Wednesday, 28 March 2012

5 Minutes to Safer Searching & Viewing

We always want to help our students find the most relevant information when searching or viewing content online.

Here are two great suggestions which can lead to a safer online experience for our students.

1. View Pure is a site which allows you to 'purify' YouTube videos by stripping away the comments section and the related videos, leaving you with only the video you want students to see.

Here's a quick tutorial showing how to install and use it:

2. Strict Filtering on Google Search
Most Google users aren't aware that the default level of filtering for search results is set to 'Moderate'. Setting the filtering to Strict, means that students are less likely to come across inappropriate content. Watch the tutorial below to see how easy it is to change:

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Four assessment tools you'll flip over.

White Men by David Reeves, on Flickr
"White Men by David Reeves"
The "flipped classroom" is a way of describing instructional methods that invert the traditional model of learning where the teacher dispenses content to her or his students during lessons and then sends them on their way to complete problems and meaning-making at home.

In flipped instruction, students front-load the content outside of lessons, typically using technology like video or interactive modules prepared by their teachers, and then participate in problem-solving and other consolidation activities during face-to-face time with the teacher.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic LicenseThe topic has been written about a lot lately as the lightning rod for the movement, Khan Academy, have certainly raised the profile of this style of learning some people think for the better, others for worse. No matter what you think about flipped instruction, the movement has resulted in a new crop of assessment tools for teachers so that they can collect data (which is critical in a flipped classroom) on student's understanding as they are learning and I'll highlight a few here.

Quizlet is a flash-card based tool that lets teachers and students create sets of cards and then quiz in a variety of ways. Teachers can set up groups where they can keep track of the progress of students. The site also has social media features where members of Quizlet can upload their sets of cards and find those uploaded by others.

See more videos from Quizlet on Vimeo or check out the teacher page.

Brain Genie is an environment that contain video learning modules for Math and Science. Teachers can set-up their classes and set goals for the students. After each module, students can check their progress by answering questions related to the content. Their progress is tracked and is then monitored by the teacher so they can pinpoint areas requiring further support for their students.

Class Dojo is a little different than all the rest of these as this site allows a teacher to easily leave formative feedback on behaviors for each student they set-up in their class. Each student is displayed as an avatar and you can set-up a customized list of behavioral criteria in two categories, positive (participating in discussion, helpful, organized, on task, etc) and negative (late, homework not done, disruptive, off task, etc).

From your laptop or any mobile device, you can see your class, and simply tap on a student avatar to leave some feedback. All the feedback is logged for the students and kept as an "overall performance" rating based on how many positive VS negative ratings they get.

Reports are easily generated and stored as PDF or emailed direct to parents.

Socrative allows you to set-up instant feedback from your students on questions that you present orally, write on the board, or present to them via the electronic quizzing function. The students log in to the teacher's online "room" using their secret number and once there wait for the teacher to ask a question. They can respond on any device with an internet connection such as a smartphone, iPod, tablet, or laptop computer. The teacher's interface displays a live record of the responses and with the quiz function, keeps a report that the teacher can use as an assessment grade.

Socrative introduction video (new) from Socrative Inc. on Vimeo

Quizzes are available from sources already made like these from the Times Educational Supplement for GCSE Science. Quizzes can also be set up by a teacher either in Socrative or using an Excel template.
Once created quizzes are easily shared between people simply by using a code that goes along with the quiz.

Socrative also has a "space race" game where individuals or teams of students can race against each other as they answer questions correctly. Another nice feature is the "Exit Ticket" that asks students to reflect on their learning for the day. The teacher can see the report and get a sense on how the students are feeling after the lesson so they can plan to follow up with those who are less confident about their learning.

So, whether you decide the "flip" is for you, these tools can make it easier for you to provide meaningful feedback to students more frequently and with less effort grading allowing you to target students for support.

Friday, 16 March 2012

iPads in K1

Can digital tools help us learn? That was the question we were exploring today. One of our answers? It can help you start your own band!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"Oops! I pressed send."

