Posted in Uncategorized

Personal Ed Tech Adventure

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Hanging out with Andy Love at the KC GAFE Summit

It has been a whirlwind year both personally and professionally.  It started in July of 2015 by attending a Google Apps Conference in Kansas City put on by EdTechTeam.  While at the Google Apps Conference in KC, I got the opportunity to attend a Pre-Summit Google Apps Trainer Bootcamp put on by Jay Atwood.  I was in awe at all the possibilities that Google Apps had to offer a teacher (even though I had dabbled in GAFE the previous school year, I did not realize it’s full potential till the conference).  From there, I was encouraged to get my Google Educator Certification level 1 & 2 (Which had just been released the week before).

Once I had passed those two exams, I set my eyes on the Google Certified Trainer Program (Which is about to be updated FYI).  After failing at some of the tests a couple times, and feeling the pressure of the December deadline, I was afraid my goal of getting Trainer Certified was slipping through my fingers.  With only a day to go, I passed the last exam necessary and began working on my Trainer application.  In December, much to my surprise, I received an email informing me that I had earned the Trainer Certification!

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Through this adventure, I had slowly built up my Professional Learning Network (PLN) via Twitter and was constantly amazed at the awesome stuff teachers around the world were doing in their classrooms.  I also received the opportunity to present at the Kansas City Google Apps Conference held in February of 2016 (Random Fact: presented that Saturday morning/afternoon in KC, then drove to Bolivar to coach a basketball game at 8:30 PM, then drove back that evening – Getting to the hotel at 1:30 AM – only to present that next morning.  #Exhausted).

One person whom I am constantly challenged by is Patrick Dempsey (also the best man in my wedding), who is a middle school science teacher at Webster Grove School District outside of St. Louis (He recently received the Allen Distinguished Educators Award).  One of the things that he said that really ignited many of his ideas and collaborations was the Google Innovator Academy he attended a couple years prior.  With that in mind (and so I could be as cool as “PDemps”) I decided to apply for the Google Innovator Program in Mountain View, California.

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With only a couple weeks to put my application together (as the application was due in January), I struggled to put a good application together.  Not only was it tough because of it being in the middle of the school year, it was also in the middle of Girls Basketball Season (for which I am the Head Coach), and my wife was 6+ Months pregnant with our second child.  Despite those hurdles, I still applied… and was rejected.

The rejection email was tough to take, as I really looked forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other great educators, but it was obvious that God had even better plans for me.  The rejection allowed me to refocus on what was important at the time, being a husband/father, devoted teacher, and hard-working coach.  Plus, it helped me to reevaluate my goals as a teacher and how I could best help my school district.  With the help of a couple teachers in my district, we decided to put on a tech conference (much like we had the year before) but this time offer it to other school districts as well.  I also worked with the my principal (Chris Thompson) to offer a student help desk class for the next school year (It’s goals are to make them Google Apps Experts to help other teachers, and to provide some maintenance on the chromebooks).  Ultimately I decided, as Tom Mullaney discussed in his blog “Rejected For Google Certified Innovator? Don’t Freak Out!” that I was going to impact education whether I was a Google Innovator or not.

When the new window opened for Google Innovators Applications, I decided to apply again but this time decided on a tool that I had previous experience with in the classroom but that I wished could be better (Google For Education Certified Innovator – My Application if you want to check it out).  On May 20th (While I was home sick on the last day of school), amazingly I was accepted for the Boulder, Colorado Google Innovators Academy (#COL16) for June 2016.

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After my acceptance, I received a call from my boy Patrick Dempsey and he had some words of wisdom.  He said essentially that the Academy is awesome, but it is the face to face collaboration that truly makes the program wonderful.  Fellow #COL16 Peeps, how are you going to use this academy to better your students’ lives?  How will your teaching, and the teaching around the world, make this world a better place?

So as this school year ends and the preparation for the new school year begins, I stand thankful for all those who have helped me in my career thus far.  I am blessed to work in a school district that supports me and is willing to challenge themselves in their educational approaches.  Ultimately I am thankful for a wife (Amanda Houp) who loves and supports me and is willing to join me in these adventures!

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Austin, Amanda, Eli, and Ezra Houp
Posted in Uncategorized

The Year of Tech

At the end of every school year, it is natural to reflect on what transpired.  Was it what you had expected?  Pleasant and unpleasant surprises?

