March 22, 2017

Digital Portfolio Assessment

We got started on our digital portfolios using Seesaw this afternoon!  My students loved using the video and audio features.  I hope to share more insights and ideas as we continue using this awesome app!  We are so excited!

In the Meantime...
I also created an assessment rubric and sentence starters for my students to use tomorrow when we start to reflect on the artifacts we have chosen for our portfolios.  You can download them for FREE too on my TPT Store by clicking on the button above!

Here's a quick snapshot of the sentence starters included in this resource.

March 20, 2017

SeeSaw It Is...

A few hours later, I've downloaded and tried out most of the other apps I mentioned in my previous post. I looked into WeLearned.It, Pathbrite, Google Sites, Three Ring, Open School ePortfolio and Weebly.

And the Winner is...

Here's a quick introduction to what Seesaw can do: 

Why I Choose Seesaw:

  • The log-in is simple and easy, which is ideal for younger students! You can save a lot of time in this area. Students can easily scan the QR code and that's it! 
  • The interface is also simple! It's easy to upload docs, pics, and files through the app. Anything else, like Google Slide shows and movie files, can easily be uploaded as well. You can also import from 100s of other apps, like iMovie or Book Creator, into Seesaw! 
  • The students will love making comments and "liking" each other's posts! This feature offers them an opportunity to interact and develop skills in a semi-social media platform. 
  • Students can show off their learning, reflect on their assignments and projects, see their growth, and be proud of themselves! 
  • As a teacher, I love that Seesaw gives my students a voice, turns their growth into something that's visible, and allows them to take ownership of their learning! Students may struggle with the reflection aspect of creating a digital portfolio, but I hope over time, they will enjoy the process. I only wish I had started this sooner! Next year, I'll be sure to upload artifacts starting in August! 
  • One of the best aspects of this program is the teachers' ability to control content and who sees your students' work. You don't have to worry about privacy and protection with this app.
  • Seesaw offers help to teachers. There are also many challenges and ideas that help you get started. Here's one: Click here for the SeeSaw Challenge! And check out the other Help Center topics... 

There's a Downside...
There's a small downside to the app. At first, I found the simple and convenient interface to be very helpful, but then I discovered that the app does not allow student portfolio to be very private. All student have access to their classmates' portfolios. The feed contains everyone's uploads and reflections. This may be something that not all students are comfortable or want to share. I'll be searching for a workaround, but overall, I know students will enjoy this app.

Here's a snapshot of the interface with my Sample Student on my iPad...

Why Digital Portfolios can Transform Learning...

When I first started teaching, about 14 years ago, I did use the idea of portfolios as an assessment tool for my fourth-graders. We kept a file folder of all the papers, tests, assignments, projects, that we did and then looked back at it every month. I had my students pick one piece that represented their best work, or their worst work, and reflect on what they had learned by doing this assignment. By the end of the year, we had about eight or nine pieces to put together in a paper portfolio. Although it was a nice culminating project, it was a bit chaotic and time-consuming. There were also limitations. If the students had completed a project, such as a diorama in a shoebox, it was difficult to place this into a file folder, so the only items we could include were all paper based.

Digital portfolios transform assessment in to a whole new level and redefine the task of portfolio creation. Thanks to 21st-century technology, such as iPads, portfolio assessment can be easy to implement, and yet far more advanced at the same time. Students can pull from multiple media tools, such as movies, pictures, and documents to create a portfolio. Because of this variety, students can demonstrate learning and show the growth they have made overtime. In addition, digital portfolios allow other students to share their work to their classmates, and receive feedback and suggestions. Students can learn from each other and work together. Digital portfolios also allow students to focus more on the learning, rather than a getting a traditional grade. Because of the variety of options, students can also develop portfolios in multiple subjects and disciplines. I will definitely be using Seesaw this coming week to get started on my student portfolios.

More Resources I Used...

March 19, 2017

The Search for the Perfect Digital Portfolio App...

A few years ago, I started a Weebly site for my class website and loved it. Weebly is easy to use with it's drag and drop features and clean and dynamic themes. So, I was hoping my students could use their iPads to create their own digital portfolios using Weebly as well. Unfortunately, while it does have a specific site for student access, the programs doesn't allow editing for students through the iPads. I ended up having to go to the computer lab at our school my school in order to work on this one special project. Luckily I was able to it and get the portfolios completed in time for the end of the year.

This year, I want to find an app that works specifically for iPads, so I started my search for the perfect Digital portfolio app. Here are some suggestions I found while researching online...
  1. SeeSaw
  2. Google Sites
  3. Three Ring
  4. Pathbrite
  5. WeLearned.It
I'm going to spend the next few hours downloading and playing around with these app to find one I like best. Here goes...

March 13, 2017

Book Creator App IS AWESOME

If you're looking for an awesome new way to present information as a teacher or another way for students to present their learning using technology, be sure to check out Book Creator by Red Jumper Limited. 

Book Creator provides a simple way to make your own books, including children's picture books, comic books, photo books, journals, textbooks, and much more. This app is available for $4.99.  There's a free version as well!  This app is definitely worth the price and there's a special volume purchase discount for educational use. 

