1. How has technology allowed you to be a better classroom manager?
I find programs that engage the students while making grading easier. Flubaroo is a great Google app. Quizlet, NoRedink, and Actively Learn are some of my favorite programs that offer grading and analysis of the results.
2. In what ways are you using the Chromebook carts to improve student achievement?
I love the Chromebooks and believe that there should be Chromebooks in every classroom. (hint-hint Mike Bement) All my students have Google Drive accounts. They regularly share documents. I teach an after school class for students making up a D or F in an earlier English class. In that class, the students had to pick a theme to explore. They then had to find 12 poems and 6 songs that had the theme they chose. The students created a Google account. I had them fill out a Google form and I used G-Class folders to create individual folders for each student. It took 1 click and 50 students folders were created. They found poems and songs online and placed them in their folder. Once they were in the folder, the students began annotating the poems. Since those folders are shared with me, I can tell at a glance what poem the student is working on, how well they are annotating, and offer comments on their documents. They also use an interactive notebook to complete further analysis.
3. What is your favorite app or program for classroom instruction? Why?
I regularly use the following:
Google Drive - I set up class folders and individual folders for student work. I can see what students are working on and give comments.
Google Forms - I made a webquest for the students using Google Forms. I was able to upload pictures for the background, embed links to follow, and best of all it put all of their answers in an easy to read spreadsheet
Quizlet - for vocabulary practice (I play scatter and space race against the students) Teacher version tells you exactly what the student studied and the date. Program also tells you which words the students aced and which words stumped them.
NoRedInk.com - for grammar practice. Grades everything and gives me spreadsheets for each student, each grammar rule, and is free.
Actively Learn - Amazing site for English and Social Studies. I can upload articles and create questions. They also offer a large selection of uploaded current events, short stories, novels, and dramas already with questions. Definitely recommend checking it out.
Turnitin.com - AMAZING! I love the peer edit feature. We use it all the time.
Besides these programs, my students regularly use Google Docs, Google Presentation, and WeVideo.
4. Share your favorite use of technology in this early 2014-15 school year. What made it so good?
My current project with the juniors is so much fun. The students are engrossed in the lesson.
Vivien Martin and I are working on a Tombstone Project with our juniors. We divided our students into groups of 4 and then they chose 2 members to work on the artistic side of the project and 2 to work on the technological side of the project. The artistic students go to Vivien's room. Students are in her class carving and painting tombstones and writing poetic epitaphs. In my class, the other half of our classes are creating videos. Some are working on various themes found in The Crucible. Others are assigned a specific character who was killed in the Salem Witch Trials. The students create videos, where through storytelling techniques, they explain the themes and discuss the similarities and differences of the characters in The Crucible to the actual person who was killed during the Salem Witch Trials. The students are using WeVideo to edit their films. They downloaded a free WeVideo app to their Google Drive accounts. They created a shared Google Doc to keep their planning and task assignments organized. The document is shared with Vivien and I so we can see their project planning. Students working on the artistic side of the project can access their Google Drive to communicate with those in the other classroom working on the filming and editing. At night they can make notes on their individual progress.
Once the videos are finished students will put them on a QR code. The QR codes are going to be affixed to the tombstones. We will place the tombstones around the quad the first week of December. Our students will go outside to do a gallery walk. As they are using their phones to read the QR codes, our hope is that other students will also watch the videos. Between us we have 230 students working on this project.
5. What would be the best advice for teachers who are interested in using technology in their classrooms, but not sure where to start?
My best advice is to try one thing. If you're not sure what to try, find a teacher who likes technology and ask for one idea. A student teacher stopped in my room one day and was chatting about an ERWC unit she was teaching. She mentioned that the students were working in a group to create a proposal. I asked her if she was using technology. She wasn't and I told her about Google Drive. She wanted to try it, but wasn't sure how to explain it to the students. I offered to get the students signed up and then she and the students could take it from there. I spent 5-10 min. in each of her classes getting students signed up for Google accounts and showing them the basics of a shared document. She then took over from there. She told me that the students were so engaged in the presentation and did a great job on their proposals. Many students came over to my class to show me what they had done.
Once you feel a little comfortable with technology, invite the Tech Coaches to come talk to you. They will give you tons of ideas. Don't get overwhelmed. Choose one or two ideas they give you and try it. Once you have those down, invite them back. They will teach you technology tricks you never knew existed. (Ask them about Research in Google Docs - WOW)