#DigiLit Sunday GiverCraft #EDGamify

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 16, 2014.

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Something exciting is happening to the balance of my classroom. It’s tipped to student control. We’ve been invited to participate in a Minecraft EDU based on the book, The Giver. The project is called Givercraft and was created at the University of Alaska Educational Technology EDET 698: Gamification and the classroom can be found on twitter at #EDGamify.

The purpose is:

“As educators it is our mission to provide high-quality, developmentally appropriate and engaging instruction to students. Through the use of MinecraftEDU students can demonstrate knowledge and understanding through building, collaboration and creativity. We hope to help fellow educators become familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I have seen my grandchildren play Minecraft. I have tried it [installed on my iPhone]. All I can do is punch holes. Bam. Not good. So this is my chance to learn what my students want to use to learn with. It’s my chance to see how it works — -to become “familiar with alternative methods of assessment and instruction that integrates multiple subjects including technology.”

I participated in a practice session and failed. Miserably.  Have you ever taken a gaming personality test? I think this is the one I took last year. I’m an Explorer— off the charts. So I get frustrated with all the bangs and zombies and tedious builds. As Wikipedia says, “The Explorer will often enrich themselves in any back story or lore they can find about the people and places in-game” and “They often meet other Explorers and can swap experiences.”  That would be me.

So although I fail the MinecraftEDU teacher practice mission, I am thoroughly excited that my students will be able to create a Giver community based on the details of the book, working as a team to create the world of a “Nine.” And my students are thrilled, and that’s just the first task. The creators have developed modules that will require critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving based on evidence from the book to meet Common Core State Standards. Students take screenshots of their work in MineCraftEDU GiverCraft and upload them to a private wiki to explain their evidence. This is awesome.

I succeed at being willing to let go of the control and allow students to take the lead. I’m the guide. I’ve done this with other tech platforms, such as BitStrips for Schools. I create the activities, and students learn the tool that demonstrates their understanding.

What do I mean by tipping the balance to student control? With our invitation, we had only two weeks to read the novel — and even then we had obstacles – my training days, sports, testing. We didn’t think we’d make it, but we will. Tomorrow we finish the book in time to start the game.

The control I tossed to the kids. Instead of worksheets and teacher guides, I handed the kids Post-It Notes. We knew we needed to understand the meaning of the book with evidence to support our ideas. So students listened to the story and added notes to the areas they thought were important. We’d stop and they would share  and discuss the story: its characters, its plot, its setting, its community, its rules, its world. Their ideas. Their analysis. Not my preconceived ideas. They took notes — on their own in their journals to remember the details of this “same and mean” world, as they summarized. This they do willingly, thoughtfully, even as usually struggling readers. I’m impressed.

In Givercraft, they will partner up and help each other with book and journal ready; but again, they will be in charge: thinking, communicating, collaborating, solving together with evidence from the text. They’ve signed their agreements of rules of behavior for GiverCraft and understand  this will be different than the game they usually play; they understand this focus is on learning from reading by creating and collaboration, and from writing by sharing their creations and explaining their evidence.

We can do this, and I [we] will learn how to build more units that take our required standards to a new level that totally engages students and promotes deeper learning. We will be a community of learners.

I’m so glad I dared to learn, just as I expect my students to do every day. It’s a great feeling to do this together, student and teacher.

#DigiLit Sunday Essentials #ce14 #ccss

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, October 12, 2014.

DigiLit Sunday  this week is a review of what is essential.  That’s been my focus this weekend as I develop tasks for students that are authentic for readers, writers, and researchers. What does that mean?

essentialquesitonsFortunately, I read in my Kindle App the book Essential Questions.

It’s great review for those of us who focus on projects because, no matter what, it’s student learning that is important. Grant Wiggins also wrote a great post on inquiry, PBL, and UbD — provides this gem:

“And that gradual release idea is the essence of backward design in UbD – and a great place to reflect this weekend. How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value? Viewed this way, there is no dichotomy at all between UbD and inquiry-based pedagogy.”

“How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value?”

If my students are to become independent, they need to have choice in doing the work of readers, writers, and researchers. They now need to develop from our work in previous years their own projects that present their work. They work to be collaborative and authentic.

