Tech Tips for Tuesday
You’re sharing a piece of beautiful student work with the class using your fancy document camera. The student is so proud that he or she would like to get a digital copy. You left your smartphone in your other wallet.
What do you do??
Do you have an old SD card from a digital camera that you’re no longer using? Keep it in the document camera, and snap photos there. The Freeze button on our document cameras has two functions: temporarily freezing the image AND storing the image to an SD card. Hold the Freeze button down for a few seconds until the camera icon appears on the screen. You then have a file on the SD card, which you can recover by popping the card back into your digital camera.
Tech Tips for Tuesday
You’ve snapped a couple paragraphs out of an online source and saved it to your hard drive as a JPEG. You need the text — your students are expected to copy and paste it into their document to edit and annotate — but you don’t want to re-type it.
Is there a magic app that will take an image of text and turn it into editable text? Yes, and it’s already on your computer and your Chromebook. There is an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) option in the upload settings in Google Drive.
To convert an image into text using Google Drive…
- Click the cog icon in the top right of Google Drive, and hover on the Upload Settings sub-menu.
- Enable “Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files”
- Use the Upload icon in Google Drive (upward-pointing arrow in the red box next to Create), and select the file from your hard drive.
- The new file in Google Drive will be a PDF containing the image and the OCRed text.
Tech Tips for Tuesday
“Inbox Rules”: It sounds as if I’m a big fan of my Inbox. Which I am. But that isn’t what I mean.
You can create rules to automatically handle mail that reaches your Outlook Inbox. If your Inbox is swamped with hundreds of pieces of email each day, and you want to easily refile all the Google Drive share notifications while simultaneously not missing that important message from your boss, consider automation.
Go to Options | Create an Inbox Rule, and create a new rule. You can magically filter on sender, recipient, subject, and other criteria, and you can then delete, move, or forward the message. I have a rule that deletes messages from a persistent spammer and another rule that refiles to the Junk folder any message that begins with “hey mr rhodewalt!” (This is part of my campaign to train the students to treat email as formal communication.)
You can add multiple criteria and multiple events to any rule. You might want to create a rule that takes each message sent from kwagner with the subject “SEE ME ASAP” and forward that to your personal email account with high priority. Or, you might want to refile every message with a subject starting with “PERIOD1-ASSIGNMENT” into a PERIOD1 folder and set the category BLUE.
Once you create a rule, it will act automatically and silently, regardless of whether you’re logged in to Outlook or connected to the district email through a cell phone or other device.
We all call home. It’s handy to do it from school, where inbound calls are filtered and blocked after hours.
But how do you call parents when you’re not at school? Do you want your personal phone number visible on parents’ phones, where parents can store it and call you back later at all hours, and where students can see it and use it later for nefarious purposes?
The best solution I’ve found is Google Voice. You sign up and are assigned a local phone number. You link this phone number to your own. You can now place calls to parents which will appear to come from the number assigned to you by Google Voice.
To a user, the experience goes like this: Enter the phone number you want to call into the web interface in Google Voice. The system then calls your phone; once you’re connected it calls the other party’s phone. To them it appears to be a regular phone call.
Google Voice comes with a ton of cool features, including voice mail, transcribed voice mail, text messaging, conference calling, and more. Explore the features here.
Be aware that although Google isn’t charging for this service, it isn’t exactly free. Of course, they collect all kinds of data as we use this.
I’ve been thinking about these questions constantly the last few weeks. Here are the facts that make the prompt highly relevant to me:
- I’m starting at a brand-new school in the fall, where our classrooms will experience 1:1 computing. Be careful what you wish for! I’ve thought of interesting lessons and classroom procedures which would feature technology IF ONLY all the students had computers, tablets, graphing calculators. So now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Well, it takes a bit of planning, doesn’t it?
- We as a department are discussing right now to what extent we implement Common Core this year. I feel as if all my decisions regarding next year’s lessons need to wait. But I don’t want to wait.
- I’m fortunate to be taking a Leading Edge Certification course. Many of the teachers who are my classmates are already pocket-protector-deep in interactive technology in their classrooms. These people intimidate and inspire me! I think of myself as a tech person, but I feel as if I’m constantly two steps behind them.
So, to answer the question, here are a few of the factors I need to consider.
- As with all technology, there must be a Plan B. I actually enjoy this. It’s exciting when the power goes out and my beautiful presentation on the LCD projector suddenly disappears. Students chuckle nervously, many of them assuming the lesson is over. But I have my presentation backed up on a fully charged laptop, and I have three whiteboards and several boxes of EXPO markers, so we continue without missing a beat.
