Curriculet Announces 2015 Summer Reading Challenge

View the entire description by Curriculet here

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Announcing the 2015 National Summer Reading Challenge from USA TODAY and Curriculet! We’re challenging every student across the country to read at least 20 minutes every day over the summer. Students who don’t read over the summer can lose 2 months of school progress. This phenomenon is known as the summer slide.

USA TODAY and Curriculet have partnered to provide a free, turnkey summer reading program that motivates students to read while giving teachers, administrators, and parents a way to encourage and monitor student reading. The 2015 National Summer Reading Challenge is not your typical summer reading program. It’s engaging and fun for all students; and it beautifully enhances your existing program with engaging access to informational texts.

For more information, visit Curriculet’s site by clicking here.

autoCrat: Google Sheets Add-on creating merged documents.

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Who: Teachers who are looking for a way to turn Google Forms into merged documents. This documents can also be automatically sent via e-mail.

How: Create a form with questions (including an e-mail address if it is going to be sent out).

The questions will become the header row in the spreadsheet. The user will use these headers as the merge rows on their merged document, so the user needs to think ahead.  It is best to create the template that will be used first, so that you know what fields need to be added to your form.

After creating the form and template, open the Google Sheet with the responses.

Click on Add-ons, search for autoCrat, and install it.  You will need to grant permission. After this, click on Add-ons again, hover over autoCrat then click launch.

You will need to create a new merge job.  This is where is can get confusing the first time using this Add-On.  When you start a new merge, you will first need to select a template, this should be the Google Doc you created.

The next step is to map the tags.  This is where you will need to make sure that the tags from the header row match up with the merge fields you created on your template.

After this, you will then need to set up the merge settings.  This is where you can have an e-mail drafted to be sent to your audience.  You also select your naming convention here as well.   You can use the header row tags to merge information into the e-mail itself, as well as, select to have a Google Doc or .pdf sent to the recipient.

In the advanced settings section you can have autoCrat automatically run each time a new form is submitted.  When you are finished here, click save and you are ready to merge!

For those visual learners like myself, here is a great video by Amy Mayer taking you step-by-step through running autoCrat.

When: autoCrat is fantastic for creating certificates; either for your class or for professional development.  It is also very useful for creating invoices for summer programs or anything else your audience may need to pay for.  autoCrat can be a great addition for online registration forms.

Memrise – Engaging courses for students and teachers.

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Who: Teachers and students looking to extend learning and supplement classroom content.

How: Memrise uses the freemium model.  Teachers and students can sign up for a free account in which they can log in and take courses.  The courses also feature “mems”.  These are visual clues created by users to help remember answers.  There are many different courses available, including basic languages, GRE vocabulary, and SAT/ACT vocabulary.  The premium version ($9/month or $59/year at the time of this post) gives the user data to help with focus, best times, and difficult words.

Teachers can also create groups to utilize their free multimedia flashcard game.

When: This would work great as supplemental material for classroom assignments.  Memrise would also function well as a booster for students in need of extra help.  Memrise would also be great for extended lessons for students who would like to work ahead. This would also work really well for students and parents that are looking to continue learning throughout summer break-time.

About Memrise:  Memrise was created around three principles: Science, Fun, and Community.  The founders of the website are experts in “Brain Science”.  The program engages the user with quizzes that make them feel like you are playing a game.

Websitehttps://www.memrise.com/

After trying out the course in German (a language I studied years ago in high school), I found myself engaged and wanting to do more.  At this point I decided to try a course I knew nothing about, the Korean Alphabet.  In less than 5 minutes, I found myself engulfed in learning a new language, even if it were simply the alphabet.

This program is great as schools are heading into summer break and would be something to recommend to your students.

IPEVO – IW2 – Wireless Interactive Whiteboard – Cost Effective Solution for Classrooms

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DEVICE: IPEVO IW2 Wireless Interactive Whiteboard System

COST: $169.00 (plus tax and shipping if applicable)

INTERFACE: USB (via included Wireless Receiver)

POSITIVE:

Cost: With a sub-$200 price tag, this interactive whiteboard is a fantastic option for schools on a tight budget.

Footprint:  The IW2 Sensor Cam is placed somewhere near the projector. It is approximately 1.5″ wide, 2″ deep, and 3″ tall.  Included in the package is mounting equipment for any desktop or ceiling mounted placement.  The IW2 Sensor Cam requires power source and has a 3.6m USB cable and power adapter included in the package.

Interaction:  Users can either touch the surface with the tip of the Interactive Pen or use the large green button on the Interactive Pen to use the Interactive Pen while standing away from the board.  Students enjoy this feature as it is something different than other brands of interactive whiteboards on the market.

