June 10, 2013

The school year has come to an end as we finished up with our appropriate online behavior discussions and website evaluations. I hope that students enjoyed creating infographics this year, as well as becoming acclimated to their Google Apps accounts and continuing to develop tech skills in a variety of areas. At the end of the year I presented the possibility of students becoming involved with next year's Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge. I will be going into that in more detail in the fall and perhaps there are some creative ideas already forming in the minds of our soon to be 8th graders.

The student email accounts will be turned off for the summer months and restarted when school begins. I would also remind you that all students in grades 3 through 8 have access to the Type to Learn 4 program as a free download at home to brush up on keyboarding skills over the summer. See the keyboarding skills information for the details and please contact me with any questions you may have about it.

Have a safe and happy summer!

May 14, 2013

flip.JPGAs of now, two grades have been posted in PowerSchool. The first is the post where students explained the process of developing a Google Form and then displaying the survey results in an infographic. They embedded a small image of the infographic which was to be a link to the full size version. I am pleased that this experimental project turned out as it did, because student created infographics is still a relatively new concept even though they are used in media more frequently in the last few years. I featured the student infographics in a blog post on May 10. Unfortunately not. all student projects could be shared in the post because some students did not provide the required link to their full size infographic. If a student does not yet have a grade entered for that assignment, that indicates that the assignment was not yet submitted. Several students were required to come in at recess today to work on the missing assignment, although it was completely accessible to be completed at home.

The second score that has been entered is a class activity in which students worked in teams to evaluate a website based on a set of criteria. There really was no wrong answer unless the question was not answered at all. The purpose was to have students practice using website evaluation techniques. Their findings were shared in class on May 8.

The last graded assignment of the year will be publishing the flip book created from their Europe Project. We are still in the process of uploading booklets and getting the required embed code.

April 26, 2013

capow.jpgDuring our class this week students learned about the 5W's of Website Evaluation, and also CAPOW. These strategies will help determine if a site is worthy of being used in research. They worked as partners to analyze a particular site by answering ten questions about the site and then coming to a conclusion as to whether or not they would recommend this site be used, and at least three specific reasons for their decision. I will evaluate these on April 30, even if we do not have class next week due to a 7th grade field trip. See the assignment details on Evaluating Websites 1 Following that we will work on more advanced search strategies and finish our Internet safety topics. The post in which students embedded their finished infographics should now be completed and sent for publishing.

April 15, 2013

In the third quarter students conducted a survey, analyzed results, and displayed those results visually in an infographic. Currently they are finishing up the write up of the project to explain the process and the outcome. They will embed a small view of the completed infographic and then invite readers to view the full size infographic. They should submit this post for publication no later than April 17. We will then be spending some time on website evaluation, cyberbullying and appropriate online behavior.

March 18, 2013

ppt snip.JPGDuring the third quarter students have taken the results of their technology surveys from the various grades and taken a look at the data in order to develop a simple infographic of their results. As a result of this process they discovered that the quality of the questions they asked had a great impact on the results they received. Nevertheless, they are displaying what information they received in their spreadsheet following the steps in Infographics 3, The infographic is being built from 4 PowerPoint slides that will be converted into images and then inserted into one long PPT slide. In addition to the skill of inserting charts and graphs into a slide, a big focus of this activity is using good design principles to convey information in a clear and visually pleasing way. The design element is a struggle for many, as one requirement is that there be sharp contrast between the background and the font or between the background and the graphic placed on it. Specifically they were required to choose either a very dark background or a very light background but nothing "medium". I am constantly walking around pointing out to students that dark red on dark blue, or medium blue background with blue graphics is not what we are looking for here.

Part 1 of the project is to create the four slides according to the directions and Part 2 is to simply insert the images into the elongated slide format and save as a jpg. After that they will be uploaded and students will embed them in a post to share with a wider audience and to analyze what worked and what didn't in their project.