As a school district, we had one of the most transformational years that I have ever haAcer-Chromebook-11-C740-nontouch-zoom-big.pngd the joy to be a part of.  As detailed in August, we have been slowing transitioning to technology in the classroom, starting with iPads nearly 4 years ago.  This fall, we bought a few classroom sets of chromebooks (Acer C740 specifically) for all the buildings in our district.  We also implemented the Google Apps for Education district-wide, from the Superintendent’s office to the lunch lady.

Something that we did as a district that seemed to go over extremely well was the implementation of two different professional development days:  A summer Google Apps Conference (held and administered in house) and a Google Play Date on one of our PD days during the school year.  These two PD events not only exposed teachers to Google Apps, but gave them the resource of local teachers to be a sounding board for their tech adventures.  It was amazing to see how various staff members developed their own uses for Google Apps, including: School Calendar by the Central Office, Spreadsheets by coaches for practice plans, Google Classroom as a Learning Management System (LMS), just to name a few.Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.11.56 PM.png

Also as a district, we set a goal of all the staff getting Google Educator Level 1 Certified by the end of the year and ultimately about 80% of our staff got the level 1 certification (Two other staff members beside myself got level 2 certification – Kelly Blankenship and Lindsey Buckley)!  Despite some of the aforementioned successes, we did have our share of failures.  We implemented many of the tech advancements without first updating our infrastructure.  Our wifi was spotty and awful which discouraged and frustrated staff and students (That was fixed though by 2nd semester due to E-Rate Funding and wifi upgrades by the district).  Also, we didn’t have an easy way to monitor student use of the chromebooks, but once we discovered GoGuardian that problem was alleviated.

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With all these successes and failures, we are now looking ahead to next year and the possibility of being in a 1:1 environment for the coming school year.  Not only that, but we are putting on a technology conference on August 3rd, 2016 TechCampAG.  This is a free tech conference for schools of all sizes or stages of tech implementation are welcomed.  Also any and all to are encouraged to attend or present.  If you are interested in presenting, feel free to fill out the following Presenter Form.

What has been your school’s adventure?  How can we work together to impact this world as fellow educators and schools?  We’d love to hear your story and ultimately let’s collaborate!

Posted in GAFE, Uncategorized

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

You checked out the first Google Forms Post and you created a Google Form to give to your students.  That’s awesome!  Now what…

ResponsesScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.52.10 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.02.14 AM

Once the assessment is designed to your liking, click the “Responses” tab at the top of the Google Form.  This will give you a myriad of options to collect student information.  First, create a Google Spreadsheet by clicking the “sheets” button at the top.
This will give you the option to “Create A New Sheet” or attach it as a tab into an existing spreadsheet.  If you are giving this as an assessment, then at this point you are ready to share it with your students!Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.11.57 AM

Tip: Technically you don’t have to create the spreadsheet before giving the test, but that is just how I normally do it.

Google Forms - Creating Spreadsheet

As students begin taking the assessment, their responses will appear on the Google Form Response page (but only after submitting the assessment).

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Example of Student Responses

 What’s great is that it gives you the overview of each question!  For Example, 37% of participants chose the wrong answer.  Questions to consider: Bad wording of question?  Insufficient teaching of the material? Etc.  You can also click on “Individual” and see the participants assessment and which answer they specifically selected.  This is less intuitive than the “Summary” tab, but still helpful none-the-less if you want to see how a specific student answered.

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Flubaroo

FlubarooOne of the great things about using Google Forms, especially for Formative Assessments, is the ability to use Flubaroo to auto-grade the participants answers.  Realize though that Flubaroo is not a Google Forms add-on but a Google Sheets add-on.  To access Flubaroo, go to the corresponding sheet (click on the sheet button at the top of the “Responses” tab).  Once on the spreadsheet, do the following:  click “add-on,” select “Get add-ons,” search “Flubaroo,” click “+ Free” to add it to your sheet.  

Tip: After you “Get Flubaroo,” it will always be an option for your spreadsheets, even if you don’t create the spreadsheet through Google Forms.

Google Forms - Answer Key
Answer Key Gif

Now that Flubaroo is added to your spreadsheet, you have a lot of different options.  To set up the grading, you must take the assessment personally so that Flubaroo can use it as a template for grading all the student assessments.  When doing “Auto-grading”, Flubaroo then gives you various options for each question type including: “Identifies Students,” “Skip Grading,” “Normal Grading,” and “Grade By Hand.”  

