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Since last January (2013), I’ve been working on an add-on for my teaching license that will qualify me for my current position as an Instructional Technology Specialist/Facilitator.  This is has been a pretty tedious process since I pretty much already know most of what is being taught.  However, I had one assignment in my current class that gave me quite a bit of trouble.  In fact, I made the lowest grade I’ve ever made on that assignment…I mean EVER! It’s all good though, I still have an A. :)  Anywho, the assignment was on the use of spreadsheets in the classroom.

In the past, I’ve used spreadsheets to create basic gradebooks, budgets, and lesson plan templates, but I’ve never really thought about using them with the students.  I’m the kind of person that I’m not not going to know something for long, so when I recovered from the shock of my grade, I became determined to learn more about spreadsheets in the classroom.  Holy cow, have I been missing out!

Tammy Worcester Tang is using Google Spreadsheets in some really incredible ways.  You definitely have to check out the Google Stuff page on her website.  A couple of her awesomely creative ideas include:

    • coloring lines and resizing rows and columns to create index cards, notebook pages, and journals.  Since a spreadsheet can have multiple tabs, those are great ways of creating study aids and digital notebooks for your students. Here’s an image of an index card I created. spreadsheet_indexcard
    • use “if/then” statements to create “Guess and Check” activities for your students.  Hide the actual answer in cell A1 and set the background color to the text color.  The correct formula for an “if/then” statement is: =IF(what you’re testing, “true value”, “false value”).  In the example below, I asked the question “How old is Mrs. Boucher?”  I had three formulas that I used: =IF(C6>A1, “Too High”, ” “), =If(C6=A1, “Correct!”, ” “), and =IF(C6<A1, “Too Low”, ” “).

Some other ideas that I’ve found through my research are:

  • Creating math review for basic facts or finding the average of a set of data using a spreadsheet.  Print them out and have your students complete them.  Show students how to use the basic formulas for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and average.  Have a computer station set up where students can input the formulas and check their answers.  By putting in the formulas, they’re cementing their procedural knowledge.
  • Have students collect data on the latest tablets or other desirable electronic devices.  Record the prices for each and have them use the MIN and MAX formulas to identify which one costs the most/least.
  • Have students research different summer jobs that are available in your area.  Input the data and use the MIN and MAX formulas to determine which are the best jobs.  You could go a step further and use charts to compare pay per hour for the jobs to see which jobs offer the most money for the least amount of hours.
  • Have students create databases using spreadsheets, then teach them to sort and filter to find the information that they need.

I always stayed away from spreadsheets in the classroom because I really didn’t understand how they worked.  As I continue to research and find more classroom activities that even the youngest students can do, I’m getting more excited about them.  Have you creatively used Spreadsheets with your students?  If so, how?  Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

Yes, I know that today is Friday, not Thursday, but life is CRAZY right now.  My apologies! :)  Last Thursday I introduced you to the series Putting the YOU in  YouTube.  I discussed setting up your YouTube channel and personalizing to let your students and parents know more about you and the purpose of your channel.  In this post, I’ll walk you through uploading your videos to YouTube.  Join me next week as I discuss trimming out unwanted portions of your videos.

Uploading Your Videos

From Your Computer:

Uploading videos from your computer to YouTube is very easy.  If you’ve ever attached a file to an email, or used your My Documents to open a file, you’re good to go.  The Upload button on YouTube is present on every page.  It’s in the top center of the page.  To upload a video, click that Upload button, and it’ll take you to this page:

yt_upload_page

For right now, we’ll ignore what’s on the right hand side of the page, and just focus on the white space in the middle.  If you click on the gray arrow, a dialog box will open up, where you’ll locate the folder/file where you video is saved.  If the video file is already open, you can just drag and drop the file onto the white space.  Either of those will begin the upload process.  The drop-down menu right below the upload area that says, “Public” is where you’ll set your viewing options.  You can always go back into the settings of the video once it is uploaded and change this, but it’s easies to just go ahead and set it now.  You options are Public (everyone can see it and people can find it through a search), Private (only people you designate can view it, and they have to be logged in to their account), or Unlisted (people have to have the link to view your video, but do not have to be signed in).

From Your Phone or Device:

After recording a video with your device, it should be saved in your Photos app (sorry if I use iOS terminology, but it’s what I’m familiar with).  Choose the video that you wish to upload.  From there, click the “Share” button.  On iOS devices, it is a rectangle with an arrow coming out of the top.  This should bring up several ways that you can share your video, including email, Twitter, and YouTube.  Choose YouTube.  If you are not signed in to your account, you will first be prompted to sign in.  Once you are signed in, you will be asked to give your video a title, write a brief description, set the viewing options (Public, Private, Unlisted), and choose a category.  Once you have input all of this information, click “Publish”, and your video will be uploaded to YouTube.

