Monday, October 31, 2011


I've been very successful with the Reverse Teaching part of my project, but not so much with the transparency part.  Despite the fact that I teach high school, my students' parents are not thrilled with the idea of their children's pictures being posted online in any way, shape, or form.  I tried at parent teacher conferences to remind them that this is why they all sign a media release form at the beginning of the school year, but to no avail.  I've got very, VERY few photos of my kids working that are usable, because of lack of parent buy-in.  They seem to have decided together that this is the issue over which they are going to dig in their heels and flat-out refuse to compromise.

That being said, the websites that I had my kids create are varying and incredibly cool.  Because they use Google Docs in their computer classes already, I didn't have to worry too much about teaching them the format of the website.  I did show them some tips and tricks, and we discussed how not to blind your teacher with yellow words on a lime green background, but other than that, I left it to them to figure out the different possibilities the site presented. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not So Much...

Well, I have been REALLY successful with the transparency part of my project, but not with the reverse part. I have offered several challenges for the students, but none of them have taken the opportunity to do them. They are all overwhelmed, because this is apparently the first year they've ever been asked to do homework and they don't have a study hall so it's basically been like panic overload as they try to keep up with their day-to-day work. I have been seriously successful with my website though AND I am happy to report that our school sent our entire middle school team (8 teachers 6-8, tech, and Sped) to the MAMLE conference and I led the charge for EVERYONE to get a website up and start being more transparent. At the start of the conference, I was the only middle school teacher with a website. Now, three other teachers have theirs either finished, or almost ready and two more are feeling the pressure to get in the game! We've also got Google calendars attached so parents can see what the homework is. So, even though it wasn't what I planned on, I'm still considering it a success! Plus, I'm not going to stop until all of the middle school is on-line!

Here's the link to my site.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where is that 8-ball

None of my plans have worked out so far. We have a new technology integrator...great guy, but is new to the Google Apps world. Students have just gotten lap tops and the On-line Almanac that I was hoping to create is still a pipe dream. We had chosen to use Weebly as a platform, but not sure that will work. Students are having difficulty just doing assignments to get to the point of posting. I'm well behind the 8 ball.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Project Updates

Hi everyone, hope your school year is off to a great start. I have had an incredibly busy semester so far. Just to remind everyone, my final project is revolving around a new assessment system just implemented at UMaine's COEHD, called Tk20. Since I am working for the COEHD as a grad assistant assigned to Tk20, I thought revolving my final project around Tk20 would be a great way for me to really familiarize myself with the system. So for my project, I volunteered to develop a lot of the training materials and to create and maintain the help site. To give you a better idea about Tk20, it is essentially just a massive database being used to collect, store, analyze data, and generate comprehensive reports. The COEHD is going to use Tk20 for on-going program evaluation and to assist with the NCATE re-accredition process. For the first stage of the implementation process, every student in a NCATE program is going to be uploading key assessments into Tk20, where it will then be evaluated by faculty to demonstrate that the students are meeting NCATE standards. We have already undertaken a massive training effort and have provided training to over 70 classes. For the first part of my project, I developed the training guides for the students. Now all my time is being put into developing how-to guides and developing the help site. The training materials and how-to guides mostly consists of step-by-step trouble shooting tutorials in the form video screencasts and PDFs. The Tk20 help site is going to be the main source of information for both faculty and students. It is still in development, but here is the link so you can see where it is at: There is also a FAQ subpage with additional resources.


Our students finally got their laptops on Thursday and I managed to get them all connected to their email and their grades.  Progress reports went home Friday as I began giving my first test of the year.  It has been a crazy one so far!  I did have a students laptop plugged in to the short throw projector that I am learning to use.  It does have a laser pointer that I haven't figured out yet! I have all my students connected to the successnet site that comes with our new text and I think that will be helpful with reverse teaching.  There are tutorials, games and all the instruction in one place that students can access from home.

Now that they finally have their  machines, I can begin to have them set up portfolios.  I have such a sort time to teach that I may try having some create the portfolio in study hall and hope to have it spread like a virus.  I should probably check with our administration to make sure that's OK  but I do intend to have them set the privacy so it is only shared with certain addresses like mine and their parents.  First I will have to get through the effects if the progress reports on the parents who think their child is doing better than they are.  I do really like having an "open" grade book as I find it has a very beneficial effect on my missing assignment list!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another tip...

When doing "Reverse Teaching" were you have a student connect their laptop to the projector and you are in the back of the room.... a laser pointer is a must.    It will allow you to point to the area you want the kid to click on.  Also you will be able to remain in the back of the room to keep an eye on other students.

