Monthly Archives: January 2014

thing 14 – web tools to improve your performance

Part 1 – Evernote

I love Evernote!  I’ve used it for several years now and find it super useful for lesson ideas, as well for things like sewing projects and quotes my kids say. (Although Pinterest is starting to replace some of what I would’ve put on Evernote, I still use it for things I don’t want to pin or things I want to annotate.) Here is a note I created last spring of Benjamin and a quote…

thing 14 - evernote

Part 2 – File Conversions

I use file conversions all the time, especially .doc to .pdf. I have a .pdf printer installed because I upload every document I give to my students to my class website since I want them to have access to the class whenever and wherever they like.  I also convert presentations to .pdf so students can go back over them outside of class.

thing 14 - file conversion

Part 3 – Google Calendar

I’m not sure Dan and I would be able to go back to life without Google Calendars!  We share our calendars for everything so we can schedule our lives.  I’ve also used it in my classroom so students know what we’re doing everyday, and so they can see what’s coming up next in the class.  It’s super useful because they can subscribe to the calendar if they want and they can plan ahead (if they actually do that!) Plus parents can see what we’re doing everyday and have a better idea of what’s going on in my classroom.

thing 14 - google calendar

Part 4 – URL Shortener (I like goo.gl!)

Original URL: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AglId_gtM0CsdGRTX21JSVhjWi1vNlZ4SmZ3TnZQckE&usp=sharing

Goo.gl URL: http://goo.gl/68g5CA

thing 14 - url shortener

thing 13: interactive tools

Part 1: Google Earth/Google Maps

Here is a screenshot of my house on Google Maps.  We will be removing the bushes this spring, as the previous owners (not the same people who owned this house when the photo was taken) never cut them and they were 6-7 feet high when we moved in. Crazy. We cut them back and they look pretty shabby, so we’re just going to remove them and have a bigger yard.

thing 13 - google map house

Part 2: Quizlet

Here is a screenshot of my first ever Quizlet! I love that the definitions are pre-populated with other user’s input!  It made it a snap to create a set of flashcards for students to access. I will definitely use this in the future and will probably have students create their own sets so they can apply course vocabulary to the content we’re covering and relate it to their daily lives. Click on the image below to see the whole set!

thing 13 - quizlet

Part 3: Interactives for Classroom Content

I checked out NuSkool and PBS Learning Media and found two different lessons I could use parts or all of to teach different concepts in Economics. With the NuSkool site, I searched Pop Culture and Economics and found a lesson that uses Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a way to demonstrate the concepts of supply and demand. While I already have a similar lesson, using the video is a great reinforcement tool!

On the PBS site, I found a lesson on where your tax money goes.  I have a unit on taxes and government spending and the lesson I found gives students a very practical and useful look at how much of their paychecks will go to taxes and what that money will be used for.  I wish I would have done a lesson like this before getting my first job!

thing 13 - nuskool thing 13 - pbsmedia

Part 4: Interactives for Classroom Content Reflection 

I found three interactive tools that I haven’t used before (I think I have used PBS before, but it’s been a loooong time) that I can definitely incorporate into my teaching.

Quizlet is a great tool to help students review key vocab terms from each unit, and I plan on adding sets to my class website for students to access during each unit. It is a great study/review tool before quizzes and to use throughout the unit to reinforce the new terms. I will also have students create their own sets, as I mentioned above, where they will use the terms in their own words and create sentences/scenarios that use the terms and show students’ understanding and application.

NuSkool is fun because it adds recent and relevant media to lessons that students can relate to. I can definitely see using this in the future to supplement my lessons and to give students some more real world scenarios.

