Monday, September 28, 2015

Office 365 default response

This seems like such a small thing, but it was bugging me until I fiddled around and found a solution.
I have noticed that in my email, the default Reply button was actually Reply to All. We all know the difference and have made the mistake at least once of hitting Reply to All when we just meant Reply. Hopefully for you, it was annoying instead of embarrassing. It seems to effect the Office 365 email app users more than the Outlook users.
Take a look at your email. Up in the right corner, does it say Reply? or Reply to All? If it says Reply to All, you can change that by clicking on the gear up in the top right, selecting Options, then choosing Reply Settings, and select Reply instead of Reply to All. Make sure you click Save, then click the left arrow up at the top left next to Options to get back to your email.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My introduction to Edmentum products

I spent Monday at an Edmentum training. Fun, I know, hold your jealousy. But what I learned is actually pretty useful and applicable to any classroom.
The Edmentum products that we have are Plato and Study Island (this one is new to us). Most of us know Plato is our OnTrackCreditRecovery curriculum, but there’s a lot more in there that we have access to as teachers. Study Island is a way for students to practice test questions or for teachers to use as quick, pre-built formative assessments. I can see ways that these can be used in many, if not most, classrooms in order to support the instruction from the teacher.
In Plato, a teacher can use certain aspects of the content inside the Plato program to remediate, or back fill skills that are necessary but you may be lacking the time to do in class. In my own practice as an English teacher, I can see assigning my students the grammar lessons to cover/review content the students need, but get lost in the mix while trying to teach literature. Or if there is a group of students that need a piece of content, but the rest of the class doesn’t (again, English, review of nouns and verbs), then I can assign independent work for students that meets their individual (or group) needs. There are a few ways to do this depending on your goals, but it doesn’t take that much time on your part as the teacher.
Study Island on the other hand is a place where students can practice questions for a variety of purposes. It has everything from practice AP questions, to SAT/ACT questions, SBAC, to course specific questions. As a teacher you can assign a concept for students who then can work on their own taking the test questions. Or you can use it as a quick formative assessment to get an idea of where your students are without having to create an assessment. Or students can access it on their own working based on their own goals. There is very little ‘teaching’ in Study Island, although there is a review for many areas prior to the start of questions. This is for students to practice answering questions that look the way they will look on ‘the real test;’ whichever test that may be. Again, the set up depends on what you want out of it, but it’s pretty simple to do.
In summary, integrating pieces of Plato can help teachers differentiate, remediate, or just use content as a bank of material/test items. Study Island allows students to practice with the content and skills being asked of them either for their own benefit, or for you to get an idea of where your students are at.
If you are interested, or just curious, give me a call and we can look at it together. I’m looking at setting up a workshop for each as well in the near future.

*To be clear, my school has purchased these tools from Edmentum and I am exploring how to best utilize them in my school with my colleagues and for the benefit of our students. I am not affiliated with Edmentum in any other way.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What the heck is SAMR?

SAMR is a model/framework for understanding technology integration in the classroom. I’m including a few images below that I consider to be good representations of SAMR including one that relates it to the Depth of Knowledge wheel that we are familiar with here at Righetti.

SAMR is an acronym for:

Substitution is when technology is used in a way that does not change the task at hand it is just a different tool to accomplish the task at hand, like a word processor instead of writing an assignment out by hand.

Augmentation is where the task itself doesn’t change, but the use of tech adds an element to the task that is absent previously, like using the editing tools within the word processor (spelling, grammar, dictionary, thesaurus).

Modification is when the task has a fundamental change due to the use of technology like when using collaborative documents where students can work on an assignment collaboratively in order to include work from all students.

Redefininition is where the task is fundamentally different due to the use of technology like when students post their assignment in an online forum where other students or a larger audience can comment and initiate ongoing conversations with the world at large.

SAMR often appears in a linear fashion, which is reasonable, but it should not be seen as a progression of skill. Just as with Depth of Knowledge, it is not reasonable to operate at the far end of the spectrum all the time. It is important for classroom tasks to be varied in order to meet the needs of all students, and this includes our use of technology. Some tasks are just better with paper and pencil, but the use of technology also allows for some pretty amazing opportunities. Check out the analogy below from @sylviaduckworth, applying the concepts of SAMR to investigating what’s in the ocean. There is purpose for each step, boat, snorkel, scuba and submarine; it’s a matter of using the right tool for the learning goal.

There are lots of tools available to teachers and students for use in the classroom. Below is the Depth of Knowledge Wheel with tools that lend themselves to different areas of the SAMR framework from @edudemic.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My new life as a Technology Coordinator

Here I am, 4 weeks into this new position and I finally feel like I am getting my feet under me.

I keep telling people my goal: to help teachers and students integrate technology into their classroom practice in a way that benefits student learning and is reasonable for teachers. I really want to help take things OFF the teacher plate and create more engaging activities for students. I am not a fan of tech for tech sake.

I have been spending a lot of time working on student tablets, both in the set up process and the troubleshooting of problems. I’m hoping to get away from hardware issues being my primary focus and I think I can see the light.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been able to get into 6 classrooms (with a few classes each) to do Kahoot! demos. Today, I am running a period by period Remind workshop to help teachers set up Remind accounts. I have a whole list of ‘Cool Tools’ I would like to share with teachers!

In addition I am trying to learn a whole new brain full of stuff: new microsoft products, new assessment tools, new district software, along with the new expectations that came with the new role.

Every week I try to create goals for myself and keep track of everything that I do. My biggest goal is to make a positive impact on student learning by accomplishing the small goals along the way.

Wish me luck.