is like this.  It’s a little different than the tutorial video that shows Jay’s student with three separate folders (similar to gClass; a ‘turn-in’, a ‘view’, and an ‘edit’).  At this point I don’t see this causing problems.  You’ll just need to remind students which folder they turn their assignments into.

Coming up soon: Integrating Google Classroom AND Doctopus.  WHAT?  I need some time to process this.  In the mean time, here is Jennie Magiera’s most awesome screencast explaining the process.