Thursday, March 28, 2013

Voice Recordings for Assessments

I teach Spanish, so I have always done speaking assessments. A couple of years ago I started doing them electronically. It doesn't use class time and students feel a little less pressured when they can do the assessments at home, instead of at my desk. These methods could be used for assessments in any subject area, storytelling, or for students who have a reading/writing disability to be able to complete an assignment orally.

I researched methods that were easy and would allow any student, with or without particular technology tools, to complete this. I have not had any student who was unable to complete the task at home, and completing it in school during down time or study hall would also be an option for them.

Tool #1
There is a free web application called Vocaroo. Assignments are recorded by talking to the computer and then emailing it to the teacher. You need a microphone (either external or internal) on your computer or laptop.

Tool #2
On a device like an iPod/iPad/Smartphone there are several voice memo or recording apps thatallow a student to record his or her voice and share via email. 

Tool #3
I have set up a Google Voice account. Students may call my number from any kind of phone (i.e. a land line) and leave a message like a voicemail. There are a couple of settings to tweak to get it to work properly but it was not difficult. The messages automatically go to my email and are archived in my Google account. The only glitch I found with this method is to be sure students introduce themselves during their recordings. Since there is no name attached like on an email, if you receive several voicemails, you might not know to whom they belong.

I get a chuckle from stories of students hiding in the bathroom with their cell phones or iPods to complete their speaking assessments.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Embedding YouTube Videos

If you want to display a video on your web page or blog, you can embed a video you already hosted at YouTube. This is relatively easy to do, but there are a couple of settings to pay attention to.

After you've found your video on YouTube, you need to copy the embed code.

Be careful to un-check the "show suggested videos" box. You never know what might be suggested for your students to watch. : )

Return to your website or blog and look for an HTML button. This will change the look of your page...don't panic! Paste the embed code and then click HTML again (or Compose if using Blogger) to return to the previous screen.

I have used this technique because the server that hosts my school's webpage does not like hosting videos (uploading them there takes up too much space). I can embed a video there that I have hosted somewhere else instead.

Also, if you want students to watch a video from another site such as YouTube, embedding that video on your site or blog is a way to allow students to see the video without all of the extra clutter that comes along on the origin's website.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Video Creation PD

Last Friday at the school I teach in, we had a professional development day. One of the topics was video making. This came about from the idea of a "flipped" classroom, but there are so many reasons teachers should be exposed to video creation. My co-worker and fellow geekie teacher, Monique, and I were in charge of assisting teachers as they plowed through what was for many of them, uncharted territory.

What are some reasons to make a video?
 As a teacher:
 As a student
  • Create lesson presentations in the style of a “flipped classroom”
  • Record presentations for absent students, or general review
  • Create support materials for student who need a bit extra
  • Anytime visual aids are needed
  • Parent information/communication
  • Documenting/viewing student behaviors
  • Self-evaluation
  • Peer-evaluation
  • Publicity/Public Relation
  • Skits/Plays/Drama
  • Speeches
  • Demonstrations
  • Peer viewing, critiquing
  • Publishing, digital storytelling
  • Student-created content/lessons
  • Recording speaking or reading and listening to themselves

(and this is just a partial list!)

What device(s) do I need to make a video

This has something that, thankfully, has gotten so much easier in the last few years. ANYONE can make a video!
  • Digital video camera
  • Flip-style video camera
  • Tablet camera (iPad, iPod, Android tablet. etc.)
  • iPad whiteboard app such as Educreations and ShowMe or ScreenChomp (all are free)
  • Computer webcam
  • Interactive white board screen recorder
  • Smartphone
  • Screencast tool (see below)

Screencasts are videos specifically of content on your computer screen. Good free tools for this are
*A screen cast made during a PowerPoint presentation or similar program makes a quick, easy video.

Once you have created a video, depending on what kind of tool you used, options for access are

If you are a teacher, you might want to talk to your tech coordinator and/or integrationist on the best option for you and your students. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Student Blogging 101

After I caught the blogging bug, I decided to try to spread it on to my students. Blogging is a great tool for reflective writing, expressing thoughts and opinions, and general creativity. Turning high school students loose on the internet with creative thoughts was a little scary to me, however. Luckily, Blogger has settings to control who can see your blog.

I had my students create their blogs inside their school-issued Google accounts. They also edited the following settings for privacy, and invited class members only to be able to view by entering their email addresses in the readers section. Students responded to the email invitation to be able to see the blog.

We use our blogs for reflection on assignments, projects, news topics related to technology, etc. I have been pleasantly surprised at how thoughtful their posts are. Students who are quiet in the classroom sometimes explode with thoughts when given the chance to share them online. Students enjoy taking ownership of their blogs by choosing colors, layouts, and of course naming the blog. Ideas for blogging in the classroom are limited only by your imagination!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blogging 101

Blogging is not difficult, but I am a perfectionist in many ways and like things to work exactly the way I expect them to in my head. I have been following several awesome blogs for a while now and decided to give it a go on my own.

(To see some of my favorite bloggers, click here.)

For a long time I thought I had nothing to offer, but I realized...I do know a few things, and would like to learn more. (Learn by doing--what a novel idea!) If I can help one teacher improve a lesson or integrate an engaging technology, it will be worth it. Plus, I enjoy writing and sharing technology ideas.

I stared by researching where to begin a blog. I tried a couple of websites and they are not all created equal. I already had a Google account, and Blogger is very easy to use, so here I am.

Setting up a blog on Blogger is easy and if you just click around long enough, you'll find what you need. There are also help pages out there and if you Google your question, you are sure to find an answer.

I am especially proud of figuring out how to link my blog posts to an account at Twitterfeed.com so that my new posts automatically get tweeted on my behalf.

Of course my Number 1 rule of blogging is to remember that your blogs go out to the whole wide word, so be careful and ethical the whole way.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

QR Codes in Spanish Class

I love QR codes. I think they are just fun! I recently incorporated them into my Spanish 2 class. I had students choose a person or character, and write a paragraph to describe that person. They created QR codes with the answer to their "riddle".
Here is a photo of one of the creations.

We put them on a bulletin board in the hallway for others to read.

Here is a copy of the assignment and the steps the students walked through.