Installation: Users utilize the IW2 Interactive Pen.  The Interactive Pen and Sensor Cam both communicate with the computer through the included Wireless USB Receiver.  The Wireless Receiver snaps into the base of the Interactive Pen for easy transport and storage. Users need to install the driver file and the Annotator software.  The user then connects the Sensor Cam, Interactive Pen, and Wireless USB Receiver.  Follow the calibration directions in the manual and driver software and the interactive whiteboard is up and running. Visit the IW2 Download Page here to get the necessary files.

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Ease-of-use: After getting the IW2 running, using the device is pretty straightforward.  Users can switch back and forth between desktop mode and drawing mode.  In desktop mode, users can use the Interactive Pen just the same as using a mouse.  In Drawing Mode, users can write/draw/ highlight on anything displayed on the screen.  Users can also put up a shade that dims the entire screen, or dims most while highlighting what the teacher wants students to focus on.

NEGATIVE:

Calibration: The initial calibration can be difficult, as the user needs to click the corners of the screen and makes sure the red dot is displayed.  If you are not lucky enough to get it right on the first try, this could result in a lot of back and forth adjusting.  This is particularly difficult in ceiling mounted situations.

Stylus: At first glance, I felt that the new Interactive Pen was too long.  However, after using it, I found it to be useful in reaching the entire screen when standing to one side.

 

Be sure to visit IPEVO online and check out their entire lineup.

 

IPEVO has released a tutorial video for setting up the IW2 in your classroom.  This is very beneficial for those setting up an IPEVO product for the first time.

Illuminations: Excellent Online Resources for Teaching PK-12 Math

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Who: Teachers looking to integrate web-based technology into their mathematics classroom.

How: No account needed, visit the Illuminations website and look around!  This site is loaded with resources including: games, lesson plans, activities, brain teasers, and interactives.  All resources are aligned through NCTM PK-12 Math Standards and Common Core K-12 Math Standards.

When: Resources on this site are useful at any point in the lesson.  Teachers can use a brain teaser for a bell-ringer,  the lesson plans to help with the content, and even games/interactives for homework.

Websitehttp://illuminations.nctm.org/Default.aspx

Curriculet – Embedding Assessment Into Reading Assignments

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Who: Teachers looking to create interactive lessons with online books.

How: Teachers create an account on Curriculet, search for a book in the library, and assign readings to their classes. After adding a book to their library, the teacher can use “Available Curriculets” which are assessments that have already been created. Teacher have the option to edit those existing assessments, or create their own. To create an assessment in the writing, the teacher just holds down the mouse button to highlight a part of the text. After the text has been highlighted, the choice is given for: “Annotate”, “Add Question”, or “Add Quiz”. Annotate allows teachers to place in thinking points for students. Add question allows teachers to add in either multiple choice or open-ended questions. Quiz allows teachers to make a multiple question section for students to answer a series. These questions also have the option to be tagged to Common Core standards. Once an assessment has been made the teacher can assign it to their classes. Students will need to have an account created as well.

When students view the curriculet, they view a plain text version as like any eBook they may use. Throughout the text, they will see icons on the side where questions, annotations, and quizzes are located for them to take. Students can also hold down and select a difficult word to be given a definition.

When: Great for language arts classrooms! Use it for reading public domain books or the option to purchase/rent books is available. Teachers also have the option of creating curriculets from online news articles or uploaded files of their own. This is a great option for online news sources as the text is displayed in a clean format without advertisements and other distractions.  A short news article could be a great way to start class while the teacher takes attendance and does other necessary administrative tasks.

This tool is easy to use. In a matter of a few minutes, a teacher can have a lesson based off a classic book ready for students to view. The system tracks student progress and also records reading time. While it is nice to read aloud as a class and ask questions during class-time, this allows the teacher to see where each student is at with key parts of the text.

Websitehttps://www.curriculet.com/

Below is an introductory video from Curriculet:

 

*Special thanks to www.wickedgoodtech.net for sharing this tool on their page.  Great resources are there for teachers!  I found out about the page at EdCamp Ohio.  I highly recommend checking out an Ed Camp if there is one in your area!  For more information on Ed Camps, check out http://edcamp.org/

IPEVO Ziggi-HD Document Camera. – Low Cost, High Quality Document Camera Solution for Classrooms on a budget!

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DEVICE: IPEVO Ziggi-HD Document Camera

COST: $94.00 (plus tax and shipping if applicable)

INTERFACE: USB

POSITIVE:

Cost: With a sub-$100 price tag, this document camera is very appealing when compared to competitors products.

Clarity: The Ziggi-HD has a 5.0 megapixel camera, which gives great clarity when projecting the image to your students.  This document camera passes the $5 bill test (use the camera to see how well it displays the names of the states at the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a $5 bill.)

Footprint:  The Ziggi-HD takes up very little space on your desk.  The base is roughly the size of a smartphone.  The neck articulates and folds up if you want to put it away or take it with you to a presentation.

Ease-of-use:  The included software is simple and straight forward.  Teachers can be up and running with this device in their classroom in under 10 minutes or less (depending on install time.)

