Top 5 iOS 11 Updates for the Classroom

Top 5 iOS 11 Updates for the Classroom

Google Productivity Tools for Everyone

At The Fletcher School, we use G Suite for Education and associated apps. Our teachers and students use Google Classroom, Google Drive with Docs and Slides, and Google Calendar on a daily basis. Hopefully,  you are also using Google apps in your personal digital life. BUT IF you are NOT I urge you to give it a try. Many individuals use Gmail with a Google account but are not accessing the other tools that are associated with the account. You can sign up for a Google Account here if you don’t already have one. If you are a parent, this will give you a window into the digital interface used by your child.

As we become more mobile with phones and tablets and move away from a traditional (I can’t believe I said that about a computer!) desktop computer and file storage we need to be aware of the tools available to replace how we worked on a desktop. And with a Google Account, many of the same tools that we use with G Suite for Education are also available to everyone else.

But are you using these tools? What are they? Are you still storing files on your home computer? Are there items you could access from other devices?  What if you could share files and allow edit rights to other collaborators? With a Google account, you have the resources of all the associated apps.  For this post, I will focus on Google Drive but don’t overlook the possibilities of other apps such as Calendar, Photos and Sites. 

From the Google search screen, log into your account and check out the ‘waffle’ on the right side of the screen. Here you will see the Google tool icons that are associated with your account. Select the Drive icon and see what might already be in there. 

If other people have shared documents with you, you will see those files under Shared with me. Check out Google Drive Help to get oriented and start to create documents, share them or upload files from a computer. Google Drive gives you 15 gigs of storage for free.

How can Google Drive work for you? With family activities, clubs and projects, sharing documents with others gives everyone access to information and duties and spreads ownership around. (Yes, they too would need to create a Google account.) Make a Christmas shopping list doc and add a new list each year. Now you can track gifts year to year and watch for patterns. Use a Google Doc to keep track of family login information and share the doc with all family members. When an account needs to be changed, update the document and everyone can find the new information. Use Google Sheets to maintain a family budget with a sheet for each month.

When my parents transitioned into assisted living and left a big house for us to empty and sell I made a spreadsheet keeping track of plans, furniture, repairs. As a family, it has been wonderful to be able to have all the information and details (and there are so many details) in one place where everyone can see it and add their own notes and stay informed about what is going on without sending countless emails redistributing the latest news. As my sister said, “A lot of people aren’t aware of all the apps they can use and to be able to all contribute to the same document in real time and add their own thoughts is a powerful tool.”

The reason for using technology has to relate to your interests and needs. Think about what you are doing that can be expedited with Google Apps. Do you have a babysitting Co-op, Book Club, or Carpool Schedule to keep track of with others?

When my daughters got married, I created a spreadsheet that could be shared with the bride, groom and bride and groom’s families to enter guestlist members and address information simultaneously. Right after their engagements, I set it up, shared it with them and the new in-laws and watched the invitation count grow. As you can see my son-in-law had the most friends! I shared my Wedding Guest List template with Google and over 2000 other people have used it and you can too.

I have highlighted the capabilities of Drive but that is only one component of Google’s apps. I created a website for my Supper Club to archive our events. That gave me experience in a personal way with websites and improved how I would use a website as an educator. You, too, could host your own website using Google Sites. The new interface is drag and drop and is a great place to start building a website for a club or activity. Using Google Photos as a way to archive photos, view across devices and keep your phone’s camera roll to a minimum is another valuable tool.

These and other Google Apps are available on any mobile device, IOS or Android. They can be shared with others which can allow everyone access to edit the same file in real-time. Hopefully, you are finding ways to leverage these Apps to your own advantage to enhance the many activities and interests you have.

“Making” at Fletcher: Discovery through exploration

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Video game creation with Bloxels

Think about the last thing you made – either with a team or all on your own.  Perhaps you wrote a paper, crafted a presentation, created an interesting movie, animation or piece of artwork, built a Lego structure, baked delicious cupcakes, or designed a game or a virtual world.

Now take a moment to think about the process.  What led you to select this project?  How did you plan, execute, and complete your finished product?  What roadblocks did you overcome?   If you worked with a partner or team, how did you share leadership opportunities?  Throughout the process of making, what did you learn?  Did you have fun?  Your endeavors probably resulted in a sizable list of discoveries.

This rich, multisensory learning process of “making” can be observed in classrooms around the Fletcher School.  For students with learning differences, integrating knowledge through experiential learning is a key educational component.   The Fletcher School’s curriculum infuses this culture of creativity, exploration, and design thinking. “Making” in the classroom provides both enjoyment and challenge, reaping limitless rewards.  

In recent years, Fletcher’s Technology and Learning Center (TLC) has been evolving as a physical gathering space outside of the classroom for problem solving and design projects.  Home of Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio, the MakerBot 3D printing station and regular BreakoutEDUs, the TLC is the perfect meeting space for student and teacher innovators.

Fletcher’s new Makerspace Club provides an additional opportunity for students to experiment, invent and explore.  Embracing the trending Makerspace evolution, participants use creativity to design products and understand processes.  With a dedicated time and space for independent learning and decision-making, and an array of digital and analog tools, students spend club time learning by doing.  Makerspace Club experiences prepare students for their current and future worlds through STEM challenges in science, technology, engineering, and math.  

Makey Makey

Makey Makey circuit board

Fletcher Makerspace Club students enjoy the freedom to select their own projects to pursue, using a wide array of tools:

Robotics

  • Dash & Dot Robots: Movements, sounds, and actions of these interactive robots are coded and executed with iPad apps.
  • Ozobot: Ozobots interpret color paths with optical sensors, customizing their movements, lights, and actions.

Digital Fabrication

  • Tinkercad: Easy-to-learn online 3D design app allows students to create and augment shapes, resulting in a 3D object for printing.
  • Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer:  Hardware receives and prints uploaded 3D designs, using a special heated plastic filament.

Coding

  • Makey Makey:  This small electrical circuit board connects with physical objects, allowing students to code ideas and inventions into actions with their computer.
  • Bloxels: Using simple blocks on a board and an iPad app, Bloxels allows students to build, test, and play their own video games.
  • Minecraft Edu: Educational version of Minecraft allows students to create and play this classic game in their own secure, classroom environment.

Offline Tinkering

  • Computer deconstruction:  By taking apart an old laptop, students learn about the inner mechanisms of devices.
  • Paper Airplane Challenge:  Students explore how to create an airplane which flies the highest, fastest, and farthest.

Student Broadcasting: A Path to Leadership, Teamwork, and Digital Literacy

The Fletcher School’s “Falcon News Network” serves as one of many ways in which our students have opportunities to cultivate and practice leadership and digital citizenship. “FNN,” written, produced, and directed entirely by students, has enjoyed huge success in only its second year.

FNN LogoLaunched in the fall of 2015, FNN began as an effort to modernize and improve the quality of school announcements, traditionally read during morning homeroom over the intercom.  Meticulous planning, methodical equipment procurement and testing, and detailed student and staff training led to the successful launch of FNN in the fall of 2015. Broadcasting live each morning using Google Hangouts on Air, this free Morning News Show Tool worked beautifully for students, enabling live streaming broadcasts to the entire Fletcher community and beyond.  In the spring, a new FNN crew was trained to run the show.  The new crew departed for summer vacation feeling well-prepared for a smooth FNN season transition in the fall of 2016.