Screen Shots
Here are a few screen shots of the app in action...

And their promo video:

Here's a quick sample of an eBook I made using the app.  Once I had my story board planned, images downloaded, and information written down, I started the project. It took about 1 hour to create this book from start to finish.  When uploaded on iBooks, students can turn the pages and even have it read to them.  It couldn't be easier!  This is an app I will definitely use over and over again. Book Creator can also export the books to movie files like this one:

Inspiration Needed?
Book Creator can be used in any subject area, with any age, from 4 years and up. Create your own teaching resources, or hand the iPad to the students. Your students can create...
  • interactive stories
  • digital portfolios
  • research journals
  • poetry books
  • science write ups 
  • instructional manuals
  • much more!
Teacher Resources
This best part of this app is the fee ideas and resources for teachers. The company includes webinars and options for Twitter chats at #BookCreator.  Click here for the Teacher Training Page. 

I can't wait to download this app for my students and get started!  Thanks Book Creator!

March 4, 2017

My ConnectEDucator Journey

I created this video as part of an online class I'm taking for my CSUCI's Masters of Education program. The challenge this week was to show how I've become a connected educator and the value of developing a PLN over the course of this class. In order to demonstrate mastery of this challenge, we used Adobe Spark to create a video. This is FREE video creation tool. Check it out below:

When I first enrolled in this class a few months back, I thought I was pretty "connected." I used the Internet to find great resources and followed teacher blogs. But since then, I have learned that there are so many ways I could connect with other educators around the country.

For example, through the use of a blog, educators can communicate their ideas, stories, lessons, etc. Although I had considered starting a blog years ago, I never quite got around to it. A few weeks ago, I created and started this blog in order to share how I implement technology my classroom.

This blog is also a way for me to interact with the adult world. As a teacher and parent, we are around children all day! Of course, I love every moment, but there are times when having an adult conversation is necessary! Having a blog is a way to communicate with other teachers and share thoughts and ideas when it's not physical possible. At night, once the day is over and my own children are asleep, connecting with other educators is a way to feel like I'm a part of another community. My goal is to continue using blogs well after this course is over. I hope to have more time in the future to follow other educators' blogs, as well.

Another way to develop a personal learning network is to connect with educators through Twitter. Interestingly enough, I had created a Twitter account years ago, but I didn't know what to do with it. I had 0 followers and I followed no one. I had no idea the Twitter could be used as a resource for educators. I started using Twitter and I am now I’m following about 35 people and 14 of them are following me. As of today, I have tweeted 23 times. My goal is to get on twitter at least once a day and look at tweets from other educators and colleagues. Another goal is to remember to share my own teaching experiences using Twitter with others.

My exchanges on Twitter have been so useful. My favorite members include +Alice Keeler and +Google for Education. Because I use Google Apps for Education in my classroom, these members have provided many tips and shortcuts that I've already used. I've recommended them to my colleagues as well. In addition, I've also enjoyed following +Edutopia and +Teaching Channel because they provide links to excellent educational articles on topics such as 21st century teaching and learning. Twitter provides a fast and easy way to know about current information and what these organizations are publishing online. If I see something I'm interested it, it's just a click away.

I have also joined 4-5 Twitter chats which I found very helpful and engaging. I again, had no idea that educational chats on Twitter even existed. The educators in the chats were positive, respectful, and I learned many new ideas. My goal is to continue to participate in them as often as possible. My favorite thus far is #21stedchat and #caedchat. You can check out the official Educational Chats calendar here. I also enjoyed using TweetDeck to manage my Twitter categories, like the search results and hashtags.

During Twitter chats, I was able to use Pearltrees to curate the resources that others' mentioned. Pearltrees is a visual and collaborative curating tool. This tool has helped me organize my interests in educational topics such as project based learning and technology research. I have 7 collections and have pinned about 30 pinned resources. The best part of this tool is the ability to connect with others. This is valuable when you're working with classmates or colleagues on a project, lesson plan, or assignment. I wish I knew about this great management tool prior to this class.

In just in the last few months, becoming a connected educator has had a huge impact on me. One big idea is I've realized professional development and growth does not have to just come from within my own school site. I've used social media to connect with others and have gained so much already. In fact, I now feel it's more important to see what other educators around the world are doing and what educational strategies, tools, and resources have worked in making student success. I've learned about their different perspectives, as well those of my colleagues in this program. I love seeing how a school just 30 minutes away from mine is so different, and yet, so similar as well.

Next, I've really enjoyed the time I spent developing my PLN. Working on my blog and learning about all the new technology has really helped me focus on myself as an educator. I feel that a lot of the learning I've done in my Masters' program has been about teaching and students. For example, we have learned about assessments, instructional strategies, approaches to teaching, strategies for success, etc. However, becoming a connected educator has focused on me AS a teacher and person. I feel that it's developed a totally different part of teaching, one that I have neglected for a while!

I'm so grateful for the experiences I've gained in such a short time! Overall, I feel more confident in my abilities to navigate the digital world and truly do feel more connected. I am more willing to jump in and learn about other social media applications and tools. I know there is lots of room for growth and I look forward to continuing to learn more and more each week!