Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dean of Students as Blogger?

My school's Dean of Students recently asked me about setting up a "Dean's Blog" to respond to issues as they arise in different times of the year.

For the last couple years I have asked our Deans to come lead my class discussion about student rights during our Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Unit. There are often good questions asked and the students appreciate the opportunity to ask their questions in a "safe" environment (rather then waiting until they are actually in trouble for something). The students also remark that it makes the Deans seem more "normal." I guess they don't get a lot of opportunity to interact with them unless they have broken a school rule.

Oftentimes, the questions are about a wide variety of issues including dress code, behavior at school dances, senior pranks, etc. It would be great to be able to share these discussions and responses with a wider audience of students.

So I believe our Dean is trying to give other students an opportunity to have their questions addressed in a similar way. I think this is a great idea. 

Is there anything similar already out there that we can look at?

Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

e-portfolios, what do you think?

Next semester some of us are going to have the students create e-portfolios using Google Sites.  Our vision is that students will have a page for each major project/unit of learning that includes:

1. Sample of the work (picture, video, link, etc.)

2. Reflection on the work (like a blog post)

3. A list of the most important concepts learned in that unit (which would become a study guide for the final exam)

I am very excited that there are other teachers who are interested in this project. It started in a conversation I was having with a colleague (Melissa Padgett @PadgettMelissa on twitter).  She was saying that she wanted to have the students create their own study guide throughout the semester that they could use for the final.  Well, I had been thinking about having students make a portfolio collection of their work from throughout the semester. We both teach American Government so it seemed natural for us to combine these things into an e-portfolio project.

Our semester starts when we return from Christmas break in January so we need to figure out all of the details by then. Some of our questions are:

1. How do we grade these?

2. How do we keep students motivated to complete them?

3. What information should we require be included?

Have you ever done anything similar? Any feedback or tips you can share?  Comment below or reach me on twitter @MattBaier1234

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Animoto is pretty cool, so are these gingerbread houses

Yesterday we had our annual Gingerbread House Competition.  Various classes that choose to participate create a gingerbread house that is judged by the ASB class.  Winners get fabulous prizes.

The last few years I have gone around with a couple ASB students to photograph and judge the gingerbread houses.  They look at these photos with the rest of the ASB students to determine the winners. I have always enjoyed this because I get to see all of the class creations.

After the judging, classes can bring their gingerbread houses to the library so everyone can see them.  However, not all of the houses make it to the library.  I know of at least one that was eaten within 10 minutes of the judging. I think its too bad that everyone doesn't get an opportunity to see all the cool gingerbread houses.

As I was taking pictures I was thinking, "I should post these somewhere so that everyone can see them."  As I was uploading the pics from my phone to my computer I remembered Animoto. It is a really cool website and app that allows you to quickly and easily transform pics (and even short video clips) into a movie.  There are themes and music that you can choose from.

When I first saw Animoto I was thinking about how students could use it next semester.  I didn't initially think about how I could use it.

Here is my video:

Let me know what you think. What other things could we being using this for?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Blog Post - iPad/YouTube Upload Tip

I've been wanting to blog for a while but didn't really know what to blog about. What do I know this is useful to other people? I've learned so much from other people's blogs I don't know what I can contribute.

I follow a lot of other blogs, most of them are about using technology in education. There is a trend towards using iPads (or similar devices) in more classrooms.  Our school is preparing to go 1:1 with iPads next year.  In preparation for that we currently have about 200 iPads (for ~1700 students) that teachers can check out and use in their classes.

I have noticed that some bloggers are doing similar things. And I've noticed that they are encountering challenges that we have also encountered.  And, sometimes, they have a problem that we have already figured out how to solve.


That is what I can share and blog about.  I can share our iPad challenges and experiences.

Maybe teachers from my own school will read this and they can see what cool things we are doing on campus with our iPads, that would be great.

With that said, here's a tip for today:

If you want to upload videos from the iPad to YouTube you need to create a YouTube channel.  Just creating a YouTube account or using a Google Account to sign in to YouTube doesn't work. I don't know why. That's just how it is.  Kudos to my colleague and esteemed AP World teacher, Jeff Owen, for figuring this out.

Here's a quick video showing how to create a YouTube Channel if you already have a YouTube or Google Account