Summer Goal: Social Learning Networks for the Classroom

I hope that your summer is off to a fantastic start!  I’m teaching a series of college application bootcamps so it seems that mine hasn’t quite started yet, but this week I want to share one of my major summer goals. If you haven’t made summer goals yet, I’m inviting you to take this journey with me and if you already have some expertise in this area, I’d seriously love your two cents!  This summer I want to learn how to effectively use a social learning network in my classroom.  I used collaborize classroom last year and I absolutely loved it (click here for a tutorial). However, some of my colleagues have decided to take up Edmodo or Schoology and it makes sense for us to have some constancy across the curriculum.

If you are new to the world of Edmodo, Schoology, and the other social learning networks, I’ll give you a brief definition.  Basically, these websites (and apps) allow teachers to create safe Facebook-like social networks where they can post information, assignments, quizzes, calendars, videos, and other content.  Students can also use the sites/apps to turn in work, which teachers can view, annotate and grade paperlessly.

Both platforms look amazing, but from what I can tell, Schoology’s iPad app beats out Edmodo’s app by far and Edmodo’s established user base and resources exceed those of Schoology.  Schoology also has a pay-for-service LMS side,which I will not need as my school uses a different LMS so I am just comparing the two free services. I went ahead and signed up for both accounts so I can play around with them this summer, but I think I will start the school year with Schoology because we are going toward a one-to-one iPad program and Schoology plays nicely with Turnitin.com, which is my lifesaver as an English teacher!

Here is a look at the Schoology iPad App from Jennie Magiera’s Technology in Education Blog (if you are into classroom tech, you should definitely follow her!):

Here’s an intro to Edmodo for teachers from @MissJill:

Ready, set, go!  I’m off to the races with these social learning networks!  I’ll check back in with this in the fall to let you know all the tips and tricks that I’ve worked out.  Thank you so much for stopping by and don’t forget to leave questions, comments or suggestions below!

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No Red Ink Video Tutorial: Teaching Grammar With Style!

I’m really excited to share a new teacher tech tool with you today!  Although, I am just getting started with it, I think NoRedInk.com is a tool to keep an eye on!  Here’s why I love it:

  • There is a free version (After I use it for a bit, I may upgrade, but it is nice to try it free!). It also appears to be growing rapidly in topics and such.
  • It covers a lot of the grammar topics that my high school students still struggle with, but I don’t really have time to teach in the older grades.
  • It allows students to pick topics of interest like sports, popular TV shows, disney, etc. These topics are then woven into grammar practices, keeping students engaged.
  • Students can practice as much or as little as needed before testing so that differentiation is built in. Students can work at their own pace with as much scaffolding or independence as they need.
  • The record keeping on the teacher side is very clear and easy to follow.

Here’s my quick video tutorial showing off the goods.  Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Quizlet Tutorial for Teachers!

Remember when I told you about a few apps that my students taught me to love?   Well I just jumped on the bandwagon and realized that one of them is going to change the way I assign vocabulary study.  No matter what words or book you are using for vocabulary, you have to check out this tutorial on quizlet:

What do you think?  Would you use this in your classroom?  Do you think your students would love it and/or find it useful?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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Grammarly Review and Video Tutorial

The kind folks over at Grammarly recently let me try out their service with my high school English classes.  The service offers to help students continue to develop writing skills through automated instructional feedback in grammar and word choice, as well as plagiarism tracking.  I tried out the teacher/student version, which you can learn more about at Grammarly.com/edu.  Check out the video tutorial below and the pros and cons list.  Please let me know if you have questions or comments and remember to check back weekly for more teacher tips, tutorials, and tirades. 😉

 Grammarly Pros and Cons from my perspective:

Pros:

  • Students can submit their papers multiple times to receive maximum automated input that is more effective than a simple word processor grammar check.
  • The grammar checker saves time for me as it catches many mistakes. I am all about saving time as we all know that English teachers have enough on our plate already!
  • Grammar explanations give students clear guidelines.
  • Plagiarism checker prevents unintentional plagiarism and takes away the excuse of ignorance that students sometimes claim.
  • There is a blackboard option and convenient roll out instructions.

Cons:

  • Unless you have school and department support, the price can be limiting.  (Check out pricing here)
  • Some grammar suggestions misunderstand student intention, which can confuse the paper further.
  • The teacher side of the website is limited in information.  I could see how many times a paper was checked, but I couldn’t see the actual mistakes or plagiarism to tell whether they were valid or not. I had to have students print their reports for me, which seemed like a lot of paper.
  • The plagiarism tracker is limited to online sources and is not the key component to this service (as opposed to services like turnitin.com).
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Harness the Power of Text and Receive Immediate Info with Cel.ly

One of my awesome co-workers went to a conference recently and brought back information about a cool new edtech platform called celly.  It is a secure way for teachers, students, parents, and other education professionals to communicate via the web, text message, or the celly app. I’m just beginning to think of all the ways this platform could be used to harness the power of student device love to enhance my instruction.  Below is an introduction to this cool new tool. including a couple of ways I could use it in my classroom.

Caveats:

  • For students using text instead of the app, standard text rates apply so students need to work responsibly
  • The platform is free for the basic options, but it is $5/mo for teachers to have more advanced assessment

What do you think?  Could you use this in your classroom and if so how?

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