Upon returning to school in August, 2016, the FNN crew learned that Google Hangouts on Air would be phased out. This not only necessitated a change in broadcast procedures, but proved to be a positive turning point for FNN.  After extensive research and testing, Instructional Technology Director, Jenny Grabiec, introduced Wirecast Studio as FNN’s new broadcasting software.  While Wirecast is not free and required a new learning curve, the purchase of this tool was an excellent investment in both time and money. Integrating seamlessly with YouTube, Wirecast challenged the crew to learn new and advanced broadcasting techniques while propelling FNN’s evolution toward a highly creative, professional-quality newscast.  FNN student directors began using the new features immediately, utilizing animated titles and graphics, customized banners, and streaming pre-recorded videos.  The FNN website was launched, providing links to broadcasts and Google Forms collecting news and content ideas from the Fletcher community. 

One of the best uses of shared digital media is connecting with our larger world to share positive ideas and contributions.  After witnessing the wonderful possibilities of FNN, Fletcher students and teachers writerseagerly collaborated to brainstorm new and exciting projects.  As a collective effort, an array of special news segments began rolling out, connecting our students with activities on our campus and beyond.  The FNN crew helped Fletcher celebrate National Digital Citizenship week, highlighting tips submitted by Upper School Beta Club students.  Fletcher faculty and staff joined others around the world in the famous “Movember Project,” growing beards and moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues. The great “shave off” was featured as a special FNN broadcast, surprising and delighting viewers.  FNN joined millions of students globally to promote the Hour of Code by featuring apps and encouraging classes to participate during Computer Science Education Week.  Middle School students used FNN as a platform to announce their Pajama Service Project, resulting in 398 pajama sets donated to Scholastic Services.

On campus, reporting at Fletcher has expanded in equally exciting directions, bringing our school community closer. The use of remote cameras enables the FNN crew to break free of the studio to summon “live reporting from the field.”  Students broadcast breaking news from their classrooms.  Lower school students stream the Pledge of Allegiance live from the gymnasium stage, with flags as a backdrop. A feature called Senior Spotlight streams directly from the Senior Seminar classroom.  The remote cameras enable every student and teacher to participate more fully in FNN.

Field ReportsPledgeRemote Camera

As this project evolves and grows, the FNN news crew flourishes as a team, with students taking turns in various leadership roles.  To join FNN, each writer, producer, anchor, sports/weather reporter, special correspondent, and director/assistant director must fill out a Google Form application and attend a job interview.  FNN crew must then complete orientation and training, while learning to navigate their tasks collaboratively. The FNN crew studies how to care for and maintain studio equipment, navigate copyright issues, learn graphic design, and practice script composition and spoken delivery.  Only through practice do students learn the precise timing needed to load the iPad teleprompter app or switch to the remote camera crew, ensuring a smooth broadcast flow.  State-of-the-art digital technology devices and broadcasting tools support a quality production, but none of these tasks can be accomplished without developing student skills. The FNN crew members practice leadership, teamwork, and use increasingly refined executive functioning skills to produce a top-quality show every morning.  Schedules, routines, and communication are all accomplished with hard work, yet the students enjoy each step of the process and are proud of their final results.

FNN crew constantly faces new challenges.  Both routine and change are part of the job.  WhetherIMG_3835 testing out a new Wirecast feature, troubleshooting audio quality for our roving reporters, or piloting green screen broadcasting, the crew discovers that only through some failures can they truly learn – how do we solve this newest challenge?  The FNN crew – and the growing number of other participating Fletcher students – are learning and using real life skills.  Each FNN crew member has a clear job description. Each student on the team must develop and practice the planning and troubleshooting challenges they will inevitably face in life beyond school. And as the team connects and matures, its members must train and nurture new recruits to expand the program.  

The Fletcher School serves students with a variety of special learning differences, and hands-on use of technology has become vital to this mission. Live broadcasting through the Fletcher News Network embodies this important component to support our curriculum.  For students with learning differences who have struggled and lost confidence before arriving at Fletcher, FNN offers a sanctuary where skills and talents can provide a daily sense of accomplishment and success.  FNN provides a vivid example of how the intentional use of educational technology engages students to become effective leaders, collaborative team members, and skillful problem solvers. On any given broadcast day, FNN reveals students enthusiastically learning, growing, and having fun.

Pear Deck – More Than Just Notes

What is Pear Deck?

Pear Deck is an interactive presentation tool used to actively engage students in individual and social learning. Teachers create presentations using their Google Drive account. Students log into the presentation with unique access codes and interact with questions while teachers monitor student and whole-class progress.

The main login page. Students get real excited to walk in and see this!

The main login page. Students get real excited to walk in and see this!

As a busy teacher, I often dread having to make new content that works with the “newest technology.” It can be frustrating to remake notes, activities, and assignments from scratch because they are not compatible. This is what sets Pear Deck apart from other platforms→ Pear Deck works seamlessly with Google Slides! Let me repeat…I can take my already brilliantly made notes and upload them to Pear Deck.

But Why???  

Student Engagement-

Pear Deck allows me to make my notes engaging and interactive. Within the deck I can quickly build engagement slides. These slides allow me to check in with my students in a variety of ways.

I can create :

  • Draggable questions take the form of agree/disagree or thumbs up/thumbs down
  • Drawing questions allow students to free draw in a blank space or on a grid
  • Free response questions have short text, long text, and number capabilities
  • Multiple choice questions take the form of yes/no, true/false, or A, B, C, D

Peardeck Creations

Not only does Pear Deck create a more engaging and interactive classroom for the students but the teacher dashboard provides immediate feedback to analyze student engagement, comprehension and lesson efficacy. A huge plus is that the teacher controls what appears on the screen. Unlike Slides or Keynote presentations, in Pear Deck, students are locked on the screen until the teacher decides when to move on!

Another feature of Pear Deck that I LOVE is the Student Paced feature. This feature allows students to move throughout the Pear Deck at their own pace. I often utilize this feature for homework and for quality sub work.  At the end of my notes, I will build in engagement slides that relate directly to the day’s lessons. They often include matching, multiple choice, audio activities and everyone’s favorite; the free hand drawing. When class ends, I simply switch the Pear Deck from teacher paced to student paced and my students can finish the lesson at home.  As they complete the activities, there is nothing to “turn in”- Pear Deck records all their work and we can review it together the next day in class. Once the review is complete, I send out their “Student Takeaways” and students have access to their notes and corrected HW answers.

Using the student paced feature as meaningful sub work has been one of my favorite features of Pear Deck.  I can quickly and easily design a Pear Deck full of interactive activities for students to work on with a sub. I often combine audio and draggables to create fun and intuitive activities that challenge students even when I am not present. Pear Deck also lets teachers determine when and what responses to share with the whole class via the main presentation screen. This means I can highlight a specific student response, toggle between responses, or in some instances share all student responses (this one is often the most fun!). It’s great because student responses are anonymous to everyone except the original responder and the teacher. During this presentation, I can backtrack to previous slides and add impromptu questions.

Some examples of student paced:

Peardeck Student Paced

To sum it up; Pear Deck is a teacher and student friendly program that easily allows a teacher to modify existing slides and create new ones with interactive features that engage students!

OG and iPad at The International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association’s Annual Conference is committed to growing awareness, research, and education in the areas of literacy instruction and interventions for all levels. This annual conference is a four-day event bringing in over 2,000 attendees globally. Educators, therapists, reading specialists, physicians, researchers, and parents of children with dyslexia and other language disorders come to engage with keynote speakers in a wide variety of work sessions and poster presentations on the most current research. Some of the topics represented are Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Response to Intervention, Literacy, Critical Reading, Vocabulary, Spelling, Morphology, Language Disorders, and Advocacy. IDA’s Annual Conference also offers an exhibit hall which allows the opportunity to browse curriculum, software, materials, and of course, the opportunity to network with other professionals.ida

The 2016 IDA Annual Conference was held in Orlando, Florida in late October. With keynote speakers like Albert Galaburda and Guinevere Eden, my colleague, January Reed and I, were thrilled to be attending this year. Not only were the keynote presentations conveying the most current research about literacy and the brain, but other sessions were led by well-respected presenters such as Ron Yoshimoto and William Van Cleave. We were able to attend a variety of sessions, including Orthographic Processing, Neuroscience of Dyslexia, Morphology, Executive Functioning, allowing us to learn new strategies, look at students from fresh perspectives, and engage in collaborative discussions with other professionals at the conference.