Once your video has been uploaded, either from your computer or from your device, it will take a few minutes to process.  Depending on the length of your video, processing could take a few seconds to a few minutes.  If you feel that it’s taking a really long time, cancel the upload and try again.  My challenge to you over the next week is to take a few videos and get them uploaded to YouTube.  Next week, we’ll look at trimming down your video and taking out parts that you don’t need.  I hope to “see” you back next week!

According to my allergies, spring has sprung.  Depending on when you school’s Spring Break is, you and your students are probably chomping at the bit for a break from each other.  Here are a few spring tech ideas to help you through these last few days/weeks before the big break.

padletPadlet (web-based)

Upload an image of a Tree Map or other type of classifying graphic organizer to Padlet.com.  Share the link with your students and have them generate a list of spring words.  Here’s an example.

tellagamiTellagami (iOS & Android – Free)

Have students take a picture that represents spring (blooming flowers, bunnies playing, etc.).  Use that photo as a background for a Tellagami story.  Students can tell about their plans for Spring Break, their favorite things about Spring, or give a weather report about how the weather is changing.

Titanic:  Her Journey (iOS – Free TODAY (April 8th), regular price $4.99)

The Titanic hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912 and sank in the early morning hours of the 15th.  For a limited time, the iOS app Titanic:  Her Journey is free in the app store.  Have students explore information about the different decks, people, construction, and more within the app.  There are tons of great pictures to engage your students.  After exploring, have your students write a letter to a passenger on the ship, or have them write a story as if they were a survivor of the voyage.

Easter Egg Game (web-based)

Let your students decorate their own eggs.  Take screenshots of the eggs and post them to your class website or print them out.  Use the type of eggs chosen, type of egg cup chosen, and colors to make different types of graphs.  An example would be to make a bar chart of the colors chosen.  Take it one step further and have your students design questions to ask about the graphs you create.

Stop Motion Photography Apps (iOS & Android – lots are free)

Have your students create stop motion movies about how flowers grow, how clouds form, how tornados form, etc. This can be done by having them draw pictures and then use a mobile device to take photographs of the images while they’re being constructed.  The app then puts the photographs together to make a movie.

Educreations (iOS – Free)

Spring brings lots of changes to our planet.  For example, spring brings tornado season, the spring equinox signals changes in daylight, etc.  After completing units detailing these changes, have your students use a whiteboard app to insert pictures of these concepts, then narrate how these things happen and/or relate to spring.

Comic Creator from ReadWriteThink.org (web-based)

Have your students create a comic strip about spring.  Other ideas could be their plans for Spring Break, a story told from the perspective of the season itself, and a funny, persuasive story convincing people that spring is the best season ever!

I hope these ideas are useful to you.  Even better, I hope these ideas lead you to some creative ones of your own.  If you decide to use any of these, please tell us what you did and how it went in the comments below.  Have your own awesome spring tech ideas?  Share them below!!

you_in_youtubeWith the proliferation of phones and other mobile devices capable of taking video, students and teachers have the opportunity to quickly and easily become video producers.  Many people who take these videos are using YouTube as a host for their movies.  However, most people are unaware of all of the great, free editing and publicity tools available through YouTube.  The next several TechToolThursday posts will focus on these great tools, and by the end of the month, you’ll be a YouTube expert!

If you have a Gmail account, you have a YouTube account.  The first time you log on to YouTube with your Gmail account, you’re going to want to set up your channel.  There are many ways that people can find you on YouTube, and one of the best ways is via your channel.  To access your channel, click your username in the top-right hand corner.  “My Channel” should be your first option.

 YT menu

Before setting up your channel, though, you’ll have a decision to make: connect your YouTube account to your Google+ account.  I’m not 100% sure I understand the inner workings of it, but what I’ve been able to gather is if you connect your Google+ account, the only way you have control over what to name your channel is if you first set up a Google+ page (not profile) and link those.  If you just link your Google+ profile, your channel name will automatically be your name.  I like the freedom to name my channel what I want, so I chose to set up a Google+ page and connect those.  On my school account and channel, I decided not to link at all.

Last year, YouTube added a whole slew of options for your channel including channel art, featured links, featured channels, a channel trailer, and a few other “sections” that you can use or not.  Here’s a screenshot of my channel.  I haven’t gotten around to adding a channel trailer to iTeachTeachersTech, but I do have one on my school account, Going 1 to 1.  All of these features should be used to show viewers what your channel is about, as well as give them a little bit of insight into you as a teacher (or whatever your theme for your channel).

