Thursday, October 25, 2012

Technology In Our Classrooms

 Podcasting –Voices of the Gold Rush

Jenny Ball – Lupin Hill

4th Grade Project


The podcasts tell the very real human stories of the California Gold Rush – each from a different perspective.

They feature historical and symbolic pictures of the Gold Rush with “voice-over” narratives.  


Break the class into “Mining Camps” consisting of 7 students each.  Mining Camps then decide on a name (using actual historical mining camp names) and assign the following roles within their camp:


         •Native American



         •Child of a Miner




Each member of the Camp is responsible for researching his/her  own role (some research material teacher supplied), writing a script, downloading pictures that “tell” their story, and rehearsing and recording the voice-over.  Camps work as a team to produce and edit the podcast, and select music track.



•I found it very helpful to show a sample of a competed podcast at the beginning of the assignment.

•PBS series by Ken Burns “The West” was instrumental.  It set the tone of podcasts (real human stories told from a variety of perspectives) and demonstrated to the students what you can do with still pictures. The series (and the companion guide “The West”) provided the factual information and human inspiration for the stories that the students told.




Pre-Production/Research – 4 Weeks

1) Research: Watch excerpts of Ken Burns The West (on United Streaming) as a whole class and individual students read packets (I provided) pertaining to their role from the companion book The Gold Rush

2) Script Writing, Editing and Rehearsal

3) Image Gathering: Download from internet and create folder in iPhoto


Production– 4 weeks

4) Record Voice-Overs and Edit Sound Track – using Garageband

5) Import Pictures from iPhoto and Synch with sound track

6) Select Jingle (Music), and synch with images/V.O.s

7) Final Editing



8) Import Podcasts to iTunes to create m4a and put on class webpage

9) Debut!


If you have a Mac and would like to watch a video created by the students on this lesson plan, follow the directions below:

1.  Click on the following link to download the file - RoughandReady1

2. In the upper right hand corner of your screen, click on the magnifying glass (Spotlight) and type in Quicktime Player

3.  The application will show up on the bottom of screen in the dock.

4.  Drag and drop the file into the Quicktime Player application and the video should open, as seen below:


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sharing Quizzes & Grading Features in Edmodo

Many of you have asked about sharing quizzes in Edmodo, as well as how to grade attached items. You can share quizzes, and you don’t have to download files to grade and comment on them. Below are answers to your questions, and directions to make it happen:

A. Sharing Quizzes: You can share quizzes with other teachers; but, there is no direct feature to do this, the Edmodo team provided a work around.

Here are the steps:

1) Join the teacher’s group/class from your own account (you will need the group code to do this)
2) Have the teacher that created the group change your member access in the group to co-teacher. Click here to find out how to do this.
3) Send the quiz to the group. Click here to find and scroll down to “Load Previously Used Quiz” or see picture below.

 B. Grading/Assignment features:There are several features to posting assignments and grading, I’m going to highlight a few:

 1. Student turn-in: I recommend creating a student account so that you can show students how to turn in assignments. They should not submit on the front page, they need to click the turn-in button on the front page. They can submit either by typing their response and/or attaching a file, then click submit assignment. For more information about assignments click here.
 2. Grading: There are a few ways to grade your assignments.You don’t have to download an assignment, instead click on “Annotate” when you are viewing the assignment. Click here for more directions and look at the image below to see annotations. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SMART Notebook update

With the release of the new Mac software updates there have been several issues with the SMART Notebook software. Mac is working on a patch (which is expected to be released by the end of the month) that should take care of the current issues. If you want to try to fix it yourself please complete the following:

Step 1: Complete a firmware upgrade. You can find out how to do this by reading one of my latest blog post’s “Fix Your Glitchy SMART Board.”

If that doesn’t solve your problem, try the following:

Step 2: Uninstall your current SMART Notebook, then reinstall to Notebook 10.8.

  1. Open your “Applications” folder   >”SMART Technologies” >”SMART Uninstaller” and follow the directions

  2. Click on this link, download and install the 10.8 version of Notebook.

  3. Click on this link to download the patch for Notebook 10.8.

If this is all too much, please put in a HelpDesk ticket so we can help you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Edmodo Notifications and Privacy Settings

It’s awesome to see so many people in the district signing up for Edmodo, and into the SDD group! More people can lead to greater effectiveness, but also a lot more messages in your email inbox, and concerns about privacy. See the notes below from Edmdo’s Help section (with my comments in parenthesis) to address these issues.:
Login and click <Account <Settings:

  1. Stop receiving notifications from one group: If you want to stop receiving messages from one group, select that group, select "Advanced Settings," then DEselect "Send Notifications." This will allow you to keep receiving emails from other groups.

