Thursday, February 26, 2015

HippoBytes HB242: Digital Canvas

A poster created with Canva, which includes
many built-in elements like the red bars and
purple circle frame.
Writing is a critical skills for success. It's also important, though, to give students the opportunity to access content and show their understanding in a variety of ways, whether to keep weak writers engaged or to work on new skills such as visual literacy. The classic poster is an assignment that can be easily updated and extended to work with digital tools.

In this session, we went through three components of creating visualizations of knowledge (my fancy word for "posters"): finding Creative Commons-licensed images, learning and applying basic graphic design principles, and using a tool appropriate to the task.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HippoBytes HB230: Using Blogs in the Classroom

A blog (a shortening of weB LOG) is essentially an online diary in which a person can digitally write their thoughts, opinions, ideas, rants, and so forth. The benefits of blogging with students are quite numerous. It is a great platform for teaching students to reflect and showcase their learning across grades and years. Blogging is also a good tool for teaching digital citizenship, to practice writing for an audience, and to get some extra typing practice.  In this session we learned how to help students create a responsible, reflective, professional and/or academic written online presence.

We used the following tools:
  • Computer or tablet
  • Google Apps account
  • Internet connection
  • A blogging platform: at AIS Bamako we use Blogger

Basic Principles

A blog post is basically made up of: a) a  title and b) the content area.

What Can I Do With A Blog Post?

In addition to writing text, you can insert images, audio, video and other documents into a blog post. These are covered in the session notes.

Useful Links

HB230 Session Notes; includes step-by-step instructions on how to get your students set up and started with blogging. Also includes a sample rubric for assessment of student blogs

Monday, February 23, 2015

HippoBytes HB241: Intro to Image Editing

You can do this in under a minute with Pixlr.
Image editing programs are an under-appreciated tool. When I wanted to join the Hilton health club in Kuwait under the married couples' rate, I was able to use Adobe Photoshop to create a marriage certificate by altering Barack Obama's (available online) to have my name and my fake wife's instead, saving me hundreds of dollars. There are numerous classroom applications as well, from creating posters to propaganda to collages. In this session we learned the basic principles underlying all image-editing programs, and applied those programs using the free web app Pixlr Editor.

HippoBytes HB261: All About Focus/Moodle Quizzes

Our Student Information System (SIS) is called Focus, and Focus includes a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle, which lets you build online courses or put some of your class online (we call both the SIS and LMS "Focus" at AISB, so students know Moodle as "Focus"). When you put some of your activities and content online but still have a regular class, you've made what is called a blended learning environment.

Start with categories in your
question bank, and then add
questions as appropriate.
In this session we learned the features of Moodle quizzes, a complex and powerful tool that can be used for pre-, post-, formative, and summative assessment. As a general workflow, you should be first creating categories based on your topics of study (such as "Stoichiometry" or "World War I") and possibly assessments (for example, you could have a bank of questions used only for exams). Then, create your questions in the question bank under the appropriate category. After that, create your quiz under the appropriate topic with the settings you want; finally, add random or specifically-chosen questions to populate your quiz.

Friday, February 20, 2015

HippoBytes HB260: All About Focus Activities

Our Student Information System (SIS) is called Focus, and Focus includes a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle, which lets you build online courses or put some of your class online (we call both the SIS and LMS "Focus" at AISB, so students know Moodle as "Focus"). When you put some of your activities and content online but still have a regular class, you've made what is called a blended learning environment.

In this session we learned about the ways that various activities in a blended learning environment can help you facilitate whole-class discussion, continue learning outside of the classroom, and have a permanent record of student participation. Additionally, we learned how using Moodle helps prepare students for college. Since millions of students take classes online now and more will in the future, being familiar with an online learning format opens students up to dozens of courses beyond what is offered at their school.

HippoBytes HB240: Digital Tools for Storytelling

Some important Common Core/AERO standards for writing are developing the ability to tell narratives and informative/explanatory texts and using technology to produce and publish written work collaboratively. In this HippoBytes we learned how to use Storyjumper, MyStorymaker and Google Slides to meet these standards.

Example from Eric Curts and the Apps User Group
We used the following tools:
  • A computer with the internet
  • A tablet or smartphone to digitize student work (by taking pictures of it and putting it in a shared folder)
  • A class account already created in StoryJumper
  • Google Apps accounts for your students if you choose to use Google Slides
While all of these tools can be learned by elementary students, expect a learning curve when you do it for the first time. Digital Leaders can really help you in this aspect, and the IT Cordinator can be on hand to help and demonstrate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Promote global-mindedness and geography with #mysteryskype


Teachers often cite the diverse student body as an advantage of the international school environment. One way to extend our students’ global mindsets even further is to do a “Mystery Skype,” a game in which classes from two different countries each question the other to figure out where their partner is. It’s a great way to practice critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and geography, and it usually ends with both classes hollering and jumping up and down when they figure it out!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Planbook

It may have been awhile, but Carrie presented about planbook.com, a great website where you can input all of your lesson plans. Planbook is $12 per year, or $22 for two years.

The link is here:
www.planbook.com

To insert a new class, you go to the "Go To" pull down menu on the upper right hand side and select "classes"

You can add a new class, change it's color, start time and end times from that menu.

You can also use the "Go To" menu to "Make a Template" which will make every lesson have a similar format. This is a great tool for adding objectives and assessments to each lesson.

Here is an example outline for a lesson

You can add homework or notes or standards to your lesson from this page as well using the tabs at the top. Unfortunately there are no AERO standards yet, but if your next school uses a state standard or common core they are available.



You can also use planbook's "bump" feature at the bottom if your lessons go longer or shorter than expected. You can bump a day, week, or any amount of time. You can select if you want to shift lessons or simply replace the lesson that would be on that day.


The last thing on planbook that is really useful is under the "more" tab at the top, you can print your lessons to a PDF and share them with whomever you like! It makes writing sub plans or keeping your teaching assistant in the loop a little bit easier.