January and I were honored to present at the 2016 IDA. Our presentation, entitled Using iPads to Enhance Multi-Sensory Instruction, focused on empowering educators to create innovative lessons to remediate struggling readers, improve spelling, and increase attention using the iPad. We offered practical examples to enhance literacy instruction while keeping students engaged and accountable for their learning.

Being able to attend this conference was valuable to our growth as educators in several different ways. We were able to attend sessions with specific intentions to gain expertise to serve our students with the most effective interventions. We networked with other professionals who share our passion to remediate and advocate for children and adults affected by dyslexia. We engaged in deep reflection looking closely at effectively adapting strategies for the future. Lastly, we returned to our school encouraged and inspired to teach and continue our work with struggling readers.

Hour of Code 2016

It’s time for Hour of Code 2016! Computer Science Education Week is December 5-11 when the whole world participates in an Hour or more of Computer Coding. There are many ways to experience computer programming for every age group. Listed below are some of the Apps and Websites showcasing Hour of Code and coding apps. The Fletcher School EdTech Team encourages all grade levels to explore these age appropriate coding programs. Teachers: Contact EdTech if you would like us to help you plan a coding lesson. Resources will be posted in Monday Memo. Mac Users can click on the Hour of Code button in Self Service. #kidscancode #socanadults!

Apps of the Day

11/18  Many coding apps have been pushed to all Fletcher School iPads.The Swift Playgrounds app is one of them. Swift Playgrounds is a new app for iPad that teaches you to write Swift code in a fun, interactive way. “Swift code is a programming language developed by Apple to build apps.”  Check out the Hour of Code Swift Playgrounds challenge in the app. Learn the code developers use to build apps. Another great coding app for lower school is ScratchJr and Scratch can be used by grades 5-12 students on a Mac.

swift               scratch              image00

11/21  Check out Code.org, the headquarters for Hour of Code. Code.org has a diverse set of modules and tutorials of varying length and topics that appeal to all ages. Work with code in Star Wars or Minecraft settings or create unique artistic designs using coding commands. CodeAcademy, “teaching the world how to code” is a higher level interface with many options to take coding the next and real world level. Learn HTML, Java, or Sass or learn to make a website. It can be accessed by iPad or Mac users.

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Professional Development Spotlight: Tech Tuesdays

Ongoing, high-quality professional development is a key component of any successful educational institution.  Students benefit when teachers are presented with opportunities to learn new techniques, be inspired by creative lesson ideas, and collaborate with colleagues.  The Fletcher School’s robust collection of professional development opportunities include a particularly unique and popular offering:  Tech Tuesdays.img_1

Launched and developed by Fletcher’s Technology Director, Jenny Grabiec, in 2013, Tech Tuesdays are one-hour weekly professional development sessions, allowing staff to sharpen their technology skills in completely customized ways.  Offered in-house after school, Tech Tuesdays are optional, so teachers can sign up for topics which match their professional goals.  Based on a universal staff understanding of SAMR and TPACK frameworks, Tech Tuesdays allow teachers to transform their learning environments with technology.

Like everything else we do, The Fletcher School’s professional development offerings reflect our mission:

The Fletcher School creates bright futures for students with specific learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders by offering a structured, individualized, college preparatory curriculum that prepares them to reach their full potential.   

Our Tech Tuesday sessions provide teachers pathways to reach these goals, with sessions to support student learning. 

Tech Tuesday topics include:img_0388

  • Orton-Gillingham and Technology
  • iCan with iOS: Accessibility for iPad Users
  • Personalize Learning with Mac and Chrome Accessibility
  • Improving Executive Functioning with Tech Tools
  • Using iPad to Enhance Multisensory Instruction
  • Create your own Textbooks with iBooks Author

Teachers learn how to use a wide variety of apps and web tools to accomplish their goals, including iPad and MacBook apps and Google Apps for Education.  Sessions offer engaging, trending ideas, including green screening, using QR codes and augmented reality. Each year, teachers are surveyed to obtain feedback on sessions, and gather ideas and suggestions.  Fletcher’s EdTech team select topics which include the best current ideas and apps, so staff is always kept up to date.  Since its inception in 2013, Tech Tuesdays have evolved to include many more Fletcher teachers leading the sessions, demonstrating their own research and learning.  The format has also changed over time, improving the conversation between teachers and presenters.

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BreakoutEDU: A platform for immersive learning games

Ever heard of the “escape room?” Our very own Fletcher faculty participated in a team building activity a year or so ago by visiting Exit Strategy, the country’s largest escape room location, right here in Charlotte. According to Wikipedia, “an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit.” It is a fun way to work collaboratively, while using critical thinking skills to solve problems, and ultimately, escape from the room!

The smart creators of BreakoutEDU decided to bring the idea of the escape room into the educational world by creating curriculum related breakout challenges! They thought, why not allow our students to get out of their seats, work together to solve puzzles, all while learning about key themes related to their areas of study. Brilliant! Here is a great clip describing how BreakoutEDU works and why it is a great addition to any school setting.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE conference in Denver, CO with a group of Fletcher teachers. The creators of BreakoutEDU positioned a school bus in front of the conference center, to introduce educators to the idea. The school bus had been redesigned as an escape bus! Working with a small group of educators (I only knew one of them), we uncovered various clues, such as a hidden key in a beaker full of colored liquid and magic letters on a map, exposed only with a special UV flashlight. We had a guide in the session with us and we were able to get up to two hints from her, if we got stuck. We had to get a few hints and we relied on a high school student to help us with many of the challenges – This challenge was right up his alley! We ended up breaking out of the bus in 14 minutes and 57 seconds and then proceeded to our photo op station.

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img_1256I knew that our students would LOVE the opportunity to try something like this, so I purchased a special BreakoutEDU box for our school. The box came with a hasp, combination locks, key locks, pencil lock boxes, a disappearing ink pen, UV flashlight and blank hint cards.  I also found a huge following for this idea on a BreakoutEDU Facebook group and on BreakoutEDU.com. On this site, teachers can find tons of games that have been designed by educators around the country. The games include helpful resources, such as lesson plans, video clips, printable game materials, combinations and so much more. Several of the games even include video tutorials so that teachers can set up the game exactly right in their own classrooms. All of the games include an age group suggestion and a direct link to subject area content – math, science, social studies, language arts and more are represented!

Stephaportable-network-graphics-image-fb7684c9796f-1nie Sanders, a fifth grade teacher at Fletcher, was planning to introduce her students to the book, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, when she stumbled across the BreakoutEDU idea. Thankfully, a teacher had already designed a BreakoutEDU challenge for the book and Stephanie decided to put the book in the box, locked with key locks and combination locks, that could only be unlocked by solving the related challenges. The students worked together to solve the challenges, breaking into the locks and retrieving the book from the box. The students used Google searches to find answers to some of the questions, which were needed to determine combinations. What a fun way to begin a new novel in the classroom! The kids loved it!

Mrs. Poe used the box last week and set up a Minecraft challenge for her elective class and computer fun club. Again, the students worked together to break into the box and one student asked, “When can we do this again?”

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We can’t wait to see what other BreakoutEDU challenges await for our students!

