Adobe Spark: Easily create and share videos, images, and newsletters

Adobe Spark: Create videos, images, and newsletters in a snap!

 

Adobe Spark: Easily create videos, images, and newsletters in a snap!

What it is: Adobe Spark is a collection of fantastic (free!) creative tools available online or as an app download.

  • Create social graphics that are stunning and easy to share (you know the kind: flyers, memes, posters, ads). The example above took under 2min to create and share! ūüôā
  • Make beautiful web stories for event recaps, newsletters, photo journals, portfolios, etc.
  • Produce and share impressive videos for storytelling, projects, or to share to social media.

If you (or your students) are feeling a lack of creativity, there is even a bank of inspiration that will get you started! This is particularly helpful for your students who struggle with a place to start but are brilliant with a little nudge. Whether you begin with inspiration or not, you’ll be feeling an extra burst of creativity in no time.

How to integrate Adobe Spark in the classroom: The collection of tools in Adobe Spark are perfect for students and teachers alike. Students can use these tools to create book reviews, to document science experiments, for storytelling, to explain their inquiry process, as an eportfolio, to illustrate math concepts, and so much more! These tools will help your students take their learning and present it in a way that is both visually powerful, and easy to share.

Teachers, you can use Adobe Spark to create a weekly newsletter (SO easy to share home with parents!), create photo journals of class events or field trips, to create writing and thinking prompts to share with students, quotes, presentations, and announcements. The photo journal would be a great way to give families a glimpse into your classroom, if you’re like me, your phone is FULL of pictures at the end of each week! If you have a class social media channel on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube- Adobe Spark is about to take it to the next level of awesomeness!

I love the way that Adobe Spark has made digital storytelling that much easier to create and share. This is a site that you’ll want to bookmark for easy access, and put on all of your students devices if you have a one-to-one environment.

Tips: If you have laptops, the web version of Adobe Spark is best, otherwise download the app!

StackUp: Get professional development credit for Twitter edchats

StackUp: Get credit for everything you read and learn online

What it is: StackUp is a really neat new web app that automatically scores online reading and learning. As you work online, StackUp captures data through the free web app and plugin which can be used on Mac and Windows (iOS and Android coming soon). When active, StackUp captures and attributes a score time that is spent anywhere online. It then categorizes it into 60 different subject areas including: news, finance, engineering, fashion, technology, sports, and online classes. StackUp is a metric that can offer insight into the commitment and study of a certain field.

How to integrate StackUp into the classroom: In the increasing digital landscape of the world (and classrooms) it is important to offer the opportunity for students to research and direct their own learning. StackUp offers students a way to share the commitment of learning with teachers and other stake holders. So often, we think about time spent online as “wasted” because, let’s face it, there can be lots of moments of wasted time online. But, the Internet is also a rich landscape for learning and continued learning in areas of passion. StackUp is a way for students to offer proof of this time spent learning so that teachers can appreciate and offer credit for that learning. Often classrooms have certain parameters and reading expectations for students. What if instead, we offered kids the ability to spend time researching, reading, and exploring things that they are passionate about…and then offer credit for it! StackUp could be the catalyst for more independent learning opportunities and studies within areas of passion. One of the things that I find holds teachers back from allowing this type of reading, is the inability to measure whether a student has really spent time on task.

I’ve often lamented about how I wish that the time spent in online education chats and reading educational blogs, articles, and whitepapers counted as professional development and credit hours. Seriously, I rack up the hours and it is always time well spent. As an administrator, I would happily accept a StackUp record of the time that my teachers engage in online material and offer credit and professional development hours for that time. I’ve gotten more out of the connections, chats, and learning that I’ve done with all of you online, than most of the required professional development. This could be transformational for helping tell the story of the learning that we do independently.

Imagine “Stacking” up the learning from a young age in areas of passion, and continue throughout their lifetime giving students another way to distinguish themselves. Tools like StackUp could start to change the landscape of learning and how we decide who the “experts” are. Hint: it isn’t always the person with the most letters behind their name.