Like NuSkool, PBS Learning Media has recent news and media that I can use with students.  I’m really excited about the tax lesson I found because I find that unit (Taxes and Government Spending) particularly challenging to make interesting and engaging.  I have picked up some ideas here and there, but video and practical application will make the content so much more interesting!

thing 12 – evaluation and assessment

Part 1: FERPA/HIPAA

My scores changed a little between the pre- and post-tests.  There were a few things I didn’t really know about like how long schools had to maintain student records and school nurse records.  Much of the privacy requirements, such as posting of grades and student information, I was already aware of.  At my school, we tend to be very cautious about what we put in writing when discussing student information; for instance, if we have questions about a particular student and want to discuss those with other teachers and/or counselors, we try not to email our questions but go directly to the teachers/counselors.  This is not always possible, but when we can do it, it allows us not to have a “paper trail” that can be FOIA’ed and used later.  Plus it gives the extra security for students that information about them isn’t floating around in teachers’ in-boxes.

Part 2: School Data

My district uses PowerSchool to house our demographics, attendance, and class performance data, so I used it to conduct my queries. The first data set I queried was ethnicity makeup by grade at my school. East Lansing is quite diverse and it’s interesting to see the different people groups in each grade.  This information is also useful when setting up course sections so that students are evenly distributed so that each section has a diverse make up of students to allow for better discussion and learning.

thing 12 - ethnicity data

The next report I ran was an MME Social Studies Snapshot for Economically Disadvantaged Students for 2012-2013.  The snapshot compared disadvantage to not-disadvantaged students, and the results are quite striking.  There are very few to no economically disadvantaged students performing at Level 1 (Advanced); fewer disadvantaged students are Proficient as compared to not disadvantaged students. There are many economically disadvantaged students who are partially proficient, and there are more who are not proficient compared to not disadvantaged students.  Just the information in the snapshot alone is very telling. I would be curious to look at the individual questions to see how students performed and discuss as a department what we can do to get our disadvantaged students on par with our not-disadvantaged students.

thing 12 - mme data

Part 3: Rubrics

I used the rubric below with a project called “Create Your Own Business.”  The project asks students to apply material they have learned from our first unit of study in Economics to a business they create. In the project students answer the three basic economic questions of what to produce, how to produce, and for whom to produce; they determine their factors of production (land, labor, and capital goods); they explain the opportunity costs associated with their business/product; and they examine alternative goods consumers could choose, and explain how they will compete with similar businesses.

The rubric helps me assess students’ work in categories of:

  • thoroughness (did students complete all the requirements)
  • application of economics concepts and use of economics vocabulary
  • business organization (did students show their understanding of the different types of business organizations)
  • economic questions and factors of production (did students answer the economic questions completely and explain all their factors of production in a measurable way)
  • opportunity costs/trade offs (did students demonstrate an understanding of these concepts as applied to their business)
  • creativity (did students think outside the box and come up with a unique idea)
  • organization (did students have a well organized, easy to understand plan)

Because the rubric is based on measurable objectives, I can easily check off students’ work and determine if they completed all the requirements and whether or not they were complete in their explanation and understanding of the material.  I have used a different rubric in the past with this project, but most recently used the one below and found it to be more useful in assessing students’ work because I was looking for measurable details. It also allowed me to provide students with great feedback that explained how they were assessed (and they saw the rubric ahead of time so they knew how they would be assessed).

thing 12 - rubric

Part 4: My Own Perception/Achievement Data  

Because I’m not teaching this year, I am using an old pretest quiz I gave to students in Moodle. The quiz assessed students’ understanding of economics concepts we covered in the class, and I gave it at the beginning of the semester. Below is a screenshot of the first five questions on the quiz; the full pretest is 40 questions.  As far as the uses for Moodle, I used it ALL THE TIME last year when teaching my hybrid class. (I also used it prior to that for quizzes because it makes grading so easy!) I used Moodle specifically for online discussions, journal entries, and quizzes. Students were only “in class” 3 days a week, so all of my assignments were posted on my class website and/or hosted in Moodle.  My students loved that they received immediate feedback on quizzes and short assignments, plus I allowed them to retake the quiz in order to master the material.  When I graded their work, I would download the final scores as an excel file and input them into the grade book.  Then I would look at the responses and statistics section of the quiz in Moodle to see which questions students tended to struggle with so I would know what I needed to review and reteach before moving on.  I loved that all the data was right there in the system so that I didn’t have to aggregate it on my own.  It made it easy to see what lessons went really well and which ones needed some more attention.  When I go back to the classroom I intend to use Moodle again, as it was such a helpful tool!  My students seemed to enjoy using it too!