Essential Questions as overarching and transferable elements of language arts are key. So I looked at the verbs and nouns in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and developed a set of questions to start the year — and will add to them as our projects dictate. Because I teach Language Arts, students have some options in content, and so I am releasing some questioning responsibility to students as we follow the Right Question strategy.

I realize that essential questions can be the guiding work of our coarse and also the specific questions of content.  So we consider Essential Questions, and a guiding rubric scale that includes more specific questions and criteria for the language arts content. But what does that mean? If I’m teaching and releasing responsibility, I need even more. The Two Writing Teachers reminded me of writing checklists, so with our new standards, we need new checklists, which I created for each of the essential components that guide our work: collaboration, investigation, content, design, and language. These are our beginning.

And how do we bring this all together for students? A ThingLink:

As we change our task — to choice or teacher driven, we have a basic set of essentials to guide our learning. It’s not perfect yet, but we are moving in the right direction, together.

So, in our work together, students and I are guided by essential questions, focused questions, scales, and checklists. Our work is open in ThingLink [Kidblog for students] and Google Apps.

How do you keep your projects open for students, including the essentials of learning?

#DigiLit Sunday Google Slides, Wordle, Veterans Day

My favorite presentation tool: Google Slides.

First of all, it has really advanced since the time my students created the project I will share. Take a look at this Parent Night Slideshow. Google Slides has transitions, animations, and themes to really help students learn talking points and design.

That’s part of what two students did in my class a while back. The loved Wordle.net, but wanted to bring it in line with what we were learning about presentation, and to connect it with Veterans Day.

Every year the Nespelem American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a contest for Veterans Day. The theme is usually “Honor All Veterans.” Veterans Day is an important event in our community. In all the towns around, breakfasts, dinners, school assemblies, and Pow Wows honor those who served our country to keep us safe and free. We thank all those who sponsor activities, and especially the Nespelem American Legion Auxiliary.

The seventh and eighth grade students started with a prewriting plan in Google Docs which helped them think of nouns, strong verbs, and actions of those who served in the Armed Forces. Next the students revised and edited their work.

Two students, Tristen and Mysti, asked the  students to create word clouds using their essays as the source for the words (Wordle.net ). Each then saved the images, uploaded the wordles, and pasted their essays into a Google presentation. Each student explained why they chose the colors, word arrangements, and layout. This is their gift. Thanks to Tristen and Mysti for asking their peers to join.

We asked other schools in our Quad Blog Team to comment about our project and about Veterans Day. You can read those at our student blog here.

It was an engaging way to learn writing and design while also honoring our veterans. We may just do that again this year. How about you?

Based on this post: Writing Class Veterans Paragraph

 

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, October 5, 2014.

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#DigiLit Sunday Differentiation

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, September 28, 2014.

 

How do I differentiate reading materials so students can approach grade level standards?

I’ve discovered four valuable resources with a Common Core State Standards focus:
Actively Learn   Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material.

NEWSela  Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material

ReadWorks Leveled Reading Passages

ReadWriteThink Lessons, Online Inter-actives

I love that I can find leveled texts to challenge students or to bring them into the conversation so they can think critically and collaborate to learn the skills needed to be life-long readers.

What sites have you found to help your differentiation of reading materials?

#Digilit Sunday Google Apps and iPads

 

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, September 21, 2014.

 

 What I learned on Twitter on Sunday….

Tips for Using Google Apps on the iPad

Note: the most common tip from the experts:  Use Google Chrome app.

To keep up with all news Google Drive, follow their blog: Google Drive

or the official Google Blog

 

1. Five Tips for Google + iPad: Click here to go to article: Tips


Summary:

1. Download Google Apps: Install all of the featured apps on this page: Google Apps for iOS. All of Google’s mobile apps work as a team. Links will open in Chrome instead of Safari.

2. Google Search App: Enable hands-free, voice search trigger for the Google Search app.
Now simply say, “Okay, Google,” your device will beep, and start “listening” for your search query. If you ask a question, Google will read the answer back to you! Think of how much this can help students.  “Okay, Google,” can be enabled in Google Chrome on the desktop. Chrome on the iPad can also do voice search, but not “Okay, Google.”

3. gMail App: Use the gMail app, not the native iOS Mail app, which sucks up your storage space. The Gmail app is better, faster, and is cloud-based. The Gmail app will also let you connect multiple gmail accounts. If you don’t have a personal gMail account, consider getting one for all the benefits of the spam filters, speed, and the other apps associated with it.