Using Flubaroo

Teachers, if you are not using the add-on Flubaroo, you are missing out!  Flubaroo automatically grades a Google Form, freeing up time for lesson planning.  Interested? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a Google Form
  2. You, the teacher, complete the Google Form
  3. Students complete the Google Form
  4. Teacher then uses Flubaroo to grade the quiz:
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Open the Google Form you want to grade. At the top of the form, click on “Responses.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then click on the green Google Sheet icon to put all the responses into spreadsheet form.

 

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A spreadsheet is automatically then created, with “Responses” added to the title.

 

I find it best to change your username to ANSWERS, that is easier to identify in a spreadsheet of multiple usernames. (For security reasons, student Usernames have been covered.)

I find it best to change your username to ANSWERS, making it easier to identify in a spreadsheet of multiple usernames. (For security reasons, student usernames have been covered.)

 

new one

If you have not done so yet, get the Flubaroo Add-on.

 

Click on Add-ons in the menu bar and select Flubaroo, Grade Assignment.

Click on Add-ons in the menu bar and select Flubaroo, Grade Assignment.

 

A menu will pop up asking about grading options. This is the place you can tell Flubaroo to leave out a particular question when grading, or to give questions different weights. After making your choices, click on continue.

A menu will pop up asking about grading options. This is the place you can tell Flubaroo to leave out a particular question when grading, or to give questions different weights. After making your choices, click on continue.

 

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You will then be asked to select the username which is the answer key. Select your own username, or if you changed your username to ANSWERS, select that.

 

Then watch Flubaroo work its magic!

Then watch Flubaroo work its magic!

 

You will then have a spreadsheet with grades, as well as which answers they selected.

You will then have a spreadsheet with grades, as well as which answers they selected.

 

You then have the option to email the students their grades

You then have the option to email the students their grades.

 

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Make your selections and grades will be emailed to your students.

 

Enjoy your free time!

Many thanks to Marialice Hilt for showing me how to use Flubaroo and making grading so much easier for me!

Studying Communities Through Global Collaboration

Studying Communities Through Global Collaboration

The 3rd Grade curriculum includes a study of communities. In 2015, our 3rd grade students Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.43.20 PMparticipated in a global collaboration project titled “If You Learned Here.”  This was the first year the project was offered. Eighty schools from around the world were involved, including the Fletcher School. The coordinators, Carolyn Skibba and Mary Morgan Ryan, were inspired by the book If You Lived Here: Houses of the World. They have created a wonderful project in which students share in a global dialogue about our learning communities. The project culminated with each school writing pages for a published online eBook titled If You Learned Here:  Schools of the World.

Each of the first four weeks, we created videos which we shared using the app Flipgrid.  We were able to view all of the other schools videos to learn about their school communities. Every week had a different theme:

  1. Our School and Community was the first week’s theme. Together we wrote a script to introduce The Fletcher School and Charlotte to our new cohorts.
  2. Our Day at School allowed us to share each part of our school day from the ride to school to our after school activities.
  3. Our Learning was a fun time for us to teach a lesson. We noticed that none of the other schools had Social Skills classes and it just happened to be The International Day of Happiness, so our main lesson was about how to stay happy.
  4. Our Reading was a chance for us to create our own Reading Rainbow style videos reviewing our favorite books.

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The global collaboration videos were enlightening. The students gained confidence and self-esteem as they watched kids from around the world share similar stories. This year, our 3rd grade students are enjoying the If You Learned Here videos from both 2015 and 2016 and discussing the various communities.

The link below will take you to the videos and our book “If You Learned Here: Schools of the World.” Our Flipgrid videos are labeled Orange Cohort.

If You Learned Here 2015

Map of Schools

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Students-Created Instructional Videos with Do Ink

“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca.  Mr. Elliott’s 7th grade science classes recently put this ancient wisdom into action by creating amazing instructional videos detailing their knowledge of the circulatory system.

Part of a larger study of the human body, 7th graders covered the circulatory system content using their Discovery Ed Science Techbooks, with the guidance of a teacher-provided outline and other select resources.  In past years, Mr. Elliott would have then assigned students a final culminating project, such as an oral report, or slide presentation.  But this year, he wanted his students to utilize audio/visual-rich technology tools to demonstrate their expert status on specific elements of the circulatory system.  So Mr. Elliott charged his 7th graders with the task of creating interesting and unique, narrated instructional videos.

Working in pairs, the 7th graders began by reviewing a selection of copyright-friendly, editable Discovery Ed videos.  Each student group was asked to present a specific areas of the circulatory system, such as the heart, blood vessels, or blood cell types.  Once the students had selected some interesting video, they transferred clips into iMovie to do some initial editing.  Each group then wrote a detailed script to accompany their video.  Excitement and anticipation about the project grew as students prepared for their Green Screen Studio appointment slots by practicing script narration timing with their custom videos.  Mr. Elliott observed that enthusiasm for this project drove students to be quite independent while completing their work.

IMG_0459Once everything was prepared, each student group arrived at Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio and began downloading their scripts into the PromptSmart teleprompter app.  They next set up their edited iMovie in the Green Screen by Do Ink app, which enabled the student experts to see their video playing behind them while they read their script. Classmates volunteered to run the iPad camera and teleprompter, creating a positive, collaborative atmosphere.  The experts donned their lab coats and enjoyed filming their creations, resulting in exceptional videos.

Poetry Podcast

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.11.27 PMBy Kathy Poe and Shannon Nichols

Mrs. Nichols’ classes developed a poem based on a famous person that has made a difference. She had her students create a poster of their poem with photos. Mrs. Poe extended the project by having the students make a podcast of the poems.

This Written Expression project was twofold. First the students studied the style of Narrative Poetry. We listened to, read, and dissected three infamous narrative poems: Casey at Bat, Harriet Tubman, and Caged Bird. After closely reading each poem, students determined that narrative poetry tells a story, uses repetition as a tool, and often contains symbolism. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the students identified and researched a person that has been a champion of human rights. They applied the knowledge learned about their chosen role model to create a narrative poem for the second piece of this assignment. The poem was presented as a poster with illustrations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.19.53 PMWith the poem written our students turned their poetry into a Podcast. They watched videos of champion poetry readers from Poetry Out Loud to see how other students deliver a poem in a dramatic way. To make them come alive our students practiced recording their poems working on diction, fluency, timing and presentation. They used GarageBand to record their poems and added music that fit the time period. Recording their poems brought them to life beyond the bulletin board. Finally, we created a QR code to listen to each one.

Click here or use the QR code to listen to all our Poetry Podcasts!

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The Industrial Revolution and Child Labor

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.11.48 AM There are many events and topics throughout US History that I love to study.  The Industrial Revolution is one of my favorites and child labor during that time is a special interest.  I wanted to create a project gave the students the feeling of being in the factories with the children of the time.  

Then I thought, what if the students could truly be in the factories?  Could I use Lewis W. Hine and Jacob Riis’ pictures to put the students in the factories?

Students were told they were about to become true, child laborers.  Each student created a Google Doc, and once they changed the setting to “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”, students used the Google Research tool find a picture of child labor from the Industrial Revolution.  This was a great opportunity to review the photo citation process.  After finding the picture, students took a screenshot of it and saved it to their desktop.

During one class period students brought in clothes that best matched the children in the picture, they were not required to purchase anything.  Most of the boys brought in a button down shirt, while many girls found dresses in their moms’ closets.  Some students even brought in props.  We then dirtied them up a bit with some potting soil, to give them an authentic look fo the  working conditions in the factories.

After taking their pictures we put them into iMovie in order to change them to black and white, or in some cases, sepia.  Students then took a screenshot of the altered picture and using the cropping tools removed all surrounding background.  

The altered screenshot was then copied and pasted onto the screenshot of the original picture.  That allowed us to size the student to fit in with the original.

The finished products are outstanding.  The students are always amazed at their completed “photographs” and are anxious to see pictures from other classes.  This project is a perfect combination of history and technology.

