“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Friday, January 31, 2014

eClickers and the 4C's

Hi everyone! 

Last week I got to visit a fourth grade classroom. Since this was the first time this group and the teacher were trying out this type of assessment, I was there to help out. The students took a quiz through the app called eClicker Audience on their iPads. The teacher had prepared the questions and answers on the eClicker Presenter app and as a group they took the "live" quiz. Everything worked out just fine! The teacher and the students were very excited about this "interactive" quiz they had just taken for the first time. I was about to leave, when the teacher asks me if it would be possible for the kids to create their own quizzes? I said, "Yes, absolutely!" So I returned the next day with the iPads again.

Wow! All it took was a little explaining and demonstration of what to do. They quickly got the hang of it. The difficult part for them now was to come up with good questions and answers. Once they individually finished their questions, they sat in small groups. Following a round-robin procedure, they each took turns in becoming the presenter and having the rest of their group become the audience. It was a little tricky, because there were about 5 presenters at any given moment and this could get messy. But it didn't. It worked perfectly fine!

During all this time I was observing the students and it got me thinking. This is a perfect example of students exhibiting the 4C's skills of the 21st century: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical thinking. No wonder I've always liked these types of activities in which the students get to design their own questions. I find it challenging for them to know that their audience will be their very own classmates. The level of difficulty increases because they need to really push their thinking and develop great questions with even more challenging multiple answers that will also make their classmates think hard.

I believe that providing the setting for these types of activities in which the students take ownership of their learning, co-assess themselves, and reflect on their understanding, will take them one step closer to becoming independent learners.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Making Simple e-Magazines

Hi! I hope your year is off to a great start! Upon returning to classes after the Christmas break I had a special request from a teacher: How could she create an electronic magazine. Below are the details of what I figured out, which could also be applied in case of an electronic book.

Third grade students are working on a science unit. As a final evaluation project, each student will create a magazine-like article with the information he found on his topic. All the pages will form one single magazine. The teacher is looking for a way to publish the magazine online so it can be read by all the students and by their parents. The solution should be easy to follow and easy to share.

Solution and Workflow:

1. Students uses Pages or Word.

2. Students save and export as a PDF file.

3. Students send files to teacher.

4. Teacher runs the Automator script (see below) to join all PDF files into one single PDF file.

5. Teacher signs in to Joomag and creates a magazine by uploading the single PDF file.

6. Teacher adjusts sharing settings and shares the link.


Done! Here's a link to a sample magazine I created. Just remember in Joomag to change the sharing options to "Anyone with the link". There are a number of other settings you can adjust. You can even find the embedding code as well.

Try it out yourself. I looked at different options and workflows and found this to be the most simple one. If you have another way to publish an e-magazine or e-book, I'd love to learn about it.


About Automator:
In a previous post I talked about using Automator to break apart pages on a PDF file. In this blog, the job was the opposite, as detailed in the following image.