4. Use a Google Calendar App: Google Desktop Calendar plays nicely with most other calendar applications out there, but to get the gcal functionality you have on the desktop, use a Google Calendar app.  Although Google does not offer an official Google Calendar app for the iPad, choose one with gcal functionality. Kasey recommends Sunrise (free) or Calendars 5 by Readdle ($6.99).

5. Google+ Google Plus is currently the fastest growing social network. With Google+ app on your iOS device you can auto-backup your photos and videos to Google! What is the number one storage hog on iPads?  photos and videos. Let Google+ back up to your Google+ account.

Also, Google+ is builds your personal learning network and your collaboration with like-minded educators. Kasey’s 5 Reasons Educators Should Use Google Plus.

2. Add images to Google Docs on the iPad

 

Watch the video in the link; read the directions.

Summary:

1. Chrome app works best.

2. In Chrome choose “mobile site” and go to drive.google.com to log in.

3. Create a new document– stay in Chrome; don’t go to the Drive app.

4. Choose Document and add a title, click create.

5. This is the important part: When the page loads with your new document, click on ‘Desktop’ for the page mode type at the bottom of the page. See bottom of above image.

6. Now you can click “insert —> image” from the menu. [screenshot]

7. Click the blue Add Image button in the middle of the pop-up that appears. Choose Camera Roll.  [screenshot]

8 Choose your picture.

 

3. Google Drive’s Magic ‘i’ — the iPad and Google  = Collaboration

On the desktop, when you click a document [pdf, slides, document, spreadsheets] in  the list on your Drive, the new Drive asks “Open-in” from which you can open virtually any document.

How do you get to the “open-in” on your iPad?

When you click the “i” button in an iPad app, you discover the choice to “Open in.”  Almost any product you make on the iPad can be uploaded to Google Drive and housed in the cloud.

Example: Students [or teachers] create an iMovie. They go to Google Drive, choose the upload button and then upload that iMovie from the camera roll into their Drive accounts using the “Open in” choice. They can share that file and/or movie/photo with their peer from Google Drive, and now the students can collaborate in iMovie — or what ever app file you’re working with.

As you can see, I’ve added to my knowledge from the experts on Twitter, where anyone is an expert if you know an answer to the questions asked. It’s an open forum that levels the field: experts and novices become collaborators with their own expertise.

Sunday, I focused on learning about Google Apps with the iPad since our teachers use their iPads with our Google Apps for Education.

How do you start Twitter? Start with a personal account. Here are several resources:

Twitter 101 

Twitter Prezi 

Twitter Handout

Twitter Post

As Steve Jobs said, “Just ask.” What are your questions?


Please remember this is a school-related site. Model digital citizenship. Thank you.

Google Education Groups

There’s an exciting thing in the Google World — Google Educator Groups [GEG ] in each state. We’ve even got one in Washington State:

GEG WA

gegWA

 

I just watched the recording of our first virtual meetup, hosted by +Justin Talmadge, with special guests +Andrew Marcinek, +Kimberly Allison, +Jeff Utecht, +Brian Cleary, +Mike Schwab and+Alexandrea Alphonso . It was a great conversation about Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Docs.

I had planned to attend, but a teacher meeting popped into the schedule. I’m so glad I watched the recording.

I am a classroom teacher [language arts middle school] and the super-admin for our Google Apps for Education [GAFE], which we started way back in 2009 when domains were either public or private, so we are one of the schools with two domains: one for staff and one for students and their teachers. I’m wondering if we should combine those now… as a small school, we could. It would be a lot of work to set that up; as a K-8 School, we’ve set up more restrictions on the student end.

I really appreciate the PSESD’s forward vision, and participated in their CCSSBlog this summer. And I am so thankful for GEG WA.

Our Tech Team carefully compared [in 2009] GAFE and MicrosoftLive [wasn’t it 360 then?] and GAFE was so much further along for collaboration, options, and apps. It was the obvious choice because of that and for one other important reason: Google Sites! Your conversation really emphasized that — we needed to save money and Google Sites became our free district website that was so much more customizable than the expensive platform we were using.