Tip: For the name, use “Answer Key” to remind yourself when you go to create the template for Flubaroo.  

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Example of Student Responses
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Bottom of Flubaroo Spreadsheet

Identifies Students – Used for non-grading purposes, specifically sending the results to participants after completing the assessment.

Skip Grading – As stated, will skip grading the question and won’t be given as a option for sending results to students.  This is great for getting their perspective, or testing questions without any consequence to students.

Normal Grading – Will give you the option to provide various point levels for these questions.  This would be for the multiple choice/matching style questions that it matches to your answer key.

Grade By Hand – A great way to do short answer questions.  However, for most essay style questions, I use Google Docs and the Add-On Doctopus to grade.  I will do a blog post about that later on in the year.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.13.32 AM

Personally, I love the auto-grade option, so that students can get feedback immediately on where they stand with the content.  Due to the immediate response, I do not do any short answer questions (besides Identifying Student Type) so that students can know how they did.

Google Classroom

When assigning the assessment to students, use Google Classroom!  Create an assignment on Classroom, and add the Google Form Assessment from Drive.  What’s great is that it will keep track for you of what students have taken/not taken the assessment.  The only frustration is that the grades are not carried over to Google Classroom (but should Google Classroom really be for grades or should it just be used for feedback?  Something to think about.).  Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.14.23 PM

Any other thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Posted in GAFE, Uncategorized

Google Forms – Basic Design (Part 1)

Google Forms – Basic Design (Part 1)

 

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Google Forms

This year as a school we began implementing “Student Learning Objectives” as part of our curriculum.  In order to do this, we followed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of Missouri’s suggested “SLO – Progress – Tracker.”  In order for the tracker to be effective, teachers needed an easy way to collect quantifiable data on student performance and content knowledge.  For many teachers, the easiest way to do this on a consistent basis is Google Forms!  In part 1 of Google Forms, we are going to discuss some ideas of how to design your Google Forms to be effective in the classroom.

 

Google Forms

To access Google Forms, go to forms.google.com or go to your Drive Account (drive.google.com), click “New” – More – Google Forms.  When accessing it from forms.google.com, it will give you quick templates that could be useful to have assessments within minutes.  

The Basics About Google Forms

 

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Title

Just like every other Google Apps product, when the Google Form is first created, they are “untitled.”  Change the title to the appropriate standard or assessment (Tip: In the title include a shorten name for Formative/Summative Assessment for organizational purposes.  For Example: “FA” for Formative Assessment.)  I have attached a Google Document that goes into more detail the specific options you can do with the form, so that I can get into designing the form. (Google Forms – Cheat Sheet)

 

Design

Obviously there are a slew of ways to design your form, but the following has been wonderful for my purposes.  The first questions I always ask are First Name, Last Name, Hour, and Password.  The two names and password are setup as “short answer” and the Hour “Drop Down.”  To get the password question to work appropriately, you go to “Data Validation,” “Text,” “Contains,” enter desired password.  Tip: If “custom error text” is left then the password will be revealed to the students.  Instead, create a standard response like “Incorrect Password.”  For Example, for my American Government test on the Judicial Branch, I could use the password “Chief Justice” that students would use to access the assessment.

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Data Validation

 

 

After the sign-up page is completed, create a new “section” which are essentially pages to the form.  From this point forward, you can incorporate a variety of questions to help you assess your students content knowledge.  

Brian “Lewis” Pier suggested that in lieu of a password, create all the necessary copies of the Google Form and connect their responses to the same spreadsheet.  Then post each Assessment to your Google Classrooms in draft mode so that students can not access it till you publish it.

Suggestions

  1. If you are a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, then I would suggest setting up a short answer question that requires them to put in their school email account.  This will allow you to use Flubaroo to send students their results upon completion of their assessment.  (A post about Flubaroo will be completed later)
  2. When doing a “Matching Question” use “Multiple Choice Grid.”  I have found putting the question on the “row” portion and answers on the “column” portion it has been easiest for students to view.  Tip:  Put no more than 5 matching words-definitions per grid so that students can easily use the grid.

