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Adobe Forms Center: Create & Share Interactive Forms

What it is: Sometimes I come across a useful site and think, “how in the world is it possible that I haven’t discovered this before?”  That happened today with Adobe Form Central.  This free web application lets you create pdf’s that are actually web forms that can be filled out directly on the pdf.  Fancy.  Forms Central has a huge bank of templates that you can start with including a section just for education.  These are mostly application, appointment, quiz type forms.  But the best…the ability to create your own custom pdf form! Design items include text fields, date fields, email fields, single choice, multiple choice, drop down menu, single check box, rating scale, file attachments, formatted text, images, and page or section breaks.  When you have finished with the form you can set the form up to automatically email recipients, redirect them to a new url, or include a confirmation message.  You can even collect payments through PayPal (I’ll tell you why I find that feature useful!).  When you are ready to distribute your form you can email the link, embed the form or share on Twitter.  From within form central, you can view responses and save to Excel or as a PDF.  You can even sort responses from within Forms Central. How to integrate Form Central into the classroom:  The obvious (and boring) use of Forms Central for education is for creating quizzes and tests.  Pass.  I’m not interested in using it that way so the custom feature is where I head.  Form Central is a great place for you to create a guided inquiry form where students can view the current inquiry question and fill in their own lines of inquiry and thoughts as they begin into a new unit.  Answers are collected in one place so that you can go through with your class and discuss options.  This could be a great twist on the ideation step in design thinking! Forms Central could be used to create customized rubrics that you and your students can fill in.  Again, the great feature here is that everything is collected in one spot!  Students can create and use forms to collect scientific or mathematical data that can be analyzed and evaluated later. Students can create their own custom surveys for collaborative projects and easily distribute their forms and collect answers.  Our students created their own not-for-profit (LSGW Foundation), because they occasionally host fundraisers, Forms Central would be really useful for collecting information and donations online.  The ability to connect the form to a PayPal account where they can collect donations is fantastic! The PayPal function could also be used by you at the beginning of the school year.  If you’re like us, you have parents fill out loads of Q&A’s at back to school night so that you can get to know the family and child better.  You could include a short wish-list of items that you would like for your classroom.  Parents could choose to donate monetarily to your classroom fund through your forms.  Forms Central also gives them an easy one-stop place to quickly fill out all of the information online. Do you host an after school club or tutoring?  Use Forms Central to create your application/enrollment form and collect payment at once. Have your students evaluate your class using a course evaluation (template), collect feedback from colleagues at a conference where you hosted a session, collect interest for a new offering in your classroom, create a risk assessment sheet…the sky is the limit for what you can create. One of my favorite things about the start of the school year at Anastasis Academy is the Learning Profile that we create for each of our students.  We survey students to learn about their multiple intelligence strengths, brain dominance, learning style preferences, and interests and passions.  Forms Central would be a really great way to collect all of this information (at least until the Learning Genome is finished!). Tips:  You may be wondering…why not just use Google forms?  I love Google forms, I really do.  But Forms Central gives options that Google does not.  Those options are appealing to me on a number of levels!  The bank of templates they have to start from is also super helpful when time is an issue. Are you using Forms Central in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

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Shocking! The real purpose of your life! or What are we preparing for?

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, video | Posted on 26-11-2012

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Today @lancefinkbeiner shared this video with me.  It is too good not to share!  Now…how to make this the reality of what learning is really about in schools.  I can’t tell you how often in education that the answer for why something is done is, “we are preparing kids for…”  For example, we give 3 hours of homework to elementary students because we are “preparing them for middle school.”   In middle school we give additional homework and weekly tests because we are “preparing them for high school.”  High school has it’s own set of ridiculous standards in preparation for college.

My question: when are we preparing kids for life?  When are we preparing them to engage in the world around them?  When are we preparing them for healthy relationships with others?  When are we preparing them to ask good questions and seek answers?  When are we preparing them for what to do with failure?

The problem for preparing kids for the next system they will encounter is that the next system isn’t really the goal.  That goal is this imaginary place we call “success” and “perfection”.  Neither exist.  How do we prepare kids to live honest, meaningful lives?  THAT is what I am interested in preparing for.

Comments (4)

Aren’t we *always* preparing kids to live honest, meaningful lives? I find your question a bit strange, I admit. Your preamble implies that kids require formal education (school) to learn to live honest, meaningful lives. I don’t think this is the case today, nor has it ever been. Kids need to learn many things outside of school. The best way to teach your kids to lead an honest, meaningful life, is to live one yourself -its amazing what kids will pick up from their surroundings. Formal education and life-lessons shouldn’t be conflated

Dave, this can be the trouble with a blog post…all of the nuances of thought can’t be wrapped up neatly in a few words. Judging by your comment here, my guess is that you don’t follow my work regularly. Sometimes I make the mistake of assuming that my readers know my background and previous thoughts that bleed into this one.
In answer to your comment: I don’t know that I agree that we are always intentionally preparing kids to live honest meaningful lives. I think that assigning hours of homework to an elementary student, for example, doesn’t lead to honesty (in learning for the pleasure of learning) or for working toward a meaningful life. I’m actually not saying that kids require formal school to learn to live honest, meaningful lives. In fact, quite the opposite. I believe that kids can learn this in spite of their formal schooling. What I am suggesting is that schools should stop telling kids that the purpose of learning is for the next institution of learning. What I am suggesting here is that learning (in schools) look more like life. I would agree, the best way to teach a child to live an honest and meaningful life is by modeling that ourselves. The question I pose to you: How is that possible in a system that leads children to believe that the purpose of learning is to prepare them for the next system? I started a school, http://anastasisacademy.com, to free up teachers to lead by example and to give students the freedom to explore what it means to live and honest, meaningful life.

I thoroughly agree with the video AND this post! Children aren’t able to learn and enjoy school anymore because they are bombarded with testing. State testing, this and that testing. It’s ridiculous. This is also having a negative affect on teachers because they cannot TEACH what they want, and they cannot really enjoy the career. We should reevaluate how our education system is working. Too many people graduate with Bachelor’s degrees that are useless. This needs to change! Great post!

I think it’s quite true that schools have to prepare children not only for next grade or level but also to prepare them for life and job skills that require worldwide awareness, collaboration, communication, problem solving…etc. Some people call those skills “The 21st century skills”.

Testing is not the olny way to assess students success at school. Teachers are using different tools such as daily observation of pair and group work. I am sure that there are many projects running worldwide are concerned about enhancing students’ life skills.

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