Tips: Worried that one of your students might be able to cheat the system and simply open a webpage and walk away? No need to worry! StackUp is built on a patent-pending software system that can detect the difference between a student who just opens a webpage versus the student who is actually engaged.

StackUp doesn’t always have to run in the background and record every single move you or your students make online, it allows users to turn it on or off at any time and delete time spent on a website or in any category…you know, for those of us who spend an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. ūüôā

 

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5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

We choose the moon: assessment without labels

“With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a bit longer.”- unknown

Yesterday, @Kevreadenn shared the quote above with me on Twitter. It had me thinking about assessment and John F. Kennedy’s, “we choose the moon” (embedded above – you should watch it again). The declaration that we WOULD send a man to the moon, that we would do the impossible,¬†seemed like an unworkable task given the technology of 1969. It is astounding to me that the technology I hold in my pocket is significantly more capable than the technology that sent a man to the moon. Kennedy inspired a nation to dream together, to achieve the impossible using¬†the resources that were available. How can we inspire kids in this way¬†as they¬†quest for learning? How can we help those students who look at the goal of reaching the moon and think, “this is impossible, I only have 1969 technology,” to be inspired, to look at their resources in new ways and believe that they can do the impossible?

Everyone wants to know that they are “winning” and contributing to something meaningful. The declaration that a man would go to the moon was a lofty goal. It seemed incredibly ¬†important, as a nation, that we achieve this goal together.

It strikes me as strange that the majority of assessment¬†that we focus on in education only shows lag data. The lag data reveals to¬†us where a student landed in a given moment, but doesn’t offer any opportunity for course correction. It also doesn’t take into account outside influences (not enough sleep, home struggles, lack of nutrition, friendship stresses, etc.). If our goals are lofty, and we want learning to be better, we will stop focusing on the lag data as the most important, and instead focus on the lead data. Lead data shows us what leads up to the learning, it gives us insight in the journey and process so that we can adjust as we go.

The majority of grading systems fail to compel action from students because they show historical data only. Students are left believing, “I’ve failed, and now I have to move on knowing I already fall short. Now I have to continue forward from a deficit.” Or they may be left believing, “I aced this, I already know it all, I don’t have anything more to learn.” Traditional grades tend to end learning. Traditional grades also measure students against everyone else with the goal being a perfect score. (Notice that I did¬†NOT¬†say that the goal was learning.) This comparison can be demoralizing for students who know they will fall short of the perfect score. They begin to label themselves as “stupid” and often arrive at the apathetic stance of, “it’s not even worth trying.” The other scenario is the student that believes the goal of the perfect score signals that they learned everything they need to know. For these students, apathy comes in already having hit the mark. “I know everything I need to about x.” This line of thinking closes down creativity and the drive to learn more. Apathy is the killer of learning. It matters not if you are a straight A student, or a D student, traditional grade systems breed apathy and don’t encourage kids to go for the lofty goals. There will be no choosing the moon.

Grading systems¬†need to be upgraded so that they engage students in the process of reaching lofty goals. When students are able to help set their own goals and the assessment happens as a part of¬†learning, students are continually pulled forward in their learning. Each small win adds learning momentum that begins to snowball into something bigger. For those who struggle, the small victories reveal that they can win and they are making forward progress. This gives the confidence that all learning is possible and worth engaging (even when the end goal feels impossible). The students who find that learning comes easily aren’t halted by artificial ceilings.¬†They aren’t left believing that the learning has ended¬†and¬†are encouraged to keep moving forward.

In starting Anastasis Academy, we quickly found that no traditional grading system could adequately assess students as they were learning. We ditched formal A-F grading and instead used¬†standards based grading. The idea was that if we assessed students based on standards (which we used as some of our learning goals), stakeholders would be able to better map progress as they went. We use standards differently, at Anastasis the standards aren’t organized by grade levels, they are simply a continuum of foundational skills. It didn’t take long before the standards based grading was also falling short. There is SO much more to learning than simply meeting¬†the standard. We were interested in helping students understand how their attitudes toward learning impacted academic¬†progress. We wanted to help them understand how character spills into everything else that they do. We wanted them to see that more important than a “Math” grade, was the ability to think like a mathematician. We wanted students to be able to “choose to go to the moon” and contribute to something meaningful. We needed something more holistic that helped students see the intricacies of how learning works. We wanted them to be able to make correlations between their attitudes toward learning and the¬†outcomes that they could see.

