Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TEI Tip: The Answer Pads Steps Up to Capture Student Data in Go Interactive!

How many of you like to "try before you buy"? My husband used to wonder what I would come home with each time I ventured to "the teacher store". I was like a kid in a candy store, browsing up and down the aisles of colorful bulletin board trims, new resource kits, posters, workbooks etc. Now that we can shop for much more on the Internet, I like to consider the benefits before I buy, even if it's just a few dollars.

I've spent this year "trying out" The Answer Pad as a way to help teachers engage students, support BYOD and use it for technology enhanced items.  I believe I have found one feature that makes this worth trying and perhaps buying. I'd like to give a big shout out to Anna Sturrock, Managing Director of the The Answer Pad. Her interest and responsiveness to email is refreshing. To be honest, I am quite amazed at how these developers appreciate constructive feedback.

The Answer Pad now has a very cool "Capture" feature. When used in Go Interactive mode, you can now manually capture or auto-capture student responses. Once captured, visit Portfolio to see all the data. Search by class, individual students, by tag or date. The data is saved as PDF files and can be exported. While this is in beta testing, you must try it out.

What this means for the classroom teacher is that you can send out a question, chart, picture, diagram or virtually any template and get instant feedback, as well as have the data to go back and revisit. This is especially helpful for those "hot spot" questions that require students to select multiple responses.  While I prefer to think of more creative and engaging ways to use this tool, this is a huge benefit for testing grades that have the rigor of answering TEI question types.

If I haven't given you enough reasons to try The Answer Pad, when you sign up, you are now given a 30 day upgrade trial. This allows you to upload any image or graphic and then launch it as a template in Go Interactive. Our school division doesn't have iPads, which has limited my use to PCs and laptops, but there is the accompanying iPad app, TAPit Free.

The end of the school year testing is just around the corner.  The Answer Pad Go Interactive enables you to dialogue with your students, assess their understanding as well as retain their data. There you have it, my answer to why I love The Answer Pad Go Interactive!

Monday, March 17, 2014

TEI Tuesday Tip for 3/18

Fractions: They're a Coming Round the Corner!

Who would have expected snow on St. Patrick's Day! Despite the lack of green shamrocks and clover in my yard, I am here at home thinking about spring and I reminded that  fractions are already blooming at school. Fractions are a challenge to teach and for so many students, a big obstacle for learning. What can we do to help them visualize fractions and understand how they are a natural part of numbers in our world?

If you haven't checked out the Visual Fractions website, it's a must! The site map shows how the Visual Fractions website is organized. In addition, you will find links to fun games, worksheets and even a "Fraction Designer Page", where you can design your own fraction examples with circle or line models.

One of my favorite teaching tools is ActivInspire. It allows you to design creative learning resources that are tailored to the needs of your students. I am including a new fractions flipchart that models many of the released items from the VA DOE website. This flipchart is meant to be a teaching tool where you can engage your students in building their understanding of fraction concepts. Although it is aligned with grade 3, other grade levels may find it helpful for remediation.

When I think back on my classroom teaching years, I always used food to help students see and taste fractions! The KGCS math division specialist, Fanya Morton, has shared a few "tasty" fraction lesson ideas, which I am also including. You are sure to get your students' attention at the mention of food!

Sharing Brownies (Grade 1-2)
Jelly Bean Fractions
Jelly Bean Decimals
Fractions and Something's Fishy Game

Grade 3 Fraction Flipchart (New)

Here's to another day of "thoughtfully engaged instruction" ... and green fields of clover!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TEI Tuesday Tip for 2/25

Good Googly, Google Forms!

I continue to hear the comment from teachers that they want a tool that will show them which answers students are missing on hot spot TEI question types.  Google forms can provide the help and feedback for many TEI question types! As I posted earlier, Google forms are able to track multiple answers and with the use of a script, such as Flubaroo, can create self-checking forms that provide very specific feedback. Add to that the ability to use images in Google forms and you now have the ability to create some quick assessments that get students used to thinking beyond one correct answer.

I have created a Google form for third grade rounding practice. This 10 question form, uses the "fill in" and "hot spot" question types. I added an image for the hot spot questions, to show what the hot spot question would look like on a typical standardized state test. I added a page break for each page to make it easier to navigate. The data from students will become part of a spreadsheet that will give the teacher insights into how each student is answering these TEI questions.

I wish Google forms had been invented when I started teaching years ago. As you work with students using Google forms, you have the data to help them focus on moving up with their understanding. The TEI challenge is to think critically, work diligently and keep moving UP!

Here's to another day of moving UP with "thoughtfully engaged instruction"!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TEI Tuesday Tip for 2/18

Help! Properties of Numbers!

I had a conversation recently with our division math specialist. We were talking about the difficulty students have understanding properties of numbers as it is expressed on standardized testing and other types of formative assessments. While this concept starts with the early development of number and number sense, bridging the vocabulary that describes number properties requires thoughtfully engaged instruction and a creative mind!

When I was a classroom teacher, I found myself creating chants, rhymes, songs and other rhythms that students could engage in to help them understand content vocabulary. We had fun and the students had a chance to get up and creatively express themselves. I continue to be amazed at the collective talent pool that teachers have when it comes to making learning meaningful for students.

