Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Teching Up" History Class: The DBQ

Image result for Google sites logoImage result for dbq logo

Years ago, my district had my fellow history teachers and I trained to implement DBQs.  The intent was to help us with the transition the Common Core.  I recall dabbling with DBQs during my student teaching, but since then, I hadn't paid them much attention.  DBQs offer a nice little framework to implement more writing into a history course.

Since I became an EdTech TOSA, I have dreamt of "teching up" the DBQ process.  The DBQs we were using are 100% paper and pencil.  I recall the hassle of making thousands of copies and having to read students' horrible handwriting.  As I have upped my app-tech-pedagogy game, I have come up with a few ideas.

My "teched up" DBQ recipe is a combination of Google Sites and Google Forms. I toyed with the idea of an interactive worksheet (hyperdoc), but I felt that would be limiting for what I am trying to do.  The source documents have good information, but I want more than simply clicking on links.  I want students to click on links for more info and be able do their own research and submit their own links and files.  With the new update to Google Forms, students can now submit files.

Meshing these together in the right manner is my next step.  I envision Sites being the delivery method with Forms as the interactive portion.  I am curious as what other history teacher and EdTech Tosas are doing in this regard. I'd love some feedback as well as your ideas.

Let me know!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

#EDUWin: Google Docs, Screencasting and YouTube in 6th Grade Math

Image result for google docs logo Nimbus Everhelper Image result for youtube logo

Our district has placed a great emphasis on students writing rooted in academic conversations.  As a tech coach, teachers have been scrambling to get me to show them "techie" ways to foster writing and academic conversations without consuming mountains of paper and boring students with traditional pedagogy.

A veteran teacher recently booked me to "tech up" a math lesson.  I am not a math teacher, but her lesson immediately led me to an app smashing recipe of Google Docs, screencasting and YouTube.  After planning the lesson, I did a 10 minute demo of the apps and skills for the students.  Midway through my demo, students were chomping at the bit to get started.  They were stoked to know their expertise on their ratio problems would be posted on YouTube to teach other students.

Once students got started, we hit a snag.  Part of their activity was to collaborate on a written explanation of how to solve the problem on a Google Doc.  In addition, they were to work out each step on a whiteboard and insert a picture of each step into the Doc.  Unbeknownst to me, the camera app was disabled for 6th grade.  As I clamored for a work around, a student got my attention and reminded me that when you go to insert image in Google Docs, you can select "take snapshot" which will use the Chromebook's webcam.

The #eduwin here was how that student was able to solve the problem without the guidance of the teacher. This student empowered himself to take the initiative and be a leader.  With this #eduwin, the class proceeded.  This student went to each group to demonstrate how to access the camera.  By the end of class, nearly all groups had finished their Docs, screencasted their mini lesson and uploaded the video to YouTube.

The teacher was astounded by the level of student engagement.  Students felt empowered in many ways.  Empowerment took the form of them teaching each other as well as providing vital tech support for classmates.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Doc Hub, Screencasting and ELD

Image result for dochub 

Nimbus Everhelper

For a while now, I have been looking to up my "ELD Game."  I pondered the question "How can I 'tech up' an ELD class?"  When I say "tech up" I am not saying have them merely type on Google Docs or fill in a worksheet digitally on Google Classroom.  "Tech up", in this case, means something more dynamic.  I want something where ELD students are writing, listening, speaking and revising using a variety of tech tools.  After months of pondering, I found a way I can incorporate all of the above.

Students in my district have been using Doc Hub for quite a while now.  Doc Hub allows your to annotate PDF files by drawing lines, highlighting, typing, whiteout and adding images.  I have looked at much of the ELD curriculum, scanned much of it and saved it as PDF files.  Many of the assignments have students do a variety of writing activities.  Using Google Classroom, I would distribute the files to students as PDF.  They would open files with Doc Hub and work individually.

After working individually, students would then be placed into groups of 4 or 5. Students would then take turns looking at each of the group members' work.  They would look for mistakes and provide suggestions for revision.  Students would trade computers with each person in the group until they have seen each member's work.

While looking at someone else's work, they would use Doc Hub's Highlight Tool to highlight mistakes and the Text Tool, to leave notes next to mistakes and suggest ways to revise.  From there, students would use the Nimbus Chrome extension to screencast and explain their suggested revisions.  Nimbus-created screencasts are automatically downloaded to the computer's memory.  When a student returned to their computer, they will see mistakes, suggestions and have 3-4 videos explaining to them how to revise their work.

This activity is useful for ELD students in a number of ways.  They are interacting with the content digitally.  They are processing information and doing peer editing. They are using technology to speak and listen, and they are making revisions based of what they hear and see.

I have yet to teach this lesson, but I am excited to see how it pans out.  This lesson is obviously still in "beta", but I believe it has great potential to both engage and empower students to own and take charge of their learning.  Although I plan to pilot this with ELD, I believe it has many applications for all subjects.