Digital Literacy and Creative Projects

Blog Post - April (2)Nowadays, we live in a digital world where students spend a large portion of each day utilizing computers as a tool both in and out of the classroom. At the Fletcher School, our goal is to develop Digital Literacy and Citizenship in our students. Using Common Sense Media’s Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum in our computer classes, students discuss and learn how to be responsible and safe while online.

Two of the many aspects of Digital Literacy from Common Sense Media that are taught in 6th Grade are Strategic Searching and A Creator’s Rights. These two components give students an introduction to online researching and the importance of citing sources used to obtain information. Strategic Searching, shows students how to effectively and efficiently conduct research on the internet using a variety of strategies such as using keywords, synonyms, quotations marks around specific words, and different domain types. A five-step method (S. E. A. R. C. H.) is introduced as a tool to assist in planning and carrying out online searches. The 5 letters stand for: select questions, extract keywords and terms, apply search strategies, run your research and chart your search.

A Creator’s Rights teaches students about copyrights, fair use, public domains, licensing, piracy and plagiarism. Through videos and class discussions, students come to understand these terms so they can follow the rules of copyright laws, protect their own creative work and be respectful of how they use others work.

Blog Post - April (1)After studying these two Digital Literacy components, the 6th Graders complete a four part culminating project entitled, “My Birthday in History”. The project incorporates the Digital Literacy curriculum, as well as various technology tools. For the first part, students are required to apply the five-step method and strategies for searching to research events and birthdays that happened on their birth date in history. Students are always amazed at what they discover when doing this research. Many times they have heard of an event or person, but it adds an exciting element when they find out it happened on their birth date. My classroom comes alive with chatter as everyone shares their discoveries. I often have to remind them to save some “surprises” for their actual paper. Once the information is gathered, it is used to write a six paragraph paper Students must include a “Works Cited” list to give credit to the people’s work used as resources. For the second part, pictures are collected that correlate to the events and birthdays chosen. The pictures are utilized three ways, as an attachment to the written paper, incorporated into an iMovie, and to design a poster using one of two websites: Canva www.canva.com or Buncee www.edu.buncee.com.

Blog Post - AprilThe completed posters are put together as a bulletin board. For the third part, an iMovie is produced. Using our green screen room, students record and edit a video depicting one historical event and one birthday from their written work. The video and pictures are assembled to create an iMovie which has to include transitions and music. Lastly, in order to share our completed project with our school community and visitors, students use Blippbuilder to create “blipps.” These “blipps” turn the posters into interactive images that can be used with Blippar, an augmented reality app, to scan them. Anyone who has the app downloaded on a digital device can see the students’ movies “come to life,” just by scanning it. All are welcome to come see our work!

KAPOW! Students Get Creative with Comics in Spanish Class

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.29.44 AMStudents often struggle to find creativity and relevance in their Spanish writing assignments.  Often, the textbook vocabulary can be dry, unrelatable or “boring”. Additional challenges include not knowing enough supplemental vocabulary to truly tell an interesting story in their own words. Which results in students turning to online translations tools to “fill in those blanks” and typically I am left with a lovely essay written by Google Translate. So how does a teacher get students to bring to life their textbook vocabulary while staying true to their own abilities??? A comic!

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Teachers often struggle with how to use technology to encourage storytelling. Typically a new app or website can be everything from exciting to terrifying…and time consuming. Many teachers want to find ways to grow their projects using the SAMR model. SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Pixton Comic Maker is an easy to use website that really allows students to design, develop and infuse digital learning. To make an amazing project, teachers and students do not need to access another site (i.e: students do not need to use Quicktime to record voices, Pixton provides all tools needed within its site). There are also many helpful “how-to” videos provided by the website. I was very impressed with how quickly my students learned the website and their final projects were really incredible!

The Pixton Comic Website is both a teacher and student friendly website that not only allows students to write and create their own stories, but allows them to fully bring them to life by providing the technology needed to record student voices directly into the project!

The end result is a narrated slideshow that tells the students story in their own words. I believe that this a a website that can teachers, regardless of content area, can use to create individualized and innovative projects.

Student Example

Pixton Comic

We then used http://www.qrstuff.com/ to link our pixton comic to a QR that allows everyone

We used a simple QR code to allow others to share in our assignments! Try it! 

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Teacher Collaboration Impacts Student Learning

QRCode_2ndGradeTeachersWorking together as a team is always a positive experience for teachers who wish to improve the educational experience for their students, learn from each other, and grow professionally.  The Fletcher School’s ongoing professional development programs create opportunities for all teachers to learn and practice new skills, share ideas, and work on common goals to increase teaching efficacy.  Fletcher’s second grade team is now expanding their knowledge by creating their own customized informal workshops for lower school teachers.  

Following the model set by Fletcher’s professional development programs, second grade teacher Christi Kubeck taught teachers how to use QR codes in their classrooms.  QR codes are a great way to engage and motivate students by incorporating added interest and movement into reading, writing, and information processing.  Ms. Kubeck shared her extensive technology knowledge and volunteered her time to assist lower school teachers who signed up for the activities.

The teachers began with a discussion around innovative uses for QR codes to enhance their multisensory lessons.

Some stimulating lesson ideas included:

  • Orton-Gilling rules, including
    • CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant)
    • the “rabbit rule” (when to double middle consonants)
    • Syllable division
  • Math flash cards
  • Subjects and predicates
  • Government: American symbols, eg. The Statue of Liberty

QR Code StudentThrough hands-on, step-by-step instruction, Ms. Kubeck led teachers through the steps of creating, laminating, and cutting out QR codes.  QR Code Generator was used to create the codes, and the i-nigma app was used for QR code scanning.  Multi-colored papers, pictures, videos, and a variety of intriguing content were included to customize the final products.  The teachers had ample time to gain instruction on the process, work to finish their lesson materials, and practice how they would be used in class with students.

Teachers emerged from the experience enthused about the experience and ready to replicate the use of QR codes in the classrooms with additional content.  The teachers also reported feeling energized through their group conversations and appreciated the opportunity for additional camaraderie and creativity.  Kudos to Ms. Christi Kubeck for leading this effort by sharing her time and expertise with colleagues!

Going Green! Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio


Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.38.45 PMOur school’s green screen studio is one of the many gems found in our building, but why do we have one? Chroma Key or “green screening” is a technique by which a block of a particular color (often blue or green) in a video image can be replaced either by another color or image, enabling, for example, a weather forecaster to appear against a background of a computer-generated weather map. Check out this
fun YouTube video for examples.

Our green screen studio has been used in many creative and innovative ways to bring our curriculum to life. Instead of traditional essays, students have used the green screen room to immerse themselves in a story’s setting and plot by replacing the green background with a scene from that story. Students use props, accents, and clothing to portray a character’s point of view to show their understanding of those important characters and how they affect the plot. The ability to superimpose oneself into the storyline of a book or within a different landscape learned about in science, engages and motivates students to learn.

Here are a few example of our past green screen projects created by Fletcher classes:

Exotic Spring Break Destinations (edited in DoInk’s Green Screen app) 

Trouble River (edited in iMovie for Mac)

Trigraphs (edited in Touchcast for iPad)

So, how do our students make the magical green screen effect happen?

IMG_4991Our green screen studio has adapted to our needs over time. We used to have a mobile screen with stands that we carted all around the school. It was cumbersome and no longer practical once the idea of green screening caught on and everyone wanted the kit transported to their room. Our original screen screen lights were extremely low budget. We purchased three tripods from Target and clip-on flood lights from Home Depot. We simply clipped the flood lights to the tripods and situated them in front of a large, felt green screen purchased from a photography store.