    1. Be sure and click “Require one response per row,” “Limit to one response per column” and “Shuffle Rows” to help deter cheating between students.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 1.52.15 PM
  3. Provide yourself multiple “Sections” throughout the assessment.  It helps break-up the test for students and provides opportunities for corrections on the part of the teacher.  For example, if a student notices that something is spelled wrong (which happens) students can go to a previous section while you correct the error.  Once corrected, students return to the section and it is corrected on their form.  (I generally do no more than 7 Multiple Choice Questions per page)
  4. When making these assessments, I first create it on a Google Doc.  This is handy when going to create a form, because Google Forms will automatically detect the “Enter” was used and make that into a separate “option.”  Here is a Gif demonstrating how it works: Gif of “Enter”
    1. Tip: There is an Add-On to do the Google Form but I generally just have two windows open side-by-side between the doc and form.
  5. On a multiple choice question, I always put the correct answer as the bottom answer.  The reason is when students complete the assessment, it makes it easy to identify how the students do collectively.  Under the “Responses” tab, the form will color code each option (Gif demonstrating how it looks).  Since nearly all my multiple choice questions are four options, then the correct answer will be green (option four is green).  Definitely handy when trying to quickly determine collective student comprehension of material.

Any other ideas? How do you incorporate Google Forms into your classroom?  For more ideas, check out Alice Keeler’s Google Forms Section.

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MyMaps: Student Created Maps!

Earlier in the school year I introduced the idea of using Google MyMaps in the classroom.  Over the last week couple of weeks, I began using it in a couple of my classes.  The result of the students using MyMaps was stunning.  While these maps are imperfect (missing details periodically due to student error), they demonstrate so many possibilities for student creation.

European History – European Explorers (Freshmen through Seniors)

European History – Absolutism Research (Seniors)

World Geography – Distribution of Natural Resources (Sophomores)


World Geography – North American Research (Sophomores)

Lesson Plan Design

First, determine what your goal/objective is for the lesson.

For both World Geography and European History, it was an easy and natural fit to use MyMaps.  In European History, I have always had students do some type of presentation (Powerpoint, Keynote, Slides) to detail the trips and explorations of various explorers.  But as I prepared for that annual lesson, I decided to give MyMaps a go around in order to have a completely student created product.
For World Geography, I have always wanted them to get a greater understand of the world’s natural resources and the disparity of their use/production throughout the world.

Tip: Create a generic map for students to look at, in order to understand how they can manipulate their own maps.

Second, provide the guiding questions and objectives for students to quickly access and research. 

New this year, I have been using Google Classroom for my classes.  To get students the questions and topics, I posted an “assignment” on Google Classroom with the following:

Topics/Questions
Types of resources to use
How to cite sources
Link to MyMap (Created by me, but will explain how later)
Initial Due Date (To help critique student work)

Tip:  When creating the MyMap link as a teacher, go to mymaps.google.com.  Then click share and change access to “Anyone at *School Domain* with the link” and “Can Edit.”  Next, copy the URL and post it on the Classroom Assignment.

Front Page of
mymaps.google.com 


Third, students begin researching and posting their information to the linked MyMap.

I had each student (or in my case pairs) create a “layer” on their MyMap for a couple different reasons.  First, I wanted to be able to easily assess the students without having to search throughout the map for each students work.  Second, it prevented students from accidentally deleting or changing other students work.

Tip:  There is a limit to the number of layers (10 Total) you can create, so be cognizant of the amount.

Fourth, review students work and provide immediate feedback on their design and information.

 
Example of Student work

As students begin posting their information to the map, give them insight on how best to improve their layer.  For example, having students use different colors/symbols in order to differentiate their work from other students (Ex. Christopher Columbus being the yellow line and markers).  Some other ways to improve their map would be to include the following:  Pictures/videos on markers, journal writings or data information for each marker, proper structure/organization on the side information bar.

Tip:  Unlike the other Google Apps tools, Google MyMaps does not automatically update as students work on it.  However, if you reload the map, all the other work will be updated to your map.

Fifth, share the student work with the rest of the world!

After students have completed the assignment, change the share settings to “On – Public Web” and “Can View.”  Then copy the URL and share it out to the rest of the world!

Tip: Post it to Google+ in order to demonstrate your students work, as well as inspire other teachers to have students create their own resources!

What other ideas do you have for student created maps?  Ways to make the process even better?

A video below to explain how I use this in the classroom!