Saturday, September 22, 2012

Screencasting + Educating Parents = WIN

I love screencasting.  It's so much easier to show than to tell.  In the past I've used Jing.  Jing is easy to use and, best of all, free.  What I didn't like about Jing was that I didn't have the actual video file.  Because I was using the free version, the video was stored on their server, accessible from their website.  I didn't use Jing enough to justify the cost to upgrade.

This summer I got a new desktop computer at school and my laptop was upgraded.  I was about to download Jing again when I decided to see if Mac OS X offered any screencasting options.  I googled Mac screencasting, found this article from The Next Web and learned that I could use QuickTime to record screencasts.  For free.  I would have the file to edit.  Shaabamm!

We moved from Gaggle to Google Apps for Education this year.  I knew our 7th and 8th graders were already familiar with Google but I wanted to give them a tour of the 4 apps we are going to be focusing on.  So, I created a screencast but it needed something extra.  In the shower last Saturday night (where I do my best thinking) I came up with a little jingle "We've gone Google" to the tune of Alan Jackson's "Gone Country".  I emailed the choir teacher and she recommended a student to sing it.  I was able to record him in Garage Band and add it to the start of my video tour in iMovie.

I have been so proud of my teachers for jumping into the deep end of the technology pool already this year.  Many of them are using Edmodo.  The 5th grade math teacher wanted to know how he could explain to his parents how to help the students join his class and find the parent code.  "A screencast!" I exclaimed.  15 minutes later, I had the video up on his site.

This got me thinking (in the shower again) about our parents.  I'm not just a teacher this year, I'm a parent, too.  My oldest is in my building and in my class.  (Worlds Colliding!)  But I wondered how many of them are confused by all this tech talk coming home.  So, Friday morning I came up with the idea of creating screencasts to explain the new tools we are using at school.  I added a page to my teacher site and called it Catch Me Up.  Friday between co-teaching in 5th and 7th grade classes, I ducked into the conference room and filmed "What in the World Is Edmodo?" I was also able to edit the video I made for the 5th grade math teacher to make it match the new video.

I decided that I would highlight the Technology Applications TEKS in each video so that parents know there is a reason we are using these tools.  I am compiling a quite a to do list for future videos: educreations, glogster, remind 101...

I'm really excited to reach out to our parents in this way.  What ways have you used screencasts?

If you're interested in seeing my videos, you can see them here.  Be kind, I'm a Texas native and my voice shows it ;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gaming Professional Development

Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
This summer I joined the Level Up Book Club.  Level Up focused on gaming in education.  I'm not a big gamer but my sons and students are so I wanted to learn more about gaming in education. The first book we read and discussed was Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.  During our June Twitter chat, I put forward the idea of creating a professional development game for my teachers.  Another book clubber Tamara Cox ran with it and created Level Up Tech Quest

I'm a percolator so I spent the rest of the summer thinking about what I wanted our PD game to look like and how to deliver it.  I had several pages of ideas and notes.  During our staff development the week before school started we had a FedEx Day to work on anything we wanted.  I worked on the game.

I named our game Power House PD because we want to be a technology Power House.  I decided on Edmodo as our delivery system.  I chose 14 tasks and spaced them out over the year.  They are roughly two weeks apart and allow time for holidays and testing schedules. 

edmodoI will post the challenges in our Edmodo group on Monday.  The assignment postings will also contains directions for the task and how to get points for completion of the task.   The tasks will be due on Fridays, generally two weeks after the assignment is posted.  I am going to upload any documentation or directions they may need into the Edmodo library and attach them to the Edmodo assignment.

In a nod to the three houses of the Three Little Pigs, teachers can level up to be Straw Houses, Stick Houses and Brick Houses.  (cue music "She's a brick house"...) Besides being an individual competition, teachers can earn points for their departments as well.  I created a Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) spreadsheet Leader Board.  I try to update the spreadsheet at least every other day.  I also put a paper Leader Board in the teacher's lounge.  I'm planning on updating that one every Monday.

So far, we've had one task and it's an ongoing one.  (They can earn points the entire year for Tweeting certain things.)  Our first task with a definite deadline will be posted on Monday!

What do you think?  What can you gamify?

PS - if you'd like to check out our Edmodo group, tweet me.  Or if you'd like help creating your own professional development game, let me know.  I'd love to help!