We found that the lights weren’t holding onto the tripods well and they were really warming up the rooms we were working in.  Therefore, we spent some money to upgrade the lights to the Impact Soft and Natural Light Kit from B&H. Honestly, these lights would function much better in a larger space, but since we are working in a small office, we can’t situate the lights in the best way possible. However, they are more sturdy and don’t get so hot.

IMG_9819Yes, so we moved out the fabric screen and in it’s place painted a wall green in a small, empty office in our tech center. We used Behr “sparking apple” paint to mimic the green screen that we had used in the past. 

Since the beginning we have filmed with our iOgrapher for iPad and Rode microphone kit. We recently purchased a cheaper Rode microphone for our second iOgrapher, and it works just as well!

 

IMG_9813Finally, the most recent addition to our green screen studio is an iPad Air iOgrapher on a tripod. We use this as our “teleprompter” to offer a confidence boost and to encourage students to look at the camera instead of looking down at their notes. The app we use for the teleprompter is called PromptSmart Pro and offers a cool feature called VoiceTrack, which follows your words during your speech and automatically scrolls the text at your natural pace in real time. We have found that this functionality is hit or miss, however, and we often revert to setting an automatic scrolling speed.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.42.24 PMRecording objects or people in front of a green screen is the first step of chroma keying. The second step is editing the video in an application. Our iPad users edit green screen recordings in DoInk Green Screen app and Touchcast Studio while our Mac users chroma key in iMovie. You can find out more about how this is done on page 18 of my book, “iMovie for Mac in the Classroom.”

There are cheaper ways to make green screening work in your home or in your classroom. You can paint a piece of cardboard green or buy a large green sheet or piece of green fabric from the craft store. The built-in microphone of your device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will work just fine for recording audio. We hope you’ll give it a try!

Teaching Tolerance

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Teaching Civil Rights during February is often expected of U.S. History teachers, but it doesn’t have to be the creation of a timeline of key events, or a study of Martin Luther King, Jr. I take a slightly different approach and use technology to drive home a lesson of global tolerance.

I start off by guiding the students to create a class definition of tolerance: the willingness to accept something you do not like, understand or agree with.  Then with the help of Danielle Knight’s lesson from Teachers pay Teachers, students learn the meaning of the lyrics behind U2’s song:  “Pride, In the Name of Love”.  On Youtube, we watch the original video (which always leads to student guffaws over Bono’s hair and dancing) and then a video that sets the same song to a compilation of news footage from the Civil Rights Movement.  It is an engaging way to introduce Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality and tolerance.  

We then move onto the technology portion of the lesson.  Using Amy Zschaber’s lesson plan, students create a Tagxedo of who they are and what they want others to tolerate in themselves.  

  1. Using a Google Doc students created a list of 55 words about themselves.  
  2. Open Tagxedo.com  – it seems to work better in Firefox or Safari.  If you are using a Mac, you will need to install Silverlight first.
  3. Students then click on create, which brings them to the creation page. (Image 1)
  4. Click on load on the left side menu, paste the words from the Google Doc into the enter text box and click submit, the image will then “respin”. (Image 2)
  5. Click on Shape in the left side menu, and choose add Image at the bottom of that dialogue box. (Image 3)
  6. Choose a picture of the student.  When  the image loads will it may look like a black blob, so use the threshold and blur options to make the image more clear. (Using a picture with a white background works best.) (Image 4)
  7. Click accept and the image will ”respin” into the student’s photo with the words within the shape. (Image 5)
  8. I then allow students to change the colors by clicking on theme on the left side menu.  (Image 6)
  9. Students can also choose a new font by clicking on font on the left side menu. (Image 7)
  10. To save or print click on save/share on the left side menu and select the option you would like. (Image 8)

I enjoy teaching this lesson each year because the students really enjoy using Tagxedo, and it opens the door to honest conversation about who we are as a society and how far we have truly come in terms of equality.

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Upper School Research Tools

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 3.26.06 PMResearch is a time consuming process, but there are a plethora of online resources and websites that help alleviate the stress of compiling information, annotating sources, and composing a paper.  Many students often feel overwhelmed with the research process, and they don’t necessarily know how to begin.

The early portion of research requires structure and organization.  A tool like Symbaloo allows students to bookmark credible web sources.  Students can now go to one page that houses all of their research content, and each link or resource is represented by an image tile.  Patti Weiss, the Instructional Technology Facilitator at The Fletcher School, discusses the versatility of Symbaloo and asserts, “Symbaloo provides students with both guidance and independence, leading them to take responsibility for their own learning while continuing to benefit from Fletcher’s excellent devices and technology resources”.  Symbaloo’s user-friendly features and simplicity makes research less daunting.  

Citing sources and formatting are two other areas of the research process that involve careful attention.  Schools and universities across the country warn students about the negative consequences of plagiarism.  It is important that every student understands the importance of citing every source.  Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (also commonly known as Purdue OWL) outlines all of the rules of both the MLA and APA Formatting Styles and Guides.  The site provides thorough explanations of the rules as well as samples of citations and formatting requirements.  Furthermore, students who need to review any grammar concept can easily access helpful tips on English grammar, usage, and mechanics on the site.  Purdue OWL also updates their site regularly to include the latest changes on citation rules and requirements.

Students at The Fletcher School are exposed to research-based writing assignments in the ninth grade.  Mr. Gale, a Composition teacher in the Upper School, remarks, “Ninth graders learn how to identify credible sources on the web, extract relevant information, paraphrase the research in their own words, and understand how to cite their sources correctly.”  This exposure prepares Fletcher students for the writing that they will encounter in college.  

History is another course where students conduct research-based projects.  Mr. Jolley, a History teacher at The Fletcher School, claims, “Research is necessary to the understanding of history.  Often students learn from the perspective of the teacher; it is just as important for students to take ownership of their learning, and they should examine documents from the past that show the ideas, feelings, and reasons behind the historical content they are studying in class.  It is imperative that students are given the skills to find and evaluate historical resources; these skills serve them across curriculum and allow them to apply the same skills in the outside world.”

The writing that Fletcher students complete in all of their courses ultimately prepares them for their Senior Exit Project.  Fletcher seniors are required to compose an 8-10 page research paper on the topic of their choice and create a multimedia presentation to be presented in front of the Fletcher community.  Seniors take a two-day field trip to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Atkins Library to explore ideas for their project and collect sources.  They continue the research and writing throughout the fall semester.  Google Slides, Keynote, and/or Prezi  are among the tools that they use to create the multimedia component of their project; they also use Google Docs to compose and revise their papers.  The Senior Exit Project is a wonderful opportunity for the  Fletcher seniors to showcase their writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation skills.

With a methodical plan and the right tools, any student is capable of writing a well-developed, organized, and properly cited paper.  

K-1 Students Create Digital Privacy Book

Keep it Private Online

Click the thumbnail above to download Masarya’s book!

The Fletcher School is committed to developing digital literacy and citizenship skills beginning with our youngest students. Our kindergarten and first grade students begin by learning about online safety and privacy. They are taught to think about going online as a fun field trip. The rules are the same as a real field trip:  always go places with an adult, don’t wander off on your own and talk only with people you know. We practice looking at websites and discuss which ones have topics they enjoy and activities that work well and are fun to play. The site they choose should seem like it’s made for someone their age. The teacher displays a variety of website forms that ask a child to sign up before using the site. Students discuss how to approach a parent about help with deciding if this is a good site for them. Then, using the Book Creator app each kindergarten and first grade student creates a book titled, “Keep it Private Online.” Their book displays words and pictures of the information they know should be kept private when using the internet.

Example by Masarya:

Symbaloo

iPad K-4 SymbalooA key component of The Fletcher School’s Digital Citizenship program includes guiding students to make excellent choices when using their devices.  Our teachers prepare students for their digital worlds by modeling, instructing digital citizenship, and teaching students how to practice navigating and organizing resources from a variety of sources.  Students can now benefit from this continued guidance when using their devices either at school or at home using Symbaloo.