Anastasis Report Card

This is the “report card” that I created. It is our attempt to help kids better understand what contributes to learning. It is a helpful way to¬†show students that they aren’t “stupid in math,” but instead help¬†them realize that they aren’t risk takers in math. The aversion to risk taking in math is what really holds them back.

The Latin root of Assessment is assidere, which means ‚Äúto sit beside.‚ÄĚ At Anastasis, we believe that assessment is more than just a measurement, it is an opportunity for apprenticeship, a time for us ‚Äúto sit beside‚ÄĚ and guide. We‚Äôve used various tools for assessment in our short history, our search was for the assessment tool that would offer a more holistic picture of learning. We‚Äôve used Mastery Connect and Jump Rope, but they fell short in giving us that holistic picture because they were tied to Common Core Standards alone (and limited by grade levels). What our¬†students do at Anastasis every day is SO much bigger and deeper than these standards, and yet we didn’t¬†have a good way to demonstrate that. Beginning in January, we rolled out our own grading system. We call it UpGrade because that is what it felt like, an upgrade!

Our goal for feedback on the UpGrade report is twofold:

1. To give students feedback that causes them to think, engage, and reflect on their own learning process as they learn.

2. To give families a detailed account of the student’s learning journey and forward progress.

The UpGrade reports are designed to explain what students know and are able to do, rather than determining grades based on point averages. This kind of grading allows teachers to more effectively tailor instruction to students based on what they actually know and can do, no floors and no ceilings.

The UpGrade report contains¬†the proficiency marks 1-5 (explained below). These numbers are intended to demonstrate the process of learning, students move through the levels of proficiency as learning progresses. A ‚Äú1‚ÄĚ indicates that a child is new to the learning or requires a lot of guidance. A ‚Äú5‚ÄĚ indicates that the student is able to apply the learning to new situations and make connections to other learning.

1- Novice Concept and/or skill is brand new, student is just getting started in the learning. Student requires much teacher guidance and prompting.
2- Apprentice Some prompting or guidance is needed for the new concept and/or skill.
3- Practitioner Concept and/or skill can be done consistently and independently. Student may require occasional prompting or guidance.
4- Scholar Student can apply concept and/or skill to new and/or different situations with little guidance. Student is ready to build on the learning (next level of standard). 
5- Change Maker Concept and/or skill come second nature and can be used to make connections with other learning. Students understand concept/skill and can apply, evaluate, analyze, and create using the skill/concept. Student can use skill/concept for in-depth inferences and applications.

Of course when you create a report card that looks like this, you also have to craft a grading system to populate the report card. Dang it.

This is where I had to get creative and use my limited resources to make something (that seems impossible) work. I used Apple’s Numbers as the method for creating the grading system. It is tedious work, the user interface is messy, but it allows lofty goals and the impossible.

On the back end, teachers can fill in rubrics, or learning evidence pages. These compile and end up as the final 1-5 on the image that you see above. Why did I use Numbers? It is the only spreadsheet program robust enough to incorporate the graphic above. The evidences of learning (assignments) and scores are the easy part. Getting the rubrics to work the way I wanted them to, not so much! I sent out a call for help the other night on Twitter and had some AMAZING spreadsheet ninjas step in to help me find solutions. I promised to share what I figured out…for those not interested in the technical bits, feel free to skip ahead. ūüôā

Anastasis self-grading Writing Rubric in Numbers

This is the rubric that I was working on. I wanted it to “self grade” and then for the score to transfer as a learning evidence. It seemed like it should be simple, but this honestly stumped me for days. Thankfully my PLN stepped in to point me in the right direction!

