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Yearly Archives: 2015

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No Internet? No Problem!

As much as we would like to think that here in the US we have everything we could want or need and that the internet is a right and a necessity.  However, there are a lot of folks with out internet. According to a recent Pew Research survey roughly 15% of Americans do not have internet, and of those 25% are from families that make less than $30,000/year.  This becomes even more relevant when you work in a school that has a high Free and Reduced population.

In my school we are moving to a 1:1 Laptop program that will let students take their assigned laptop home.  This is a great idea, but for those kids that do not have internet at home this only meets their needs half way.  There are options for cheap internet such as the Comcast Internet Essentials program that offers cheap internet, but sometimes it is not cheap enough.  So what can we do?  One option is to set up assignments that can be done offline.

The video below is one that I crafted for our staff.  There are many, many types of lessons that could be done offline, this is just to present one option.  Hopefully it will inspire people to think of the non-connected, how to design lessons that are accessible to all and have discussions about best practice.  Feel free to add your ideas and thoughts below to help this conversation grow.

15% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they?

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Let’s Mix it Up!

Mix logo

I have recently convinced the folks in out IT department to add this free add-on to PowerPoint not only for teachers – which is where you would expect to see it, but for students as well.  Why for students?  Well a little background first:

Office Mix allows a PowerPoint to be designed much more like a teaching tool – and is perfect for flipping lessons.  It lets you add questions, polls, open responses, discussions, video and audio of yourself, screenshots and screencasts.  With these tools you can take any teacher-centered presentation and make it much more interactive and interesting.  In addition you can design it to be mobile-device friendly.

So why for students?  Why not!  We are using it in class to have students present their findings on a particular topic, but rather than standing at the front of the class and work through a presentation they are teaching the class about their topic and checking for understanding at the same time.  And as all educators know, you lean way more by teaching than you do by sittin’-‘n-gettin’.

To learn more visit the Office Mix site and explore the possibilities.

Make it a good one!

Alex

A New Topic at Broaden Education

Greetings All!

I have decided to branch out a little bit on the site.  I’ve added a new page called Managing Tech where I will be posing different solutions, problems or just general impressions of how folks manage technology in their classrooms.  I hope you’ll pop in from time to time and I would really welcome any observations, anecdotes, comments, etc. to keep things lively and interesting.

Have a great day!

Alex

Pros and Cons of OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator

So I got my classes set up and going in their new notebooks created by the Classroom Notebook Creator – what a difference!  You can tell this is a new product as there are a few things that could be improved, however, it is so much easier than the old way of having students create their own notebook and then sharing it with me.

For those of you that may not have used Classroom Notebook Creator, it allows you to create a three-part notebook for your classes.  Part one is the Collaboration Space: An area that students and teachers can all access and collaborate in.  Part two is the Content Library:  This is where the teacher can put any materials that they want their students to have.  It can not be modified by students, only copy and pasted into their individual sections (sometimes – more on that in the Cons section below).  Part three is the student’s notebook: This is a space only you and the student can access.

Setting up the notebook is a very simple process that takes very little time, and at the end you get a link to send to students that when they click it, it automatically opens their notebook – if they have OneNote, if not you have to modify the link – more on that below.  From that point they can see the Content Library, Collaboration Space and their individual Notebook.  From the teachers point of view you see the Content Library, Collaboration Space and all of the student notebooks.  The folks at OneNote have really outdone themselves and made something that is very useful for teachers and students.

The Pros:

Everything is in one place for the students and adding material, feedback, comments, etc. for the teacher is very easy.

Setup is a breeze!  As long as your OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator App is tied into your schools network database it will automatically pull up your students as you start to type their name or student ID number.

Cross-platform, Online or Offline, even on your phone, access is so easy.

The Cons:

When you are grading student work you have to click the “Navigate to Parent Section Group” green arrow to get back to the list of other students.  It would be nice to have the drop-down list of student notebooks from every level of the notebook.

The link that is generated for the notebook has a prompt that wants to launch OneNote, to provide students a link that opens their notebook online you have to remove the prompt from the beginning of the URL.  Perhaps generating both links when the notebook is created would be useful to folks.

If students are using their notebook in OneNote Online they can not copy/paste material from the Content Library to their individual notebook.  This is a HUGE problem for students who do not have OneNote at home, or, as in the case of some classes in my district, they only have Chromebooks and therefore can not get OneNote.

In summary I really like the functionality and easy of use/set-up of OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator.  More importantly the students find it much easier to get work from the Content Library then the old way of having to download and then merge documents.  I too find it easier to pass out papers through the Content Library – though the inability to copy/paste in OneNote Online needs to be addressed.  One last thing I wanted to mention is the ease with which new students are added, just open the app, tell it which notebook and the name of the student, and they are in.  While I have not met the team that created this app they obviously had the educator in mind when they did.    To them I say thank you!