  2. Set notifications – [Or click on “Email & Text Updates”]. Click on the notifications [or “Notification Type”] drop-down menu to choose from email or text notifications. Email notifications will be sent to the email address associated with your Edmodo account. If you select text notifications, enter your 10-digit phone number and select your current mobile provider. You will need to verify your phone number in order to enable text alerts.

  3. Notification Type – Select the type of notifications you’d like to receive by checking the box next to one or more of these choices: Alerts, Notes, Direct Messages, Replies or New Group Members. [I would suggest leaving at least “Direct Messages” and “Replies.”]

  4. Privacy – Teachers may choose to block connection requests or only make their profile visible to their personal network by checking the appropriate box under privacy settings (located in the lower right-hand section of the Settings page. (Students have very high privacy settings defaulted).

If you have other questions, Edmodo's Help section is pretty comprehensive, check it out here. You can also attend one of my Edmodo sessions during Staff Development Day, to learn more about how to use this in your classroom and as a collaboration tool. In the G-1 classroom at 10:40, and the other starts at 12:40. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Engaging Election App on Edmodo for grades 6-12

The Study Sync Votes 2012 Blasts App on Edmodo allows you to explore the presidential campaign with your students, and allow them to be a part of a national conversation with thousands of their peers. There are several differentiated lessons, that inform students on important issues in the upcoming election. New topics are released weekly. A few of the topics are the economy, money and politics, Iran, and powering America.

Components of the lesson: neutral overview of topic and how it relates to campaign, research links across broad spectrum of sources, writing assessment 140 characters long, read and rate other students, poll of students across the country.

Haven't used app's before, or want a little help with this one? We got you covered, click here for a Quick Start Guide, or watch the tutorial below:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Invitation to a Dialogue: A Student’s Call to Arms

Invitation to a Dialogue: A Student’s Call to Arms
Published: October 9, 2012

When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law, few would have predicted that the next decade of education policy would unfold into a disaster of epic proportions. The law was based on a flawed concept of a “good education” — high scores on standardized tests.

As a result, the curriculum was narrowed, shaving instruction time in the arts, music, science and history. Schools were transformed into test-preparation factories with a stress on drill, kill, bubble-fill methods. And ruthless accountability measures were enacted, with bribes and threats at their core. It’s safe to say that the law has failed miserably.

Yet when President Obama came into office, he enacted Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition that dished out money to states that adopted the president’s policies. In effect, it was No Child Left Behind on steroids. The pressure to garner high test scores has gone haywire, the number of cheating scandals has mushroomed and the teaching profession has been dehumanized. Enough is enough.

In this election cycle, both Mitt Romney and President Obama have largely ducked the issue. Instead of proposing a bold, game-changing plan to transform schools for the 21st century, they remain stubbornly fixed on the status quo. We cannot afford to lose yet another decade of precious time and resources. Reforms are not enough; only a revolution will suffice.

As a student, I want to be taught how to think and create and explore. I’m not a number in a spreadsheet; I’m a creative and motivated human being. I want my teachers to be paid well, given autonomy and treated like professionals. I want my school to be adequately funded. Is that too much to ask?

If either candidate called for the repeal of No Child Left Behind and the abolition of Race to the Top, and pushed schools to allow students to become the captains of their learning, he would find millions of teachers, parents and young people at his side.

Syosset, N.Y., Oct. 8, 2012

The writer is a high school senior and the author of the book “One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School.”

Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond by Thursday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Goyal’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 Teacher Portal Features in Progress


On Friday, September 29th, three of our tech team members participated in a focus group for, along with other technology-leading districts.  There they discussed enhancements with the Aeries Student Information System with the Aeries team.  Useful information was given about the teacher portal features that are in progress at this time.  Please click here to download the PDF to find out more.



AC Stelle School Wide Electoral College Webquest & Free Election Resources

On Monday, the ACS Math Department rolled out a school wide, cross-curricular Electoral College Webquest. Department Chair Lynda Asher took the lead by creating the webquest and reaching out to myself and her colleagues for feedback. The webquest is posted on the ACS Math Department webpage, making it easily accessible for students, parents, and those that may be interested in running a similar project, as it includes all the directions, resources, and rubric.

The webquest is differentiated for the different grades, and for differing levels of complexity, allowing for the engagement and challenge for all students.  My favorite challenge is figuring out the shortest road trip distance the candidate would need to take to receive 270 votes (assuming every state they visit will vote for him).

Students engage in writing, technology, and math skills, through writing prompts, the use of online resources and Excel spreadsheets.

The students were first introduced to the webquest in the classroom and they have approximately 2.5 weeks to complete it. Close to the due date the students work in the computer lab, and are expected to show up having most of their work organized on a USB drive, to facilitate a successful finish of the project.

Links to this webquest and other Election resources are listed below:

  1. Electoral College Webquest:

  2. Edmodo Election Resources (for all subjects/grade-levels), including a presidential debate bingo click on “Collection” next to “Community”

  3. Election based lesson plans and games: