Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How do I use iPads to flip my classroom?

Have you always wanted to try flipping your classroom? The flipped classroom phenomena means removing some of the lecture-based lessons from your classroom and giving students the ability to learn that content in their own time at their own pace. Advantages to flipping your classroom includes eliminating the guesswork of whether or not your students understood the information you delivered. In addition, you have an opportunity to create an enhanced differentiated learning environment and attend to the specific needs of most of your students during face-to-face class time. This is sometimes done through recording video-based lectures either live or prior to delivery.

There are several online web tools that can be used to record lessons or screencasting your computer desktop to deliver content information to your students through digital formats.These include, TechSmith’s Jing, Screencast-o-matic and Youtube. Youtube even has the Youtube Annotations feature now that allows you to add interactive commentary to your videos.

iPad apps have jumped on the flipped classroom bandwagon with offering simple and easy to use recording, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard apps available for free or minimal cost. Many apps like Explain Everything, Show Me, and Screen Chomp lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. You can create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using the ipad as an interactive whiteboard and record your voice and movements on the screen as you go. They also have the capability to upload your lessons to their respective web sites building a gallery of lessons developed and shared by teachers. Educreations has a similar concept but also offers animation capabilities to your illustrations which make for an amazing learning experience. Doodlecast Pro saves videos to the camera roll making it easy to import them into popular video editors or presentation tools such as iMovie, Keynote, or iBooks Author. One of the highlights of Knowmia Teach is the option to use your iPad’s camera to record yourself while drawing on the whiteboard. You will appear in the corner of the screen so that your students can see you while you’re talking them through the lesson. Students can use Ask3 to ask questions about the video, mark the video with drawing tools, and create their own audio comments about the video.

In addition to specific apps available to record lessons and facilitate flipping your classroom, TED ed is committed to creating “lessons worth sharing”. It’s an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas and encouraging “flip teaching.” Because every learners' needs are different, TED-Ed videos come equipped with optional supplementary materials. When you "flip" a video you get to decide which of those materials you keep, and whether to create your own. This will allow you to relate the resulting lesson to your class, to an individual learner, or to a wider group.

You can also use Itunes U to develop and store a series of recordings and/or podcasts associated with your classroom or subject matter eventually authoring your own course. iTunes U gives educators an easy way to design complete courses with audio, video, and other content and distribute them through the free iTunes U app. In addition, iTunes U integrates with iBooks and other apps to make it easy for students to keep up with your course. Documents, notes, highlights, and bookmarks taken in iBooks are consolidated for easy reviewing in the iTunes U app along with the course recordings.

There are so many available resources to begin flipping your classroom, try one and see what your students think? You may even want to test it out on your colleagues first as a professional development activity. You should stay focused but have fun with it and you may find that it will enhance your students overall learning experience.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tachlis! How do I use the iPads to engage students and assess them?

Inevitably, we need to assess our students to make sure that they are reaching our learning objectives and improving achievement! Teachers are spending more time than ever before testing students, but testing alone does nothing to improve teaching or learning. It's the use of analyzed test data that improves teaching and enhances student achievement. Assessment has always been an arduous task because teachers need to spend many hours creating, grading, and analyzing assessment results. Thankfully, there is improvement in this area with the increasing use of web tools and mobile devices in the classrooms. These tools allow teachers to create assessments in a shorter period of time and create more of them for valuable results. Instant assessment results provide valuable insight to both the teacher and student. In general. assessments best suited to guide improvements in student learning are the quizzes, tests, writing assignments, and other assessments that teachers administer on a regular basis in their classrooms. Teachers trust the results from these assessments because of their direct relation to classroom instructional goals. With the onset of online tools and apps, results are immediate and easy to analyze at the individual student level. Teachers can also use informative assessment to make instructional and curricular changes intended to yield immediate benefits to students.

Basically, the concept of a pop quiz has evolved and has become a more interactive and informative activity with the use of iPad apps like Socrative and Nearpod. In addition, using app created assessments has made entry and exit “quizzes” both possible and easy to use. The traditional “let’s review what we did yesterday” only works for some students. We have all seen the same classroom scene. The eager to please students in the front row raise their hands and the students that are not so sure of themselves try to avoid the teachers eyes. Only a couple of students raise their hands to answer just a couple of questions which is not enough to make an overall class generalization. The teacher does not get a sense if every student in the class understood the lesson delivered yesterday or 20 minutes ago. Creating quick quizzes on an ipad gives the teacher the ability to assess the entire class and each individual student. Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Teachers set up their own accounts and construct a series of questions they would like the students to answer. These can be quick quizzes, multiple choice practice, short answers, or exit tickets. The teacher can receive instant feedback by watching live results or downloading a detailed report. Nearpod allows teachers to use an iPad to manage the content on their students iPad participate in assessment and collaboration activities. Teachers can create presentations with interactive features such as quizzes, videos, polls, and drawing tools. They share content with their students and manage the flow of the lecture and later on access post-session data and obtain detailed activity reports that will help them gauge each students understanding on the lesson.

In addition, there are various degrees of assessment presentations from answering multiple choice questions to writing essays. Social networking options like Edmodo offer several types of  assessment options including the most recent assessment option of commenting and microblogging. Edmodo is a safe and secure social networking site developed expressly for educational use that has a similar look to Facebook. In Edmodo’s environment, teachers and students can collaborate, share content, and use educational apps to augment in-classroom learning. These powerful capabilities enable teachers to personalize learning for every student. Current uses of Edmodo include posting assignments, creating polls for student responses, embedding video clips, create learning groups, post a quiz for students to take, and create a calendar of events and assignments. Students can also turn in assignments or upload assignments for their teachers to view and grade. Teachers can annotate the assignments directly in Edmodo to provide instant feedback. It’s a great tool for teachers to track student comprehension and understanding of concepts.

Google Forms are also an easy way for teachers to give full on exams to their students with supporting tools like Flubaroo to make grading easier. They can be used as a survey tool where teachers can draft questions whose answers can be collated and analyzed. Question types are text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale and grid. This makes pre-testing and post-testing students easy and available to teachers so that they know exactly what their students know at the beginning and end of a lesson.

Finally, using iPad apps we now have the ability to assess behavior which is a huge impact on student learning and meaningful classroom time. ClassDojo is a behavior management tool where students can self-assess themselves in addition to the teacher assessing them. This offers everyone in the class real-time feedback and can be effective in improving and changing behavior over a period of time.

Hopefully our assessment strategies are thought through and used to effectively improve student learning outcomes. Despite the importance of assessments in education today, few teachers receive much formal training in assessment design or analysis. This has been a long struggle with educators and school administrators over the years and there is constant conversations and improvements in the area of education. We must focus on helping teachers change the way they use assessment results, improve the quality of their classroom assessments, and align their assessments with valued learning goals. Apps have the ability to assist teachers and students on this journey towards improvement as well as offering a simple way to promote 21st century learning.  When teachers' classroom assessments become an integral part of the instructional process and a central ingredient in their efforts to help students learn, the benefits of assessment for both students and teachers will be boundless.