Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CC Quest and Open Ed

We are always looking for ways to help prepare students and assist teachers not only for the shifts of the Common Core but also the increase of depth of knowledge levels and tech skills needed for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Using technology as a tool in the classroom has so many benefits, but in the case of the new assessments students will be taking this spring, the skills associated with how to use technology correctly could pose a problem for many of our students who do not have regular access within their regular curriculum.  From tech skills to questioning styles, rethinking how you traditionally assess your students will benefit them in more ways than one!

An easy way to do common core aligned quick checks for specific standards is using apps or sites such as Common Core Quest from Open Ed (app for iPad and Android).  CC Quest could be used in isolation or along with the main Open Ed website.  Open Ed is a classroom resource library of lessons, activities, videos, etc all aligned to the CCSS.   The app can be used as a stand alone.  Students would need to log in with their school google account, they can choose their grade level and either Math or ELA.  From there, each standard has a quick 3 to 5 problem quiz that assess their mastery of the standard.  If they do not do well, the app will suggest sites or videos to visit to continue practicing that skill.  This would be a great way for students to check mastery, as well as many questions have multiple parts, similar to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As a teacher, you can log in and create an account at Open Ed.  From there you are able to enter in students and establish usernames and passwords for them, especially for young students or students in districts were email use is not allowed.  Adding students into a class in the website will also allow for the teacher to monitor which standards students have taken and how they have done.  More features on the website include lessons and resources aligned to the standards that teachers can assign to the class.  Most resources are open source (free access) though there are also lesson and activities from some paid subscription sites.

It's worth the time to explore!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Classflow - an Engaging Presentation Tool

Imagine presenting to your students a typical PowerPoint or Prezi.  You have a great presentation planned with images illustrating key ideas instead of a screen filled with text.  However, this presentation is still in the form students watch while teachers present. 

What if you can push individual slides of a presentation to student devices, so those sitting in the back row who forgot their glasses aren't squinting to see the slide?  Those that are losing attention because they are looking over a half dozen other students, can now maintain focus because the material is 6-12 inches in front of them.

And what if students could respond back by adding content to an existing slide, in which the instructor obtains x number of alternative results from students and can select which slide or slides to display in front of the class.

Classflow is a free online tool allowing teachers to have engaging presentations with their students.

Some of you are asking, but "Nearpod" does that already.  Correct, this is very similar to Nearpod.  One difference is Classflow also integrates with an existing Interactive Whiteboard, the Active Inspire or Promethean environment.

First step is to create your free online teacher account at Classflow.

If you are an Active Inspire user, give your students the class code and have them join your Classflow session.  Students can join using the Classflow Student app or connecting through

Start by pushing out flipchart pages to student devices with a click of a button inside the software.

When you want the two way engagement piece you'll need to toggle over to the Classflow website.  Send students a slide in "Ad-hoc mode", which keeps your students in the same class as they are when you're using Classflow inside Inspire.

With the Classflow Student app, students can use pens, shapes, text, and even add images from the camera or their photo album.

As a teacher, you also have the traditional student response opportunities like multiple choice, text, numeric, and true false for questioning the class.

Another nice student response feature is the Word Seed.  Great for brainstorming ideas with your students as they enter in their text response, and words are placed in a circle around the slide as they send in their results.

Once you begin using Classflow, look into more advanced features like integrating Active Expression or assessment activities, or individualizing content by providing students with web links and videos during a lesson.

If you do choose to use the web based Classflow presentation platform, you can upload existing Promethean Flipchart or SmartBoard Notebook presentations.

Classflow is a program that may take some time learning, so be sure to check out the Classflow Youtube Channel.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Story - Book Maker for Kids

My Story - Book Maker for Kids is an ad free iPad only app that makes story writing and book creating simple for your primary students.  Today, September 5th, it is free, normally this app is $3.99.

A few of the features of this app make this an ideal app for a classroom with a center of iPads.  The app allows for the adding of multiple authors, which all of us with centers knows, is not always possible inside apps.  This allows students to each work inside their own project without having to finish or delete other work before starting.  This is super!

 The work space is easy to navigate with drawing, text, sticker, and photo album access.  Students can also record themselves on each page as well. 

Finished products have multiple ways of sharing, including email and iBooks.  This makes sharing of projects to other devices very simple.