Because I love the power of video to capture students' attention, my first task was checking out the videos on the properties of numbers. While the search results yielded many, I found only a few that were exceptionally fun to watch as well as informative. My favorite was this third grade video that sings the properties of addition using the hit song, What Makes You Beautiful. 

Properties of Addition (3rd Grade students sung to What Makes You Beautiful)

Virginia teachers, if you haven't used the resource, eMediaVA, check it out! You can search for media by VA SOL or by keyword. This resource is free and is provided by the Virginia Public Media Association for use in educational settings such as schools, libraries or by teachers and students from their homes.

How many of you have visited Teachers pay Teachers? You will be amazed at the wonderful resources that are available from creative teachers like yourself! Many of the items are free and a large number are available to purchase for a low price. You might even want to look into submitting some of the innovative resources you've made through the years.

Here are links to some of the free downloads for properties of numbers from Teachers pay Teachers. You will need to create a free account to download them, but these are a click away. Did I mention....these are all FREE?!

  1. The Flip Flop Fact Rap (Commutative Property of Addition)
  2. Properties of Addition Posters
  3. Properties of Addition & Multiplication Graphic Organizer (Phrase Clues, Picture Clues)
  4. Properties of Addition Practice Cards
  5. Properties of Multiplication Practice Cards
  6. Properties of Multiplication Posters
  7. Properties of Multiplication Matching Madness
  8. Identity Property Poster
  9. Properties Fold it Up!
  10. Property Sort (5th-8th grade)

My last resource is  Scholastic StudyJams. This is a fun, informative and interactive website that addresses a wide variety of math and science topics. If you teach math or science, this website is well worth taking a look at.

Here's to another day of "thoughtfully engaged instruction"!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TEI Wednesday Tip for 2/12

New Math TEI Flipchart! 

Grade 3 Rounding

After this last round of benchmarks, I decided it was time to refocus on designing some flipcharts that would reinforce math content that students are struggling with or just need a different way of engaging with the standards. Having taught third grade for many years, I love the third grade content and saw that rounding needed some more attention. The time for teachers to look on the Internet is stretched so thin, so I wanted to do the legwork for them and revisit online resources for rounding. I was so pleased at how creative teachers are sharing their work online. I think you will enjoy the variety of resources that are included in this flipchart. 
I encourage those of you who don't have a Promethean board in your classroom to still use the flipchart as a tool for "thoughtfully engaged" guided instruction. If you have a regular dry erase whiteboard and a wireless mouse, you can make this flipchart engaging and interactive for your students. If you teach a grade other than third, you might want to also give it a look as it could be useful for differentiating instruction.

Here's to another day of "thoughtfully engaged instruction."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TEI Tuesday Tip for 1/28

EduWidgets Make Content Fun!

For all of you who love to experiment with cool "techy" tools, the Virginia Department of Education has just recently introduced a new interactive, online authoring tool called EduWidgets. I read about it from a January 17, 2014 Superintendent's Memo. It prompted me to set up an account and explore what resources it has. This interactive tool looks promising and is currently in beta testing. You may never decide to author new content, but you can try out the variety of "exemplars" in its Shared Widgets. It puts the tools for creating interactive content into your hands and enables you to create TEI question types. I love that it is designed for Virginia teachers!

For more detailed information, read the welcome information below, from the email I received after applying for my account.

Welcome to EduWidgets, content authoring tools provided by the Virginia Department of Education. These tools enable teachers to develop interactive lessons and share them within online courses, iBooks, and Web sites. The tools also enable students to become content creators; students may create interactive sequences, timelines, graphs, and images.
Student and teacher creations may be published on the Shared Widgetspage and tagged by keyword, subject, grade level, and Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL). All widgets must be reviewed and approved before publishing; teachers approve publishing requests from their students. Administrators may approve publishing requests from both students and teachers.
EduWidgets teachers play an important role; teachers may create student accounts and approve publishing requests from students. Student accounts are managed using the tools available under the Manage Students tab.
Teachers ensure the quality of the content published by reviewing and approving widgets created by their students. Published widgets appear under the Shared Widgets tab on the main Web page and are visible to all users. Published widgets cannot be modified. Widgets with incorrect or inappropriate content should not be published; teachers provide this quality assurance for the program. If a published widget contains inappropriate or incorrect content, it may be flagged and notification sent to division administrators for removal.
Note: The EduWidgets software was developed using HTML5 to create widgets that work with all tablet platforms and modern browsers. As a result, for best performance it requires Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Although Internet Explorer 11 supports many features, it is not fully compliant with HTML5.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TEI Tuesday Tip for 1/14

The Teacher Toolkit

Need a fresh idea for effective teaching strategies? The teacher toolkit is a website developed as part of a teacher training grant in Texas. The purpose of the website is to share teaching strategies that can be used for: classroom management, opening activities, checks for understanding, partner/group/independent practice, reading strategies, games and closing activities.
Each tool has an explanation of how and when to use it, a template students can use to implement the tool and a place to take notes about how you use each tool. Many of the tools also have a short video which gives an overview of the particular tool.
Check it out and try something new!

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