January 28, 2013

Second quarter re-cap:
During the quarter just ended there were only two short projects for seventh grade technology. We had a quarter that was shortened by a week and also had the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. All seventh graders know by now that all assignments are visible on the cougartech webmix, and both of those listed could have been done just as easily at home as at school. I would have to say the assignments were "no-brainers" unless you didn't look at the directions. And that last part is underlined because many students didn't look at the directions. Not only were directions listed but I demonstrated the process by doing the steps myself and posting my example.
survey snip.JPG
In the first assignment we began to investigate infographics: what they were, why they were used, what made them useful and appealing. Students then chose an infographic from a list of sites to investigate further. Fill out a Google doc with your name and a link to your infographic, titling the doc according to the directions given. Comment on the appeal of the graphics used, whether sources for data were shown, and 5 things you learned from this infographic. Sounds easy enough. Set the Google doc to be shared and paste the link to it on the wiki following the example done by the teacher, and print the Google doc to be used as notes when you share your findings with the class. Some students had no name on the doc, some did not name the document properly (or name it anything at all), some did not set it to be shared, etc., etc.

In the second assignment, after viewing a tutorial and in class explanation of Google forms, students created a Google form to be used as a short survey for a grade assigned to them. Only five questions were needed, and the first two were a given for everyone: the grade of the respondent and the gender of the respondent. Then think of three more tech related questions and post the link to the survey on the wiki. In this situation the only thing NOT graded was the quality of the questions, because asking appropriate survey questions is a skill to be developed. I did not expect them to be able to hit the mark on the first try. We discussed why some questions wouldn't work and brainstormed possible alternatives. What I did expect was that if the directions said "choose an appropriate theme" the student would actually choose a theme. If the directions said to list the three questions you wrote on the wiki, which they did, then I would expect a student to do that. So the skill that needs the most work is following directions. It won't be long before our seventh grade students are in high school, and it will be a given that there will be special requirements for assignments and particular formatting details to be included. If a student writes a great paper but pays no attention to the list of requirements regarding document formatting or MLA citations, for example, that great paper won't earn such a great grade.

Our next phase of the work with infographics is actually having the surveys completed by students in our school and gathering and interpreting the real data that is collected. From there the data will be displayed in a student created infographic, which will involve charting skills as well as graphic design. We will also get into web literacy and evaluating sources, which has been pushed back on the schedule a bit. ("They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true". "Where'd you hear that? " "The Internet".) Stay tuned.

November 29, 2012

external image calendar-shopping.pngDuring the first quarter students worked on formatting in MS Word, using glog tools, organizing their network files, and becoming acclimated to their new Google Apps account to send email, share documents, and insert images into documents. They also had some experience taking online quizzes based on video tutorials on Google Apps. The quiz experience should have been an easy activity since students could have the video open and pause it as needed during the quiz in order to answer the questions. No doubt the next time we have an online quiz they will more likely have the resources open rather than just take wild guesses.

In the second quarter we will focus on web literacy, evaluating sources for credibility and improving our search techniques. Currently students are investigating infographics, a tool that is being used more widely today for visual delivery of information. They are analyzing one of their choice and sharing their results according to the directions posted on The Eyes Have It. Once again, some students are being careless with directions and need to re-visit the checklist. They will then be finding credible sources of information on a topic of their choosing and developing their own infographic. This will involve creative thinking and graphic design and well as research.

October 17, 2012leaf.JPG

All assignments that will need to be completed in the first quarter are now posted on the webmix. The last assigment, Digital Space 4, will involve creating and sharing a Google Doc, inserting an image into a doc, and attaching a file to an email. Glog scores are gradually being posted to PowerSchool and I will be checking the folder organization in the next week. The quarter ends on Nov. 2, and there are two more class periods as well as an open lab on Friday, Oct. 19, for anyone who needs help or catch up time.

October 9, 2012

external image 11970930642131497005BenBois_Clock.svg.med.pngStudents came to the lab as an entire class today due to running the mile together in gym class. Unfortunately many students wasted valuable time and did not accomplish as much as they should have during class. I spent a few minutes at the beginning pulling up some of the "completed" glogs to show what they were lacking and gave another opportunity for going over directions. It is still a battle to have some students look at the checklist before signing off and saying they are finished, but we will be doing that all year so I am hoping for a lot of growth in this area.

I did a brief introduction of the Type to Learn 4 program which is web-based and so is accessible at home or school. Students log in with the same user name and password as for the EDUGlogster account, and there is an access code which only needs to be entered once. There are versions for Mac and PC. It is important that you read the information about keyboarding skill and the program download on this page


October 4, 2012

We are in the midst of several projects in technology class at this point in the first quarter. The first assignment, Digital Space 1, was a review of word processing skills on a topic called By the Numbers. Scores are posted for that assignment and in some cases students were not careful to follow all directions, such as writing only one sentence for a number instead of the required two. There are ample opportunities to improve scores as there are 3 other projects listed on the webmix: Creative Space 1 involving use of EDUGlogster to review glog tools as well as proper crediting of images (stressed and reviewed numerous times in class!), Digital Space 2 on folder organization, and Digital Space 3 which uses the Discovery Student Center and tutorial videos and quizzes on the use of Gmail and Google Docs. The students were encouraged, after an initial viewing of the videos, to reopen the videos while they took the 2 short quizzes to help them to answer the questions. Students were specifically reminded not to wildly guess at answers just because they could retake the quizzes, because all attempts would be averaged together. These early assignments are not particularly challenging as far as skills, but one skill that is definitely in need of work is careful reading of directions. Congratulations to those students who did a careful completion of the first assignment. Keep up the good work! If you lost points by overlooking some items, please follow my directions for copying the checklist and use highlighting item by item to make sure you have not missed anything.

March 26, 2012

I seemed to have skipped over the second quarter wrap-up for grade 7. We have been slogging along with a glog project since quarter two so I will catch up as best I can on that project and our current situation.

school_day.JPGIn quarter 2 the students began a social studies project devised by Miss Smith that would have them work in groups to share information about our school, academics, and culture. The idea was to reach out to other classes in some global interaction and learn more about each other, as there have been classes around the world posting glogs to a global wiki for just that purpose. Most of the project discussion took place in social studies and I worked with students on formatting the glog and developing the technical aspects of images and audio clips, etc. Things did not go smoothly and what we thought would take just a few weeks has turned into a two month project. In walking around and advising I would comment that this is not appropriate wording, or that is not viewer friendly regarding font or background, etc. The following week I would see the very same errors. And so it continued.

During this third quarter Miss Smith went over issues in class and there was a revised expectation regarding the required content for each group's theme. Twice I began to score what should have been finished projects and twice I threw my hands up wondering where were all the corrections that should have been made. The checklist for the glog can be found here and has been posted for quite some time. I have finally scored the glogs according to that rubric and the scores were not good. At the bottom of each group's sheet were opportunities for adding points to the score such as earning 5 additional points for correcting the 5 misspelled words, or crediting images from outside sources properly. These corrections need to be made in class on Wednesday, March 28, and then I will review the corrections and add any points that have been earned. Hopefully each score will go up.

external image google_sony.jpgThe other focus of our technology work has been evaluating websites and learning better search strategies. In the second quarter we began looking at some websites, some bogus ones in fact, and using a definite checklist to gauge whether or not a site was a reliable source of information. We had a practice exercise on that in quarter two and continued the idea in quarter three by learning why it isn't enough to just "google" something and how we can use advanced search techniques to refine our searches .For the second assignment of the third quarter, students were to use the advanced search box to "filter out" unwanted areas of a topic. Of course, when a student searches, for example, for "deaths from lung cancer" and specifies the years should be 2010-2011, but then says, exclude the word "lung" from the results, there is a bit of a logic issue that needs to be addressed. Also as part of that assignment students followed a basic checklist that asked them to name their file a certain way, save it in a certain location, and add items such as a header and a footer. These are supposed to be the easy points, but when all of those "easy" parts get left out, the score suddenly plummets. If the second score listed in Power School is a low score, the checklist definitely was not followed. The March 28 class will allow for a second chance for inserting elements such as headers and footers, but I certainly cannot regrade an entire set of assignments and between this and the glog corrections there will not be time. I don't know what to think, for example, when the directions say NOT to put the image into the table, only provide the link to where the image is found, and there is the image smack in the middle of the table...must be just not paying attention to directions.

The second part of the Google searching activity is using the special search functions available in Google such as define: or link: or site: etc. and creating a table of six different searches. This is supposed to be part of the third quarter as well.

Finally, in addition to Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship, we will be starting an independent project in which students select their own topic to delve into and then share related statistics and choose the appropriate type of chart in which to display their results. If things go according to plan they will record their voices giving a chart analysis before the end of the year.

November 5, 2011

First Quarter Wrap-up

Throughout the first quarter we have worked on getting adjusted to new or familiar digital spaces. All of the assignments have been openly available on the cougartech webmix throughout the quarter. I think the webmix is working well as a home base for our classes.

We began by getting acclimated to the new look and feel of accessing our school network spaces from a Windows 7 work station. Accessing network spaces correctly, saving documents where they can be easily found later, is really important for our work across all subject areas. We then moved onto the glog. Students demonstrated use of tools and followed some basic directions to create a warm up glog. During the course of the year the glog can be used as a digital poster in a variety of assignments and subject areas. The third space was the wikispace. There has been a bit of quirkiness with the wikispaces lately and I hope to contact them to see if they can look into the issue, but most students had no problem entering and formatting text, and using the history feature to revert to an earlier version of the page. This will come in handy when we have those "oops" moments and think our work has been lost.

external image 5187510589_7be1689db9.jpgThe final assignment of the quarter was the biggest because it took real THINKING, something many of us are reluctant to do at times. We expanded our digital space to the global scene by researching, via text and video, the Millennium Goals and the state of the world. In many cases it was quite an eye-opener but it is important for students to realize their place and their responsibilities in the global society and begin to think about problems that will need their help and creativity to be solved. Thinking skills of analyzing and synthesizing information came into play as students put their summary into a blog post to be shared with the global audience.

Now comes the complication. If you check your grades in Power School, as many will be doing this weekend, you may see an Incomplete for a technology score. There are a number of people who did not complete, or only partially completed, the Millennium Goals assignment. Perhaps you are sure you completed it but when you go back to your blog you will see that, oops, you may have forgotten to request publishing. The visual to accompany the blog post was to be EITHER a Creative Commons image OR a Wordle. Of course if you wanted your Wordle published you needed to finish it in time for me to upload it and give you the link. There was an open lab period for 7th and 8th grade students on Thursday, if you needed extra help or just time to catch up. I personally took over the sign up sheet and announced this during art, and yet only one seventh grader and one eighth grader took advantage of that time. If your assignment was not published as of this morning, Nov. 5, it is now officially late. I will accept late assignment until 8pm on Monday, but that will be a tight squeeze for me to enter the grades by the deadline.

I will be out of town at a wedding Nov. 5-6 but I will review any late submissions when I return on Sunday. If you have any questions or run into any problems, please fee free to email me. The grades have been high for the first three assignments but things look like they will be plummeting at the end unless some of you pull up from the nose dive. And a word of caution to those who do not have a grade of Incomplete: This does not mean that you are in the clear as I am quite disappointed at the first glance at many posts because of directions not being followed, images not being credited properly or images not showing up at all, and very careless spelling. Some things you are writing just don't make sense. We will be looking into a way to improve this next week. If you see something in your published post that needs fixing, by all means edit it and re-submit. I will not begin to score those until Sunday evening.

Image Credit: Gutemala Alliance to End Hunger by Bread for the World under CC License

September 14, 2011

external image manga.PNGToday was the first technology class in the new lab for seventh grade. We did some basic log in procedures and checked out the CougarTech class webmix, tested our blog log ins, and next week will access our other digital accounts. We also discussed the form that needs to be returned next week no later than Tuesday. Please be sure to complete both sides. I apologize that the side of the page was too close to the edge and didn't copy well. Here is a Google Doc view of the page. Do you know what the term "Web 2.0" means? Ask a seventh grader. They should be able to explain it!

Get ready to create, collaborate, and communicate in seventh grade! Oh, and did I mention THINK?