I recently came across a couple simple add-ons to Gmail that are easy to put on and really handy when you need them.

Undo Send:
Remember the last time you had “one of those days”? Remember how on that day you ended up sending an email reply-all by mistake, or sent a copied email without changing the name? If you realized right after pressing send, there’s a simple solution. Undo Send, which you can find in Google Labs.

Click on the little wheel at the top right in your Gmail, then click on Labs.

Search for Undo Send, click enable and save. While you’re at it, scout around for other labs you may find helpful.

From now on, you’ll get this message for 30 seconds after you send an email. Simply click undo to take your message back…


Delay send. Ever have an email you wanted to wait to send? Maybe it’s Friday afternoon and you don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle of the weekend. In the past I saved to drafts, set a reminder and hoped follow through. 

Once you download the free program, you see a boomerang next to send. 

You write your email, chose when to send later and don’t even have to be online for the message to be sent. Simple.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

K1 and the Digital Microscopes

The K1 children are using the digital microscopes to get a closer look at things we have found in the classrooms and in the playground. 

Safety Online in the Early Years

This blog post is a follow up to an information sharing session we had with parents where we discussed helping our students / children find a balance between their on / and / off line lives. 

One question that came out of this session was, "How can we help our young children stay safe while allowing them time to explore the internet?" 

Here are some of the things we are thinking about in response to this question. Below you will find:

1. What the Common Sense Media website suggests as Internet Safety Basics and Strategies for being Responsible and Safe Online.
2. Some search engines you might want to try with your younger children that filter out some of the bad stuff online

1. Common Sense Media
"Internet safety skills are as vital as the ABCs. Foster safe, responsible online behavior and avoid online threats like cyberbullying, unwelcome contact, and digital drama."

Common Sense Media suggest these Internet Safety Basics:

Help your kids understand that they should:
  • Never share their names, schools, ages, phone numbers, or addresses;
  • Never send pictures to strangers;
  • Keep passwords private (except to parents);
  • Never open email from strangers – it may contain viruses that can harm a computer; and
  • Immediately tell an adult if something mean or creepy happens

And these strategies for a responsible and safer online life:

  • Visit only age-appropriate sites. Check out the site before your kids visit it. Know what features and what content exist and make sure they’re good for your kids.
  • Search safely. Use safe search settings for young kids or think about applying filtering software to limit inappropriate exposure.
  • Avoid strangers. Tell your kids that people aren’t always who they say they are in cyberspace. Explain that if someone they don’t know talks to them, they shouldn’t respond but should let you know.
  • Be a good cyber citizen! Remind kids that an Internet playground is still a playground and they need to play nicely. A good rule of thumb: If they wouldn’t do something in real life, they shouldn’t do it online. Find out how your children can report mean behavior or unkind content on their favorite sites and teach them how to do it.
  • Online cheating? It’s still cheating and it’s a no-no – pure and simple.
  • Keep the computer in a central place. So you can see what’s going on.
  • Establish expectations and limits about the amount of time your children spend online and what they do. Check out our family media agreement for a helpful place to start.
  • View your own habits carefully. You are their role models.
  • But, mostly, be involved and have fun with them! Keeping kids safe and teaching them how to use digital technology responsibly is all about staying involved. Start by showing interest in the sites they visit and the games they play and your job will be a lot easier when they start exploring these technologies more independently.

Some articles from Common Sense Media:

2. Some different search engines you might like to try with your younger children (you can find more like this at in the Research Center):  
(a search engine for students, it
searches only approved sites)

Google Safe Search
(SafeSearch is a Google setting which filters out adult content from Web and Image search results. The default filter level is set to moderate

(A cross between a search engine and an encyclopedia. The results return complete, informative sentences about the search topic. Related topics are suggested)

Google Advanced Search
(Scroll to the bottom of the page and move your safe search to 'strict', you can also opt to show reading levels on your search)

(a computational knowledge engine: it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links)