- This one’s pretty automatic. Don’t choose the first amazing software solution you see. Consider all the usual software-shopping criteria, a few of which are:
- Does it talk to other software? How many export and import formats does it have, and how standard are they?
- Is the interface intuitive?
- Is the software configurable to do what I need it to do and to do what my co-workers need it to do? If I change my mind about its configuration next month, will the software accommodate that?
- Is the price reasonable?
- Will it stick around? Is the user base growing? Has it reached critical mass? Is there dedicated development team (and a support team), letting us infer that if we pick this today, we’ll still be able to use it next?
- Will it scale? If it catches in one teacher’s classes, could it be used by the whole school and even the district?
- Be sure the technological solution serves the learning needs, rather than its being shoehorned into some lesson because it’s so cool.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep talking to co-workers and other colleagues about technology. Maybe someone has already fixed the problem.
- Formative assessment is a multi-step process. Don’t scrimp on the follow-up and feedback. This is definitely something I tend to overlook.
- Keep Common Core close at hand. I’ve been using Standards-Based Grading the last few years. People say this is good because it’s consistent with Common Core; however, my setup is completely based on small tasks, with no room at all for project-based learning. Too bad, since I love project-based learning.
The original prompt is included below.
This module has explored the use of technology tools for both formative and summative assessment. As you think about how you will implement formative and summative assessments in the online and blended environments, what are some of the factors you need to consider?
- Develop a flowchart documenting solving a linear equation in two variables
- Mobile client (tablet, netbook, Chromebook, iPad) for each student
- LucidChart account (team account, allowing collaboration)
- Common storage area for long hyperlinks (Google Spreadsheet? Facebook?)
This activity occurs in three phases. In Phase 1, the students design individual flowcharts, which they publish as PDFs. (They publish the long URLs for these PDFs, so that all students and teacher can click on them.) In Phase 2, students take a randomly selected linear equation (provided from a list developed by the teacher) and attempt to solve it using a randomly selected flowchart. They document their success or failure in a shared document which they turn in to the teacher. In Phase 3, students review results of their own flowchart and adjust accordingly.
Some teachers might have students do some sketching on paper, but I think it would be more fun and just as productive to have students dive in. If this is their first LucidChart assignment, they will enjoy facing little obstacles (e.g., why are my connectors rounded when I want them to be angular?) and helping each other discover the ways round those obstacles.
The limitation of a single page for a flowchart (teacher might also limit font size, in order to keep student from cramming too much information in) requires student to prioritize to solve a problem. This is essentially one form of developing a lesson plan: the problem is, How do you teach someone how to solve an equation?
Reflect upon what an activity in your classroom might look like using one or more of these Web 2.0 tools. Think about:
- what the experience looks like for students.types of outcomes students might have.
- how the outcome is tied to curriculum objectives.
- what Web 2.0 tools are aligned to the outcomes and lead to higher order thinking skills.
- kinds of directions or guidelines you will provide in order to ensure success.
Write a post that briefly describes the activity you would create and how could you might minimize possible challenges students and the teacher might have to address. Make sure that your activity is aligned to a learning objective, and uses verbs from the top three levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In a later module, this activity may be one component of a larger unit you create.
- Considering the online learning self-assessment you took this week, and thinking about your reasons for taking this course, what is your highest priority learning goal for this course?
I’m starting at a new high school in September, with a clear mandate to incorporate technology, and with students expected to be immersed. Over the years, I’ve used technology more or less successfully, and usually as a tool that I operate rather than an opportunity for students to work. I try to get the students involved, but it’s usually just easier to do it myself. I hope to break out of these bad habits, think more creatively, and get introduced to more technology.
- What are some specific skills, strategies or tools you are hoping to learn more about?
I would like to know about more tools that the students can use constantly. I teach math, and it’s usually simpler to work with paper and/or whiteboards and post results under the ELMO. (I’m thankful to have an ELMO!) Can we get beyond this with tablets and styli? We’ll see.
I definitely want to have students work at their desks and have the opportunity to instantly, remotely share their work on the LCD projector for all to view.
My homework process:
- Students do homework in spiral notebook, Cornell Notes formatted, right-hand pages only.
- I check and stamp homework each morning, usually at the very beginning of class. A stamp goes on the homework and the homework log. (See link.)
- I record homework each Friday.
At each desk, I’m looking for both the log (colored paper) and the homework to be visible as I arrive at the desk. I glance at the homework for apparent content, including assignment, name/date/period, Cornell questions and summary, boxed answers. Each visit generally takes less than 10 seconds, especially with an assistant operating the stamp.