Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smart Notebook 11 release planned for this Spring with new features

Smart has issued information regarding the release of Notebook 11. The new version will offer some new features that will be useful for students. Most notable is the ability to embed web content into a lesson page. This may include youtube videos or any website. You will be able to annotate over the embedded content.

They will also be adding a development tool which will allow for individuals to create downloadable widgets that can be used in the software. This is similar to running apps on a mobile device. These widgets will add functionality to the software.


An overview of the new features are listed below:

Embedded web browser
Insert web browsers directly onto a SMART Notebook software page and use tools to draw and write over web pages and drag and drop images into your lesson. You can also open the live page directly from within the lesson.

Activity builder
Create activities where objects react to actions by accepting or rejecting other objects or by triggering animations or sound. The activity builder is great for arranging, sorting and labeling and for creating VENN diagrams.

Enhanced contextual toolbar
Choose an object and the toolbar changes, so all the tools you need are right in front of you.

Create authentic crayon drawings on a SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

Customized creative pen
Build your own creative pen using any image you choose.

Audio recording
Record sounds directly into your SMART Notebook lesson.

Shape image fill
Adjust the size of an image to fit into a shape.

Reset page
Use this feature to return your page to its last saved state.

New gestures
Shake objects to group and ungroup them.

Updated tables
Scale, move and interact with tables more easily.

New text engine
Provides improved text formatting and consistency within SMART Notebook.

Fade ink
Fade any regular ink.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Authentic Connections With Skype

The student's in Mrs. Reichel's grade 1 class in Ellen Briggs School in my district connected with Penguin experts to discuss what they have learned about Penguins. The students had a number of great questions. The event was a great experience for all. See the posting below from Mrs. Reichel's blog.


Re-Posted from Ms. Reichel's Blog

On Friday, January 20, 2012 our class celebrated Penguin Awareness Day. For weeks we have been learning about different types of penguins and what makes them so interesting. We have learned a lot of penguin facts but we were still left with some questions.

Thanks to Rebecca and Laura at the Penguin Project we were able to get answers. Click the video below to watch our Skype session with these two penguin experts. They made it to their offices at the University of Washington in Seattle despite a major snowstorm. We are so grateful for their time and knowledge!

Before our Skype session, we took the time to check out where they study penguins and learned they are working with Magellanic Penguins located in Punta Tombo, Argentina. Unlike penguins from the South Pole, these penguins experience a change in seasons. Right now, it is summer in Argentina.

We especially loved reading about Turbo the Penguin and his amazing story of survival.

[caption id="attachment_731" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Thank you Penguin Project! You have inspired us!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_729" align="aligncenter" width="160" caption="Turbo the Penguin"][/caption]


Did you learn something about penguins? Leave us a comment to share your new information.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Collaborative Writing In Elementary Classrooms

The development of Web 2.0, or the Read/Write Web, has produced a number of free resources that allow students and teachers to publish and collaborate online. One of my favorite sites to use with students is Wikispaces.  Wikispaces is a web service that allows teachers to create a wiki in which students may contribute content. The service is free for teachers and students. After a teacher creates an account they can create as many wikis as they wish. There is a very simple to use management tool that allows the teacher o create student usernames and passwords.

Once a student is granted access to the wiki he or she can add content, respond to discussions regarding the content and even leave comments when reviewing materials developed by the teacher or their peers. The availability of a resource like Wikispaces offers a number of opportunities in the classroom.

A wiki is a forum in which students can collaborate, share and contribute content, and peer review each others work. For example, the students in Mrs. Daly’s (White Rock), Mrs. Young’s, (Stanlick) and Mrs. McLoughlin’s (Stanlick) grade 5 classes have been working with grade 5 classes in Buckingham County, Virginia on a shared wiki. Each student was paired with a student in Virginia who is at or near their writing level. We created a wiki for the project and a page within that wiki for each student.

The goal of this collaborative project was to provide an authentic opportunity for students to develop their writing skills. Each student was responsible for authoring a writing piece based on a common writing prompt. After the students added their written work to their page they were responsible for peer editing the work of their partner. The students followed a common template for peer review that was shared with all six teachers involved. The students provided the feedback
to their partners in Virginia through the discussion feature that is available on each of their pages.

This project has been a success. The students were provided with the opportunity to write for an audience. They enjoyed learning about their partners in Virginia. It was a great opportunity to experience writing from their peers in other states. The opportunity to send and receive feedback provided an opportunity for reflection regarding their writing. The student’s in Mrs. Young’s class and their partner class in Virginia will be continuing this project. They are in the process of organizing a wiki in which each pairing of students will co-author a single story.

While a wiki is a very simple and powerful tool for school to school collaboration, it can also be used effectively within a single class. For example, student’s in a U.S. History class may collaborate on a single wiki site focused on the 1920’s. Each student may be responsible for contributing a page of content about that era. The end result of such a project is an online textbook that may be shared and used year after year.

A Language Arts teacher may provide a single page on a wiki to each student to write an essay. The fact that the wiki is online allows the teacher to monitor and review student writing in real-time. The “add a comment” feature allows the teacher to provide comments that are highlighted and noted ion the sidebar of the page.

This method of writing replaces the process of collecting and reviewing first drafts. Instead, the teacher can guide a student and comment on their writing while it is happening. The feedback is immediate and will impact the quality and focus of student writing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Flipping Instruction Using Video Tutorials K-12

How can we provide individualized instruction, independent learning opportunities, targeted review and supports?

These are the questions and the demands of today's classrooms. How can we differentiate, facilitate learning and utilize technology to simplify the process.  The Flipped Classroom Model of instruction is one example.

Student and teacher made tutorials or recorded lectures can be used to provide the supports needed in today's classrooms. The Khan Academy is the model example of how web-based recorded tutorial/lectures can meet the needs of many of our learners.  The Khan Academy provides concise video screencast tutorials for topics in math, science, and humanities. Many of the videos also link to independent practice exercise that students may progress through.

There is a feature called "coach" in which a teacher registers themselves as a coach. The students may then login to Khan academy with their Google Apps user name and password and link themselves to a coach. This allows the teacher to monitor their progress. This provides an opportunity for enrichment were students may progress beyond the current topic to more advanced topics that they are ready for. I have written about the Khan Academy in previous blog posts.  I would like to provide some examples of how this can be used immediately with students.

1. Flip the classroom - Students watch the instructional video for homework on their computer, ipad, ipod touch, or any other web enabled device. When they return to school the students apply what was in the video to class problems and projects. The teacher acts as the facilitator in the room to assist students who need help. Students may work in groups to apply and discuss what was learned.

2. Extra- Help and Support - Teachers may provide links to a tutorial on their class website or Moodle course. Students may access this tutorial at home or during class time from a class computer, personal cell phone or any other web-enabled device. Students may pause, rewind and fast forward depending upon their needs.

3. Test review - Teachers may link to a tutorial on their website to provide a review opportunities for students.

4. Enrichment - Teachers may assign students who have a strong grasp of the content the opportunity to create their own screencast tutorial using free recording services such as Jing.

In our district teachers have been successful utilizing our Moodle course management software. On Moodle, teachers can create topics within a course. In those topics they provide links to tutorials, discussions, work submissions and quizzes.

By utilizing these resources we not only provide the type of individualized learning necessary, we also incorporate technology which results in increased student engagement and college career readiness.

Below is a screencast tutorial the introduces the Khan Academy.

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