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What it is: Sometimes I use a website and recommend a website so often in my own corner of the world, that I forget to share it with all of you.  Scribble Maps is one of those websites.  Jonathan Wylie posted about Scribble Maps on his blog, Educational Technology Blog, last week and it made me wonder...

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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

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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!

#Twitacad Twitter Academy: Starting a School

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, inspiration | Posted on 05-11-2010

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There are some things, that when presented to you in life, you want to run away from.  In my experience, those things I want to run away from, are often a window into my future.   My immediate reaction is to resist, but in the end, as I get more comfortable with the idea, I end up embracing it with passion.  Over the past 3 years, I have been approached by different people, in different walks of life, to start a school.  The first time conversation headed in this direction I was intrigued and, if I’m honest, totally terrified.  What do I know about starting a school?  I continued the conversation because I love talking education and learning and thought I might learn something in the process.  Last year, my mindset about starting a school began to change.  I can’t pinpoint exactly what caused that change, maybe it was being in a private school and realizing that even there, education isn’t what it should be.  Sure there are more resources, money, involved parents, more freedom, but education is still being done the same way it has been for nearly a century.  We have tools and resources at our disposal that would make customizing education a much easier task than it was even 20 years ago and yet the direction we are heading in is to standardize more and individualize less.

Somewhere in the span of a year, I decided to really take this on.  Even if the end result wasn’t a school, I wanted to really intentionally re-imagine education.  I wanted to re-imagine what a school is.  I brought together a few teachers who share my passion for education and learning and a passion to improve education.  Two of us decided to pursue what it would take to make our ideas a reality and start a school.  We brought an entrepreneur into the mix who has no background in education but knows how to build a business.  That may seem like a strange thing to do, but we both felt that an outside perspective is needed.  Sometimes we are too close to education to get a clear view of the possibilities that exist because we can build up walls that are unnecessary.  The three of us are coming to a place where we are ready to invite more voices into the mix.  I would relish your input in the formation of this school.  This is your opportunity to help shape education!  I think the best way to ask for that input is through Google forms.  I will be throwing out Google Forms with questions about education, learning, school design etc. over the next few months, I hope you will help out when you can.

First I should give you a 10,000 foot view of what we are looking to accomplish.  I don’t want to give away too many details just yet because as I am asking for input, I want it to be separate from our ideas and biases.  We are looking to create a replicable school model that could eventually take the place of public education.   Right now it is our feeling that public education is beyond tweaking.  Education needs a major overhaul and re-imagining.  To try to do this within the current system is going to be slow at best.  We want the school to be free for everyone (tuition-free) but private (not government-funded).  I will post more later about our ideas for how to accomplish that.  The focus of the school will be building up a community of learners.  I will be adding more details and fleshing this out for those who are interested in later posts.

With this in mind, I would love your help with the first round of questions.  If you can take a minute to help out it would be greatly appreciated.  This first Google form focuses on the learning environment.  Don’t feel like you have to answer each and every question, answer those that you have an opinion about or are passionate about.

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You may be wondering what the title of this post is all about… about a month ago @cybraryman1 and I came up with the idea of Twitter Academy, the ideal school created and shaped by educators on Twitter.  As I progress with this project, I will be using the hash tag #twitacad on Twitter to follow conversations and progress.  Please feel free to add to that conversation by adding #twitacad to any of your tweets.  @cybraryman1 has started a page on his awesome site for Twitter Academy.