NEGATIVE:

Connection: The Ziggi-HD is USB only so it must be run through a computer.  While this is listed as a negative, it is really a trade off for the small footprint and low-cost.  IPEVO offers other models of document cameras, specifically the VZ-1 VGA/USB Dual Mode Document Camera that can be run directly to a projector if desired.

 

EdPuzzle – Make Any Video Your Lesson

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Who: Teachers looking to create blended or flipped lessons.

How: Teachers create an account on edpuzzle.com. Teachers then create lessons with questions, voice, and notes in the video itself.  Videos can come from a variety of streaming video websites.  Teachers can add multiple choice, extended response, or just have a comment at any point in the video.  To distribute, the teacher can create classes with student accounts or share a link or use the embed code to post it to the web.  When assigning a video to a class, teachers have the options to disable skipping ahead.

When: Useful options include blended/flipped lessons, snow day work, etc. Another great use is as a bell-ringer while the teacher takes attendance.

This tool is easy to use.  In a matter of a few minutes, a teacher can have a lesson based off a youtube video ready for students to view.  The system makes it easy to get to the embed code for teachers to add the lesson to their LMS of choice.  Below is a lesson I made off of a video made by Calvert Catholic Schools.

Website: http://www.edpuzzle.com

Formative – Interactive Formative Assessments w/ live results

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Who: Teachers looking for interactive, live results from formative questions given to the classroom.

How: Teachers create an account on www.goformative.com, add questions, and assign to the class to respond. Teachers can add classes, students can create accounts, or students can just put in their name to answer. Formative has pre-made questions that are great for exit tickets. Teachers select the question and give the students the “quick code”. Students open a web browser, go to the Formative website and enter the code in the top right corner. Students are given a text box for written answers, or a whiteboard for questions that they may need to draw something for. This is a great feature for Math teachers! The teacher can select “Live Results” and watch as all the students logged in answer the questions. This system looks similar to Google Drive, but the teacher is able to see ALL responses as they come in. As the answers come in, the teacher can give a grade using a sliding scale and also give short comments back to the student.

Teachers have the option to upload existing assignments in .pdf or .doc format to goformative.com

When: This tool is great for formative assessment, as the brand name suggests. Use it as an exit ticket, quick comprehension check, or as a back channel discussion.

There are many tools out there that allow the teacher to do quick checks of comprehension. This tool is the first I have encountered that allows the teacher to see live results as they are written. This is great for math teachers in particular. While Students draw and work out the problems, teachers can stop incorrect procedure at the beginning. This is beneficial and time saving as the student no longer has to wait to turn in an assignment before getting feedback.

 

Here is a demonstration from the folks at GoFormative.com

#TWIMA Project – The World Is My Audience

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Who: Teachers looking to engage students with writing by taking part in a worldwide project.  Jon Smith (@theipodteacher) is looking for classes across the globe to take part in the second iteration of collaboration to create an iBook/ePub of student writing.  The theme for #TWIMA2 is The World Is My Audience 2: Dreams Around The World

How: (Copied from http://thetwimaproject.weebly.com/about.html)

Below are the general guidelines for the project along with time frames.  We are going to focus on dreams in this version of #twima.  We will be using iBooks Author this time to increase the interactivity and ease of transferring your  work to the book.

Part 1:
Have your class discuss dreams.  The dreams they write about could be personal dreams, actual night dreams, dreams for the world, dreams of their culture or dreams that relate to academic areas they currently are part of (I can envision students writing about dreams of solving problems or placing themselves in historical events).

1. Have your class discuss dreams.  The dreams they write about could be personal dreams, actual night dreams, dreams for the world, dreams of their culture or dreams that relate to academic areas they currently are part of (I can envision students writing about dreams of solving problems or placing themselves in historical events).

2. Submit these written dreams to me via google drive, word document or pages document.

3. These written dreams may include artwork or photos your students create if they wish.  Please make sure students use their own artwork and photos.  I would like to avoid any copyright issues.  If they choose photos from the internet, please make sure they are acceptable and copyright free.

Part 2:

Once the dreams are submitted, we will pass the written work on to another group of teachers and students who will take those written dreams and turn them into multimedia for the iBook.  This media could be videos, photos, widgets and much, much more.  The sky is truly the limit.

Part 3:

The final piece of this project will be taking all the written dreams and multimedia pieces and weaving them into one big story.  Justin and his students have agreed to make the larger story based on the dreams your students develop.  Don’t worry!  Your student work will not be changed in any way.  Their work will simply be woven into a larger story.

 

When: #TWIMA2 started March 1, so now is the time to get involved!  Visit http://thetwimaproject.weebly.com/ for more information, contact info, and how to join!

 

I love the idea of this project.  It combines writing, technology, and dreaming!  Let’s help Jon reach his goal of representing each state in the #TWIMA2 iBook! You can also visit #TWIMA on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/twima