thing 12 - moodle quizthing 12 - pretest scores

Part 5: Spreadsheet/Graph of My Data 

Above is a spreadsheet of the pretest results, below is one of pretest and final exam results, along with a graph from excel comparing the two. As mentioned above, I typically would use the graphs from Moodle, but I no longer have my student data in Moodle because I unenrolled them, anticipating that I would be teaching again this school year. I did, and plan to, however, frequently use the graphs in Moodle to guide my teaching.

thing 12 - pre and final spreadsheet thing 12 - graph

thing 11 – presentation tools

thing 11 - presentation toolsClick on the image above to access my Google presentation on demand elasticity.

Presentation Tools Reflection: Prezi and Google Presentations Comparison/Contrast

Both Prezi and Google Presentations are great tools to share information with students. While I do not lecture often to students, I do find both tools to be useful when I frontload material via lecture and/or when I want to spend a few minutes giving illustrations to students of topics we are covering.  I also use Google Presentations when I give students example scenarios of Economics topics and have them write their responses on small whiteboards.  Some useful features that both Google Presentations and Prezi have are that they both allow users to share and edit the files simultaneously, which is great when students are working together on a project.  They don’t have to huddle around one computer or even be in the same room accessing the file at the same time to make edits.  Both tools allow for easy insertion of images (you don’t have to download web images to your machine – you can simply insert their URL’s to place them in your file) and videos.  And you can post and embed both types of files in a website, which is super helpful, as I share all of my presentation and video files with students so they can access them whenever they need them.

Some differences I’ve seen between the two file types are that Google Presentations allow you to make comments within the file without changing the file content, which is useful when you have multiple editors; however I don’t think Prezi has a comments feature.  Prezi has the neat zoom and non-linear movements feature so you don’t have to move from slide to slide.  I’ve had students make some really amazing Prezis and I think Prezi has the capacity for outside-the-box thinking and creativity that linear Google Presentations don’t really offer.  A downside, though, to Prezi is that it takes much longer to make a presentation that looks good and that conveys the same information that Google Presentations does.  And it takes quite some effort and time to make it really creative.  (But the templates are pretty nice and much more modern than those of Google Presentations).

If I had to choose, I would most likely choose Google Presentations because of its ease of use and because it takes less time to create, which is important with small children around at home. However, if I were assigning a project to students, I would give them a choice between the two to allow my non-linear thinkers the opportunity to be a little more creative with their presentations.

Zoomit Reflection

thing 11 - zoomit

 

Zoomit will certainly be a useful tool in my classroom. There are many times when I am explaining an assignment and I physically go and point out the section I am talking about on my screen.  Zoomit would be really helpful because I can circle the section to which I am referring and highlight the information on which I want students to focus. This can help my students with visual impairments, language difficulties, English Language Learners, and those who have difficulty focusing to see the main thing I am trying to emphasize.  I also can see myself using this during a presentation to highlight the main idea(s) I am trying to convey or to have students give me feedback and I can highlight what they are seeing and speaking about.  This visual reminder will help students to see the main idea easily, as it will be highlighted on the screen as I explain it aloud.

I can also see using this tool when I am showing students examples of student work and what was good about that particular exemplar and what might need improvement. It will also be useful to do think alouds with, where I share with students how I am thinking about a particular topic.  I can highlight specific ideas and emphasize to students what is going through my mind as I am explaining an idea to them.