Sunday, August 12, 2012

Classroom Applications From CUERockStar

I was lucky enough to spend three days this week at CUERockStar, a teacher technology camp. The learning I was able to do there was great and will make up the bulk of the post below. I also continued my summer theme of introducing myself to my PLN – it is always cool to walk up to folks (at CUERockStar it was Jon Corippo, Danny Silva, and Robert Pronovost) and introduce yourself. Connecting a face with a twitter handle is always fun.

So what’d I learn? I’m going to stick to practical applications in my classroom. Check them out!

Edit confirmation in Google forms: When students submit something, anything, in a Google form, they get a page showing their response that looks like this:

Ramsey Musallam showed a way to edit the text of this ‘thanks for your submission’ textbox. To do this, while on your Google form, click ‘More actions’ then ‘Edit confirmation.’

This is especially useful for teachers who are flipping their classroom. If students are aware of the topics they had difficulty internalizing, either based on their responses to questions on a Google form or just through their own metacognition, teachers can use this ‘Edit confirmation’ tool to link to an extremely quick (like 20-30 seconds) video explaining the answer to a particular question from the Google form. Another strategy here could be to link to a specific point in the video students watched that goes over the content that the question dealt with (for instance, at 1:45 of the video I discussed the causes of the French Revolution).

Additionally, if teachers link these short explanation videos with URL shorteners such as or that track the number of times that URL is used, teachers would then know what areas of content students are self-selecting to review (in addition to the feedback the teacher would get from the answers students submit on the initial Google form). Pretty awesome – and easy – tweak to implement!

Instagram test review: I’ve been lucky enough to see Lisa Highfill present before, at the Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators conference. She has been greatly influential in pushing me to use social media more in my classroom. I was lucky enough to go along on a photo walk and class in Yosemite National Park at CUERockStar that she co-led with Nicole Dalesio. I learned more about cool photo editing apps on an iPhone (my favorites, all paid apps: PhotoWizard, Snapseed, and PhotoToaster) and also heard about application of Instagram in the classroom.

Lisa talks a lot about using Instagram to document learning in her classroom, and I plan on doing this. However, she teaches 5th graders. I am hopeful that I can build on the fact that I have students who have their own Instagram accounts. Using her ideas, I came up with an idea for using Instagram for test review with my 9th and 10th graders. Students get assigned a topic out of the unit – I’ve outlined this project for my first unit of the year about democracy and revolutions. Assume there are seven student groups who draw for the topic of their photo: one for the French Revolution, one for the Glorious Revolution, one for the American Revolution, three for the ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers, and one free choice photo topic. Students review the content of their assigned topics then go out and take their pictures from somewhere on campus that represents, to them, the topic they chose. These pictures would then be posted to Instagram and Twitter using the class hashtag so I can locate the pictures.

After giving the students about 20 minutes to review their assigned content, wander campus, and take and post their group pictures they will return to my classroom. I will upload the hashtagged Instagram posts and each group will present their picture as well as an explanation for how their picture shows their assigned topic. I am hoping that this emphasis on the higher end of Bloom’s taxonomy will help students to internalize more of the content than they would individually.

How to apply Explore-Flip-Apply in a history class: However, the coolest classroom application that will come out of CUERockStar for me? I’ve written about what Exlore-Flip-Apply (EFA) might look like in a history class before, but to get to pick Ramsey’s brain for a half hour about this topic was a real treat. This will become a subsequent blog post – I need to finish off my democracy and revolutions unit plan before I write about it, but here’s the teaser for you – the picture that came out of our discussion:

So there are my CUERockStar classroom applications takeaways. Clearly, the last one – EFA in a history class – has the largest ramifications for my teaching. For the West Coasters that might stumble across this post, CUERockStar is well worth checking out. As a final note, I’ll let you know what tech tools I’ll be buying based on my experience at CUERockStar.

·       Upgrade my MacBook Pro to Mountain Lion
·       Reflection app for my MacBook – this will allow me to mirror my iPhone 4S to my computer screen (which can then be projected to my class through an LCD projector), creating a mobile document camera. What a cool way to show student work. Or elicit feedback. Or do any number of super cool things!

Screenshot of my MacBook with Reflection showing
my iPhone 4S's screen on my computer

·       A Wacom Bamboo Splash pen tablet