I started out by creating a highlighting rule. This is simple in Numbers, just click on the cell(s) that you want the rule on and in the “cell formatting” pane, choose “Conditional Highlighting.” In each cell where teachers could leave a score, I wanted the cell to highlight when the score was added. I chose to add the rule “Text contains” and then the number that corresponded to the row of the rubric. Then I chose a color to highlight.

Next came the tricky part. In the¬†cells full of text, I wanted the last cell to recognize when a teacher had typed in a number, and to add up all the numbers of the row so that we could get a total that would populate on the Learning Evidence sheet. I could find all kinds of ways to accomplish this in a Google Spreadsheet or in Excel, but none of the solutions seemed to work in Numbers. I kept getting a syntax error. I finally solved it by using the following format:¬†=COUNTIF(B2:H2,”=*1″) In each row, I changed the number to reflect the score that it would count. This got me most of the way to what I needed, but it was only giving me a count of how many of the number were in the row, not giving me the sum (=SUMIF didn’t work). SO, I added another column to find the product of the “Countif” with the row number. Success! I’ll hide these two columns for the final grade system and just have the total at the bottom show up. This total is easy to then transfer to the Learning Evidence sheet.

THANK YOU @mathlioness @katieregan88 @mrmatera @alicekeeler @royanlee @jasonschmidt123 @benlouey @malynmawby @thomascmurray, you all are truly wonderful for spending time to help me solve this. I am seriously elated that there was a solution! Anastasis teachers will be thrilled as well! ūüôā YOU ARE NINJAS!!

When people ask about Anastasis, they are usually curious to know how we’ve broken past the barrier of labels. We have students who are dyslexic, twice exceptional, have struggled in school, are gifted, know how to play the game of school, etc. Everyone of these kids chooses the moon. They choose to do the impossible and keep moving forward. They aren’t stifled by the learning labels. They know they are more than an “A” or “F.” They start to understand that learning is not the same as a grade. They begin to understand where their hangups actually are and can work on adjusting those instead of believing they are failures. ¬†It is amazing what happens when you take away the labels and help kids understand that no matter where they start from, there is something to be learned, forward progress to be made. They choose lofty goals. They do the impossible.

Free Twitter Posters For Your Classroom

Twitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn TechnologySometimes I forget all of the work I’ve done over the years.¬† Tonight, I was cleaning up my computer…it may not be spring, but it was definitely time!¬† Cleaning up always tends to be a trip down memory lane.¬† I’ve forgotten the sheer AMOUNT of things I’ve created.¬† It really is impressive when you look at 10 years of creation in an hour, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and maybe like you could take over the whole education world if you wanted to.¬† That, right there, is reason enough to do some file clean up!¬† Twitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn Technology

Tonight the #edchat topic on Twitter was all about connected educators.  Being connected has transformed my life.  I mean, I started a school you guys! This was largely due to my personal learning network helping me hone my craft, challenge my thinking and cheer me on.  As I was rifling through files, I came across a set of Twitter posters that I created for teachers new to Twitter and for teachers using Twitter in their classroom.  In light of the conversation tonight, I thought they were worth sharing again.  Feel free to download, share with some friends and use!

Download here!

Twitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn TechnologyTwitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn TechnologyTwitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn TechnologyTwitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn TechnologyTwitter Poster for Your Classroom- iLearn Technology

Popcorn Maker: Mashup video with images, articles, text, maps, etc.

What it is:¬†Popcorn Maker is a super cool site that I learned about from Michael Zimmer’s blog, The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness. ¬†Popcorn Maker is an online video mashup tool that makes it easy to integrate several different forms of online media into a video. ¬†A clip from YouTube can be enhanced with article clips, images, text, audio, maps, other live feeds and social media content. Add some “bling” to any video clip…interactive is better! Videos can be mashed without logging in. ¬†Creating a user profile let’s you save and share the finished project.