Symbaloo is a personalized learning environment, which offers a shared collection of online bookmarks and web resources.  Fletcher’s Symbaloo webmixes are organized by grade levels and customized by Fletcher’s EdTech team, evolving with continuous student and teacher input.  With Symbaloo, Fletcher students may use technology to access specific activities/games which are safe and appropriate for specific approved school periods (eg. advisory, homeroom, team time), during before/after school programs, and even at home.  Symbaloo provides students with both guidance and independence, leading them to take responsibility for their own learning while continuing to benefit from Fletcher’s excellent devices and technology resources.  

How Does Symbaloo work?

Fletcher students may use the following resources to create, explore, or play games during before and after school programs, or during any assigned free time during the school day:

MacBook 5-12 Symbaloo

Any student/teacher wishing to suggest an item to be added to the Symbaloo may submit their idea using the Symbaloo Request Form, which is also linked on each Symbaloo webmix.

 

 

Google Hangouts on Air – A Morning News Show Tool

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Our very own FNN debuted on Monday, January 11, 2016!  What is FNN, you ask? FNN stands for Falcon News Network and is a daily morning news show produced, directed and filmed by Fletcher students. Under the direction of Kit Verica and behind-the-scenes technical support from the Fletcher Ed Tech Team, the Falcon News Network has worked diligently these past few months preparing to take over the morning announcements.

Back in the fall, Don Goble, a broadcast journalism teacher, came to Fletcher to help us prepare for the implementation of our student-led morning news show. Don’s expertise provided us with the information we needed to begin the process by envisioning a mission and gathering up all of the elements needed to run a show.  Last year we converted an office into a green screen studio. Transforming the tiny room into a news studio required a few additional steps. We brought in professional lights, a webcam, a MacBook for recording the broadcast, a high-quality microphone and a teleprompter.

IMG_9125The FNN team was selected based on teacher recommendations and students’ dedication to arriving early each day. Branding was another important part of the process. First, the team asked students to submit name ideas, which were voted upon by students, faculty and staff through a Google Form. The name, FNN was the clear winner!  In the next phase, the team asked students to submit designs for the FNN logo contest. The winning logo was created by Justine G and Abby F and has now become the official branding of FNN. We even purchased a pop up banner with the FNN logo to serve as the backdrop behind our news anchors.

IMG_9739The workflow of FNN is entirely digital, starting with the morning announcement requests, which are submitted by faculty and staff through a Google Form. Directed by Alex K, Max  and Alex M compose and add the submitted announcements to a teleprompter – an iPad on a tripod loaded with the PromptSmart Pro app. The webcam and microphone is set up in front of our news anchors, Jeffrey and Tyler, and plugged into a Mac. Ned and Henry work on the production side and use Google Hangouts on Air to film the live broadcast.

FNN1Each morning at 8:15 am, each grades 6-12 classroom teacher turns on their projector and Airplays their Mac screens to the Apple TV so that the students in each class can watch the show live. To watch the show LIVE, all viewers go to http://bit.ly/falconnewsnetwork to tune in.

If you’d like to watch previous recordings of the show, you can go to  http://bit.ly/FNNonYouTube. Don’t forget to subscribe to the FNN Channel!

 

We are so proud of our FNN team and can’t wait to check out the next episode!

Self-Checking in Math Class with QR Codes and Book Creator

20160108_084618During the first semester of school, the 6th grade students learned various math concepts such as integers, order of operation, prime factorization, number lines, operations with decimals and prime and composite numbers. We spent time on how to solve word problems by applying different strategies and using skills taught in class.

As a cumulative first semester activity, the students became the word problem writers!  Students created a QR Code Math Booklet of their own that had a total of six problems utilizing the concepts we learned in class. Each problem also included a QR Code with the answer for self-assessment purposes. 

After the books were completed, students chose another student’s book and completed the problems. Using a QR Code Scanner, the students checked their work. The 6th graders realized that writing math books is not an easy task!

Ignite!

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Ignite presentations are structured slide presentations, that feature twenty slides that automatically advance every fifteen seconds.  As an attendee of ISTE I have always been impressed by the educators that participate in the Ignite sessions.  Each Ignite presenter I have seen has given off an air of calm and conviction in their topic.  How do they do it?  How do they not crack under the fifteen second time pressure?  How do they even begin to craft their presentation?  At The Fletcher School I teach Integrated Studies which has a focus on digital citizenship and technology.  What better place to give Ignite a try?  The project lends itself to teaching research skills, photo citation skills, and public speaking skills.

Ignite presentations have an extremely wide range of topics.  Some of my favorites are Better Living Through Fast Food by Jay Thompson and How to Give an Ignite Talk by Scott Berkun. While these topics are fun and entertaining, I wanted my classes presentations to have a little more meat to them, especially as the first student suggested topic was “Why do Reese’s cups stick to the wrapper?”  Definitely interesting, but I was hoping for topics that were a little more worldly and pushed the students beyond the borders of their private school world.  

I stumbled across the Rock Your World curriculum and decided to use it to my advantage.  We began by looking at the Declaration of Human Rights and the Public Service Announcements Rock Your World directed us to on Youth for Human Rights.  We used these to determine the interests of the classes.  After reading the Declaration and viewing the public service announcements, each class gave suggestions and we came to a consensus on a topic to begin researching.  

The best Ignite resource I found was by Olivia Mitchell: The Fastest Way to Create an Ignite Presentation.  She lays out planning an Ignite presentation in six steps:

  1. Create an outline using her presentation planner
  2. Convert the planner into 20 slides – no pictures yet!
  3. Finesse the script so it fits into the 15 second time limit for each slide
  4. Find pictures for each slide
  5. Practice with notes
  6. Present

The biggest mistake I made was to focus on the five minute time limit, not the fifteen seconds per slide time limit.  When verbally reading the written slides each class came in at the five minute mark, I thought we were golden.  After finding the visuals for the slides and thinking we were done, we did a practice run through with a fifteen second timer.  What a disaster!  It turned out the script for some of the slides only lasted six or seven seconds.  We then had to make some very hurried edits in order to be prepared for presentation day.  We practiced in the classroom as well as the room we would be presenting in.  Practicing in the actual room gave the kids a bit of a wake up call of what presentation day would be like.

Our efforts were worth it, presentation day was fabulous.  Parents of the students came, as well as the students from sixth and seventh grade.  There were definitely some nerves, but the each group did a great job.  Parents enjoyed seeing their kids in a public speaking role and each student left the presentation with a sense of accomplishment.

I am thrilled with the outcome of the Ignite presentations.  I am already looking forward to seeing which topics the students will chose next year!

 

Hour of Code at Fletcher

IMG_0247This is our third year to participate in Hour of Code, an International focus during the week of December 7th to highlight the possibilities that learning to code can offer to students in our technological age.

This week Paula Paul came and spoke to us about her career as a programmer and introduced us to what real coding looks like through koding.com.

Mrs. Poe’s 7th grade computer classes will spend not just an hour but more than a week working with a coding simulation interface to experience how to talk to a computer and what it takes for a computer to interact with them.

There are many options available to learn to code such as Code.org, Code Academy and Khan Academy and we match the students to a site that fits their interests and abilities. These sites are available to anyone, anytime so check them out and try coding yourself!

 

“Promoting an Idea” with Adobe Voice

voice.001Mrs. Perry’s class worked on “Promoting an Idea” using the free iOS app, Adobe Voice. This app allows students to focus on the spoken content of their video rather than the visual. The icons in Adobe Voice are automatically credited at the end of the slide show. Students paired up to discuss an idea and worked together to write their script.

