Monday, October 28, 2013

Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy

As the anniversary of this historical storm approaches, Superstorm Sandy, please remember, there are still many people that are still trying to rebuild their lives.

Here is a short slideshow of the destruction from my community and other shore town in southern New Jersey and New York.  

God bless all of you and Stay Strong!

A short slideshow of the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, October 29, 2012.
jkmatt27's Story

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mystery Skype and Google Docs

Today, myself and another teacher,  Mrs. Steinen, performed a Mystery Skype session.  It was our first time participating in this type of lesson and I have to say, I was pleased with our students and learned a lot.

First, Mrs. Steinen's class is a 6th grade Social Studies class and we connected with a Ms. Janine Craine's @jcrainrue 5th grade class in Iowa. Prior to our session, I introduced video conference calls and proper classroom etiquette during a video call.  When this was completed, I went over classroom jobs and responsibilities and assigned jobs accordingly.

The students worked together and shared documents using their Google Apps for Education account.  Some of the documents that I shared were:

In addition, students created and shared their own documents with other students who had the same jobs.  

All of the students in the class was assigned a job and had to stay focused on the task at hand, which was, to try to guess what state the mystery class was from by asking 20 questions that had yes/no answers.  The students shared information with each other to try to ask more informative questions.   Students stayed focused on their job responsibilities and finally narrowed down the mystery location.  I am happy to say, our class guessed the mystery location in 7 questions.  Our mystery class, was experienced with Mystery Skype and guessed our location in 6 questions.

During the session, the students were engaged and were interactive with their peers and teachers.  They were not afraid to ask questions, and share facts with the mystery classroom.  They were respectful, polite and helpful to each other.  They learned that Iowa has no mountains, is in the central time zone, (which is 1 hour behind the eastern time zone), west of the Mississippi River, they have many farms and harvest corn, and the nickname of the state is the Hawkeye State.  Most importantly, they made a global connection with another class in the United States and are eager do it this again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Google Apps for Education for Students

This week will start week 2 of introducing Google Apps for Education to 6th grade students at my school. When I am teaching the lesson, I am scheduled for 80 minutes for each class.  (We have block periods, so this definitely is an advantage).  I need every  minute of the period to go over what I need to teach.  The students are responsive and engaged during my lesson and are able to follow my instructions successfully.  In addition, the classroom teacher is in the room which is very helpful, especially if there are technical problems.

The students are not only learning Google Apps, but they are learning additional concepts such as:

  • using Google Chrome
  • Bookmarks
  • Minimize and Maximize the window
  • tabs
  • refreshing the browser session
  • their login information 
  • the purpose of each component in their email/username
  • the URL address of the domain
  • cloud storage
  • Troubleshooting concepts 
Because the student's email/username is so long, it seems like the login procedure takes up the most time. Some issues are, students may not typing the correct information, students may not added into the domain, or there is a conflict with the email/username due to a sibling in the system. Once they are logged in, the lesson seems to go rather quickly.  I briefly go over the apps that are available on our domain. However, the majority of my lesson is using Google Drive and creating documents.

When the students login to their Google account and go to their Drive, they will have 3 folders assigned to them by each teacher.  This folder structure was created using a script called gClassFolders.  Each student has a Subject -View folder, Subject- Edit folder, and a Subject - Name Assignment folder.  

The Purpose of each Folder:
  • The Subject- View folder is a folder the teacher uses to give out worksheets, assignments, rubrics, etc.  Anything that you needed to copy and hand out to students, can simply be copied into the view folder and all of the students will receive the file.  It will be read-only and it is shared with the whole class.
  • The Subject - Edit folder - is a folder the teacher uses to allow students to collaborate with each other as a whole class. The files will be shared and updated during real time collaboration.
  • The Subject -Name Assignment folder - is a folder used as a dropbox, or the bin for the students to turn in completed work.  The folder is only shared between the student and the teacher only.
In addition, they have to create a Work in Progress folder, which will contain all of their files they are working on, or not done with yet.  When they complete the work in this folder, they will have to move the file into the assignment folder, in which the teacher will grade. 

During my lesson, I allow the students to create a document in the Work in Progress folder, and move it to the assignment folder to hand in to their teacher. I also have the teacher create a practice assignment, and allow the students to view it, make a copy of it, modify it, then move it into the assignment folder.  I model these instructions so the students understand the workflow.

In addition to this workflow, I teach them to make sure their Drive is organized by modeling deleting files, moving files, creating folders and sub-folders, renaming files, naming conventions, and much more.

After I introduce the domain to the rest of the pilot classes, I will re-visit the classrooms again to go over more concepts such as, sharing documents, real time collaboration, presentations, spreadsheets, drawings, and Google Calendar. 

Since my school is a 1:1 environment, I will be able to introduce the offline version of Google Drive.  This will allow them to learn about about syncing their files if they are not able to connect to the Internet.