How to integrate Popcorn Maker into the classroom:¬†Popcorn Maker is a great way to enhance videos. ¬†Teachers can use Popcorn Maker to mashup media for students to engage with. ¬†This could be adding a map to an historical video so that students can better visualize where an event is taking place, adding a wikipedia article to expand on an idea that a video touches on, adding a live social media feed with student comments as a “backchannel” video, etc. ¬†This type of use is great for expanding on Kahn academy type instructional videos (which can be a bit boring/dry), educational videos, etc. ¬†Wouldn’t it be great to have a real-life example pop up during a Kahn academy instructional video? ¬†Students can connect number sense and computation. ¬†(What a novel concept!) ¬†For young students, create a video with embedded directions (audio or text) and next steps for learning. ¬†This would make for a great learning center for completing a science experiment, multi-step directions, or next steps of learning.

Students can use Popcorn Maker to enhance videos that they have created, to further expand on an idea, to help explain a researched topic to the rest of the class, or to share reflections on a video with others. ¬†Because students can add text, it is easy for them to add their “blogged” reflections directly in a video to be shared with others. ¬†So often our students start their research with a video search. ¬†Ask them to create a mashup of all of their research using Popcorn Maker. ¬†This will help them to dig beyond the video for other relevant content that adds to their understanding.

In the “flipped”¬†classroom, Popcorn Maker takes the videos to the next level. ¬†Popcorn Maker could be a great way to help apprentice students in the art of learning. ¬†Students can see the way that connections are made among different media types and are led through how to think and expand on an interesting topic. ¬†After students have viewed a few mashups, ask them to create their own. ¬†This could be really helpful in discovering misunderstandings in learning, gaps in the way research is being completed, or difficulties in making connections.

Tips: The tutorial on the first page is really useful. I recommend it before beginning a project!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Popcorn Maker in your classroom.

The Nerdy Cast Episode 7: @thenerdyteacher AND @ktenkely = epic.

On Tuesday I had the distinct honor of chatting with @thenerdyteacher on The Nerdy Cast.  Nick and I have been buds for years, working on various projects together, talking education and pop culture.  You can listen to our whole Nerdy Cast chat which includes our humble adventures in blogging, starting Project PLN , starting a school and my newest project, The Learning Genome.

Thank you Nick!

 

If you want to be a part of The Learning Genome, be sure to check out the campaign here.

Friday Recap: Geeking over new apps, celebrating week 5

Whew, it has been a while since I have done a Friday recap.  Mostly because these days I’m just so happy to have made it through another week that I am celebrating other ways…like by taking a nap.

Anastasis Academy has just completed week number five.  Can I say how incredibly cool it is to see something that you pour yourself into come to fruition?  We have students! We end every week with a field trip learning excursion.  Awesome.

If you are interested in following our journey, you can follow our blogs (yes plural, we each have at least one, some overachievers have two…or more).  I’ve created a bundle that you can subscribe to in Google Reader.  Subscribing to a bundle means that you will never miss a beat…it will almost be as good as being here with us.  This is just the collection of teacher blogs.  Each of our students blogs as well, we can’t share those publicly because we use full student names.  Occasionally I may let you have a peek at some of our student writing by republishing the post anonymously.  For now you will have to take my word for it, these kids are amazing.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and YouTube.  You can be a super fan and like us on Facebook.  If you are ever in town, stop by and let us show you around!

This week I found some super cool apps.  I’m talking classroom changing here.  I couldn’t wait to blog my favorite find which is Demibooks Composer.  A BIG thank you to @ianchia for making me aware of its existence.  I can’t wait to see what our students come up with!  Demibooks Composer puts the power of interactive e-book publishing into the hands of every student.  I am geeking out here.  It is seriously cool.  Hurry up and download it while it is FREE.  I would have paid big money for this app.  Big.

 

Keynote: how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school #RSCON3

Last week at this time I was getting ready for my Reform Symposium Keynote.  It was fun to share with everyone but what I really enjoyed about the weekend was learning from everyone else!  The Reform Symposium recordings are now live!  To keep that learning going I’m going to do a 27 days of professional development series.

For the next 27 days in addition to sharing a tech tool, I’m also going to share one of the Reform Symposium sessions.  Last weekend was such an incredible time of learning and sharing that I want to keep the momentum going.  It is also a GREAT excuse for me to attend all of the sessions I missed out on during the conference.

