Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Discovery Education for Teachers

So, while I work out the kinks on my QuickTime video upload, I will use the time to review some of the great features that DiscoveryEducation has for teachers....

Once you are logged in, you can access all the same search information that students can.  But, what is great is that you can sort and store the explorations, readings, videos, labs and simulations as you see fit.  So, I try to keep mine organized by quarter and unit and subtopic.  That way, when I need to make it available to students, I can simply assign it from my content instead of having to search all of DE for it.

Then, I can also share this with my school and with my district.  And, what's nice is that over the summer, some teachers were paid to search De for content by grade and topic.  So the "My District Folder" has a plethora of information to use!

And, for teachers, there are a number of reproducible worksheets to go with the activities.  This way students have a place to collect data and answer questions about what they are doing while exploring the assigned activity.  I have found that the worksheets aren't always great, and I have had to "remake" a few of my own.  Sometimes, there is very little information for the student to actually record.  But, once created, these worksheets could go up onto my website for students to download making Discovery Education, again, a wonderful source of information when kids are home or on vacation.

Another feature is that when a student completes an assessment, the teacher can access the scores as many times as the student takes the assessment.... great for keeping track of pre- and post- data.  

Check out these FREE tools for teachers on DiscoveryEducation, so that even without the subscription, you too can enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

WordPress Follow-Up

So, it has been quite a while since I mentioned using WordPress as a class discussion board. Today, as I was planning for my next novel unit, I realized that I will want to use WordPress again. However, I do not want to have to take class time to explain to my students how to log on and post again. So, I made a screen recording using QuickTime that I will post onto my website. That way, students who have forgotten what is required can watch a quick "refresher" tutorial about how to use WordPress and how to earn points on the discussion board.

One more change I will make to my discussion board assignment is to keep a check sheet active as soon as my students begin posting their comments. That way, as I read a post, I can make a check mark next to that students' name and at the end won't need to read ALL of the posts at one time. (Thanks David for your input!) Further, I will have a quick idea if there are any students who have not posted anything at all.

I loved using QuickTime to make an instructional video! It was super easy to make my screen shot video and voice recording. I can think of many uses for this feature. In fact I think I will make one for my students to use to remember how to log onto and use DiscoveryEducation!  

BUT, I had a really hard time getting the QuickTime video to upload to my blog.  I checked compatibility and space requirements and believe I met all the criteria.  And, yet, when I went to publish my post, there was nothing there.  So I had to upload to TeacherTube and pride a link for you to see my video there.

In the meantime....  read a bit about blogs and WordPress for yourself...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Sales Pitch: Exploring Discovery Education

Discovery Education for Students

So, what does Discovery Education offer students?

Once each of your students are able to log into Discovery Education, they can file and keep track of all kinds of activities and scores and they can access this information from anywhere. There are a variety of resources and activities that can be assigned by a teacher. Students might be asked to:

  • Watch a video clip
  • Complete an exploration (an animation with data tables and questions)
  • Participate in a simulation
  • Read a passage
  • Complete an assessment (could be formative or summative)
  • Search for a related video through DE streaming
  • Link to a variety of related topics and activities
If any of this sounds like it could be a great resource for your students, check out what is available (the sales pitch!)....

Discovery Education

Discovery Education is a wonderful tool. I never thought of it as a web 2.0 tool, but after discussion with colleagues and consideration of the ways in which I use it with my students and in the classroom, it certainly seems to fit the criteria of web 2.0. There are interactive activities, ways to track progress if you are student or teacher, explorations, discussion boards, webinar series, and the list goes on and on. I would like to highlight some of the tools available through Discovery Education in my next couple of posts. I admit, there is a BIG downside to Discovery Education (DE) and that is that is not cheap. For me, luckily, access is paid for by the county and every single one of our students has access.

Collaboration with Twiddla modeled

Collaboration with Twiddla continued...

I have been playing around with Twiddla a bit more and have found that it has some really great features that I can use with my students. It is truly easy to use and to log onto and I am still psyched that students can access it immediately with an email or password. And, while it is not a secure place to save documents, as anyone can access them, and even change them.

It could be a great site to use when you have a class worksheet to be completed together. The teacher can upload the worksheet and students can work together to complete it. If the teacher projects the site onto the screen, then the whole class can see the collaboration. I have a "white board" whose program, when loaded on to moy desktop, keeps crashing my computer. I now have a free substitute for the white board!

See the video above to see how you can use Twiddla right away and how easy it is to access the various tools...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More Collaboration on the Web

Collaboration opportunities on the web abound! However, I continue to find that I and other teachers need access to web 2.0 applications that do not require emails and/or passwords to access. Another collaborative site with an etherpad, though with many more collaborative features is called Twiddla. This is a jump on and go site. Once you have gone on to the website, simply begin a new meeting and then you can begin. You can type, draw, put up post-it messages, upload your own documents, images and even webpages. A great feature with Twiddla is that once you create a whiteboard, you can save it as a screen shot and access it from Twiddla at a later time.

For an example of a whiteboard that I created, once again for students to collect data collaboratively in a science lab setting, see the url that was provided when I started this whiteboard... http://www.twiddla.com/466048. Students simply need to be given the url and they can begin adding to it - no email addresses or passwords needed! Now, the board is technically public and anyone could access it. But, this also means that students can access it at a later date and a different location as well.

I need to play with Twiddla a bit more to discover its true capabilities, but one cool note about it..... Check out this great feature... "Don't forget that we're still Free for Educational Uses! Sign up for a Free Trial, then send us an email from a .edu address (or whatever screwy extention they use in your land), and we'll hook you with a Pro account free of charge. We're at info@twiddla.com. Be sure to include your username!"