Featured Post

Mixbook: Yearbook/Storybook/Calendar/Card creator

What it is:  Mixbook saved us this year in a BIG way.  Being our first year as a school, we didn’t want to use a big yearbook publishing company to create our first yearbook.  We wanted to be able to get as much of the year in as possible (most yearbook companies have mid-year deadlines), we were only having 60 made (small potatoes for big yearbook companies), and we wanted to be able to print one-offs if we needed to.  We started creating in Shutterfly, it was a familiar program, most of our helpers had used it for personal books so the learning curve was small.  And then the world came crashing down. It was the day before the deadline to get our order in so that it would make it before the school year ended. Two of us logged in at the same time and apparently properly confused the system and lost the whole thing.  All 30 pages of it. After throwing a pity party, trying to get in touch with Shutterfly (unsuccessfully), and declaring that there would be no yearbook, I did what anyone would do- I took my pity party to Twitter. I never did hear from Shutterfly.  You know who did come to the rescue? Mixbook.  They saw my pity party tweet, apologized for our bad fortune, offered their assistance and let us know that they would be happy to help in any way they could.  I was familiar with Mixbook but hadn’t used it before. I hopped onto the Mixbook site and immediately liked what I saw: The interface is incredibly easy to use. It allows collaborative working and tells you when someone else is editing the book so you don’t override each other. It has great templates. It has great customization options. The customer service is unmatched.  Honestly, any time we had a question/comment/problem they helped within minutes.  During business hours they have  a dynamite online chat support system.  When it wasn’t normal business hours their Twitter genius would get back to me. Emails were answered within hours. Finished books can be viewed and shared for free online. They were incredibly helpful in keeping the price of each book reasonable for us.  They extended coupon codes, gave us bulk purchase discounts, and rushed our order so that it would get to us with plenty of time to spare. The books are GORGEOUS.  They look better than they do on screen (this hasn’t been my experience with other book companies). Mixbook is a free online scrapbook/calendar/card creator.  With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to pre made templates, everything is fully customizable. The online design software is extremely easy to use and works the way you would expect it to (no unwelcome surprises). Mixbook is integrated with many popular photo sites including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, etc.  You can also easily batch upload from your computer. How to integrate Mixbook into the classroom:  As we experienced, Mixbook is a fantastic place to make school or classroom yearbooks.  Despite the short timeline, we enjoyed creating our yearbooks and are glad to have our first year commemorated so beautifully.  At the bottom of each page, we created a running timeline of everything that happened in our first year as a school. Because it is so easy to customize each page, students could use Mixbook to create “published” portfolios or writing.  Take pictures of student work throughout the year, keep a folder for each student.  At the end of the year, students can create a Mixbook of their work.  They can include the pictures of their work and add text boxes where they reflect on their learning or explain the project.  For original writing, students can create digital or hand drawn illustrations that get scanned and uploaded to the Mixbook pages.  Students can type the story directly in Mixbook.  The finished book can be shared for free online, parents will have the option to purchase the book if they would like to. A photo calendar would be a great way to commemorate a school year and would make an awesome end of the year gift to your students.  Each month can include projects and snapshots of what you did throughout the year. Create specialized cards and thank you stationary for your classroom.  Any time you need it, it will be ready to go and more special for your students. Group projects are easy to create with Mixbook.  The collaboration ability is wonderful!  You could use Mixbook with colleagues to create custom learning guides that you can get printed. Tips: As an educator, you get an extra discount for any order of 10 items or more.  OUTSTANDING! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mixbook in  your classroom!

Read More

Adobe Forms Center: Create & Share Interactive Forms

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-07-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 4.45.25 PM

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!

Comments (3)

[…] “Adobe Forms Center: Create & Share Interactive Forms” @ktenkely (Cool!) ilearntechnology.com/?p=5045 […]

Do you know if there is a way for all of the students to see everyone else’s responses? I like the idea of having guided inquiry questions for students to respond to while at home, but I think it would be more effective if it is treated more as a discussion between the students rather than just communicating solely with the teacher.

Ely- I’m not sure outside of giving everyone the login so that they are able to view it. The other option would be to go through responses on a class with an IWB or projector.

Write a comment

*