Sunday, March 22, 2015


I had a great time at the 2015 MACUL conference. One of the most exciting aspects of the day for me was Twitter. After Jim Ekdahl's presentation in 504 I felt compelled to create a professional Twitter account, and when I used it at the MACUL conference it felt like there was almost another conference happening on Twitter at the same time! However, I wasn't glued to my phone the entire time. I saw a couple really interesting presentations.

The most interesting one for me was actually one of the recommended presentations given to MACers my Jeff and Rory. From 10-11 I saw Andrea McKay present on what she dubbed "mind-reading." She was essentially showing how to use technology to get a sense of student's understanding. The aspect of her presentation that stood out to me most was gaining an understanding of what students know about topics before teaching them. She does this by creating a true-false pretest in Google Forms. By doing this she can attempt to comprehend what the students know, what they don't know, and how she should then deliver content. It should be noted that these pretests go ungraded. It would be unfair to grade students on content they haven't even been given yet.

I know what you're thinking: I don't have time to grade a pretest on top of everything else! Well luckily Andrea also informed us of Flubaroo. I am pretty sure Flubaroo has come up in 504, but in case you don't remember/know Flubaroo is a Google Forms add-on that can be used to quickly grade assignments. Using Flubaroo almost makes it seem ridiculous not to implement a pretest in class due to its speed in spitting student data back out. Doing this creates student data which was another point in the presentation. However, Andrea made it clear that student data should not just be created to create data. One must think how useful data can be created. For example, you could look at your students' scores on their last test, but what do the scores actually tell you? With something like a true-false pretest a teacher can actually get a sense of what students know by looking at the content in the questions.

Using Google Forms and Flubaroo in this way is how you can read the minds of your students. With a Google Forms pretest used in this manner teachers can move forward with confidence when trying to understand how students approach content. I could easily see myself utilizing this in my own classroom. Often, I'm uncertain what students know coming into class and this would be a great way to learn that information. All I have to do is reserve a laptop cart or computer lab and I can start to become mind reader. Hopefully one day I can turn into a fortune teller.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tech Teach-In

Hello again everyone! It has been a while since I have posted, before winter in fact. Regardless, I am back now. For this blog post I want to release my thoughts to you all about my Tech Teach-In lesson. First a little bit of context. I am currently teaching in a 9th grade World History and Geography class and I have recently been thinking more and more about how Twitter could possibly be used in an educational setting. Twitter seems to be calling to me in someway to be used in the classroom, perhaps it is because of my newly found occasional hobby of tweeting about professional wrestling? Nevertheless, my interest in the website has grown.

But how can I use it in the classroom? My first thoughts on this conundrum began when my history class was learning about the Crusades. There are many different historical "characters" that were prevalent in this time: Christian Crusaders, the Pope, Muslims, various kings, and even child Crusaders. This got me thinking about how important perspective tacking is in the discipline of history. Commonly called historical empathy, historical perspective taking can be helpful for students to understand that the past was inherently different than the present. For example, students might just call someone living when slavery was prevalent stupid because they should have known better, but in this historical person's time slavery was not seen as a bad thing.

With this in mind, my thoughts are that students can create a Twitter account and then assume the perspective of someone in history. This would not be just a random person though. A lesson like this would tackle a specific time in history. For example, with the Crusades a set number of students could be Crusaders, Muslims, and one maybe two students could take the perspective of the Pope. The students would then over the course of a week tweet out things that the role are assuming would say two to three times a day. To make it easier to track as a teacher I could also create a specific hashtag for the students to attach so that they and I could easily see the "big picture" of what was going on at the time.

Essentially, students would creating pseudo-primary documents. Doing this would show me how well students understand the different roles of people in a certain period of time as well as be a succinct writing exercise for students. Furthermore, this could easily be expanded to other classes at my placement school or even other schools in the area. There are some possible drawbacks though: Students' parents would have to be okay with social media, students would need to learn Twitter if they don't already know about it, or students might not have internet access at home to tweet out everyday. These would prove to be speed bumps in the lesson plan, but I feel this could certainly be worked around in some way. Let me know what you think!