I wish there were a Blogger-edu, but we use Kidblogs and Edublogs for blogging in middle school. But the conversation about portfolios was terrific: What is the purpose? Is there reflection? Is there a capstone project? Is the data portable and interoperable? Because we are a K8 school, it’s not that much of an issue; students who are 13 work with their parents and me to transfer their best stuff to a personal account.

My students love Google Apps; we use Hapara Teacher Dashboard to monitor and quickly provide feedback to student work. Kids in the eighth grade already work with tech that is invisible to what they do — they choose the tool [docs, slides, blog] that fits their audience and purpose, taking care to cite their sources and use Creative Commons images. We are just learning the research tool – that is so awesome. We also use Diigo to highlight and annotate.

I’m so thankful for GAFE because it provides that platform for learning — for sharing and creating not just evidence of learning, but authentic places for student voice, choice, and community or world solutions. Thank you, Google!

A couple other reflections from the conversation:

–Love the search in Chrome’s URL bar

–Love Google Sites

–Agree with Kimberly that the new “ease of use,” consistent drive menu takes getting used to — and the search for documents is limited to whichever space you’re in, which is inconvenient.

–Most of our small staff is reluctant to learn because they haven’t grown up with it, and our previous admin hadn’t made it a priority; I’ve provided links, help, resources as much as possible, but it takes vision and encouragement to change mindsets. Fortunately, our current principal has vision and realizes the benefits of collaboration with GAFE!

Finally, it’s important to keep the vision. Again this year, with new district administration and new fiscal managers who are not current in educational technology and possibilities, that vision must be reviewed; I really appreciate the inspiration from my my Google PLN and new principal!

So find a GEG Group today to keep your vision!

 

#DigiLit Organize Twitter PLN Lists

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DigiLit Sunday

It’s Sunday!  DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, Aug 24, 2014

Question: My Twitter is overflowing – How do I manage it?

Where did my PLN go? Twitter is my go to place for resources and connections. As you gain followers and follow others, you Twitter feed will grow with wonders amazing: lessons, strategies, connections, questions, answers, resources, etc. And we want those literacy connections to be at the forefront…

Eventually, though, you’ll wonder where that original group of connections is in your Twitter stream. You’ll wonder where the key people’s tweets disappeared to. You’ll know you’re missing something on the topics of specific interest to you that those key people mostly tweet.

Yes, we’ve got #hashtags, but I there’s a conversation and stream of ideas from those connections that are near and dear to your heart– those whose ripples of information and conversation connect mostly with your [and their] situation?

How do you keep connected with those in addition to you regular stream?

Lists.

First of all, here are resources:

Here are the experts’ advice:

Twitter

Twitter Media

Mashable

Mashable: How To

Second, a quick over view:

Create a list

When logged in to Twitter, go to the gear icon and click Lists.

go to list

 

A list page will open, and you can create a list. Give it a name [can’t start with number].

create list button

create list

 

Note you can make it public or private as needed.

Now find people to add to your list. Search names or usernames.

find people

click gear to addClick the gear icon and choose add or remove from list.

find and add to list

When in your twitter stream, just click a name.

click name

Their profile will pop up — click the gear and add.

gear in profile

Of course, you can delete lists as well.

Just click the icon in your profile. Choose your list by clicking the title.

choose list

click delete

Click delete.

Third, find and subscribe to lists.

Now that you know how to create, add to, and delete a list — there’s a great option to get started with a pre-made list. For example, I wanted a list of Language Arts Teachers, and wouldn’t you know it, Judy Artz has a list. How do I know?

When at Judy’s profile, click more –> Lists.

judy profile

See all her lists, and click the name of the one of interest.

judy language arts list

click subscribeClick subscribe.

unsubscribeNotice that the button changes to “unsubscribe from list” in case you need to.

Notice that you can see all the members — with a gear icon by their name so you can add them to the list directly from her list.

see followers and add to list thereNotice it shows who you already follow.  And you can see the list of subscribers as well with the same information — add to list; see who you’re following.

subscribed to members of

Finally, use your lists.

Now that you’ve got the lists relevant to your PLN and your interests, just click the name of the list to see the tweets from those members. You don’t even need to follow a person to add them to the list, but usually you do.

Go forth and add a few manageable canals to your Twitter stream.

Back at your lists, you will find the lists to which you have subscribed, and the lists to which you have been added as a member!

twitter list stream

What Twitter organizing strategies do you use to keep focused on literacy strategies?