While being "Transparent" there are new eye-fi cards that will allow the students to take pictures and the wifi sd card will automatically upload pictures to a web album.  I use a Picasa Web Album that is NOT published to the public.  It allows you to check to make sure now one who can't be on is there or anything inappropriate gets by.  I find if you involve students they will self regulate and you only have to catch the kids in the background.  Picasa will also upload videos as well (I don't do them longer then 60 sec) and it now will tag pictures.  I will tag kids pictures with their Avatar names in a web album to start the year then it automates from this point on.    If you tag the kids who CAN'T be on web it will notify you when the album uploads.   Then just move pictures you want to another web album you then embed to your blog.

A good way to get parents to connect to your site is to have students do progress reports by having their parents comment on a blog post.  They need to use students Avatar names and you will have to approve the post, but it allows students to show their parents what they are doing.  *I make sure kids know NOT to make parents do this late at night or early in morning I give them weeks to finish.  Any student without internet access at home I print a picture of them from the site for their parents to sign.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mike's Project (Students are doing)

Well I've officially hit a huge snag in the road to completing this project. Google SketchUp is not on the students netbook image and there isn't either a.) time b.)time c.)time to load SketchUp onto the image of 83 student netbooks.

SO...what I think I'm going to do is have them do a research project on a specific plate boundary and either through my FirstClass website OR blog I'll load pictures, videos, and the actual Google presentations of their research (or at least a few of them for size constraints).

What I need to know is this something that is okay? If it is I should be good to execute the project.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Kids Will Be Doing

I thought it would be fun to share the actual performance task document that I've handed out to my kids.  Hopefully the pictures will show up!  This is what they'll be doing:

Elements of Fiction Project

Project Requirements:
1.     You may work with another person. 
2.     You must use Google Docs to create a website that will define and explain one of the elements of fiction we have discussed in class.
3.     You must include examples of this element of fiction from at least two of the stories we have read in class, as well as at least one real-life example.
4.     You must include a bare minimum of three pictures.  These pictures can be found online or they can be pictures that you take or create yourself.
5.     You must present this website as “educational materials” to the class.
6.     You will eventually share the site with our class, and possibly with the other section of this class.  Be prepared.  Public speaking IS involved.

Creating Your Site:
1.     Sign in to Google Docs.
2.     At the top of the page, click “Sites.”
3.     Click the button that says “Create New Site.”
4.     Name your site and choose a theme.
5.     For right now, these sites should remain private.  Click “More Options” and be sure to choose the button that says “Collaborate With: ONLY PEOPLE I SPECIFY.”  We do not want this to be a public site!
6.     DO NOT click the button that says “Let anyone in the world view.”

Editing Your Site:
You will be keeping this to a single page, so don’t click the “create page” button.  Click the button that says “Edit Page” and your site will turn into something that looks more like a document.  From here, you can add and edit text, add photos, and change your layout.

To Add a Photo:
1.     Save the photo on your computer first, and make sure to end the file name with .jpg so that it will be usable.  Some browsers can’t see certain photo types, but everyone should be able to see .jpg.  Make sure that you save it somewhere that is easy to find.
2.     At the top left-hand side, click “insert” then click “image.”
3.     Click the “browse” button and find your file, then click “OK.”
4.     Play around with the buttons that appear when you click on your image, and see what you can do with them!

Grading Rubric

(4) FTW!!
(3) Pwnage!
(2) Noob…
(1) Epic fail…
Elements of Fiction Explained

The element of fiction chosen by the group is:
explained in depth, accurately, in a way that makes sense, and in a way that is helpful to other students.

explained accurately, in a way that makes sense, and in a way that is helpful to other students.
explained accurately, but in a way that is somewhat unclear.  The explanation is not very helpful to other students.

explained inaccurately, or in a way that is difficult to understand.  The explanation is not helpful to other students.
Class Examples

There are:

clear, in-depth examples from two or more of the stories we read in class.
clear examples from two of the stories we read in class.
clear examples, but they only come from one of the stories we read in class.

examples that are unclear and that only come from one of the stories we read in class.
Real Life Examples

There is/are:

more than one clear, in-depth examples from real life.
one clear, in-depth example from real life.
no examples from real life included on the website.


There are:
more than three pictures on the website.

three pictures on the website.
two pictures on the website.
two or fewer pictures on the website.

The materials are:
presented to the student’s section of the class and to the other section of the class.

presented to the student’s section of the class.
not presented to either section of the class.