 YT menu channel_view

As a teacher, I would use my channel trailer as a way to introduce yourself to your students and parents.  Some parents may not be able to make it school, and having a YouTube channel and trailer will allow them to put a face and a voice with a name.  Don’t use images of your students in your channel art as that may break a district policy.  I used an image of a bunch of laptops plugged in at a staff development session because I’m usually plugged in to something.  Do you have a class website or blog?  Go through the steps of verifying an external link that you own and link to it from your featured links.  Use the social media buttons to connect to your class Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ page.  Get creative!

Editing your channel is easy.  As you hover  your mouse over the different sections of your channel, a small pencil icon will appear in the upper, right-hand corner.  By clicking on that pencil icon, you are able to upload pictures and add links.  My challenge to you this week is to go ahead and set up your YouTube channel.  Upload a picture of yourself and set your channel art.  Use an iPad app like Tellagami or some other video recording tool like  your phone, to create a trailer for your channel.

When you’ve done that, post a link to your channel in the comments below.  Be sure to come back next week to learn how to trim your videos using the Trimmer tool.  Other posts in this series will include using the Video Editor to combine video clips and add titles and music, adding annotations to your videos as a way of making them interactive, and I’ll finish up with a step-by-step guide to creating awesome, engaging, interactive videos for your students and parents.

 

Over the past month, I’ve been writing about the issues and resources surrounding copyright in the digital classroom.  I’ve covered Fair Use, Public Domain, Creative Commons, and now we’re going to look at specific solutions to ensure copyright compliance in the digital classroom.  Below are my recommendations for creating a copyright friendly environment in your digital classroom.

Protect Yourself!google_sites_icon

Class websites can be an amazing tool for delivering content, fostering collaboration, and sharing information with parents and students.  However, many teachers (and students) will sometimes use images and content that they don’t have the right to use.  Remember that Fair Use only covers face to face instruction, so if you’re using your website to deliver instruction, you cannot claim Fair Use.  Here are my suggestions for protecting yourself with your awesome class website:

  • Password protect your website.  By password protecting your website, only your students will have access to your instruction.  I recommend using Google Sites to build your class website because you can use page level permissions to only password protect certain pages.  This will allow you to have a parent information page that is public.  Even password protected content can still be used illegally though.  An extra precaution you can take is to convert copyrighted documents to pdf files and then disable saving and printing.
  • Use Google’s Search Tools option to find images that are licensed for reuse.  When you do a Google Image search, right below the search bar, at the end of the advanced search options, it says “Search Tools”.  The fifth option is “Usage Rights”.  Choose the licensing option that fits your needs.
  • Ask permission.  In the world of email, Twitter, Facebook, and personal websites, finding people is easier than ever.  Do your due diligence to find the authors/creators of the content you wish to use on your site.
  • Link rather than embed.  I have to admit that I’m an embedder.  I’d rather have everything right on the page in one place.  However, if you haven’t obtained permission, you could be infringing on someone’s copyright.  If you link to the original source of the content, you’re safe.  Additionally, if you’re using audio or video content, make sure that it is streaming rather than downloadable.
  • Site all works that aren’t yours!  We all learned how to cite our sources in high school, and definitely in college.  Break out those rusty skills and make sure that you’re at least making an effort to give credit where credit is due.
  • Utilize Creative Commons resources.  There are a ton of great works available that people have licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons.  Flickr and CreativeCommons.org are two great places to start.

Assigning students multimedia projects, or better yet, giving them the a menu of project choices is a great way to increase engagement and motivation in your classroom.  However, sometimes students don’t take copyright into consideration when they’re choosing images and content to use in those projects.  Using the suggestions above will make them more aware of the content that they’re using.  My final suggestion for you will not only increase the relevance of what your students are doing, but the rigor as well.

SoundCloud, YouTube, and Flickr

Either set up an account with a generic username and password for your class, or have students set up their own accounts for the sites above.  SoundCloud is for sound clip storage, YouTube for video storage, and Flickr is for photographs.  Have your students create their own images, sound clips, and videos to use in their presentations and projects.  I think it would be neat to have them set up their own accounts and license their work with the CreativeCommons licensing tool.  Have them get permission from each other before using a classmate’s content in their presentations.  Doing this will allow you and your students to build a database of content to pull from when needed for websites, presentations, and multimedia projects, and will get students in the habit of seeking resources that are copyright-friendly.

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