Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Week Back At School! :-)

I forgot how EXHAUSTING it is to go back to being a teacher!  My legs & feet were so sore after that first day & my brain was FRIED!  I did, however, get to try out some new technology ideas over the course of the week.  The first day of school I always like to get the students to fill out a student information sheet.  It includes some questions about their teachers, classes, and also some general questions to get to know them and their personality.  This year, with the help of Julie Howe, I created my very first form in google docs.  

Intro: For those of you that don't know much or anything about google docs, creating a form in google docs is like creating an excel spreadsheet but SO much more!  I used it to create a Student Info survey for my kids & also altered a Technology Survey created by some people in my RTTT  Pilot group to give my kids too.

PROS:Instead of having 90 papers of student info, I have it organized by their names all in ONE SPREADSHEET! Amazing right?!?  Yeah, it is.  As AWESOME as it was, I did run into a few bumps in the road with it. It's super easy to create the survey,and then you can share it via link.  So I decided to share the link to my kids on Edmodo.  All they had to do was log in to edmodo, click the link, and it took them to form. It's super easy to create the survey,and then you can share it via link.  

CONS: So here is where the cons started coming in.  When the kids click the link, it takes them to the survey, but they see the excel version first, not the pretty easy to fill in version.  To get to that, they have to go to "Form" and click "Go to live form."  Unfortunately, the only way they can do that is to be logged in to the gmail account that created the survey. BUMMER! So I went ahead & gave them my gmail info (it's the one I use for school anyway) & then after they all got done with it immediately went in & changed the password (BWAHAHAHA! That's my evil laugh!).  

Overall:  I think it is WAY easier than having 90 papers and way easier to organize and look at it.  I'm not sure if there is an easier way to distribute it to the kids but I'm willing to look into it for next semester.

I plan on rolling out my tablets for the first time in the hands of the children on Friday (cue horror movie scream!).  I'm actually really excited about it and can't wait to see all the fun stuff we get to do this year.  I'm hoping I can teach my kids a lot of different ways of presenting information, and wouldn't mind them teaching me a few things too!  

So until Friday.....


  1. Congratulations Chelsea! I'm so anxious about getting my classes up and running with their devices, (Lenovo x1303 laptops). Your post helped much to alleviate some of the 1st time jitters. Reading about your Google Docs experience gave me some more ideas about integrating forms to cut back on papers in my FL classes. It sounded awesome! I imagine you had a 100% on task assignment!

    One way to give the students a LIVE FORM link so you don't have to change/remember your new password each time (bwaaahhh..) is to, on the tool bar above the form, find Form, drop down, Go to Live Form, and copy the URL. To keep the students from (mis)typing the beast of a URL forever, I use, it shortens URLs into completely manageable links.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience, looking forward to more posts!

  2. Math common core + science common core + technology = one exhausted sixth grade teacher! I have spent 60-65 hours in my classroom this week and I feel like I have been hit by a truck. The good news is that I am easily falling asleep each night and the excitment in the classroom is energizing.

    I really felt surprisingly calm going into the week and tried to have reasonable expectations going into each day. I was certain that there would be glitches and tried to share this real possibility with the students from the onset. My goal was to get the technology off the ground on the first day of school.

    Week #1 of 1:1 Classroom:

    Monday was spent trying to get the 30 devices set up on the network and the selected apps downloaded. Thank goodness the department of technology sent in reinforcements. I was probably their first stop since it was the first day of school and 7:25 in the morning. It took some time but mission accomplished.

    1)Some of the students Wifi was being lost and they would have to reconnect often. We were the only people on the network and the access point is right down the hall????

    2)Socrative student needs to be accessed via the internet instead of an app.

    3) Can't use Blogger accounts because students can't create a g-mail account until they are 18 years old. I will use Kidblog and Gaggle instead.

    4) Used a QR code activity (Get to Know You Teacher) for those who finished early. The kids loved using Norton Snap but I really wanted everyone to get the chance. Might pull this out later for those who finish early and need something to do.

    5) "Aha" ideas - I asked my students to keep a pair of earbuds in their pencil pouch. I also found some non-slip mats for refridgerators, which I cut up into 6 inch x 6 inch pieces. These mats keep the tablets from slipping off the student's desk.

  3. continued...

    Tuesday/Wednesday: We attempted to set up three accounts on Edmodo, Learnzillion, and Kidblog. I was able to get 80% of the team onto 2 of the 3. I went over expectations with the kids and talked about RPM (Responsibility, Pride, and Manners). On Wallwisher, students posted notes stating what these look like in the classroom. The activity went well but I needed more time for discussion after posting comments. Time is a much needed resource in the beginning of this technology initiative.

    1) Having issues with Kidblog and will probably set up the class accounts myself.

    2) Edmodo....some students forgot their Edmodo account information from last year and couldn't get in this year. We made a new user name and password and the problem was solved. Might also need to log into Edmodo via the internet instead of the app. It seems to work better that way.

    3) I finished the Learnzillion accounts on my free time and told the students their user name and password.

    4) UID and passwords! Kids were already misplacing this information so I printed a table for students to record this information. This was glued into their agenda for future reference.

    Thursday/Friday: The plan was to test Edmodo. I posted a poll and a short response question for my math classes and a short response for my science classes. The students have been told by many people how lucky they are to have these devices this year. They know that the school district is looking to see if these are being used as a toy or as a device that raises the quality of instruction and thinking. Instructions of what is acceptable when using these devices in the classroom has also been discussed.

    1) Edmodo short answer responses were not impressive. There was some chatting going on and some one word responses. This was to be expected so we spent Friday talking about the accetptable use policy again. Many posts were deleated and I anticipate more thoughtful reponses in the future.

    2)Kids love snapping QR codes. This is a cool idea but should not be overused or they will lose interest quickly.

    3) Teachers are starting to ask about QR codes. My teammate is adding it to a project.

    Overall impression of the first week....spend it making connections with the students and setting up the routines and classroom management that is the foundation for a successful school year. Putting these devices in the hands of the students on day #1 does set a special tone for the year but if I were to do it all over again, I would probably wait until the second week of school. More importantly, all schools must have a technology fascilitator if the school goes to BYOD or 1:1 classroom. It would be impossible to think that a small technology department from central office could troubleshoot such a huge project without the help from an army of tech. fascilitators.

  4. Forgot to mention Nearpod!

    I tried this out on Thursday with some success and a few hurdles to overcome.

    1) Walked into class and the tablet charger only charged 1/2 of the tablets. We are now a 1:2 classroom. After logging on to Nearpod, several tablets do not pull up the prompt that asks for a classroom. We are now a 1:4 classroom. Lesson ready to improvise classroom dynamics. What might have been an individual assignment could turn into a group assignment.

    2) Question? - Why did some tablets not charge? The charger is an Ergotron?

    3) Question? - Why did some tablets pull up the classroom code prompt and others didn't?

    4) Implementation for the first time - Take an existing PowerPoint as the base of your Nearpod presentation. Turn it into a PDF file using a converter and you are almost done. You can spice it up by adding polls, sketch pad pages to show work (math), or quizzes.


  5. Very helpful trial/errors. Sounds like a very successful week! Waiting to intro the devices has been difficult. The students are patient, but i'm the one anxious to get it all started! I especially appreciate the kidblog note. I have a classroom blogger blog setup/ready, but will adjust. thanks again!