Monday, September 22, 2014

Gaggle Student Email 2014

Creighton School District has been using the Gaggle (https://gaggle.net/) student email and communication system for many, many years. We were actually one of the first adopters of the system in Arizona!

Because of the security features it is a great way for students and teachers to communicate in a safe, friendly environment. Many wonder why it is called Gaggle. On their website, company president, Jeff Patterson, states that is an "easy way for teachers to watch over their gaggle of students." It is great for us because we know that any inappropriate messages and communications are blocked by their system and the teacher/administrator is notified. They filter for inappropriate words, images, and cyberbullying content. The programs is very effective.

Over the past few weeks I have visiting in our 1:1 iPad classrooms to help teachers and students set up Gaggle on the iPads. We are using the Gaggle app but we also like to set up Gaggle through the Mail app on the iPads as it is an easy way for students to send completed projects from inside an app to their teachers - especially for our younger users.

Students love being able to communicate with both their teachers and other students.


 In this class we went a little above and beyond the traditional email set-up - partly because of questions and comments from students. They really wanted to know more, like how to customize their email signature. So the teacher and I walked them through the process.

We also shared with them many of the other features in the Gaggle app - blogs, discussions, digital lockers, and so on. When the students first logged in on the app, they were presented with the Gaggle Cyber-Safety course. Completing that course was one of their first steps in becoming good digital citizens. Here's mine from a couple of years ago. Always good for students to know that their teachers are cyber-smart too!


The teacher even set up a class discussion question based on something they have been working on and each student had an opportunity post a comment of their own as well as comment on the posts of their classmates.


Gaggle also has a Human Monitoring Service that instantly alerts our district Gaggle administrators to any imminent dangers to our students. This along with the blocking features has really helped us protect our students and provide interventions when necessary. What a great way to for our students to learn to communicate and develop 21st century skills in a safe environment!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

iAchieve Classroom Posters

It is always fun to visit our iAchieve classrooms and see the informative posters teachers are using to help their students use mobile devices effectively in the classroom. Every classroom is a little different depending upon the teacher and the needs of their students. Here are a couple of examples:



I'll be checking out more classrooms soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New and Exciting Formative Assessment Tools

iAchieve teachers are great at conducting checks for understanding and formative assessments with their students. They try to utilize the iPads and iPod touches as much as possible. They use whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything or Educreations for students to write responses. Online response systems like Poll Everywhere are always popular. And, apps such as Socrative work well and are a favorite with students.

This summer at the ISTE Conference we learned about Kahoot! (https://getkahoot.com/) during a presentation by Adam Bellow and Steve Dimbo. Kahoot! is referred to as a game based classroom response system. We introduced it to our flip learning teachers during PD this summer. It is a fun and engaging way to see what your students know about a topic.

Kahoot! is easy to set up and use - and accounts are free. Students do not need an account; only the teacher. After creating an account, teachers are given a code for students to use to join the teachers room and begin asking challenging questions of their students.

On a recent visit to one of our flip learning classrooms, I happened to walk in as they were completing a Kahoot! Take a look:






Give Kahoot! a try. I think you will like it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Parent Meetings


At the beginning of the school year our iPad Flipped Learning teachers hold parent meetings. These meeting are to inform parents about flipped learning and the requirements for students taking the iPads home. They are a great way to begin the parent - student - teacher relationships for the school year. Teachers are required to have each student's parent or guardian attend a meeting and sign an agreement.


It is difficult to get 100% attendance at a meeting so the teachers often schedule two meetings or meet individually with parents when they can attend.


Parents are always very receptive to the information and opportunity for their child to use an iPad to support their learning. We get lots of questions but even reluctant parents tend to change their minds when they hear and see how the iPads and flipped learning can impact their child's learning.


In addition to the parents and students, principals are invited to the meetings. Having them speak and show their support is invaluable.

Some teachers hold their parent meetings with just their own students and parents while others choose to hold group meetings, especially when there is more than one teacher at a grade level using iPads to support flipped learning. 


We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the iAchieve teachers!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

QR Codes in the Classroom



Last year we introduced QR Codes to our flip learning teachers during a monthly PLC. It was one of their favorite PLC meetings and quickly became one of the best loved tools in their toolbox! During our summer PD, we also introduced the new group of iPad flip learning teachers to QR Codes.


Here are some ways the teachers have found to use QR Codes in their Classrooms:


Scan a code to get the correct answer to a problem. Teachers create a text QR Code that contains the answers to the math problems being worked on in the classroom. Students can self-check their answers and move on when correct or go back and figures out where they went wrong.

Scan a Code for a math word problem. Teachers again created text based QR Codes with math word problems for the student to access and work on in class.

Scan a Code to answer the question: "Teacher I'm finished, what should I do now?" One of the proverbial problems - how to keep students busy when they finished their work early or more quickly than others. This teacher has sets of QR Codes posted around the room. Students know that when they finish early they can go scan a code with the activity for them to complete.


Scan a Code to be taken to a learning website. A quick and easy way to share web addresses with students - and you don't have to worry about anyone typing in the URL incorrectly!


Scan a Code to be taken to an online video. Students can quickly scan the QR Code to access online videos to help them better understand concepts. It could also be a link to the teacher's flip learning video lesson!


Scan a Code to hear an audio recorded book trailer. Instead of traditional book reports, students create audio recordings after reading a book. In this project students use the Croak.it app to recording their book reflections. Corak.it gives them a URL that can be used to create the QR  Codes. Codes can be posted in the room, as in this example, posted online, or placed in the book for others to scan and listen before checking out the book.


Scan a Code to go to an online article to read. Students can access up to date, current materials for reading - saves paper!


Scan a Code to download an online worksheet.Why print out worksheets? Have students use a QR Code to download the worksheet into an annotation app on their iPads!


Now you try. Here are some of the codes we have used during our PD and PLC's.




Looking forward to more QR Codes adventures for the 2014-15 school year!


Monday, August 11, 2014

An Exciting First Week

The 2014-15 school year is off to a great start. Students have shown up and are eager to learn - especially learning with their iPads. Some of them even hugged their iPads when they got them out for the first time! Here's a peek into what happened the first week in a couple of iPad flip learning classrooms:

2nd Grade:
The teachers introduced the iPads and quickly began having them complete some "apptivities" using various apps, such as Quick Voice Recorder to complete audio recordings. When not being used the procedure in this classroom is to place the iPads on top of their desk name tags.



5th Grade:
Most of the students in this 5th grade classroom used iPads in 4th grade, so they were very familiar with using them. However, we added some new apps for them over the summer, such as Shadow Puppet Edu, Stick Around, and ABCya Word Cloud. This teacher is great at exploring new apps and figuring out how they can impact learning in her classroom. So for the first day with the iPads, she chose to introduce word clouds to the students using ABCya Word Cloud. The students created word clouds using the names of the students in their classroom and tested out the different ways to change and customize their word clouds.