Adobe Voice has a prompt for each slide. Example:  “What problem does the audience or who you’re helping struggle with today?” The students’ enthusiasm in using their own ideas was inspiring.

Click below to view students’ work products:

Teaching with Movies

Letters to Children’s Hospital

Embrace Kindness

EdTech Coffee Chats

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The new Edtech Coffee Chats series kicked off on November 11 for parents of grades K-4 students, who enjoyed meeting with Fletcher’s EdTech Team in the school’s Technology and Learning Center.  The relaxed format of this drop-in event enabled parents to ask an abundance of excellent and important questions about Fletcher’s one-to-one program and their students’ iPad devices.  Several tech-savvy parents even offered useful tips and shared their experiences for managing both Fletcher and personal devices at home.  

A wide variety of device, digital citizenship, and general technology topics were covered during the first EdTech Coffee Chat, including:

  • iOS 9 tips
    • Important accessibility features for students with learning disabilities
    • Jenny Grabiec’s new iOS accessibility iBook, iCan with iOS
    • Optional parental restrictions located in iPad settings
    • Battery life to check usage
  • Excellent habits for iPad use at home
    • Checking devices often with your child
    • Learning how to check history
    • Password management tips and tricks
    • Discussing tech topics with your child
    • Keeping devices in a common area at home, particularly after bedtime
    • Using Guided Access to lock student into one app, with optional timer
    • The pros and cons of filtering at home
    • Teaching children how to manage devices appropriately as preparation for the real world and their future
    • Communicating as a main key of technology success
  • Age-appropriate search techniques
  • Advantages of digital books, with built-in accessibility tools such as text to speech, font and view customization, search, bookmarking, and highlighting features
  • Minecraft as an educational tool
  • Finding balance between technology and the rest of life

We appreciate the wonderful contributions of our first EdTech Coffee Chat participants!  Please join us at an upcoming EdTech Coffee Chat, one Wednesday per month from 8:15 – 9:15 AM.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

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Storyboards Come Alive with QuickTime Player!

storyboard

In October, Mrs. Heath’s fifth grade class finished up the novel, Because of Winn Dixie and were asked to develop a character study. Using Storyboard That, each student created a storyboard to describe a scene from the book, while highlighting the traits of a specific book character. Students went one step further by adding voice to their storyboards! To narrate through each of the frames, the students created screencasts using QuickTime Player for Mac. They pieced the clips together using iMovie for Mac. Check out Regan’s storyboard below!

 

Ghost Story Podcasts

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Click to listen to our students’ podcasts of ghost stories on SoundCloud.

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Kathy Poe’s 7th graders worked on podcasts of stories by SE Schlosser from American Folklore. Ms. Schlosser allows the use her stories if she is given credit. This project allows students to focus on the production of a podcast using Garageband to record a story, add music and sound effects, edit the audio and give attribution to the source of our story, music and other sounds.

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What students thought about this project:
It helped me with my reading skills because I could listen to myself. CM
You can also have your voice sound scary and like monsters. AM
To accomplish a project you first need to obviously record. That sounds like a one time deal but only if your a great reader on the first try. If your not you could be recording for a long time. It’s always a good idea to add sound effects to get your listeners attention. Lastly make sure to give credit to the websites you borowed from. LG

Techspert Bar!

Falcon Flash April 2015

US History Class Meets iBooks Author!

Mrs. Terrick’s US History classes recently worked on a research project on topics, such as the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, President Abraham Lincoln, etc. This year Mrs. Terrick allowed students to curate their research into an iBook using the amazing Mac app, iBooks Author. Students’ books have been published in the Apple iBookstore and are available to all! Great job Mrs. Terrick and US History students!

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iMovie for Mac in the Classroom

This new book on iMovie for Mac in the Classroom includes helpful video tutorials, step-by-step visual directions and project examples and descriptions from our Fletcher teachers. Please let us know what you think below!

iMovie for Mac

New iOS Accessibility Book

Please download our new book on iOS Accessibility!

accessibility

Tagxedo

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I LOVE Tagxedo. It is a fun way to learn to make pictures with words. It is funny sometimes because it does not look like what you want it to. You can insert your own pictures, change the color to something that fits in, and put in your own words. We used it for poetry in our class! You can make advertisements like some posters or fliers. Tagxedo is fun.

By: Andrew, 4th Grade

Tangible Play (Now Osmo!) Review

collageI think Tangible Play is a great program. I like how you can play by yourself or with two teams of red and blue. Also, you can pick a grade level to play. I like how the pictures get harder and harder. But when the pictures get harder, it’s hard to find the subject of the picture. Like when there was a picture of a kangaroo and the word was marsupial and it was second grade! So I think Tangible Play would be better if they focus on what the main subject is in the photo that you are guessing.

By: Maya, 4th Grade

Digital Learning Day

DLD2014SaveTheDate1Digital Learning Day is on Wednesday, February 5 and many of our teachers have shared how they plan to incorporate digital tools into their instruction. Click on the link below to check out how teachers and students plan to innovate on this big day!

icon-flashDigital Learning Day 2014

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a good coding web site. On Khan Academy you can learn and write code. I have learned a lot about Khan. My favorite part about Khan is that you can make your own invention. My teacher tells me that if I like coding I should stick with it and maybe some day I could make my own web page or something bigger. On Khan you can listen and watch videos that help you learn to code. I made a program where a snowman is reaching for his hat and its snowing. Making a program on Khan takes time. When you get mad because something doesn’t work you can always go back and watch the video for help. Once you finish making your program you can save and spin it off.  When you spin it off every one who is on Khan can see it. Khan Academy is a great web site for coding.

Modeling Programs With Cell Models or Student Cellfies!

Every year Mr. Elliott has his students create a model of a cell. This year I had our students take photographs of their cell models with either cell phones, iPads or cameras. We used the photos to create digital projects supporting the lessons about cells and organelles that they had learned in Science class.

Hannah used the picstitch app on her phone to build a collage of cells.

We learned to extract the cell image to make our cell into clipart using Pixlar Editor, a Google App.

With the extracted images we collaborated on a presentation in Google Docs where each student worked on their own slide in the same powerpoint.    1st Period Cell Project

And finally we imported the powerpoint into Prezi to experience another tool and how to use it.

Cell Model Prezi

We will continue to use content from other classes to explore programs and applications such as Glogster, Scratch, Kidblog and more!

Kathy Poe

 

4th Grade iPad Pilot

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Our fourth graders have led the way with our technology transition by piloting 1:1 iPad Minis in their classrooms. They have been hard at work creating iMovies, mind maps, eBooks and more!

The students have really taken off and expressed their creative sides by designing their own eBooks with the Book Creator app for iPad. In Mrs. Wheelock’s class, students researched a unique endangered animal and put their discoveries together into ebooks that included images, video with picture-in-picture and even customized drawings. In Mrs. Bald’s class, students did a similar project all about spiders! You can view and download the students’ creations on your iPhone, iPod or iPad by visiting our iTunes U collection. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Jenny Grabiec
Director of Instructional Technology

About Our Site

Apptitude2Learn.com was created to support our teachers, students and parents with our one-to-one iPad and MacBook program.  An independent, K-12 college prep school, our students must have an LD and/or ADHD diagnosis, documentation of average or above average IQ, and evidence that emotional or behavioral issues are not the primary concern. Specific learning disabilities include diagnoses such as disorders in reading, written expression or math, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and language processing deficits.

Our one-to-one program will be rolled out over a two-year period with the equipment having an estimated life span of three years through a leasing program. iPads will be provided for students in grades K-5 and a mixture of MacBooks and iPads in grades 6-12. iPads and MacBooks will be provided for all faculty members.

This website will serve as a resource and sharing hub for teachers, students and parents.