If you missed my keynote last week about how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school, you can view it here.  This is a link to the Elluminate session (a Java download).

Below are the slides I used in my Keynote.  For those who asked, I made the slides using Apple’s Keynote.  I just drew a timeline, inserted some pictures, text and voila- timeline!

 

 

Current.im: a private daily journal 140 characters at a time

What it is: Current.im is a site I learned about from @MZimmer557 on his excellent blog, The Weekly Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness.¬† Current.im let’s students keep a private online journal 140 characters each day.¬† The journal couldn’t be easier to use, students login with a username and password that they create, and type their 140 characters for the day.¬† Current.im keeps a daily record of these bits of writing along with a time stamp.¬† The Current.im is truly private, this isn’t a social sharing site where students (or teachers) are writing for an audience.¬† It is a wonderfully simple tool created for one thing: recording daily thoughts.

How to integrate Current.im into the classroom: Current.im is an easy way to record writing daily.¬† The limit is 140 characters making it easy to keep up with and add to everyday without being overwhelmed by the blank sheet of paper.¬† Current.im can be used as a journal where students reflect on daily learning, a year-long creative writing project that students add to 140 characters at a time each day or a personal journal.¬† Because students are only responsible for 140 characters a day, this is a fast activity that could be completed as a center on classroom computers.¬† If your students don’t have access to computers where they can keep their own Current.im accounts, keep a class journal/story/reflection by compiling thoughts together using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

One of my favorite year-long projects in the computer lab was having students take a picture of themselves using PhotoBooth every computer class.  At the end of the year, students took all of their pictures and created a stop-motion type video combining all of the pictures into a movie.  The result was a short movie where they could see themselves grow up that school year.  Current.im would be a fantastic addition to this project.  Students could start each class period with a picture of themselves and a quick 140 character update to go with the picture.  At the end of the year not only will they be able to see their growth, they will be able to read reflections and thoughts they had throughout the year.  This is great for one school year but can you imagine doing this EVERY year of school from k-12 as part of a digital portfolio?  How neat would that be?!  This is truly a 2 min. time commitment each day.  Easy.

As a teacher, Current.im can be used to reflect on teaching practice, to record daily classroom (or student) observations or to record daily success (we all need to record those!).  I always joked that I should write a book about funny student antics.  Of course I never wrote all of these funny stories down so alas, I have no book.  Had I known about Current.im, I could have recorded these stories everyday and had the book written for me by the end of the year!

Tips: Current.im doesn’t include any terms of service so I assume it is okay for all students to use.¬† Registration for an account does require an email address.¬† The email address doesn’t need to be confirmed so if you have students without email addresses, they can use an @tempinbox or @mailinator account (just add tempinbox or mailiator to the end of any word to instantly create an account).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Current.im in your classroom!

Storify: Turn social media into a story

What it is: Storify has just been released to the public!  I have been playing with this site for a few months and am excited that I finally get to share it with all of you.  ūüôā  Storify lets you create stories based on Tweets, photos and videos.  You can search multiple social networks from one place, and drag elements into your story.  Re-order elements and add text as needed.  Storify lets you take those little bits of information shared over time and turn them into a story.

How to integrate Storify into the classroom: If you are using social media in the classroom, Storify is a fantastic addition.  Use Storify to create weekly stories of tweets, pictures and videos from your classroom that can be sent home to parents.  Create a story of learning based on a collaboration between classrooms as a way to chronicle and reflect on the collaboration.  Build a semester or year-long story as a sort of online scrapbook that can be shared with families.   Invite other classrooms to take part in writing a collaborative story 140 characters at a time using Twitter.  At the end of the project, each class can use Storify to create an original story from the tweets. Send out links, book recommendations, and other resources used throughout the week using Twitter.  At the end of the week, create a resource Storify for students to access.

Storify makes it simple to create and share social media stories.  Storify stories can be shared with a unique link, emailed or embedded in a blog or website.  Very cool!

Unsure about how to use Twitter in the classroom?  Check out my posts on it here, here and here.

Tips: Because Storify is based on social media, anyone can add to your stories!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Storify in your classroom!