Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Accessing Moodle on an ipod touch

Today I asked a student to complete his daily warm-up on Moodle using his ipod touch. I was amazed at how quickly he was able to negotiate the links, zoom in and out of the page and use the virtual keyboard to complete his entry faster than many of his classmates.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Create a grade level writing challenge with Google Docs

Google Docs includes a simple tool for checking  the readability score and grade level readability of anything you write.  Students can easily check their readability score and grade level readability and then use revision strategies to raise their readability scores.

This tool can also be used as a UDL strategy.  Paste an article or shorter reading assignment into Google Docs and check the readability score.  Edit difficult vocabulary, remove extraneous sentences or paragraphs, or rewrite sentences to lower the readability score.

Live - from the skatepark! Using technology and "homework" to engage the brain.

cell nature skate

One of my goals this year is to support learning tools and technology that fire up our students' brains (and hearts) after school. For argument's sake I'll call this "homework" -(boo!).

I wonder what would happen if students were asked to use their cell phones to explain relationships in an ecosystem by taking pictures of examples from hockey practice, the skate park, or the mall. They could submit the photos to a shared photo site online, and the next day the teacher could project these images for a discussion. Finding examples of geometric shapes, literary devices, or genetic traits might also work. And while they are shooting photos that night we might also send a text message quiz question to reinforce a specific concept. The same assignment could be completed with a digital camera and a web posted quiz question (no cell phone), or with hand drawn examples and a sealed envelope quiz question for students with minimal technology (ok, I'm reaching here). But perhaps the incentive of using a cell phone or having your photos used the next day for discussion would entice our "homework loving" students to learn while they live.

I think learning what we teach while engaged in their personal activities might help to cement the connections and concepts we are trying to teach. And if that doesn't work, I'd try playing the didgeridoo while stiltwalking.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Constituion Day at the ATA

Today our principal, Mr. Spencer, addressed all of our students simultaneously by broadcasting his Constitution Day message using ustream.tv. In the past, Mr. Spencer would spend the day moving from class to class delivering his message a total of 12 different times. By streaming his message live over the internet, he was able to address all of our students with one broadcast.

Several steps were involved in setting up this internet broadcast including the set up our free ustream account. Finding the right combination of Webcam and microphone was a challenge but worth the effort since sound and video were both quite nice for our students. It also required a coordinated effort from our teachers to prepare their rooms to project the broadcast and run audio through our phonic ear speaker system.

I was very impressed with the quality of the presentation and the student's attentiveness. My kudos to everyone involved.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I was really hoping the new ipod touch would have a camera and GPS